Are you creative, artistic or just looking for a unique way to prospect for business? If so, it might be time to consider starting a blog — doing so will change your business and your life.
I started a real estate blog in 2005. Since then, I’ve published more than 4,500 articles (about 5-7 each week), and if it wasn’t working for me, I would have stopped long ago.
I think it helps to consider blogging as art — something personal — rather than anything to do with search engine optimization (SEO) or technology. Your blog will attract readers who might become clients later, so you want to craft a warm introduction and real, honest advice and insights for each blog post. If you’re an agent looking to establish authority and trust in your area, this is the way to go.
Making social media work for your blog
Real estate blogging was a major “thing” in 2007, but then social media kind of exploded and everyone shifted their attention to Facebook. And it’s no wonder why — Facebook is easier. Even so, blogs are still one of the most useful tools for reaching new audiences and attracting new clients.
I use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but I use them to drive traffic to my blog — not the other way around. Many people try to use their blog to get people to follow and like their social media pages, but that simply doesn’t work as well.
Making your blog work for you
One way to make a blog work for your business is to consider your target audience and publish content specifically tailored for that audience. For instance, if your ultimate goal is to attract people who need real estate services, you wouldn’t want to publish content meant for other real estate practitioners.
Instead, create content that would be useful for buyers and sellers in your area. Focus on sharing facts about the neighborhood, great eateries, information that would help potential buyers prep for the home loan process, etc.
Always keep an eye on traffic and engagement by using Google Analytics — you want to be sure your content is indeed reaching more and more new eyes.
Beware of alternative content ideas. Some say blog content can be about anything except real estate and somehow that content will generate real estate business. I am not exactly sure how that works. People who are looking for a real estate expert might not go to the blogger who knows where to get the best craft beer.
There is no set ratio between blog traffic and client acquisition, but if there is no traffic, there won’t be any client conversions — and what good is the blog if it never generates business in some way?
There is no rule as to how long it takes to build an audience with a blog, but it can’t be done in just a few days or weeks. Still, it’s worth it.
A site that serves a huge geographic area will get more traffic than a site that serves a smaller area, but not all traffic is created equal. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, specialize in a smaller area or a market niche. This works best.
I have never made a sale directly from a blog post, but I have met people through my blog and have gotten the opportunity to work with them. When this happens, if all goes well, the end result is a closed sale or two and some referrals.
Why blogs fail
People still ask me how I find the time. The answer is simple: I have enough time for it, and so does everyone else who chooses to make a business blog part of their business plan. It is just like finding time for an open house or for cold calling or for going to the gym. If it’s important to us, we find the time.
If you do choose to dedicate time to building your blog, you want to make sure it’s successful. There are some common reasons why most real estate blogs fail, the main one being lack of content. Some blog owners go months without published anything, which is bad for establishing viewership and authority.
Other common pitfalls include writing articles for agents rather than for potential clients. There is a difference. This article, for instance, is written for real estate practitioners, not potential clients. Posting this article to my blog would add no value for my target audience.
Think of your blog as a creative project — it’s different from lead capture. The idea is to attract business with it rather than capture people. I have met so many people through my blog and have had so many opportunities because of it.
The right content
Pictures of real estate and of the local community will help cement the idea that you are living what you’re writing about. Pictures can also help create what I call a “sense of place,” and that helps set local websites apart from national sites, where you’ll find stock photos with palm trees next to articles about Minnesota real estate.
Instead of receiving “drip” email, my readers can opt-in and receive an email from my blog every day. Hundreds of people have opted in, and some read my blog for years before calling me.
When I go to a listing appointment, I often grab a few blog posts and stick them in with any printed marketing materials I bring along.
Blog posts can be mostly words and pictures, but they can also be videos. (I know it is possible to make an amazing and effective video outside of a moving car and without featuring a talking head.)
I won’t recommend a platform, but I do strongly recommend publishing content on your own domain. This can be done using a free blog platform.
Real estate blogs used for advertising must have the name of the real estate company prominently displayed, and real estate agents need to identify themselves as agents. The same rules apply to blogs written for other types of agent advertising. Ask your broker for guidelines.
For ideas about what to write, check out 101 topic ideas for real estate blogs. Personally, I like to stick with publishing articles that are local and real estate-related. This leaves me with far less competition, and I know my content is invaluable for readers because real estate is my area of expertise.
If you are interested in starting a blog and don’t know where to begin, check out ProBlogger or borrow books — Kindle books, paper books and audiobooks — from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) library if you are a Realtor. (NAR has “Small is the New Big” by Seth Godin, the book that inspired me to launch my blog.)
Whatever you do, just get started! It will be worth it in the end.