Everyone knows that a “picture is worth a thousand words.” Depending upon the price point of your listings, the right pictures can translate into thousands of commission dollars as well.

No one can deny America’s love affair with looking at other people’s houses. Hundreds of TV episodes are devoted to staging listings. Sites such as Houzz are garnering tremendous numbers of visitors, while Pinterest has shot off the charts. The question is how can you leverage this trend to earn more full commissions for your business?

5-step strategy for earning higher commissions
With the upturn in many markets, commission cutting is back again. An important part of your commission defense is showing your sellers how maximum exposure to the marketplace results in the maximum price for their listing. The pictures you take and where you use them can have a tremendous influence on your seller’s exposure as well as the commissions you earn. Here’s what to do:

1. A minimum of 20 pictures
Two studies from Point2.com both showed that consumers skipped over listings that had only one or two pictures. The optimum number according to their research is at least 20 pictures. If you’re hard-pressed to take great interior photos, remember that members of Generation Y buy not only the property but the local lifestyle as well. Take pictures of fun events, great restaurants, sports, etc., that illustrate the local lifestyle.

2. Don’t settle for less
If at all possible, spring for a professional photographer who is experienced at photographing houses to their best advantage. If you don’t know someone, search other agent websites to see who has great photos and then contact the other agent about who they used. Shoot for the Architectural Digest look: wide angles, sharp colors and creative shots that stand out from the crowd.

When you go on your listing appointment, here’s what to say:

“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, today your online photos are often your first showing. Please compare the quality of the photos that I use to market your property with those offered by any other agents you may be interviewing. Furthermore, lifestyle photos are critical to younger buyers. Is having high-quality photos that also illustrate the local lifestyle a service you want?”

3. Single-property Facebook business page
Once you have great photos, use them to create a single-property website as well as a single-property Facebook business page. Use the property address as the URL making it easier for consumers to find you (e.g., 345ElmStreetYourCity.com).

4. Pin your photos on Pinterest
In a recent Inman News article, Marci James outlined why using Pinterest is important for Realtors:

“OK, what’s the big deal with Pinterest? It’s just another social media platform that you don’t have time for. So what if it’s the third most popular social site in the U.S.? Who cares that the average user spends 77 minutes on the site? Not me.

“But there is something about Pinterest that I care about very much. And you should, too, if you have a website, blog or landing page. Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google Plus, YouTube and LinkedIn combined. Pinterest drives more traffic than either Bing or Yahoo. In fact, Pinterest is the fourth-largest referral website in the world. Now those are statistics you cannot afford to ignore. And that is why I use Pinterest.”

Moreover, 68.2 percent of users are female and 28 percent have incomes of more than $100,000. Since women typically drive the homebuying process, Pinterest is not only an important marketing tool to reach these potential clients, but it can also be a powerful way to earn a full commission.

When you go on your listing appointment, prepare a Pinterest “board” to illustrate how you would market the sellers’ listing using this site. To achieve the best results, carefully tag each board you create so that your listings can be found more easily online. Your tags should include the city and ZIP code, street address if your sellers want to give out information, your contact information, property information, as well as your description of the property.

5. Amp up interest with virtual staging
If you really want to take “pinning” to the next level and ace out your competition, combine Pinterest with one of the virtual staging tools such as Obeo’s vStager, CirclePix or Virtually Staging Properties. Each of these tools allows you to virtually decorate your vacant listings (or vacant rooms). You could create separate boards with different types of color schemes and styles of furniture and include these in your marketing photos. Obeo actually has a tool that allows buyers to change the color of the walls and cabinets, the flooring and the countertops as well.

The next step is to close the sellers by asking, “Is having your listing marketed with architectural photos, a Facebook business page and by using virtual staging on Pinterest a service you want?”

In most cases, they will say “yes.”

If they then ask you to cut your commission, respond by saying, “I work only with sellers who want maximum exposure to the marketplace that results in the maximum price for the seller. If you would like, I would be happy to give you a referral to an agent who does not provide this level of service.”

Next, sit quietly and wait for them to respond. Chances are high that you’ll get your full commission.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.

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