Making the most of blogging: Part One

Blogging is an art form, but what exactly makes a successful industry blog? With the help of Lee Taylor, customer Care Guru with Iproperty Support, and using two case studies, Real Estate Business examines how to get people reading your blog

LEE TAYLOR,
iPROPERTY SUPPORT

BEFORE YOU start blogging, you need to understand what blogging is all about.

Most people will argue it is about technology, the culmination of a blog-style website, Facebook, Twitter and other social websites.

Some even think it’s about trying to prove that your business has what it takes to be relevant with modern technology.

I disagree with both views.

For me, blogging is about conversation, and technology is merely a medium to help make the conversation happen.

THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN STARTING OUT...
Carefully line your blog posts with words that you feel people may use to find you, such as real estate, house, for sale and your suburb or town name.

Don’t go overboard – search engines will immediately penalise you for a spam-filled post.

If you are an agent, consider getting your own blog.

If you ever decide to change offices, change brands or even start your own business, you can simply take your blog with you and apply a new design to it.

The most popular blogging platforms allow you to schedule when your blog posts will appear online.

If you have some spare time, consider writing up a few blog posts and schedule them to gradually appear over the course of a week or two.

If you are not sure how to get started, try a profile and blogging platform specifically built for real estate agents, such as agentpages.com.au.

It has everything you need to get started, including the ability to show your own listings, testimonials, blog posts and a whole lot more.

If you are feeling more adventurous then try something like wordpress.com where you can create your own blog from scratch and choose or design your own themes and layouts.

CASE STUDY ONE: BRAD ROBSON
SALES AGENT,  BRISBANE REAL ESTATE
STARTED BLOG: NOV 2011
BLOG SUPPLIER: MY IHUB
VIEWS PER BLOG: 400+
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO): IN TOP 3 (GOOGLE “BRAD ROBSON”)

HOW MUCH TIME PER WEEK DO YOU SPEND ON YOUR BLOG?

Maybe one hour per week.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU UPDATE YOUR BLOG?

Basically, whenever I have something good to say. I try for once a week but if I’ve got nothing good to say, nothing will go out. We don’t bombard people with rubbish.

HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR FACE OR NAME TO THE BUSINESS?

It is important to be known as a leader in your industry. It is neat because I can be sitting down having a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop and someone will come up and talk to me about what I wrote that week in my blog.

HOW DO YOU DISTRIBUTE YOUR BLOG?

It goes out to 4,000 people that get my newsletter by email every week, and of that there is a 30 per cent click-through rate.

WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR TOPICS?

Generally, the topics that are informative –blogs letting people know when we recommend to sell a property, how you can get the most amount of money for your home etc. Just tips and advice on selling.

DOES IT GENERATE YOU REVENUE? HOW DO YOU DETERMINE THIS?

I would like to say possibly. People might read it and say, ‘Hey, this guy knows what he is talking about. I’ll use him to sell my house’. But I can’t say for sure yes or no. It’s impossible to track back.

FROM WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR INFORMATION?

It really depends. There is a combination of lots of different sources, from RP Data to just what I feel like talking about: grabs from economists and analysts or stats from Jason Andrew Auctioneers. There is so much information out there to use.

HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR BLOG TO YOUR MARKETING PLAN?

If you are writing a blog for the sole purpose of marketing yourself, you are probably doing it for the wrong reasons. I know it helps with that, but I don’t see it as a marketing tool. It is not the reason I do it.

EXPERT ANALYSIS: Brad’s blog is extremely engaging, bright and colourful. Brad often adds feature images to his blog posts to not only make the article itself appear more interesting but also to add some colour and break up the text in his blog search results.

He uses the perfect mix of informative articles on many topics and self-promotion, with one very odd twist – humour, which is a great way to show personality.

Through the clearly laid out Area Profiles, I was able to start learning about the areas that Brad services instantly, the perfect hook for people looking to move to an area but who have no idea what the area is like or what facilities are available.

Unfortunately, Brad’s logo in the header returns me to the homepage of the blog and I had to find other means to get to his main website.

CASE STUDY TWO: LAUREN KIRK
MANAGER, CENTURY 21 STALS & KIRK
STARTED BLOG: 2010
BLOG BUILT BY: RP DATA
VIEWS PER BLOG: UP TO 50
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION (SEO): IN TOP 5 (GOOGLE “LAUREN KIRK”)

HOW MUCH TIME PER WEEK DO YOU SPEND ON YOUR BLOG?

A few hours per week would be the most I’d spend on the blog – like most things, it gets easier the more that you do it.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU UPDATE YOUR BLOG?

I don’t really have a set time. I think that it is important to work with quality over quantity because there is no point in blogging everyday if it is going to be boring information that no one wants to read. You have to blog about things that are relevant to the marketplace and relevant to what people want to read.

HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR NAME OR FACE TO THE BUSINESS?

My blog is different because I am representing the office. Social media is a way to get your name and face out there in front of people and when they think of our office my name could pop to mind. Also, as the office’s manager I can connect clients and enquirers with the right people in the office.

HOW DO YOU DISTRIBUTE YOUR BLOG?

I don’t send my blog out; we have it attached to our CENTURY 21 website and on our personal CENTRY 21 sites, as well as on outside sites like Facebook, RP Connect etc.

WHAT ARE THE MOST POPULAR TOPICS?

Home improvement and maintenance blogs are always really popular.

DOES IT GENERATE YOU REVENUE?

In terms of monetary value, I would say we haven’t received any revenue from it. Blogging is an invaluable source to increase our interaction with potential clients. Like any social media, it’s a long-term thing; you can’t expect it to work overnight. It has to be something you are committed to doing consistently and regularly for the long term in order to see the benefits.

FROM WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR INFORMATION?

I am constantly reading. The sources vary depending on what is topical at  the time. There isn’t just one source I would get my information from.

HOW IMPORTANT IS YOUR BLOG TO YOUR MARKETING PLAN?

I consider our blog part of our marketing. My blog might not be directly relevant to selling or buying a house but it certainly makes your client feel like you are up to date and know what’s happening in the market.

EXPERT ANALYSIS: Lauren discusses an interesting combination of industry news, issues, legislation and trends that are driving her market, while carefully crafting each article with self promotion.

I particularly like the ‘First Word’ articles that appear at the start of each month, and after reading a couple I was hunting through the archives to find others.

Lauren has also clearly communicated her brand.

With the contact form always present at the top of the right-hand column, I can choose to contact Lauren at any point while browsing her blog.

Unfortunately, Lauren’s blog posts are lost in the footer of her homepage which requires a fair bit of work from the visitor to find.

Visitors often associate the least relevant and least important content with the bottom of a website.

In part two of this article, which will appear in our October issue, we’ll take a closer look at video blogging

promoted stories

REB Events