The Dulles Area Associations has asked me to do a seminar on Social Media, Social Networking and Blogging. It is open to all Realtors so if you have a chance, please stop by. The date is September 17th at 12:00. Lunch is FREE but you have to sign up.
Just ran across this must-read post over at CopyBlogger regarding keyword research for Bloggers. Here's an excerpt:
"Keyword research, at its essence, is market research. It tells you what people are interested in, and in what relative numbers. Better yet, it reveals the actual language people are using when they think about those topics, which provides you with insight on how to converse with them via your blog.
That information is worth its weight in gold, if you know what to do with it."
If you're serious about understanding your readers' needs and your market, you should definitely read this post.
Diane says that "about 75% of those clients came from the blog," and that "the other 25% were previous clients or referrals from them." And she deals primarily with families looking for principal homes, not investors or second-home seekers.
One great point that the article makes is that a blog can be a place for buyers and sellers to get to know an agent without having to step out from behind the curtain of anonymity. They can watch from afar and determine whether they "like" the agent and what he or she has to say. When they are comfortable and ready to make a move, they pick up the phone and generally don't need to be pushed into a transaction.
The Virginia Association of REALTORS® (VAR), one of the more forward-thinking state level Associations around, recently launched "VAR buzz", their official blog. VAR buzz offers a wealth of resources and tools for REALTOR® members, consumers and the media. It also offers a way to look inside VAR that hasn't been available prior.
And what good timing! The topic of blogs has been at the heart of many discussions I've had with agents, brokers and Associations lately. One of the questions I get asked is "How can blogging be done effectively and safely?" Though I answer that question with facts, situations and ideas to back up my claims, only some believe it can actually be done. Well, VAR buzz serves as a testament to the fact that it can be done,effectively and safely.
Disclaimer: I am a guest author for "VAR buzz" and member of VAR.
If you haven't already read this post and you are writing a blog, I would suggest you do so.
We were recently given a lesson in the First Amendment, so if you write and you have an opinion and you write about other people, the guys at Sellsius provide a pretty good tutorial on the law and how to protect yourself.
I just got the newest edition of Realtor Magazine and was thumbing through the pages when I ran across the Cool Tools section on page 12. There were three items in the section but the one that caught my eye read "Blogging Made Easy".
I read the description of the service this company is providing and realized they were actually not making blogging easy, they were actually offering to write the blog posts for you. Ghost writing, if you will, for $399 per year (circle RS #052 on your response card in the back of the magazine).
There are so many things wrong with this on so many levels it is staggering. I don't know where to begin.
In fact, I think I will just ignore this and let the Realtors that use this service find out just how bad an idea this is. But after a year of little if any response, they will not think that having the same exact content as dozens of other agents is the problem. They will say that blogging doesn't work and they will quit blogging. Or should I say they will give up on copy and paste blogging and they will quit, leaving more room for the real agents that understand why you can't buy your content.
And I truly can't believe that NAR would promote a company like this. It is as if they are setting their own members up for failure.
Although blogs, specifically real estate blogs, have increased in number and credibility, many still think that they're "mumbo jumbo". In speaking with other real estate agents, brokers and other industry professionals, we still hear things like:
"blogs are a waste of time"
"blogs take too long to write"
"I don't believe that blogs are a source of marketing and exposure that will actually bring me deals"
To those folks, we say "thank you". Why? Because, by not being a part of the changing face of real estate, they are leaving the floodgates of opportunity and increased market share wide open to agents such as ourselves. The "disbeliever agents" are falling further and further behind in the movement that insightful and marketing-savvy agents are taking advantage of.
In case you think that we're making this all up, we'd like to share with you some facts, figures and real-life experiences using our other two blogs, Loudoun Stats and Loudoun Foreclosures, as examples. These two blogs are specifically geared towards consumers and the media in order to "pull" leads (more on this later) and increase credibility through a presence in local and national media.
Let's start with SEO/keyword searches via Google ("web" category, not "blog" category) relating to Loudoun Stats:
Please note that we just turned on the "publicize blog" feature for Loudoun Foreclosures less than 7 days ago so these results are after only 7 days of exposure to search engines.. Prior to that, the blog was not visible to any search engines or crawlers and neither Google nor any other search engine knew that the blog even existed.
Other local agents and brokers who pay thousands of dollars for their web sites and keywords come in way below Loudoun Stats and Loudoun Foreclosures. Since these are keyword searches that buyers and sellers regularly search for, they are getting passed by on a regular basis.
And since Google and other search engines favor active blogs over static web sites in their rankings, our blogs will continue to come in ahead of most web site regardless of how long they've been around. In fact, these static web sites will lose further ground as more agents start blogging.
More importantly, unlike static web sites, blogs are easily adaptable allowing us to focus our post topics on those subjects and keywords that attract the most amount of hits from our target audience. This means that we can adapt to the changing buyer and seller demographic and real estate market conditions as quickly as on a day-to-day basis.
In response to those who think that you can't attract buyers and sellers through a real estate blog, here's an actual email we recently received:
I read your post online.
We already own a SFH in Broadlands and are looking forward to buying another home in Ashburn and rent out the existing home and we are interested in a spec home. Which builder is offering the best deal in spec homes now? We are not in a hurry and would like to start looking and maybe buy in the spring.
"I would be very interested in receiving any lists that you may have on short sale or foreclosed property in the Leesburg or Ashburn areas particularly single family homes. Also any builder inventory would be great as well. I thank you in advance for this information."
These are just two of the many examples of actual emails from serious buyers and sellers who ran across our blogs and contacted us directly without us soliciting them. This does not include all the phone calls we've received from serious buyers and sellers as well.
We also use our blogs as a value-add and to build credibility with buyers, sellers, investors, banks, asset managers, colleagues, the media and other industry professionals on a daily basis. Blogs are also excellent time-savers. When someone asks us a question pertaining to a topic we've already written about and answered, we simply refer them to that specific post(s). We've never actually timed it, but it's safe to say that we've saved hundreds of hours of our time using this method.
We won't go into numbers right now, but we can tell you that we have closed several deals and are currently working with several serious buyer and seller clients as a direct result of our blogs.
So what's the cost? The four blogs we author cost us a total of $15 per month. That's less than $4 per blog per month. As far as time spent writing the posts, it takes about 6 hours per week.
As you can see, real estate blogs can be an excellent marketing tool and can generate real business. Personally, we have yet to find another marketing tool that comes even close to blogging's ROI and effectiveness.
The non-believers are allowing us cater to the new demographic of buyers and sellers without much, if any resistance using "all this mumbo jumbo". That is why we say "thank you".