Does the thought of starting your own blog overwhelm you? If so, it may be time to rethink your reluctance. A blog can help you create new business while also providing a steady income stream separate from your real estate activities.

I’ve been playing in the blogosphere for about four months. It has been an interesting experience. A number of our posts have been tongue-in-cheek and some have been quite serious. Marc Davison’s post on his experience at NAR not only captured the essence of what was happening in New Orleans, but also tapped into the tragic losses from 9/11. Several days ago, I wrote a blog post on the Victoria’s Secret $12.5 million bra. Much to my surprise, I was in the number one position at Google for 48 hours under, of all things, “real estate boobs.” This isn’t exactly what I had in mind for my luxury blog, but then again, part of the fun is being a little outrageous. The point is that a blog can be used to engage your community and to get press for your business in ways that are often unexpected. You never know who is going to respond, what pearl of wisdom you may uncover, or what outrageous response you may receive from other bloggers. Furthermore, your post may take you to the top of the search engines, even if it’s only for a short period of time.

In a slowing market, keeping your profitability high can be challenging. Blogging provides a way for you to create multiple revenue streams by providing a service to your community. It also allows you to create new business relationships as well as generate leads from schools, recreational groups and homeowners’ associations. At the NAR conference in New Orleans last month, Ohio Realtor David Crockett presented an innovative way to monetize blogging activity. David created what he calls a “blog galaxy.” He drives traffic to his blog at LakeCountyBlog.com by providing a free blogging platform to numerous organizations within his community.

David’s blog has a number of categories where people can post, which is typical with virtually all blogs. David has given free blogs to local country clubs, the parks service, local schools, the chamber of commerce, Habitat for Humanity, the library and a host of other organizations. Each of these organizations now has a place to post its information, and all blogs link back to David’s main blog. While David writes his own posts, hundreds of other people can post to the community blogs. Each time someone writes a post, search engines lift David’s blog to the top ranks of a search query. This is because search engines give higher ranking to sites with newer, updated content.

When David first started blogging, his placement on Google was poor, but blogging has now pushed him up to the first page of search results. In fact, blogging is such a powerful tool for gaining search-engine placement that some experts are now speculating that agents who have strong blogs may overtake the mega-companies who rely on their Web sites for placement.

With all of these different organizations posting to David’s multiple blogs, there is plenty of traffic to his main site. This, in turn, can translate into advertising dollars from local businesses. Assume that you have room to advertise 10 local businesses on your blog and you charge $100. This would provide an income of $1,000 per month. If your traffic is good, you can charge more money for top placement. You could also add additional advertisers as your blog traffic grows. If your blog is helping the local businesses to grow, you may be able to raise your rates or keep the advertising rate the same, but provide 15 days a month of exposure as opposed to a full month. Using the same model with 20 advertisers, the income stream is now $24,000 per year. If you’re in a major metropolitan area, these numbers can be even higher.

Blogging has numerous advantages besides creating advertising revenue. It provides a vehicle for your community to learn to trust you. By providing this service to multiple organizations, you will receive more referrals. For example, if someone is new to the area and they join the local chamber of commerce, it’s likely that your blog will be one of the first places they visit on the Web. This increases the probability that these people will hire you when they are ready to buy or list a piece of real estate. Best of all, blogs are inexpensive. All it takes is some initiative and little elbow grease to implement this powerful tool into your real estate arsenal.

(Special thanks to David Crockett, Richard Nacht and Bill French from the blogging panel at NAR for the content of today’s article.)

Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.

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