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Your Real Estate Blog is Your Newspaper

TomatoTimesCategory Organization Will Give Your Real Estate Blog A Long And Successful Life.

Throw down 50 cents and pick up your local daily.
You are willing to invest in the pile of paper because you have an expectation of the value that it contains.

The format for most major city newspapers is predictable:
(Any combination of the following)

Front Page News
World News
Local News
Sports
Business
Lifestyle
Classified
with some Comics, Crossword, Horoscope and Television thrown in.

And on weekends, sprinkle in some of the following:
Real Estate
Travel
Cars
Tech
Food

Subscription is earned when readers recognize the value of your format and want to be afforded it regularly.

Improve your chances at subscription by having the discipline to develop clear and predictable divisions in your blog.  Whatever you choose to maintain as your focus, whether it be Home Buying Advice, Local Events, Market Statistics etc., try to develop content that continues to fall under these categories.  Breaking your current and future content into strong categories help you develop a format which your readers:
Appreciate.
Develop an expectation of.
Clearly discern your focus and expertise.
Recognize the value of your effort.

All of which beg for subscription to your blog's RSS feed/email blast.

Disorganized categories lead to confusion, clutter, and a loss of message… all of which prevent subscription.

Keep in mind, all your regular content doesn't need to be rigid and overly focused on real estate topics, or predictable at all for that matter.
Just as newspapers expand their coverage on weekends to colorful comics, travel editorials and restaurant reviews, recognize that your blog's offering of something 'on the lighter side' will keep your audience engaged.

A great example of this technique is illustrated by Tomato guest author, Teresa Boardman's blog, St Paul Real Estate Blog.  Teresa regularly shakes things us with her Friday Fun posts.  Another fun example is Jay Thompson’s “Real Estate Photo Of The Week”.

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Comments

Hmmm...humorous Home Horoscopes? House Hunting Horoscopes?
Gemini...investing in a duplex could be a wise decision in your immediate future...

Nice way to illustrate how a blogger could develop blog articles into a well rounded and hopefully well read and "subscribed" destinationn.

OK...I went back and cleaned up my categories. Thanks for the reminder. That is one of my mental blocks.


Jim, what's your personal opinion on how many categories are too many?

Jonathan,
I don't know that there is a specific number of categories that can be considered the tipping point...but I would say that if you have trouble recognizing the message that is to be outlined by your categories, then you have gone too far.

My struggle with categories lead me to redesign how I showcased the most important categories in the sidebar. I broke it down into Top, Other and Guest Authors (The Vine). However, you can see my much less organized mix in the drop down menu on the right. It's kind of ugly in there.

One can certainly argue that sub categories can be employed to help organize... and if done properly I too believe this... but the tendency to over stuff a sidebar with category divisions will make for a cluttered mess.

Guideline should be: Start with as few categories as possible... just the pillars. Then as you work to find your voice, and your audience's interest, add a few or trim a few depending on the path the message has taken.

Jim,
Super advice. I have gone way overboard on subcategories on the Guide. I've wanted to reorganize for a long time and now I thunk (where did that i go?) it maybe time.

On another note, check out the blog we built for MA REALTOR Mollie Wasserman at The Consulting Times. We wanted it to look like a "newspaper." Your critique is appreciated. Oh by the way, there are alternative business models that make more sense.

http://theconsultingtimes.com

And for goodness sake you're allowed to have some posts be short!

I'm about 50/50 real estate/ not real estate on a post count. But the real estate posts tend to be longer and end with about a 75-80/20-25 split if you count verbage.

Also you can just link to a page of condensed content of links rather than smoosh it all into a sidebar.

Ok - so I just realized by reading this, that my interpretation of your request for categories was wrong - thanks for posting this!

Your post is right on. When you regularly post to several categories you develop a following of readers who are waiting for your next post on that category. Right on. Getting a series started that you write every other week is another great idea....

Great points, for experienced or new bloggers. I'll have to get back to organizing mine...

Jim -

Great point about the perceived value of a newspaper simply because we pay for it. Before long, however, "free" won't be considered a questionable noun when considering the true value in "free" internet information, as well as blogs like yours that contain pertinent data.

Mark Robinson

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