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 Real Estate Blogging... WHY? (Part 5)
By: Darin "Sid" Cameron, CRS
Fri, Jul 7th, 2006 12:42 am

When I started blogging in 2004 there weren’t a lot of local commercial blogs in St. Louis (actually, I couldn’t find ANY- including other local real estate blogs). That was a problem for me because I really wasn’t sure exactly what my blog should look like or say.

So I reached out to several other real estate agents who were blogging- including a gentleman named Hanan Levin, the co-owner of 'The Champion' Real Estate Company in Riverside, California and author of the Grow-a-Brain blog.

Levin strongly felt that blogging had value to real estate agents, but he believed most agents were too short sighted to make them work. According to Levin the average real estate blog lasted just 90 days before the author abandoned it. So despite the fact that agents need creative, cheap marketing, they also appear to need creative, cheap and IMMEDIATE marketing.

Unfortunately if that's what you need as well, from my experiences, that’s not blogging.

For the first few months I blogged, it was a real challenge because I questioned every minute I spent writing those early articles since website traffic was confirming that no one was actually reading them.

The first time a prospective client called (months later) and told my wife that they decided to call us because they were reading the blog we both almost fell over.

And this brings me to the actual advice I wanted to give agents regarding real estate blogging.

1) Know WHY you’re blogging. Sure, you want more customers, but that’s vague and often leads you to write self-serving advertising that no one really wants to read- and if no one reads it, you aren’t going to get more customers.

The biggest problem I personally see with the real estate industry is that we have too many agents with virtually no knowledge of real estate. If you agree, then you probably want to set yourself apart from the “know-nothing” crowd. Is there a better (or cheaper) way to do this by dispensing advice and knowledge on the internet for all to read? Probably not.

2) Know WHO you’re blogging to. Who do you want to read your blog? What reaction do you want them to have to it? Simply saying you want everyone to read it will probably make it so vague that no one will.

If your specialization in real estate in relocation, then write a blog offering advice to people relocating to your market. Isolate problems people have when relocating and talk about them.

If you live in a small town, blog about the benefits and enjoyments of living in that town. Why would someone want to live there? Who are the major employers? What is going on at the high school, the library, and the local churches?

If you want to work with more sellers, offer staging advice, talk about the steps to getting a home ready to show, etc. Be an expert and people will come to you for advice; be just another idiot agent and people will avoid you.

3) Define yourself and your blog. One of the biggest problems I see when I read blogs (including my original blog) is that they are often all over the place talking about a wide variety of topics. That’s fine if it’s a personal blog, but as a commercial blog whose ultimate goal is to help you connect with customers you aren’t going to be taken seriously if you are talking about your car breaking down, your dry cleaner ruining your suit or trying to start a grass roots boycott of Wal-Mart because you had a rude clerk.

Hanan Levin, of Grow-a-Brain fame, said that early on he realized blogging was a creative release for him which he needed outside of selling real estate. Because he wanted the blog to be about non-real estate topics, he broke the blog away from his real estate website and evolved it into a personal blog separate from his real estate business.

4) Don’t be afraid to write multiple blogs. If you really want a creative outlet like Levin, or have a hobby you love, then create a personal blog as well as a business blog. After six months of blogging, I realized that my blog really needed to split up into multiple blogs to make it easier to follow- and there is blogging software that will let you do this now.

At the same time, most blog software now lets you assign categories to your postings (which my original blog software did not). That allows the reader to find articles written about relocation or selling a home, or what ever topic they are interested in. Again, it all comes back to the targeted reader, and the easier it is for them to read your blog posts the more they are apt to want to work with you.

5) Don’t expect immediate results. Once you write a blog post, there is no expiration date unless the post was time sensitive (like an event that happened last Tuesday). My wife Kimberly was contacted two weeks ago from a blog post over a year ago. As long as the post remains out there on the internet, people will continue to find it (and even though it’s old to you, it’s new to them!)

6) Don’t worry about posting every day. Moveable Type wrote an article about this subject (Editor's Note: Originally I included a link to this, but alas it's now gone). When you first start blogging it’s easy to get caught up in the belief that if you aren’t saying something every day people won’t take you seriously. When that happens, you will find yourself writing second rate posts just to have content.  Not only will the blog suffer because the content is, well, worthless but it’s a real drag to write something you have no desire to write about.

My advice, post when you really have something to say and have the time to say it right. After all, you’re a real estate agent with clients and other obligations, not a newspaper reporter whose obligations ARE the newspaper. (For the record, I worked on this series of posts off and on for several days in a word processor until it was done and ready to publish).

7) Remember, it’s not about the blog, it’s about the content in the blog. Why do people look for things on the internet? Because they seek knowledge. If your ultimate goal is to get people to find you on the internet, or decide to work with you because of your knowledge, then the most important thing to know about blogging is that quality content which demonstrates your knowledge is the only thing that will pay off for you.

All too often real estate agents take short cuts with pre-constructed websites and canned marketing materials that 1000 other agents are using. When it comes to blogging, agents often cut and paste news from other sites. Unfortunately if your website or blog says the same thing as 20 other agents in town (or 1000 other websites), then the savvy internet surfer will just bypass you to the next site.

There are no shortcuts.

So that’s my advice on blogging. Of course I’ve referenced that I quit blogging several times, so you’re probably asking why, if it’s so valuable, did I personally quit? Well, truth is, I didn’t.

But more of that tomorrow...

[ Next Article: << Real Estate Blogging... WHY? (Part 6) ]
[ Previous Article: >> Real Estate Blogging... WHY? (Part 4) ]


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Darin 'Sid' Cameron, CRS

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Darin "Sid" Cameron spent 15 years working in tech sales which in 1998 relocated him to St. Louis. In 2004 he took over web development tasks for Kimberly's real estate team and later became the full-time Marketing and Operations Director. In 2011, he launched two brokerages, The Realty Store, Inc. and Realty Referral Partners, Inc. Sid holds a real estate broker's license in Missouri, CRS certification and was the first CyberStar in the St. Louis area.
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