Does your blog drive business or drive business away?

by Clayton Jarvis05 Feb 2020

We’ve all seen them: Realtor blogs that are little more than one CREA monthly stats report after another. You scroll down the page looking for something eye-catching, but all there is to see is the same graphic, the same headline and virtually the same content repeating over and over.

If that describes your blog (and this is pure speculation because no agent who operates such a blog agreed to be interviewed for this article), perhaps you justify it by claiming its uniformity and lack of flash is your version of a refuge from the ceaseless avalanche of irritating content found everywhere else on the web.

Be that as it may, your blog still sucks.

“Agents who simply re-post third-party data, like 98 percent of other agents are doing, will find themselves getting lost in a sea of middling, unremarkable agents,” says Bosley Real Estate’s David Fleming, proprietor of Toronto Realty Blog. “An agent who puts in an average amount of work cannot expect to experience anywhere even close to an average amount of success.”

Whether you are a new agent still knocking on doors or an established producer looking to provide value, maintaining a thorough, informative blog is proving to be one of the most effective ways of attracting new clients.

If you’re running a bland, flavourless blog, here are three possible ways to spice it up.

Be a local expert

Every neighborhood has a story, one that can’t necessarily be told with numbers. Some of the most popular real estate blogs are those that delve deep into a neighborhood, past its market and into its schools, restaurants and future development plans. 

“The Internet is filled with a lot of general information, so diving into the specifics is what sets you apart and offers a true benefit to potential clients,” says Kristi Holz, an agent with Stilhavn Real Estate Services and the manager of the We Love East Van blog. (https://weloveeastvan.com/real-estate-blog/) “Plus, the research you need to do to blog about local information comes in handy when you’re chatting with your clients.” 

Be a fountain of homebuying advice

Another approach is to concentrate on providing answers for the common questions homebuyers have.

“My approach to blogging is how-to and informational,” says Vancouver agent Mike Stewart. (https://www.mikestewart.ca/) “When I was starting out, I would get the same questions over and over again, so I thought, instead of having to answer those questions, I’ll just have it on my website, so when people have those questions, they’ll go to my website, they’ll get an answer, they’ll like what they see and then they’ll call me up.”

But providing exhaustive amounts of advice can be, well, exhausting. Stewart says he puts 10 hours or more into his website, which is formatted to be a blog, every week. For Holz, it’s a few hours.

“Blogging can be time consuming, so I work on them slowly when I have the opportunity,” she says. “I’ll often start a blog when I have the idea and then finish it later. I’ve written quite a few blog posts at slow open houses and in between appointments, often finishing them in the evening.” 

Interestingly, Stewart estimates that around 75 percent of his new leads come directly from his blog. Holz, however, says she’s “never considered it a major source of business.”

Be honest

Another agent whose business is tied intimately to his blog is Fleming, whose Toronto Realty Blog (https://torontorealtyblog.com/) takes a no-holds-barred look at all things real estate, from dimwitted agent behavior to slimy developer practices to the opaque governing bodies that oversee the industry in Ontario.

Despite the occasional controversy, Fleming says being honest about his profession has endeared him to his blog readers, many of whom have either become clients or provided referrals.

“It’s my entire business. It’s my whole world. It’s my identity,” he says.

Fleming launched his blog as a reaction to what he viewed as a frequently dishonest industry. “I didn’t like what I saw. Everyone was so full of shit, and they were such salespeople. No one ever really told the truth about anything,” he says.

But being honest comes at a price, one agents with less experience may be unprepared to deal with. Fleming has been targeted by developers and even the Toronto Real Estate Board for launching accurate, data-backed attacks on practices he finds objectionable.

“I’m not trying to be controversial. I’m trying to help,” Fleming says. “People want honesty and transparency and truth, because there’s very little of that in real estate.”

While Toronto Realty Blog is now an established voice in Ontario real estate, its evolution has been a years-long process. Fleming encourages agents to view blogging the same way they would farming a territory: the effects will only be felt if there’s commitment.

“I wrote for two years – four hundred posts – before I got a client,” Fleming recalls. “I was at an open house. Someone walked in and said, ‘Oh, I read your blog.’ I wanted to say, ‘What? You do? Why?” Fleming went on to do five transactions with that client over the next decade.

“It is a long-term game,” he says. “I think blogging is one of the toughest things to do in this business. It’s a lot easier to just throw fliers in a mailbox or knock on doors or do an open house. But man, it can work.”

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