In March’s Marketing and Branding Month, we’ll go deep on agent branding and best practices for spending with Zillow, Realtor.com and more. Top CMOs of leading firms drop by to share their newest tactics, too. And to top off this theme month, Inman is debuting a brand new set of awards for branding and marketing leaders in the industry called Marketing All-Stars.
Developing a content plan for your real estate business means optimizing a host of online and real-world platforms. In our Content Marketing Gameplan, we bring you the rules to use to generate five different types of foundational content: your website, bio, blog, PR and self-published book.
Now that you’re building your professional reputation and boosting your brand with a media strategy, it’s time to take the proof of your expertise to the next level. A book, whether professionally published or self-published, gives you more room to expand on your thoughts and display your knowledge.
Whether you work with a ghostwriter or channel your creativity in your own way, a book offers plenty of possibilities for raising your profile and helping you to stand out from the crowd of real estate pros in your market. Here are the details on developing a process that works for you and getting your book up and running.
Where are you in your career?
The purpose of your book depends, in part, on where you are in your career.
If you’re a new agent, you may think writing a book is beyond your grasp. In reality, however, you may have the expertise to draw on that can help you put together something that works.
You may want to write a short book about your market or your town — for example, a newcomer’s guide that you update regularly. You could also draw on your prior knowledge if you came to real estate from another profession. For example, if you previously worked in finance, you may want to write about how buyers can get their finances in order to be mortgage-ready.
Once you’ve established yourself in the market, you may want to write a buyer or seller guide to provide to new clients. If you’ve developed a niche like investment or probate, you could write a guide for your clients or even for new agents starting out in the business.
Once you’ve made a name for yourself, a book is practically a must. If you’ve been around for a while, you may choose to write a memoir or a book that describes your philosophical approach to the real estate business.
If you’ve developed a reputation as a thought leader, you may be writing for the industry. If you’ve developed a public-facing celebrity persona, you may be writing for the general public, including both younger agents and potential clients.
How will you use your book?
There are plenty of places to use your book and a wide range of purposes. Here are some of the possibilities.
For lead generation
You don’t have to think of your book as a direct money-making endeavor. It can just as easily serve to attract leads as a giveaway, either in hard copy form or online as a pdf. By exchanging your “Complete Guide to [Your City]” for a potential client’s contact information, you expand your sphere of influence while getting that lead warmed up and excited about working with you.
As proof of your expertise
It’s important to differentiate yourself in your market or niche, and a book can help you do that. If it’s well done, it can raise your profile and perception in the industry, helping potential clients and colleagues gain respect for the depth and breadth of your experience and knowledge.
Self-publish your book with Amazon or another self-publishing platform and promote it yourself. Alternatively, you can use your book as the accompaniment to a paid online course or promote it through training events and personal appearances.
For professional publication
If you’ve made a name for yourself, developed a significant following, made a major contribution to the industry or found something truly new to say, your book may be ready for professional publication. You may need to connect with a literary agent to successfully submit your book to publishers, or, if you’re well-known enough, you may be approached by a publisher.
Part of what a publisher will be looking for is your ability to promote the book yourself across your social media channels and on your podcast, video channel or television program. Gone are the days of huge advances and big promotional tours for all but the most established authors. Promote yourself if you want to ensure significant sales and the opportunity to write another book down the road.
What is the process like for writing a book?
They say everybody has one book in them. The problem is that the writing itself can be time-consuming and the process intimidating. Developing a plan that works for you will go a long way toward ensuring that your book gets finished and doesn’t just sit in a file somewhere.
What should you write about?
Coming up with a good idea is the first step in preparing to write your book. You may want to make it personal — for example, talking about your journey through life and into the real estate industry. You may want to keep it professional and fill your book with strategies and techniques without going too deeply into your own background.
If you already create other content, that may offer a springboard for putting together a long-form work like a book. What do you like to make videos about or write blogs about? What do you tend to talk about the most on your podcast? You may be able to repurpose some of your existing content, expand on it, organize it and make it the foundation for your book.
Tips to help you stay on track with the writing process
The hardest part of writing a book is, well, the writing process itself. Here’s how to develop the stick-to-it-iveness you need to get to the finish line:
- Start with an outline or chapter plan to help you break the task of book writing down into more manageable parts.
- Don’t feel that you have to write everything in order from beginning to end. Fill out the chapters that are easy to write first, then go back and write other parts later in the process, once you’ve established a good flow.
- Remember, writing is rewriting. You don’t have to express yourself perfectly in your first draft. Get your thoughts down on the screen; you can always go back and revise and refine them later.
- If writer’s block is a problem for you, consider “speaking” your book into a voice memo or other recording device. Have your spoken words transcribed by a service like Rev.com, then use them as the basis for your writing.
- Try to build in accountability with both scheduling and an accountability partnership. Set firm goals for how much you will write each day or week. Check-in with your accountability partner and give them the opportunity to talk about what is (and isn’t) working in your process.
Working with a ghostwriter
If you don’t have time or the inclination to do all of the writing on your own, consider working with a ghostwriter. You may provide them with talking points to get started and re-group with them throughout the writing process to ensure that the finished product is what you have in mind.
You may think that working with a ghostwriter “doesn’t count” somehow, but remember that many of the biggest business leaders frequently work with ghostwriters or co-authors who have the skill, experience and time to devote to a long-term, complex writing process.
Communicate up front with the ghostwriter and ask the following questions:
- Do they have expertise in the real estate industry or in the niche you’re interested in writing about?
- What do they need from you, and how do they prefer to communicate?
- How much time do they have to devote to this project?
- Do they include revisions in their project price? If not, how much do they charge for revisions?
- Do they include graphic design services or self-publishing services or do they have connections with others who do so? If so, are those services priced separately?
If writing a book has seemed like an impossible task for you, just know that it’s definitely doable. Break it up into smaller tasks, keep yourself accountable and ask for help when you need it, and you’ll soon be able to mark this off of your bucket list.
Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.