The Real Estate Blog Trap

Back in 1984, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in the first of three Terminator movies. As a robot from the future, he was sent back into the past to fulfill his “prime directive.” His prime directive was to “terminate” one of the main characters in the film: Sarah Connor.

No matter what he did, where he went or who he talked to, his prime directive was always at the top of his mind.

Your business has a prime directive too. Every business does. And that is to sell its products and services.

But somehow, when many real estate businesses start a blog, they seem to forget that. And eventually they wonder whether or not a blog is worth the investment of their time and energy.

When it comes down to it, a blog’s function is really no different than any other webpage. Each webpage on your site should be designed to move your prospects through your marketing funnel and convert as many visitors as possible into paying clients.

But there is a difference between having a blog and making money from one. And if you asked most of the agents out there exactly how much income they have created with their blog, the answer would probably be “not much” or “I don’t know.”

And as a business owner, that simply isn’t acceptable as a long term strategy. If you are going to make an investment of your time and money, then you should be rewarded well; or you should move on to more lucrative investments.

Now in case you are new to blogging, here is a quick rundown on the top 4 reasons to start a focused real estate blog:

1. Findability – Blogs are about being found – Found by your potential clients when THEY are looking and ready to act. Search engines love blogs because they are usually the most often updated part of a website. Rather than investing thousands of dollars in a search engine optimization campaign and going head-to-head trying to compete with agents who may have more money to spend, just start a blog and begin posting helpful articles and information that fills a need you know your market has. Over time, Google will reward you for your investment. And unlike search engine optimization techniques, which are a bit more prone to change with the whims of Google, Yahoo! and MSN, good focused content will always rank well over time.

2. RSS and Permission Based Marketing – As of now, having someone “subscribe” to your blog (which means that they don’t have to actually visit your website to read your blog because your blog posts get delivered to their computer very much like their email) is one of the few 100% foolproof “no spam filters will stop you” ways of communicating with your market over the internet. SPAM filters can stop your emails, they can keep your readers from getting your e-newsletter, but when a reader subscribes to your real estate blog, you can virtually guarantee that they will see what you write… IF your writing is interesting, useful and compelling.

3. Leveraged Credibility – Blogs are a powerful way to position yourself as an expert in your market. Blogs are the tool you can use to turn the millions of dollars of real estate information that is swimming around in your head into hundreds of marketing tools (articles) that will live on the internet forever. Instead of you providing value to your clients one on one, your articles will help you leverage your knowledge to market to a much larger group of prospects. Plus, the more focused your writings are on serving a particular market or solving a particular problem, the quicker your position as the expert will materialize.

4. Blogging is a Financially Valuable Skill – Apart from selling face to face, writing is one of the most financially valuable skills you can develop as a business owner. I don’t mean the type of writing that you were taught in your sixth grade English class, I mean the type of writing that compels people to take action. It’s called copywriting and it is responsible for making a lot of businesses very large sums of money.

Blogs will help you develop your writing skills simply because you will be practicing them again and again and again. And once you develop that skill, you can apply it to the rest of your website, to your postcards and to your direct mail campaigns.

All of these reasons really boil down to one main idea: Starting a blog will help your market find you more quickly and help you establish more credibility as an expert in less time.

But in order to make it worth your while, you must never forget your “prime directive:” The purpose of your business is to sell your products and services.

With each post you write, always ask yourself, “Is what I am writing in my blog right now going to move my market closer to doing business with me or farther from it?”

Here are a few ideas to put that into action:

1. If you focus on a particular niche, consider creating an information packet that helps your readers solve a particular problem you know they have. Whoever helps you setup your blog can build a sign-up box into your blogging template, so each time someone reads one of your posts, they will be asked to sign-up to receive your free information.

2. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself on your blog. There is no written or unwritten rule that you can’t use your blog to sell a listing or to generate leads. You will learn the mix between fact, editorial and advertising that your readers will welcome. Unfortunately, you will never know the limits until you start testing them. There are no real rules about blogging… there are only things that will help your business grow and things that won’t. You’ve got to experiment to find out which is which.

3. When your tech crew is setting up your blog, make sure you use an RSS tracking service like Feedburner (http://www.feedburner.com). It will allow you to keep tabs on how many people are subscribed to your blog. From there, you can track your conversion rates from readers to clients.

While blogging is a great way to start a conversation with your market, to establish credibility and to build your “footprint” (findability) on the internet, it really doesn’t change anything about business.

The number one priority of every business out there has GOT to be selling its products and services. That is what a business does and that is what makes a business successful. Here’s one more thing to consider…

While it is very, very easy to start your own blog through one of the third party services like Typepad, Blogger or WordPress.com, you need to realize that ultimately, YOU do not have the final say about what can and cannot go on your blog.

Just this past month, a blogger on WordPress.com got a type of “cease and desist” letter because the blogger became involved with a Pay-Per-Post service. Pay-Per-Post is when a writer is paid to review a product on a blog to build PR and buzz in the blogosphere.

Some blogging services frown on this and believe it hurts the credibility of blogs… In this case, the owners of WordPress.com told the writer to remove the blog within 7 hours or it would be deleted. Eek!

Whether or not you think that pay per post is good for the blogging world or bad, the point is that by not using a third party blogging service (and instead of having a tech geek setup your own blog, which can be done in about ten minutes) you will retain control over what you can and cannot put onto your blog.

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