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Real Estate Blogging: Quantity, Not Detail!

March 13 2010

bloggingBeginning a blog is hard. What do you write? How long does it have to be? Does it fully capture who you are and what you can offer your readers without making you sound lame?

Jim Cronin of Real Estate Tomato hears these types of questions all day long, when working with real estate professionals who want to begin to blog. In answer to these frantic, initial questions, here's what he has to say:

"The following is based on a phone rant that I have let loose so many times that I’m starting to feel myself on auto-pilot, almost thinking about something else, as I explain the basic formula to guaranteed blogging success. It struck me that I need to write this down before I mistakenly consider it to be no longer relevant. The fact is that it couldn’t be more relevant for new and struggling real estate bloggers.

I am adding this article to the Pre-Class Homework that all of our new clients will receive, for it is the foundation of their path to blogging reward.

1. Define Your Target Audience/Ideal Reader

In a past article I wrote this:

Your knee-jerk first thought: My audience is far too diverse to have a specific ideal reader in mind when I write. It’s the same argument I hear when I try to pin an agent down to commit to focus on one specific niche community with their early blogging efforts; I’ll work everywhere, why would I want to pigeonhole myself to one location? I will be missing such a greater audience.

The answer is that it is much easier to write fluidly and constructively on a micro level than it is when approached broadly. Sure, the topics seem endless at first with the broad stroke, but the value comes in your ability to hone in on the endless topics of a narrowed focus. It is much easier to position oneself as the expert on a limited range of topics than on everything, everywhere.

Who you are writing to works in a similar manner. When you can visualize the reader, it is much easier to explain things to them. What’s easier, explaining something to a friend or to a room full of strangers? When you ‘know’ your audience, it will be much easier to deliver your ideas. My advice: force yourself to consider who you are writing to; define them, and write to them.

All of the above absolutely applies, but I think I can drive this point home and make it clear as to why this is the number one thing to do to ensure your success.

Stop thinking like an agent that will drive 20 miles in any direction to help any potential client in any neighborhood.

The Bad News: You can't be all things to all people.

The Good News: As a blogger, you have the power to create your audience, and attract the types of clients that you want to work with.

Do the following:

  • Ask yourself, “Who do I enjoy working with?” and “why?”
  • Now name your ideal reader. Mine is “Sue."
  • List everything you can about them.
  • How old are they? Are they married? Kids? Household income. Profession.”
  • Where are they from originally? What interests do they have?
  • Where do they want to live? How much do they want to spend?
  • What are their concerns/questions/challenges/dreams/plans?

There is a beautiful thing about blogging; if you write to them, they will come.

2. Define What You Are Going To Write About

Your Real Estate Blog Is Your NewspaperYour Real Estate Blog Is Your Newspaper

The above linked article tells some of the story on this step to success, but, again, this point needs to be made absolutely clear in order for you to pause reading and commit to this action.

Clear topics and organization of your content is everything.

You have an opportunity to make an amazing impression on your visitors. What you choose to write about will deem you an expert on those topics, if you make it clear.

  • Choose the pillars upon which your entire blog will stand.
  • If you are just starting out, limit yourself to no more than 10.
  • Those categories need to be something that you can commit content to regularly.
  • If it is a topic that you can’t write inexhaustibly about, then omit it from the list.
  • You can always add to this list as you develop as a blogger.
  • If your aim is to have some whimsical content, then create a category for all of it (“Whimsical Wednesday,” for example).

You'll thank me later.

If you don’t take this approach, your blog will make the impression that you are all over the place and not an expert in any topic. It will be too overwhelming to your visitor to know what to expect from you, and they will not subscribe. Your best categories will be buried by the clutter.

At the end of this post I do offer some ideas of what to write about, but I know nothing about you, your expertise, your area of focus, your goals, your ideal reader… so don’t rely on me, or others, to establish the pillars of your content. Think very clearly about this task. This is how your audience will be getting to know you, and there is nothing more important when it comes to them trusting you as their expert agent.

3. Goals—What Do You Want To Achieve From Your Efforts?

“More business” is not exactly the right answer.

You aren't selling a product; you are working on building an audience and getting them to trust you to contact you for specific reasons.

What are those reasons? My goal is that I want to be found, and found to be the expert at providing the solutions to the things that keep my ideal client up at night.

Think niche... not just “I want to work with someone that wants me to help them buy/sell a home.”

Let’s start with the Need.

What do the clients you want to work with worry about? I know you know… you spend all day educating and handling challenges, objections, negotiations and concerns.

If your goal is to be found, and found as the expert, you and your blog need to be the answers to these questions. The internet is the source of our knowledge and education when we are doing research for the major decisions in our life. Less and less we rely on friends, mother, and even the professionals (at first) when digging into a topic that really matters to us. We go online. We expect answers. This is where you come in. Preemptively tackling issues puts you in the seat next to them as they learn to overcome all the anxiety. Once they come to trust you and your expertise, you get the nod.

Now let’s look at the Location.

What areas do you want to be known as the expert? What terms do you want to make the front page of the search engines for, because of your blogging? San Diego (for example) is not the right answer. La Jolla is... or even communities within La Jolla. Get it?

Real Estate is all about location, location, location; right? Well, so is real estate blogging!
Pin down locations and blog the heck out of them. Force yourself into positions of success. There is nothing more effective than writing community profiles, over and over.

The more you are all over the place, the more diluted your traffic, message and impression become. Seriously... imagine all the exciting things that could have you found for your goals. Waterfront Condo in La Jolla, CA? That's more, like it, and it will generate you a much more qualified visitor for your effort.

If water is to be found 100 feet below the surface, you aren't going to dig five 20-foot holes.

It sounds like something I picked up from Keller Williams agents, and it is correct:

Focus your efforts to find success. Note the formula should you want to start digging again to grow your reach.

4. How Often Can You Find Time To Write And Publish Blog Articles?

Seriously... what commitment can you make for the long haul?

When I am asked the question, "How much do I need to blog to make this a successful venture?" the short answer is, "As much as you can." The long answer is that you are to become a blogger to make this work.

A blogger sees and hears article topics throughout the day and writes regularly about their target audience's needs.

The goal is content. The effort is typing.

To make blogging a successful venture, you need see the venture as a change in you.
You now write for business. You now hear blog articles in every conversation, email, house, meeting, photograph, tour, closing, listing appointment, open house... put on your blogger’s hat.

The challenge MUST NOT be topics. If it is, you don't get it. Your business is made up almost entirely of content. You get to choose the content for which you will be known as the expert.

This is the reward, the immediate reward, to a growing audience. You get to instantly be the expert on whatever you choose. People want to do business with experts.

The challenge is making it a priority. Once you realize that this is how you not only generate new business, but communicate with the audience you already have, it’s easy to make it a priority.

Typewriter Schedule it.

  • 2-3 times a week is a minimum, and a pace that will not necessarily be swiftly rewarded.
  • In the beginning it is more quantity over detail.
  • Create as much content as you can.

If you try to write your opus with every post, you will fail; you will burn out; you will not enjoy it; it will be a waste of money and time that was better left undone.

Mix it up.

Here are a few ideas right off the top of my head:

  • A weekly photo post with a short description (10 mins)
  • A weekly email/client question (copy paste: 10 mins)
  • A weekly historical fact or fun fact about the area (30 mins with research)
  • A weekly Listing Profile (yours or not) about which you have something very interesting to say. (30 mins)
  • A weekly Challenge Overcome story (30 mins)
  • A Weekly Top 10 real estate post: "Top 10 things to consider before searching for a condo in La Jolla" (1.5 hours)
  • A Weekly Business profile (restaurant, locksmith, new opening... whatever) (45 mins)
  • Monthly Market Stats/Trends Analysis (1 hour)
  • Monthly testimonial/client story (1 hour)
  • A Weekly Interest Rate update from your friend the Loan Officer (5 mins to post)
  • A weekly "nothing to do with real estate whatsoever" post (Tennis anyone?) (1 hour)

Now fill in the holes with everything else that enters your head as a good idea for a blog post. It took me just 5 mins to type up how you can generate nearly 500 posts in a year in less than 20 hours a month (5/week).

You see, it's not the ‘what’ nor the ‘how,’ it's the WHEN, and the WHEN in now.