The 11 Most Common Pitfalls For New Real Estate Bloggers

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We’ve trained hundreds of real estate agents to make the blog an effective marketing tool.  We run them through a dozen hours of personal training classes, aiming to keep them on track to success.

The following represent the most common issues that we help them recognize in or to keep them focused.

1. Worrying About Design Before the Writing

This is akin to planning a wedding before you have even met your husband/wife to be.  Before you even ‘deserve’ a great looking home for your blogging, you need to have shown a solid commitment to The Writing.

Our process with our new clients is to get them to start thinking and acting like bloggers while their custom design is being developed.  The process usually takes around 4 weeks, providing us with ample time to establish a strong commitment in the form of 10–12 well written articles.

Not to take away from a killer design, but the impression that you should want to make with your blog is that you are an Expert, delivering a Consistent Message.  This will gain you an audience, to whom you have earned the right to show-off you fancy site.

More on this topic:
Why Am I Blogging Again?

2. Failing To Establish A Clear Focus for the Content

If we stick with the idea that the common blogging goal which we all share is to gain and retain an audience, then we need to consider their experience.

Good headlines and great content will surely gain the audience, but keeping them there, and earning their subscription and return visit is the real trick.  Categories, Related Posts, Tags, a Mission Statement and clear Calls To Action are your opportunity to make your message clear.  But the first thing you need to do is carve out exactly what topics of content you plan to deliver on a consistent basis.

If your audience is confused as to what categories of content they are going to get from your blog, they aren’t going to bother subscribing.  You put $1 down and pick up a newspaper without even looking inside because you know what you are getting (local news, world news, sports, business, entertainment, comics, etc).  Your audience needs to react with a similar understanding.  When they recognize a solid commitment to a clear group of topics that meet their interests, they will commit to you in the form of subscription.

More on this topic:
Your Real Estate Blog is Your Newspaper.

3. Failing to Recognize and Write to Their Ideal Reader

In order to gain the right audience, you need to define them.  I know that most of you have worked with all ages, all incomes, all races, and have gone miles in all directions to help them… but who do you want to work with?  Define him/her, and then write to him/her.  Take a second, write down who they are and even name them if you have to.

When you can visualize the reader, it is much easier to explain things to them.  What’s easier, explaining something to a friend or to a room full of strangers?  When you ‘know’ your audience, it will be much easier to hatch and deliver your ideas.

More on this topic:
8 Things That You Are Not Doing On Your Real Estate Blog, But Should Be.

4. Failing to Read and Learn from Other Bloggers

To become a better writer you need to be an avid reader.  We learn from example, and there is no shortage of fantastic writers in and out of the RE.net.

Read from the perspective of a writer.

I learn something every blog surfing session.  I see new formatting ideas, new call-to-action approaches, new PlugIns, etc.  But before all that, the new blogger can pick up so much from established bloggers.  Blogging is not like other forms of writing, and reading others will help you recognize the rhythm and formatting that works best.

In addition to learning the writing style, new bloggers will notice the dedication shown by the successful.  This is the most valuable lesson of them all.

More on this topic:
7 Reasons Why Your Local Real Estate Blogging Peers Are Not Your Competition.
How Twitter Makes You a Better Writer

5. Failing to Get Educated Before Diving In

New bloggers are going to make a ton of mistakes, for sure.  But, there are major mistakes that will turn to major regret, and these could have been avoided with a little early research.

Examples of things to consider at the onset of your blogging:
Choosing a Good Domain Name
Choosing the Proper Blogging Platform
Placement of Clear Calls-to-Action
Placement of Contact Info
RSS Feeds and Email Subscriptions
Copyright Guidelines and Laws (text and images)
Social Networking (Facebook, Twitter…)
Traffic Analysis such as Google Analytics
Article Pinging
–Things mentioned in this article, such as:
Search Engine Optimization
Headline Writing
Article Formatting

If you are looking for some intense, one-on-one training to become a bad-ass blogger:
Let us know!

6. Failing to Format Articles To Be More Reader Friendly (including pictures)

When you are just starting out blogging, you appreciate each and every visit to your blog.  Imagine that everyone that comes to your site takes one look at it and thinks, “it’s not worth pouring through this article to get the message,” and subsequently clicks back to the Google search they had done to find you in the first place.

This worst-case-scenario will happen if you don’t format your articles for easy reading.
And for the love of Pete, please add a picture to entertain me.

Must read on this topic:
7 Crucial Tips To Developing Real Estate Blog Copy That Gets Read

7. Judging One’s Success By the Number of Comments Received

The funny thing about comments: they aren’t usually left by those that are going to do business with you.

Comments are great, no doubt.  They are a reassurance that you have visitors that actually read through your efforts.  It feels good.  In fact, even dissenting comments give that same reassurance.  But do they pay the bills?

The funny thing about comments: they aren’t usually left by those that are going to do business with you.  This isn’t the rule, but it is the tendency.  Here at the Tomato, we are no exception.  It took me a while, but I determined that of the nearly 5,000 published comments we have received, less than .5% of them were left by, what later turned out to be, a client.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t value your outspoken audience.  Arguably the most exciting thing about your blog is that it is a two-way street.  You publish, and your audience can participate.  The point is that, if your blogging goal is to generate business with your efforts, then you need to be focusing on the direct contact from your blog; a phone call, an email, a request, a reaction to your call-to-action.

Must read on this topic:
The Secret To Successful Blog Comments

8. Worrying About SEO

I know I mentioned above that a new blogger needs to learn about SEO, and now I am considering it a pitfall.  The challenge is that SEO can become a problem for a few reasons.

Your writing style suffers:
Cramming keywords into your message doesn’t establish you as an expert on your topic, it makes you look like a jerk.

Your writing suffers:
Blogging is about dedication, and if you need to worry about optimizing every paragraph of every article, and the article itself, you will lose your rhythm to pound out excellent content.  The chore will outweigh the value, and your blog will suffer.

Google isn’t stupid:
Search engines get the message with a mention or two of your keywords.  If you keyword stuff you can actually harm your optimization.  A little knowledge is dangerous, so to be safe, just learn the basics, and move on.

Confusion:
If you start listening to all those SEO gurus, you are going to lose your mind trying to understand and keep up with it.  You are a Realtor and a blogger, let’s keep it at that.  According to Matt Cutts, the WordPress platform provides up 90% of all the SEO you need, the rest is up to your content and linkability.

More on this topic:
All You Ever Needed To Know About Blogging SEO But Were Afraid To Say So.
Stop Acting Like Blogging Is Rocket Science
Three Letters I Don’t Think About When Writing A Post For My Real Estate Blog
Why Worrying About SEO Is Detrimental to Your Real Estate Blog

9. Don’t Recognize That Headlines Are The Reason Your Article Gets Read.

Until you have a regular audience (subscribers) and great reach in the search engines (a ton of articles), your ability to garner an audience is limited.  You can Twitter it, Digg it, Reddit it, post it on ActiveRain, send it to your email sphere, syndicate it to Facebook and/or get it picked up for a longtail Google search, but the bottom line is: If the headline isn’t compelling, no one it going to click to read the article.

It’s all about context.  In the above traffic opportunities, your audience’s first impression is the headline.  If you lose me there, I’ll never get to the article that you have spent so much time writing.

Consider the articles that you chose to click on when given a choice, and learn from your own behavior.

More on this topic:
What Copyblogger Hasn’t Told You About Writing Real Estate Blog Headlines
9 Examples of How Blogging Will Help You Overcome Real Estate Objections
Proven Headline Formulas From Copyblogger

10. Overly Obsessed with Traffic Statistics/Analytics.

We are all guilty of this, it comes with the territory.  Like comments, it is reassuring that people are coming to the site.  The concern, however, comes when you spend more time worrying about the traffic to your site than you spend developing content for it.

If you write it, they will come.
If you have strong headlines, they will come.
If you follow the SEO basics, they will come.
If you syndicate to social networks of your target audience, they they will come.

And if you deliver the relevant and compelling content to an audience that cares, they will stay, and they will subscribe.

As a new blogger, toiling over how many? what terms? how long? and from where? is a bad habit that will distract you from the most important element of getting started: the writing.

11. Starting Articles Only to Have Them Left Unfinished.

failed_writing_ideasAs an inspired, new blogger, you are going to have blogging ideas pouring into your head.  I remember not being able to keep up with all the good topics I considered.  I would write them all down, and ended up with lists pages long.  Now if I can only find that notebook.

But the real concern is that often, real estate blog topics are timely pieces, relevant for only a period of weeks or months.  You have a window of opportunity to publish your thoughts/opinions/observations on these relevant topics, and if you procrastinate you’ll have wasted it.

Most of the time these posts are left unpublished because of a fear that they aren’t ‘good enough’.  The difference between starting an article and finishing is usually just minutes, so we know it isn’t a time issue.  More often than not, it is an insecurity issue.

The tragedy is not that the post is not ‘good enough’ but rather that it never gets published. It is a terrible habit as a new blogger to leave things unfinished.  It is the first step towards bailing on the blog.  The best advice is to force yourself to wrap up these timely articles, even if they aren’t perfect.  The practice itself will force you to get better.  At the beginning stages of the blogging game, the most important thing is developing good habits, and publishing as much content as you can.

More on this topic:
The 8 P’s To Real Estate Blogging Success