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Into the Mainstream

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BloggingSystems takes the lead in real estate's consumer- and business-centric blogging business

By Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, April 5, 2007-Blogging, simply defined, is the writing of entries or a collection of conversations online. But really, it's so much more. It's a community meeting place…or a spot to bounce ideas and thoughts off of your peers…or just a place to talk. There are so many uses for a blog in the real estate space, specifically-many of which have come from the mind of BloggingSystems Founder and CEO Richard Nacht.

Here, three of the BloggingSystems' faithful describe how they each use the company's offerings differently and how it is-or will be-making a difference in their businesses and lives.

A Business Bolster

When Ralph Roberts started out with BloggingSystems several years ago, he was one of the company's first customers. Originally, he had already created his own free blogging site, but after looking at the community blog site the company had created for another one of its clients, Roberts decided to see what BloggingSystems had to offer.

"It was hard for me because I have more of a regional business; you couldn't even find me online," explains Roberts, broker/owner, Ralph Roberts Realty in Warren, Michigan. "The biggest difference maker for me was setting up a community blog with BloggingSystems. Now, if you type in ‘Warren Real Estate,' it's amazing what happens; I'm very high up on the first-page results. Before, we'd hire people for SEO (search engine optimization) and nothing would happen. With the creation of my blogs, BloggingSystems has made me stand out in a crowd."

Today, Roberts' business is flourishing with his blogging site,
The Macomb County Voice (http://macombcountyvoice.com)- essentially, an online newspaper for Macomb County, Michigan. There, he only publishes the area's positive news-"No bank robberies, pedo-philes or car crashes."

What's more, through education from BloggingSystems, Roberts has added community organizations, school information, children's activities, area commerce and more.

"BloggingSystems has shown me the power of community and links," says Roberts. "They've taught me that if you add original content to a blog on a steady pace, you'll get visitors. They've shown me how to discuss my strong points and expertise and, in turn, bring in other experts who can talk about what they do. It's a win-win for both sides."

That said, Roberts admits that the real estate community has not embraced blogging thus far as much as he believes it should. Brokers, offices, agents, teams that embrace blogging as a vehicle will gain the most from it, he says. Unfortunately, however, he says that most people start a blog, but then quit because they don't want to put the time into it.

"The most powerful marketing vehicle is communication," says Roberts. "At a minimum, they need to at least get involved. It's been great for me; I've had nothing but tremendous success."

A Brand New Blogger

Ken Baris has been looking at blogs for some time. He's done the research, and understands how blogs relate to sales and getting listings and clients. Yet, despite his intricate understanding of blogging technology, he has held off on starting a blog-until now.

"I've done a very extensive search on blogging opportunities-whether real estate specific or not-and what I've basically come to is that BloggingSystems' approach for me and my way of thinking is best because they understand the objective, which is to garner clients," explains Baris, president of Jordan Baris, Realtors in West Orange, New Jersey. "There are a lot of great-looking blogs, but they don't meet the Realtor's goals.

"Blogs take effort, but still as little time as possible," he continues. "I wouldn't want a blog where anyone's comments automatically go up for everyone to read, but I don't want to have to review everything. Richard [Nacht] understands that, so the company will review the posts for me."

Baris says he appreciates Nacht's efforts to bring blogging to the mainstream, adding that he and his company "have been educating the real estate industry about blogging with a lot of hard work.
"It's really interesting that a lot of companies just don't get it," says Baris. "Even those that are real estate-specific don't understand blogging in our industry like BloggingSystems."

According to Baris, blogging's new boost is similar to the start of the Internet. "Everyone's trying to get their arms around it and figure it out," he says. "Richard's company has come in and helped people now figure out how to create community blogs, what to write about, and, ultimately, get leads."

The Business-to-Business Beat

RealBlogging.com was borne out of a need for industry leaders, authors and speakers to blog, but without the obligation of writing everyday, according to Stefan Swanepoel, trends expert and author of the 2007 Swanepoel TRENDS Report.

However, this site, compared with those of Roberts and Baris, is for the real estate professional-not the consumer.

"All experts understand how important blogs are, but don't have the time to do it," explains Swanepoel. "Blogs are time-consuming. So, we thought, why don't we create a neutral site where we all can post an entry two to three times a month? BloggingSystems helped us create the exact environment we were looking for."

It's that flair for understanding the real estate industry that has BloggingSystems leading the way, says Swanepoel. "A concept is only new until some company finds it and challenges it," he explains. "BloggingSystems really championed blogging as a cause and a means to communicate with consumers. Before them, nobody was at the Realtor conventions, for example. Blogging was almost unknown to this industry. Richard and his group were the first people to really bring blogging to the industry's attention. They came out and said, ‘We can give you a turnkey solution; here's how'."

In fact, according to Swanepoel's latest offering, the 2007 Swanepoel TRENDS Report, BloggingSystems was one of the report's Top 10 Trendsetters for 2006.

What's more, according to Swanepoel, all indications are that blogs will definitely pick up speed. However, "there are a very large number of sites that do not have good subject matter," he says. "It's hard to create a good blog, not from a technical point of view, but more from a content standpoint. That's why BloggingSystems has separated itself from the pack. It is specific to our industry, and has the industry's best interests at heart." RE

The Benefits to Blogging

Excerpted from the 2007 Swanepoel TRENDS Report, "The benefits to using blogging as a marketing tool, according to Richard Nacht, CEO of BloggingSystems, include:"

Search engine marketing-Blogs provide an increased presence on major search engines like Google and Yahoo! Some search engines pick up new blog content in as little as five minutes.

Direct communications-Blogs provide a method to speak directly and candidly with customers and prospects.

Brand building-Blogs serve as another branding channel to the customer and allow a company or individual to keep shaping its identity in real-time.

Competitive differentiation-Because blogs offer the opportunity of telling the story over and over, they help to establish differentiation from the competition by building brand awareness and increasing customer loyalty.

Relationship marketing-Blogs provide the opportunity to build personal, long-lasting relationships with customers based on trust.

Exploit the niches-Blogs are very niche-specific. They can be used to penetrate underserved niche markets.

Media and public relations-The media relies on blogs for source material. As a result, journalists call you, not your competition.

Lead generation-Blogs are a personal form of lead generation. They enable the establishment of rapport with readers, which fosters trust. Over time that means contacts from prospects and customers.

Position you as the expert-Blogs enable you to articulate your viewpoints, knowledge and expertise on matters pertaining to your industry, your local community, etc.

Ease of use-Blogs require no technical expertise whatsoever. If you can send an e-mail or use Microsoft Word you can blog.

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