We’ve all been there before– that awkward moment where suddenly, you’re in the middle of some staring contest with a blank sheet of paper. Perspiration forms as your mind wanders, but the expended mental energy hasn’t gotten you any closer to conquering your first sentence. If that’s you- you’re not alone!
Receiving a comparative literature degree from UC Berkeley was one of the hardest things I ever did. The constant reading, writing and reports; the sleep deprivation, the revisions, the “this isn’t good enough even though you spent 9 hours on it;” the draft 3, draft 5, draft 7; the incomprehensible lectures and the frustrating grading system that, to this day, seems nothing short of arbitrary; the list goes on!
You Can Learn to Appreciate Writing
When I look back on those years, other than feeling relief, I have intense gratitude for what I learned. I was not a natural writer, and am confident I can still improve my skill. Through grade school, reading and writing comprehension was actually one of my weakest areas! My mom often laughs when she remembers the concern she had when reviewing my low test scores. My “1 star” rating vs the “5 star” average landed me in a few “special classes” during elementary school. But what can I say — Hooked on Phonics worked for me!
So, what is my point behind these stories? Simply put, if I could learn to understand and even “appreciate” the process of writing– anyone can! Not everyone is going to LOVE writing– but the idea that someone is unqualified, ill-fit to write, and that you either have “the gift” or don’t, simply isn’t true!
But I am Too Scared to Write
I know many real estate agents who don’t write simply because they are too scared. Sometimes they hide behind the valid, yet common excuse of “I don’t have enough time!”
Nevertheless, content creation is now more necessary to a successful real estate marketing campaign. With nearly 90% of interested homebuyers using the internet during the home buying process, it is essential you have an online presence that shows relevant up-to-date content. Take the following example:
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Mr & Mrs. Smith are looking to purchase their first home. As most people do, they ask trusted family, friends and/or coworkers for recommendations. After asking around, they have a list of 3 suggested Realtors — Realtor A, Realtor B, and Realtor C. What would be the natural next step in their search process?
Lets check them out online!
Mr & Mrs. Smith search for all 3 Realtors on the internet and find that: Realtor A has virtually no presence online (apart from a static company website); Realtor B is not much better, except for an inactive and out-dated Facebook page; But Realtor C really stands out! This Realtor has a company profile, their own personal website, are active on social sites, show recent activity and have interesting blogs that answer relevant real estate questions.
Who do you think received the phone call?
Unfortunately, Realtors A & B will never know how many phone calls they HAVEN’T received because they’ve taken no time to invest in their online presence. Websites with blogs on an average get 55% more website visitors than those who don’t — wouldn’t you want a piece of that pie? The good news — it’s never too late to start!
What Do I Write About?
Knowing what to write about is as simple as looking at your normal day. Think about the things you constantly hear from your customers. What are the most frequent concerns, inquiries, subjects that they want to discuss? Answer these frequently asked questions in blog posts and become the “know-it-all!” It’s important you show that your the expert in YOUR AREA because, with over 60 trillion pages indexed on the internet— chances are- someone has already written about your subject.
Not only that, Google has suggested many times that their long term goal is to identify “authorities” on any given subject. This means Google is going to start recognizing certain people or businesses as the “final say,” and give their content more relevance in search results. Again, this is a process they are undergoing, and no one knows how long it will take before it goes into affect. Still, since Google has alluded to their future plans, why not set yourself up for success?
When thinking about what to write, remember that your advantage is the intimate understanding you have of your particular real estate market. Be “niche specific” when you blog and focus on the small characteristics that differentiate your neighborhood from other areas. In the world of information, this is key in standing out from the rest.
Some agents who don’t blog argue that they don’t have time to write. I would argue– you don’t have time NOT to write! We stress the importance of being online to all of our customers here at HomeFolio Media. In fact, for those who aren’t blogging and can’t fit it in their schedule, I blog for them!
Since our customers are top producers in the luxury real estate markets of the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern Nevada, they simply get bogged down with the day-to-day tasks of running a successful business. Some hire their own personal assistants to write for them, others are happy to use me as their writer.
I believe it is ideal to blog for yourself. Still, we offer blogging services for those who aren’t doing it because we recognize the importance of having a presence online, and controlling (as much as you can) the content that arises when a prospective client searches your name. A quick phone conversation gives me all the information I need to create an informative blog post for or about a HomeFolio Media Realtor. Of coarse, our customers get the final say on what is published, but this collaborative effort has been very beneficial to those who aren’t blogging at all!
No matter the method you use to create content, competition simply is too fierce to neglect your online presence. With the continuing shift of things to the cyber world, it is safe to assume that content creation and maintaining a strong online presence really is the FUTURE of real estate marketing.
Moving Past the Hurdles
Convinced yet? If you’ve decided to begin blogging– congratulations! This is one of the best investments you can make. Stick to it LONG ENOUGH– and you won’t be disappointed!
When attempting to write a blog post, know that you probably won’t get it perfect the first time. In fact, you can revise something 11 times, go back 1 day later and STILL find something to change. I personally feel like no matter how much I perfect an article, there is always something I could have said better — that is a normal feeling! The most important thing is to provide valuable content that your readers can benefit from and utilize. Remember, if you are talking about a pretty common subject, add your unique perspective, or opinion to it, so it is different from others.
If the idea of writing still puts butterflies in your stomach, I’ve compiled a list of things I learned during my years of study. This is in no way an exhaustive list, but is meant to offer one of many ways you can begin blogging.
How To Compose a Real Estate Blog Post
1 – Jot Down Your Ideas
Think “stream of consciousness” or bullet points. When you begin, simply jot down your thoughts and don’t worry about making sense or sounding great. If you still aren’t sure what to write about when you begin, just writing down the random thoughts that pass through your head can help you focus.
You don’t have to go far when it comes to finding topics to write about. Look at your normal work day and you will find PLENTY of blog post subjects. Begin with the frequently asked questions that you hear from your customers.
2- Categorize the Thoughts
After you’ve written down a few ideas- notice which thoughts (bullet points) correlate the most. If you find that some of them center around the same topic, use that as the subject for your blog post.
Begin to form these thoughts into cohesive sentences. After you have created a few sentences, separate them into paragraphs (usually 4 – 5 sentences each). This should be an easy step as you will probably start to notice natural change points throughout the article. Sometimes I like to resort to the methods I learned in grade school and make sure my articles include:
A – An Introductory Paragraph With Thesis Statement ( short statement that summarizes the main point of a document)
B – The Body ( minimum three paragraphs that goes into detail about the thesis)
C- The Conclusion ( summarizes the entire document and provides a “take away” idea or principal.
Remember, your blog post won’t be coming back to you with a letter grade and bright red markings. So you are in no way tied to one method when it comes to composition. This is just one of MANY ways you can organize a post.
How Long Should My Real Estate Blog Post Be?
Since many of us have a short attention span, it’s easy to automatically assume that short is better– after all, who has time to read a essay in the first place? One study found that most people only read between 20% to 28% of a blog post to begin with.
Surprisingly, statistics suggest that longer blogs posts actually do better overall. For example, longer blogs posts (1500 words or more) gained 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes. According to a study by serpIQ articles with 2000 words or more ended up within the top 10 results of Google search results. As well, longer blog posts have a better chance of receiving quality link backs.They often provide more information and keywords. These are all factors that Google’s algorithm takes into consideration when ranking websites.
The idea of writing a 1500+ blog post might seem daunting, overwhelming if not — impossible! But, if you have to choose between quantity (multiple short 200 word blog posts) vs. quality (one longer, in-depth blog post), choose the latter. This might affect the amount of blog posts you are able to produce each week– but quality should always be the ultimate goal.
Things to Include in Your Real Estate Blog Post
Include the keywords you want to be ranked for on search engines. For example if your a Realtor in the Silicon Valley and you want to target Palo Alto, you might try to include Palo Alto real estate, Palo Alto Realtor, homes for sale in Palo alto, luxury real estate in Palo Alto, etc. in your posts. Use programs like Google’s Keyword Planner to determine the keywords and phrases consumers are searching before deciding what to target.
2- Strong Title with Keywords
Try to insert at least one keyword into your blog post’s title. If you can, use the keyword at the beginning or towards the beginning of your title. This is an important step in search engine optimization (SEO)
3 – Meta Description
This is the description that shows up on the search engine results page (SERP) right under the clickable link. It is usually about 160 characters long and will highlight the keywords. Try to make a unique meta description for each post since this is a great way to grab your readers attention and insight them to click your link.
Be niche specific when describing your area because more really is more! If there are micro-markets in your neighborhood, highlight and talk about the unique qualities. If it’s a difference in schools, styles of homes, activities, natural attractions, demographics, etc. these are all worth mentioning.
Whether you hire someone to help you write, or decide to do it yourself, the most important thing is to BEGIN BLOGGING! Take the time to invest in yourself, in your online presence and in your real estate business. Prove you’re the expert by producing valuable content that your audience and perspective clients can benefit from. After all, with 90% of people searching for real estate on the internet– who wouldn’t want to be online?
So how about you? When will you begin blogging? Have any questions, comments, or advice you’d like to share? We would love to hear from you! Feel free to reach out, or leave comments below. If this post helped you in any way, please pass it along!
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