The logo of the blogging software WordPress.
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It was a LOT of fun.  As a first time organizer for this type of event, I had a few concerns.  My biggest one was that the attendees wouldn’t feel comfortable asking questions… which was not a problem.  Their questions allowed us to better tweak the information to their needs.

So, here are some random notes from Monday’s Lunch & Learn…

GoDaddy is great for hosting domain names.  Several of us are using them for that purpose… but for hosting actual websites, they aren’t so great.  A couple of the hosting companies that were mentioned were HostMonster (affiliate link), BlueHost (affiliate link), and GreenGeeks.  One of the advantages of these host (as well as many other… there are a LOT of hosting companies) is that they offer “one-click script installations”.  Through services like Simple Scripts, you can install WordPress VERY easily, without having to understand things like FTP and creating databases.

Blogging does NOT have to be time consuming.  Randy mentioned shooting short videos or pictures at local venues (parks, restaurants, city hall, etc) and posting those right from your phone.  I mentioned video blogging… if you can knock it out in one take, you can post a 3 minute video (try to keep videos short) in 5 minutes.  However, when you launch, you really need to have 10-12 good posts on the site.  After that, it does NOT need to be updated every day.  Updating a few times a week should be enough.  I would say that you should update as many times as you can while keeping your post quality high.

 

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Use Landing Pages.  These are pages that are designed for readers from a particular ad or search to land on.  Give them what they want… don’t make them search around your site to find it.  People won’t search, they will hit the back button.

 

Have a CLEAR ‘Call to Action’.  What is the purpose of the site/post/ad?  Have you told the reader EXACTLY what you want?  Do you want them to sign up for the email list?  Do you want them to call you?  Do you want them to honk at Green Ford trucks?  Tell them exactly what you want, and make it as easy as possible for them to do it.

If you can’t measure it, it isn’t happening.  You have to know what posts are working to bring in traffic, what posts are working to convert traffic to leads, what ads or outposts bring in traffic, which search terms are most effective and who is looking at your blog.  There are several ways to accomplish this, including Google Analytics and Clicky.  Google Analytics is free and VERY powerful.  I use Clicky (which also has a free level) because I like the interface more.  The more advanced version of Clicky (affiliate link) allows real time tracking of traffic.

Search yourself.  And aim at the right target.  There are two points here.. the first one is that you need to pick a target and then seek to dominate it in the search engines.  And in order to really do that, you need to see the Google RAW search data.  You can search through Goosh.org and see the basic search… not the one that is influenced by your habits.  Secondly, you need to pick a target that you CAN dominate.  Face it, you aren’t going to be able to dominate “Atlanta Real Estate”… but you might be able to control the search for “Midtown Atlanta Lofts” (and no, I don’t know anyone offhand at the brokerages on that search).

Once you get WordPress, there are a few plugins you HAVE to have.  WordPress Editorial Calendar, Back WP up, All-in-one SEO and ShareThis are on the list.  There are several more, but these are a great start.

 

Google Logo officially released on May 2010
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WordPress (self-hosted) might be the best option, but it isn’t the only option.  Posterous, Active Rain (not really an affiliate link, but I will get points if you sign up through here…) and WordPress.com are all valid choices.

 

  • Posterous is really cool.  You can email almost anything there and it will be a blog post.  Videos, pictures, text, pdfs.. whatever.  And it will push it out the Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, FaceBook and other places.  It is very easy and quite powerful.
  • Active Rain has a great community.  Just reading blogs there is better than a lot of CE classes.  There are some sharp folks there, and between the knowledge and connections (both local and national) that you can make, it is well worth the time.  It is also a great option to dip a toe into blogging.  The basic platform is VERY powerful for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and the posts will do quite well if they are public-facing.
  • WordPress.com is good because it is a valid way to learn how to wander around in the admin panel and learn the rest of the back-end functions of WordPress.  It is very similar to the self-hosted version of WordPress.

There was a LOT more.  It is hard to believe that we were only there for 90 minutes.

And you can learn all of this and a LOT more at rebarcampAtlanta2011.  It is coming up on October 28th, 2011 at the Mansour Center in Marietta, GA.  Tickets are only $10 until September 30th, and just $17.50 after that ($25 for registration the day of the event).  If you are a real estate professional, it’s the best $10 you can spend… and even at $25, it is a bargain.

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