Blogger Spotlight: Jan O’Brien

Of course, the primary goal of most real estate blogs is to sell houses. But that’s not the only thing they are good for. I caught up with Jan O’Brien to ask her about the unique ways she leverages blogging.

Hi Jan, why did you adopt blogging as a marketing medium?

I have always loved technology, the internet, website design and development. Around October of 2006 I started researching and learning about blogging. My first blog attempt was on – just keeping an online diary. I launched my real estate coach blog in January of 2007 and started posting regularly in March. I absolutely love the blog platform as a marketing medium and enjoy the overall process, the building of community and connecting with others and the search engine rankings!

I have studied SEO and web design and have experimented with pay per click for other websites. So, I was ecstatic to discover how quickly my blog and various posts came up in Google searches for the keywords I was targeting.

I have connected with so many interesting people in the last year and developed business relationships all as a result of my blog.

Your most recent real estate blog is quite unique. It’s a recruiting blog for Prudential Americana group. How is this blog progressing?

The blog has been an experiment and a pet project of mine. My goal is to demonstrate how the blog platform can out-perform a traditional website in lead generation and overall effectiveness for businesses. In this case, the goal is to attract new and seasoned real estate agents to contact Prudential Americana regarding Las Vegas career opportunities. We are using the blog as the home page and have added several pages to detail the tools, services and benefits of a real estate career with Prudential Americana,

The site really looks like a website with the added benefits of what a blog provides. We are also using the blog to provide career information, share tips and strategies, educate the local real estate community while inviting a conversation.

The blog has only been up and fully operational for less than two months and the results have been amazing. We have soared in the search engine rankings for our targeted key words in a few short weeks. We are also starting to get inquiries and comments. I highly recommend brokerages and real estate agent team leaders consider using a blog as a recruiting venue.

I know you also teach a blogging class to real estate professionals. What is the most often asked question you receive in these classes? (and please answer the question).

Probably the most frequent question besides “What is a blog?” is “Will I really be able to find the time to maintain a blog or How much time does it take?” My answer usually involves reviewing the questions to consider before launching a blog first:

1. Do you enjoy writing?
2. Do you have something to say or contribute? Are you passionate about what you want to blog about?
3. Can you provide compelling, informative, valuable content for readers?
4. Are you familiar with and involved in the blogosphere? Do you participate by commenting on blogs or posting in forums?
5. Do you have a clear mission and purpose for your blog?
6. Have you defined your targeted audience?
7. Do you have an existing website with articles, content and information you can link to from your blog?
8. Are you committed to posting on a regular basis? Once a week at a minimum; 3-4 times a week to daily for optimal exposure.
I really cover in my classes that blogging is not for everyone and that’s okay. It’s better to explore and seriously consider the answers to the above questions and decide if it’s for you then jump in only to abandon your blog shortly thereafter.. If blogging is for you and you are having fun, you will make the time to blog. Ultimately, the time required will depend on how frequently you want to post. In my experience, I spend an average of 4-6 hours per week working on my blog.

On your Real Estate Coach blog, you link to several tech blogs in your “More Favorite Blogs” section. I also know you attended the Blog World Expo last year. What can real estate bloggers learn from the tech world?

I believe it’s critical for both real estate agents and bloggers to stay informed about the latest trends and developments in technology for many reasons.

• The consumer is using technology. More than 80% of today’s buyers and sellers start their search for a home or in some cases to find a real estate agent via the Internet.

• The new generations of buyers (and many others) prefer to communicate with everything from text messaging to Twitter. The buying process is different for today’s younger buyers – it’s social networking in action. Decisions are made via group sharing and input. You’ve got to adapt and learn the new social media – or they will find someone who understands their needs.

• There are so many online marketing site and opportunities to promote your listings as well as yourself. Virtual tour sites, Trulia, Zillow, Oodle, Craisgslist, vFlyers, Postlets just to name a few.

What are some of your favorite blogs?

Bloodhound Blog – This was one of the first real estate blogs I subscribed to. Greg Swann and all of the contributors are truly on the cutting edge of real estate blogs. A must read!

TransparentRE – I met Pat Kitano at Real Connect 2007 in San Francisco and we discovered that we “knew” each other via our respective blogs. Pat has a great blog on the real estate industry, technology, marketing, business strategies, web 2.0 and more. I refer to it often and recommend it to everyone.

Dustin Luther’s Blog – I discovered Dustin on Rain City Guide. Met him at Real Connect last year also. Dustin is an innovator and one of the elite real estate bloggers. I recently found his blog and love it.

Real Estate Tomato – Jim Cronin’s blog about real estate blogging and marketing is one of my favorites. It is packed with great tips, advice, and strategies for novice and advanced bloggers alike.

R Blog – Rosie O’Donnell’s blog. I find her blog entertaining and irreverent. I love how she is so transparent, authentic and speaks her mind. She’s one of the best celebrity blogger in my book. I also love how she integrates video and pictures.

What advice do you have for prospective bloggers who are looking to start a blog.

1. Review and really answer the “questions to consider prior to launching a blog” I outlined above.
2. Be authentic and transparent.
3. Find your own voice. Understand and accept it takes a little while to find it sometimes!
4. Make sure you are passionate about your topic(s). Keep your blog focused on the 3-5 things you have chosen to write about as much as possible.
5. Just start posting… don’t be such a perfectionist and self-critical! (And we all are hardest on ourselves by the way.)
6. Develop a schedule or writing commitment and stick to it.
7. Quality not quantity – don’t force it.
8. Develop a mindset and awareness of how your everyday experiences, questions from clients, and random thoughts can all become blog posts.
9. Carry around a blog notebook or tape recorder so you can record the ideas that start flowing when you are focused and aware of the process.
10. Have Fun!

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