The word is out that content marketing is an effective way of attracting and nurturing customers. Let’s say you’ve already broken ground on your blog. You’ve written and published several blog posts about topics you’ve always wanted to tackle. You’ve even started building an audience of dedicated readers. Then, it hits you: writer’s block.
Suddenly, all of your new blog post ideas seem lackluster — or, worse, you can’t think of anything at all to write about. To top it all off, you’ve used all the ideas you had stored up, and your content calendar for the coming week is empty. What will you do?
For many bloggers, this first bout of writer’s block is the start of a downward spiral that starts with missing one or two posts and ends with abandoning their blog after just a few months. Many people cite coming up with post ideas as one of the hardest parts of blogging. But it doesn’t have to be. By knowing the possibilities and establishing a backlog of topics to draw from, you can minimize headaches and ensure that writer’s block doesn’t ruin your blog.
If you’ve spent time thinking about your audience and sorting them into personas, then you’ve already done a lot of work toward generating blog post ideas. Here’s how you can translate that thinking into blog content:
- Questions, then answers. The best place to start when brainstorming blog post ideas is with the questions your customers ask you every day. I’ve run a content marketing bootcamp for companies that goes something like this: Set aside a few hours to sit down with a notepad, some sticky notes, a whiteboard or your favorite word processor. Eliminate all distractions: phone, Internet, the dirty dishes in the sink, etc. Then, write down all the real estate questions and complaints you’ve heard over the years from customers, prospects, friends, relatives, etc. If you work with a team of agents or other personnel (e.g., a receptionist or administrator), ask them to sit down with you and offer their suggestions. Ideally, your blog will offer your audience answers and solutions, but these demand a lot more more time and energy. For now, concentrate solely on questions.
- Quantity, then quality. Everyone has an inner editor that parses his or her thoughts and ideas and decides which ones are worth pursuing and which ones should be tossed out. Although this inner editor can be incredibly useful for writing blog posts, it’s deadly when it comes to brainstorming ideas. It’s much easier to draw one good blog post topic out of a sea of mediocre ones than it is to magically produce the perfect topic from thin air. Yet when you allow your inner editor to control your brainstorming, that’s exactly what you’re attempting to do. By working quickly and constantly to come up with as many ideas as possible, you can prevent your editor from getting a word in edgewise and ruining your creative flow.
- Expect the unexpected. Just because you’re creating a real estate blog doesn’t mean you have to rely solely on real estate for your blog’s inspiration. Instead, leave yourself open to ideas from every corner of the universe: the tech world (“Tech tips for a futuristic home”), sports (“Biggest real estate blunders by professional athletes”) and movies or television (“Top 10 real estate movie myths”). You should also be ready for inspiration no matter where you are by using a travel pad or smartphone apps such as Evernote to record inspiration on the go.
Real estate blog post types
Now that you have a list of questions and pain points from your customers, you can begin to translate them into actual blog posts. Although there’s certainly no “right way” to write a real estate blog post, there are a few proven formats and approaches. Here’s a partial list:
- How-to guides. It’s been said that if you can’t teach a subject or idea, you don’t know it well enough. Real estate professionals have a wealth of practical knowledge on everything including home improvements, decor and personal finances. By sharing this knowledge in educational step-by-step guides, you’ll provide instant value and show customers you’re someone they should work with. Possible topics include homeownership, renting and leasing, preparing a home for sale, vacations, and mortgages and financing.
- Neighborhood guides. Write an overview for each neighborhood or area you serve. What are the residents like (age, income, demographics)? What parks, businesses and attractions are there? What are the schools like? What is the region’s history? What types of architecture are prominent? Cover the three basic questions of “who,” “what” and “where,” and highlight features most likely to pique readers’ interest.
- Local business reviews and recommendations. When moving to a new and unfamiliar area, real estate consumers want the inside scoop on what it’s really like to live there — and maps and local search engines such as Yelp can only take them so far. By reviewing area restaurants, retailers, parks and cultural institutions, either individually or with a “top 10”-type countdown, you demonstrate that you’re both a local expert and an active participant in your community.
- Listing profiles. People come to real estate websites to see real estate, so give them what they want by profiling listings you’ve recently added to your inventory or sold. “Hang on,” you might say. “I thought I wasn’t supposed to use my blog to sell.” Although you certainly shouldn’t create blog posts for every property in your inventory, some homes are truly worth sharing. As long as you keep in mind the goal of creating value for your readers, profiles of standout listings can demonstrate your good taste to buyers and show sellers that you know how to market a home. Listing profiles also present a fantastic opportunity to incorporate video.
- Content lists and resource pages. Just because a topic has already been covered extensively by bloggers and experts, it doesn’t mean you can’t write about it. In fact, you can turn that glut of information into your own blog post by curating and organizing it into an authoritative content list, with links, descriptions and commentary. It might not be as impressive as original research, but it can be just as valuable to consumers researching a topic area.
- Newsjacking. Although it’s not as “evergreen” as the other post ideas on this list, writing about breaking news offers a fantastic opportunity to drive traffic around trending topics. Instead, of devoting a newsjacking post to the current events themselves, you can use them as a jumping-off point. At the Placester Academy, for instance, we created a post exploring what Lady Gaga’s recent tour could teach agents about marketing themselves. That post was picked up and shared by lots of readers, as well as other publications. Obviously, effective “newsjacking” requires some agility and an eye for what’s catching on so that you can be ahead of the curve, rather than behind it.
- Responses and rebuttals. Another way to use existing material to your advantage is to respond to the opinions of other writers and experts. Like newsjacking, response posts provide the opportunity to engage an audience that’s already participating in a conversation. An good response post takes a strong, decisive position. The more controversial your opinion, the stronger your challenge, the bigger the impact your post will have. Be provocative, and above all, honest.
- Client stories. Everyone loves a good success story. By offering your readers real-life accounts of the homebuying and selling process from your current and past customers, you demonstrate that you understand their perspective and the challenges they face. Client stories also give you the opportunity to show potential customers how you’ll use your experience to overcome these challenges and deliver on your promises. Using video to put a face and a voice on your customers will add even more authenticity.
- Interviews. In addition to offering your own insight, you can give consumers a deeper view of your community and your profession by interviewing other experts and influencers. Check local publications to see who’s making news. Talk to school principals, city officials, successful business owners and local celebrities. Ask them what they think is so special about their community. Put your subjects on camera for an even more engaging experience.
- Market analysis. The “real estate market” is a slippery subject, and consumers are looking for an agent who understands the current state of the business. Write about changes, trends and breaking news in the real estate market. Offer growth statistics and break them down into analysis your customers can understand. Stay up to date and offer your opinion.
These are just a few ideas for real estate blog posts — the possibilities really are endless. For more inspiration, check out my post on the Real Estate Marketing Academy: 101 Amazing Blog Post Ideas for Your Real Estate Website.
Seth Price has spent 20 years as a digital marketer, consulting for more than 300 companies during that period, including 19 of the Fortune 500. He’s the host of the Craft of Marketing Podcast and serves as VP of marketing at Placester, the fastest-growing real estate website provider in the U.S. Seth is dedicated to providing social media and content marketing advice and counsel to the tens of thousands of real estate professionals and brands that he serves. You can find more about Seth on his blog SethPrice.net or at Placester.com/academy.