- Throw blogging “under the bus” at your own peril.
- Blogging will drastically change your real estate business -- if you do it right.
- Stop focusing on “hyper-local” without context to real estate, you're ruining your search engine ranking.
If you read Forbes, Inc. or Entrepreneur magazines, you are going to see this phrase repeated incessantly by the most successful businessowners: “If you sell to everyone, you sell to no one.”
“Sell something and you make a customer today. Help someone and you create a customer for life.” – Jay Baer, President, Convince & Convert
You can provide valuable content for your readers and customers, to the point where you become valued, trusted and synonymous with being useful — so that when the time comes to make a purchase, you are the obvious choice.
Here’s the reality:
We tend to throw blogging under the “things I hate to do and avoid but I keep hearing about it, and I don’t have time to sit down and mess with it” category of our business.
But why do we do that?
I submit that it’s because we have no idea how blogging can help us.
How it can move us from constantly fretting about the next deal to having a continuous pipeline of prospects who are not only ready, willing and able — but they know, like and trust us — before we’ve even had the first appointment with them.
So, how do we blog for prospects? These next five steps will get you there.
Knowing your avatar
What’s an avatar? Well, an avatar is a single representation of your ideal client. In essence, you “paint a picture” of your ideal client, and you give it a persona — otherwise known as an avatar.
What we tend to do is think in terms of our target market, which means we are thinking in general terms, not specific terms.
Your avatar is not homebuyers or homesellers. That’s way too general.
Let’s just look at homebuyers. There is a wide variety of homebuyers: first-time homebuyers, single buyers, family buyers, condo buyers, move-up buyers, empty-nester buyers, vacation home buyers, etc. Are you getting the idea that homebuyers is not specific enough?
You need to paint a picture of your ideal clients. Who are they? What is their life like? What are their hobbies? You obviously can’t go too deep with this. But without knowing the individual, you can’t have a conversation with them and truly help them.
If you can’t have a conversation with them, your blog posts will be shallow and useless. They’ll be posts that someone can get just about anywhere — monotone, no authority and no way to begin to build a “know, like and trust” relationship.
Knowing your avatar is 99 percent of the battle — it makes everything else a breeze, including prospecting, blogging, ad writing and closing. Everything is affected when you intimately know your avatar.
Knowing your avatar will change your business. This is probably the single most powerful “business planning activity” anyone can do, and it’s the one thing no one in our industry does.
Oh yes — I know some are teaching avatars and buyer personas, but I’m telling you, they are teaching a superficial, 35,000-foot view of the concept. It’s not deep enough to make a difference, and agents don’t see a difference in their business. So what they are teaching is a waste of our time because it isn’t making an impact. It isn’t changing anything.
If you want to change your business, you have to change how you approach your business, how you approach your lead generation. This starts by building an avatar.
Solve their problems
Here’s a hint. Your clients’ problems do not involve finding homes for sale or even calculating their homes’ value, and yet those are the ads we run, expecting to reap awesome results. These are the posts we are constantly pushing out on social media: new listing, new home value tool, new app.
None of these are examples of what your avatar seeks.
Think about it. How hard is it to find listings? A home’s value? How difficult is it to find real estate apps?
It’s not. Consumers do not consider these problems in their lives, which is why they don’t respond to that type of message.
If you aren’t solving their problems, they view you as useless. This leaves you fighting to get them under contract, fighting to justify your commission, fighting to get some semblance of loyalty out of them.
So what are their problems?
Their problems are their life experiences throughout their journey of owning a home. If they’ve never owned a home before, what are their problems in the years (not just the months) leading up to buying their first home?
We’re not talking “just” real estate here. We are talking hopes and dreams, drawbacks, job and family changes. This is about their journey.
When we are able to connect with our avatar in meaningful and helpful ways, we no longer need to “convert” them. They are already converted. In fact, they become our tribe before we’ve even scheduled an appointment.
Give your all
I can’t tell you the number of agents I’ve run into who actually have a website and do some semblance of blogging, then throw up a 500-word document and call it a blog post.
If they are answering a question in that blog post, their answer is often so antiseptic and bland that they really shouldn’t have taken the time to write it. Why bother?
Give your all. If you are going to answer your avatars’ questions, answer their questions. If it takes 3,000 words to do it, do it in 3,000 words. Seriously. Give them the full and complete answer. Don’t hold anything back.
Don’t live with a scarcity mindset. Live with an abundance frame of mind. You really can’t give too much. It’s simply not possible.
You are creating a “virtual” you, and that persona needs to have a good reputation. You want to build relationships before you even talk to anyone. You want to be seen as serving them. Service is where your value as a real estate agent begins.
Regurgitating local content is not valuable to your avatar. On the surface it seems to help with SEO, but it really doesn’t. When you regurgitate area history, area stories, area facts, you enforce the belief that “real estate agents are useless.”
Our reputations are built on what we do, not what we say. Don’t be a regurgitator.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer prospects who call me and ask me to come list their home because they know I’m the perfect person for the job — rather than trying to convert a sign call or a website visitor, someone who doesn’t know me at all.
Quality trumps quantity. Have a conversation and help your avatar. This isn’t about getting 500 short, useless blog posts out there (just to get traffic that will bounce right off your site). This is about building relationships, providing value and capturing nearly 100 percent of the traffic you’ve brought through the value you are giving.
Stop chasing SEO
I have a feeling I could go on for thousands of words on this one topic.
When you focus your business on what it really is — serving others — you know that you do not have to focus on chasing search engine optimization. In reality, you pretty much never have to chase SEO when you are truly targeting your avatar.
Here’s why: When you serve consumers, that means you are helping them. When you write your blog posts or record videos that identify and solve their problems, that content is insanely valuable. In other words, your clients will stumble across you as they’re Googling their problems.
Your goal is to create “know, like, and trust” relationships before they call, text or email you. Before. You can easily do this by “selling with service,” without the need for SEO wrangling.
Fighting against the algorithm is such a waste of your time. The battle is futile, and it’s unnecessary.
Now, of course, our resident “SEO Experts” are going to get up in arms about this. They are going to come out of the woodwork and tell me how wrong I am.
The proof is in the reality. When you chase the algorithm, you must always chase the algorithm. When you serve your clients, the algorithm works as it should and points clients in your direction.
“But what about driving keyword traffic to my site?” What about it? It’s pointless. If you keep focusing on the wrong thing, it means working more and getting fewer results. The right traffic changes everything.
Traffic is not the answer to your lead generation problem. The wrong traffic actually hurts your site rankings. Have you heard about something called bounce rate? Bounce rate is the percentage of people who come to a single page on your site and then leave your site from that same page. In other words, they didn’t go deeper.
So according to “real estate website experts,” a “good” bounce rate for real estate websites sits at 55 to 65 percent. I literally shook my head in disgust when I kept finding this quoted stat in my research.
Yet again, I present to you the case for stepping outside of the real estate industry and looking at the rest of the world. Google (yes, the search engine itself) shared its idea of good, average and horrible bounce rates, and that 55 to 65 percent quoted above, falls in the “horrible” category according to Google.
A bounce rate under 20 percent is considered very good (according to Google). A bounce rate of 20-40 percent is considered average. A bounce rate over 40 percent is something to be concerned about.
In other words, if your bounce rate is “fine” at the industry average of 55 to 65 percent, your website sucks, and it’s likely that the traffic you are driving to your site also sucks.
Google also said that a bounce rate under 3 percent is insanely fabulous, and very few websites get there.
So I’m going to brag on my LeadsAndLeverage.com site just a bit here. I have a bounce rate of under 1 percent. Through the site’s entire history (from the day I published the site until today, just under 3 years), the bounce rate hovers at 2 percent.
Why? Because I focused solely on figuring out what my avatar’s problems were (and are), and I provide solutions to those problems.
What your bounce rate reveals
First, your bounces rate shows you how valuable and relevant your website is to the traffic it’s receiving. Is it so full of solutions that your leads are getting lost in the content (and therefore not bouncing off your site)? Or is it so superficial, so shallow, so focused on SEO that they come, see that it’s just another real estate website and leave immediately?
Second, it shows you how targeted your traffic is. When your bounce rate is high, you’ve done a poor job of understanding your ideal clients. You aren’t focusing on their problems and giving them solutions. You haven’t done a good job of identifying their needs.
If you keep focusing on “your city real estate” or whatever SEO keywords you are excited about today, you’ll never find your avatar — or rather, your avatar will never find you.
When we focus on “hyperlocal” without any context, we get a high bounce rate. Let’s face the music: Providing hyperlocal content without context in hopes that people will “keep coming back” because you are “the source” for all things “your neighborhood” is a pipe dream.
People do not come back to our sites because we post Christmas lights tours or local events. They don’t bookmark our site and keep returning to it. That never happened, although we kept feeding that thought monster.
We have to focus on hyper-connections, not hyperlocal. If your content isn’t in the context of your clients’ real estate needs in some way, it just seems random.
Instead of sharing a list of Christmas lights tours, how about sharing an interview of one of the homeowners that “decks the halls” every year. What are they like? What’s their neighborhood like? If someone else wants to be part of that community, what does that lifestyle look like?
Put things into the context of living a lifestyle and you’ll knock it out of the park.
Most people focus on increasing their traffic, but what they really need to be focusing on is increasing their value.
I can not tell you how many times I get emails from agents that say, “I got lost in the labyrinth of your website.” My goal is to provide so much information that an agent could come along and implement something I teach on my site and see immediate results. That is my goal.
This needs to be your goal — that the buyers or sellers who land on your site could implement what you’re teaching them and see results. They can guarantee that the remodeling project they are about to embark on is going to bring value because of your advice. They avoided a serious financial mistake by learning from you. You need to be the trusted resource for them.
I hear that all the time: “I want to be the trusted resource” or “Do this so you are the trusted resource.” Well, the only way to be a trusted resource is to actually help and serve your avatar, without the expectation of reward.
Now, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t also focus on capturing your avatar into your database, so don’t go there. I’m not saying that at all.
What I am saying is that to build relationships before the capture, you have to give before you take. As Gary Vaynerchuk says, “Jab Jab Jab Right Hook.”
If you want to be impervious to the constant SEO changes and avoid the panic when Google does another algorithm update, then stop chasing and start serving.
Build a resource
A resource for your avatar. A resource for you. A resource for your clients. A resource for your team.
What do I mean?
I bet you get hit with a lot of repeat questions. I do (and did). Every day I used to get emails from prospects asking me questions.
When you have a resource that answers those questions, it’s wonderful to send those inquirers right to the already-created answer.
When you build a resource, you integrate multiplicity. In other words, you get to the point that you are working while you sleep. Literally. People find you (your site) and get to know you (through your site) while you are deep in slumber.
This is a good thing. It’s on their terms. They don’t feel threatened.
Not only that, but you can repurpose your valuable content.
Let’s talk just a bit about what repurposing is, and what it isn’t.
Repurposing is not pushing out “new blog post + the link” to every social media platform you are on as soon as you publish said blog post. That’s just noise and no one cares.
Repurposing is sharing your blog post in a way that’s congruent with your avatar on each platform. Share it, don’t push it. When you share something you also share a thought, a comment, a question about the thing you are sharing.
Now, go and do it again, pointing out a different thought, comment or question. Keep repeating. About once every 14 days (not closer together) you should be sharing your awesome solutions with your avatar on your social media channels.
Bonus: Quick Start Tips
Not sure where, or how, to start? Start by creating your avatar. Start by imagining your perfect client. What does it feel like to work with them? How does the entire process go?
Now, who is that person? If you’ve had transactions before and one was amazingly awesome, what made it awesome? What about your client made that person a joy to work with? Start building your avatar by pulling from your past experiences with clients.
You’ve never had a transaction close? Then do this: Think about your friends and family. Who do you enjoy spending time with? Who lets you speak into their lives? Take those people and start building your avatar from them.
Once you’ve got a good idea of who your avatar is, go look for your FAQs. Start by checking your email, your voicemail and thinking back to your conversations. What questions about real estate have you been asked? Start answering them — on your blog!
Just starting out? Check out some real estate Facebook groups and look at how agents are sharing what their clients are asking. Refocus those questions to be specific to your own avatar.
Your value, your worth, is not in your listings. It’s not in connecting buyers to listings. It’s not in getting sellers’ homes listed. You are not a commodity.
Your value, your worth, is in your knowledge and sharing that knowledge. You are a service. Don’t devalue yourself by continuing to focus on the “things” when it’s about the relationships and the journey.
And as always, I created a template for you. It’ll get you solidly on the right track on creating your avatar. Download it. Print it. Work on it. Use it to change your blogging results.
Christina Ethridge is the founder of LeadsAndLeverage.com, helping real estate agents capture, convert, and close Facebook leads.