Real estate agents nationwide know there’s more to a blog than its funny name. In fact, many have built blogs and are using them to reach out to consumers and catch some attention from search engines.

A blog–short for Web log–is a simple Web page in which the creator and others post short entries that stack on top of each other chronologically. Some blogs have themes and purposes like the real estate blogs mentioned in this story. Others are created simply so people can add their own random thoughts to the Web.

Realty agents use blogs to write about their markets, themselves or specific listings they have available.

Fran Vernon, one half of the Fran & Rowena duo agent team at Dilbeck GMAC in La Canada, Calif., has been a dedicated blogger for about 10 months. Her blog focuses on Southern California real estate topics she thinks people will find useful and interesting.

“I enjoy doing it because it reminds me how important the consumer is and how important it is for them to be educated,” she said.

She updates her blog every other day and is determined to keep the content fresh for her readers. One of the problems with blogs is that so many people start them, then either abandon them or don’t update them often enough to hold onto readers.

Vernon does most of her blogging at night when she can sit back and think about what happened in her real estate business that day that would interest people who visit the Web site. She’s become so accustomed to blogging that she found herself writing blogs on her laptop computer in a hotel room during a recent visit to North Carolina for her son’s graduation.

“I try to write things that come out of our experiences. I also think people like to read about our market,” she said.

Listen to Vernon talk about why she likes to blog:

Vernon views the blog as a communication tool used to provide information about real estate, interest rates or the Southern California market. She considers the blog more a source of information than a source for sales leads.

“I like to do the blog. I’m constantly thinking of what I can put in the blog that would be of use to someone,” she said.

John Mudd, an agent with Exit Realty Suncoast in Largo, Fla., uses his real estate blog as a marketing tool and so far has found it be very effective. He writes in his blog at least once a week, and regularly contributes to BlogCritics.org, an online community of bloggers, where he is known as “Mr. Real Estate.”

He said all of his leads come from his blog and his Web site.

“If you can get people to tune in to your blog, it can be a real asset to your real estate business,” Mudd said. “Blogs give anyone an edge because it lets you become the neighborhood expert.”

His blog includes entries about interest rates, information about the Tampa Bay housing market and links to news articles and other blogs.

Grow-a-Brain” is a large blog started by real estate agent Hanan Levin that’s fairly well known among the blogging community. Levin is a Realtor and partner of The Champion Company in Riverside, Calif.

Although Levin doesn’t use the blog strictly for real estate or marketing, he sees a lot of potential for agents to market themselves through blogs.

When he started the blog more than a year ago, Levin said he saw it as an opportunity to do something others in the real estate industry weren’t yet doing. The blog has since grown to encompass a variety of topics such as politics, architecture, Americana, cinema, food, jokes, sand sculptures and dozens of others.

About 2,500 people a day visit the Grow-a-Brain blog, and it’s logged 90,000 visits in the last three months, according to Levin. He said the most popular section of the blog is the one about insects.

“I really believe (blogs) will catch on with Realtors,” he said. “They’re such an incredible way to market.”

Over the next six months, Levin plans to grow the real estate portion of his blog to target local real estate investors.

Fraser Beach, broker of Select Plan Real Estate near Toronto, started his real estate blog in September. He writes about topical real estate issues, locally-based news and general real estate advice for home buyers and sellers.

Beach views blogs as a communication tool a business person can use to keep an open dialogue with clients.

“It’s a thing to get noticed. I find I get a lot more traffic coming to the blog than to other Web sites I have, he said. “It has a lot to do with how Google treats blogs; it seems to be kind to them.”

Send news tips or a letter to the editor to Jessica@inman.com; (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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