A new year often inspires new plans for success. For some real estate agents and sales reps, those plans include using a blog to build credibility with prospective clients.
As we discovered at REBarCamp, blogs are an attractive tool for agents who seek differentiation and loyal clients. Blogging about topics that matter to your prospects can position you as the local area expert – so when it comes time for one of your readers to call in an agent for an appraisal, you’re already seen as head and shoulders above the rest.
Other forms of ‘content marketing’, such as email newsletters, have similar benefits.
But as these types of marketing strategies become ever more common, it becomes increasingly important to stand out by doing it well. What’s more, as your initial enthusiasm for starting a blog wears off, the motivation needed to blog consistently can start to wane.
So how can you maintain motivation and create content your prospects want to read? Take these three steps to set yourself up for a year of consistent and quality blogging.
(Not planning to start a blog, but are interested in sending regular email newsletters or another form of content marketing? Read on. These steps are for you, too.)
1. Pinpoint your target audience
Who are you writing for? If your answer is “people in x suburb”, that’s a start, but it’s not quite enough.
Without a clear idea of who your target audience is, you’ll lack direction. You know the old saying, “trying to please everyone pleases no one”? The same applies to creating content.
To remedy this, get specific: What are your audience’s defining characteristics? What are their goals? Their values? Their most pressing problems?
My colleague, Peter Fletcher, is a fan of creating detailed client personas that tell the story of your target audience. They’re a great way to build a clear mental picture of who you’re writing for.
To create your own client persona, see this Copyblogger article for detailed tips and a sample.
2. Set a schedule
Have your previous blogging attempts suffered from inconsistency? The antidote might be as simple as setting a schedule and sticking to it.
Are you able to blog every few days? Weekly? Once a month? Whichever you choose, put it in your calendar and commit to your new schedule.
Some ideas for sticking to it:
- If you feel inspired to write multiple blog posts at once, go ahead. Post one straight away and save the others as drafts to post later, or schedule them to automatically post at a time that you know you’ll be busy.
- Chances are, you’ll never have enough time to blog unless you consciously decide to make that time. Set aside a defined chunk of time every month/week/day for blogging.
Having trouble sticking to your new schedule? Remind yourself that this is a form of prospecting.
3. Create a content calendar
One of the biggest challenges to quality blogging is consistently coming up with topics to cover. The solution? Create a content calendar.
First, determine the broad topics that you will write about. Each topic should be useful to your target audience.
These broad topics might include things like:
- Local places to eat and drink,
- Family-friendly events in the area,
- Monthly property updates,
- Client case studies, or
- Real estate misconceptions explained.
Next, brainstorm ideas for each topic. See if you can create six months’ worth of content ideas now. Set a date to brainstorm more in six months’ time, and in the meantime, keep a thought diary of possible blog ideas for each topic.
Last, create a calendar from these ideas. Assign one idea to each day, week, or month using calendar software, a simple spreadsheet, or even a Word document.
Having access to a set of ready-made topics is a huge help on those days that inspiration seems lacking.
Blogs can be a valuable tool for agents, but consistency and quality are what separate successful blogs from blogs that are barely read. Defining your audience, setting a schedule, and creating a calendar will put you well on your way to successful blogging in 2014.
Is content part of your marketing strategy for 2014? Have you had success with blogging in the past? Share your experience in the comments.
Image by C4Chaos via Flickr.