Are You Blogging? Make a Good Blog Better With These Tips!

We are living in a magical time. In a world full of platforms to showcase your knowledge and skill, you no longer have to wait for someone to recognize your expertise – you can declare it!

You may have heard it a million times, but writing a blog is a great way to set yourself apart from your competitors and establish yourself as an expert in your field. But when it comes right down to it, blogging takes time – our most valuable luxury. The idea of adding one more thing to your daily tasks is almost impossible to think about.  However, with a small time investment and a good roadmap to getting there, creating good content isn’t so impossible.

Get A Good Title

It would be nice if we could make people click on blog posts and read great content, but we have to draw them in with a strong headline. One of these 5 starters may help:

  1. Make A List: 10 Questions To Ask Your Real Estate Agent
  2. How to: How To Style Your Home On A Budget
  3. Question: What Does A New President Mean For The Housing Market?
  4. Controversy: You’ll Never Believe What’s Inside This House
  5. Numbers: This Step Will Increase Your Home’s Value By 5%

Focus On Your Intro

When you’ve got great content to share, it might be hard to think of a way to get started. You don’t want to jump too quickly into information. It will create a dry blog. Instead, use an opening sentence that builds curiosity. Ask a question of your audience, challenge an idea, or be a little silly to keep them reading. With blogs, like any form of social media, the tone should be light and conversational, not journalistic and stuffy.

Write Your Outline, Then Fill In Content

Once you know what you’re going to write about, jot down a simple outline to get your thoughts organized. This makes sure that you don’t leave out important information or get carried off on a tangent. Once your outline is solid, start filling in your ideas. Search engines grade posts on their readability, among other factors. Keep sentences short and break the content into small paragraphs. Your total word count should be around 400-600 words.

Link Where You Can

Your blog also grabs more attention from search engines when it links to sites with similar information. If you’re citing a source, add the link to the original material. The more connection your post seems to have with other relevant sites, the higher you’ll appear in search results.

Add Some Visuals

Pictures break up the content for your reader, but they also add weight to your search engine results, especially if the picture file names relate to the information in your blog. For example, if you’ve written a blog titled “5 Problems You Shouldn’t Overlook When House Hunting” and including a picture of a home, double check the file title and make sure you change it if necessary. A picture of a home titled “new-home.jpg” will get a lot more mileage than “image00159.jpg.”

Writing A Great Blog

Publish And Promote

Congratulations, your blog is looking good! But wait! How will anyone know it’s there? Make sure you share your content to social media to help drive visitors to your website. You can also send the link out in your next email blast, forward it to a client who may have asked about the information you’ve posted, or share it in a variety of other ways. The point is, if people don’t know it’s there, they may not go looking for it on their own.

3 Ways to Ask for Testimonials – and 4 You Should Pass Up

Building your credibility in the real estate world is easy – as long as you have some strong testimonials to help. Because word of mouth is such a strong influencer in the marketing world, testimonials are as good as gold. People tend to ask their friends and neighbors for advice before beginning a search for a professional to work with.  Depending on your communication style, some of your past clients may send an email or letter full of praise without even being asked, and others need reminders or a little encouragement. It doesn’t have to be awkward – here are some tips on seeking out testimonials without the discomfort!

 

What To Do
  1. End your client experience with a survey. You can make one on your own or use a third-party service like Google Forms or Survey Monkey to facilitate your request. This puts the emphasis on the whole experience rather than solely on your skills and personality, but still achieves your goal. When users can send in a testimonials as a quick answer on a survey, it makes their job easier.
  2. Use what they’ve already said. In your time working together, chances are good for finding a line or two in your email correspondence or text messages that would be perfect to feature as a testimonial. But make sure you reach out and request your client’s permission to use their words. Text messages and emails are considered private, so you want to make sure you’re not offending past clients by using their words out of context or without their knowledge.
  3. Ask with a compliment. When reaching out for a testimonial, let the client know what led you to them. Try “I wish all my clients were as great to work with as you have been – would you consider writing a testimonial on our experience together?” or “Your opinion means the world to me. Can I send you a form to fill out for my testimonials page?” The emphasis here is on your own pleasurable experience as well as seeking out some kind client words. Also – most people love reciprocity and will respond to compliments with some of their own.

 

Of course, it’s important to respect your client’s time and schedule when you approach them with a request. At all costs, avoid:

What Not To Do
  1. Last minute requests and too many reminders. Asking for help at the last minute disregards their own needs and priorities. And it’s important to keep in mind that most people these days are busier than they care to be (especially so if they’ve recently moved and have to deal with unpacking, changing schools, etc.) Respect their time.
  2. Making them commit on the spot. Ask casually or via email to avoid discomfort in case your perception of the transaction doesn’t match your client’s. Give them time and space to consider your request.
  3. Waiting until you need a testimonial. Ask at the end of a transaction, when your client’s experience is freshest in their mind rather than waiting for the next time you freshen up your website or social media.
  4. Writing a statement for your client. If they don’t have time to write a testimonial, they simply don’t have time. Don’t put words in their mouth or add the pressure of speaking on their behalf.

 

Most importantly, don’t miss out on the benefits provided by testimonials because you’re afraid it will be awkward or uncomfortable. Use the above methods and your experience should be pain free!


SOURCES:
https://www.freshbooks.com/blog/5-non-icky-ways-to-ask-for-testimonials/ http://www.switchvideo.com/2015/03/23/5-things-not-to-do-when-asking-for-a-customer-testimonial/ https://placester.com/real-estate-marketing-academy/how-to-get-real-estate-testimonials/

The Resource: November’s Social Media Guide

We often hear our real estate friends say they’re short on time and can’t handle regular posting to social media. So, each month, we collect a full month’s worth of posts for you to pass along to clients, friends and family.

The Holiday Season

5 Decluttering Projects To Help You Get Ready for the Holidays (Houzz)
15 Simple Thanksgiving Centerpieces (Shelterness)
Bring Farmhouse Touches Into Your Home for Thanksgiving (The Spruce)
Thanksgiving Hosting Hacks (Better Homes and Gardens)

Texas Living

Meanwhile In Texas (Texas Monthly)
How the World Series Finally Vindicated Astros Fans (Texas Monthly)
15 Songs That Embody the Texas Spirit (Wide Open Country)
Texas Meals You Have To See (and Taste) to Believe (Texas Hill Country)

Just For Fun

DIY: Make a Fresh Magnolia Wreath (Houzz)
The Top Travel Destinations of 2018 (Elle Decor)
Peek Inside the Homes of 23 Classic Hollywood Stars (Veranda)
Home Decor Ideas for People Who Love Their Dogs A Little Too Much (Realtor.com)

Around The House

What To Store in the Laundry Room, And What You Shouldn’t (The Spruce)
Composting How-Tos (Better Homes and Gardens)
The Ultimate Stain Removing Guide (Better Homes and Gardens)
Garden Trends for 2018 (HGTV)
Garage Organization Ideas That Will Give You Your Parking Space Back (House Beautiful)
A Tightwad’s Guide to Getting Organized (Organized Home)

Decor Inspiration

15 Cool Shared Spaces Where Kids Can Study (Shelterness)
Stunning Ways to Redecorate the Dining Room (Good Housekeeping)
Natural Fall Decorating Ideas (Real Simple)
Unexpected Patterns that are Perfect for Fall (HGTV)
Luxurious Headboards for a Dreamy Slumber (Luxe Daily)

Buying And Selling

The Problem with Tiny Houses That No One Talks About (Elle Decor)
10 Home Maintenance Myths Costing You Time and Money (HouseLogic)
Should I Bail After A Bad Home Inspection? (The Mortgage Reports)

 

7 Brand Archetypes – Which One Are You?

Do you know your Brand Personality?

Brand Personality describes human characteristics that can be associated with your brand. These traits are things your customers can relate to. Just as our friends are a reflection on each one of us, so are the businesses and services we choose to patronize. A successful brand personality is one with which others are proud to be associated. Each brand has a personality, regardless of whether or not you’ve given it serious thought. As long as you have one, you may as well give it a deliberate look.

Brand Archetpyes

One way to find your brand personality is to consider traditional character archetypes. There are 12 archetypes, or models of behavior, throughout storytelling, and these same archetypes can be applied to brands. The question here is, “What role does your brand play in the lives of your customers?”

The 12 archetypes of branding are:

  • The Traditionalist: Sometimes known as “The Innocent”, Traditionalist brands offer their customers a pure and simple way of life. Marketing campaigns are just as simple as the brand promise. Companies offer transparency and moderate pricing.
    • The Promise: To make life happier, simpler, and better.
    • Traits: Optimism, goodwill, and loyalty
    • Examples: Folger’s, Dove Soap, Real Simple Magazine, Coca Cola
  • The Hero: Hero brands promise to save the day, improve the world, and inspire others to follow their example.
    • The Promise: To make a positive mark on the world and solve problems, or help others to do so.
    • Traits: Courageous, bold, confident, inspirational
    • Examples: Duracell, Tom’s, PETA
  • The Everyman: These brands find common ground with the consumer, tapping into our need for belonging and cultivate real relationships.
    • The Promise: To help others find a place to belong.
    • Connections, functionality,
    • Traits: Supportive, down-to-earth,
    • Examples: Home Depot, Papa John’s, IKEA
  • The Nurturer: Nurturing brands focus on helping people take care of each other and themselves. They offer protection, safety, and support.
    • The Promise: To care for and protect others
    • Traits: Maternal, selfless, generous
    • Examples: Campbell’s Soup, Johnson and Johnson, Hallmark Cards
  • The Creator: These brands want to create something meaningful and lasting. Their ads are experimental, pushing boundaries and shunning mediocrity.
    • The Promise: To unlock your creativity and promote self-expression
    • Traits: Imaginative, inventive, entrepreneurial
    • Examples: Lego, Canon, Crayola
  • The Explorer: Rugged and ambitious, Explorer brands want to help you make new discoveries and experience your best life. Products are new, exciting, and often non-conformist.
    • The Promise: To bring freedom and adventure into your life
    • Traits: Authentic, exciting, adventurous, and independent
    • Examples: Indiana Jones, Go Pro, REI
  • The Lover: We all want a little romance in our lives. Lover brands promise intimacy and affection by improving the customer in some way.
    • The Promise: You will be more physically or emotionally attractive or desirable through use of their products
    • Traits: Passionate, sensual, romantic, and idealistic
    • Examples: Victoria’s Secret, Godiva Chocolates, Cosmopolitan Magazine
  • The Visionary: Visionary brands seek to change lives (and the world) with their unique, cutting-edge, and proprietary products or services.
    • The Promise: To make dreams come true.
    • Traits: Imaginative, charismatic, and idealistic
    • Examples: Disney, Apple
  • The King: These brands are usually in the luxury market – companies usually appeal to dominant and authoritative customers who want only “the best.”
    • The Promise: Power and control
    • Traits: Authority, organization, focus, integrity
    • Examples: Mercedes-Benz, Rolex
  • The Entertainer: The name says it all. You only live once and these companies want to help you enjoy every minute.
    • The Promise: To bring joy, to help people have a good time
    • Traits: Irreverence, humor, adventure
    • Examples: The Muppets, Ben & Jerry’s, Skittles, Old Spice
  • The Sage: The Sage, or Expert, appreciates truth and wisdom. Knowledge and growth go hand in hand and these brands love to pass their information on to others.
    • The Promise: To keep you informed
    • Traits: Knowledgeable, analytical, measured
    • Examples: CNN, NPR, Google

 

So where do you fit? When you see or hear an ad or product, see if you can figure out their archetype. Study examples of brands that fit well into archetypes. Ask yourself:

Which brands and archetypes do you identify with most?

When you think of your customers, how do you want them to think and feel about your company? Which archetype fits your expectations?

What changes can you make to further develop your brand archetype?

 

3 Ways To Improve Your SEO To Generate More Leads

It doesn’t matter if you’re the best real estate agent in the city, if you don’t have leads, you won’t make any money. Finding new clients can be frustrating, but we have a few ideas that may help when it comes to creating a website with a high SEO.

It requires a little patience, but in the long run, optimizing your site will generate more traffic and more leads. In brief, optimizing your site is a little like setting up guideposts for search engines like Google. When someone searches for something like “Real Estate Agent”, the search engine looks at a couple of different factors to determine what pages show up first in your results. These factors include age of site, number of pages, unique information, frequency of updates, and, of course, the words on the page, among others. This is why you’ll often see Zillow and Trulia at the top of results – they’ve easily got most agents beat on age of site and number of pages.

How can you optimize your site for a higher ranking?

Content

The actual words on your site are, of course, a big deal for search engines. Most important, you want to make sure that the words you’re using on your site are words that potential clients will be searching for. For example, your designations are important, but are buyers and sellers going to know and search for industry terms like ALHS, e-PRO, and GRI? Keep this information, but check your site for “search terms” like “homes for sale in Stone Oak” or “Cypress real estate agent.”

If you’re comfortable with the back-end of your site, you can also add helpful terms to your images, page title, and more. For example, when you post a picture of a home, the photo title may be a string of numbers or even “123-main-street.” By changing these titles to something like “home-for-sale-77494”, you’re giving search engines one more clue that your page is relevant to the search.

Frequent Updates

Next, you can make more frequent updates, through a blog, for example. By posting regularly (even once a month), you’re showing sites like Google that your webpage is active and current. If you set up your site a year ago and haven’t changed it since, search engines aren’t going to want to show your page to visitors. It’s also a good idea to check your site every couple of months and update outdated information.

Unique Information

Having unique information on your site is very important. For example, a certain real estate brokerage recently rolled out a brand new website service for all of their agents. Included on these sites are 5 sample pages and 4 sample blog posts. All of these pages have exactly the same content. When a search engine scours the web for relevant information, it will find thousands of pages that are identical (except for contact information and agent names). Search engines don’t know what to do with thousands of pages that look exactly the same and will feature them much lower in results than pages that have original content. If this sounds like your website, the best thing you can do is rewrite the pre-fabricated content you were given to reflect you personally and professionally. This will benefit your SEO, but you’ll also be creating information that your clients can use.

 

Be Patient

It takes about 60 to 90 days to see results from SEO improvements, and may take as much as 6 to 12 months for newer websites. Improving your SEO is a long-term project with big results, so keep making updates, posting original content and checking your site for search terms, even if you aren’t seeing immediate changes. In the long run, you’ll be building a site that search engines want to feature and, of course, that offers great information to prospective clients.

 

Top Qualities of the Most-Referred Agents

In the world of real estate, referrals are crucial. Most people tend to turn first to their network of family and friends when they’re choosing a professional to work with. The opinion of someone a potential client can trust carries a lot of weight. The best way to earn referrals is to develop strong working relationships – and sometimes even friendships – with your clientele. So how do the most-referred agents do it?

Anna Johansson of Inman.com writes that the top skills are:

Genuine Care

Johansson writes “There’s no artificial substitute when it comes to caring about your customers.” People can sense insincerity a mile away. When you have a true commitment to your clients’ happiness, it shows in the work you do and the service you provide.

An In-Person Connection

There’s a lot that you can automate and handle virtually, but having a face to face connection with a client is important as you build a relationship. Part of this is because emails and text messages cannot convey tone of voice and the natural warmth of your personality. Skip the text every once in a while and take the time to have a real conversation.

Accommodation

Each client has different needs. Some will require your full attention and some will want a hands-off approach. Some will need to see every listing in the MLS, and some will make up their minds right away. Your attitude toward their preferences will make a huge difference. As Johannson writes, “Your job is to empower your clients. If you do so, they’ll want to spread the word about it.”

Follow Up

You hear this advice often enough, but here it is again – don’t let them forget about you! There are many ways to stay connected in your clients’ lives, from remembering birthdays and anniversaries, to throwing a housewarming party, or sending a personal note to remind them to file for their homestead exemption.

Openness

Now more than ever, consumers want and expect transparency. Let them see the real you and help them understand the ins and outs of the home buying or selling process. They’ll appreciate honesty so much more than a sugarcoated picture. Openness translates easily into trustworthiness.

 

Marketing Your Business In April

How is your marketing plan shaping up this year? Here are some ideas to focus on for the month of April.

Get Ready for Upcoming Holidays and Events

As we head closer to summer, there are some obvious holidays to pay attention to like Mother’s Day (May 14) and Father’s Day (June 18). We also can anticipate the end of the school year, Armed Forces Day (May 20), Cinco de Mayo (May 5), Memorial Day (May 29), and even a slew of summer weddings (growing families may mean a change in housing). If you want to have a little more fun, find a way to focus on Star Wars Day (May 4), Teacher’s Day (May 6) or National Gardening Week (the first week of June).

Social Media Focus: Family and Children

With the school year coming to a close, families planning vacations, looking for summer camps, and more, family activities are on the brain for many people. Highlights family-friendly events in and around town, day trip ideas, etc. Your audience will begin to see you as a resource for their family needs.

Social Media Challenge: Social Media Takeover

Try offering a social media takeover for your Facebook or Instagram feed to increase visibility and relationships. A takeover usually involves a day of access to your platform. Allow a representative of the group you’re trying to connect with to post to your social media for a day. The swim team can post pics from a race, a PTA Association can highlight what they’re doing for the community. They get to promote their group. You build relationships and show your followers that you’re involved in the community. Everyone wins!

5 Apps You Need To Create Images On The Go

In the image-based world of real estate, having a visually strong and engaging presence is crucial. Before you hire a graphic designer, consider the following apps, which allow you to create images on the go:

Canva

Canva, available on at Canva.com and via the App Store is an impressive, and impressively easy, tool. You don’t need fancy skills to create fantastic branded images. Canva has pre-designed, pre-sized graphics and templates for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more. You can choose a layout, use your own images, supplement with Canvas tools, and more, all for free.

Over

Over is an app available for Android and iPhone, and it allows you to turn your mobile device into a pretty decent design studio. It’s best for photo-editing, with easy ways to add text, choose a background, change fonts, and share directly to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

PiktoChart

You may need to be a little more patient in using PiktoChart. The program makes it relatively to create infographics, but it’s also useful for images, reports, presentations, and more. You can work with a template or create an original design.

Snapseed

With Snapseed, there are no more excuses for not presenting professional-grade photos of your listings. Snapseed can, in most cases, edit your photos to perfection with a little bit of practice.

Skitch

If you’re a fan of the Evernote app, you’ll love Skitch, a web-based application for photo editing. The program is perfect for marking up photos, making notes, or pointing out locations on maps. It’s a simple tool, and excellent for collaboration with clients.

 

So what are we missing? What are your favorite apps for creating and editing images? We’d love to hear!

Avoid These Mistakes When Writing A Business Plan

Frontier Title Texas | Real Estate Advice

Whether you’ve got a great idea for your business venture or you’re following in the footsteps of a mentor or competitor you admire, it’s important to create a business plan. A business plan is a summary of everything you plan and hope to achieve – and how you are going to achieve it.

There are many ways to create your business plan, but here are the mistakes you need to avoid:

1. Putting It Off

When you’re starting your business, things are busy. You have a lot to do in a short period of time to start generating income. And while a few lucky entrepreneurs will have a natural knack for business, we all need a road map. You’ll be more confident in your business and more prepared as you move forward if you create a plan.

2. Not Having A Purpose Behind Your Plan

There are different kinds of business plans, and the plan you write should have a purpose in mind. Obviously, it’s a picture of your business on paper, but who is it for? Is it a blueprint for you and your employees? Is it a plea to a potential lender for a business loan? Are you trying to attract investors? You should have these goals in mind and they should affect the way you write.

3. Not Understanding Your Own Business Model

Planning to go into business is not a business model. A business model is a plan for creating revenue and income beyond your expenses. Even if you have been in the industry for a while, putting your expenses, plan for revenue, and actual revenue down on paper will help you understand how your business is working. You’ll be able to see and track your progress (and missteps) and better prepare for the future.

4. Not Being Willing To Change

You may have a great idea for your business methods – an idea you’re convinced will work. It can be difficult to part with a novel idea. Having the flexibility (and humility) to move on when your plan doesn’t prove successful is an important skill. By all means, ambition and ingenuity are crucial for business survival, but so is knowing when it’s time to close a door on an idea.

5. Setting and Forgetting

If you take the time to write a well-thought-out business plan, then never look at it again, you’ve wasted time, energy, and the business itself. A business plan is a plan for success – don’t ignore it. As you move through the other stages of your business, you’ll want to edit, add, and revise your plan to make sure you stay on a path to success.

How To Create A Solid Social Media Strategy

Frontier Title Texas | Real Estate Advice

With social media being so available, so affordable, so omnipresent in our society, it makes sense that most businesses and entrepreneurs – not to mention consumers – are turning to social media. So you need a social media marketing plan? It’s hard enough to form a solid plan, let alone build one from scratch.

What is a social media marketing plan?

A social media marketing plan is a road map of everything you plan (and hope) to accomplish for your business by using social media as a platform. Your plan should include where you are today, where you want to be, and how you hope to get there. Be both specific and reasonable with your goals. Additionally, your social media marketing plan is a piece of the bigger puzzle – your entire marketing plan.

Objectives and Goals

First, determine why you want to use social media and what using it will achieve. Do you want to strengthen exposure for your business? Are you looking to attract more followers? Do you want to generate leads? Your goals should align with your broader marketing strategy. Wanting more likes or retweets is one thing, but let yourself go beyond these simple answers and strive for more leads, referrals, and client conversions.

Goals should follow the SMART framework. Meaning, all objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Conduct an Audit

An audit will give you a good idea of where you are right now. Ask yourself these questions to start:

  • How many social media platforms am I using?
  • Are my usernames/profile information/photos relatively consistent?
  • How many followers do I have on each platform?
  • What is my mission for each social media platform? (Example: We use Instagram to show followers a more personal side of our business.”
  • Who is my target audience for each platform? Are my current posts relevant for that demographic?

Determine the purpose and function of each social profile you’re using. If you can’t determine the purpose, it’s probably time to delete the profile.

Improve Your Existing Profiles

After your audit is complete, you’ll have a good idea of what’s working and what needs improvement. Choose which networks meet your objectives and focus on these. Build them up or improve them from where they are, keeping your audience and your broader marketing plan in mind.

Find Inspiration

If you’re feeling a little stuck on how to start and what kind of information to share, look around at what others in your industry are doing. Chances are, there’s a pattern that you can follow to increase your engagement and interest. Of course, you still want to differentiate your brand and your services, but use your competitors and industry leaders as a source of inspiration. How often are they sharing? What is their response style?

Create A Plan

A strong plan includes a content schedule, visual strategy, and a plan for evaluation. Determine what types of content you will post, how often you’ll post, and how you’ll promote the content. Decide on a look for your social media, and stick with it to establish a recognizable and trusted presence. As time goes on, pay attention to your social media insights and adjust your plan accordingly.