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Have Writer's Block?

November 17 2010

online media winsOne question I get consistently any time I talk to people about real estate blogging is, “What do you write about and where do you find the time?”

And a darn fine question it is. Actually, it’s two questions. We’ll attempt to tackle the first one now, ans the second one in a follow up article.

What to write about

Here is where I differ somewhat from many “blogging experts”. Personally, I don’t think a real estate blog needs to be exclusively about real estate. You don’t need to go all “hyper local” to have a successful real estate blog.

“Blasphemy!” someone is saying.

In my opinion (and according to a small poll I took with non-real estate agent readers of my bloga small poll I took with non-real estate agent readers of my blog) readers like to see a variety. It is, after all, the spice of life. They like to see your opinions – not just the regurgitation of random facts.

Yes, you can build a readership posting nothing but mind-numbing real estate statistics and charts. You can be wildly successful with nothing but “hyper local” content.

But you don’t have to go that route.

Write what you are passionate about, write about what interests you. Your readers are smart. They will pick up on your passion and interests. Conversely, they will also pick up the fact that you are writing for search engines, or on topics you have no interest in but feel you should write about. Believe it or not, you are not all that unique in what interests you. Trust me, if you find a topic interesting, the odds are overwhelming that a bunch of other people will also find it interesting.

The bottom line here is that it is OK to get personal. Let’s face it, people ultimately pick a real estate agent to work with because they connect with them on some level. They pick an agent they like. And a real estate blog is an outstanding tool for displaying your personality on the Internet.

This isn’t to say that you have to divulge every intimate detail about your personal life. But injecting your personality is critical. Check your ego at the keyboard. The sooner you realize that you can’t be the perfect real estate agent for everyone, the sooner you’ll find more and more things you can write about. And the sooner you will engage with your readership.

Writing is painful for many people. I’m fortunate in that writing comes fairly easy for me. Sometimes I get stuff stuck in my head and the only way to get it out is to write. That probably seems foreign to a lot of folks. It’s just the way I’m wired. Yeah, it’s weird. And there is a fine line sometimes between a curse and a blessing…

If your brain isn’t naturally full of writing ideas (or full of something…), here are a few tips to help you come up with topics for your real estate blog:

  • Put yourself in the shoes of buyers and sellers. They ask a LOT of questions. Answer those questions in a blog post. Can’t think of the questions your clients always ask? Go to Trulia VoicesTrulia Voices and peruse through the hundreds of questions real estate consumers post there every single day. The place is a gold mine of real estate blog topics.
  • Read your local newspaper. They have people called reporters that are paid to uncover the news. Do not, EVER, copy/paste entire newspaper stories into your blog. Not only is that a copyright violation, the simple fact is you need to write in YOUR voice. Add YOUR thoughts and opinions. You are not a reporter, so you don’t have to report in an unbiased fashion. Take a news story and a snippet or two of the reporters writing and spin that into a blog post espousing your take on the matter.
  • Read other real estate blogs. As with the local newspapers, do not copy other bloggers content! That’s stealing, plain and simple, and it sucks. Don’t do it. It’s perfectly fine however to get ideas and topics from other bloggers. When I suggest this, invariably someone will say, “But I can’t write about the same thing little Johnny Agent in Florida just wrote about. It won’t be original!”
    Phooey. Let’s face it, you aren’t going to write about a topic that someone, somewhere, hasn’t already covered. And limiting yourself (if you even could) to wholly original topics would be blog suicide. What, you aren’t going to write about short sales because someone else already did? Think earlier this year you couldn’t write about the homebuyer tax credit because there was nothing new to say? You’re going to chose not to answer the question, “What is escrow” just because it’s already been covered a bazillion times?
  • Interview a local business owner. Write a series about local businesses. What business owner doesn’t like to talk about themselves and their business? Would YOU turn someone away if they said, “Hey, I write a local blog and would like to highlight your business on it. For free.”??
  • Do restaurant reviews.
  • Do “Man on the Street” interviews with people. Ask them what they love about their home, or their neighborhood.
  • Get a Flip Camera (or any other cheap video camera). Do a neighborhood “drive through”. You aren’t the next Steven Spielberg, and you don’t have to be. People eat up these kind of videos. See my “Streets of PhoenixStreets of Phoenix” series for some examples. The cinematic quality stinks, but I can assure you these can make the phone ring.
  • Ask local political candidates to write a post. Yeah, you aren’t going to get your Senator to write a post, but look at your City Council and county level races. Politicians love to talk about themselves and their campaigns. See “Gilbert ElectionsGilbert Elections” on TPREG for examples.
  • Google “real estate blog topics”.
  • Google “blog topics”. Chris Brogan, a social media wizard (and genuinely nice guy) wrote a post in 2007 that comes up number one in that searchwrote a post in 2007 that comes up number one in that search. Sure, it’s not a real estate specific list. And it’s three years old. So what? Find something there that flips your switch. If you’re stuck on writing only about real estate, I’ll bet you that you can tie at least half those 100 ideas directly into real estate if you use a little imagination.

Finally, if you are the type of person that would rather slit their wrists than sit at a keyboard and write, don’t sweat it. You are not alone, and just because you don’t like to write doesn’t mean you are inferior to those who do. You are just wired differently. So what can you do? Video blog. Here are just a few kick-ass real estate video blogs (full disclosure, two of them are Thompson’s Realty agents):

If you have other suggestions on what to write about, or any questions of course, please feel free to leave a comment!

So you’re done reading this 1,201 word tome. What are you waiting for? Get out there and write (or video) something!

Next up, real estate blogging time management tips, tricks and tools. Stay tuned!