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.