Contributed by Karen Highland
Keeping a consistent real estate blog is a lot of work. On top of the actual job of being a REALTOR®, a blog requires a layer of technical knowledge and writing skill, and demands some artistic and creative talent as well. Successful blogging also requires continued learning; as search and web technologies change, a blogger must keep up with the changes. Let’s face it, blogging for your real estate business is like another part time job. It takes continued investment of time and creative energy. Is it worth the effort?
In my last article, “How to Get Your Genius Noticed in a Crowded Internet,” I pointed out how crowded the blogosphere is, with millions of pages of information available to Internet searchers. When I searched for the term “real estate blog” I was offered 389 million results. That’s a lot! But the truth is much of that information is generic, 10-point, rehashed compost.
As I pointed out last time, there are ways of standing out in the crowd by mastering the blog. Blog leads are often the best online leads a real estate agent can get. They tend to be the most successful, whether buyers or sellers, and we find that they are already sold on using us before we even meet them. After eight years of blogging for our real estate business, we’ve had some excellent results. One year, we attributed over $100,000 in business directly to our blogging efforts.
Here are five reasons to master the blog and get those great leads:
1. Blog readers value education. Clients who contact us through our blog tend to be more educated and tend to have a higher income. We can include the purchasers of a $1.55 million farm, the high end for our small market, and we can include first-time buyers as well. With an average sales price of $300,000 in our market, the average home purchase for our blog readers is $450,000.
People who read blogs are generally looking for detailed information. They want in-depth explanations as well as niche neighborhood information. They want to understand as much of the process as they can before they contact an agent. If your blog content provides that information, you will be the one they contact when they are ready to act. You will stand a good chance at becoming their trusted adviser.
An example: One of our blog readers, a doctor and an aeronautical engineer, were considering buying a farm that was a short sale, and reasoned that they ought to have a short sale expert as a buyer’s agent. They did a search and found our blog, contacted us and we showed them an $800,000 farm. They decided that it wasn’t for them, but we had won them over with our blog content and local knowledge. We showed them two more houses and they ended up buying the $1.55 million home, and not a short sale. Of course, we were very happy to help!
2. Blog readers are usually methodical and patient. Many of the buyers and sellers who contact us from our blog have been reading our content for a while, typically for six months or more. This is why consistency is the key to successful blogging. As you write week after week, explaining terms and concepts, and sharing stories and tips, you can trust that your readers are taking it in and educating themselves - or even better, both.
An example: We just closed with a client last week who first contacted us from our blog four years ago! He’s a software engineer who’s been analyzing the market and waiting for the right time to buy. The greatest thing about these clients is we don’t have to work anxiously on staying in touch. Our blog content does the work for us. When it comes to nurturing a contact, consistent blogging really works. The beautiful thing is your blog content is keeping you in front of clients you haven’t even met yet!
3. Blog readers are usually already sold on you before you even meet them. They have been reading your content, watching your videos and absorbing your expertise for a few months, sometimes longer. Most often, you don’t have to do a song-and-dance presentation to win them over when you meet them the first time; they already consider you a local expert. They often even feel like they know you.
4. Blog readers want granular, nuanced information. They are looking for neighborhood information and expertise. They don’t take it for granted that just because agents market themselves as a neighborhood expert that they really are. Readers are looking for online proof. By providing information about all the aspects of living in a community, and by using local geo-tagged photos of the neighborhoods and the amenities, you will prove to be the neighborhood expert your readers are looking for.
5. Blog readers are Internet savvy. It makes sense; they are familiar with searching, and reading blogs and websites. They appreciate a good web presence, so make sure that yours is the best it can be. It’s a good idea to check your links regularly to fix broken links and 404 errors. (By the way, I love it when my fellow bloggers alert me to errors on my blog pages.) Again, the best thing about this kind of lead is that they know what they are looking for, and if you’re the one to provide it, you’ll be the one they contact!
Testimonials from four real estate bloggers:
Bill Gassett, a real estate blogger in Greater Metrowest Massachusetts, has been blogging about real estate concepts and about his local communities for 10 years. His best year, he can attribute $500,000 to his blogging efforts. According to Bill, “It was a combination of a few things - articles that I wrote on short sales and my community pages.”
The Highland Group of Turning Point Real Estate has been creating neighborhood pages as well as community pages on our website with great results. Buyers are seeking details about living in neighborhoods, what the HOA is like, and what amenities are nearby. Creating pages with the information people are looking for will set your website apart from the big syndicating sites. We put our featured neighborhood pages right on the front page of our website: Frederick Real Estate.
Anita Clark from Warner Robins, Georgia real estate has been blogging for five years. She goes even more granular with blog posts about subdivisions in her market. Anita can account for over $200,000 in blog generated business in her best year. She also shared with me that she gets a good number of listings because of these super-niche blog posts. You can find Anita’s Subdivision pages here: Subdivisions in Warner Robins GA.
Debbie Drummond, Las Vegas Luxury Real Estate Pro, recalls that her first client that can be attributed to her blog: “I didn't get serious about blogging until the summer of 2013. After just three months, I received an email from someone who had seen ‘a magazine article’ I had written. She wanted to know how fast homes were selling in Las Vegas. When I replied to her email, I gave her a link to my latest market update. This led to me listing her home for sale.” Read Debbie’s post: Homes that Sell in 30 Days or Less.
So, is the effort you put into blogging for your real estate business worth it? Anita, Debbie and Bill certainly think so. And so do I. Let me just add that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Most of us who blog are also reading a lot of blogs looking for inspiration and collaboration. I am always encouraged when I read a quality real estate blog that it is really worth the work. Here’s to better real estate blogging, better lead generation, and better real estate content for all those savvy internet searchers!
Karen Highland and her husband Chris Highland, The Highland Group with eXp Realty, are a real estate team in Frederick Md. Chris is the Regional Leader for eXp Realty. Karen is also the Director of Communications for their local association, FCAR, Frederick County Association of REALTORS. You can find Chris and Karen at Twitter, Google +, and Facebook.