How to Take Advantage of Content From Your Your Real Estate Brokerage

If your real estate brokerage has a content marketing strategy (and even better, if they’re implementing a community-focused content marketing strategy!), then that is seriously awesome!

Of course, as you can probably guess, my recommendation is to create your own original content that lives on your own website. But I know that this isn’t in the cards for everyone, and one of the reasons why brokerages create content is so their agents have something share and talk about with their spheres.

If your brokerage is creating engaging, useful content, you need to be sure and take advantage of it. Here are 3 tips for making the most of it:

1. Make your own contributions whenever possible.

Usually when I work on blog posts with a brokerage, we’ll send all of the agents a survey asking questions that help us fill in the answers to each blog post. This is useful because not only are the blog posts then filled with rich local information, but we also directly quote the agents, showing off their local knowledge and linking to the agent websites. (See an example of this here!) It’s a great opportunity for agents to get their name out there, as well as make connections with someone who might read their quote and relate or appreciate the information.

The same is true of any other type of content. If your brokerage films video spotlights on neighborhoods or asks for any other input on content, volunteer when it makes sense! It usually won’t take much effort to pitch in, but you can reap the rewards of being featured in a piece of content your brokerage is putting resources into creating and promoting.

2. Share the content on social media platforms you’re active on.

If your brokerage creates a piece of content that you love (and especially if you’re featured/quoted in it!), be sure to share it with your audience! A lot of the time I heard from real estate agents who aren’t sure what to share on their Facebook business pages, but this is the *perfect* opportunity to show off something special about your community while also sharing something that you contributed to.

When you share the blog post, be sure to add a thoughtful comment before sharing. (Don’t just hit “share” and leave it blank!) People should know WHY this post is relevant and why you’re sharing it. Let’s say you’re sharing a blog post that your brokerage created about the best brunches in town.

Here’s an example of something you could say when you share the post:

“I shared my very favorite brunch spot in this awesome blog post! I loved learning about a few spots I didn’t know about, too. Where do you think the BEST brunch in town is? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!”

Here, you’re teasing the blog post a bit by not revealing exactly what place you recommended; people still have to click to find out. You’re also encouraging people to comment with their opinion, so hopefully you can have some friendly conversation on your Facebook page.

You can also easily share Instagram posts, too—download the Repost app on your phone to make it easy. Just remember that the only clickable place on Instagram is in your Instagram bio, so be sure to include a link to the blog post you’re promoting in your bio. You can also share the Instagram post in your stories!

3. Include links to the content in your newsletters.

It can be hard to come up with content for your newsletter if you don’t blog on your own, but content from your brokerage is great to highlight in your newsletter. Include a few words about why people might find the blog post special, and be sure to mention that your tips are included in the post.

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A fantastic example of a real estate brokerage that consistently creates and puts out high-quality community-focused content is Windermere Professional Partners in Pierce County, WA. Full transparency here: I happen to write for these wonderful folks, so I may be a bit biased, but I think you’ll find their website and the dynamic content that fills it to be endlessly inspiring. They create SO MUCH rich, informative, local, and useful content that shows off their community and their agents’ expert knowledge. Take some time to explore their website to see what it’s all about!

If you would like to learn more about community-focused marketing, I created an e-course all about it with Marguerite Martin, real estate agent and creator of MovetoTacoma.com.

Click here to learn more about Mastering the Art of Community Marketing!


Alyssa W. Christensen is the owner and managing editor of Home Scribe Creative. If you have any questions, she’s happy to chat! Get in touch with Alyssa here.


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7 Ways to Get Photos for Your Real Estate Blog

In my experience, one of the most challenging parts of putting together a blog post for my real estate clients is finding photos to use.

When you publish a blog post, you’ll always want at least a featured image. Most website layouts have the featured image representing the blog post in various formats, and it usually displays prominently within the blog post itself as well. This is also the image that Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms will “grab” and feature when you share the link to your blog post.

It’s important that your blog post’s featured image is:

  • Eye-catching

  • Related to the content of your blog post

  • Non-offensive

  • Legal for you to use

There’s a lot to be said about finding the right photo(s) to use with your blog post, but here, I’m going to delve into a few great places to find featured images for your blog posts.

1. Take your own original photos.

This one is the most obvious, so I’m going to get this one out of the way first! Using your own unique photos is always the BEST choice if you have this option available to you. If you have a phone that takes decent photos (even an iPhone can do wonders—see examples of photos taken with the iPhone 6 here!), use it to your advantage. If you have your own DSLR, even better!

Whether you plan to blog about your local community or home inspections, you’ll want to get in the habit of snapping a few photos whenever the right moment presents itself. Getting breakfast at your favorite restaurant? Take a few photos of your meal, a photo of the outside of the building, and a fun selfie of you with a cup of coffee. When you go to blog about your favorite breakfast spots, you’ll be so glad you have these photos stored and ready to go!

2. Hire a professional photographer.

Getting high-quality, original photos can really take the overall quality of your website and blog up a few notches. One great way to do this is to plan ahead. Let’s say you’re working on a 12-month content strategy with 5 blog posts per month. Typically what I’ll do for my clients who have their own photographers is I’ll make an outline of all 5 blog posts for the upcoming month, make a list of key components of each blog post, and give that list to a photographer. The photographer can spend a few hours (or even a day, depending how long your list is!) taking photos of everything on the list. Voilà! You have all of the photos you need for the next month of content.

3. Use searchable libraries with free high-res photos.

A few of my favorite photo resources include Unsplash, PicJumbo, and Pexels. (There are SO many out there now—a Google search for “free stock photos” will have you swimming in results!) Many of these libraries explicitly state on their websites that their photos are FREE and available for any type of use. You are encouraged to give the photographer credit, but you’re definitely not required to.

(Tip: Some of these websites have become so popular that you’ll see the same stock image over and over again in various marketing campaigns. Try to choose a photo that you might not have seen before!)

4. Buy stock images.

While there are a lot of free stock images out there, you might not be able to find quite the image you’re looking for. Or maybe you’ve found the perfect picture that’s free, but you’ve seen it used too many times already. This might be a could time to invest in some paid stock photography.

If you already visited PicJumbo, then you may have noticed that while they have many photos available for free, they also offer a paid version. This will give you access to even more photos to choose from. A few other examples of paid services include Shutterstock, Adobe Stock,

5. Embed photos from Flickr.

HomeScribeCreative_How to Get Photos for Your Real Estate Blog .png

If you’re searching for something more local or you can’t find what you need on one of the larger sites, Flickr is another great option. However, you should be a bit more careful with Flickr, since each photo has a different license setting when you initially search for something.

In the image to the left here, I’ve searched for “Seattle” and several results have popped up. Now, you’ll want to click on the little arrow to the right of “Any license” to select the type of license you’d like to search by, depending what your needs are.

Once you click on a photo, you’ll want to make sure you’re clear on the terms of use. Below, you’ll see I’ve circled “Some rights reserved.” Click on this to see all of the details regarding use. You might only need to provide attribution when you repost, or you might not need to do anything at all when you repost.

I’ve also circled a little arrow on the right. Click this to find the “embed” option. This makes it easy to embed the photo in your blog post, and doing so will automatically grab attribution information and make it obvious where the photo came from (Flickr!).

6. Embed Instagram posts.

Including Instagram posts within your blog post is a great way to show a true local perspective. You can easily do this by embedding an Instagram post from public accounts. Find the photos you’re looking for by searching for a relevant location, hashtag, or by finding the particular business/org/person/etc. on Instagram.

Embedding an Instagram photo in your blog post is easy to do: in the screenshot on the left, you’ll see 3 dots in the righthand corner. Click on this, and you’ll be presented with a few options in a white pop-up. Select “Embed” to copy the code and embed the Instagram post directly in your blog post.

The downside of this is that the person or account with the photo you’re featuring may one day make their account private, or delete the photo or the account. This will leave you with a blank photo in your blog post. It’s worth it to go through some of your more evergreen blog posts once a year or so and make any necessary updates (like replacing deleted photos!).

7. Embed Facebook photos.

Embedding Facebook photos in your blog post is the same concept as embedding Instagram photos.

To keep things looking more uniform in your blog post, you might choose to use only Facebook photos or only Instagram photos. However, it can be helpful to mix it up if, for example, you can’t find photos on Instagram of a business that you want to feature. If that’s the case, you might try looking on Facebook and find that they have more of a presence there.

To embed a Facebook photo, click on the photo you’d want to use, and in the bottom righthand corner of the photo you’ll see “Options.” Click on this, and you’ll be presented with a pop-up. Select “embed” to get the embed code for the photo.

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Important Note: Just because a photo is on the internet does not make it free and available for you to use on your blog. Do not do a Google search and just grab images you find!

Luckily, free photo websites have expanded greatly in recent years, meaning there are plenty of legal options for you out there. If you DO accidentally use a photo that you don’t have permission to use and someone calls you out on it, just apologize, give the photographer a compliment, and take down the image immediately.


Alyssa W. Christensen is the owner and managing editor of Home Scribe Creative. If you have any questions, she’s happy to chat! Get in touch with Alyssa here.


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11 Ways to Get the Most Mileage Out of Your Blog Posts

If you've ever put together and published a blog post, then you know how much work can go into it. There's the planning and research, the rough draft and editing, finding/taking/editing photos, the formatting, and finally, the publishing and distribution. (Whew!) 

A blog post takes resources and time to create, and it's truly an investment in your business. And the awesome thing is that depending on the type of post, a blog post can "work" for you for YEARS to come. 

But this is only if you truly make the most of a blog post. Below, you’ll find 11 ways to get the most mileage out of that initial investment. Don't let your blog posts go to waste! 

1. Take advantage of social media.

Each time you publish a blog post, you should be sharing it on all of your social media accounts, including platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Create a "publishing" check list, and in addition to including things like proofreading and double-checking that links work, include the social platforms you need to share your post on.

 This is one example of a graphic that was posted to Instagram to promote a blog post.  Click here to see more examples!

This is one example of a graphic that was posted to Instagram to promote a blog post. Click here to see more examples!

2. Create graphics to represent the blog post and share on Instagram (and maybe Pinterest).

After reading #1, you might be wondering how you're supposed to share a blog post on Instagram and Pinterest. Create a simple graphic that represents the blog post to share—something that will get people curious and encourage them to want to read more. Canva and PicMonkey are both free services that offer simple design tools. 

3. Install “share” buttons.

If your website platform allows for it, give your readers a way to easily “share” your blog posts right from the posts themselves. “Share” buttons at the top and bottom of the page are popular ways to do this, and they allow readers to post directly to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and more.

4. Include links to your blog posts in email newsletters.

If you aren't sending out newsletters, you should be! (And not the ones with canned content from your brokerage!) My favorite email service is MailChimp, but there are lots of options out there. I recommend sending out a newsletter at least once a month. Your newsletter can highlight a few pieces of content you published since the last time you sent a newsletter. 

5. Reference older blog posts in your new posts.

Linking back to old blog posts to give context and additional information is a great way to avoid having to rehash information you’ve already shared. It also keeps people reading and exploring your website.

6. Re-share your old content.

Some blog posts are only meant to be relevant for a short amount of time, while others will be valuable for years to come. For these “evergreen” posts, be sure to share them again, although not right away—wait a few months, or even a year. If they still contain useful content, you’ll want to be sure people have another chance to view them.

7. Update old posts with new information.

Sometimes all a blog post needs is a little refresh. Don’t delete a post and start over—take advantage of any SEO traction a blog post may already have and simply update it to include new, relevant information.

8. Make sure your blog is SEO friendly.

There are all kinds of SEO (search engine optimization) tools and strategies out there, but focusing on creating rich content that incorporates a few keywords and phrases is a solid place to start!

For example, if you're writing a post on the best happy hours in your neighborhood, you'll definitely want to include the name of the city and neighborhood in your post (and definitely in the title), as well as phrases people might search for. Think about what you would Google if you were looking for a great happy hour—probably something specific like "the best happy hours in Seattle" or "happy hours in Capitol Hill."

9. Include a call to action.

After someone is done reading your blog post, what are they supposed to do next? A call to action can be many things—maybe you prompt someone to contact you, or maybe you share other relevant blog posts they may like to keep them on your site exploring. Whatever you do, don’t leave a reader hanging!

10. Notify anyone who is featured in the blog post that they've been included.

Whether you've put together a holiday gift guide, a post that features quotes from locals, or a list of top cafes in your town, you'll want to be sure and notify each person and/or business that they've been featured in the post. This could mean tagging them in the original Facebook post, sending them a personal email letting them know, tweeting the article and tagging them on Twitter, etc.

Not only will they probably be excited to be featured, but they might even share your post with their audiences, getting your post even more exposure! 

11. Share the post in a thoughtful way with people who might be interested. 

Taking the time to personally reach out to someone who might especially love your blog post is a great way to spread the word. Here are several ideas:

  • Comment on your own Facebook post and tag people who might be interested. For example, maybe your blog post is about new restaurants in Columbia City, and you just helped your clients buy a house there. Tag them in the comments and say they might be interested.

  • Share your blog post on Facebook with the person who inspired it, and thank them for letting you borrow their idea. 

  • If something comes up in conversation and your blog post has *exactly* the info that person needs, this is the perfect opportunity to share your post. (Acquaintance: "Do you know of any good brunch places in Fremont?" You: "Yes! Actually I wrote a blog post about my favorite Fremont brunch places. I'm going to send it to you right now!")


Alyssa W. Christensen is the owner and managing editor of Home Scribe Creative. If you have any questions, she’s happy to chat! Get in touch with Alyssa here.


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Genuine Hustle 2016: A Gathering of Community-Minded Agents

On November 10, 2016, Marguerite Giguere and Anne Jones hosted Genuine Hustle, a "gathering of community-minded agents" in Tacoma, Washington. Real estate agents came from all over the country (and even Canada!) to take part in the conference, a day packed with incredible speakers (see the complete list here!) and intensive breakout sessions the next day. 

This was the first real estate conference I had ever been to, and I also happened to be a speaker on a panel about content marketing and one of the sponsors—big thanks to Anne and Marguerite for giving me and Home Scribe Creative this opportunity! 

But before I get too much into the conference itself, as we all know, just a couple of nights before on November 8th, America elected our next president. It was an incredibly stressful day and night for me, and after the results of the election were in, I found myself in a state of shock, sadness, disappointment, and disbelief. I wasn't sure how I was going to have the focus and energy to participate in Genuine Hustle over the next few days, and I had to be up early the next morning to start preparing and meeting people in Tacoma the day before the conference. 

Who would have known that this was actually *PERFECT* timing for Genuine Hustle?! 

This gathering of community-minded real estate agents was uplifting, inspiring, and restorative. What an amazing group of people who truly care about the well-being of their communities and this country. In a time when I was feeling vulnerable as an American citizen, these people showed me sincere kindness and a feeling of safety, unity, and love. 

So you may be wondering... 

What exactly was so special about Genuine Hustle? And what does it mean to be a "community-focused" real estate agent? 

Community-focused marketing is really about being a part of the community that you work in. It's all about

  • having a real connection to your community

  • providing excellent value to your audience so people can see you as a trusted resource

  • attracting clients in a way that is authentic and sustainable over the longterm

  • being there long before someone even knows that they (or maybe their friend or family member) need you as a real estate agent.

It's about highlighting community members, local businesses, events, and important issues in your neighborhood through blog posts, videos, podcasts, social media posts, etc. It’s important to keep in mind that it won't work overnight, it’s an investment, and it needs to be treated like a priority in order for it to work. It's not easy, but as Marguerite Giguere says—"It's a long game, but it's the good game." 

So true, Michael Thorne and Jaclyn Ruckle! 

A photo posted by Stacie Staub (@staciestaub) on

A photo posted by Chavi M Hohm (@chavih) on

Throughout the day of the conference, we heard from a variety of speakers, each with their own unique take on building community as real estate agents. Michael Thorne presented on how to use video to become the "digital mayor" of your community; Amy Curtis had a post-election-fueled discussion with Marguerite Giguere on being authentic; Stacie Staub talked about how to build relationships through community events; Seth Price shared an amazing presentation on branding; Katie Lance talked about email marketing, and every single speaker that day shared a captivating presentation with real, actionable, useful information. 

And then of course, there was the content marketing panel that I was on, led by the content marketing-expert Chavi Hohm of Team Diva Real Estate. I was also on the panel with Sharon Steele of The View From My Porch and Garret Hunt and Tyler Chism of LiveinEverett.com, all real estate agents who are delivering valuable community-focused content to their audiences in different ways. 

Then, there was me—not a real estate agent, but as someone who has a lot of experience working with agents on blogging and social media strategy. I shared what it can look like to outsource your blogging by sharing Marguerite Giguere's website MovetoTacoma.com as an example.  (I work with Marguerite on her blog and social media.) I also shared five tips for creating a content calendar, which Katie Lance conveniently tweeted:

The day ended with a talk from Nate Bowling, Washington State's 2016 Teacher of the Year. Nate's talk was titled "Intersecting Paths: The Tangled Knot of Race, Class, Education and Real Estate," and it was probably my favorite part of the day. You can watch the entire talk below (and if you want to check out any of the other talks form the day, follow Genuine Hustle on Facebook!). 

The day after the event, people who wanted to stay could gather for breakout sessions on specific topics. This was a chance for people to dive in deeper on whatever interested them most—video marketing, social media, race in real estate, etc. 

I have pages and pages of notes from the event, but this blog post is already long, so I'll be sharing those later! For now, I just want to say thank you to Anne Jones and Marguerite Giguere for planning and hosting this incredible event, and thank you to everyone else who made this once-in-a-lifetime event possible!

- Alyssa