Last fall, I made CBS Minnesota’s list of the best local bloggers. Making any local list like that is great publicity — and it was certainly a surprise.
Real estate is local, and so is my business. That kind of local recognition brings in business. My St. Paul Real Estate Blog turns 10 this year. The site now has more than 3,500 articles, and each of those articles is out there working for me every day.
I always have a post that I have written or some numbers or pictures to bring to a listing appointment, and I often respond to email questions with links to blog posts.
But clients aren’t the only ones with questions about my blog. Here are some questions that people in the industry have asked me about my blog, answered with my 10-year perspective.
Does your real estate blog make money?
People ask me if I make money because of the blog. The answer is yes — to be honest, it would be hard for me to keep writing if I weren’t getting anything out of it. My new business, the kind that comes from total strangers, comes in through my blog. The rest comes from referrals and past clients.
How much business does your blog bring in?
I can honestly answer this question with “it depends.” My blog isn’t impervious to ups and downs in the housing market or home values, and it is possible to have a sale fall through even though I acquired the client through the blog.
Just last week, I was contacted by some people who are asking me to sell their home and help them buy another. At the end of the email, they wrote: “By the way, do you know that you come up in the No. 1 search position for ‘St. Paul Realtor’?”
No, I did not know that — but I rely on a long-tail approach, and I never rely on being No. 1 on any site I can’t control. As my competitors try to outspend one another to come up first in search rankings for important categories, I work hard to come up first in the organic searches that will bring my ideal clients to my door.
Has blogging become less popular?
Blogging isn’t dead, but it has been rebranded as “content marketing.” Writing blog posts is an excellent way to meet people and acquire clients, but the blogger still has to sell something before she can get paid.
Publishing a blog post every day or several times a week takes effort and planning, but isn’t any more time-consuming than most lead capture systems that require follow-up. I usually have people contacting me instead of the other way around!
How do you drive traffic to your blog?
My strategy is to drive people to my blog from social media and through the search engines when they are looking for information about buying or selling real estate in St. Paul. My readers are not looking for the generic information found on a lot of real estate websites, but information that they usually can’t find anyplace else.
I have worked hard to become a trusted source of information to the general public and the news media.
Why do real estate blogs fail?
Most blogs fail because the blogger doesn’t actually post any content, or publishes content that isn’t very interesting or the content is “hyperlocal” and has little to do with real estate; instead, the blogger covers some other topic that is already the focus of popular, well-established websites.
If there is a relationship between the number of clicks and the amount of business a site can bring in, I have not found it yet. I think the type of traffic is more important than the number of visitors. I don’t need thousands of leads, just a couple of good clients a month.
I started my real estate blog before Zillow or Trulia arrived on the scene. To date, I have not lost any business or traffic because of the portals.
What do you think about templates specific to real estate, and how do you choose a blog platform?
For years, there have been too many blogging advisers in the real estate space who have too narrow a view of what works and what does not. Most of the real estate-specific blog themes and templates are ugly and have a generic look to them. (And video can be useful even if the camera isn’t pointed at an agent’s face.)
There are numerous blog platforms that work well. The most important thing is to choose one that can be mapped to a domain name the blogger owns. I back my sites up every day, and I own the content and the domain names. I am willing to spend a little money for a hosting service that will give me some bandwidth.
Most real estate websites are designed to attract homebuyers. But sellers search for agents, too, and my goal is to attract them. Last year, most of my clients were home sellers.
There is no magic or secret sauce. It is all about providing information and building credibility as someone who knows the market and knows how to sell real estate. I write to the people using the search engines instead of writing to the search engines.
Blogging for business is for agents who want to do something fun, creative and different from what everyone else is doing — agents who might enjoy writing or taking pictures, or who are interested in creating a podcast or video. If this is you, then blogging for business is a strategy I highly recommend.