I work on my real estate website, Frisco TX Homes everyday. If I wasn't with clients or family, you can be sure I'm working on my website or some form of business marketing. Yes, some might think I need a life - however, working on my website or other work-related activities such as time spent on AR are times I enjoy, it refreshes my soul.
2 years ago, I paid LinkURealty good money to build a custom website for me. Completely customizable on my end so I don't have to wait for Tech Support to work on things myself. Although it is a website, I run it as if it's a blog/ news portal - if you will. Google LOVES it.
Prior to this custom website, I bought a semi-custom site from LinkU and that too got lots of Google Juice. I have been with LinkU for the past 5-6 years.
For the past 2 years, I work on it almost daily. Late last week, as I was making updates on it, I made a huge mess. I deleted some stuff I shouldn't have. Not a big problem. I'll just call them to restore my settings to the night before and I can start over.
Came to find out - in one statement, that's not how they work. Yikes!!!
When I need some help, I want help immediately. I can't do from Friday until Monday. That's almost 3 days of no-production. Ouch, ouch, ouch.
Don't get me wrong. LinkU by far has bend over backwards supporting me and my craziness of support requests. These are some of the nicest people. They didn't throw a fit whenever I send support requests. I've never heard a gripe. And let me tell you, everyone there knows me with my support requests.
But not until my recent hang-ups did I realize how vulnerable I am with a real estate website company. Almost anyone don't ask about their back-up system when things come crashing down. Heck, I dont even know how Active Rain backs their servers up - daily, nightly, several locations, etc.
So many agents run their businesses on Point2, their own brokerages, etc.
It feels like I just woke up from a deep dream and found my vulnerability. Hence, over the weekend I spent my time investigating the best system to pave my next path on. Moving onto Wordpress is slam dunk but within the Wordpress platform, there are lots of "themes" and "frameworks" to build on. They are not equal in terms of SEO power and as I have found out, while playing with it the past few days, some are easier to use, versus others who need a little more training on customizing. Some are so hard and a waste of my time to figure out (to a point where I'm agitated), I've called several developers to give me a quote on what I want.
So, here's what I learned too while porting over to Wordpress:
- In case you didn't know, Wordpress.org is definitely the way to go if you want total independence. Wordpress.com is free, just like other blogging platform but you have no control over who takes over someday.
- If you went down Wordpress.org path, you'll have to find a web hosting company.
- You must buy the Domain Name in your name (with Registar, Godaddy, etc.) Dont let someone else do it for you.
- Decide on which framework you want. Research points me to Thesis or Genesis. But equally as powerful. Thesis is easier to use, more intuitive. Genesis more powerful, customizable - if you knew how to do it.
- Within these 2 huge frameworks, there are lots of "themes" you can select from. I went with an Agent Press child theme of Genesis.
- Decide what layout suits your taste. 2 or 3-columns. Plan out what you want to display on your site, then play away.
- Here's where I stopped because it took too much of my previous time. I'm hiring a Developer to work on getting the layout/ look I want. I literally spent all day on Monday, trying to figure out how to change the height of the banner, background, etc. Couldn't figure out how to display the navigation menu, etc. I got iritated because my job is to put out content for the new site, it is NOT to figure out how to make things work.
- As you decide which developer to use, there are many out there. Some focus on certain child themes. Some focus on certain industry. My advice will be to hire someone who has real estate experience.
- However, here's what I'm going to say based on my research - Our real estate websites are far too boring in the website world. Everyone and his grandmother have a dark blue or black background (no offense to those who has). Almost everyone uses the Agent Press child theme. Hence, the layout and structure looks the same.
I haven't quite figure out how to do it completely different and when I do, I'll write about it again.
So, here again is my very long winding method to tell you to get off your dependence on those you feed every month. Total independence is the New 2012 Business Attitude. Are you with me?
- Every agent should have their own website.
- Every agent should have their own domain name and email. Do not use YourName@YourBrokerageFirm.com unless you own the brokerage. What if you went to a different company next year? Will your contact lose you too?
- Buy your own stuff even if you hired someone to help you get started.
- Find out how your web host company backs up their stuff.
- If possible, run your emails on an exchange server for better stability.
Now, you thought when you signed up at real estate school, you were going to sell real estate did you? Little did you know you're in for a little surprise - if Internet is the way you want to go. Good luck and God speed.