11 Tips for Building a Superior Real Estate Blog
Increasing numbers of real estate professionals are launching new blogs. Some real estate professionals target blogs to a consumer audience. Other realty pros use blogs to engage in online conversation among other real estate professionals. Bloggers seek ways to amplify their voice with reciprocal links at other blogs, and all manners of featured status.
RealTown.com is a real estate web portal that features three content areas - Articles, Blogs, and Communities. Each content area has an entry gateway on the home page with featured posts of the day that are selected by editors and moderators. These posts are not random selections.
- The Article Platform features articles that are longer than most blog posts, ranging from 750 words to more than 2,000 words. Articles are more formal in nature and conform to a more rigid editorial standard than most blog entries. Article entries are reviewed by a professional editor and feature headline and sub headlines and teaser text displayed on the home page and on inside pages of RealTown.
- The RealTown Blog Platform (shown at right) is host to more than 5,000 blogs, including numerous excellent and award-winning blogs. One of my early morning tasks is to peruse the latest blog entries and select FIVE entries for featured status on the home page (shown at right).
- The RealTown Communities Platform is the new Web-based home for a host of communities that comprise the first online social networking communities in the real estate industry, delivered by e-mail listservs for many years. RealTalk, BlogTalk, ePROTalk, MLSTalk, and other communities feature numerous discussion threads about news, technology, law, and all matters pertaining to real estate.
Checklist of Superior Blog Posts
Use this checklist to analyze your overall blog and individual entries.
- Topical Interest. Featured blog entries offer valuable and/or interesting content for consumers and/or real estate professionals. Content is King, and good content trumps design and other standards.
- Design and Webography. A well designed blog entry features line spaces between paragaphs, bold and italic text for emphasis at appropriate places in the text. Consider using bold face subheads in longer blog posts.
- Links to Sources. A well constructed blog post that draws information from another source includes a link to that source.
- Headline Captures Immediate Attention. Use words that spark interest and compel a reader to click and read. Reread your blog headlines and put yourself at a reader's computer monitor. Are you utterly compelled to click and read the blog entry? If not, rewrite the headline.
- Spelling and Grammar Count. Do you make it common practice to spell check each blog entry before you hit the "Publish" button? Read the post aloud and consider the grammar. Avoid using contractions and abbreviations in the text of the blog entry. It is acceptable to be casual and it is important to be correct. Use a thesaurus and avoid using the same word over and over again in a blog post.
Example: REALTOR, real estate professional, realty pro, real estate licensee.
- Use Teaser Text Entry Field. Featured blog posts with teaser text entries offer home page readers and search engine results summaries a more succinct and concise description of the blog entry. In the absence of teaser text, the search engine summary will display the first several lines of the blog.
- Use Photos and Other Illustrations. Photographs and illustrations bring life to a blog. A wall of text that continues one entry after another is just plain boring. Spice it up! Check some of the blogs that are referenced below for examples of well illustrated blogs.
- Charts, Tables, and Graphs. The real estate industry lends itself to market data and statistics. This data is brought to life with graphical representations of information. This information can be used in blog entries and also in side column widgets. Sources for this type of data: Multiple Listing Service, Altos Research, Trulia, and others.
- Include Personal Insight. Does your blog reflect your true voice? Do you share your own thoughts, ideas, viewpoints, and personal anecdotes? The blog reader is looking for a connection with a person. It will be the PERSON who makes the appointment to show a house or list a property at some point. Let your persona shine in your blog.
- Issue a Call to Action. Engage the reader with invitations. When you discuss the market, offer a personal review of market values (the CMA), and written materials and referrals to professional stagers and lenders. Ask questions that will prompt a reader to respond with a comment to a blog post or, better yet, a personal phone call or e-mail.
- Easy-to-Find Contact Information. How easy is it to find your e-mail address and telephone number? Online chat and click-to-call technology is also helpful to provide quick access to the real estate blogger.
Recently Featured Blog Entry Authors
Mary Pope Handy soared to national fame as a real estate blogger when she competed in last year's Inman News/ActiveRain Project Blogger competition. Mary was the winning Blog Apprentice. I was honored to share the win as her Blog Coach. Mary now publishes several blogs, enjoys regular attention in mainstream press, including newspapers and television, and her award-winning LiveInLosGatos.com blog is a textbook real estate blog.
Tip: Use Mary's blog for examples of each item in the checklist.
A Foreclosure 101 lesson from Englewood, CO, REALTOR Andi Durbin targets consumers with information about foreclosures and bank properties and debunks some of the common misconceptions among buyers and sellers about foreclosure.
Confession: Content on this blog always makes me take a second look when I am looking for entries to highlight on the home page.
Matthew Ferrara posts valuable information for real estate professionals in each and every blog entry. His recent post, "Why the Fed Is Hurting the Housing Industry," was picked up and published by Reuters.
Success Tip: Bookmark this blog and read each and every post.
Master Certified Coach Joeann Fossland has a high standard for blogging and her blog has been a "must read" on my list since Day One. Almost everything she writes appears as a featured blog post on the RealTown home page, including today's entry about tools and resources she shares from the recent Women's Council of REATORS (WCR) Mega Summit in Missouri. Joeann has published hundreds of articles in the real estate press, including many on RealTown.com, and she won the "2006 Article of the Year" award for the WCR Connections Magazine.
Secret about this blog: Content is always interesting, and often chock full of useful information for real estate professionals. Personal posts offer insight into what makes this lady tick, and always contains a message that is useful on a reader's personal development journey.
Atlanta area REALTOR Laurie Furem is a new blogger who jumped right into the water with a vlog (video blog), featuring a wonderful new listing in a video that she posted to YouTube. Laurie joins the ranks of newbie bloggers who have resurrected abandoned blogs that resided on the Web in unattended fashion.
Tip: Take the temperature of Laurie's passion about real estate. This blog has all the earmarks of a blog star in the making.
Pennsylvania REALTOR Marty Millner's recent blog entry, "The Truth About Real Estate in Bucks County", takes issue with local press reports about his market. Marty deftly uses market data to educate consumers and refute claims about a devastated market.
This blog is uncluttered with tech widgetry, relying upon content and market expertise. He cleverly places links to his web site, including Featured Properties, invitation to prepare a Comparative Market Analysis, and a link to his team web site.
New York REALTOR and e-PRO Trainer John Maniec treats his readers to a growing network of videos on his blog. John is a highly prolific blogger who serves up a healthy menu of real estate news via his blog to a real estate market in Great Northeast Queens.
Northern Virginia REALTOR Julie Emery frequently appears on the home page with blog entries that ask important questions about issues facing the industry. Her recent "Banks Sitting on Properties" is a good example of the quality of Julie's posts. She helps educate consumers and fellow realty pros about the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 and FHA financing. Content is truly King on Julie's blog.
(Frances Flynn Thorsen, e-PRO, SRS, is Managing Editor of RealTown.com. She is a Certified e-PRO Trainer and publishes several blogs, including RealTown Report, The REALTYgram Blogger, Web Women Giving Circle, No Blogger Left Behind, and The FAT Lady Blog. She is the Co-Creator of the No Blogger Left Behind Blog Coaching program.)