I got this email the other day, and with the authors permission, I thought other agents looking to start a blog might find my responses helpful.
I am an agent with Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles and I attended your bloginar in July. I have really been researching (reading The Corporate Blog Book by Debbie Weil, searching out other blogs, and reading your archived posts on the subject) since then and I am extremely interested in getting the ball rolling on my blog.
I have a few questions I hope you can help me with.
1. BRANDING: I already have a website (RobinForman.com). As I understand it, I establish a blog under a separate URL and then I can link it to my website (I see Jim Duncan does this). Is there an issue with having to give people 2 separate URL’s? Should I put both on my business card? Or is it better to just give everyone the RobinForman.com URL and have them access the blog through the website.
This one is personal… I realized early on in creating Rain City Guide that I didn’t want this blog to be all about Anna. (I started this blog to promote my wife’s real estate business). So I choose a name that represented the area that she was doing business. It is so much easier to draw people to raincityguide.com than www.annaluther.com.
2. HOST: I see you had a hacking problem with WordPress. Are you still recommending them?
I’m definitely still recommending WordPress… As I stated elsewhere, WordPress wasn’t really hacked, but rather I made the mistake of leaving one file open to be overwriten by the server. If you are planning to start your own blog but don’t have the technical knowledge to manage the files and upgrades, I’d highly recommend going with WordPress.com (or, better yet, if you’re a Top Producer client, go with their hosted version of WordPress). With the WordPress.com option, they will even let you host the blog under your own domain for a nominal fee.
3. TARGET AUDIENCE: I notice on your blog you and your contributors publish stories/info that might appeal to buyers and sellers as well as trade issues that appeal to Realtors. I assume you recommend publishing for both target audiences at the same time.
I’d flip the logic on you… Instead of focusing on an audience, think of building a community. At that point, the question because where is the community you want to enter.
The problem with focusing exclusively on buyers and sellers is that it is a transitional community. Even if they enter your community for a short-while by leaving comments, they are likely to move on to other topics before long. If you want a sustainable community, making friends with other real estate professionals is key!
4. LINKAGE: Although outgoing links are important it seems that the incoming links are the most productive. Am I correct that I should concentrate on linking to other blogs that are likely to link back to me?
Don’t worry too much about inbound links… As you note, they are extremely valuable, but the highest quality links come when you least expect it. Focus on being interesting and the links will come.