I think one of the biggest mistakes that RE bloggers make is to talk about blogging on their own blog. After all, most consumers don’t even know what a blog is, or that they are now reading a blog, or why you are talking about blogging on a site where they are looking for real estate information. Teresa Boardman sets a great example for bloggers by blog talking on sites like The Real Estate Tomato and Active Rain, while focusing her marketing efforts on one of the first, great local blogs created, St. Paul Real Estate.
Hi Teresa, lately there’s been quite a bit of talk in the RE Blogosphere about how agents should try to focus their blogs on their “hyperlocal” market. With nearly two years of blogging under your belt, you were way ahead of the curve in this regard. What made you decide to blog in this manner?
When I started the blog it was an experiment. It just made sense to me to write about the area’s where I have the most business. There were few if any real estate blogs to imitate. The goal of my blog is to attract the kind of clients that I most enjoy working with, so I write to them every day and eventually they contact me. It made sense to write about something I know and makes it easier to come up with topics.
I often wonder where the term “hyperlocal” came from as a description of my blog, and was not aware that the Re blogoshpere was talking about the idea. The truth is if I could start over I would do a smaller geographic area, like a neighborhood. Real estate is local, and I gravitate toward a niche market. I have a passion of historic homes, and I love St. Paul, my niche is a type of housing found in certain neighborhoods.. I am often frustrated because the area I am covering is too large and there are so many topics that I think should be on my blog but I don’t have time to write them all. I avoid national and local news stories that are being covered by other blogs and publications unless I have something unique to add. It is much easier to be at the top of the search engines in the long tail kind of searches than it is to compete with other bloggers, or the news media all writing on the same subjects.
Pictures are heavily featured on your blog. What kind of camera and software do you reccomend for taking, editing, and publishing pictures?
I am not qualified to make recommendations when it comes to photography, but am often asked about camera’s and software. I believe pictures are an essential element of a real estate blog. Google likes pictures and so do my readers. I know enough about cameras to know that the ones I use are not recommended for or by realtors or photographers. I use a Panasonic Lumix with a wide angle lens and a Cannon digital elf. Both are small and light weight, and I have one of them with me at all times. I use Photoshop elements 5.0 for editing. Many of my pictures are published unedited, some are taken with my phone. The most common edit I make is adjusting the brightness so that they look better on the internet. I love to take pictures and sometimes spend hours walking and shooting, it has become a way to unwind. My only recommendation is to buy a camera that is easy to use, keep it handy, and use it.
How does your blog fit into your overall marketing plan?
My blog is the center piece of my overall marketing plan. I generate a newsletter that consists of content from my blog. I select posts to take with me on listing appointments and when I meet with buyers. When people ask questions via email they often get a link to a blog post as an answer with some additional commentary. It did not start out that way but I am finding that it does take time to write every day and I try to get the most out of it. My other marketing efforts don’t reach as many people or have as much impact as my blog does. My blog has become my business.
In addition to writing your local, market focused blog, you’ve also contributed quite a bit of advice in blog creation on the Real Estate Tomato, Active Rain, and the Project Blogger competition. You’re not alone either. It amazes me just how many existing bloggers are philanthropic in helping their competition get up to speed with this medium. Why do you do it?
To me Active Rain is a social network and I enjoy meeting other agents from around the country. I get email from agents who want to start blogs, and I answer them. I have not found a better way to learn than by answering questions, teaching classes, writing blog posts, and coaching others. I feel as though my peers are holding me to a high standard and pushing me to constantly learn and improve my own skills. I learned a lot from the project blogger contest about the challenges agents face as they learn how to write a blog. I never thought of it as philanthropic, I see it as an opportunity to learn, and to network with other agents.
Writing on the Tomato just kind of happened. Jim challenged me to write a post, and said he would publish it mainly because I challenged him with the comments I left on his blog. I didn’t believe he would publish the post but he did and that changed everything for me. His encouragement has helped me overcome some of my discomfort with writing, and my fear of putting myself out there in such a public way. He doesn’t edit my posts or change them, instead he publishes them. I still find it difficult to write for his blog, which is why I keep doing it. After each post I am sure that I will never be able to write another, but some how I do. Sometimes I send him a post and then change my mind. Now he publishes them before I can take them back, and recently accused me of trying to “chickening out”. His readers respond to the posts with comments that add value and are often better than the posts. I think I can speak for both of us when I say he has a terrific readership and we both learn from them, and from each other.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
My favorite blogs:
Seth Godin’s blog, I am a major fan and have read his books. His philosophy about marketing and about customer service are similar to my own.
I follow a 100 real estate blogs. I gravitate toward the blogs that are different, or funny, or that make me think. I would love to mention my favorites but I don’t think it would be a good idea, so I’ll just keep your readers guessing.
Do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?
I have written so much on this subject, that I don’t know what to say other than just do it. It is about writing, not about technology or blog platforms. When I started I did not have a mission, a plan, a lofty goal, or many blogs that I could use as a model. Eventually I developed a kind of system and rhythm, and found my voice, which is nothing more than my normal conversational tone, with a few typo’s. My ideas are not embraced by the mainstream traditional real estate industry, or by the mainstream RE blogoshpere. Yet I continue and it works. My advice is to just keep typing, don’t forget to smile, listen and learn from your readers and stick with it. It takes patience, persistence and practice, kind of like selling real estate.
Thanks for the interview.