Blogging regularly on topics that matter to you as a real estate agent has helped me build the Hoole brand, and this strategy can help build your real estate brand, too. But be prepared, because quite a bit goes into a successful blog. And it takes time – lots of time.
This is my 100th blog. I’ve now shared 100 pieces of free advice on real estate marketing, providing free tips on how to build your brand, digitally, to foster your online presence, alongside generate inbound leads.
So why on earth do I give away all this free advice?
Blogging has been the linchpin to my success to date because it’s:
- Built my brand
- Helped get my name known
- Generated trust among the real estate community
- Positioned me as the go to expert on digital and social media marketing
And in two years, I’ve built a successful content marketing business with a team of 18 skilled copywriters, visual designers, social media marketers and web developers, with a strong client base.
“Giving away free advice helps potential clients get to know, like and trust you.”
Make no mistake; it isn’t easy building a business, let alone an online presence, but blogging is fundamental if you want to give yourself an edge over your real estate competitors.
Why did I start to blog?
I admit, I had a bit of a head start, in terms of knowing the success that could be achieved by sharing free advice. I launched the domain.com.au blog back in 2014, and I’ve launched and run other blogs for real estate tech companies since.
Going out on my own, I didn’t have the might of a big brand behind me. And as I’d spent the best part of 20 years working behind the scenes in corporations, I was starting my personal brand from ground zero.
Sharing my knowledge helped establish credibility, but I had to be crystal clear from day one who I was writing for. It has to be the people who matter most to your business and for me that was you lot: real estate agents and property professionals. For you it will be a certain demographic; e.g. Baby Boomers and people at a certain life stage; e.g. upgraders or downsizers and retirees. Or depending on the location or which side of the real estate industry you work it may be property developers or, if you’re a buyer’s agent, home buyers.
And the quickest, most effective way to build your reputation is through blogging, then sharing your advice on social media, through emails, and by advertising your content on Google and Facebook.
Should you blog for your business?
In short – yes. Unless you’re a real estate superstar who’s had loads of good press coverage, or have a regular radio or TV slot, then showcasing your expertise through a blog is imperative.
Blogging helps you:
- Build your personal brand
- Build your credibility
- Position yourself as the real estate expert in your area or region
- Assist clients and potential vendors by answering the tough questions
- Show that you understand your market’s life stage and where your ideal clients are in their real estate journey
Don’t expect instant results, though. I’m sure you’ve read the stats about the number of times people visit a website or need to see your name or agency before they make a decision to enlist your services. Real estate is no different.
What’s the key to blogging for real estate?
This is (kind of) an easy one.
You need to provide valuable information to potential real estate sellers and buyers.
It’s your way of thanking people for taking the time to read your blog.
And remember, it would be a poor thank you if all you did was try to sell your business acumen. Blogs are not meant to be sales letters.
So how do you know what to write about, and what’s of interest and value to your ideal audience? You answer the questions your clients ask you (and Google) every day:
- How can I achieve the highest price for my property?
- What renovations add value to my property?
- What are quick ways to prepare my property for sale?
- When I’m downsizing, what can I do with all my stuff?
- When should I cash in on my investment property?
That’s just a sample. I’m sure you get asked the same questions most days such as how to sell, what to buy, where the property market’s heading, which are the best schools, or who you’d recommend to style, inspect, finance or provide legal assistance.
Your potential sellers and buyers Google these questions at all hours of the day and night. And what does Google pride itself on doing? Answering questions fast with the most relevant information.
“Google looks for relevant information, so ensure you answer the questions that your clients ask most often.”
So the more information your blog contains on the topic, and the more relevant that information is to the Google query, the higher you’ll be ranked.
Plus, more relevant information is what we call ‘sticky’; that is, readers spend longer on your page – and Google takes ‘time on site’ into account as well.
Google also takes into account the location of the person conducting the search and attempts to serve them with information based on local information. That’s something Google maps helps with, too, and maps are becoming the go-to place for more and more search queries, daily.
How hard is it to create and maintain a real estate blog?
This is both complicated and simple to answer.
It’s easy for you to answer the tough questions because that’s what you do.
It’s tough to find the time you need, however, to put a blog together, let alone produce a new piece of advice every week, which is what you really need to do for consistency and to help Google and the social media sites give you a positive ranking or relevancy score. Yes, they all have a points system to grade your website and social pages, so the more frequently you share high-quality conten,t the more love (in the form of visibility) you’ll receive.
So how long does blogging take?
A decent blog post that gives your real estate clients valuable information takes around 4 hours to write. That’s allowing an hour for research (to make sure the information you provide isn’t the same as everyone else’s).
So that’s 1 hour for research, 2.5 hours for drafting and 30 minutes for editing and then adding keywords to optimise your post for search engines, particularly for Google. And I’m talking about blog posts from around 500 words to 1,000 words. Once you get to 1,500 words, and you’re writing an in-depth piece, you can pretty much write off 6 hours.
“A useful blog takes around four hours to write, and that’s just the start.”
The writing is just the beginning. You need to take into account the time spent choosing relevant topics, uploading the content to your website and finding suitable images (that are copyright free). Plus you need breakout quotes, meta descriptions added behind your web pages and introductions for each different social media channel, as well as an ad budget to boost your content through Google Adwords and Facebook Ads Manager.
Can you manage your blog yourself?
Again, the answer is complicated and simple.
Yes you can, but you need to keep in mind these key steps:
- Identify your target audience: What problems keep them awake at night?
- Make a list of selected topics: Solve a problem in each topic.
- Find your key message for each topic: What insight do you want readers to learn?
- Pre-plan your blog structure: Number of words and images, information flow, subheadings, call to action.
- Set up a blog calendar: You need consistency; a calendar keeps you on track.
- Write your blog post: This is the fun bit, where you get to show some of your personality and expertise.
- Add loads of subheadings and breakout comments: When people read online, they read in an F-shaped pattern; that is, they read the headline, the introduction and then scan the article to see if there’s information they need. Subheading and breakout comments are signposts to what’s useful to them and what isn’t.
- Edit your blog post: No good writer sends in a first draft. If blog post writing is a skill, editing is an art that transforms your blog post from ‘good’ to ‘great’. This is where you take out all the bits that aren’t relevant, check grammar and spelling, and make the copy crisper so your readers want to read to the end.
- Search Engine Optimisation (SEO): These are the keywords and search terms that people will be asking Google, and nowadays people use the search feature on social media sites too. Some terms are interchangeable such as home styling and home staging, so keep that in mind, alongside the fact that you need to keep repetitive words to less than 4% of your copy else you’ll be considered as ‘stuffing’ your content and it will be marked as spam.
- Localise your blog post: This helps you get found faster by people who matter.
- Source your images: Not every post can use a home shot. You need to source good-quality images and ensure you have publishing rights. Great images can make or break a blog post, so focus mainly on the main image that gets shared in social media. It must be appealing and shareable, else viewers will scroll by.
- Add captions and Alt tags to each image: These also help with SEO and ‘stickiness’.
- Add a call to action: Think about what you want your readers to do, then ask them to do it. For real estate professionals, what we want is for our readers to visit our website, subscribe for future advice, get in touch or, even better, request an appraisal. But you need to tell your readers what to do next.
- Set up social media pages: Once you’ve written your blog, you need to write separate introductions for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and/or Pinterest.
- Publish your blog post and be consistent: Post on the same day at the same time each week, so Google ‘indexes’ your website. (What this means is that Google will search for new content once the algorithm ‘knows’ that’s what you’re doing. In fact, I’ve also found Facebook doing the same thing to my blogs now too).
- Promote your blog using paid advertising: You’ve gone to great lengths to produce your blog, so make sure it gets seen by as many people in your target market as possible. In today’s world you need a consistent ad budget allocated for advertising your content across social media and to ensure you appear on page one in search through the benefits of Google Adwords.
Bear in mind that doing all this will take up most of an 8-hour day.
Should I get help for my blog?
Naturally, I’m going to say yes to this because blogging and content marketing is the main service my team and I provide. But self-promotion aside, you can see from the list above that blogging isn’t simply a matter of quickly bashing out some thoughts and uploading it to your website. Not many real estate agents have 6-8 hours a week to devote to sharing high-quality advice, let alone time to manage social media and website updates, as well as getting client deals over the line.
So, if you want to build your “know, like and trust” with local homeowners or property investors, create a sizable distance between you and your competitor, and get more general ‘warm’ inbound leads, then get in touch to learn more about our blog writing services. The longer you put off getting help the smaller the window of opportunity becomes to take the lead in your area.