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- In many ways, you have already done your research via your pitches and emails you send clients.
- Writing helps you defend your pay and establish credibility.
- The more you write, the more you learn.
As a somewhat regular contributor to Inman, I recently received a request to fill out a short profile/questionnaire about myself and my writing. The last question they asked was “What advice would you give to new contributors?”
The answer became this post.
The first “aha” moment when writing mattered
I’ll start with a quick story. Back in 2012, I was showing a property to a sign call. I was asking very benign and nonthreatening questions to try to figure out what he was thinking — the responses were monosyllabic, and the showing was going nowhere.
Pressing him was not the answer, so I pulled back and said, “Whether or not this is the correct property, you need a buyer’s agent to represent you if you are serious about purchasing. Google me, and see if you think I would be a good person to be your advocate.”
I knew that if he took my advice, he would see my blog.
When we spoke the following day for about a half hour, he called me “sir” about 10 times, and yes, he became a client. It was then that I fully realized the impact of writing.
Here are 10 reasons I write and believe you should, too.
1. Topics often come from pitches
Attention spans are short, and often when you are in front of a client (or potential client), you have 30 seconds to make a five-minute (or longer) point.
Sending them an article you wrote to make sense of a complex point is one of the most powerful sales techniques you can employ. It establishes you as a resource in the mind of the client and creates loyalty in both the short and long term.
2. To defend my pay
The latest assault on our pay scale (allegedly) is coming from the “hybrid brokerages” who will work for less. To me, these hybrids threaten those who cannot differentiate themselves far more than those who can.
When you can’t communicate your value to the public, it’s then you are going to have to cut your commission to win the job. People do not mind paying market value for valuable services, but they hate to overpay for services that are not.
Demonstrating your value through writing is the best way I know of to protect your ability to earn an income.
3. Writing enhances everything
I think it’s human nature to look for direct links. Life is far easier when we can look down and say, “If we undertake action A, then result B will happen.” But that is not how the Web works.
Everything is connected now, and nothing operates in a vacuum. And in my opinion, it disproportionally benefits those who write.
The content we create impacts us positively on so many levels. Agents in our market have joined our firm due to our blog, and clients have both chosen us to represent them or changed their decision patterns due to what we wrote.
Developers have sought us out for consultation and several of the local news outlets regularly reach out to us for comments and to use our articles in their reporting.
And perhaps most importantly, the results of our promotional campaigns skyrocketed because our target audience was able to dig a little deeper and find our expertise on display.
I cannot stress this enough: Each word we write increases the value of everything else we do. It is not always easy to see, but it is extremely easy to feel.
4. Emails turn into posts
When I lay out a particularly good email to someone about property valuation, industry trends, contract strategy or mitigating risk, I try to take the points I make and use them as a basis for an article. I figure that if I make a point to one client, odds are I will need to make the same one to another.
Here are a few examples: An email about the changes brought on by TRID/RESPA became this post, and a client trying to decide how to execute a simultaneous sale and purchase became this post. And one of my favorites that I try to send to new clients is this one — but all of our articles help me out tremendously.
5. I embrace the inevitable screw-up
The worst grade I ever made was in high school English class, and I don’t recall college being much better.
I fully acknowledge that I publish articles with grammatical errors, run-on sentences and other sins relating to tense and point of view that make English majors cringe.
But you know what, I don’t let it stop me. I’d rather fix an error (or nine) later than never publish anything because I am scared to make a grammatical miscue.
6. To control my name
When someone Googles you, what do they see? Does Zillow or Trulia or realtor.com or some other site grab your name before you do?
When you allow another site to control your name (and thus, your traffic), you are inviting them to sell your leads back to you — or even worse, someone else. Writing helps your rankings and gives you a direct channel to your audience.
Those who control their name control their message. Those who do not will pay those who do.
7. 100,000 storefronts
People tend to think in terms of websites, while Google thinks in terms of Web pages. At last count, Google has indexed over 100,000 pages across our network of sites, and last year we were well over 1 million page views.
Each one of those pages is another potential storefront, and each page view is akin to the doorbell ringing.
Our content strategy has become so successful it has necessitated an entire protocol around servicing inquiries we receive.
8. The more I write, the more I learn
This is so true. I believe Stephen Covey refers to it as “sharpening your saw” in his legendary “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” series.
So much of what I can now discuss with competence came from an article idea where I began without really knowing if I had the ability to write it.
One of my favorite examples of research becoming an article had to do with demographic shifts in my hometown. I had a blast researching and writing it.
And you know what else? The more I write, the more ideas I generate for other posts.
9. To establish credibility
Maybe this is overly simplistic, but I believe the Web is the great equalizer.
Google does not care about how many sides someone sold last year or if they won a sales award from the local board. Google cares about who is creating the best experience for the person asking the question.
When the public asks a question, Google (increasingly) determines the best answers by measuring the public’s engagement. And not just by the article’s title or the number of times a keyword appears in the post. Those who write win this battle far more than people who do not.
10. The best time to plant a tree is yesterday
Newsflash — it is highly doubtful your phone will ring with a new client 30 seconds after you hit the publish button on your first post. You have to be patient and let your words season.
Writing, in any form and on any platform, is hugely important, and its value increases with time. When I wrote this post, it debuted on Google’s page 8. It is now consistently on the first page of Google for a surprising variety of terms.
Every day you wait to put your thoughts into the public domain is another day that Google will ignore you and redirect your clients into the hands of your competition.
No matter how difficult or time-consuming it is to its author, the collective value of writing far outweighs the cost of its creation.
Furthermore, the shelf life of the written word far exceeds that of print. So not only is writing nearly free, the time frame during which it is effective is measured in years — not days or weeks.
As we are all well-aware, our clients are not only beginning their home search online, they are beginning their research online, too.
To inquire about becoming a contributor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are you doing to help them understand your abilities? Please continue the conversation in the comments section below.
Rick Jarvis is a co-founder of the One South Realty Group in Richmond, Virginia.