How to set up a KW Agent Real Estate Blog

Today at our Keller Williams office in Austin we had a “Blogging 101” class that I put together to help agents better understand everything involved with having a real estate blog. According to a National Association of Realtors agent survey, less than 2% of Realtors publish a real estate blog.

I was joined in the presentation by fellow KW agents and bloggers Dee Copeland and Sam Chapman. I wanted other blogger agents involved because we all have slightly different takes on the best way to run a blog, tools to use, do’s and don’ts, etc. It’s better that agents who know nothing at all about blogging hear several points of view about what’s involved. I could confuse them enough myself, but with three of us we achieved an even greater level of confusion!

One of the things we sought to impart to the attendees was the different choices available in setting up and starting a blog. One can start instantly, right now, by signing up at Blogger.com or WordPress.com, but I am of the camp that believes a blog should be integrated into an existing website, not kept at a hosted location or separate from an agent’s main site. The CrosslandTeam.com website is an example of the two being integrated on a common domain with a common theme.

So, if you’re just starting out, I think you should have your own domain name, your own web hosting account, and run a downloaded version WordPress on your website.

By doing so, all of the content and information you create on your blog directly benefits your website because it is your domain name and website that is indexed by all of the search engines. With a hosted blog site, people may find your blog, but you miss out on the seo benefits, which is why you want to write a blog in the first place.

In trying to explain this during the class, I lost a few people, so I promised I would write up a step by step guide to follow for those wanting to own and maintain their own website/blog, and so here it is.

Step 1 – Register your own domain name.
Get out your credit card and visit Godaddy.com. On the home page, there is a box to type in domain names and check availability. You want a website dot.com name that is a) easy to say, b) easy to spell, c) easy to remember, d) short if possible and with no dashes or numbers. Remember, as a Realtor, you’re telling your email and website address to people on the phone a lot, and you don’t want to be spelling it out and repeating it every time.

If yourname.com meets the above criteria and is available, register it. Don’t think about it, just do it. If your name is hard to spell, or isn’t available, you’ll have to experiment with other names. This article isn’t about how to pick a good domain name, but if you search the topic you’ll find plenty of information about that.

Finally, don’t use Godaddy as your host. Just register the domain name and decline every other option that is offered to you during the registration process. You don’t need any of those things.

Step 2 – Find a Web Hosting provider
Once you have your domain name registered, get out your credit card and visit HostGator.com and sign up for the “Baby” account. This will cost $4.95/mo. if you register for three years, which I would go ahead and do. I use Hostgator for some of my websites and they have been a reliable host. Don’t waste time shopping around for a $3/mo. host, just sign up and be done with it.

If you don’t choose HostGator.com, you want a web hosting provider that offers a user control panel called “cPanel”. CPanel comes pre-loaded with tons of web applications, one of which is WordPress, the blogging platform you want to use. By having your domain hosted on an account that includes cPanel, you have one-click installation of WordPress available to you, though it’s simple to upload and install manually. You can also manage multiple email addresses associated with your domain name, which you will want and need, but we’re not going to get into that right now.

Step 3 – Find a Freelancer to help set up your site
Now that you have a domain name and a hosting account, you just need someone to help you get a website up and running with WordPress. WordPress is capable being not only your blog platform, but your entire website. Most newbie agents won’t have the ability to do this, but help is very easy to find. Whenever I need website or graphic design work done that I don’t have time for, or can’t figure out myself, I go to RentaCoder.com and post my project.

Once you do so, you’ll receive bids from coders looking for work. I have had projects completed by coders in Pakistan, the UK, Canada, US and, just a few days ago, the Philippines.

To get a WordPress site up and running should cost you no more than $300 with a rentacoder.com coder, maybe less if you find a free wordpress theme to choose from. Then all you need help with is getting the site set up and running, and getting your page and menu structure set up, and any other specific design aspects that you want to include, such as a logo.

Once it’s all done, even a non-techie can manage and update a WordPress site.

If you have Wolfnet MLS Finder IDX (all KW agents have it), there is a free wordpress plugin that will display the listings on your wordpress site. Just point your coder to it and let them know you want it added also.

Step 4 – Create your static content
Before your site goes live, you’ll want to have your static pages written. These are the non-blog pages that mainly stay the same except for occassional updates. You can do that while you have a coder working on the layout for you. All you need with regard to static pages is:
Home | About Us | About (Your City) | Search Homes | Blog | Contact Us.

You can add more pages later, but for starters the above is really all you need.

OK, I tried to keep this brief, but it went longer than I wanted. To summarize:
1) Register a Domain Name
2) Sign up for a Hosting account.
3) Hire someone to get your site up and running
4) Write your website content.

Once completed, you have your own real estate website with your own domain, email accounts that you control, and you’re ready to write your first blog article. Email or call me if you have any questions. Keep it simple, don’t overthink it.

Posted by Steve
8 years ago
Steve

Steve is a Real Estate Blogger, Husband and Dad, UT Austin Grad, Runner, Real Estate Broker and owner of Crossland Team and Crossland Real Estate in Austin TX.

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Mary Pope-Handy - 8 years ago

Hi Sylvia,

This is great advice! I’ve been blogging for almost 2 years (about 14 months with any seriousness) and have a fair amount of experience with blogging since I was immersed in the Project Blogger competition last year, but you had a great tip in your post that was new to me. I had not heard of RentACoder.com and will check it out! WordPress is great if you are a tech head but horrible otherwise and your solution is ideal. (I have blogs on a number of different platforms but only one on wordpress because it is such a bear!)

Thanks for the tip….

Mary Pope-Handy
Silicon Valley
(just moved over to a KW office in December)

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arz - 8 years ago

Mary Pope-Handy,

Here’s another tip for you:

The images on your website are too big. They look like the right size but their actually file size are all over 700kb. That will make your entire site loading slower even with broadband connections because the client computers literally have to resize it to the desirable size on the browser.

Google Windows XP powertoys will lead you to Microsoft’s website. One of the powertoys is a image resizer. It’s developed by some programmers at Microsoft just for fun. You can download and install it for free and it works very easily. Just select all the images you want to upload, right click them at once (or one-by-one), then select “Resize Pictures” in the manu. You can shrink those pictures down to any size you want in no time. I found this utility to be the easiest way to resize pictures on the fly without having to start any large image programs like photoshop or such.

enjoy.

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Mary Pope-Handy - 8 years ago

Hi Arz,

Thanks for the tip. I do have a resizer already. What size should I aim for with my photos?

Thanks much!

Mary

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arz - 8 years ago

well, one example, the palm tree image on Aloha blog is well over 700kb. but the actual size you put there is merely 150 px x 200 px. Use resizer to shrink it down to 150 x 200 you will see it drop to something like 5kb or less.

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Jim - 8 years ago

Due to the extremely low requirements needed to enter the real estate business, most agents are too stupid to even write a decent, well thought out blog. The whole SEO, domain name, etc… is a total mystery to them.

It’s very good in a way. Maybe the internet and blogging will finally be that barrier which forces all the part-time soccer moms and other slackers out of this business. It’s getting tougher and tougher to make a good income as a realtor without understanding internet lead generation, so those bad agents will finally be weeded out.

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ARZ - 8 years ago

Ah, not so fast. I bet you will find that an agent/broker’s performance has nothing to do with his/her’s blogging efforts.

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Mary Pope-Handy - 8 years ago

I agree with ARZ. There are a lot of great agents too busy with high production to worry about blogging. Blogging is just one more avenue for getting people to “know, like and trust” you. It is certainly not the only one.

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Steve - 8 years ago

The reasons for blogging are as follows:

An agent today must have a web presence. That is, a website that can be found and that has content is worth finding. The best way to help a website be found, aside from expensive pay per click campaigns, is to have a lot of real estate industry related content. I know of no better form of content, from an seo perspective, than blog content. Search engines like blogs in particular because of the freshness of the content. A static 5 page website, or a template site full of duplicate content doesn’t cut it anymore.

So while it is true that not every agent needs or should have a blog, it should be given serious consideration before eliminating it as an option. There are successful agents with lousy websites, but they have strong efforts in other areas of advertising, networking or prospecting to compensate for lack of a web presence.

Steve

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Jim - 8 years ago

You misunderstood what I said. An established agent can be successful without a blog, but it’s extremely unlikely nowadays for a brand new agent to succeed without a strong internet presence.

Everyone these days knows someone who’s a part time “agent” willing to give a cut of commission back to get that one deal a year done. It’s very tough to make it without quality referrals and a big sphere of influence. A website/blog can supply those leads in large #’s.

On the other hand, even agents in the top 10 for “austin real estate” aren’t doing so great (Based on sales data from MLS) so it’s not the only thing required for success.

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Dee Copeland - 8 years ago

I googled rent-a-corder and got some hits that it’s not as good as Elance.com, which is often what I use if I can’t find a local person to do the work. http://crowdsourcing.typepad.com/cs/2006/05/rent_a_coder.html

Regardless of which service I choose, I prefer to stick with someone in Austin. If not Austin, then Texas. If not Texas, then the U.S so I can support our economy. Keller Williams International and Apple (my previous job when I was in corporate) often has employees who moonlight for less than the full-time prices, so I go with them.

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Steve - 8 years ago

> I googled rent-a-corder and got some hits that it’s not as good as Elance.com

I’ve actually had better luck with rentacoder, but both can be hit or miss. What I’ve learned is to only work with coders who have at least 10 completed projects doing similar work, and a high rating. Also, I’ve learned to not accept the lowest bid unless I think it’s also the best coder for the job.

I do look local first though. Just posted a Craigslist ad yesterday to do some WordPress work. That’s been a pretty spotty venue to find good freelancers though, and I don’t think newbies should go there unless they know exactly what they want and about what it should cost. I give it first shot just to give locals first chance, but most replies are from out of state or out of country coders, and if I’m going to go that route, I prefer to have the built-in protections of the rent-a-coder escrow and job tracking system.

Steve

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William Tingle - 5 years ago

There can be many benefits of using a blogger or wordpress account to deliver your blog, it can put across the same message as any other domain and the best part is it is hassle free.

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