Last month, I finally carved an “Internet presence” by creating my own Web site.
It seemed like a wise thing to do, considering all those reports that say more than 80 percent of all consumers now search the World Wide Web before choosing a home or selecting a real estate agent.
But in its first 30 days of full operation, my site garnered exactly one (O-N-E) outside visitor. Most of the others were friends and family members who simply wanted to see what the site looked like.
To paraphrase that line from the movie, “Field of Dreams,” I built it–but they didn’t come.
Simply creating my personal Web site was an arduous task. Getting it noticed is proving to be even more difficult.
I haven’t closed a deal in my first nine months of the real estate sales business. My marketing budget is stretched pretty thin, so I first tried to create my own Web page with the help of one of those inexpensive, off-the-shelf software programs.
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The trouble is, I’m a real knucklehead when it comes to computers. I abandoned my efforts to become “Master and Commander” of my personal Web page after several days of pointlessly sailing in a sea of software and HTML frustration.
I then asked some veteran agents in my office for the names of the Web designers they used to create their own Web sites.
I received bids from three of the designers that my fellow agents recommended. One offered to create a very simple site for $600–a single page, with my picture, contact information and “areas of expertise”–but only if I also signed a one-year agreement to have him run the site for $75 a month.
Another designer quoted a flat $2,500, but no additional help would be provided.
The third designer wanted almost $6,000. It sounded as if he’d create a terrific site but he insisted on including all sorts of unneeded “bells and whistles,” like up-to-the-minute sports scores and stock quotes.
I finally found another company to do the work, thanks to yet another referral from a Realtor friend. The firm not only waived its set-up fee, but also charges only $30 a month to help maintain the site.
I have to manually do any updates to the site myself, but the monthly fee I pay includes unlimited technical support.
Considering that I’ve already spent more than 20 hours on the phone with the company’s “techies” (a few now instantly recognize my voice when I call), I’m quite certain that I’m getting my $30-a-month’s worth.
The company also provides lots of art and ready-to-use editorial content. That latter point is important because, as some Inman News readers have suggested, I’m neither the Einstein nor Hemmingway of the real estate business.
With my shiny new Web site finally in place early last month, I added the site’s address to my business cards and letterhead so the Internet would start rolling in new prospects.
I waited and sat. Then, I sat and waited.
Next, I waited and sat, sat and waited some more.
The result: Nothing. Nada. Zip. No buyers rushed to my Web site, and sellers avoided it in droves.
The only “potential client” I got from my new site stumbled across it accidentally when she went to Yahoo.com and typed in “Realtor.”
She says she got something like 8 million hits as a result of her search, but happened to click on my Web site because she liked my name.
Unfortunately, she’s looking for a home that’s about 1,500 miles away from my own marketing area. But she says she has a son who might soon be transferred to my community, and will give him my name and phone number if the job-transfer goes through.
It sounds like a “long-shot.” But at this point, I’ll take any opportunity that I can get.
The larger question is, now that I have my own Web site, how do I get people to visit it?
If you have any ideas, I’d sure like to hear them.
Got tips, ideas or advice for the Rookie Realtor? Send them to Rookie@inman.com.