If you are looking for quick sales or for any kind of instant gratification, you can forget about using social media, especially blogs, Twitter and Facebook pages. They are giant time-sucks. Watching paint dry would be more exciting than watching the readership of my Facebook page slowly grow.

If you want a sale today you need to get out there and work it instead of hiding behind a computer screen or having your face in your iPhone.

Most sales training classes for real estate emphasize how we can make money today. The spam that hits my inbox is all about getting rich quick. In fact, some days it seems like everyone on the planet has an idea for me on how I can get rich quick.

If I wanted to I could spend my entire day attending free webinars that seem to be worth every penny and learn how to get rich quickly.

If I were to use my e-mail inbox as a means for "crowdsourcing," or gathering the opinions of a large group of people, it looks like being a short sale or foreclosure expert is the way to achieve enormous wealth in a short period of time.

Using social media to grow a business is like farming. When I first started as a Realtor, new Realtors were encouraged to farm a geographic area. This was to be done in conjunction with open houses, cold calling and various other methods of getting business.

We were told that agents often fail and throw money away when they farm a geographic area by sending postcards or trinkets, because they don’t stick with it long enough. Giving up too soon is like throwing money away. The idea is to keep hitting the same area and get listings and leverage those listings to get more business.

When I started my blog in 2005, I posted every day. I remember addressing posts to both of my readers because it didn’t seem like anyone except maybe my dad and some stranger were reading the thing.

2005 was a great year for home sales, yet it was four months before I got an e-mail from a reader who wanted my help finding a home.

After a year of having a blog, it became a revenue stream for me. I kept using other prospecting methods, just like I would have if I would have had a traditional farm. …CONTINUED

So many people have told me that blogs are a waste of time. I got tired of listening and tuned it out and kept posting every day.

I ignored the advice of other bloggers when they told me that pictures don’t belong on blogs, and I politely answered the same question over and over: How much time do you spend each week on your blog? I used to feel like the question was more of an accusation.

The answer is: Not as much time as you think. I type very quickly and my posts are short, but that is me. Most bloggers spend more time at it than I do.

I would have given up long ago if I had to hunt and peck my way through each post or if I did not enjoy writing and the kind of creative process needed to figure out what to write and the strategy behind knowing when to write it.

Last Friday I closed a nice sale. The buyer had been reading my blog for two years. He read it for months before contacting me and did not start working with me until last February. The experience was rewarding, but there wasn’t anything quick about it.

There is no instant gratification with social media, which is why most people fail when they use it to generate business. Some spend more time calculating return on investment than they do using the tools.

It takes time to cultivate followers on Twitter. As with the traditional geographic farming, it is tempting to give up and become one of the "social media is a waste of time" crowd who say it didn’t work for them.

The content that I wrote in my first year of blogging is out there and it is still working for me. The content has grown to more than 1,800 posts — 30 or 40 pages, 10 photo albums, and probably about 3,000 photos. That is a lot of work and it continues with a post every day.

The only way to get rich quick is to be born into a wealthy family. If it is too late for that, then you might be able to marry well. For the rest of us, it will take hard work and tenacity and a willingness to take risks and fail a few times.

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


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