I'm Going to Post RE Blogging Heresey...

Real Estate Agent with Century 21 Results Realty
May 25: Martin Luther outlaw.Image via Wikipedia

I have been blogging about real estate since 2008... so over three years.  I can say proudly that I have a few thousand posts.  Of those, there are a lot that were NOT about real estate, but that appeared on my real estate blog.  Some were about cars (I just started a car blog JUST for those posts).  Others were about local news.  Still others were about local businesses, entertainment venues, parks and recreational opportunities.

As long as I have been blogging, the mantra has been to "Be the source of information about EVERYTHING in the community".

But after years of blogging, and looking over my blog posts and traffic patterns... I'm not so convinced any more.  I see where my traffic is coming from, and I see which posts are the popular entry (and exit) posts.  BUT, I also talk to the people that call, email or contact me in other ways... and I ask them what made them make the call.

Let me make a few points...

  • Almost without exception, my most read posts are NOT real estate related in any way.
  • My most read posts are NOT about local issues, businesses, personalities or events.
  • The post types that causes the most direct contact from consumers are market reports.
  • I've NEVER had someone say they wanted to work with me because of a review of a local business.
  • Most of my local name recognition has come from local event and local issue posts... but I can't say one has ever brought me business.

Keep in mind, this is specifically about real estate blogging...

Here are the take-aways that I see from the above points.

  • A real estate blog needs to be focused on real estate.  There is plenty of room for reviews, lists of area attractions and other local interest items, but they should not be the focus of the blog.
  • Hyper-local news DOES belong on a good real estate website.  It shouldn't be the focus, and even a "curatorial" style might be enough (rolling links to a variety of hyper-local news stories, for example... like a Twitter based local news feed).
  • Market Reports are one of THE most important things to have on a real estate website.  Consumers want to understand the real estate market, whether they are buying or selling.
  • Market Stats are nice... but people want interpretation of the stats.  They want to know your professional opinion is about the direction of the market... up or down.
  • Community profiles are VERY in demand.  Buyers want to know about the communities and the schools that they are considering.  They might like to know about the history, school performance and local culture... but they REALLY want to know about prices, styles and economic outlook.  All of those items belong in the community profile, but some might be links to specialty sites, like GreatSchools.net or sections of a city's website.
  • Daily updates are overkill... but a good real estate blog needs to have depth.  After you have 40 or 50 solid posts, posting up 2-3 times a week might work... assuming that will cover the areas you need to cover.
  • Helping real estate "Do-It-Yourselfers" is good business.  Give them your best tips for promoting their property, warn them of the most common pitfalls they may face (Fair Housing laws, for example) and give them the steps for a smooth transaction.  But don't talk down to them.

Is this a sure-fire path to success?  No.  But it might help.  Don't forget, though... it's just my opinion.  Look for a related post coming up about Social Networking.

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****Post-script...  I just added the next part of this series to Active Rain.  I had it up on LaneBailey.info yesterday (for those that wanted to jump ahead...).  Here is a link
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  1. Lee & Pamela St. Peter 09/13/2011 03:18 AM
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Carrie Sampron
Home Smart Realty Group - Highlands Ranch, CO
ABR SFR & Kathy Sampron (303) 931-3629 Highlands R

Lane: I enjoyed reading your thought process. I am trying to add more market reports to our blog and believe there is a balance that needs to be reached. Thanks - Carrie

Sep 13, 2011 05:40 AM #48
Michael Collins
*ROCK REALTY|Broker|Realtor|Real Estate|WI Short Sale Agent* - Janesville, WI
CDPE, SFR , Wisconsin Short Sale Specialist Realto

Hi Lane. This too is what I am finding. An example, a couple years back I did a blog post on Morel Mushroom hunting locally. I still get random calls from out of state people just looking to come and hunt for mushrooms!

Can you give us a link with one of your preferred local market report formats?? I'd love to see how you are presenting that information, thanks!

Sep 13, 2011 06:24 AM #49
Patrick Ciriello
Hawks Mountain Consulting - Newbury, VT
Out of the Box Solutions

Excellent information, but I want to point something out.  All those non-realestate related posts about local events and the like make your site MORE VISIBLE to the search engines.  You mention that you have seen your traffic drop.  Unfortunately, your organic ranking will be affected if you stop blogging about other local stuff.  Yes, you are getting lots of random traffic.  In the end, that it GOOD, as those people just remember your name when their friends want to buy a house.  If your blog is abouit your community, and also happens to have the meaty stuff buyers/sellers are looking for, it is a win-win-win for everyone.  You have craeted a relationship with people who aren't currnently ready for the market, but might be a year from now, or two years, or five years, but might know someone else who is ready NOW.  

Sep 13, 2011 06:46 AM #50
Tamara Perlman
Referral Network Inc. - Truckee, CA

Thanks Lane.  It's nice to know what generated business for other realtors.  There are so many differing points of view out there.

Sep 13, 2011 06:54 AM #51
Kathy Strader
Memorial Staged Homes - Houston, TX

Thanks for your post Lane.  I'm a Home Stager so I come from a slightly different place when blogging.  After a year of blogging, I feel like I am still trying to find my voice.  Tips are always appreciated.

Sep 13, 2011 09:28 AM #52
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

Joetta - I have another post you should read...  It was written as a follow up to this post, and might address some of the points you are hitting... 

Patrick - The word is dilution.  Sure, I might drop in the SERPs for someone looking for general information about one of my service areas, BUT, at the same time the blog is more focused so it may actually rise in the SERPs for real estate market specific searches. 

Having a high bounce rate isn't good for your site, either.  One of the things I seen VERY dramatically, is that my search traffic is looking at multiple pages and staying on the site longer.  People looking for fireworks info were there for 30 seconds... tops.  Then the were off to something else.  People looking for market conditions or researching before buying or selling are looking over several pages. 

And while it is certainly true that somene that hits your site and likes your post on underwater basket-weaving classes at the local pool might have a friend that is thinking of buying 4 years down the road, it is also likely that when a buyer hits your site looking for in depth info about the local market will go away if it isn't easier to find than a review of the local Chick-fil-a (BTW, I almost never have a bad experience at the Chick-fil-a stores around Gwinnett County, GA...  Those people are on top of it). 

Rock Realty - Here is one of my market reports.  They are always a work in progress.  I have tuned them for a couple of years, and I think they need a lot of tuning going forward.  While part of me LOVES that I have made a basic template and follow it each month, another part of me hates that they aren't very spontaneous.  I do, however, try to note both my successes and my failures in predicting the market's direction.  That is one of the reasons I have been linking to past reports... 

I'm WAY FAR from saying that I have great market reports, but I think I have hit some of the basic elements that I think consumers want.

  • interpretation
  • bigger picture
  • prognostication
  • transparency
Sep 13, 2011 09:53 AM #53
Kathy Schowe
California Lifestyle Realty - La Quinta, CA
La Quinta, California 760-333-8886

Suggested, and bookmarked for sure.  I agree with you-- I have gotten a deal from a "community-neighborhood" post-- people want info on specific neighborhoods, the homes, the market, the prices, and culture there.  Also-- referrals on AR are a source of income-- and those relationships come from sharing about not only our area, but ourselves.  Kathy

Sep 13, 2011 09:58 AM #54
Jennifer Prestwich
Henderson, Thornton, Broomfield and Westminster - Henderson, CO
Madison & Co Properties

Lane, I have been rethinking my blogging strategy of late... Thank you for spelling it out so succinctly.  This is a great guidline for any blogger.  Luckily for me, I'm a Realtor-Blogger.  Super!

Sep 13, 2011 11:51 AM #55
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Lane I tend to agree with you, but do you think that the recognition those other post are getting you might provide some synergy in the community?

Sep 13, 2011 12:49 PM #56
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

That's good info and something to keep in mind.  I know I should be doing more market reports and this is good reason to do that.

Sep 13, 2011 02:22 PM #57
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Lane:  One of the things you said in your post really rings true, yet so few bloggers here do it.  Lots of "market reports" and market stats, but so FEW go into decent detail and interpret what those reports and stats mean... in language that the typical reader, or even the typical Realtor, can understand.

Great post.

Sep 13, 2011 07:39 PM #58
Beverly Femia
BlueCoast Realty Corporation - Hampstead, NC
Broker Realtor Stager - Greater Wilmington, NC Are

Another wonderful post that helps crystallize direction for me.  Thank you for taking the time to offer your experience.  I've bookmarked for future reference. 

Sep 14, 2011 04:55 AM #59
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

There are still some people that 'dis' the market report but I'll have to agree. Nothing gets people to start talking or looking on the internet then their own area/subdivision.  I think agents just don't like to write them & they can be boring if you make them boring!

I think it was last week that 'someone' (will remain nameless) was put in the newsletter & personally I think they absolutely suck at market reports. There are sooooooo many others that are much better at it than that person was.

I just finished one today, tell me what you think. 

Sep 14, 2011 08:57 AM #60
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

Thank you all for the comments...  I enjoy and read every one. 

Sep 15, 2011 02:44 PM #61
Ken Cook
Content, coding, marketing, host. - Marietta, GA
Content Marketer/Creator

I missed the "scathing" part ;) so I'll be over next week to shoot some hyper-local video about hyper-local information in your hyper-local area so you can get some hyper-local listings/sales and I can do so hyper-local (to you) mortgages :))

Sep 16, 2011 03:40 PM #62
Jenny Durling
L.A. Property Solutions - Los Angeles, CA
For Los Angeles real estate help 213-215-4758

I know market reports are supposed to be the best thing to write about to get more business but I can't figure out just what to write. It seems that things just don't change all that much from one month to to the next.

Sep 18, 2011 04:50 PM #63
Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

I was trying to determine which posts are getting the most traffic, it surprises me when I go back that market reports are still popular. I do like what you did with your market report, I have been keeping to the same market report for a long time. Perhaps I should mix it up just a bit, I can think of how I would like to do it a bit better.

Great post, wonderful food for thought.

Oct 09, 2011 08:41 AM #64
Lang Premier Properties
Lang Premier Properties - Clawson, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Group

Like everyone else, I have to say that your post has made me STOP and re-think my focus of blogging for my site.

My issue is that I have been blogging everyday for over a year now and I am just SO bored with the Market Updates and showing market graphs and charts, that it is nice to look at local events and get ideas.  They also help me personally find things to do sometimes. 

My issue is, how much can you really write about Real Estaste and not have it be repetative to the readers? I specialize in Metro Detroit Short Sales, so this does give me some variety, but where can I find some great places for NEW information and statistics to share?


Oct 19, 2011 12:42 PM #65
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

Benjamin...  This was a VERY hard thing for me to wrap my head around.  It took me 4 years...  I'm not writing my real estate blog for me.  I'm writing it for business.  I started a blog for me, and re-focused my real estate blog on my potential clients.  I post 3x a week now.  Two are market reports (Monday and Friday) and then a non-market report on Wednesday. 

Oct 19, 2011 01:59 PM #66
Michael Murphy
Bienvenidos Real Estate - Parksville, BC

Couldn't agree more...not really interested in the family dog or whats playing at the local theatre...I f I go to a real estate blog I want to read about real estate.

Nov 04, 2011 02:59 AM #67
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