January 2007

Lets say you want to start a real estate blog in Wilmington, NC, where do you start?  Well the following goes for any town, city or province you wish to do so.  First of all, I am sure the agency you work for (Unless you own it) will have some sort of protocol to follow.  Next, I have noticed many real estate agents have their own template type sites with a blog integration system, so you may want to see if your company offers this service. 

Since I enjoy giving “A Perspective”, here it goes regarding integrated blogs….. I don’t like them.  Why?  Well, half the time they are buried in the site, real estate agents don’t market this feature, and if the blog link does not have easy access to the search engines, they will not get easily indexed.  In addition, you are creating two completely different portals on one domain.  From an Internet marketing perspective, I personally do not recommend it.  To have a successful real estate blog, you need to have a separate domain, and be able to customize this blog for agents.  So what service should I use?

For a great free service and immediate posting, try WordPress.  The only drawback to this free service, is that you are limited to options you can utilize.  If you are fond of the king of search engines, you can use Google’s Blogger

Next comes the services that charge you.  For around $5.oo per month, TypePad is a great alternative for more flexibility than the above.  Finally, being that real estate blogs I feel are here to stay and are going to be a value added service, I highly recommend spending the money to get a comprehensive Blogging service that is designed specifically for real estate agents called……. Stay tuned, I’ll tell you soon in part 3.

It was just a week ago that I sent out a few emails to my personal real estate agent as well as friends in the field about starting a blog.  They all had the same response…”How do I start a real estate blog?”  Well, first things first.  Determine the following:

  1. Will I have time to Blog?
  2. Can I post Regulary?
  3. Do I recognize this could help my sales?
  4. Choose a service.

If you answered yes to the first three quesitons, lets explore step 4 a little closer in Part 2.

I am not a real estate agent; however changes in the real estate industry have caught my eye as an internet marketing consultant, especially since this CNN article came out recently on technology and real estate blogs.  Are you a real estate agent?  Well perhaps you have your own website, and lets say you offer a plethora of valuation tools, calculators, mortgage scenarios, you name it, to help your clients reach decisions, or just play around with these free tools and have fun on your site, hey I admit I do it!.  Well the question comes up, “Why would I want to start a Real Estate blog?” “I already have a web site that generates leads, shouldn’t I be spending my time following up with these leads, SELLING and not writing Blog posts? Actually, you need to be doing both, but why?

Its obvious technology is changing the real estate marketing landscape. Traditional style marketing does work, but alone won’t make it today, so you must think outside the box.

Real estate blogs have become and will be it seems, a cutting edge portal for agents to market their company, services, give frank opinions, share ideas, relocating advice and become the authority in housing in their respective cities. According to my research, some seasoned real estate bloggers have increased leads by almost double! Guess what, leads = sales!

The internet of today is becoming more of a social experience known as Web 2.0, (Think of YouTube.com, Myspace) thus a real estate blog gives you your own personal voice on the web about your local city and listings, as well as candid observations on median prices of homes, cost of living, job market, restaurants, crime, good or bad neighborhoods, all of which people want to know before they pull the trigger and buy a home. You know this is true, especially when someone is relocating to another city; in fact I am sure your past clients asked you similar questions.

Ok, so I start a real estate blog, but what makes this different than my web site? How do people find my blog? Find out in my next post to get “A Perspective”.

That’s easy, but it takes time.  Remember search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN regularly crawl  (Index) these types of sites more so than regular websites, why? Because generally blog sites have fresh content and lots of it, which is updated daily, weekly or monthly and search engines love this.

Bloggers also tend to promote their links in their posts, and submit their blogs to blog directories.  There are also blog portals such as Technorati which updates your post in real time each time you write a real estate post.  These type of sites and directories in return link to you and increase your “Link equity”, therefore increasing the ranking of your blog articles on the internet, especially if they are specific to your real estate market. 

For example say you want to attract potential clients seeking to relocate to Wilmington, North Carolina, so you write a post on this topic.  Which of the following posts do you think would be more informative to a potential client, “What is the average home price in North Carolina?” or “What is the average price of a home in Wilmington, North Carolina?” Obviously it is the latter, why?  Because it is keyword specific, and chances are that someone looking to buy a home in Wilmington, NC will type those type of keywords into the search engine box, thus the search engines reward articles that are written for the searcher rather than the poster.  Also, if people like your post, especially if it is informative, they will pass that post onto others they know, so on and so on.

I have to be honest with you though, don’t expect overnight success with tons of traffic to your blog.  If you are just beginning to write posts, it takes time, months, if not close to a year before you see real estate leads roll in.

But guess what? There is a chance that your real estate articles could rank quicker, perhaps within weeks.   You may even have the best real estate blog in your city or town, why?  Because either they don’t post regularly, or nobody has one!

For example, I live in Wilmington, North Carolina which has been voted one of the top ten places to purchase a home according to a recent CNN report.  Real estate agents here have been active in marketing for years, sending out newsletters, emails and creating personal web sites such as my agent, Alex Paen with the Alex Paen Team.  However, if you do a search on the internet, nobody has an active real estate blog in Wilmington, NC! Some agents here have perhaps started a blog, but have failed to post fresh articles.  Bingo! Get busy real estate agents in Wilmington!

In conclusion, a real estate blog introduces you and your services (and perhaps your existing web site) to a group of clients and online searchers who may not have found you any other way, so why not start one? Yes it does take time, but overall it is relatively inexpensive, in fact you can start one up for free.

So where do I start? What blogging services do I use? What articles do I write about? All these questions and more will be answered, so stay tuned for the next series of articles on real estate blogs as I give you A Perspective!