CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the title and URL of Marta Walsh’s blog. Her cosmetics blog is: TalkingMakeup.com.
Marta Walsh’s blog Marta Walsh is totally in favor of real estate agents having blogs. But those blogs, she said, don’t necessarily have to be about real estate in order to generate business.
Exhibit A is Walsh’s primary writing endeavor, in which the reader has almost zero chance of encountering chatter about hot property listings, pricing trends or mortgage rates. Instead, the Scottsdale, Ariz., real estate agent pours her heart into discussions of eye shadow, hairstyles and A-list celebrities.
"I have an obsession about beauty products," said Walsh, who began TalkingMakeup.com after her husband suggested she start a blog because of the way she scoured the Internet for information on cosmetics.
"I said, ‘What’s a blog?’ " she recalled, laughing. But she figured out what to do pretty quickly, and she stuck with it. Her blog now attracts about 160,000 unique visitors a month, she said.
And, the novice real estate agent said, TalkingMakeup.com has led homebuying clients to her doorstep. In the three months after she joined a brokerage in November, she closed two deals worth $1.4 million.
"They came directly from that blog," said Walsh, 38. "They read the posts and they told me they liked the videos I made on my site. They said it helped them make the decision (to work with her as a real estate agent).
"They liked my image and they liked my accent because they were international, themselves," she said.
Walsh, who was born in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, grew up in Israel and moved to New York with her family in her late teens. She attended the Stern School of Business at New York University, and after earning a degree in finance worked briefly on Wall Street.
"If anyone asked me, while I was growing up, what I wanted to be, I would say I wanted to be a professor," she said. "I really liked education.
"But I’m very much of a girly girl, and I really, really enjoyed fashion and makeup," she said.
She married, and then lived in England for several years, where she found herself regularly visiting cosmetics counters and trying out everything new. She didn’t buy — at least not immediately. Instead, she went home and checked out the products online.
"I was just looking for clues into what are the ingredients, what other people might think about it, sort of to convince myself to buy it," she said.
After she and her husband moved to Arizona, she decided to give blogging a try in 2006.
"At that point, I didn’t think there was an audience," Walsh said. "I kind of thought maybe somebody would find me, but I wasn’t sure."
She went at it diligently, and gradually built a following.
"There wasn’t a day that I missed," she said. "I think that’s one of the reasons for the popularity of my site. A lot of bloggers think they can blog and they start, but they don’t blog every day.
"For a blog to become popular, it has to be active," she said.
Soon, she decided her blog needed some variety, so she began to reach out to cosmetics companies, asking if she could interview their executives.
To her surprise, many of them agreed. Among the first were Smashbox Cosmetics founders Dean and Davis Factor, the great-grandsons of cosmetics legend Max Factor.
"Then I got the confidence that maybe I could move on to celebrities," she said. "I decided to start with Iman (a Somali-American supermodel), and I called her PR company one day.
"I thought they were going to slam down the phone on me," Walsh recalled. "I said, ‘I’m a makeup blogger and I would like to talk to Iman.’ "
The supermodel’s publicists said yes, and since then Walsh has notched a long series of celebrity chats, with such glamour-linked names as Heidi Klum, Melania Trump and Kourtney Kardashian; "E! News" anchor Giuliana Rancic; "CSI: Miami" actress Eva LaRue; and "Real Housewives of New York" star Bethenny Frankel.
"I talked to them about their makeup, but I talked to them about other things — what inspires them in life, what are one or two things people don’t know about them, where they call home — more personal things."
As her readership grew, the cosmetics companies noticed. Now they routinely send her product samples for review, though her policy is that she features only those that she likes; the site does disclose that she accepts some sponsored posts.
Last fall she obtained her real estate license and joined Scottsdale- based Russ Lyon Sotheby’s International Realty.
"Real estate is something I’ve always been interested in," she said. "I never got to pursue it in New York — it was a different market, a lot bigger and a lot scarier. Also, I graduated from business school and wanted to add something to my portfolio that had to do with the art of dealing."
In addition to the closed deals, the cosmetics blog has generated other leads, she said, including calls from people who are looking for the contact information for her brokerage but call her instead because the makeup blog has come up first in their online search.
Walsh also has begun a traditional real estate blog, at MartaWalsh.com.
"I mix real estate blogging with fashion blogging, but I need to be out in the field, so overall I’m blogging less than I used to," she said. "I used to make it a day’s work — I would blog from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. straight."
Real estate and fashion aren’t mutually exclusive, she said. "It’s all about looking good, people living in beautiful homes," she said.
The cosmetics blog taught her a lot about what readers respond to, she said, and by one measure she finds many real estate bloggers lacking: They need to present their personalities better.
"You go to their site and you don’t know who the Realtor is. You see properties, you see lots of busy words, but you don’t get a sense of who he is," she said. "I think that can hurt you.
"That’s why videos are important. My clients come to the site, click the video and get to know me a bit before they make the phone call."
And she encouraged agents to stray from the strictly real estate blogging path.
"If you have a subject that you’re interested in, you can write about it," Walsh said. "The key is to be consistent and do it every day. But to make people notice you and consider you influential, it takes a lot of work."