Archive for May, 2008
I spoke to an agent this week who recently started a Voices blog. She wrote a few posts and then was put off by the content of other blogs she read. She noticed that the majority of agents seemed to be writing about the state of the market and providing lots of information and statistics about their particular area. Analysing statistics is not her strength and she felt that maybe that’s what people were looking for and that her posts would not be of interest to anyone.
Don’t worry about what everyone else is writing. Stick to what you know and what you’re comfortable with. Think about your target audience. If you’re dealing with investors and people who are really interested in the latest statistics then that might work for you. Personally, market statistics bore the pants off me! I know the market has slowed down. I understand the implications that has for sellers, buyers and salespeople and beyond that I’m not really interested in the nitty gritty detail. Ok, so maybe I’m not looking to buy right now but if I was, I still wouldn’t be hugely interested. I just don’t have the head for all those figures!
I’m not from New Zealand originally, but arrived in Auckland six years ago with my backpack and not much else. The first flat I moved into was in Parnell. It was no coincidence that the only two people I knew in the country lived in Parnell! Since then I’ve lived in Mt Eden and Sandringham and I’m currently in Eden Terrace. Again, the fact that I had friends living in those areas was a factor, not to mention that they were convenient to the city and my workplace.
I love living so close to the city and for that reason renting works for me at the moment. The fact that I can’t afford to buy a house is possibly a small factor too! Hopefully, within the next few years I will be in a position to buy, but I’m pretty sure that I won’t be looking in any of the areas I’ve listed above! So, if and when the time comes to buy I’ll be doing a lot of research into other Auckland suburbs where I will hopefully be able to afford to buy. I can’t tell you what a difference it would make to find a blog, which had all the information I was looking for about a certain area or suburb. If that blog happened to be written by a salesperson working in that area do you think I might contact them if I did decide I wanted to live there? You bet I would!
There is so much you could write about on your blog that would be invaluable to people who want to move to the area. Here are a few ideas to help get you going:
No matter where you live, there are always events going on in the area. I’ve signed up for a great newsletter from the Auckland City Council, which provides information on upcoming events and festivals, places to go, stuff for kids and details of community groups and facilities. The range of information you can subscribe to is impressive. Just click here to check out the options available and to sign up.
Check with your local council to see if they have something similar on offer. Most areas will at least publish some kind of community newsletter. Get your hands on a copy, find out what is going on in your area and share it with us!
Does your area having a swimming pool, sports grounds, kids playgrounds, cinemas? What are the restaurants like? Is the nightlife good? Where’s your favourite place to go to brunch on a Sunday morning and relax with the papers? Maybe your town has an iconic building or monument? Or just the best darn pies or fish and chips in the whole world! TELL ME…I love food
What are the schools like? What are the zones? A lot of schools have their own website these days. Provide the links. Make it easy for people to contact them if they’re moving to the area. They’ll want to know what the schools are like so if you have kids in the local school, share your thoughts. If not, ask your friends, family or colleagues to share their experiences.
How long does it take to get to the CBD, airport, shopping malls, beaches, neighbouring towns and cities etc? Is the area serviced by trains, buses or ferries? Do you know of any plans for future developments to improve roads or build a by-pass for example?
Who lives there? Are there a lot of first-home buyers with young families? Or maybe the area is popular with retirees. What mix of nationalities have settled in the area? Is it a good area to purchase an investment property in?
Which streets in the area are deemed to be the best? This information is invaluable for people who do not have any knowledge of the area. It also helps them to understand why prices might differ substantially within the area.
Once you have filled your blog with posts detailing all of this information, I guarantee you will be noticed! Tell your friends, family and colleagues to add their comments about the area. The more information you can provide the better - there will never be enough. If someone has decided to live in the area they will have an insatiable appetite for information. If they are still making up their mind, you’ll provide the best resource available to help them in that process.
Just a word of warning though, be honest. If there’s a high rate of crime in your area for example, then discuss it on your blog. People will read about it in the papers and find out about it on other websites. If you’re saying that the reports are rubbish or just fail to mention it at all, people will start to lose trust in your site. Try to think of any positives, which have resulted from an adverse situation. Yes, the crime rate might be high but perhaps that has led to a greater sense of community spririt and the creation of neighbourhood watch programmes, where everyone is looking out for each other. There will always be a downsides to any area and you need to be open about them.
If your vendor is selling to move out of the area, ask them why. Then when you sell the house, ask the buyers why they wanted to live in the area. Share their comments with us – you might get some surprising responses. If your buyers are agreeable, you could also add their photograph and a short paragraph introducing them and welcoming them to the area. They’ll be very surprised when they’re recognised at the local shop! Also, people quickly become fed up if you use your blog as a blatant promotional tool, so this is a subtle way to let people know that you have made a recent sale!
Anyway, that’s probably enough food for thought! If you’re still reading, I hope this has provided you with at least a couple of ideas for some new posts.
May 30 2008 | Voices Blog | 4 Comments »
This week Debbi Lyon asked a pertinent question on her blog, The Baysider - how do you build traffic, get noticed and get results from your blog?
Well judging by the response to her post, it seems that asking that question alone is a good start! The comments in response to this post say it all really: keep blogging frequently with relevant information and you WILL increase your exposure.
You should also be promoting your blog to encourage traffic to your site. Add your blog address to your email signature. Add it to your advertising and if you’re going to be printing up new business cards soon, add it there too. Don’t be shy!
A fews weeks ago, I read an article in the Herald about a website called Going Underground. The site about the London Underground is hugely popular and attracts visitors from all over the world. It struck me as a great example of how powerful the internet is and how endless the possibilities are. The webmistress, Annie Mole (pseudonym!) started the site in 1999 as a New Year’s resolution to teach herself how to develop a website. The website gradually became a huge success and starting a spin-off blog seemed like a natural progression. The blog began in 2003 and has since been nominated best British Blog three times in the last four years at the international weblog awards.
Obviously basing your website or blog on a subject which interests a lot of people and which they can relate to, helps enormously. Everyone has taken public transport at some point and has their own funny tale or horror story to tell. Real estate also fits that bill. Almost everyone has had experience of renting a property and if they don’t already own their home, most people aspire to do so one one day. So as subjects go, you’re doing pretty well. You just need to find your niche and then concentrate on building your content and audience.
A little closer to home, Ross Brader attracted media attention earlier this week after publishing his post ”Scott Dixon wins Indy 500“. Within a couple of hours he had a call from a newspaper asking for further comment. Pretty impressive results!
The fact that blogging is only starting to take off in New Zealand could work to your advantage. You’re currently in a great position to establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field before others realise what they’re missing out on and try to jump in on the action.
So if you’ve already started a Voices blog, give yourself a pat on the back. You’re already way ahead of the pack - you just need to hang in there and make the most of it! It’s unlikely (but not impossible!) that you’ll be an overnight sensation but put in the effort and at the end of the day you will reap the benefits.
For further tips on increasing your traffic, check out my post “SEO Blog Post Titles“.
May 29 2008 | Voices Blog | 2 Comments »
A few weeks ago, I received an email from a fellow Voices blogger asking how to add a 4-page Word document they had just created, to their post. Easy, I thought – just add a link to the document from your post. I quickly realised it wasn’t that easy as the document wouldn’t have a URL to link to.
After a little questioning, I got the answer and since then I’ve been meaning to add a post to share it, in case anyone else ever has the same query! As it turns out, I’m glad I waited a while as we’ve just upgraded Voices and the new version looks a little different on the admin side of things, so I would have had to update the old post anyway. I love it when procrastination pays off!
Anyway, back to the matter at hand. It’s actually very easy to create a permanent URL for your document using your blog. Before we get to that though, it’s important to point out that you cannot upload a Word document to your blog, so you need to convert the document to PDF format. If you do not have a PDF writer, then you can get a free download from CutePDF.
Once you have converted your file to PDF, just go to your blog post and click on the ‘Add media’ tab, as highlighted below:
Then just click on ‘choose files to upload’ and select the PDF document you are trying to add to your post. Once you have uploaded the file, the following screen will appear:
You now have a permanent URL for your document. All you need to do is copy and paste the URL and add it to your post as required.
May 21 2008 | Voices Blog | 4 Comments »
Like I said in a recent post, it can sometimes be hard to come up with new ideas for your blog posts. So when someone else comes up with them for you, it’s even better. And I must confess, I’ve had a bit of a helping hand myself lately! The thing is that on this particular occasion, I was emailed not so much an idea for a post, but an actual post. And since I couldn’t say it any better myself, here are some wise words straight from the horse’s mouth:
You know, blog posts don’t need to be huge long 1000 word essays of huge importance.
They can be short and pithy too. In fact, I regularly blog something I have learnt just so that I know where to find it again because it’ll appear in search engines.
If I think of something important that I’d love to comment on, I do.
Right there and then.
A blog post is still a blog post if it’s only 10 words long. I once made a blog post 3 words long.
Blogging shorter and more often is much better than one huge post a month. Remember, other people have about as much spare time as you do and if they are confronted with 1200 words to read, they just plain won’t. They can’t be bothered.
Short, to the point, slightly witty, current posts are way more interesting and likely to hold an audience than your verbal diarrhea.
So there you have it - some helpful tips from Dave Cooper, which should help to keep your readers alert. Thanks Dave, you’re officially Helping Hand’s first guest blogger, you must be so proud!
Of course it’s not always possible to keep your posts short and sweet but if you are writing a longer post, then at least add some photos to break up the text and provide some visual stimulation for your readers (more on that topic later!). Oh, and this is not a competition, so I don’t want to see everyone trying to break Dave’s three word blog post record!
“Who’s this Dave bloke anyway?”, I hear you ask! Well, fair point. Who better to answer that question than the man himself. So just check out his award-winning photoblog Spudooli and you can learn more about him than you’d probably ever want - or need - to know!
May 16 2008 | Voices Blog | No Comments »
Sick of receiving emails to advise you that you have a new comment on your blog, only to login and discover it’s yet more spam? At least when it was all about viagra and enlarging certain body parts it was a bit easier to identify but when you get a comment such as “Nice blog, please send me further info”, it’s a littler harder to distinguish it from a genuine comment.
Luckily, your Voices Blog is fully equipped with a spam filter – in fact two – so you just need to ensure that you have activated one of these. I recently found out how to set this up correctly, so thought I would share that knowledge with others out there who might be tackling large volumes of spam!
If you’re getting one of the following (or both) of these messages when you login to your blog, it’s a pretty good indication that there’s a problem:
Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that ignoring it does not make it go away! So, here’s what you need to do. Click on the ‘Plugins’ tab and activate either the Defensio or Akismet plugin – not both. I found that the process of activating the Defensio plugin was a bit easier than the Akismet one, so I went with that. After activating that plugin, you should be seeing the following:
Your screen should show that three of the plugins – WP-ShortStat and Postmortem (which you should have activated) and now Defensio or Akismet, depending on your choice - have been activated. Irrespective of which one you chose, you need to get an API key to use the plugin. So click on the relevant link provided and you will be directed to another web page where you need to set up an account to obtain your code. Setting up the Defensio account is straightforward. For Akismet you have to open a wordpress.com account, which defaults to a blog setup. Unless you want another blog – perhaps for personal use! – you should select the other option, which is ‘just a username, please’.
Once your account has been set up you will obtain the API Key, which then needs to be added to your blog. Under ’Plugins’ you will now have a tab entitled ‘Defensio Configuration’ or ‘Akismet Configuration’ depending again on which you have chosen. Just click on the tab, copy and paste your API Key into the field provided and update the page.
You’re now good to go and should notice very quickly that the amount of spam you receive with the filter activated is minimal. The odd comment may slip through now and again. Likewise, a genuine comment may be picked up as spam, so it wouldn’t hurt to click on the ‘Comments’ tab once in a while and have a quick check through the spam.
If you have any problems or queries, please leave a comment or feel free to email me.
May 14 2008 | General and Voices Blog | No Comments »
Too busy to add regular posts to your blog? Before you answer that question, check out this article on The Real Estate Tomato. Perhaps you need to rethink your priorities – if you’re serious about building up your business through blogging, then you’ll find time.
May 14 2008 | General and Voices Blog | No Comments »
Blogging can be time-consuming. It’s not just the actual time spent writing, but the time spent trying to think of things to write about. I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. On Tuesday night I went to see U23D and I was enjoying it so much I thought: “I need to write about this on my blog”. So while Bono was sweating profusely over the audience, I was trying to come up with a fitting blog post. Sad, I know!
It’s showing in the IMAX on Queen St – a prime piece of real estate, right? That line of thought went nowhere fast. Bono owns a house! Really grasping at straws there. After a few minutes I admitted defeat and just settled back to watch the boys strut their stuff on the big screen.
Then, later this week, someone reminded me that blogging should be conversational. We’re not writing theses here.
Do you constantly discuss business with colleagues, clients and friends? I hope not! So why should your blog be any different? You’re providing people with information related to your area of expertise but you’re also letting them get to know you a bit. So don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through every now and again. If you want to rave about a great movie you’ve seen or a book you’ve read, then do it and ask others for their opinion. If you’re going on holidays, let us know. Someone may even offer to blog on your behalf while you’re soaking up the sunshine!
I received an email earlier this week entitled: “What to wear when your wife has chores for you”. This was the attached photo:
There is actually a person on the couch – look closely!
So, my point is: blogging may take a bit of effort, but don’t let it become a chore. It can be fun for you and your readers, as well as informative and worthwhile. You don’t have to make every post deep and meaningful! Read what others have to say. If you find it interesting, then link to it. Your post can be as simple as that: your thoughts on the piece in question and then a link to it. There’s no need to regurgitate everthing in your own words.
Keep linking to others and don’t be afraid to add your two cents to their blog posts either. Encourage them to comment on and link to your posts in turn. In no time at all, you’ll notice the difference it makes to your traffic and your business.
Oh, and if you have $20 to spare this weekend, go to see U23D. It rocks!
May 08 2008 | General and Voices Blog | 3 Comments »
You have probably noticed over the last six weeks or so, that a growing number of listings on our site now have a link to open2view photos, virtual tours and floor plans. This is the result of an agreement between realestate.co.nz and open2view, which was announced on Unconditional back in March. This mutually beneficial agreement enables us to feature open2view’s photographic portfolio for any listings which appear on both sites.
If you have a listing on realestate.co.nz, which has been photographed by Open2view, we will automatically make the connection and add that content to your listing – assuming the full address has been provided. If, for any reason, this does not work then simply email us with your listing number and the open2view number and we will set up the link.
Alternatively, you can login to our private site and enter the open2view number in the field provided under the ‘Quick Entry’ or ‘Publishing’ tabs on your listing. The open2view photos will then be displayed on realestate.co.nz the following day.
May 06 2008 | Admin Hints & Tips and General and Website Services | No Comments »
Thanks to everyone who nominated one or more of their colleagues for the chance to win a free feature listing. We were looking for salespeople whose listings are of a consistently high standard. The nominations I received were very impressive, but unfortunately there can only be three winners and they are as follows:
Caroline Pickett - nominated by Sean Powell
Craig Crosweller - nominated by Wendy Green
Eileen Taua - nominated by Peter Inwood
These salespeople and the colleagues who nominated them have each won a feature listing worth $795. Congratulations to you all. I will be contacting you by email with further details.
For those of you looking for some tips on how to improve your listing presentation, just click on the links above for some ideas. In a nutshell, the more information you provide about the property and the more photos you have, the better. The following features will also enhance the quality of your listings:
- Mapping (you must publish the address of the property for the map to display).
- Open home times.
- A link back to the property on your own company website or a dedicated website.
- A link to any Open2view photos or virtual tours – if available for the property.
If you have questions about adding any of these features, please email me .
May 02 2008 | Feature listings | No Comments »