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As a real estate agent, there's a good chance you work as part of a firm and are given your tidy little spot on the company's website. That's all fine and dandy, but it's probably not doing a lot for your marketing. Most of the time, it consists of listings with your photo and contact information, which is good. Still, the only people who will ever look at those pages are those looking for that exact type of housing with that number of bedrooms in the specific locations they have in mind.
By starting a blog, you can build out your brand attract an audience that trusts and appreciates what you have to say. It's not just about listings and sales. You're building brand awareness and becoming a go-to source of expert information. It's about developing long-lasting personal connections and having fun doing it. This will naturally increase your leads over time. When people know, like, and trust you, they're very likely to recommend you to others by word of mouth or online.
It's worth every minute and every penny spent developing your blog. Speaking of time and money… the cost is minimal. When first starting, shared hosting will probably be all you need. Our shared hosting starts at a mere $4.50/month. And time? It's not difficult to run a blog, but it does take some time commitment.
One of the first things you'll want to do is install WordPress. This is very easy to do. Follow this easy-to-use guide to installing WordPress with cPanel and Softaculous, and you'll be up and running in just a few minutes (assuming you're using hosting that offers cPanel and Softaculous). Next, you'll want to find a theme you like that will fit with what you want to do. A quick Google search will lead you to tons of themes (designs) that cater to real estate sites, but here are just two to consider (both free and paid):
Houzez comes with a modern, clean look that's sophisticated and responsive, so it will look gorgeous no matter what device your reader is viewing it on. It has pre-built demo sites that you can choose to use and customize, making setup a little easier. With both Visual Composer and Slider Revolution plugins, it's user-friendly. It lets you use a variety of special effects and features. Want to immerse readers with gorgeous video backgrounds? You can. Want to provide cutting-edge geo-location tools with Google Maps pins? You can.
This theme comes with an effortless, minimal design that lets your listings and content be the shining star. Many settings are customizable, and it has a full-width featured image slider, social links ready to plugin to your social profiles, and Google maps integration.
If you want property sliders, you'll need to upgrade to their pro version, which is $39.
Of course, there are thousands of themes available. You might find that you're attracted to one that isn't specifically for real estate and doesn't offer helpful features for agents. And that's ok. Many plugins can give your preferred them extra features and functions that you might need.
A free plugin that comes loaded with pre-made templates to use. You can add listings as favorites that will pop up with someone visits your blog, and there are lots of data fields that let you customize all of your listings. It's designed to display perfectly on any size screen.
Compatible with most themes, this is a free plugin that lets you customize listings. It's different from many of the other plugins that provide the option for international listings. You can choose between multiple locations and currencies. It also lets you use the calendar function to schedule inspections and showings.
Remember that you're starting a real estate blog for more than just listings. Real estate topics for your blog… It isn't just for buyers and sellers that are looking right now. It's for nurturing relationships, creating awareness, and building trust and credibility with possible future buyers and sellers. One single blog post can continue to provide value and attract visitors (potential clients!) for years to come.
But creating content takes time. The time that you could be using to close deals and following up with leads. So you might think you don't have time to write blog posts. Or maybe you don't like writing. That's ok. You can still do it. And here's how…
Content curation is the first thing you can do. This is a matter of finding fun, helpful, or entertaining content related to the industry, adding your take or opinion, and publishing it. It could be how-to guides for choosing the best location for your new home, gardening articles or videos, or anything else that might pertain to a homeowner. The catch is, you need to locate lots of them and give them credit. You aren't copying their content. You're sharing what they've created.
More people discover their content, your audience gets helpful information they can appreciate, and you're giving your insight as a leader and expert in the field. Everyone wins. For a detailed look at content curation, Ross Simmons has an excellent guide here. His guide includes a way to use content curation on Twitter, Facebook, and newsletters. But you can take it a step further with some sites and tools developed just for curating content. Here are just a few…
Feedly (Free and Pro versions available)
Suppose you have favorite sites or people you follow. In that case, Feedly is an excellent way to finding the gems of content that you want to curate… without cluttering up your bookmarks. It's a popular RSS reader that lets you create groups of content by adding the URLs of blogs you want to keep up with. It's a pretty simple tool that's clean and easy to use without being distracted by useless features or ads and popups. The free version works just fine when you already have blogs and people in mind to follow (up to 100). For $5.41/month, the pro version lets you discover content based on topic keywords, keyword alerts, IFTT, Evernote, Pocket, Zapier integrations, and more.
Scoop.it takes content curation a step further by letting you republish the content you find on their social networks. Enter keywords to discover relevant content. It's free, but the free plan is pretty limited. You have to upgrade to add your insight to the content or share it on your social media.
Content Gems lets you discover relevant content from thousands of RSS feeds by searching with keywords. You can build your bundles of content and even keep up with Twitter accounts, which can then be shared with MailChimp, sent to Feedly, HootSuite, Slack, Buffer, and more. You're able to create 20 custom feeds in the free version.
Original and unique content
While content curation makes coming up with content to share easier still, nothing beats creating your content. Think about your ideal customers. Your target audience. Do you cater to apartment renters? Luxury homes? Beach houses? If you deal primarily with customers looking for a beach house, then think about topics like four unusual habits of beachgoers, beach umbrellas that do more than give you shade, or what you should know before moving to the beach.
Sure, in-depth guides that make escrows, disclosures, and inspections easy to understand are fantastic. But don't forget that you're building relationships here. Don't be afraid to show your personality.
If you can't think of topics that your clients might be interested in, then there are tools for that:
Portent: A fun generator that can give you lots of ideas on how to craft an engaging blog post
HubSpot's Blog Topic Generator: Insert a few nouns and out pops a week's worth of topic ideas
BuzzSumo: Insert your main idea, and it'll show you content people have created about that topic and done well across social media… take a picture, tweak and add more to the conversation
The chances are that you're a member of at least one or two neighborhood associations that have meetings and announcements. Use this to your advantage, and you both win. You can blog about recent happenings, meeting notes, upcoming events, etc. You have original content, and they get more attention.
By running your blog, you're showing potential leads your experience, understanding the local market, and developing an audience that trusts you. Creating helpful content consistently and making connections on social media will expand your reach, too.
Tip: Whenever you create a new piece of content, take a few extra minutes to optimize your blog post for SEO, too.
Are you a real estate agent that already blogs or a marketer who works with agents? What has it done for your business? Are there any other helpful tools or sites that you've used and recommend?
Written by Hostwinds Team / May 4, 2017