When I started LoCoMusings (LoCo is short for Loudoun County, where I live), I didn’t set out to write a ‘real estate blog’… I only wanted to show people in my area that I was knowledgeable about Loudoun. So I started writing about things that were happening around me, issues that my neighbors were talking about, and stuff that was part of my everyday life. I included real estate as well, but my content is probably 80 percent local area and 20 percent real estate. I’ve written about road developments, power lines, holiday parades, youth sports, new construction communities, and builders that have gone out of business. I’ve also posted local area photos from across my county.
What I found as I developed my voice was that I was filling a need in my community that wasn’t being met by our local (weekly) newspaper, or DC Metro area television stations. My local news on my site covered stories and happenings that otherwise weren’t getting noticed by the media. LoCoMusings has become, to my readership, one of their news sources for Loudoun County. The difference between what I write and local media, though, is that you get my perspective, my opinions, and my spin on it as a local resident and business owner. For the readers, it’s honest, and for me, it shows my personality.
Last year at Blogworld I sat on a panel about the future of local media and hyperlocal blogging with another real estate blogger, Dave Smith, and two ‘traditional media’ representatives. At the time, it seemed like traditional media felt (very strongly) that real estate bloggers should leave the reporting to the professionals. From my perspective, the vibe was almost hostile. Now, however, a year later, things have changed, and local media (at least in the DC metropolitan area) is reaching out, sharing, and collaborating, which puts my blog in front of a much wider audience.
If you haven’t heard of TBD.com, make sure you take the time to check it out. Personally, I think it’s the future of news: it’s a multimedia mashup of television, traditional media (small stable of reporters), and a community network of bloggers covering the entire DC area. I’m part of the community network, so my blog posts are featured on the website, and I may participate as a ‘neighborhood expert’ on TBD tv from time to time. They are taking the best hyper-local blogs in our area and combining that with traditional news to enrich the experience for their audience. Amazing how much of a change that is from last year.
What I’ve learned since I started my blog is that you don’t have to write only about your industry to be providing relevant, useful content to your readership. Develop relationships with traditional media to widen your audience, and use your local area knowledge to grow your readership. Your unique perspective on your area is valuable to your readers, and will bring a sense of community to your blog.
Heather Elias is a real estate professional with Century 21 Redwood Realty, in Ashburn, Virginia. Heather has combined a background in public relations and marketing with small business ownership experience to grow her successful real estate business in northern Virginia. Her aggressive marketing program leans heavily on internet marketing and social media, garnering a solid 75% of her business from her online efforts. Her hyper-local blog about Loudoun County, LoCoMusings.com, is the lynchpin of her business and won her the title of Virginia Blog Brawl Champion in 2008. Heather also writes several local blogs that focus specifically on market statistics, and is a contributing author to VARBuzz.com, the blog for the Virginia Association of Realtors. She recently spoke for the National Association of Realtors Midyear Legislative Convention in Washington DC, at RETech South Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, and for the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors in Herndon, Virginia.