Marketing Mastermind: How to start (or restart) a real estate blog
This article is the October edition of a monthly column I write for Inman. Find it here. If you have a question for me, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I recently attended a Northern Virginia/DC-area REBAR Camp to discuss blogging and content marketing. It was a great event with dozens of agents and brokers looking for information on launching new real estate businesses or taking existing ones to the next level.
There were so many great presenters and sessions, so I assumed that my late afternoon session on blogging would only draw a few people. Instead, we had a big, enthusiastic group with lots of questions on starting (or re-starting) a real estate blog. For those of you who are thinking about creating your own, you might be asking some of the same questions they did.
Question One: What type of platform should I use?
While everyone swears by their personal favorite platform for SEO -- with Wordpress and Wix as the current favorites -- the real answer is probably to use the platform that is integrated with your website. That way, when you share your posts, you bring people into your digital realm. You don’t want to be in the position of having to promote both your website and your blog posts on two separate platforms.
While different platforms offer many different features, when you’re first starting out you don’t need to think too much about bells and whistles. Make sure you choose one that allows you to easily update, format, and add images and tags. The easier it is to use, the more you’ll actually keep your blog updated.
Question Two: I have so many ideas. How do I get started?
The easy (and hard) answer is: Start! There is no substitute for actually sitting down and cranking out that first blog post. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to make your first post perfect -- just say something and, hopefully, say it in a way that people will enjoy. As time goes on, you’ll find your voice and a greater sense of what you need to say when.
If you need to bring some order to the process, you may want to start off with a topic calendar to help you put your thoughts in a logical sequence. Remember to include both evergreen posts -- those that are always in-demand and that potential buyers and sellers are always asking about -- with more up-to-the-minute content based on the current market or trends.
Schedule your writing time the same way you’d schedule an important meeting or a CE class you’re taking. It’s so easy to put client needs before your own. It’s essential for you to start prioritizing your business’s growth, which means prioritizing marketing.
Finally, come up with a frequency that makes sense for you and your schedule. If you can’t commit to a weekly blog, find a schedule you can commit to. Look for accountability partners to help you ensure timely, consistent posts. And don’t forget to distribute your shiny new content through social media, email blasts, and other channels. You don’t want to create that content, then sit back and wait for people to find it by accident.
Question Three: I’m not good at (Insert Writing Skill Here). Should I even attempt blogging?
People think that they have to be perfect writers to start a blog. Here’s the thing: great writers know they’re not perfect, so they have a team and a process to help them improve their weaknesses.
If grammar isn’t your thing, find a freelance copy editor -- or enlist the help of a writerly friend or family member -- to help you proofread your posts. If you need topic ideas, brainstorm with clients or look for frequently asked real estate questions on an online advice platform like Quora.
Need technical help? Enlist a tech-savvy colleague to help you upload your posts. Need gorgeous images to make your posts pop? There are a variety of online resources with high quality royalty-free hi-res images available to enhance your blog.
I’m a big fan of enlisting the help of teenaged family members for all of your digital marketing. They have a great sense of what’s current and what’s interesting, and their eye for design is second to none. Get help with your blog’s look and social media distribution from a son or daughter, niece or nephew. They’ll help you with content while you help them learn the ropes of running a business -- Win-Win.
Whatever part of blogging you find intimidating, there’s someone available to help, probably in your own family or friend group. Reach out and let people know what your goals are -- you might be surprised at how much support there is all around you.