Blogging for Business
Blogging for Business
For several years now, blogging has topped the list of recommendations every Web savvy real estate professional should be doing to market services and establish expertise on the Web.
Fact is, though, running a successful real estate blog is much easier said than done. While a number of solutions and services remove the challenges of launching, managing, and syndicating a digital journal, none offers an easy answer for filling blog posts with the insight and banter that make it a lively and timely resource.
Successful blogging requires considerable time and effort. "I try to update my blog a minimum of 10 times a week, sometimes several times a day," says Richard Weisser, e-Pro, Coweta Fayette Real Estate ERA United Realty, Newnan, Ga.
A Business Driver
Weisser is a more active blogger than most, spending up to four hours a day composing entries, and uploading photos to his blog, Coweta Fayette Info.
"It’s my business strategy," he says. "Ninety percent of my leads come from the Internet. Since I started blogging, they’ve more than doubled."
In New York borough Staten Island, Anthony Licciardello, associate with Neuhaus Realty, estimates he put in more than a dozen hours a week updating his blog, Staten Island Real Estate News, Advice and Information.
There’s a payoff for putting in all this time: This year, when many are wanting business, Licciardello says he’s already had 15 closings. “If I didn’t do the blog, I don’t know where I’d be,” he says.
He uses entries to introduce the Staten Island’s neighborhoods, highlights trends, and explains the real estate process to New Yorkers considering a move there.
“It’s a great tool to give people a chance to get to know you as a salesperson without the hard sell,” he says.
Where to Start Your Blog
Such positive experiences are rooted in different blogging platforms. Weisser says his blog is offered on the free real estate community site ActiveRain and he then self-syndicates his posts to Web sites that he maintains. He chose ActiveRain because of its focus. He can blog to the public, or restrict access to some posts to his real estate peers only.
“There’s a very supportive professional community there for good feedback and some lively discussions” he says.
Licciardello, on the other hand, takes advantages of the blogging features built into his Top Producer Web site. Some of his posts made it to Realtor.com’s featured blog site entries. There, the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® also offers members a free solution through the Featured Blog program. Services include a dedicated Web site for each blog.
In addition to solutions targeting real estate professionals, several popular alternatives are available to any itinerant blogger. All that’s required is a computer, Internet connection and something to say.
Typically, these blogging platforms offer a place to get started, search engine optimization and syndication, spam blocking, and a choice of design templates. Basic blogging services are usually free, but a few are fee-based.
Some items to consider when choosing the right platform for you is the level of design customization, amount of content and users allotted for each blog, support for different types of content, security, activity tracking, and distribution options.
Here are links to a few of the most popular blog platforms:
- Blogger: A customizable, free, Google-owned solution. You can assign the blog its own URL for hosting in blogspot.com, or use the service to compose and manage a blog maintained on your own domain.
- MovableType: The basic free blogger solution provides the platform, site development, and content management for an unlimited number of blogs and posts. Tech support is optional and costs $99 a year. A business bundle, starting at $395, includes support and allows for multiple blog authors.
- TypePad: TypePad offers a free trial of all its blogging services. Prices start at $4.95 month for a single blog, $8.95 for two. The Pro program, $14.95, supports an unlimited number of blogs and authors.
- WordPress: The free package gives you a choice of 60 design themes and your own URL. Fee-based extras include additional storage space, an unlimited number of blog users, and ad blocking.
Any of these services, along with several others not included above, provides the means to start and manage a blog.
Stick With It
Just don't fall prey to what many others do: Starting a business blog with the best intentions, only to abandon the project after a few entries.
Both Weisser and Licciardello advise perseverance. “You’ve got to consistently provide different and original content, something of value, to give people a reason to want to read it,” Weisser says.
One key to successful blogging: Your commitment to it, Licciardello adds. “It’s a lot of hard work, but like anything else, you can either put in the time or hire someone to do it," he says. "As far as I’m concerned, blogging is now a necessary part of our business."