Blogs used to just be a place for people to host online diaries and share their personal misadventures with the world. Now however, blogging has transformed into an online marketing powerhouse for real estate agents and other business professionals.
In addition to your conventional real estate web site, starting a blog will help you capitalize on search engine rankings, back links, and lead conversion. A blog can get your name out there, and allow readers to get to know you in a way that isn’t possible through a standard web site. And unlike more traditional advertising methods like bus banners and newsletters, blogs are always evolving, attracting new visitors every day.
If you’re totally new to blogging, you’ll want to know some of the jargon associated with the blogosphere (world of blogs). Here are a few key terms to know:
Blog – at its most basic level, a blog is an online journal. Entries are reversed chronologically so users always see the most recent post at the top. Some people have personal blogs where they share family photos and neighborhood gossip, while others create blogs that promote their businesses.
Blog Host – the provider that hosts your blog space on their server. There are a variety of providers out there, including free and for-cost services.
Trackback – this tool tells you when another blogger has referred to a post of yours on their site.
Pingback – like Trackback, pings notify bloggers when someone links to or talks about their entries.
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) – this allows users to be notified every time you add new content to your blog. This is where you get a lot of your readership from, as users subscribe to your blog postings.
Permalink – this is a permanent link that goes to a particular blog entry. A permalink allows other bloggers to link to specific blog posts of yours without worrying about the URL expiring (link rot).
With the lingo under your belt, you’re ready to come up with a plan for your blog. For real estate agents, it’s actually quite easy to decide on a theme for your blog. You want to focus on your area of service, and the realty market within it. This gives you some flexibility in terms of content, as you can write about anything from community events and tourist attractions to new condo developments and market stats. Allow yourself to be creative and informative, and have fun posting.
Deciding which blog host provider to go with can be a daunting task. There are so many companies and a wide range of plug-ins and special features compatible with each one. The best option is to have a blog built right into your web site so that the design elements and branding are all consistent. It also makes it easy for users to explore the rest of your site, and contact you for an appointment.
If you’re not able to have a built-in blog, you can get a blog hosted by a company like Blogger, WordPress, or TypePad. When choosing a provider, you need to decide how much you want to pay for your blog service.
Going with a free blog provider is a great way to begin blogging. Blogger for instance has a very user-friendly interface, and makes it simple for anyone to start posting pictures and text. If you’re not tech-savvy, this may be the best way to get your feet wet. Once you get comfortable blogging, you can upgrade to a paid service.
Why pay for a blog when you can get one for free? Paid hosting gives you much more control over your blog. If you know some html, you can customize your blog to make it truly representative of you. You can also have your own domain name, which looks more professional than the address you receive through a free provider.
Regardless of which option you choose, there are numerous tutorials available online, both in text and video format that will guide through the set-up and customization of your blog. Going through a tutorial can save you a lot of time and frustration when you’re just starting out, and they can also point you in the direction of some of the fun features like changing design elements and color schemes.
When you create your blog, make sure you pick the right title. Search engines place a lot of weight on blog titles, so put your most important keywords in there. In your blog posts, you should also add keywords to optimize the content, but do so with restraint. Your blog should first and foremost be readable. If you keyword stuff or put in too much self promotion, your readers (and potential clients) will head for the door.