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To Blog or Not To Blog

What percentage of people who start a blog let it die in the first month?

Blogging is not for everyone.  It is such that most who try will fail.

This will be worse than the rush to get a website for Realtors.  You see, websites can be marketed any number of ways, and there are many carrots with which to capture leads out of the traffic you drive to them.  The rush to blogging in the real estate industry will not be pretty.  All the graphic design, SEO, marketing and fancy domain names aren't going to help.   Most blogs will die on the vine... in less than a month. They will fail just as diets fail; good intentions, fancy running shoes, nutrition almanacs, and space age treadmills don't lose the weight for you.  It is the commitment and encouragement that will make you successful.  Your blog is no different.

I do a ton of talking about blogging to real estate audiences.  I am always careful to make sure that anyone considering getting into blogging as a marketing tool for their business, understands what successful, professional, business blogging entails.

Let's assume that you have all the elements (slick design, cool name, RSS, email sign-up, pings, social bookmarking etc.) in place and the only element left to care for is the blogging itself.

What does successful blogging entail?

The 4 C's to business blogging success: "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail."

1.  Commitment
I know you are busy.  I know your business can be a roller coaster ride. One week it's all prospecting and pavement pounding, the next it's catering to clients' needs and then it's closings, contingencies and paperwork.  "Where am I going to find the time to be a regular blogger?" You ask.
Firstly, look at blogging as a powerful marketing strategy, not a hobby nor a choreGetting yourself in front of a captive audience that is interested in your education and service is the golden opportunity.  Developing an ever growing audience of regular readers, all-the-while exposing them to your online tools and services, is the formula.  If you don't make the commitment, and find the time, you will never know what success I am talking about.

2.  Core
Having a core focus with your blog makes it so much easier to write.  Make a list of what your blog's central topics will be.  I'm serious.  What service and education can you offer your audience?  This is your core focus.  Your blogging does not have to strictly adhere to that focus, but it should revolve  around it regularly.
1.  The more you refer to your core topics, the more unique content you generate for the search engines to find you by
2. Your core topics will help distinguish your blog to your audience. Give them a reason to recognize your value to them.  If your message is all over the place, your value to them will grow thin.
3.  After you have 'rounded out' you message in dozens of articles, there is always another way to say the same thing, whether it be to reinforce, reiterate, revisit or reinvent.  Keep in mind, your audience is ever changing and bringing up excellent points from months ago could be new nuggets of knowledge to them.

3.  Creativity
Writing is easy.  Good writing takes practice, inspiration and folly.  Look for formulas to good blogToddtarson writing.  Read, write, read, write, read.  The blogs that impress you will inspire you to find your own voice.  Getting the audience is hardly half the battle.  It is keeping them coming back for more that sets you apart. 

4.  Consistency
Stick with the above plan. Don't think that your audience won't notice the naps you take.  Don't think the scale won't notice the pint of Ben and Jerry's you just ate.  If it is hard to find the time to commit, then make the effort to schedule it in.  If 4 times a month is all you can commit to, then write it in your calendar.  Your audience is paying attention.  If they feel you are not commited to them, then they will lose their commitment to you.

So, before you go out and get all excited to take hold of the latest marketing strategy in online real estate, please be aware of the commitment that it entails.  The rewards are plenty.  It is worth it. 

Here's my new favorite comment, left by Todd Tarson last Saturday:

Always great advice found at the Tomato.

I must say that I have come to love the real estate biz much more since I started blogging.
Imagine that, in a down market even. I think RE blogging has made me a better agent and I know my clients will be better off for it.

We are the leaders, nothing can stop us, it feels so good.

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Comments

Jim,
Thanks for telling it like it is. Bloggings'just not for everyone. I'm new to to it(though I've passed the one month break-in period and am merrily on the road to addiction) and browse the Tomato regularly for help, advice and inspiration. Currently working on improving the 3rd C on your list.
I agree with Todd about loving real estate more and being a better agent for the blogging. Blogging makes me do more research, reading, be more involved and ask more questions about what's happening in real estate, so I'm more informed. And it forces me to think more about those issues instead of just passing them off with a huh!-interesting.

The following are comments from ActiveRain members. A link from my ActiveRain blog (http://activerain.com/blogs/jimmyz57) to here gives them the opportunity to read the article, and more commonly than not (points baby, points) post comments on the AR blog:


Well Tomato,

you're right! And, it's going to be interesting to see all those old, dead blogs curl up and blow away.

I find that having a 'voice', my 'voice' adds to the informative value of my blog. And, yes, there are several of us RTers writing Naperville Blogs...but, wow, are we ever different!

So, even if we took the same topic we'd end up with different conclusions. And, that's ok. In fact, I'm almost bet on that.

Eileen Move UP to Naperville Blog

09/20/2006 by Eileen Landau, ABR, CRS, e-PRO

Thanks for the encouragement Jim!! LOL Once I went to the original article it made more sense.

The number of blogs that are around these days blows my mind. And it's only going to get worse. That is one of the reasons I really love AR. If your blog posts stink, then you won't get many readers, but if they are decent, people will take notice.

So I'll ad a 5th the list: Content... without it your blog will "curl up and blow away" as Eileen so eloquently put it.

09/20/2006 by Christian Real Estate Network

For me....To Blog!

I think blogging is a great way of getting my "train of thought" out there for potential clients to learn who I am and what my opinions are...Keep on Blogging :)

Scott

09/20/2006 by Scott Gormley

I agree with the premise of the article. Blogs will become as common as individual agent sites in the next year or so. How many quality blogs will be out there is a diffrerent consideration. My question is where are they evolving toward? Will we shift to uploading videotaped blogs, responses and monlogues as quickly as IM'ing?

I don't fully agree with the above comment about only the good blogs will get read. It seems that a lot of people who are trying to get their 10 comments points, look for the shortest blogs to read and then provide a one-liner, while some of the longer blogs that have taken a lot of effort, go unread, probably because someone is going to have to stop and think about what they read and provide a cogent response.

I don't have an answer as to what's the best thing to do. I hope to continue seeing as much substance, like your post(s), as there is humor, inane and cryptic.

09/20/2006 by Dave Rosenmarkle

I think a lot of it boils down to time management. -Charles

09/20/2006 by Jacqulyn Richey

Excellent blog! It captures it all. At night, once in my PJ's and while watching TV, I surf the net looking at agent blogs. (Ok, I have no life.) One of the things I have seen is that many agents are treating their blog more like a website with little more than property offerings and kudo's about themselves. Blogging once a month isn't going to cut it. Having a blog interesting enough for others to read is hard work. It is not surprising that many have failed.

09/20/2006 by Linda Davis

You have it right. But it can be a passion that feels worth while. Lar

Isn't it funny that we are doing an article about blog needing committment when it is being done about a field where 2/3 of the agents in Ohio will not have their license in two years?

But, you are right. Blogging takes an energy. While my real estate blog is only a week old, I've been blogging about baseball for nearly two years. And it is amazing how many other blogs have come and gone during that time frame.

It's funny everyone is trying to define "blogging" when the tried and true techies who have been around since web 1.0 don't have a central definition for it. Read Rebecca Blood'book The Weblog Handbook. Why read it? because you'll learn there are many classification of "blogs" if you will: which includes journals and notebooks. Furthermore you'll learn that your "blog" is what you want it to be and your traffic may not be who you think it is. I'm finding the real estate community to be quite judgemental about "blogging" and going so far as to define what they think is good or bad. In reality out of the thousands of blogs I see I maybe read only 3 blogs. Most real estate blogs are not real blogs to me, but seems to be an effort to express themselves to other realtors. If your "blog" works for you so be it. If my "blog", "notebook" or "journal" works for me that's all that matters.

Sandy,
Sure, "blogging" can take many forms - I'm not here to dispute that. Blogging as hobby or journal or what-have-you is certainly acceptable, and potentially profitable. However, what we focus on here is the real estate blogging community, and the advice we present is to be read with that focus in mind. My aim is very niche, and if it doesn't work as a perspective on the topic of blogging as a whole, that's fine with me. Helping real estate agents embrace the blog as a marketing tool to generate real estate leads is the strategy. The audience that we reach outside of that goal is nice, but not crucial. Thanks for your readership and suggestions.

Ah, yes. Consistency is the King. You have to keep trying until you find a way to get it into your schedule and do it regularly - just like exercise, you can't wait until there's time, you have to find a place where it's automatic.

I'm fairly new to the Tomato, but want you to know I've bookmarked your blog as a resource. I read many of your articles before I embarked on the adventure of real estate blogging. I hope I can keep it up. I really appreciate blogging's ability to convey some of my personality and passion to my readers. Thanks!

Blogging is the way of the future. I'm sure we'll see a lot more agents incorporate a blog into their site.

I am new at this -curious to see if I will get hooked - already enjoying reading all the information and comments -Thanks

Blogging can be a chore or hobby, but after seeing the results it is a must do. Coming up with different topics allows me to be more loaded with info than the average agent.

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