Is it possible for the average real estate professional to develop a readership, build a list of subscribers to influence, and eventually generate leads from their blog? Absolutely! But like anything that reliably produces results, it's going to take a lot of hustle. With some help, it's definitely within your grasp.
The process works as follows. Blogging gives you something to promote in social and other channels where your prospective customers hang out. They follow the link back to your post. Hopefully they love the post, read a few others, and decide to subscribe to your blog's RSS feed. Or they give you their email address in exchange for your awesome real estate white paper or other free downloadable. You now have a new subscriber you can influence.
Continuing to deliver valuable posts and email updates keeps them coming back to your site again and again. You have the opportunity to build your authority in the industry, credibility and trust. New information items are offered as downloads. The landing pages for these items ask for additional information about your prospect's needs. This helps round out your prospect information ‘card' in the CRM (customer relationship management system) database, and you have a warm lead to follow up with.
Instead of interrupting your prospects' lives by thrusting annoying advertising in their face, you've earned the right to influence their buying decisions by delivering real value in advance. By creating useful content, you've caused genuinely interested prospects to seek you out.
The two things you need to get started are a business blog and time.
1. Your blog
For promoting your real estate business, you will want to have your blog hosted on your domain as part of your own website. For example, if your domain is www.johndoe.com, you would probably have your blog set up at www.johndoe.com/blog, and add a menu item to the blog. Sending your visitors out of your site to a third party blog host, like Blogger, Typepad or WordPress.com will give you an address like johndoe.typepad.com, and the SEO value for your site won't be the same.
Having a blog built, to match the rest of your website, usually takes a professional blog builder a few days. I have designed, installed and set up over 150 blogs, on several popular platforms, so if you need any help, please don't hesitate to ask me a question.
Sharing makes the web go 'round. Make sure your blogging efforts don't go unnoticed. You'll want to have your blog developer add buttons to encourage sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. To encourage commenting, a comment system like CommentLuv Premium or Disqus can increase interaction.
2. Your time
Alas, there are no real shortcuts to building an audience of highly qualified, prospective buyers. It takes a clear understanding of your audience, a lot of posts published regularly, a ton of promotion, tactfully influencing the subscribers to your blog feed and email list, while continuing to provide extremely useful content (so they don't drop off), while building many quality relationships over time.
“But wait a minute,” I hear some of you responding, “I get emails every day offering automated solutions, instant rankings, quick traffic…” I'm sure you do, sprinkled amongst the penis and breast enlargement pill offers, and equally believable.
If you want to invest the required time in blogging and online promotion personally, is there someone that can take over part of your role in the business? Some business owners have done very well, becoming “the face” of their company online.
Writing your posts
Let's face it, most blog posts aren't worth reading. Posting is often viewed as a task on a to do list — an unpleasant chore — and the content reflects that. There's no passion behind the content, no story to engage the reader. Providing really valuable information requires research… as in, it's serious “work.”
So, too often, the posts are nothing more than shameless advertising, prepared by one of the sales team. They present the latest property listings. It's blog spam. Guess what; your readers are bombarded with offers all day long, and preservation of their sanity dictates they tune you out. They are never going to go searching on the internet for your advertising, then subscribe to your blog's RSS feed or email newsletter, so they can get even more spam offers regularly.
Other broker blogs cover new appointments and staff events. And while these may provide value to the families of employees in attendance, nothing could interest prospective buyers less. There are times when showing a bit of your company's culture has value, by covering an event, but this should not be regular blog content.
And then there's the journal of sold out projects. These case study posts do have value. They provide the search engines with real estate and geographic keywords to index, and prospective sellers may check the posts out at some point. If these make up only about 10% of your posts, by all means include them.
So what should you write about?
Epic content should be considered ridiculously valuable by readers and search engines alike. High value content is relevant, focused on the reader and useful. It answers a question or addresses a pain point of the audience, providing an actionable solution to a problem.
To build a readership and following, your content must be frequent and dependable. It's also timely and has an ‘evergreen' insight. In other words, while it addresses a current issue, it's written to remain relevant for the foreseeable future.
It's transparent, honest and open. You're trying to build a relationship of trust with your future buyers and sellers. Be genuine and let some of your personality shine through.
Promoting your posts
When the post goes live, the real work begins. As Jay Baer stated, “We often think about content and social media as different, but they are really two sides of the same coin. Content is fire, and social media is gasoline.”
As soon as a good copywriter finishes a post, promotion begins. There are social media sites to post to, social conversations to engage in, comments to leave on related blogs, questions and answers to post on Quora and Yahoo! Answers, similar guest posts to prepare and have published. Every few posts, there's an email newsletter to publish… time to roll up the sleeves for a few long days and nights…
Other peoples' time?
We've established that writing inspired, interesting, well researched and extremely valuable content on a regular schedule is very demanding. And very few real estate professionals will be willing to sacrifice their few hours of personal time to learn how to become an outstanding blogger, and then commit to publishing one to three epic posts each week.
You could hire a professional web copywriter, that specializes in SEO and conversion of visitors into subscribers. While not on the payroll, these writers become part of your team. They learn everything they can about your company, its projects, the competition, your buyers and sellers… and they never stop learning how to write more effectively for you. In addition to writing some or all of your content, many offer coaching in blog writing and social media, so you or your staff members can learn to produce the caliber of useful content your readers crave.
How about hiring a budget writer, from Elance or Freelancer, as a lower cost alternative? You can buy twenty or more blog posts from one of those sites, for roughly the price of only one written by a conversion/SEO expert. If blog content, and the marketing of that content, are viewed simply as a commodity, it does make sense to assign it to the lowest bidder. But, as the humorous tattoo comparison to the left illustrates, you tend to get exactly what you pay for when it comes to buying creative work.
Google's algorithm updates weed out content that fails to provide exceptional value to the reader. Google wants to index epic content that informs and inspires, written by an author established as an authority in the field, with a loyal readership.
Information product marketers discovered a long time ago that paying a professional conversion copywriter $30,000+ for a single long form squeeze page was the best money they ever spent. Profits in the millions of dollars per year could be expected in return for that relatively small investment. In the same way, investing in twenty blog posts, at ten bucks a pop, could severely hurt your search engine rankings and online authority. Investing several times that in an experienced real estate web copywriter, capable of placing your content in front of the right eyes, while building your list and lead database, can be a spectacular bargain.
Whether you decide to take on blogging yourself, with some coaching and assistance, or bring in a real estate copywriter, the important thing is to make a commitment to publishing valuable content regularly. Then stick by that commitment. In time, it should deliver a steady stream of customers to your website.
Are you wondering if you may benefit from some one-on-one coaching or assistance? My free 20 minute coaching call may be a game changer.