The past seven months of blogging has changed my life. In my last post for Inman, I wrote about six lessons I learned from blogging.
I have seven more lessons that I would like to share with you — including one at the end that I think we all struggle with from time to time.
1. Blogging is hard.
Blogging is not for the faint of heart. First, you write, and you’ll write hoping that someone will read your posts. You hear a lot of crickets when you first start writing. Then slowly, things begin to turn. You get a good guest post that links back to your blog. You get a few social media shares. You think, “Great! This is it. Now my blog is going to take off!”
But then it doesn’t happen. You go back to hearing more crickets. The fact of the matter is blogging is hard work. Just like any business, you must put in your time and work hard to be successful. Not only must you write great content, but you must promote that content. “If you build it they will come” does not ring true with blogging. You have to treat your blog like a business and work to attract readers.
Takeaway: Like blogging, many people think selling real estate is easy. Those on the inside know that nothing is farther from the truth. In real estate, you have to work hard to earn and close the business. You can’t rest your laurels on one good month, and you can’t count on the business to always come in. You have to work hard to be more than just a mediocre agent.
2. Planning is essential.
Before I started my blog, I sat down and brainstormed 90 blog post ideas. I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t run out of content. It gave me the confidence that I needed to start writing.
Although I had a list of 90 ideas, there are so many posts I wrote that came out of thin air. One thing I like about blogging is that you can have an idea and just start writing about it. But that won’t last long. The first time you get writer’s block it is painful — especially when you are working on a publishing schedule.
The best thing I did for my blog was create an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar helped me plan out my post ideas months in advance. It helped me plan for seasonal posts such as summer marketing ideas or goal setting for the new year.
It also gave me an opportunity to start doing series posts on my blog. I found that my readers responded well to this change, too. They saw that they could consistently count on me, and that helped my blog grow.
Takeaway: It is fine to fly by the seat of your pants every once in a while, but a plan will keep you grounded. Plans keep you on track and help you meet your goals –this is true in all business, but especially true for real estate.
3. Networking is important.
Networking is an important part of a business, and this is true with blogging as well. It is important to get to know the influencers in your industry.
Just make sure you aren’t doing this to serve your own purpose. First, you can learn a lot about real estate by connecting with the top people in the business. Many of them have a lot to offer with their experience and knowledge. Connecting with them gives you the opportunity to learn more. This process can also lead to new blogging ideas, too.
Do bloggers, myself included, want the top industry leaders to share their posts? Of course. Whenever that happens to me, I am just blown away, and then I get excited.
But that isn’t my plan when I connect with the top influencers. I want to learn from them, and then I want to share their content. If I get something from them, great, but that is not my No. 1 goal. Being a giver is so much more fun.
Takeaway: We don’t exist in a vacuum. Take the time to get to know the top agents in your area and the industry. They started where you did, and they have so much wisdom to share. Soak up their knowledge, and find out how you can help them. You might get nothing in return, but it is better to be a giver than a taker.
4. People are kind.
I have met the most amazing people over the last seven months of writing my blog. It is scary to put yourself out there in writing, but I have learned that people are kind.
Are there people who leave comments or email me and tell me I don’t know what I am talking about? Sure, maybe a few, but I have found that for the most part, people are kind. As sappy as it sounds, the kindness has reminded me that there is much more good in the world than bad.
Takeaway: By putting yourself out there, you will find the most amazing relationships. Don’t settle for the boring client relationships. Get to know people, connect with them, and let them get to know you. It makes for a better experience for everyone involved.
5. Avoid shiny objects.
As agents, you are bombarded with marketing messages over and over. Guess what? So are bloggers.
I coach my clients to avoid the “shiny object syndrome.” Don’t grab the latest idea and drop the plan you are consistently working. There have been many times over the past seven months that I have to take my own advice.
In the world of digital marketing, there are so many things you can do. Blogging, video, podcasts, email marketing — and it goes on and on. There are so many things that I want to do to grow my blog. I get excited just thinking about it.
But I have to remind myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The wise path is to stay on track and work my plan. That is how I will build a successful business.
Takeaway: In business, it is easy to be blown about by every wind. This is especially true if another agent is having success with a marketing idea. Unless it is something that can’t wait, I recommend staying the course and sticking to your plan. If you have to try the new idea, figure out what marketing idea you will drop. This task helps with the “shiny object syndrome” and keeps you from getting overwhelmed.
6. Money matters.
You can give all the real estate advice away in the world, but at some point you have to make money. You’ve got to eat, right? In fact, at some point, people will be asking you how they can pay you to help them.
The same is true of blogging. I love writing about ideas to help agents with their businesses, but I am a for-profit business, and I needed to figure out how I was going to make money blogging.
I struggled with how to make money. I worried about offending my readers and being just another person after agents’ pocketbooks. But I also knew that to keep blogging, I had to be able to pay myself. So, I took three days off and got clear about how I can help agents. I took that clarity and, with confidence, built a “work with me” page.
Takeaway: Yes, you are a real estate expert, but you deserve to get paid, too. We all have those looky-loos who always want free advice. Be confident in what you have to offer. Remember: You deserve to get paid for your real estate expertise.
7. Comparison is the devil.
Comparing yourself to other people is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Man, do I struggle with this — all the time. I see other bloggers or marketing experts who seem to have it all together. They have more followers, more business, more connections and more ideas.
Once I start that comparison loop in my head, I start to feel inadequate. I might as well pack it in for the day and crawl under the covers.
I have done a lot of reading around comparing ourselves to others. One of my favorite quotes comes from Jon Acuff in his book “Start,” which said, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.” Lean on that quote.
The fact of the matter is, we all start at the beginning. We all have losses and wins when we first start out. So did the person in which we are comparing ourselves. When I let that all sink in, I find compassion and kinship in the objects of my comparisons.
Takeaway: I watch agents struggle with the art of comparison every day. It is easy to take a look at a super-successful agent and compare yourself to them. At the end of the day, we are all in this together. We are all putting our necks on the line, and comparing only brings division. Instead of comparing for differences, look for similarities. Then learn from those who are more successful than you.
For me, starting my blog nine months ago became more than just about the writing. I had no idea the ride I was in for, and I have been surprised more than once. My big takeaway from all 13 lessons that I have learned is this: If you want something bad enough in life, go after it with reckless abandon. Life is too short and too precious just to settle. It is never too late to change course to follow your true passion.
Jennifer Snyder is a real estate marketing consultant, speaker and blogger at Marketing Ideas for Agents. She researches marketing ideas, tools and resources that will make real estate agents’ lives easier and help them grow their businesses.