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Editor’s Note: The Industry Influencers series analyzes the industry’s most effective marketing efforts and shares experts’ actionable insights.

For Jeff Nelson, a residential REALTOR® at IXL Real Estate Eastern Shore who has been in the business for over 13 years, blogging is more than a hobby—it’s part of what keeps his business churning. In fact, he says that next year he expects to sell 100 homes without spending any money on marketing.

The Content
Nelson’s blog is colorful and easy to navigate. The landing page has clearly segmented articles laid out as a collage. And for consumers looking to read about a specific topic, a dropdown at the top of the site provides further segmentation for the following categories: Baldwin County, For Buyers, For Sellers, Orange Beach Posts, Condos, Neighborhood Posts, Home Values, Mortgage Updates, Real Estate Updates and Tourism.

The articles themselves are visually captivating, leading with an image and followed by well-spaced text with clearly-defined headers. Current topics range from technology to going from renting to homeownership, and beyond. Articles that are more data-driven often have figures easily broken down by charts and bullet points, making the information more enticing and easier to understand.

Nelson runs seven local real estate websites—six of which are through Placester and one through EasyAgentPro. He is also constantly updating about 12 Facebook business pages. His main site, www.livegulfshoreslocal.com, encompasses about 1,200 pages with nearly 2 million words.

“We live in a digital world, of course, so by creating a strong online presence, you have the potential to be noticed by the most amount of people,” says Nelson. “For instance, compare how many people will see your yard sign for the home for sale in Timbercreek versus how many will see the listing by typing in ‘Homes for Sale in Timbercreek’ into Google (if you’re showing up at the top of page one)?”

Nelson does admit that his marketing is a bit “lopsided.” While he’s now venturing into social media and video, as well, he’s planning to keep the focus on written content.

“Admittedly, I’m a little heavy-handed when it comes to blogging,” says Nelson. “You can call it ‘putting all my eggs in one basket’ or ‘having tunnel vision.’ Whatever the case may be, I realized several years ago that by building a robust website that is constantly updated, I would eventually get the attention of search engines. Today, there are several hundred pages that show up on the first page of Google.”

Reaching More People for Less
Nelson says the success of his marketing efforts are primarily a result of organic searches through Google. Instead of investing money in other forms of marketing, he focuses on growing his digital content.

“All of my marketing is digital and I’m proud to say that besides the occasional Facebook ad to promote a listing, I pay ‘nothing’ for marketing,” he says.

Nelson says the best part of content marketing is that published pages don’t go away.

“You’ll build pages that are pertinent for the moment but also write ‘evergreen’ articles that that will benefit buyers/sellers 25 years from now.”

A Guide to Blog-Cultivated Leads
Nelson advises individuals interested in a similar content-heavy marketing approach to focus on the neighborhoods.

“Add every neighborhood in your market to your site and build out the most popular neighborhood sites with content. Eventually, you will see yourself in position one or two of the search engines,” he says.

In terms of where to publish, he says agents should branch out from the brokerage-provided sites.

“Don’t use the canned website that your brokerage company gives you. Come up with a great domain name, buy it and then purchase your own website that you can totally control,” he says.

He recommends going with Placester, EasyAgentPro or Real Geeks.

“You won’t see overnight success with blogging and building out pages, but if you go about it with faith that it has worked for others, it will work for you eventually,” says Nelson. “Another tip (that changed my life) is to use Canva to bring more interest to your photos. It’s free for the most part and you’ll love it.

“It takes a lot of time to go my route, but the payoff is big and ongoing,” he adds.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

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