I have not been able to work more than 10 or 20 hours a week for a couple of months now because of a string of family emergencies.

I spent several weeks splitting my time between two homes, as I had to care for a family member. I ended up staying overnight most nights, getting so little sleep that some days I couldn’t work at all.

Eventually I was able to hire some help for a half-dozen hours a day, so that I could at least take care of the real estate clients I already had. I also ended up referring business to another agent.

Most of us with families will experience some situation where there is a conflict between work and family, or we may experience an illness that keeps us from working. If I had been working a regular 9-to-5 job, I probably would have been fired last month because I would have missed a lot of work. Even when I had time for work, I was often too tired to do a good job.

Being self-employed means that I can sometimes schedule work between personal appointments and emergencies. That’s important, because I can get in touch with some of the people I needed help from during business hours only.

As I slowly start taking back control of my life, my immediate concern is my business pipeline. Where is my future business? When is my next closing? Where is the business that is going to pay the heating bills next winter?

Just as I was starting to panic earlier this week, the phone rang. The caller was looking for a real estate agent to sell her home. She called me because she’d read a blog post I wrote a couple of years ago about dual agency and wanted to meet with me.

Later the same day I got an email from another potential seller requesting a home valuation. The request came in through my blog. Turns out I’d written a couple of articles about her neighborhood, so she decided to contact me. I also had a listing appointment with a couple who have been reading my blog for years.

There are many ways for real estate agents to prospect, but one of the most important things about prospecting is being consistent. No matter what happens in my life, I spend time each day prospecting. I do that by writing blog posts.

I don’t just write them if I have a little extra time with nothing else to do. I write at least six blog posts each week no matter what. It is part of my job, just like cold calling is part of some agent’s daily routine.

It works the same way with prospecting by direct mail, or cold calling or holding open houses or door knocking. Consistency is so important and is one of the hardest parts of prospecting. It takes motivation to keep prospecting through good times and bad. There isn’t any magical way to bring in new business.

Finding business takes time, effort and consistency. For most of us, it’s the hardest part of the job. Many agents don’t spend enough time prospecting. Sure, we get repeat business and referrals from our clients, but that isn’t usually enough to keep the pipeline full.

On the days that I could not write, I went back through old blog posts and found content that I could rewrite or reposition. I published them again as new posts. Each of the more than 3,000 blog posts I have already written are still out there, working for me every day — even when I am not working.

All of this is a reminder to me of how important prospecting is — and how important it is to choose something that is doable and enjoyable and to keep doing it.

As long as I have a pipeline, I have a business. I will continue to make daily prospecting a priority.

Any business I cannot handle can be referred to others. I would rather do that than stop prospecting.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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