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This article was published on: 09/01/2005

TECH@WORK: Web logs

BY JOHN MUDD

Blogging for profit

Turn your point of view into a marketing tool.

Seventy percent of buyers who use the Internet in their home search start looking online six months to a year before making a purchase, according to the 2003 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Survey of Home Buyers and Sellers.Capture the attention of these pre-prospects and build a relationship with them, and you’ll have an inside track to representing them.
  • Although you can use a variety of tools e-mail, e-newsletters, and even the U.S. mail to cultivate prospects, one of the newest and most effective is the Web log, or blog. A blog is an online journal that’s published regularly sometimes as often as daily. Blogs range from personal online diaries to Internet-based trade publications to informative business marketing tools. They’re brief and to the point, making them popular reads for those with full schedules and a thirst for knowledge in a certain area. Blog authors can earn a reputation as experts in their field, lending them credibility with customers. And because of the rich content offered in most blogs, bloggers’ Web sites typically gain high rankings at search engines such as Google, MSN Search, and Yahoo!. Even better, blogs are inexpensive and fun to do. Here’s how to get started.
  • Find a publisher. There are numerous online providers who will help you create your own blog. I use Blogger (www.blogger.com)because it’s free and easy to use. Other successful bloggers use TypePad (starting at $4.95 a month at www.typepad.com)or WordPress (free at www.wordpress.org).
  • Choose a host. You can use the Internet address assigned by your blog publishing service, or you can buy a domain name and upload your blog to it. (An inexpensive source of domain names, at $8.95 a year, is GoDaddy.com.)You can also upload the blog to a page on your current site if your Internet service provider allows for it. If you put your blog on a separate host, you can use a frame to make it appear to be part of your site; this method is easier than loading the blog onto your site.
  • Link strategically. Link your blog page to your Web site’s IDX listings search so that blog readers can view available properties. You’ll also want a link to a form on your site where prospects can provide contact information and send you questions. I get five to 20 leads daily using this approach.
  • Publish away. Focus your blog on your specialty. You can talk about trends, local availability and price, or just an interesting property you viewed recently. Once your blog is operational, you’ll also glean topics from readers.

To publish what you’ve written, you generally just type in your content, proofread carefully, and push a button. Some blogs, such as those created in WordPress, require more Web development knowledge.

Failing to update your blog in a timely manner will cost you visitors and professional credibility. At first, try to update your blog daily. Once you’ve built up a level of reader loyalty, you can change to a less frequent schedule. I update about once every two weeks. You can set up your blog to automatically post new content at your Web site.
  • Publicize your blog. Announce the creation of your blog to your local newspaper, to real estate trade publications, and to other blogs. As time progresses, your influence as a blogger may grow so much that you’re viewed as expert by news media and your peers.

Although positive results can’t be guaranteed, you’ll never know what you can achieve unless you give blogging a try.

Mudd is a luxury waterfront specialist with Exit Realty Suncoast in Largo, Fla. He leads the John Mudd & Associates sales team. Find out more about him at www.HomeInTampaBay.com.

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