If you are new to blogging, or maybe you just got started in 2010, this is for you (although even if you've been at it a while and aren't having the success you wished for, this could help as well). We've been at this since 2006 and have seen thousands of potential bloggers come and go. Here are a few things I see continually that prevent people from making their blog a successful business tool.
You won't stick with it long enough to get momentum.
Before we launched ActiveRain, we ran a real estate company with about 150 agents in Washington state. The number one reason someone was unsuccessful with a marketing initiative is because they weren't willing to stick it out long enough. Talk to anyone that has successfully farmed a neighborhood and they will tell you that sending out a postcard once a month for three months isn't going to cut it. You have to be consistent over a long period of time. The same thing is true of your online marketing efforts. Unfortunately, most of you won't write ten posts and then have a consumer contact you and ask you to help them find a home (although I've heard of some members getting hooked because one of their first posts landed them a client, this is the exception, not the rule). You have to commit to continually writing in your blog so that your reach becomes wider and wider. Each new post you write has the potential to be found by hundreds of potential clients.
You won't have a plan.
If you start blogging and you are able to write about something a few times a week because a great idea pops in your head, then congratulations to you. You are not an average real estate blogger. An average real estate blogger gets on their computer and stares at the screen waiting for an idea to materialize. That will get old really fast. Consider creating a plan for how you blog.
Maybe your plan would look something like:
Once a week write a post about a neighborhood, condo complex or sub-division in my market
Once a week write a blog post answering a question posed to me by one of my clients or potential clients
Once a week write a blog post about a local business in my market. Use this post as an opportunity to get out and meet the local business person that owns this business.
Once a week write a blog post about an event happening in my community
Once a week write a blog post about something for which I am passionate.
Once a month do market reports for five areas of my market
It doesn't matter what your specific plan is.......it only matters that you have one.
You'll only write about real estate.
Usually, people want to work with someone they like. If all you do is post your listings and market reports, no one actually gets a chance to know you. If you write about other things in your life for which you have passion, people get a better chance to know the real you. Write about your church, your family, your hobbies. Give your reader a chance to connect on a more personal level with you as a person. Sure they want someone that knows the market, is sure to get them a good deal and is capable of handling their most expensive purchase in their life, but they also want to work with someone that shares common values, has passion and shows they are human.
The other benefit of writing about non-real estate related stuff is it gives you a chance to write about stuff you like. That's really important if you want to avoid our first issue, keeping the momentum going. If all you do is write about real estate, it quickly becomes a J-O-B. Blogging should be a part of your marketing effort, but it shouldn't be something you dread doing. By mixing in some personal stuff that you like, you'll find it easier to write that next business generating post. You'll also be surprised when your clients say they really connected with you when you wrote about.......(fill in the blank with 'your family', 'your church', 'your dog', 'your hunting trip'......)
You don't understand how to write efficient posts that rank well in the search engines.
Many of our members had to learn this the hard way, through trial and error. If you've been around here for any significant amount of time, you know this. However, today we have ActiveRain University. ARU is a weekly webinar series hosted by our blog trainer Steven Graham. During the webinars Steven teaches you how to write blog posts that rank well in the search engines. You can click here to find the ActiveRain University Training Calendar. Once you start to rank well in the search engines, potential clients will begin to find your blog posts. If you never learn this, you will give up because your blog will not earn you business. This one is really important and I would encourage everyone to take the SEO class offered every Tuesday.
You'll rate your blogging efforts solely based on how many transactions you close.
I know some people are going to disagree with this one, especially the high D's in the group. How many transactions you close because of your blog is something you will want to track to know how efficient you are. However, if that's all you consider, you are missing a large piece of the equation. One of the best parts of ActiveRain is the sharing that occurs. Use your blog as a way to get feedback from other members on things you are considering trying in your business. Our members give amazing feedback and are always willing to share what's working for them. Leverage that to make yourself a better marketer. There is no need to recreate the wheel. If you are considering implementing something in your business, reach out to the community and ask for advice. Someone here has tried it and will be able to offer suggestions as well as be able to help you identify potential pitfalls before they occur. In most cases there will be many someones willing to help.
You offer great information, but you have no calls to action or ways to generate leads.
This one deserves a blog post to itself and will get one soon. However, the idea is that you probably aren't making it easy for clients to get what they ultimately want from you, information about homes for sale. Or, when you do give them that information, you have no way of capturing their information so they become a prospect to which you can market. Leads are the name of the game for successful real estate agents. If you look at the majority of the folks doing over 50 transactions a year still, they will have a portion of their business generated from online leads. The ability to generate these leads from your blog has everything to do with how strong your IDX provider is and how capable your IDX is of allowing you to capture leads on your site. If you have a strong IDX provider, then you have to understand how to create links and buttons within your posts that allow you to be the most efficient at capturing leads. I wrote a post about the correct way to link which goes into much greater detail.