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A video series aimed at helping agents become number 1 in their industry.

“Our desire is to help you be Number 1, because it’s actually very easy. You just need to put a few things in motion and your business will grow 2x, 3x, 4x.”

Their desire is to teach agents how to set up Google Adwords and Google Places. How to use Mobile Marketing, QR Codes, and texting effectively. And finally how to set up Landing Pages to convert new prospects into buyers and ultimately long term clients.

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Continuing with the theme of how to run a proper real estate or mortgage broker blog, here are some tips on how to make yours easy on the eyes…

Many blog hosting platforms (like WordPress and Blogger) offer a number of pre-designed layouts to choose from that can be further customized to suit your needs. But, just like you don’t want an under-designed blog, you also don’t want yours to be over-designed either. After all, the entire point is to have a quick-loading site that’s extremely readable. Here are five quick suggestions to move you in the right direction:

Change the background color from simple white or black. Most templates start out with one of these two. By going into the “design options” section of your blog hosting platform, you’ll be able to change this. You can either upload a repeating logo or pattern, or change the color to something that matches well with your overall color scheme. This gives your blog some personality and helps it stand out from the crowd.

Set a text block color that contrasts. Once you choose a color for the background, make sure that your text blocks, where the type will go, are white, and your type font is set as black. These will float over the background, and you want them to be as readable as possible. You could also go with a black text block and white type font, but these can sometimes be hard to read, especially on older computers. You have to remember that your blog will be read by people with all types of computers, not just newer ones with fancy graphics cards.

Decide on a two or three column layout. Some pre-designed layouts come with one or the other, but others allow you to choose. Before deciding, think of how much information that you want displayed at once. A three column layout allows you to have one column of sales listings, one column of important information (“contact me” buttons, a tag cloud, listing of categories,etc) and one wider column for the blog content itself. For a simpler look, choose a two-column design, but keep in mind that this limits the number of allowable widgets. Speaking of which…

Limit your widgets. These are the gizmos that go in the sidebar(s) of your blog. While you do need some important ones, keep in mind that too many will cause the page to load slowly, causing you to lose some readers before they even get to see your content.  Before deciding which ones to use, examine a few of the blogs that you read every day. Make note of which widgets they use, then come up with a list of the ones that you absolutely need.

Add a logo. Every good blog has a logo of some sort. Whether it’s simply your business logo or a complicated graphic-artist commissioned piece, you need to have something permanently at the top page of your blog announcing what your blog is about to your readers.

Setting up a blog in order to help promote your business (and connect with your clients) is important. However, deciding which blog platform to use can be crucial and is one of the biggest decisions that you’ll have to make, as far as blogging is concerned. Finding a user-friendly platform is just the first step. Here are some details on the top four blog platforms, plus some pros and cons on each:

WordPress.com – This is the beginner version of WordPress. It’s easy to set up a blog on this platform — all that you need to do is create an account and name your blog. You then pick out which template you want to use and then choose your widgets. The downfall to this site is that your choice of templates is limited, since the site won’t allow you to program your own or mess with the HTML. Your blog is also hosted by WordPress, so there are limitations as far as uploaded media space is concerned, although you can purchase upgrades.

 

WordPress.org – This version of WordPress requires you buy your own domain name and hosting service. There is no limit to the number of add-ons available (the all-in-one SEO pack is a great example of this) and you can customize just about every aspect. This version is a bit pricier, since you do have to pay for hosting and server storage space, but you can use any template that you want. The main set up can be a bit confusing if you don’t go with one of WordPress’ recommended blog hosts, but once your blog is set up, the sky’s the limit.

 

Typepad – This blog host is the proverbial black sheep of the blogging world. Although it’s easy to set up your blog using Typepad, for some reason it doesn’t get the accolades it deserves.  You can set up your own domain name and customize the template of your choice, but your blog will always be hosted on Typepad’s servers. There are two different options available: a free account, with your blog name as part of your your-blog-name.typepad.com address, or you can purchase a hosting account directly through them for so much per month. With the free version, you’re limited to their templates, but with the paid hosting you get your own domain name and mapping, and you can upload and use any template that you want.

Blogger – Blogger was one of the first web log (blog) platforms. It’s integrated with Google, making it easy to submit to search engines. Basic hosting of your blog is free, and your main templates are limited, but can be customized, and you can always upload one of your choice. Also, you can purchase a domain name through them or from a different provider and set up free mapping on your blog. It’s fairly easy to set up a blog through blogger, but it is difficult to wade through the many help desk options if you end up getting stuck.

All of the social media promotion and cross-linking in the world won’t help if you can’t draw in readers, fans and potential clients with your blog content. Sure, you do need to write about your real estate business or mortgage brokerage, but at the same time, you don’t want to fill your blog with the same kind of posts over and over. If you need some inspiration, here are five types of posts to include on your blog:

Photos. Picture posts are quick and painless. Find an interesting picture of something that relates to your business and design a post around it. It can be of a house that you were just contracted to sell, one that you’ve just arranged a mortgage on, or something completely different altogether. Think creatively!

News. Any breaking news or local feature that relates to your business makes for easy content. It doesn’t even have to be directly about something that you’ve posted in the past – as long as you can relate it to what you do; you’re good to go.

Lists. This one is easy. Make a list about anything that goes along with your other content. Whether you want to list the top ten local housing trends, five ways to make sure that a house sells quickly  or even your top three favorite HGTV shows, anything goes.

Surveys. Ask your readers for their opinion on something related to your business. This is not only a great way to see what your readers are interested in, but it’s also a sneaky way of seeing how many of those daily views are from people who like your blog enough to participate.

Humorous items. If you find it funny, write something about it. The humorous category can be expanded to include cartoons that relate to your company, or anything else that is guaranteed to get a laugh out of your target audience. You do want to be careful here, as some people are easily insulted, so be cautious when posting items that fall into this category.

When most people think of social media and business promotion, the first things that pop into their minds are the usual suspects: Facebook and Twitter; but there are several others, that, if utilized correctly, can work wonders as well. In fact, these popular apps are used every day for personal reasons, and you probably never thought about adding them to your social media business promotion arsenal. Here are three apps and several ways in which you can use them to promote your real estate or mortgage brokerage business:

1) Flickr – Flickr is a great site for uploading photographs. You can group your pictures into sets and collections in order to organize all of your pictures, whether they are of houses that you are selling or those that you’ve just helped someone purchase. You can organize your sets to include pictures of houses that you are selling, and then distribute those links through your Twitter and Facebook profiles, making it easier for potential buyers to check out all of the pertinent details.

 

 

2) Meetup – Create a Meetup group for your clients and invite them all to it. That way, when you have a sales listing to promote, you can let many people know about it at once. This is also a great way to promote open houses and other functions. If you run a mortgage brokerage, you can create a real estate investors group on Meetup and use it to plan investing seminars and information sessions. The possibilities are endless once you get your clients together in one online group.

 

 

3) FourSquare – You’ve probably seen the updates on Facebook and Twitter stating that “so and so has checked into the gym or post office,” but have you considered using FourSquare to your own advantage? You can have people “checking in” to your open houses or your office — and the best part is that as soon as they do, their followers will see it, thus spreading the word about your business quickly and easily. Creating a FourSquare profile for your business is fairly easy, and you’ll see just how useful it can be.

 

Adding a few YouTube videos to your website, or going beyond that and creating your own YouTube channel, is a great way to promote your business. You can create a video tour of houses that you have for sale, get a few happy mortgage clients involved in a video testimonial, or even show potential clients around your office — everything from your neat (or rather messy desk) to the lunchroom can be featured.

Before you whip out your video camera and start shooting, make sure that you have a plan in place. There are a lot of videos available on the web, and the best way to guarantee that yours will be ignored is by uploading a fuzzy, unfocused 9 minute video that never gets to the point. Here are some great tips to follow:

Keep it short – Under two minutes is recommended, although you can go as long as five or six, depending on your subject matter. This is a promotional video, not a scene-by-scene remake of Citizen Kane, so determine how long it will take to get your point across and then stick to that time limit.

Make sure that each video has a purpose – Think of them as mini-movies. You should have a distinct beginning, middle and end, and can create “cards” with a title and list of credits with most digital video software. While you do not need to have a script to follow or even an exact outline describing each shot, you still should have a general idea of what will be filmed and what you will say before the camera starts rolling.

Pay attention of the background, setting and lighting – The last thing that you need is a promotional video for a house that you’re selling that features a large pile of garbage in the background. Neaten everything up as much as possible. It’s always best to shoot outdoors in real sunlight, but good indoor lighting will work as well. You just don’t want it to be too dark, or no one will be able to see what you’ve filmed.

Share the video – Post links to it everywhere (on your Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook Business Pages) and embed it on your blog and main business website. If you create your own YouTube channel, cross link it with everything else in order to generate some traffic.

Here is an example of a video we like: Click on the Picture to View

Search Engine Optimization, otherwise known as SEO, is not impossible to do on your own. It may sound like it requires a team of experts and some Internet know-how, but it really doesn’t. Once you launch your website, and want it publicized for the world (and potential clients) to see, there are some tricks that you can do to help ensure that your site ends up in the top ten search engine results, all without having to pay for online advertising. Here are 5 to get you started.

1) Make your URL easy to remember. This may seem like common sense, but it needs to be emphasized here. It is much easier to tell people to “visit you on the web” if your URL is www.yournamehererealty.com, rather than a long string of odd numbers and letters. A simple web address is also easier for search engines to pick up on, and will lead to them sending more traffic your way.

 

 

2) Cross-link as much as possible. It cannot be repeated enough. You need to post links on your social media accounts that lead to your blog and, repeating the process, links on your website that point to your social media accounts. This will increase the traffic that comes into your website, making it look better from the point of view of the search engines.

 

 

3) Design a simple, easy to navigate site that includes a site map. Search engines use bots to crawl your site and pick up on the important stuff, like keywords, your web address, your name, what type of business you run, and so on. The easier your site is to navigate, the more these bots will come away with, which will add to your search engine ranking. This also helps out the people who come to your site, since they will be able to find out what your business is all about and how they can contact you.

 

 

4) Update your content regularly. Search engine bots pick up on how updated your content is. You don’t need to post a new blog article every day, but you should update it a few times a week. Updating the content on your other pages at least once a month is helpful as well. You don’t want your ranking to fall due to having stale content on your site.

 

 

5) Submit your site to search engines. This may seem like the simplest step of all, but it is also commonly overlooked by many people. The large search engines (Bing, Google and Yahoo) will not find your website unless you submit your site to them. Doing this is free, and, in the case of Google, takes mere seconds. There is a new set-up that Yahoo and Bing both use, but once you have mastered the 3 step process, your URL is submitted to both sites at the same time.

Setting up a Facebook Business Page can take some time.

 

You not only need to set up your location and contact information, but you also need to cross-link to your other social media accounts, your website and any current real estate listings (or examples of homes that you set up loans for, if you’re a brokerage).  On top of this, you’ll need to upload a picture of yourself, your business logo, maybe a photo of your office space – see where this is going?  It can take anywhere from several hours to an entire day to set the page up right. And if you don’t have that kind of time to spare, what should you do?

 

The answer is simple! You either make the time, by carving it out of your busy schedule, or hire a professional.  There are a number of professional services to choose from that will set up a Facebook Business Page for your business and get your page up and running, all for a fee, of course.  There are a couple of pros and cons to weigh before deciding which option to go with.

 

 

PROS:

Having your Facebook Business Page set up correctly from the start. It’s better to start off your page on the right foot; so to speak, as it makes you look like the utmost professional.  Inviting your “fans” to like a half-done page will not look very good.

Not having to take the time out of your busy day and put off meeting with clients in order to do it yourself.  You can spend those hours making your clients happy (and making money) instead of in front of a computer.

CONS:

Cost.  Make sure that you understand exactly what the set-up package covers and how much it will cost in order to avoid any surprises when you receive the bill.

Understanding how the page works.  If you have someone else set up your Facebook Business Page, you may not know how to update it in the future.  To avoid this, ask the company if they can give you a quick tutorial so that you know how to add updates and change the main pictures.


Whether or not you choose to hire someone to set up your Facebook Business Page for you or to do it yourself, once it is up and running, you will be one step closer to successfully promoting your real estate or mortgage brokerage company through social media.

 

Are you phased out? As more and more of the world gets hooked up the web, old fashioned things like paper business cards are getting phased out. After all, who saves paper business cards anymore? All that you need is to save that person’s contact information into your phone or online database, and that can be accomplished quickly and easily without a tiny piece of cardboard with their info printed on it. On top of that, physical business cards cost money, and may not have enough space to hold all of your pertinent information.

This is where Follr.com comes in: to make the transition from old-school paper cards  to virtual ones easier to manage.  This site is not only a virtual business card where real estate agents or mortgage brokers can list their office address and phone number, email address, cell phone number, Skype username, instant messenger handles and other pertinent contact info – it also acts as a hub where you can link to your website, update your sales listings, and point colleagues and clients to your other social media sites.

 

Get updated – all at once.  Another thing that Follr.com does, once you have your profile completed and all of your information listed – is send out updates to all of your social media sites. Rather than having to log into Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn to update your status, you can enter it into your Follr.com profile and the website will send out the updates for you. On top of this, you can choose your own profile name on the site, so you can tell the people that you meet to find you on Follr.me/whatever-you-choose-to-call-yourself. You can even add the RSS feed from your blog, and set your own background and profile picture on your Follr page. Think of it as social networking made simple.

Sure, you could still use old-school business cards if you really want to, but why not go the extra step and move into the 21st century with a virtual version instead?

 

Promoting your real estate or mortgage broker business on Twitter involves more than just signing up an account and following a few random people.You need to set aside some time in order to set up your account and run it properly.

Here are four quick steps that will help you get started:


1) Fully personalize your profile.
This includes a short biography, a link to your website, and a background image. Your biography should be both witty and serious. It’s a fine line to walk, but the witty side will show your followers that you are approachable and have a sense of humor, while the serious side will point out the fact that you are there to do business. It may take time to come up with the right one. Also, include a link to your website so that any followers who want to do business with you can find you. A background image may seem optional, but really isn’t. Personalization is the name of the game, so you should include one that illustrates what you do. It can even consist of your logo.

 

2) Use pictures. Not just on your profile, but in your tweets as well. Set up your profile so that your picture – not your business logo – is featured. This will give your followers someone to connect to and help them feel as though as they are conversing with a fellow human being, which they are, of course. You also need to tweet photographs on occasion. Whether they are pictures of a house that you are selling or one that you have just helped close a loan on, they will show your followers what you can do for them.

 

3) Interact. Don’t just follow people. Make them want to follow you back. You can respond to tweets, join in hash tag games (for example, #ifIruledtheworld or #improvefilmtitlesbyaddinginmypants) sure, they’re silly and unprofessional, but they will draw in followers. Also, be sure to follow everyone who follows you. You never really know who you will bump into on this social media site – it could be your next client.

 

 

4) Make your Tweets public. While you may believe that making your tweets private will create an air of mystery and leave people wondering exactly what it is that you do, in reality it will just turn them off and make them wonder what you are hiding. Many people will not bother to try to follow someone who has their tweets hidden. If you really want the draw in customers, then you need to leave everything out in public for the world to see.

 

Be seen.  Be heard.  Be the first connection.