Archive for 'Guide'

Blogging Questions & Answers 24

I hope you guys had a great week, and to close it in style, here comes the Blogging Questions & Answers.

I am answers the questions on batch 19 already, so stay tuned if yours has not been featured yet. You can leave a question for me by writing a comment below.

questions and answers

1. Lax asks:

Why webmasters ask people to not copy their content?

They will get traffic with that copying also right?

I wouldn’t feel bad when some one copies content from my blog.

This is a hot topic, and I am glad you asked it Lax.

First and foremost, I think it is wrong copying someone else’s material without permission. Both on a legal and on a ethical perspective. If the person took the time to write it, the minimum you could do is to ask permission, and if you can’t find the author don’t assume it is public domain either.

Now on your question you are probably talking about the cases where a blogger will copy an article and give credit to it with a link right? Well just keep in mind that only some people do that, there is a large amount of scrapers out there that will rip your content, put on their blog with no credit at all, and won’t display any contact information whatsoever.

On those cases, you can clearly see that the guy is in bad faith, knows he is doing copyright infringement, but doesn’t care because he thinks you will never catch him. This is the worst scenario you can have, and when it happens to me I consider getting a lawyer on the issue.

When the other person seem to be in good faith though, and puts a credit to the original, I will just contact the author and ask him politely to remove it.

Sure, it could send some traffic my way, but honestly the problems related with this practice are much larger than that small benefit.

Here is why: blogs that copy and scrape content are usually very small, so the traffic they will send my way is negligible.

The duplicate content effect is not that small, however, and is many small blogs do it Google will start noticing, and will possibly put a filter or even a penalty on my site or on some of my articles.

2. Yawza asks:

I wanted to know how do you set up contracts for guest bloggers or bloggers you may hire? Also can you provide an example?

For guest bloggers you don’t need to have a contract, just a policy. Establish what kind of guest bloggers you are looking for, what content you need, what kind of byline they can use, how many links they can include and so on. Have that information written down, and whenever someone contacts you about guest blogging, you can just email it to the person.

Alternatively, you can also create a special “Write for Us” page on your site where you would display that information.

You asked for examples so here is my policy with guest bloggers:

  • I do allow guest bloggers on DBT, but only once per week at most
  • The guest blogger just need to email me his article. If I like, I will publish
  • The content must be unique, never been published before, and useful to bloggers
  • The guest blogger can have a byline in the bottom
  • He may include one link to his site, and one link to his RSS feed

Hired bloggers and writers are a whole different matter, however. You will need to clearly describe to them every detail related to your blog. Your goal is to make sure that their content will match exactly what your audience is looking for, and that the style will be aligned with you have been doing on the blog too.

Additionally, you will have to agree on the posting frequency, post length, on who answers the comments, and on the payment rate.

3. Saurabh asks:

I have a blog and I aggregate links with some of my commentary. Now I think that I am boring my readers (if any!) and am just aggregating links with my old commentary. How do I write some original stuff? Or aggregating is OK?

Interesting question.

Let’s answer the latter question first. Aggregating can work sometimes, but rarely for blogs. In other words, if you want to aggregate news, make it a news aggregator website (doh!), and not a blog. Techmeme is the classic example of a successful aggregator.

Keep in mind that making a successful aggregator is a tough task, tough. First of all because there are established ones on most niches already. Secondly because it is difficult to offer something different and innovative. News aggregation is a digital commodity, if you will.

I would rather suggest that you keep working on your blog therefore, and focus on original content, which brings us to the former question.

How do you write original content? Find a topic that you either love or have a good knowledge about, open and word processor, and start writing!

Is there any opinion, idea, criticism, commentary or guide that you would like to share with other people? If the answer is yes, just write about it. If the answer is no, hmmm, then I am not sure if blogging is what you are looking for.

4. Tejvan Pettinger asks:

How big can a mysql database become? After 9 months, I have 500 posts. I’m wondering after 9 years, how manageable the mysql database will be.

I don’t think this is a problem bloggers need to think about. MySQL databases are pretty robust, and the number of entries that a blog will generate, even a popular one, is very manageable. Just think that many large websites run on MySQL too (including Digg if I am not wrong), and they arrive to generate millions of entries.

5. Danny Cooper asks:

Why do you think RSS readers have become a popular metric for blogger success, after all RSS readers have less chance of actually viewing your website.

I think that the number of RSS readers became a popular metric for measuring the success of a blog because it represents the number of people that deliberately decided to get updates from that blog. It is like those subscribers gave a vote of confidence for the blog in question.

This number, therefore, should give you an idea about the quality of the content on that blog, and about the overall traffic levels, because the higher the traffic, the more people will end up subscribing.

The fact that RSS readers have a smaller chance of viewing a website does not affects its legitimacy as a metric for measuring the popularity of blogs. Sure it might be a point that the blogger or the webmaster will take into consideration, but the general public does not care if your subscribers will visit your site or not, and if your ad revenue will suffer from that or not.

Finally, I am not even sure if that is the case. I think that even if you offer a full RSS feed, the long term effect will be more and not less traffic on your website.

6. Transcriptionist asks:

I notice that you have put “Disallow: /feed/” in your robots.txt file.

Question 1) Do you know that you can put a “noindex” to your feed at “Publicize/NoIndex” at your FeedBurner dashboard and then remove this “Disallow” in your robots.txt and the “nofollow” that you have put everywhere on your blog to your feed and email subscription calls?

(For your information: View the source code of email subscription call landing page, it already has content=”noindex,nofollow” by default. Then why the “nofollow” to email subscription calls also?)

Question 2) Won’t too much of nofollow by author be stamped as over optimization and penalized by search engines? (While nofollow for reader generated contents like comments, irrespective of count, is accepted by search engines as optimization.)

Question 3) You have put “Disallow: /trackback/” in your robots.txt. Your URLs are either redirecting to their original URLs for single posts and pages or returning 404 for categories if trackback has been added to their end. Then what is the use of this command?

Answer 1) First of all I did test with no-indexing my Feedburner feed in the past, but I had better results with letting it be indexed, because it would rank well for some keywords, and send a good amount of traffic to the main website.

Secondly, the nofollow attributes on all my RSS feed and email subscription links is not to avoid those pages getting indexed, but rather to don’t have my PageRank flowing to Feedburner on ALL the pages of my site. A sitewide link carries a lot of link juice, so I add a nofollow tag when that link is not editorial.

Finally, notice that even if your Feedburner feed page is no-indexed, your WordPress /feed/ page or xml versions could still be indexed, and that is something you want to prevent as well.

Answer 2) I don’t think so. As long as you use the nofollow attribute with the purpose of not following links that you don’t trust or that are not editorial links, you should be fine. That is what Google recommends after all.

Answer 3) I recently removed the trackback pages from the blog, so yeah I guess I could also remove that line from the robots.txt by now.

7. Ben Moreno asks:

How many hours a day do you spend on writing posts?

What is your strategy for finding content to write about each day?

I would say that I spend anywhere from 2 up to 6 hours a day writing content. It depends on the period. Some weeks are slow, and I just write my daily posts, so it takes 2 hours a day. On others week I will be working on a larger piece or on a new project, and on those occasions I write a lot.

As for finding content, I think that the best strategy is to have ideas and drafts saved way ahead of when you will need to write them.

For example, I have around 50 draft posts for Daily Blog Tips saved right now. Most have just the title and a brief description. When I don’t know what I am going to write about, I just open that list and pick one.

How did I arrive to have such a big list of drafts? Every time an idea strikes me, big or small, dumb or smart, I write it down.


Copyright by Daily Blog Tips.

Blogging Questions & Answers 24

Be More Productive with the 80/20 Rule

This is the feature article in this week’s RealtyBiz Agent Success Newsletter.

I’m headed to the Priorat region of Spain for a week on Friday. Of course, I still have a million things on my to-do list and a million more on would-like-to-do list. As I added yet another thing to the to-do list, I realized this just wasn’t working. Every time I crossed off something, I added two new things to be done. Sound familiar?

After taking a deep breath, I sat back down with my list and started prioritizing. It’s so easy to stress ourselves out with all the day-to-day problems that come up, that we often lose track of our goals. In my case, I needed to finish up a client project, write two newsletters, and pack for my trip. Everything else fell into the “would be nice but could wait” category.

What is Your End Goal?

If you also find yourself with the dreaded never-ending to-do list, it may be time to ask yourself, “What do you really want to accomplish?” Setting goals keeps you focused on what truly matters to you. Goals keep you motivated to slog through the daily grind knowing that you are building your business into an asset that will one day work for you.

Ask yourself:

  • Do most of the tasks on your to-do list move you toward your goals or take up time that you could be devoting to achieving your goals?
  • Do they really need to be there?
  • If they absolutely must be done, do you have to do them, or can you delegate them to others?

Use the 80/20 Rule To Get More Accomplished

In 1897, the Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80 percent of income in Italy went to 20 percent of the population. While you can argue that the 80/20 principle isn’t exact, it works quite well as a general guideline for business. Roughly 20 percent of your clients will account for 80 percent of your profits. Twenty percent of your daily activities will account for 80 percent of your business’ success. Twenty percent of your inputs produce 80 percent of your outputs. So, if you want to be more productive and grow your business faster, look for the places where you can get the maximum result.

Often, our day is full of things that don’t do much for our business. We might pick up the latest business book, check email, organize our desk, fill out paperwork, surf the internet, chat with co-workers, take calls from family and friends, deal with distractions and interruptions, and so on while only a small chunk of our day is devoted to working with clients or marketing our services – those activities that actually build our business and bring in revenue.

Ask yourself:

  • What can you do right now that will take you a step closer to your goals?
  • What are your most productive activities?
  • Which activities take up a significant portion of your time but leave you with little to show for it?
  • How can you do more productive activities while reducing your time-wasting activities?

How to Create a Successful Real Estate Website

This is the feature article in this week’s RealtyBiz Agent Success Newsletter.

Have you ever wondered why only a handful of real estate sites generate tons of leads while the vast majority of sites hardly ever do? The secret to their success isn’t rocket science – it’s what they focus on.

Most agents decide they need a website because their competitors have one. So what’s the first thing they focus on? What the site should look like.

Not surprisingly, agents want their sites to look attractive and professional, with lots of bells and whistles, animations, and graphics. Next, they realize they need some content for the site, so they add information about their credentials, services, listing information, and processes.

Three Elements of Successful Websites

The problem with this approach is that it neglects the elements of what makes a real estate website successful. Specifically, successful websites:

  • Attract qualified prospects
  • Build a targeted list of prospects to follow up with
  • Convert prospects to paying clients

The site I described initially that focuses on the agent’s credentials and preferences, is, frankly, boring to prospects and does little other than stroking the agent’s ego (for instance, they can now proudly tell their friends and family that they have a website). It’s not the type of site designed to attract qualified prospects. It won’t motivate prospects to give you their contact information, and it does little to convince prospects that they should hire you.

Focus on Content – What Does Your Prospect Want to Know Most?

So what does capture prospects’ attention and get them to take notice? Content that focuses on their problems and concerns. Your prospects want tips and strategies they can use now to get that mortgage, find the right home, sell their home for top dollar, and send their kids to the best schools in the area.

They want to know if, as a single mom, they’ll be able to afford that home, or whether, as a first-time home buying couple, what type of help is available.

They want to know how to ensure their new home doesn’t have water damage or mold or termites or some other unknown that will cost them a fortune down the line.

They want tips on how to negotiate the best price – and any changes or repairs that need to be made.

Focus on Conversion – What Should Your Prospect Do Next?

Good content makes up about 50 percent of a great site. The other 50 percent lies in organizing that content so your prospects can easily find that information.

When someone comes to your website, you have about three seconds to capture their attention. Web studies show that prospects don’t read pages. They skim. So when they are looking for information, they quickly scan the page looking for something of interest. If they don’t find anything, they leave your site and continue their search.

One big mistake agents make with their websites is they assume prospects will know what to do next. They assume prospects will take the time to learn their site’s navigation and browse through all their great content.

The truth is, your prospects won’t, so you must make it easy for them. It’s up to you to guide them from one page to another, asking them if they want to learn more about Subject X, then telling them they should click this link. If they want to join your newsletter, they should click this link. If they want to contact you for a free consultation, they should fill out this form. Etc.

In other words, you must lead them through the content on your site by anticipating what their next question might be, then linking to where the answer is.

Your goal is conversion – getting them to take some action in exchange for their contact information and permission to follow up with them – whether that is joining your mailing list, downloading a free guide, or contacting you for more information.

Test and Measure Results!

Finally, if you’re not getting the results you want, you must try something different. Benjamin Franklin is attributed with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Your site won’t suddenly become successful if you just attract more visitors to it. You must work to engage your visitors who are already finding your site and work on converting them to prospects and clients.

How do you do this? You test! Install Google Analytics on your site (it’s free!) and monitor who is coming to your site. Where are they coming from? How are they getting there? Which keywords are they typing into search engines? What pages do they view? How many pages do they view? And so on.

You can tell a lot by analyzing statistics and making decisions on the data you collect. Don’t simply rely on your gut instinct or what a friend suggests. If you aren’t sure which text on a page will convince prospects to fill out your form, create two pages. Send half your traffic to one page and half your traffic to the other. Whichever gets more people to fill out the form wins – there’s no subjectivity there. By testing you can see exactly what works and how well it works compared to other samples.

Is Your Website Working?

If your website isn’t pulling in a steady stream of prospects, it’s time to take a look at your site’s content and conversion strategy. With a little effort, you can put together an informative website that educates your prospects and motivates them to take action.

A Marketing Plan Guide For Real Estate Agents

A couple of things –

New Site Design – I’ve completely revamped the RealtyBizCoach.com design and moved the blog off the front page. It’s now at http://www.realtybizcoach.com/blog/. I think everything is working, but if you notice any bugs while viewing the site, please let me know.

Free Marketing Guide I’ve just released a revised copy of my free report, “A Marketing Plan Guide For Real Estate Agents” – just in time for Mother’s Day!

The Marketing Plan Guide is a complete revamp of the previous guide I have been offering for download to those who joined the RealtyBizCoach mailing list. In fact, I pretty much scrapped what I had and started over. The result is that the new Guide is double the pages and much more hands-on with worksheets you can fill out to help you plan your monthly marketing activities.

In the report you will find:

  • A quick overview of marketing that clears up many of the misconceptions I hear from agents every day
  • Techniques for setting goals, identifying your target audience, creating a marketing message, developing education-based marketing materials, and implementing a referral system
  • Worksheets and exercises at the end of each section to help you take action immediately
  • A two-page fill-in-the-blank worksheet you can use to create your monthly marketing plan and keep track of your results

If you take the time to read this guide and complete the exercises, you should be able to put together your marketing plan in just a few hours.

To get your copy, click here –

http://www.realtybizcoach.com/free-marketing-guide/

Feedback Request – I spent a lot of time on this guide, and I’d really appreciate your feedback.

If you have anything to say (good, bad or indifferent) after reading the Marketing Plan Guide, please add your comment to this post – or if you prefer, you can fill out this survey. Thanks!

Following Up: The Secret To More Sales

This is step 4 of a five-part series on how new agents can successfully break into the real estate market.

Most small-business owners (myself included) are guilty of not following up with all leads they generate. When leads pour in, it’s tempting to cherry pick the low hanging fruit while ignoring all the others who aren’t quite ready to hire you yet.

In yesterday’s post, I discussed how to create education-based marketing materials that your prospects will want to read. The purpose of creating those types of marketing materials is to get prospects to self-identify themselves as interested in what you have to offer by giving you their contact information and permission to follow up.

Let me be clear: Just because someone provides you with contact information in exchange for information doesn’t necessarily make them a lead – yet. (The same is true for most lead-generation services that charge you big bucks per “lead.”) Inquiries and registrations are not the same as “qualified leads.”

Yet what do people think to do? Call all those people who downloaded their free report and pitch their services. And often, those calls are a waste of time – worth just slightly more than cold calls.

So how can you weed out the low hanging fruit from those that aren’t yet ripe? One option is to ask them their timeframe for buying and provide a checkbox that states “Please contact me for a free consultation.” Those who say their timeframe is immediate or within 1-2 months and who request a free consultation are good candidates for “leads.” Everyone else probably falls into the category of “not yet ready to buy” and should go into your lead-nurturing system rather than tossed aside and forgotten.

What is Lead Nurturing?

Simply put, lead nurturing is what you do to keep in touch with people once they’ve given you permission to market to them. The best types of lead nurturing are systematized, automated or fall under your regularly scheduled marketing activities.

What does that mean? Well, if someone downloads a free report from your website, several things should happen:

  • They are added to your email newsletter mailing list
  • They receive a series of follow-up emails from you (generally these are autoresponders that are triggered when someone adds their email address to your mailing list).
  • They receive offline follow-up such as sales letters, thank you notes, or other correspondence.

These follow-up emails, newsletters, and correspondence should be written in an informative way with the intent to get readers to engage with you. In other words, you don’t want them to just passively read it – you want to get them to do something because of it: like provide feedback, ask you a question, request other freebies, register for a seminar or workshop, visit a blog post, buy a product from you, give a testimonial or referral, or request a consultation with you.

The more people interact with the content you provide them, the more likely they are to see you as a trusted advisor who is a local real estate expert.

Why Bother with Lead Nurturing and Follow-Up?

There are a few reasons why you should put a lead-nurturing system into place:

  • Nurturing leads is cheaper than prospecting – You spend considerable amounts of money trying to acquire leads – why throw them away because they aren’t quite yet ready to buy? Many will buy at some future time – and since you’ve already gotten their attention, gotten them to respond, and gotten them to allow you to follow up with them, why wouldn’t you spend a few cents each month sending them your email newsletter, your series of follow-up reports, and maybe invite them to a seminar down the road? That sure beats advertising or sending direct mail to people who have never heard of you and have no interest in what you offer in the hopes that someone, somewhere, might need a real estate agent.
  • Nurturing reduces risk. When you sell a service, you’re selling something intangible. People don’t understand the value they’ll get until you’re actually working for them – and they’re hesitant to hire because it requires they make a decision. Which should they choose? What if they make a mistake? What if they can’t sell their house or can’t find a home in their price range? What if something goes wrong? What if they get ripped off?

    Prospects have a laundry list of fears they must overcome before they’ll hire someone and, to justify their decision, they’ll pick and choose evidence around them. They’ll look at how you sell your services, the quality of the information you provide, what your office looks like, how you dress, whether you tell them information that contradicts what they think they already know.

    When you continually follow up with them by offering them new information and interact with them via your newsletter, blogs, sales letters and other marketing materials, you start to build a relationship with them. As they get to know and trust you, working with you seems much less risky.

  • Nurturing builds relationships and trust – The more people interact with you and your content, the more likely they are to get to know, like and trust you. People prefer to do business with those who understand their business needs and express a genuine concern for their well being rather than those who are looking to make a quick buck at their expense. As you follow up, show your personality, and continue to offer great advice, you become a trusted advisor – the person they will turn to for their real estate needs.
  • Nurturing educates prospects – When prospects call you, you are at a disadvantage. Often these prospects have certain expectations about what a real estate agent should do for them – and in many cases, those expectations are misguided and run counter to what it takes to actually buy or sell a home. They might hear negative things from the media, or watch HGTV programs designed more to entertain than sell a home, or hear stories (good and bad) from their friends and family about what real estate agents did or didn’t do. When a prospect is in your nurturing system, you can re-educate them about what to expect. You can bring up issues they probably haven’t thought of and guide them through the process so when they’re ready to buy or sell, they already know the right way to go about it.

Your client list is your business’ most valuable asset. Your prospecting list is probably its second most valuable asset, as these people have a much greater potential to evolve into clients than the average person on the street.

Tomorrow I’ll conclude this series by addressing how you can generate leads with referral partners.

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