I think you will agree with me when I say that starting a blog is relatively easy; the hard part is getting people to actually read it.
Many real estate bloggers have experienced the difficulty of gaining over 100 page views per day and, yes, this can be quite frustrating.
If you’re going through this, don’t be disheartened; it’s part of the process – the growing pains, so to speak.
However, it’s also not right to just ignore the statistics – you also need to apply strategies in order to grow your readership.
These strategies don’t need to be too technical or difficult; you can take some simple steps to make it happen.
Of course, the process requires your dedication and your time – about 2 1/2 hours per day would suffice for daily maintenance, although setting aside more time is encouraged.
CREATING CONTENT FOR AGENTS
“Content is king” is what many website owners, bloggers, and SEO experts will tell you. Unlike before when the practice was to try to outsmart search engine bots by overstuffing pages with keywords, the practice now is to make excellent content to make readers’ time in a website worthwhile. So, if you have or are planning to have a blog, make sure that you set aside the time to write meaty content.
Here are some tips:
A pillar article, also known as a killer article or linkbait, is a long article that has great value and provides readers with plenty of information.
Note that it should not be just long – a lengthy piece full of fluff would only make readers think it is a waste of time and wouldn’t bother reading the next time; instead, it should be meaty, one that would make them want to bookmark it or share on their social media accounts.
- Decide how often you will publish your long articles. Once a week is ideal, but you can also opt for twice a month if you think you need more time. The important things are: one, that you publish on a regular basis; and two, you post well-written pieces. Setting a schedule will help you focus and will encourage you to work on it daily.
- Decide on a topic. To write a killer article, brainstorm on what you would write about. You can opt for a tutorial or a how-to article, one that gives solutions to problems commonly encountered in your niche, or an analysis of a topic or issue. If your topics are not time sensitive, then you can plan ahead for the next four weeks so your articles will flow from one to another rather than looking random, but make sure to focus on the one at hand first.
Remember: when you think of a topic, write it down. It’s best to put it into words that you can see rather than keep it in your head. If it’s too broad, narrow it down. For example, “homes in Vista” is too vague, so you can try “tips in finding homes in Vista, CA.” That is still quite broad, though, so you can go for “tips in finding affordable long-term accommodation in London.”
- Make an outline. A rough outline on what you are likely to tackle will help guide you on what materials to look for. This can still change or expand, of course, but it will help you stay on track. Remember, if your chosen topic is broad or if it connects to other topics (which is likely), it’s very easy to get sidetracked.
- Do your research. Once you’ve made your basic outline, do your research. Spend an hour or so reading and gathering material and piling up your resources. Through this, you can add ideas to your outline and have enough detail for your pillar article.
- Write your real estate article. Once you have material, you can start writing it. You don’t need to do it in one seating. Set aside one hour per day for creating your draft, and if you can finish 400 words per hour, you’d have a 2,000-word article in five days.
Always remember that plagiarism is a big no-no — not only will you lose your readers’ respect, your blog’s rating in search engine results could also get affected negatively.
- Craft a title and summary. Always spend time with your title. Since it’s the first thing people see, creating one that taps into their curiosity and interest would result in them wanting to find out more.
Along with a catchy title, write a teaser or interesting summary to give potential readers an idea on what they can expect to find in your post.
- Proofread your work. After writing your article, make sure to check it for typographical or grammatical errors. After this, let it rest overnight and don’t think about it. Read it the following day not as the writer but as one your readers and see if there are portions that are not clear.
- Post your article. Posting your article does not only include copying and pasting the content that you wrote; it also involves putting images, tags, and so on.
Using images makes an article more interesting visually, but remember to use only those that you took yourself or, if you’re going to use one from the Internet, make sure it is copyright-free; that is, it’s free to use.
Using copyrighted images without asking permission or payment can result to legal issues that you wouldn’t want to get involved in.
With regular pillar articles, you will give the impression of being knowledgeable in your niche, and people would want to come back to read your future posts.
Incidentally, you can also write your articles in advance, not on the same week that you intend to publish them.
Also, it would help your blog a great deal if you can optimize your articles for keywords, not only the content but also the title, the summary, and the page’s meta data.
Apart from your pillar articles, you also need to post shorter, regular ones. This means spending an hour a day working on your major post and another hour working on a shorter one. E.g., if your schedule your killer articles for Friday, then you can do the shorter ones from Monday to Thursday.
Scheduling when to will write your daily articles depends on your comfort. If they’re not urgent or time-sensitive, then you can prepare them one or two days or even a week in advance. This will allow you to be more relaxed and maintain the quality.
Some of the things that you can write about are recent developments in your niche, discussing a current issue that would encourage conversation, talking about a product that is in line with what your blog is about, embedding and commenting on a recently released video, discussing another blog post that you can comment on and link to, answering a reader’s question, and so on.
- Make lists. Readers like “Top 10” and “how-to” articles, so do those. You can also do “[Topic] 101” or “[topic] for beginners.” Also, you can consider doing a series on one subject for a few weeks. And finally, you can do your monthly round-up or poll results.
- Interviews. If you can, do some email interviews. Being able to get some insight from an expert in your niche can boost your blog’s credibility.
- Go for timeless content. News sites have content that get old within a few hours or days, but for a blog, it’s best to have content that remains relevant for a long time.
BUILDING A COMMUNITY
Building a community around you is one important factor in increasing your blog’s page views and, in turn, its success.
While organic traffic — or those visitors driven by search engines — is important, having and increasing your loyal readers is even more so.
Many have found that one loyal reader is far more important than the 10 people who merely click into and then click away from your articles.
Therefore, it’s vital that you spend some time in building your blog’s community.
Engaging your readers is one of the best ways to keep them. Encourage them to subscribe. Talk to them directly. When they post a question or comment, make sure to reply. Put up polls to get their pulse and entice them to air their opinions. Moreover, make it easy for them to contact you.
When you reply to your readers, they will feel acknowledged and are likely to react positively. Do not forget that you need your readers, so make your blog a comfortable place for them to meet with others with the same interest.
Whenever you post a new article, particularly a pillar article, take some time to promote it. You can share it in your social media accounts and have your family and friends share it, too. Submit it to directories. If you are a member of any group, you can also share it in your forum.
One thing you need to remember is not to “beg” people to create links for you. If you can create a good title and a kind of teaser that would entice people to read on, and if your post is worth reading and sharing, they’d voluntarily do it.
Sometimes, though, they need a reminder so put a call-to-action on your pages. Do not forget to incorporate Share buttons on your posts, so anyone who’s interested can easily share them in their social media accounts.
Having accounts on different social media platforms will allow you to reach more people. By diversifying, you can establish your presence on more than just one set of audience, and you will be able to adjust to the changing behavior of Internet users.
But again, balance is key. You don’t have to have accounts on all platforms; instead, you can choose three to focus on. This way, you will be able to engage your followers better and not become too caught up in having to update so many accounts.
Moreover, you can make arrangements with other blog owners for you to guest blog on their site. This would work only if you have time to make a fresh article that you can link to your pillar article. In exchange, the owner of the blog can be a guest in yours.
This is often mutually beneficial as your respective readers are likely to visit the others’ blog, expanding both your readership.
Networking is, basically, widening social circle over the internet. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to spread the word around when you have a new pillar article. The wider your social circle is, the bigger the chance of you drawing in more readers who can, in turn, also spread the word.
- Join groups that focus on your niche. These are usually a gathering of people who share the same interests, and you can even learn things during discussions or in threads. Take time to leave comments or opinions, and be helpful and friendly to others.
As a word of advice: when you’re new in a group, don’t plunge in and advertise your blog. Feel your way around, get to know members, and become comfortable first. Telling the other members of your posts can come in a bit later.
Likewise, you can consider joining a blog network or submitting your article to directories.
- Visit other blogs. Do not think of other blog owners as your competitor, but rather, people who share the same passion as you. It’s like, if you’re a collector of model airplanes, then you’re merely trying to connect with someone who is also into the same hobby.
When you visit other people’s blogs, leave comments. When you make a comment, you can also put the URL of your article that discusses a similar or contradictory point of view to the post. This can also help draw in more visitors to your blog.
You can also link to their articles and perhaps even get in touch with them through social media.
As a side note, if other blog owners leave comments or questions in your blog, or if they link to your articles, it would be polite to return the favor.
An important point to remember is that your goal is to build genuine professional relationships and not the superficial kind, which is to just have others link to your blog.
Approach people because you respect them and their work, and because you think you both can be beneficial in your mutual growth. This takes time and effort, of course, but you will find it a healthy part of maintaining a blog.
You can spend half-an-hour a day in your community building efforts. You can plan this, too.
For example, you can spend Monday and Thursday with your groups, Tuesday and Friday visiting other blogs, and Wednesday and Friday on social media.
The decision is up to you, but making a schedule would help you control your time so it doesn’t become too tiring and tedious.
REAL ESTATE BLOG STRUCTURE
While content is the most important part of your blog, it does not mean that you will ignore all other aspects. Here are some things you need to remember:
- Customize your template. Make sure to put your personal touch on the template that you use. First, choose one that you believe is aligned to your topic and the kind of posts you publish. For example, there are templates that are better with lots of pictures, while others are meant to have a lot of text. Then, customize this according to your taste and preference.
- Keep it simple. A cluttered web page is very difficult to read, and your readers can get distracted or overwhelmed. Make sure to have just the right balance of text, visuals, and blank spaces.
- Place ads strategically. Yes, ads are important for bloggers, but you need to avoid shoving them down your readers’ throats. Place them where they can be seen and clicked, but not where it already hinders your readers’ experience.
- Remove unnecessary items. On the same note, remove whatever is not needed, such as too many icons on the sidebar and long blogrolls. Also, make sure that your ads, social media buttons, or any other hovering windows are not covering the content.
- Use your sidebar wisely. Speaking of sidebars, use this to promote your email subscriptions, social media accounts, and other ways for you to connect with your readers and vice versa.
- Choose the right colors and fonts. There is an art to choosing color combinations and fonts. For example, a comic-type font does not exactly suit a medical-centered blog unless your audience is mainly kids.
Similarly, a pink theme does not match a blog about alcoholic beverages unless, perhaps, it’s about ladies’ drinks and cocktails. Of course, those are just conventions and you can very well exercise your artistic freedom to make your blog stand out from the rest.
- Format your articles. Having an interesting blog post is not just about excellent content; you also need to make it easier for people to read through. Blogs are mainly visual, so use headings and subheadings, bullet points, and so on.
- Use links within your posts. Readers like to click on links when they want to know more about the subject that you are talking about. By using links on one article that lead to your other articles, you can increase traffic within your blog.
- Have an About page. If you’re serious about blogging, then it’s good to have a page that gives people an idea of who you are. This gives your readers and visitors the assurance that you’re a real person, and they’re likely to believe you more if they can search for you and your background over the Internet.
The Technical Side
- SEO. You’ve probably heard it before: learn search engine optimization and master it. This is important because you would want your blog to appear in search engine results when a person makes a query using Google, Bing, Yahoo! or other search engines.
This involves using the right keywords within the title, the content, and in the page’s metadata.
Of course, you need to make sure that: one, your keywords or key phrases (aka long tail keywords) do not make your article sound awkward; and two, that you don’t overstuff it. Balance is key.
Google has a tool called Keyword Planner that you can use to search for keywords that you can use for your blog.
- Google Analytics. By learning and mastering Google Analytics, you will be able to understand your audience better, where they are from, and so on. By knowing a bit more about your visitors’ behavior, you will be able to better optimize your future articles to meet their needs.
- Use helpful plug-ins. Only a small percentage of readers will leave a comment or even click the Share button, even if they find your article useful. You can nudge them a bit by using plugins that will encourage them to share your posts to their friends. These plugins can help increase the reach of your blog, so take the time to check them out.
- Optimize for site speed. Internet users are very impatient people and are often annoyed when they have to wait for a page to load. Often, if it does not do so immediately, they will just go somewhere else. It’s important, therefore, to check and analyze your site speed and performance. You can do this by using a free tool, after which you can address the issue if your pages take too long to load.
- Use tools to improve your images. Readers respond better to articles with photos. With tools like Picmonkey, you can improve the images that you use – you can add captions and improve their share-ability.
- Make your content share-able. As mentioned earlier, give your readers an easy and convenient way to share your posts. Place buttons on every post that they can click to automatically share it in their social media accounts.
- Use RSS feeds. You can also incorporate an RSS subscription on every page of your blog so readers can easily subscribe to your blog.
- Check for links that don’t work. There are tools that can help you check if any of your links are broken or it they lead to an error message. Make sure to find the time for this because your readers don’t like having to end up with a page with a 404 error message or a redirect.
- Watch out for duplicate content. Search engines don’t like different websites having the same content, and it also goes for different pages on the same site containing duplicates.
Other things you may want to do are using pings and trackbacks. Also, make sure that your categories are organized and that your URL structure is efficient.
If you are just starting on your blog, then here are a few things tips:
- Choose your niche. Make sure to spend time determining your niche. If it’s too small, you’ll have difficulty finding something to write about on a regular basis; if it’s too big, you may find yourself tackling too much all at once.
More importantly, select a subject that you are passionate about, one that you won’t mind reading and writing about multiple times a week.
- Become an expert. Read and learn as much as you can about your chosen niche and, if possible, experience it yourself. For example, if you’re blog is about crocheting, then rather than simply listing down instructions on how to do a pattern, share with your readers your personal experience while doing it. As you go along, you will continue to gain more understanding and insight about your niche.
- Use old-school marketing strategies. You may not think it necessary but physical business cards can actually help you. Carry a few long every time you go out, and whenever you meet someone, just hand them the card with your blog’s URL on it. This is easier than having to tell them verbally or having to ask them to type it down on their mobile phones.
As for generating revenue from your blog, you can try experimenting on text-link ads, Google AdSense, and other sources. But before focusing on earnings, try to establish your blog and its content first, widen your reach, and have a community.
As you gain a respectable number of readers, brands are more likely to be interested in doing business with you. You might even need to have a media kit later on like other professional bloggers.
In summary, your readers will be able to sense if you are knowledgeable in the subject (or just pretending to be), if you take pleasure in writing about it, and if you are talking with them (as opposed to talking down at them). You may not realize it but your blog can become a part of other people’s daily routine as much as it can become a part of yours.
So, as a final tip, make sure to enjoy the experience of blogging. If you are having fun sharing with others what you are passionate about, then the chances are, they will have fun reading your posts, too.
Martin is online growth marketer at EliteRealEstateContent.com that helps real estate agents gain online exposure in their real estate markets. His attention-to-details skills and passion for online marketing drives him to learn and improve.