The Real Estate Blog Alphabetby Brandon Cornett
This alphabet lists 26 key benefits and best practices of using a real estate blog. Not all of these entries will apply to every individual blogging scenario, but they all apply to real estate blogs in general. So you are bound to find something useful here that you've never considered before.
Here you have them, real estate blog benefits and best practices ... from A to Z.
Everyone knows you have to understand a subject well in order to write about it or explain it to others. When agents blog about the real estate scene in their cities or towns, they position themselves as authorities on the subject. In this way, a real estate blog can be a useful tool for positioning, branding and differentiation.
If used properly, a real estate blog can make the agent (or company) behind it more believable. And let's face it ... in the post-Enron, low-trust world of corporate skepticism, a little believability can go a long way. Use your real estate blog to communicate openly and honestly with your audience. Lose the fluff and the jargon. Be candid and sincere. And speaking of being candid...
It's a mistake to treat your real estate blog as "Website, Part 2." Blogs are easy to publish, so you can publish to them more frequently. In this way, a real estate blog can become an ongoing dialogue between you and your audience (potential clients). To get the most out of this dialogue, and to achieve the believability mentioned above, a real estate blog should take on the candid, heartfelt voice of the author.
Real estate blogs are direct-to-reader / direct-to-consumer. You simply type your message, click the "Publish" button, and your message becomes instantly viewable online. Unlike other forms of business communication, there are no journalists or editors to put their own spin on things. Your message goes from you, directly onto your blog, and directly to your audience.
In a perfect world, only the truly enthusiastic bloggers would publish real estate blogs. But this is not the case, and as a result there's a lot of "half-hearted" blogs online today. Half-hearted commentary stands out like a purple elephant in the blogosphere. This kind of blogging actually does more harm than good. On the other hand, enthusiasm comes across in blog posts -- but enthusiasm is both positive and contagious.
The number of ways you can use your real estate blog is limited only by your imagination and energy. Maybe your blog will be a source for local real estate news. You can do that. Or maybe your blog will cater to a certain niche, such as condo buyers or home sellers. You can do that too. With the versatile publishing capabilities of most blogging programs, you can set up your blog to support any business, marketing or communication objective.
A real estate blog can help you increase your online visibility in several ways. For one thing, a blog can help you expand your website with new content, easily and efficiently. Blog daily for a year, and you'll have 365 new pages of content. And search engines love topical content. A real estate blog is also more "social" than a regular website, so with time and effort your blog can acquire links from other blogs. This "link popularity," as it's known, can do wonders for search engine ranking.
Generally speaking, real estate blogs are much more "happening" than their website counterparts. Blogs are easier to update than regular websites, which is important in the ever-changing world of real estate, interest rates, etc. When you update your blog often with quality content, it becomes an active resource that people are more inclined to read, revisit and recommend.
When you keep people in your area informed about the local real estate scene, you increase the usefulness of your real estate blog. You also increase the likelihood of future business from those readers, not to mention the likelihood they will recommend your blog to others. Blogging is a simple but effective way to keep people informed. Before you publish a new post, get in the habit of asking yourself, "How will this blog post help my readers?" If you can answer that, publish a way. If you can't answer it, rethink the topic.
In general, blogs are not the place for corporate speak or "fluff" content. This applies to the real estate blog as well. Write your blog in your own voice. Don't try to impress people with your vocabulary. The best blogs convey quality information in a conversational style. This will increase your readership, the level of dialogue, and (ultimately) the blog's profitability as a client-acquisition tool.
Dr. John Tuccillo, former Chief Economist for the NAR, recently said: "With the expansion of the number of Realtors, the level of competence has fallen to its lowest point ever." If this general perception spreads to the public in general, it could cause real problems for real estate professionals. This is another area where a real estate blog can benefit you. Use your blog to show readers how knowledgeable you are on your subject. Just remember, some of your readers will know as much about the subject as you do. So check your facts before posting!
You stand to gain a lot from the interaction and trust mentioned previously in this list. When you interact with your blog readers in a positive way, you have a much greater chance of turning them into clients. You can also configure your blog to allow reader comments, which is another way to generate leads and start a dialogue.
Blogging programs simplify the web-publishing process to such a degree that anyone can do it, regardless of their web experience. In fact, a single individual could easily manage a large web presence if it were built on blogging technology. This is ideal for real estate agents who operate independently, without the benefit of an I.T. department.
A well-written real estate blog will "pull" readers into the message, as opposed to pushing the message on the reader (like magazine ads). People can sign up for your blog in total privacy, either by using the blog's RSS feed or an email subscription option (if you provide one). The readers come to the blog -- it is not thrust upon them. As long as blogs in general adhere to this non-invasive, respectful approach, they will be held in higher esteem than other communication channels like email.
A real estate blog is more than a simple communication tool. It can serve operational roles as well. This could include internal collaboration (like an intranet) or outward instruction (like a home buying seminar online).
Before you publish your first blog post, you should determine the purpose of your real estate blog. Sure, you can always dive right in and figure out your purpose as you go. But your blog will be more effective (and easier to produce) if you have a purpose and plan ahead of time. Ask yourself, "What do I want to accomplish with my blog? Who is my ideal audience? What information would they find useful?"
Qualitative and Quantitative
When real estate blogging is done well, it has both a quantitative and qualitative affect. The quantity of content will increase your website's usefulness and search engine visibility. The quality of content helps you position yourself as an expert and differentiate yourself from other agents in your area (see entry for "Knowledgeable" above).
Blog content can be reused for many purposes. For example, you could expand your blog posts into article-length and publish them online for additional exposure and web traffic.
This point is somewhat repetitive of 'C' for candid. Guilty as charged. But it's worth repeating, so I'm repeating it. The most popular real estate blogs got to where they are partly by being straightforward. In this context, straightforward refers to both the design and the content of the blog. Real estate blogs that are "overly designed" tend to look more like websites than blogs. I truly believe this reduces their candidness and authenticity. The same goes for the blog's content. Blog postings that are straightforward and candid will generate more interaction and "buzz" among readers.
The best real estate blogs are thoughtful. I don't mean thoughtful in the sense of "kind" -- although kindness does go a long way on the Web -- but thoughtful as in "full of thought." Each time you publish a blog post, put some thought into the content. Make sure it (A) supports your overall blogging goals, (B) gives your readers useful information, and (C) reflects well upon you as a real estate professional.
When you first set up your blog, it will be straightforward and easy to use. The default settings of most blogging programs are designed this way for a reason. But some people feel the need to clutter up their blogs with all kind of nonsense, reducing the blog's usability and readership in one swoop. Avoid this. Keep you blog clean and easy to read. Web readers and researches are skilled at hopping from site to site. They don't need much of a reason to bail out on you, and they'll do just that if your blog is hard to navigate.
You should blog because you want to, not because you think you have to. If you start a real estate blog just because everyone else is doing it, it will lack the heartfelt enthusiasm that's a trademark of popular blogs. (See "E' for enthusiastic above.)
Your real estate blog is the ideal place to share your wisdom about the industry. This will help you position yourself as an authority in your field (letter 'A' above) and foster the trust mentioned under the letter 'T' above. A "tip of the day" series is a prime example of this. It's a great way to share your real estate wisdom, and it's the kind of thing that will keep people coming back to your blog and recommending it to others.
Yes, I cheated with this letter. But real estate blogs are truly extensible (and you try to produce an adjective starting with 'X'). Your blog can grow as your audience grows, or as your company grows. You can add additional authors, perhaps a colleague in the mortgage industry. You can add sections to cover additional topics. You can expand a blog however you need to support your objectives. And it doesn't require an I.T. department to get it done. Blogging programs are designed to be extensible.
A real estate blog can have one author or several authors. I've seen popular blogs published by individual agents, as well as some published by teams of writers. But the blog has to belong to somebody. It should be yours, or his and hers, or all of yours. Somebody needs to own the blog. Otherwise, nobody will trust what it has to say.
The dictionary defines zippy as "lively and full of energy." These are great traits for a real estate blog. If you are passionate in the way you publish your blog, it will eventually connect with readers who are equally passionate about the subject matter. These are the kind of people who will promote your blog without being asked to do so! It goes something like this: "Hey, Barbara, you have to check out this real estate blog I've been reading lately. Let me send you the link..."
* You may republish this article online if you retain the author's byline and the ACTIVE hyperlinks below. Copyright 2007, Brandon Cornett.
About the Author
Brandon Cornett is the author of a popular real estate blog that covers marketing-related topics. He is the author of several e-books on blogging and Internet marketing. Learn more at http://www.armingyourfarming.com