IPhone First Generation 8GB (3680455198)
IPhone First Generation 8GB (3680455198) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I took a little time out and knocked out 3 blog posts for another of my blogs.  I did it while waiting for a client to arrive at a showing.  I used my tablet (a smart phone would also work).

 

Video.  Last week I popped up a video up on this blog that I shot in just a few minutes.  I think it took about 15 minutes to shoot it… twice.

The point is that I hear from a lot of agents that say they don’t have time to blog.  There is almost always time.  Of course the quality would be a bit better if it was done in a studio… but they would have a different feel.  A lot of viewers actually like the video to me more “raw and real”.

One of the nice things is that you can actually have an idea and shoot it right then… which can be even better than making notes about what to write about later.

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We have those times… it seems like even though we know there are a thousand things we can write about, NOTHING comes to mind.  We stare at the computer like the whole concept of writing something is completely foreign.  I know that I have been there.

Brain
Brain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But there are a few things you can do to get you through…

  • Keep a “Post Idea Notebook” at hand.  Write down those cool ideas as you get them.  They will be gone in a few minutes…
  • Along the same lines, leave yourself a voice mail with your idea.  This is a MUCH better solution while driving, and I get a lot of ideas while driving.
  • Subscribe to a variety of RSS feeds, both inside your industry and in general news.  Often, the items in the news will be of interest to your readers, but they might want it brought to their level, or translated to how it affects them.

We’ve all seen the list above.  I think that every post on blog ideas came from the same source.  But there are more things that you can do to fill that bank…

  1. Brainstorm.  Sit down with a piece of paper, a tablet, your phone… whatever… and write as many ideas as you can.  Don’t worry about the quality… just write them down.
  2. Build an “Idea Council”.  Put together, or join, a group of bloggers with different niches.  If you blog about real estate, find people that blog about ANYTHING else.  What they blog about is not important, and what you blog about shouldn’t be important to them.  In fact, it isn’t even important that they blog…  What is important is that they are creative and willing to speak up.  What you are going to do is listen to THEIR ideas about what they want to know about your blogging niche.

About an hour after this post goes live, I will be taking part in exactly that kind of group as part of Social Media Breakfast – Atlanta.  The topic for this month’s breakfast will be “Crowd-Sourcing Blog Topics” and we will be using a round-table format to help each person come up with topics for their own blogs.  We’ll see if we can kick out at least 5 actionable post ideas for each person…

BTW, Social Media Breakfast – Atlanta meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month in Cobb/Marietta and on the 4th Thursday in Gwinnett/Suwanee.  Check out our FaceBook page for details.

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Recent home sales, by the numbersMany beginning bloggers have trouble narrowing down their blog to just one thing.  This is especially true of those of us in the real estate blogging world.  We write about local and national market conditions, seller and buyer issues, staging and renovating homes for sale,  improvements and financing.  But then many of us also add local “flavor” posts with information about local events, restaurants celebrities and more.  To top it off, some even write about niche specific things like local equestrian issues, tennis matches and car culture.

 

But there is a problem with that strategy… and the result is that many readers do exactly the opposite of what we think they will do.  The strategy is that readers surfing for niche info, local event info, restaurant info or any of the other things we are writing about, will be drawn in by our incredible prose… and feel compelled to buy a house, using us as their agent.

 

English: Logo of the franchise SmashBurger.
Image via Wikipedia

Instead, what often happens is that readers stumble onto the blog from a search, hopefully finding a post that meets the criteria of their search.  And then… a bunch of unrelated posts.  Maybe they are searching for information about 4th of July Fireworks shows in the area.  The chance that they are also looking for a home is pretty slim.  Or, if they ARE in  the housing market, they find your most brilliant market report EVER, and then while looking for more of that real estate information they are craving… all they can find is fluff about the new Smashburger that opened up.  Away they go.

 

The goal here isn’t to trash the strategy… on the contrary, we real estate professionals have a unique position in the community as its cheerleaders.  We meet a lot of people, and we generally work hard to be involved in the community.  It benefits our business, the community and ourselves as people.

The idea is to turn the strategy on its head.

Maybe instead of trying to make all of that into one “super blog”, instead we should split the effort out into a few different blogs.  Those multiple blogs can do something that the “super blog” can’t do… it can focus.  And several focused blogs will likely retain more readership than one over-reaching blog that completely lacks focus.

 

BLOG IDEAS
BLOG IDEAS (Photo credit: owenwbrown)

A few years ago I made a decision to split off all of my tech/social media writing from my real estate blog.  There was no discernible drop off in readership… and the tech blog picked up a few readers.  Last year, I split off all of my car posts from my real estate blog (my niche is car hobbyist properties… one could argue that the posts were relevant).  The result has actually been an increase in readership, along with a dramatic drop in the bounce rate.  At the same time, the car blog has built up a modest base of readership on its own.  Pushing it a step further, one of the biggest referral sources for my real estate site is the car blog.  And that is through a discreet ad in one corner of the car blog.

 

So, maybe a better way to incorporate the strategy is to have multiple blogs, each with its own focus, but each promoting the others, as appropriate.  In  short, give each reader exactly what they are looking for… and trim out the weeds distracting them from what they really want.  Also, give them a clear opportunity to make their way back to your “money-maker”.

 

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Another one of the ProBlogger tips was to mix in some new content types…

It wasn’t fancy…

But, what did you think… It took a total of about 3 minutes to shoot the video with the tablet, set it to upload and then grab the embed code from YouTube.  When I do these videos for real, I tend to have better lighting and to worry a little more about how I look.  But the point is that video has become VERY easy to do.  And while it is nice to have a full production, it isn’t always required.

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It has been time for this blog to be updated for a little while now.  Updates have been moved to the back burner as I launched my new blog (CoolCaroftheDay.com) and got that concept off the ground.  And while I still plan on freshening up a couple of my other blogs and sites (LaneBailey.com and GarageHomesUSA.com are both due), I thought this was a good place to start… and I might as well drag it out for a little while and bring all of you along with me.

I will be making the changes as I write the posts (not as they are published… I usually write posts a little ahead of time).

The first part included adding a newsletter/email subscription form.  Over at Problogger, it was their first step in revitalizing you blog for 2012.

I already had a MailChimp (affiliate link) account, so I didn’t spend any time doing that.  I spent about 15 minutes creating a list on MailChimp for this site, installing the MailChimp Plug-in for WordPress and getting all of the settings right.

 

Image representing MailChimp as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

At MailChimp:

 

  • After creating a MailChimp account, go to “Lists” on the menu at the top of the page.
  • Click the big red “Create List” button.
  • Don’t worry too much about the sign-up form… you aren’t really going to be using it, just make sure you have the info boxes on it that you want.
  • Mouse-over “Account” on the top menu.
  • Move down and click on “API Keys & Authorized Apps”
  • Push that blue button that says “Add A Key”

 

English: The logo of the blogging software Wor...
Image via Wikipedia

In another tab, open your WordPress blog…

 

  • Go to Plug-ins > Add New
  • Search “MailChimp”
  • Install the MailChimp plug-in.
  • Under settings, the first thing it will want is the API Key… copy/paste it from MailChimp.
  • Select the right mail list from the drop-down.
  • Edit the settings so that you have the text you want and the widget looks the way you want it to look.
  • Go to Appearance > Widgets to install the widget in the location you desire.
  • Open up your site in a new tab… adjust the widget and settings as needed.

Like I said, it only took about 15 minutes for me to do all of that.  It might take you a little longer, or you might be able to knock it out a little faster… I hadn’t done it for a while, and had to stumble around and take a few bad turns.

Good luck kicking off your email list… and while you are here, why don’t you sign up for mine.

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