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Hyperlocal Blogging for Real Estate

Author:

Heather Elias

Confession: I’m one of those ‘hyper-local’ bloggers. By definition, that means that I write about my local area, a lot. I’d probably prefer to say that I’m a local blogger, hyper local makes it sound like I’ve had too much Red Bull. As a full time Realtor, I fall under the category of real estate blogging, although that isn’t typically what I write about. For me, blogging came naturally as a way to reach current and potential local clients. I have a journalism degree, so combining writing and real estate suits me.

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.

Real Estate Blogging 101

Author:

The starting point for real estate bloggers (or any blogger for that matter) is enthusiasm for the subject. It isn’t necessarily a requirement that you currently work in the industry however you should have some personal knowledge and interest in whatever you’re going to write about. The beauty of real estate blogging is that you have a vast array of topics to choose from due to the vast scope of the industry. You can cover commercial, residential, local, national, finance…the list goes on and on. Topics abound in the real estate sector and are just sitting there waiting for you to come along.

Topic Development

So what are you going to write about? I happen to have some ideas for you. You might start a blog that focuses on government oversight and financial fraud within the industry. You’ll have all of the content you need to keep very busy while helping your readers in the process. Alternatively, your blog might revolve around a particular style of architecture. I personally love Victorian era homes so if you start a blog about them, send me a link. You might provide information on the best or most affordable locations to live or cover. How about covering the most exclusive luxury homes out there? Most people love to see mansions and dream about owning one. Two growing trends – eco-friendly buildings and homes suitable for retirement lifestyle also make good subjects for the aspiring real estate blogger.

Financial concerns can be basis of a blog providing tips and advice on getting a mortgage and saving money for those seeking to buy a new home.? Like to travel and have the means to do so? How about covering locations around the world of interest to other travelers? These are just a few topics that you might consider when starting out and there are a thousand others as well. You just have to jump in and start doing it.

Content Development
Publishing interviews with industry leaders and real estate experts or having someone in the industry write as guest blogger will add great value to any blog. In return, these folks (typically) will expect to get a link back and a strong recommendation for readers to visit their own website. You might not land Donald Trump for an interview but it never hurts to ask either. Seek out the biggest fish you can and go after them with a vengeance. Your credibility and exposure will grow over time as a result if you’re successful in gaining just a few expert interviews each year. There are even sites out there that will help you find guest bloggers. BlogWorld is (of course) also another great way to network and meet other bloggers that might be willing to write a few pieces for your blog. You’ll find that there are many very generous people in the blogging community that are willing to help beginning bloggers. All you have to do is ask!

More on Content
Content of real estate blogs becomes more relevant, original, informative, and compelling when images, video and graphics are used so make sure you use them frequently. These are as effective as text and equally as important for tagging with keywords. People enjoy viewing pictures and videos reflecting different lifestyle choices, design features and locations so this type of content is likely to stand out on social networks and various bookmarking sites.

Community Development
Blogging is an interactive occupation. When real estate bloggers invite comments, welcome opinions and encourage queries, more readers can participate and get responses. So make sure you get your readers involved on your blog. This is crucial to your long-term success.

Get active on those social media sites out there. Establish yourself as an authority on real estate (in whatever sector you’re covering) and offer advice to others frequently. Make sure you visit other industry blogs as well and get to know the owners. If you participate on their blogs, in most cases they’ll return the favor.

Advertiser Development

When a real estate blog has sufficient content and traffic to benefit from advanced monetization, you need to seek out advertisers to keep the lights on. Financial products and relevant industry services are most likely of interest to your readers so make sure that prospective advertisers know who you are. They’ll gladly pay well to reach your readers if you can provide them with some demographics and/or analytic data for your blog.

Conclusion
Real estate blogging is most profitable when a blog stands out for having content that is relevant, original, informative, and compelling. Create a niche blog and your audience will be well defined. This is particularly useful when selling advertising. With enthusiasm and originality it is possible to make an impact and achieve great success as a real estate blogger. Hopefully some of these ideas will help you along the way.

Jason Carr is the founder of urThots.com launching at BlogWorld 2010. Be sure to stop by Booth #417 at the show for some free stuff and to check out the new kids in town.

Image Credit: Fotolia

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