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Real Estate Blogging Tips From A Rural Real Estate Blogger

One of the biggest advantages to breeding A-List Real Estate Bloggers, is that now I have an army of talented and savvy bloggers willing to contribute incredibly useful content to the Tomato.

Our newest contributor, Daniel Bates of MyMcClellanville.net, has had to take the load less traveled in the real estate blogosphere.  Rather than spoil it, I’ll let him tell it:

ShrimpboatReal Estate Blogging Tips
From A Rural Real Estate Blogger
By Daniel Bates

Bright Lights, Big City

The 2000 census reports that 94.6% of the US is rural open space, yet 79% of the population live in that remaining 5.4% (Don’t you guys feel cramped?).  We can’t all live in the big city, and I gladly represent the 21% that said “thanks, but no thanks”.  My home town of McClellanville has a population hovering below 500 and relies on shrimping as it’s main source of income.  We draw a few tourists a day (more in the summer months) that come to enjoy our Spanish moss draped live oaks, historic homes, beautiful waterfront, and amazing seafood restaurants.  We have a blinking light, but not a stop light, and the closest grocery store is 25 miles away.  We live at a slower pace of life. 

A Country Boy Can Survive

There are thousands of small towns and rural areas across this great land of ours.  Each has it’s own set of local real estate agents who know the land better than any agent from the “big city”.  These “big city” agents often get a piece of the action though because they work with larger companies, have larger advertising budgets, and may be seen as more professional.  In order to overcome these setbacks you have to play up your own strengths.  Your biggest strength is your knowledge of the area.  As a local real estate agent you know the history of properties (not just what's on MLS), the market trends (without having them compiled), and what a property is really worth (without having to pull the comps).   A blog is a great way to exhibit your local knowledge in a professional way and have it seen by those who are looking in your area.  The following are rules to live by for the rural real estate blogger, but may also apply to urban bloggers.

Create an Online Community

Through blogging we all hope to create an online community, nowhere else is this more true than in rural blogging where your audience is already separated by more space than in the city.  In order to gain regular visitors or subscribed readers you need to provide a service that people will want to return over and over again to use.  Remember your greatest strength: Knowledge! Sharing your local knowledge is your service, but people don’t just want to know about real estate.  Fill them in on the local attractions, upcoming events, the latest news or issues.  Turn your site into an encyclopedia of your home town.   

Search Engine Advantage

Creating a site that shows up on the first page of a Google search for “New York Real Estate” is going to be a tall order.  However, it is possible to attain first page results for “insert your small home town's name here + real estate”.  This is where the relatively small amount of information on the internet about your town is to your advantage.   Depending on the size of your town and how often you are posting keyword-rich material, you should be able to capture first page SEO ratings within the first six months, leaving the keyword-weak, national companies’ sites in your dust.

Long Tail Search Hits 

Writing insightful articles on local attractions, events, and activities will actually get you more search results than “your small town name + real estate” ever will.  Many people come to my sight from searches for the nearby national forest, wildlife refuge, or our annual shrimp festival, all of which I wrote keyword-rich, specific content about.  A final item that will bring you a few more search results is a good directory of local businesses.  Write a review of all the restaurants, being sure to provide their contact information, and people will come looking for the phone number the first time, but will return when they want more in-depth local information.  

Low Tech Meets High Tech

So you’ve captured your out-of-town audience searching in your area, but what about the locals?  Locals don’t Google their own town name or even the local attractions, so getting their attention requires a different approach.   Develop a reason for them to go to your site and advertise it locally.  Befriend the local business owners and help them out whenever you can in exchange for the ability to leave advertising in their stores.  Restaurants are great places to distribute flyers because everyone’s got to eat (locals and tourists) and they are a captive audience.  Create attractive flyers that draw peoples’ attention and place them near the entrance, where people will pick them up while they’re waiting for a seat.  On my site, I have just created a forum with local discussion topics.  I gave local businesses a place to advertise for free and will encourage them to participate in local discussions (i.e. – local boat store and fishing guides responding to comments about fishing and boating and local restaurant owners posting their favorite recipes or answering cooking questions). 

Creating_an_online_communityCreate a Buzz

Oddly enough, most people don’t randomly stumble upon your small town (while driving or on the internet). They hear about it from someone they know that lives there.  If that local person knows about your site, than you have a better chance that the person he is telling will know about it too.  Word of mouth advertising is your best friend.  If you are providing a good service then word will spread and you will get more visitors.  Keep in mind that building an online community where there has never been one before takes a lot of work and may or may not succeed despite your efforts.

Don’t Sell Out

You are a real estate agent, not an advertising agency.  You make your money from the sale of homes, not books on Amazon.com or getting people to click on other peoples sites.  Yes, you may make a few bucks from plastering ads on your site, but it is not worth the quality readers you will lose and the overall feel of your website being lowered.  Also resist the temptation to ask local businesses for their money, as I stated earlier both sides have much to gain from a reciprocal relationship.  If you believe that a business is doing something great than give them a free plug.  They’ll find out about your good deed and give you one in return. 

Your Name in Lights

If you take my approach and create a true community center, don’t over emphasize your real estate business.  Proudly display your name and contact information and make sure people know that you’re responsible for the site, but don’t mention real estate in every post and don’t have 20 different links to your contact form.  There is a fine line between enough and too much name dropping.  Try to keep in mind that you will have many readers who aren’t in the market for real estate, but someday they may be and if you have gained their trust as a source of information than they should choose you as their trusted real estate agent.

You Can Do It

Following these simple steps will have you jumping ahead of your competition in the search engines and will create a name for yourself as an expert in your field and as a local information source.  Always remember to keep the consumers needs and desires in mind.  Don’t be afraid to try new things, but if those fail, go back to what works.  Commit the time and energy your blog requires and you will see results in the long run.  Happy Blogging!

Portions of this article were inspired by other rural bloggers John Coley, LakeMartinVoice.com and Marty Van Diest, ValleyMarket.com.

Thanks Daniel, welcome to the vine.

Daniel Bates is an exceptionally professional and focused Realtor servicing the ‘small town’ of McClellanville, South Carolina. 
His website: http://www.MyMcClellanville.net
His local forum: http://www.mymcclellanville.net/forum/

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Comments

Wonderful information, not typically discussed. My market is not rural in the strictest sense, we are the edge of rural areas, but much of Daniel's advice can be applied. Thanks for the insights.

Daniel: Your advice might also apply to urban Realtors who thoroughly understand a local neighborhood.

Well done!

Good job Daniel. I appreciate the advice, even if it's hard to apply. I think I talk about real estate a little too much but after 6 months of blogging I am definetely seeing the payback. I now have people call me to say they feel like they know me and want to work with me.

Now I'm going to get busy and blog about something other than real estate...like FISHING!

Shucks- You gave away all the secrets!

Seriously, this is a good primer on why every real estate agent should blog and how to do it. I work in a rural area that is popular for vacation homes. Blogging helps me stand out as a local expert and since I'm the only one blogging, I guess that means I'm the only expert...

"Don't Sell Out" - I love it! Great idea on partnering with other local businesses. Hadn't thought of that one. From one country boy to another - thanks!

John C

Wow! Thanks for all your kind words about my first major article on Jim's site. There was an error in the URL for my site at first, so if you had trouble getting to the site, it is working now. Thanks Again, Daniel

Great post Daniel. You have a really good list here. It's good to hear rural realtors offer advice to others online. There are a lot of rural realtors online but you dont hear from them often enough. It is a different market than being in the big cities. I hope to see more posts from you soon.

Daniel, The white mountains of New Hampshire has the same issues with seasonal activities as your home town, your suggestions are excellent and I look forward to testing out your blog theories.
Some day maybe I'll be the go to guy.
Steve L.

Good post and commentary. I think Realtors internet marketing is great but people
are getting way to caught up with it and think that if you are great at blogging and marketing…the $$ just rolls in.

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