To Blog or Not to Blog… The Real Estate Agent’s Question (Part I)

Businesses on the web are blogging their way to marketing success. Blogging has become increasingly popular from corporate CEO to sole proprietors. How does this form of online writing help a company’s bottom line and who should consider writing a blog? More importantly, who shouldn’t?

A blog (short for web log) is a dynamic, regularly updated journal entry created in “real time” and uploaded to your website or blog server. For real estate professionals, it can be a fantastic marketing tool. It’s now hit the mainstream and if you have ever considered a blog for your Real Estate website, it’s time to move forward with your plans!

Consider A Real Estate Business Blog

  • For better search engine results – Writing a regular blog will help improve your search engine rankings, especially if your topics are selected based on your target market. You access directories, indexes and engines reserved for blogs. You can pull an RSS feed of your blog onto your index page of your website to help keep the content fresh and constantly updated.
  • To bridge the gap between your online presence and your personality – Blogs are wonderful tools for making your business “web image” more personal. Blog readers get to know more about who you are, what you do, what motivates you and how your products and services benefit them.
  • As a forum to display your expertise or your niche services – Blogs are a conversational platform you can use to provide information and real service to your target audience without sounding like a salesperson. By discussing common situations, and offering resolutions, options and solutions – you position yourself as an approachable expert. You
    become a person your reader really WANTS to call.

Do NOT Blog If:

  • You cannot commit to regular entries – A blog that lies dormant with only sporadic entries makes you look less than dedicated. The subconscious message to a potential client is “this person can’t even commit to their own blog, how can I trust that they will commit to selling my house?” If you are dedicated, regular and DEPENDABLE in your blogging schedule, you will appear both dependable and detail-oriented. If you cannot commit to making an entry at least once a week, a blog isn’t your best bet. If you are willing to write only once a month,
    a regular article or formal column on your site is a better option.
  • You want to keep a journal and think this may be your opportunity – In some businesses, this can work. As a writer, my blog has included some personal entries from time to time, but as a real estate agent you should be a bit more cautious. If you have attended a community event and you have something positive to say about it – your blog is the perfect place. If you want to flame the way a public official handled himself (or herself) at that public event, you should probably reconsider. Blogs are more personal, more conversational. That’s part of the charm. But, a real estate business blog is not the time for your own “True
    Confessions” story, nor is it the proper forum for a personal-political agenda. If your blog topic is one of some local controversy – state your opinion, but be sure to do so tactfully. You will have as many readers that like what you say as readers who live on the other side of the fence on that issue. Be yourself, but use common sense. And, if you must do a personal “let it all hang out” blog – do it as a personal (and preferably anonymous) blog – not as a part of
    your business.
  • You are only doing it for the search engine boost – A business blog is an excellent tool to help your business in the engines, but it should be more service-centric than just a “what’s in it for me” approach. You create a more popular blog and will enjoy a direct correlation on increased calls from potential clients when you offer your expertise without demanding anything in return.

Talk to Them

People enjoy reading “conversational” communication. They want to read content that sounds like you are talking to them. They want that initial “connection” without commitment. A real estate blog will help you provide that to the clients you most want to reach, but it requires a time and energy commitment from you. Some companies are actually paying others to write in their blogs.

If you are uncomfortable with your own writing, you could hire someone to flesh out your ideas or even to polish them up a bit – but the ideas, the tone, the language and the message should still be yours. If not, the reader will know your blog isn’t really you the first time they speak with you on the phone. You will be judged a “phony” and they will know it immediately. If you really want to blog and you aren’t comfortable, attend a blogging seminar, a beginning blogging class,
or hire a successful blogger to give you a few pointers. Be sure the option you select covers the differences between a business blog and a personal blog and how to help you reach your ideal clients.

Keep it First Person

A blog is your chance to personally connect with potential clients – to “chat” with them about: • Real estate
• Your geographic area
• Life in the region
• The benefits of living there.

These are some of the things that make you a great agent. You should use your own voice online to express these thoughts. If you write a blog evaluating when it’s time to move to a bigger house–and base it on your own personal experience or your guidance as another client
made that decision– it will be more valuable and more readily accepted than a third person article on how to do the same thing.

How Blogs Help Your Internet Marketing

From a marketing standpoint, blogging keeps your content fresh and Google loves new content. Based on my own blog stats, MSN seems to be even more enamored of blogs than Google at the moment. And, Yahoo! Search continues to show a steady stream of search engine results that include blog entries. Putting an RSS feed on your business website’s index page will mean that
your blog does double-duty in keeping fresh content to please the search engines while keeping your thoughts easily accessible to your clients.

Handling the Controversy

You may notice an increase in press – both positive and negative – about blogging lately. The power of blogging to build (or destroy) a brand is usually at the center of the issue. Is this an effective marketing tool? Yes. And, like any powerful tool, it can benefit or it can damage depending on how it’s used and by whom. Follow the same ethical business guidelines in your blog that you would follow in your face-to-face meetings with clients.

Be optimistic, be warm, be human… be yourself. Now to help you blog to your hearts content, next month’s PART II article will cover all the practical issues (blog tools, Websites, etc.) that need to be considered before bringing your blog to the masses.

Note: This article was orginally published in the December 2005 edition of ePOWER! News.