The benefits of real estate blogging are well documented. Real estate agents and brokers who blog regularly about the real estate business enjoy better search engine rankings and as a result they get more traffic to their site. That traffic leads to more opportunities to convert visitors to leads and leads to clients. So, while blogging isn’t the “easy button” option for getting more clients, it is one of the best approaches to building your business in the long term.
If you enjoy writing, blogging can be a blast. It’s a creative outlet that leads to business. But if you’re not a pro writer, don’t worry. You can still be a great blogger. Check out these seven tools that will make the process easier and help your blog bring you more business.
1 - Your blogging platform
If you don’t have a blog now, you’ll need to choose a platform to use. Odds are if you ask someone in the industry, they’ll tell you to get a Wordpress blog to get started. It’s the most popular platform in the world, by far. You can check it out at Wordpress.org.
But don’t feel like Wordpress is the only option. In fact, I don’t even think it’s the best option for most agents and brokers. While it’s not the hardest software to use, it’s far from intuitive. And you have to keep up with upgrades, plugins, and other tools if you want to make your blog really convert.
Another great platform is Blogger, which is powered by Google. Blogger does not offer as many plugins or layouts as Wordpress, but some find it simpler to use. A quick Google search will give you hundreds of “Blogger vs. Wordpress” articles if you’re interested in finding out the differences. Medium is another growing platform that’s really nice. Frankly, there’s no shortage of options if you search Google.
The other option is to use your website platform’s built-in blogging solution. Our Agent XSites and Broker XSites for example have a blog built right in that handles everything for you.
2 - An RSS reader
I’ve talked to a lot of real estate agents about why they started blogging and then quit. The biggest reason is time. When you sit down with a blank sheet of paper, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not get anything down. It feels like a waste of precious time. But that’s why an RSS (really simple syndication) reader is such an amazing tool for bloggers.
Think of an RSS reader as an e-mail inbox with only the stuff you absolutely want to know about. No spam, no junk, no advertisements. You simply choose the publishers you’re interested in (think Inman New, New York Times Real Estate, Curbed, etc.) and subscribe to their feed. Then, whenever they publish anything new it shows up in your RSS reader.
Whenever you find something interesting in your feed, you can simply write up a quick response to the piece, or add your own thoughts to it, or start an online debate about the topic. There is no better source of blogging ideas than a well-stocked RSS reader.
Here are just a few options:
- Feedly ( www.feedly.com)
- Feedreader ( www.feedreader.com)
- CommaFeed ( www.commafeed.com)
- The Old Reader ( www.theoldreader.com)
3 - A place for your ideas
A close second to an RSS reader is a “scratchpad” for your ideas. I bet once you get a few posts under your belt, you’ll have loads of ideas to write about in the future. If you don’t write them down, you’ll feel like your starting from scratch each time. My advice is to have a really fast way to jot down and remember your ideas.
Here are just a few suggestions:
- Paper - no, not the fancy iPad app. But rather, a real sheet of paper.
- Moleskin - These notebooks are awesome, and they even have ones that integrate with Evernote.
- Evernote - this is my go-to “everything App.” I simply tag all my blog ideas as “blogs” and when I have some writing time I search for the tag and get to writing. Evernote also syncs between your devices, so you can jot notes on your phone and then type your post on your laptop later, no problem.
- iOS Notes - This is another great option since they’re available on your phone, iPad, and Mac.
- Google Keep - if you’re a Google or Android user, Google Keep is basically the same as iOS Notes.
4 - A smartphone with a camera
Photos are crucial for your blog. They make your posts more engaging, they help you tell a story visually, and they can even help with your search engine placement.
I think it’s a great idea to take photos while you’re running about town doing your “real job” of helping out clients. For example, if you’re at an inspection in the morning and notice a great neighborhood playground, snap a picture and post it to your blog with some comments. When you’re having lunch with a client, snap a picture of the restaurant menu and post a short review of your experience. Snap a picture of your happy clients at the closing table and get a testimonial from them for your blog.
The opportunities to snap photos for your blog are endless. Make sure you’re using your smartphone camera to earn more business.
5 - A really simple graphics creator
If you don’t have a photo for your post, creating a simple title graphic is another way to draw attention. There are lots of tools for this, but Canva is our very favorite. It’s simple, free (or low cost), and turns out great looking designs in minutes.
6 - Social media accounts
Time for some brutal honesty… Chances are good that you’ll write a lot of blog posts that don’t get much traffic. That’s fine, especially in the beginning. Don’t let this get you discouraged! Search engines are full of complex algorithms that analyze web pages, so it’s going to take some time to build up your credibility with them. Stick with it until you reach the tipping point.
Until then, social media is a great way to drive traffic to your site. Use your Facebook account to post valuable blog posts that you think your audience will care about. Share your posts on Twitter and post them on LinkedIn. Spread the word far and wide.
It’s an even better idea to use a social platform like Hootsuite. With Hootsuite you can post to all your social pages at once and even schedule future posts. It’s a great way to spend 30 minutes on Sunday and knock out all your social posts for the week.
7 - Analytics
As the old adage goes, if it’s worth doing it’s worth measuring. We could write a whole post on choosing the right analytics service, but we’ll skip straight to the conclusion: Set up a Google Analytics account. It’s a standard in the industry, there’s loads of training, and it’s one of the easier systems to use.