How I Earned $100k in Commissions without Spending a Dime on Advertising

Real Estate Agent with eRealty Inc.

If you’ve recently joined the real estate industry you’re in for a long haul.  If no one has said those words to you, hear them again…it’s ain’t easy!  That being said, there are great ways to market yourself without spending a ton of money on wasted efforts and ads.  After all, if you don’t have any buyers or listings yet, what do you advertise anyways?!  The days of print are fading and savvy internet and social networking are an untapped goldmine.


I was born into a real estate family in upstate NY and watched real estate from the dinner table.  My folks have one of the first “teams” in their area and have been very successful in the “old school” ways of the business.  My perception was, “this is easy…the phone rings, you jump in the car and you sell a home.”  So in 1999 I decided to take a swing at this business I had watched for so many years.  I’d relocated at that time to North Carolina and didn’t really know a soul.  I had no friends or family network, no college buddies, no corporate relationships from a job path and only my ex-husbands family who lived about 20 minutes away.  Let’s just say that they weren’t a gold mine or referrals nor were they buying anything anytime soon, enough said!  I did however have the guts to open my mouth and start talking to people I met on the streets.  In 1999, the internet wasn’t nearly the source of business that it is today.  I joined a team and proceeded to sell over 20 homes my first year but it was costing my superior thousands of dollars each month to “get us out there”.  I didn’t know any better and thought, “This must be how it works!”  Maybe then, but not now…so are you ready to learn a few tips and tricks from someone who’s figured out how to capture business, improve your bottom line and build value to home buyers and sellers in your marketplace?  Here we go…


  1. Do not start advertising that you work with “ABC Realty Firm”.  Firm names don’t really matter much anymore.  Potential clients care about the value that YOU offer not the company that you work for.  Yes, I underlined that word because you need to keep in mind that you work for YOURSELF!   Also, what happens if you leave and move to another company?  Now you have to start over and market yourself at XYZ Realty Company.  You need to advertise yourself as Bob/Betty Jones, Real Estate Agent.  Then in your signature or on your webpage you can have you logo.  If you really want to get fancy, think of a snappy slogan that will stick in people’s brains.  Personally, I use Happy House Hunting and my blog title is  That is much easier to say and spell than Erica McClenny!  I’ve switched companies several times over the past decade and it never mattered…it just took me time to reset all my online profiles.


  1. Speaking of online profiles…you need to get these rolling ASAP.  Free marketing is the topic of this ebook so here are a few spots you need to establish yourself.  I didn’t stumble on to this concept for 6 years!  I didn’t even know what half of these sites did, stood for or offered members.  Now I do know and for me, they equal a stream of ready, willing and able referral resources.  They can for you too, if you use them.  They do not run themselves.  It will take a little time and effort but the pipeline feed in the long run is well worth it.  When I first discovered social networking, I’d spend 20 hours a week on figuring more sites or places I could put my name and information.  I’m going to give you the top ten sites that generate me the most return.  We’ll cover more in depth social networking in another blog.  All of the following sites were free (at the time) for me to join and network on.


Your job on each of these sites is to “brand yourself” with the same picture, contact information, profile description and slogan.  If someone Google’s you or does some research, it needs to be similar on each site. I could go one with 300+ more sites but I'll cover that on a list of effective sites tomorrow.



  1. Blogging- It’s the best way to establish yourself as an expert in your area, quickly!  I didn’t even know what a blog was until 3 years ago.  When I first discovered it, I thought “Geeze this must take a ton of time and I’m certainly not a writer.”  (By the way, are you still with me?!) Then I read an article in 2007 that blew my mind. 


"Internet Home buyers spend an average of 4.8 weeks doing online research before they contact an agent.


86% of home buyers started using the Internet as part of their process before they started looking for a specific home; the other 14% did after they started looking, but before they contacted a real estate agent; that means that 100% of buyers surveyed started looking at homes first, agents second. When you combine that finding with the already existing one that fully 81% of Internet buyers stay with the first real estate agent they choose to contact, you can see a powerful case for being able to have consumers find you, first."


If you can start offer a “Deal of the Day” with a posting, or write an upcoming event in your area.  If you’re not comfortable sharing your opinion on your market there are plenty of resources and articles that you can use, add your own twist and publish on your blog.  I DO NOT MEAN COPY and add your name!  That will get you in trouble! 


My rule is:

25% about my local real estate market and my featured listings

25% light hearted stories

25% about local businesses and events

25% Hot Topics buyers and sellers are asking about


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Over $45 million in sales and counting.  Buy, Sell or Invest with the best.

Happy House Hunting!







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Lee & Pamela St. Peter
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices YSU Realty: (919) 645-2522 - Raleigh, NC
Making Connections to Success in Real Estate

Great post Erica, and great advise!  Just noticed that we use the same tag line...  Happy House Hunting.  Great minds work a like!!!

Nov 09, 2009 05:16 AM #1
Patrick Johnson
Windermere - Bellingham, WA

Absolutely fabulous posting Erica! I was laughing a little when I was looking at your online profiles, I was going down the line saying "yep, did that, yep that one too" then I got to the "mommies network" one and thought uhhh no. lol.

Thanks for the great post!

Patrick Johnson, ABR E-pro

Windermere RE, Bellingham Wa.

Nov 09, 2009 06:17 AM #2
Douglas Fischer
East Oahu Realty - Selling Honolulu, Hawaii Condos - Honolulu, HI

Excellent post Erica.  You are so right.  For many agents, I'm afraid that much of advertising is ego driven.  I maintain a very low advertising budget, and have been a top producing agent for years.

Nov 09, 2009 06:50 AM #3
Mario Blautzik
TBA - Rockville, MD

81% stay with the first Realtor they contact? Wow! Most of my clients say that they googled me before they came to the appointment. Your post is right on the money.

Nov 09, 2009 07:00 AM #4
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

Great post - makes me want to get out there and blog some more - I like your split of topics -

Nov 09, 2009 01:08 PM #5
Muffy collins
Bridgeport, CT

Erica, this is a great post. Thanks for sharing all of the website.

Nov 09, 2009 02:11 PM #6
David O'Doherty
Raleigh Realty Inc - Clayton, NC
Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC

Erica, this is great I need to set aside some time and do this, I appreciate you posting this.

Nov 10, 2009 02:07 PM #7
Robert L. Brown - Grand Rapids, MI
Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic

Thanks for the heads up. I bookmarked this blog for future reference

Dec 16, 2009 05:43 AM #8
Tracy Santrock
Fonville Morisey/Santrock Realty Group, Inc. - Cary, NC
Raleigh - Cary Realtor/Broker In Charge

Bang on!  It takes a lot of effort to syndicate and get the word out but not a lot of $$ to get the message out to consumers!

Jan 03, 2010 09:05 AM #9
Golden Sunshine
Rock Of Ages - Dalton, NY

( name is Lisa Dokie, i saw your profile today and became interested in you,i will also like to know you more,and if you can send an email to my email address,i will give you my pictures here is my email address( I believe we can move from here! Awaiting for your mail to my email address above , Remember the distance or age or color does not matter but love matters a lot in life, i will be waiting to hear from you soon.

Jul 25, 2011 10:36 AM #10
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