How to Blog About Your Real Estate Listings – Effectively.

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I’ve found that this is a hot button topic among many real estate agents and brokers. Maybe someone can enlighten me, but I just can’t seem to understand why more agents don’t blog about their listings. You have a free opportunity to let the world know about one of your properties… what are you waiting for?

My only conclusion is that most real estate agents just don’t know how to do it. Maybe you are an agent but just don’t want to include a property listing post right in the middle of your other blog posts… whatever the reason, I want to show you 4 reasons you would be crazy not to start blogging your listings

Crazy Myth #1: Blogging about my real estate listing takes too long

Nonsense. You don’t have to be a photoshop pro in this day and age. There are plenty of tools out there that will allow you to create an online flyer that you can easily post on your blog. My favorite, and probably the easiest is VFlyer.com – It is super fast, and it even submits your flyer to GoogleBase, Trulia, Craiglist, and more… sort of a double whammy. And there are plenty of other sites out there there let you create an online flyer… just make sure that you can export it in an html format so you can copy and paste it as a blog post.

If you don’t want to use a property flyer on your blog, or you can’t get it to work, you can still just write a quick description of the property and include a picture slide show using flickr, slide, or Real Estate Shows. You can even post a video tour right on the blog using youtube or Wellcomemat.

Crazy Myth #2: My blog gets no traffic, what’s the point?

There are plenty of other places you can post that listing. Just because you may be new to blogging doesn’t mean that there isn’t value in blogging about your listings. Think outside the box… try using Localism.com. Just go to ActiveRain, paste in your flyer, or listing as a new post. Then choose “for consumers”, and “advertising a listing”. This will also increase your AR points with little to no work!

But don’t just stop there, almost every single social networking site out there has a mini-blog feature that will let you paste in an html flyer, or even add a slideshow. Try: Facebook, wannanetwork, xanga, plaxo, cre8buzz, Myspace. Go crazy… there are hundreds of sites like these to choose from.

Crazy Myth #3: The chances are slim that an individual listing will be seen online.

Even if posting your listing online doesn’t bring a direct buyer, there are still plenty of other benefits to be had.

  • Blow your potential clients away during listings presentations by showing them a huge list of places where their property will appear online. Most people are floored when you tell that you will be blogging specifically about their property. It’s impressive!
  • If you spend the the time posting your listings in places besides your primary blog, you have the opportunity to create a call to action within the post itself. Direct people to click a link to view all the available MLS listings in their area. Ask them to sign up for your IDX email delivery system notifying them of new properties on the market in their area. The possibilities are endless here.
  • Each time you post a listing, you’re creating a link back to your website or blog. This will improve your search engine ranking… but make sure you use good anchor text.
  • Branding. Your face, logo, name, comapny… etc. are all branding tools. The more places you leave them online, the more branding will come into play.

Crazy Myth #4: Posting listings on my blog will water down the rest of my content

This myth actually isn’t so crazy. It’s a real concern that many real estate bloggers have, and I don’t recommend that anyone write a post about an individual listing and include it with their regular blog content.

So, here is how you get around that… The solution I’m sharing can be done on any platform, but I’m going to show you how with wordpress.

The best solution for this problem is to create a specialized category just for your listings. Then, you want to tell wordpress (or your platform of choice) not to include that category on the home page. You are essentially just excluding that particular category.

You will want to place this code in your index.php file to tell your home page not to include the category you choose.

Here is the code: <?php query_posts(’cat=-13?); ?>

If that doesn’t work, you can also try this:

<?php  if (is_home()) {query_posts(“cat=-13″); }?>

You will need to change the category number to make it work (where it says: “13″). To find the category number, go to >Manage>Categories, then view the category number you want to exclude. For more detailed instructions on this try this wordpress tutorial.

I hope that was helpful. It doesn’t take much work to blog about your listings. Just go out and do it!

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If you are looking for a customized blog, or in depth coaching to kick start your blogging or internet marketing campaign, please email or call me.

The Art of Puking Your Business Identity Onto the Internet

Normally, I’d place an appropriate picture relating to the title here, but decided that this time it wouldn’t be prudent.

This post was spawned off of an article I read by Brian Brady on the new real estate weblogging 101 website. Although I didn’t completely agree with his perspective on SEO, I understand where he is coming from. Basically, his method is… “puke” out your picture and sales pitch to every imaginable website or online space that lets you have a free profile and see what sticks.

Brian does a heck of alot of writing. You can find his work regularly on his blog, the Bloodhound Blog, NELA, ActiveRain, and an occasional guest post on other real estate related blogs.

He claims to have had over 1,000 online inquiries in the past 12 months which is pretty impressive. On my real estate related profile radar, I’d probably place his online presence in the top 20 of all real estate related people.

So how is this done? How does the average real estate agent or loan officer develop that kind of online presence? I thought it would be helpful to make a list of many of the places you can create an online profile, and network with people. Some are obviously more successful than others when it comes to generating business, but for this model, we are using the “puke” method. Place yourself in as many places as possible, write new content like your life depended on it, get your face and message to as many people as possible, and see what happens…

Real Estate Related Websites: (in no particular order)

ActiveRain.com — Quickly becoming the mother of all real estate community websites. Create a profile, start blogging and networking, and create some referral business from other members around the country.

Localism.com — Tie into your Active Rain account, and post articles and pictures about your local community.

Zillow.com — Lots of options here: Contribute articles to Zillow’s Wiki, post your listings, and… uhhh… other people’s listings, chat on Zillow’s Discussion board, or contribute to a neighborhood page

Trulia.com — Answer real estate related questions from the general public.

RealEstateVoices — Digg for real estate. If it is eventually able to create some more traffic for itself, having a high ranked profile may come in handy.

Inman Wiki — Similar to Zillow’s. Contribute articles to the general public about RE.

Yahoo! Answers — Similar to Trulia. Start answering people’s questions on real estate.

WannaNetwork.com — A Myspace clone for real estate agents

There are alot of options for getting your face out into the RE.net… be creative. Blogging is obviously huge. Take a tip from some of the more prolific real estate writers out there: start networking and maybe you could start guest authoring posts on popular RE blogs.

Participate in the conversation! – Start commenting on real estate blogs & on message boards where people are asking real estate related questions. If you can successfully set yourself up as an expert on any given topic, you will get leads. If you don’t know where people are asking real estate questions online, try setting up a Google Alerts account, and tell it to search for instances where people type in questions like: “when should I buy a house?”. When you see someone asking a question like that, go see if you can help that person.

Real Estate Forums & Message Boards: Point2Agent, Yahoo!, RealEstateForum.com, REW, AgentsOnline.net, CREN, RIS Media, Flipping Pad, RealTown

Get Your Content out to the General Public!

There are so many websites and tools that you can use to promote your real estate business. I’ll try to stick to the sites that deal with social networking, article distribution, online communities etc.

Social Networking:

Facebook.com – There are many great tools that can turn facebook into a fantastic networking tool, and they are adding more all the time.

Myspace.com – I personally can’t stand all the slutty ads that are targeted at my demographic, but some agents swear by the value of networking to a younger crowd with this social networking giant

Linkedin.com – A more professional approach to networking. More of a B2B kind of service, but still a helpful tool.

Mybloglog.com, friendster, orkut, biznik, ning, squidoo, Gather, Yahoo! & MSN Groups… the list goes on & on & on.

There are so many great ideas out there for marketing yourself online. Social media, and online discussion are only a couple of the ways real estate agents are finding success.

I could probably add another 5 pages to this post, but I think I’ll just stop with the websites that I have seen real estate agents be successful on. Large lists make my brain hurt anyway.

Google Launches New Street View

Today Google announced and launched a pretty amazing new feature to Google maps. The Street view.

You may be asking yourself, how do they take a satellite picture from that angle… uhhh yeah… it’s not a satellite photo. Google has broken out of the mold and has hit the streets apparently with the help of a company called Immersive. As you can see from the video and pics it is a pretty amazing tool. They currently only have 5 cities available, but I’m sure there are more to come. So far it’s:Miami, San Francisco, Denver, New York City, and Las Vegas

Joel Burslem points out on the Inman blog that it will have a “great application” in real estate, but I’m not so sure yet… After playing around with it for a while and considering the markets available, and the cities themselves, I see very little value for the residential marketplace. Sure, it is a great tool, but how much residential area is actually represented? It may have value in New York and San Francisco, as there are many city dwellers, but personally, I don’t see it as being practical.

If they bundled it into their current map API, it may be useful, but I don’t think we’re going to see an immediate stampede to use the technology by real estate agents… at least not yet.

Denver

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Real Estate Videos… The Good, The Bad, The…

Since we are at the dawn of the online real estate video, I thought I’d do a few reviews… pointing out the best and worst attributes of each video. And hopefully, you can learn some useful tidbits that will help you when it comes time to create your own real estate videos.

I’m posting all the videos from youtube, so the quality may not be as good as the originals.

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#1. Very professional feel, and decent quality for a youtube video. Definitely not done by a pro videographer, but definitely passable. Great narration and lighting. The music is a little cheesy… it sounds like an 8-bit Nintendo game. I’m not sure most buyers will want to watch a 9 minute video unless they are already interested in the house. I realize that this video was probably made for a realtor’s website, but since it is listed on youtube, it should at least have an email address. The video itself has no contact information!! Yikes!

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#2.
This one is also very professional, with a thought out narration. But again, one of the most notable problems is the video. It is pretty shaky, and I was actually getting motion sickness through part of it. Great promotional blurb at the end. Good length.


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#3. Here is an example of an all photo based video. It was probably created on one of those sites that creates video for you with a group of pictures and lets you put music to it. It’s not too bad, although the quality isn’t very good. I’m thinking that it just wasn’t meant to be formatted for youtube. For some reason I can’t read the agent’s information very well.


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#4. Here you can see an example of a professionally made video. The video is very smooth and well thought out. Make sure to turn your speakers down… the narrator is very loud and abrupt. All in all this is a great video that shows what is possible with an individual property video. Unfortunately, the video doesn’t include an email or website for more contact information… only a phone number.

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What have we learned from the above videos??

–If you can afford it, hire a videographer

–If you’re going to use music, use something that fits the property: Urban Loft?: jazz Old Victorian?: Classical

–On do it yourself videos, use a tripod and a camera with decent zoom and a wide angle if possible

–If you’re going to use photos in your video, don’t use cheesy fading effects, and make sure the quality is up to par.

–Make sure to include all of your contact information including phone, email and website.

–Including a picture of yourself and your logo makes the video much more personal.

Is Your Website Mobile Web Compatible???

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I’ve come across some interesting articles lately about mobile websites. It is actually a blossoming industry at the moment, and supposedly there will be some 300 million people by 2010 that will be using mobile phones and PDA’s. Have you been to your local cell phone shop lately? It’s hard to find a phone that doesn’t offer access to the internet. There is definitely some room for growth, but many experts seem to think that it will become a very competitive marketplace.

So what does that have to do with the real estate industry? Alot I think. There are 2 vital tools that real estate agents already use effectively, that adapt perfectly to a mobile environment: Maps & listings

Maps are already wide spread on mobile phones on many different levels. You have the stand alone mapping apps, the mobile versions of mapquest & Google maps, and even gps enabled phones that point the way.

But, to my knowledge there isn’t a solid surefire way to get access to listings on your cell phone. Of course, you could visit the local IDX, or MLS website, but do you really want to scroll through 30 screens for one page of content that probably won’t render properly anyway???

The only site I know of that is formatted as a mobile website is Trulia. They have a pretty decent tool to search for listings.

You could also use a tool like 411 Sync that will send you trulia listings:

text the word”trulia” with the zip code, and they will send you all the listings in that zip code. Or if the phone is web enabled, you can go to their site and search. A neat little Mashup…

  • text trulia 80104 to
    415-676-8397 Or
  • Mobile Search for trulia 80104 on wap.411Sync.com

Send Keyword to Phonesend this to phone

Wouldn’t it be a thing of beauty to tell your clients that your website is cell phone friendly, and that they could go to your website from their phone to look at your listings, or browse the MLS from your site? That would impress me as a client.

Since I’m admittedly not an expert on the subject, I want to refer you to some great articles I found:

This is one of those things that you could probably hold off on doing for a while, but might want to put in the back of your head. There are many web design companies out there that have just unveiled mobile website design, so there is obviously something afoot. The mobile SEO article I linked to above points out some key issues, one being that mobile search engine results can differ from the regular SERPs. I’m not sure if this is true or not… many of the searches I’ve done on mobile.google.com on my treo seem to show the same results. But there seem to be quite a few “experts” out there that claim that sites that are formatted for mobile web will automatically rank higher.

Something to think about…

Craigslist.com Individual City Rundown

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What are some of the most popular cities on Craigslist??

The percentage represents percentage of traffic over the entire site, and the 2nd number is the amount of listings they had at the time of this post.

•    sfbay.craigslist.org – 14% – 305800
•    newyork.craigslist.org – 10% – 345715
•    losangeles.craigslist.org – 8% – 192174
•    seattle.craigslist.org – 4% – 135719
•    sandiego.craigslist.org – 3% – 103321
•    boston.craigslist.org – 3% – 138512
•    vancouver.craigslist.org – 3% – 150304
•    chicago.craigslist.org – 3% – 107877
•    orangecounty.craigslist.org – 3% – 161288
•    portland.craigslist.org – 2%
•    atlanta.craigslist.org – 2%
•    washingtondc.craigslist.org – 2%
•    phoenix.craigslist.org – 2%
•    denver.craigslist.org – 2%
•    lasvegas.craigslist.org – 2%
•    toronto.craigslist.org – 2%
•    sacramento.craigslist.org – 2%
•    dallas.craigslist.org – 2%
•    minneapolis.craigslist.org – 1%
•    austin.craigslist.org – 1%
•    miami.craigslist.org – 1%
•    houston.craigslist.org – 1%

Marketing on YouTube?


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I just read a really interesting piece through a newsletter subscription that I have through Internet Marketing Secrets.  It’s SEO buff Michael Cambell’s weekly newsletter.

He’s always been big on affiliate marketing, and adsense revenue strategies through solid SEO techniques.  I used to be a big time SEO geek that would read anything I could get my hands on, but lately I’ve been so busy, my affiliate marketing side business has been at a stand still.

But something about Michael’s newsletter hit me… maybe it was the title: “1,200 New Visitors in 7 days, all treat, no tricks”

…I read on…

You can read the article yourself here, but I’ll just summarize it for you.

The basic idea is to find a niche within YouTube, create a video about it, and then direct people to your website with a short advertisement at the end of the video.

Michael’s strategy was to create a video about how to groom a cat.  He then proceeded to place an affiliate link at the end of the video (I assume for cat grooming products).  He claims that he made close to $500 in less than a week.

It is definitely a good idea if you have time to mess around with affiliate links, and editing video.  But, it really just got me thinking about the real estate industry… and how a similar idea might be used to promote listings, or simply promote yourself.

Maybe a dog grooming video could drive some traffic???  food for thought