- Be honest, genuine and personable – use conversational language
- Be short and regular
- Be at times provocative
- Link to others and encourage others to link to you
- Write about the kind of questions that people ask of you – what things do you know that others would like to know??
Archive for December, 2007
Under comments you can see comments which have been written by visitors but have not been approved as well as ones you have approved. Also you will see the results of the spam filter. It is worth checking to see that no authentic comments have been caught in the filter. Be cautious and treat any comments in the spam as that – spam. For more info on this subject read the post “spam – how do I handle it“
Blogroll is a list of your favourite websites or blogs – you decide which ones you show to the world. As a few suggestions I would think about the target of who you want to read your blog.
I would have a link to your company website / office website, your own website, websites that you feel reflect the area of the country you work in and also I would naturally recommend you add realestate.co.nz as a preferred website.
These are applications which can be activated – I recommend that you consider making some of these applications active.
1. There are 2 anti-spam add-ins Akismet and Defensio. Both work well and you should choose 1 – not both. Providing spam filtering is very important. Don’t assume all comments that you see on the blog are genuine, there are robotic and human capabilities that try to build links to their blogs to create traffic to sell advertising.
You can activate 1 or the other (NOT BOTH) to protect your blog from spam comments. But before they can work, you need to get a key.
Akismet you need to go here – http://akismet.com/personal/
Definsio you need to go here – http://defensio.com/signup/
Both are free. Register, get the key, enter it into your blog and sit back happy that you are now immune from spam comments
2. The WP-ShortStat plugin provides a statistics reporting tool that will show you how many people are coming to your blog, where they are coming from and when they visit your site – thsi is very useful information. This report is shown on a tab on the Dashboard tab in the menu at the top of the admin section.
3. Postmortem is an application that provides for new comments to appear on the home page of the blog
We currently offer 3 styles / colour of blog – these can be selected and changed at anytime, however it is wise to choose one you like and stick to it.
So you are now ready to start a blog – I recommend that before you sign in you do some background reading! – this category provides some good overall guidance.
Click on the “Create a new blog” button.
The first thing we require is your Agent ID # – this is your REINZ number, the Voices blog platform is only available to licensed salespeople and agents in NZ. By the way you don’t actually need to be a paid up REINZ member we just need the number to align the profile data we hold in the database on you and this number is the unique identifier. If you do not know your REINZ number then please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will confirm the details to you – just give us the office you work for and your full name.
Fill in a username – this does not need to be your name; you can use the same username as access to any other part of the site, it just needs to be at least 4 characters long.
Fill in your chosen blog name in the form of a web address as shown in the example, and finally fill in the blog name separately. Lastly confirm that you want your blog to be visible to search engines – this is best to ensure that your experience and expertise can be seen by the world rather than being restricted to just invited guests!
Hit the submit button and the application will be submitted for approval. At this stage we will verify the details we hold for you on the realestate.co.nz database. If the REINZ number is authenticated and the form filled in correctly you will receive an email from us shortly confirming the approval of your application for a blog in the name proposed. You will also receive a password which you will need to save in order for you to sign in and create content on your blog.
As a point of note it is important for you to check that the email we have on record for you is the correct email, so that we can send the email approval to your email inbox – not someone else’s or your office email. The best way to do this is to go to one of your listing on the realestate.co.nz website and send yourself a test email off the “email me” link. Again if for any reason the test email does not go to your email inbox then contact the realestate.co.nz support team at email@example.com.
As a point of note the reason why we do not get you to fill in your name and email address to start a blog is for security reasons, we do not want just anyone trying to start a blog in your name and worst of all avoid automated spam which believe it or not can activate blogs by auto filling forms.
With your REINZ number we can link through to the database and show your listings, your contact details and photo we have on file for you on your new blog. Again if any of these details are not correct please email or call our support team (0800 732 536 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
What better way to start this section than to provide links to the top 10 rated blogs of 2007 (they are US ones! – but there is much to learn). Now the reality is that the guy (Mathew Gosselin) who has put this together is not regarded as the guru of the web or blogging in real estate – he just has shown the initiative to put a list together – it is very much reflective of blogging – if you want to be noticed and seen by others get out there and share an opinion.
Rather than just give you the link to his blog and then on to the top 10 I though I would provide the 10 here and share my views on each as a guide.
#1 Inman Blog - could not agree more, Brad Inman is a leader in the future of real estate. His conferences “Real Estate Connect” are the most motivating and inspiring in the industry. His company is a specialist real estate media company and if anyone has their finger on the future of real estate then it is Inman.
#2 Real Estate Tomato - some great content by a guy who gets individual bloggers to contribute – very real
#3 Little Pink Houses - this is definitely a more serious blog written by a couple of people with legal as well as real estate backgrounds, it is very opinionated and I judge is out to influence policy
#4 Rain City Guide - this is a great example of a location based collaborative blog, a group of bloggers have got together with differing functional skill sets to produce a real estate blog for the city of Seattle. It is very good and once you have a handle on blogging and can find other who are in complementary industries and businesses there may be an opportunity in your city
#5 Real Estate Shows - this is a blog used by a real estate services company that provides video presentations for agents and blogs around the area of marketing real estate techniques.
#6 Lake Tahoe Real Estate Blog - this is a good example of an incredibly comprehensive blog operated by a real estate company which is seeking to “own” the online conversation about Lake Tahoe – a bit cluttered as a site, but rich in content.
#7 Real Estate Marketing Tools and Coaching - this blog is perfect for advice on real estate blogging – a lot of technical stuff, but also real practical stuff on content
#8 Realestateundressed – not sure what to say about this – this blog has been around for 18 months and boy is there a lot of content and categories – I have never seen as many categories – you decide
#9 4realz- this is rather like a gossip and opinion setting blog – short fast posts basically highlighting goings on in the online real estate world
#10 Real Estate Trends Blog- This is the blog of Stefan Swanepoel, who is certainly regarded as one of the leading trend leaders in real estate, it features a lot of guest contributors and has a high level perspective.
This article has been written for the February 2008 edition of the RE magazine – I thought it was worth featuring here as an introduction.
Search on Google for “real estate blogs” and your NZ search will show up just 137 entries whilst the US will deliver 3.9 million. Real estate blogs are the emerging platform for profiling and promoting real estate agents the world over and 2008 will see a major move in NZ to this form of marketing.
So what is a blog and why is it so relevant to real estate? Think of a blog as a conversation – a conversation that can simultaneously be held with many people – casual acquaintances, clients, prospective buyers, and friends. You start the conversation with insightful and interesting thoughts and opinions. Others comment and before long you have a conversation – online for anyone to read and comment on. The relevancy to real estate is the fact that the subject matter of real estate is so intertwined into the lives of New Zealanders. That is why the newspapers are so full of real estate stories and why you can tailor this (your blog) story to your speciality – be it the locality of where you work or the type, category or style of real estate you market.
If you want to be regarded as the local expert you need to cultivate a profile in your community – a profile that is not “marketing spin” but is genuine, open, honest and relevant. Writing an article each week in the local newspaper will get you noticed but will it build your profile? – a blog on the other hand will build your profile and through that your credibility as it provides the ability for people to leave a comment. Think of a comment as a vote – a valuable way for you to get unsolicited and genuine feedback for all to see.
A key component of a blog is regular addition of content, in this regard think of it as a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter, the skill is in writing regularly and being concise – that way there is always a nice little morsel for visitors to snack on and keep coming back for more. The frequency of content added to a blog is very important when it comes to search engines (Google, Yahoo etc). A fact of life today in this internet empowered world is that when we don’t know something we “Google it” and to be “found” on Google you want to be near the top of the first page of answers, a fast way to get there is to give Google what it loves – relevant and fresh new content.
However be aware there is one sure and certain way to kill a blog – “advertising speak”! Don’t write about yourself and what you do – this may be of interest to your partner and your cat, but to your prospects and clients this will not be interesting and using the conversation analogy you would not greet someone in the street (who could be a prospect) and launch into “advertising speak”, so don’t do it on a blog.
Write blog posts that are interesting, insightful, informative and personal – a great advice overheard from a US real estate agent blogger “write blog post that answer a question someone asked today about real estate – that way you answer a question for someone, you get someone to read your blog and you share you wisdom and knowledge with others”.
The thought of going public in such an open way can create a mild manic in some people’s minds and has typified a fear of blogging – “what if people say bad things about me?”, “what if I make a mistake?” – blogs are conversations and as such encourage feedback and responses, being a 2 way conversation always allows a balance. So have a thick skin and engage in the conversation. A valuable thought from one real estate blogger sums it up well “The only fear I have about blogs, is the fear of the unknown!” – have confidence, engage and lead the conversation and be genuine, open and interesting and you will be amazed what it can do for your business.
If the concept of a blog appeals then you clearly see the importance of your online presence in the future. This will be ever more important as more research around real estate in general and selecting agents in particular will be done through web searching. The great news is that blogs are very simple to use and incredibly easy to set up. To assist the industry embrace this new technical platform realestate.co.nz has launched a free service for all real estate agents where everyone can launch a blog. The “Voices” blog service was launched at the start of this year and has already attracted a good number of adopters. If you want to join them go to www.voices.realestate.co.nz to get started.
Firstly we have a spam filter on this blog platform, if you look under “comments” tab in the admin side of the site then you will see a record of all comments including some that have been caught by a programme called Aksimet Spam filter. Sadly just like email blogs are not immune to the lunatics of spammers. This programme filter should catch and remove all such inappropriate comments. I would recommend you trust this filter 100% of the time, because a post such as “Great site and useful content! Could you leave some opinion about my sites?” or ” hi… wonderful…” or “I agree with your views – great blog, could you leave me your views” are all spam by people using human or robot systems to create links.
The blog platform we have used for “Voices” is a system that has a lot of functionality, some of which you need to know about some of which you don’t need to.
The issue of spam is dealt with separately.
Once you post a comment, you will naturally eagerly await comments – comments are the lifeblood of a blog, without them you do not know if you are living in a vacuum or in the real world. The first thing to say about comments is be patient, creating a compelling and rewarding place on the web takes time.
Any comment posted can and will be held before being allowed onto your blog. This is your control button – you can also delete content that you don’t want even after it has been added to the site.
Now this is where examples and experience are critical because to delete all comments that you don’t think is favourable might make your site look “perfect” but to the open environment of the web it will look far too “perfect” and people will think that you are not genuine. There are many great examples where letting genuine comments flow has proved valuable as often “your” community will support you if somebody decides to have a go! – and a post from a 3rd party defending you is so valuable – so have a thick skin and be honest, open and genuine.