Archive for 'love'

That is a common cliché among bloggers, make money online experts and web entrepreneurs. I am sure you heard it before. Heck, I used to give this advice myself. It goes like this:

If you want to make money online, you got pick a topic that you are passionate about. You need to love it, else it will not work.

I used to agree with it, one hundred percent.

Lately, however, I started questioning that rule. Creating a website on a topic that you love is certainly a good strategy, and it works well for many people, but I am not sure if it is the only way to go, or the best one.

The first flaw I see on that rule is the following fact: if the niche or topic you love is not a profitable one, it will be pretty hard to make a lot of money online with it no matter what.

Suppose you love tea. Should you write about it if you want to make money online? I am not sure. You could certainly create a popular website around tea, but if you decided to go with a more profitable niche instead, while putting the same effort and time, you could end up making much more money.

One argument that people use to back up the “you got write about what you love” theory is the fact that if you choose a topic merely because it is profitable, soon you will lose the motivation. If you write about something you love, on the other hand, you will have content for years to come.

This is partially true, but not completely. Why? Because some people get motivated by the pure desire of making money or becoming successful.

In other words, if they start a website on a profitable niche and see that their efforts is bringing a good amount of money, they will get motivated no matter what the topic is. They will even do research and learn about it if needed.

So what is my position now? I think that both strategies can work. Choosing a niche or topic because you love it is a good route to success, but choosing a profitable one and approaching it scientifically can be equally successful.


Copyright by Daily Blog Tips.

Should You Really Write About What You Love If You Want to Make Money Online?

A 5 Step Marketing Plan for Single Property Websites

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

One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from other agents is to offer more value for your commission than what other agents are providing. One easy way to do this is to create a website for your client’s home with its own unique domain name. These types of websites are quick and easy to set up – and because you can add virtually unlimited information to the page, you can use the website as a marketing hub for the home.

Any good website takes some planning to get set up and running. Let’s start with the basics:

Step 1 – What do you want your website to do?

This seemingly basic question is something that 99% of all webmasters never ask. If you don’t set goals for what you hope to accomplish, you’ll never achieve them.
In this case, your website has a number of goals, including:

  • Impressing Your Sellers – The main reason you are creating these websites is to show sellers how much more value you provide over other agents out there. You’re not simply putting up a quick listing on your website. You’re giving them their own site that you will market in all the home’s promotional materials.
  • Marketing The Home – Most means of home marketing are extremely limited by space and price. If you want to run a full-page advertisement including all the home details, it will cost you. The same is true for mailings and any printed materials. With a website, you can put up as much information as you want, without adding cost. And because 77% of home buyers search on the internet, you’re putting your listings out there for people to find.

Step 2 – Who is your target audience?

You might not know exactly who your target audience is, but it’s more specific than simply "a buyer" ready to buy within the next month.

Take a look around the neighborhood. Who else lives there? What are their income levels? What kinds of cars do they drive? How many kids do they have? Take note of the types of people that live in this particular neighborhood. Here are some things to get you started:

  • Demographics – Where do they live? How much do they make? How old are they? Their gender? Their ethnicity? Their education?
  • Geography – Where do they live? Why do they live there? What type of lifestyle do they have in their geographical area?
  • Lifestyle – What do they do for a living? What motivates them? What types of interests and hobbies do they have? What type of car do they drive? Where do they go on holidays or vacations?
  • Life Cycle – Where are they in their life cycle? Are they single, just married, expecting their first child, divorcees, empty nesters, retirees?
  • Motives – What motivates them to buy? Are they emotional or rational buyers? What do they care about – the economy, investing, security, stability, the American dream?

You might ask, why does this matter? The answer is because your best prospects will probably share a number of these characteristics with the current neighborhood residents. Your marketing will work only when you understand who you are trying to target and why they might buy. The best way to understand their motivations for buying is to find out why others bought within this particular neighborhood.

And I mean "neighborhood" – not city or township or several square mile radius. I’m talking specifics. Who lives on this particular street? What about the adjacent streets? What can you learn about them just by their home decorations, landscaping, cars, kids toys, etc? Once you know this type of stuff, you can mention these specific characteristics within your home description on the website.

Step 3 – What is the competition like?

This might be difficult to answer, so here are two places to start:

  1. Check the neighborhood – Are there any other homes on this street or on the adjacent streets that are currently up for sale? If so, what makes them distinctive? What advantages and disadvantages do they have over the home you are listing?
  2. Check the MLS – What homes are in the MLS that have similar features and price to the home you are listing and are located nearby? What are their advantages and disadvantages? What makes them distinctive?

To effectively market a home, you must know what competition you have – and what unique features and benefits your listing brings to the table. Knowing this information helps you distinguish and differentiate your home from all the others on the market.

Think of it this way. Buyers are overwhelmed with choices. When they search through listing after listing, they are looking for something that stands out and grabs their attention. Something that says to them "go see this house!"

If your marketing can do this, you’re going to start attracting a lot more buyers who want to check out this "must see" house. And that means there’s a good chance you’ll close the deal faster- and get paid for your services sooner!

Step 4 – How can you differentiate this listing from others on the market?

At the bare minimum, your website should include the features of the home (price, location, the number of rooms, baths, and amenities) and lots of photographs, but if you want to really generate buzz about the home, tell the "story" of the home.

What’s special, unique or distinct about this home? Why did the current owners buy this home? What do they love about it? What amenities are nearby? What’s the best pizza place in the area? Are there any annual neighborhood picnics or special events? How do the kids like the schools they attend? What’s within walking distance? A 10 mile drive?

Why bother? Because people make decisions based on emotion, not logic. They want to fall in love with their new home – and they’ll justify their purchase with reasons later. People buy homes they can see themselves living in. They have to envision how they’ll arrange the rooms. How they’ll paint the walls. How they’ll set up the nursery. All of that stuff is emotional. That’s why your marketing needs to appeal to their emotions as well as give them the facts and features.

Step 5 – How can you market the website?

The final step is getting the word out. Here are some ideas for marketing your new website:

  • On your blog and website
  • In your ads and mailings
  • On house fliers
  • In your newsletters
  • On riders for your signs.
  • In your online classified ads (Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, Oodle, etc)
  • In your social media profiles like MySpace and Facebook
  • Twitter (or tweet, if you like) the URL
  • Add to social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us
  • In your email signature
  • In blog comments you leave (don’t spam blogs, but most software asks for your URL – use your listing URL instead of your blog or website)
  • In listing presentations (to show other sellers what you can do for them)

Get Started Today

You don’t have to be a technology genius or pay a web developer lots of money to set up a page for you. It’s relatively easy to set these types of sites up

  1. Set up a free Blogger.com account. You’ll be able to create a new blog for each listing and the process takes about 3 minutes. Watch a video tutorial on how to do this.
  2. Once you have your blog set up, go to the Settings tab and then click on the "Publishing" link. You’ll see something that says "You’re publishing on blogspot.com." Underneath, it will say "Switch to: Custom Domain" Click on the "Custom Domain" link. Go through Google’s easy step-by-step system to buy a domain for your blog for $10/year. Watch a video tutorial on how to do this.

Easy, right? Alternatively, you can set up a free account on Postlets.com – or pay $5 to upgrade to a premium listing.

Setting up single property listings for each of your clients’ homes can be a great way to demonstrate how marketing and technology savvy you are to potential sellers – and they’re simple, fast and affordable to set up.

7 Tips for Coping with Email Overload

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

I’m now back from Spain and have spent the last week trying to catch up on email, contacts, client relationships, and everything else that I put on hold for my vacation. Getting away was great – and I made sure not to do any work on the trip – but coming home to an inbox filled with thousands of messages was not fun.

While I love the instant access to virtually anyone that email provides, that instant access can be a huge drain on my productivity – especially when 80% of the email I receive is not urgent, doesn’t require a response, or never seems to get to the point.

If you’re struggling to manage your email, here are seven tips to help.

  1. Only check email at certain times. While it’s tempting to leave your email program open at all times, that’s a huge productivity killer. You don’t need to check every email the second it comes in, thus interrupting whatever task you were doing. Instead, set aside 20-30 minute blocks of time two or three times per day to check email. If this type of non-responsiveness makes you nervous, create an autoresponder that states the specific times you check email, when the sender can expect a response, and what to do if they have an urgent need.
  2. Make sure those times aren’t when you are most productive! While it’s tempting to check your email first thing in the morning, this isn’t always the most productive. Instead, Brian Tracy suggests in his book, Eat That Frog, that you should look over your to-do list and find the biggest task that will yield the most positive benefits if you complete it now – and do that first thing in the morning rather than start off the day with email. Your email can wait. Use your most productive times to work on the stuff that matters most.
  3. Delete liberally. You can delete a considerable portion of your email before you even open it just by checking out the sender and subject. Scan both, and then ask yourself “Do I really have to read this today?” If the answer is no, hit delete. Don’t keep it around in hopes of reading it later – it will probably just sit in your inbox unopened.
  4. Scan for action steps and deadlines. Much of the email we receive can be classified as junk mail or notifications and doesn’t require action on our part. Look for email that does require a specific action that must be done within the next week or two and set these email aside. These should be your top priority.
  5. Take action immediately. If the email requires you to take action and you can do that action in less than two minutes, do it now rather than putting it off. It’s better to get things done quickly than to put them off until you prioritize everything. For action steps that will take longer, move the email to a prioritized folder so you can easily find it along with all the other action-oriented emails. Searching for buried email lost in a sea of unimportant email is a huge time waster.
  6. Send concise replies. When you respond, keep it as short and to-the-point as possible. Start off by summarizing the key point you are responding to and add your reply, so your recipients understand your response in context. For instance: “You asked if I can attend a meeting on Monday, June 16 at 3PM. Unfortunately, I’m not available until 4PM. If that doesn’t work for you, I can also meet Tuesday morning.” You don’t need to write a book here. Limit yourself to a few sentences at most – or better yet, if you can answer the question in the subject line, do so.
  7. Outsource your email. I don’t actually do this (yet) but if you really want to take this concept to an extreme, check out this blog post by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, on How to Outsource the Inbox and Never Check Email Again.

Time is your greatest asset, and learning to manage your email effectively can really give your productivity a boost.

International Last Minute Travel On A Budget

I’m traveling to Northern Spain (Priorat) for a week in wine country the last week in May. The trip was somewhat of a last minute decision – I had wanted to go as part of a tour (through The Wine School of Philadelphia, which I cannot recommend highly enough. Seriously, if you love wine and you’re close to Philly, stop in for a class – you won’t be disappointed.), but the tour sold out before I could join. A few days ago, there was a cancellation and I seized the opportunity.

So now, I have less than three weeks to plan my trip (and learn enough Spanish to get by!) The tour is providing accommodations, but each of us must find our own way to the villa. Here are some tips I’ve picked these last few days about planning a last minute trip.

Logistics

Of course, you can’t travel out of the country without a passport these days. I already have one, so thankfully, I don’t have to worry about applying for one and hoping it arrives in time.

As a safety precaution, I’ve checked the CDC website to make sure I don’t need any obscure shots or medicine to take with me. Spain seems to be fairly safe, but having traveled to Belize and Guatemala previously, I can say it’s best to get your appropriate shots well in advance – and stock up on any medications you might need (like Malaria drugs). I’ve also been assembling a basic medical kit.

Currency

You hear how bad the US economy is every day, but it doesn’t hit you until you go to exchange your Dollars for Euros. The going rate today is $1 = .648 Euros. (Last year at this time, it was about $1 = .74 Euros.) And if I’m reading this website correctly, a gallon of gasoline (3.78 liters) is around $7.00. On the bright side, AAA doesn’t charge you an exchange rate.

Getting Cheap Airfare

Trying to get a cheap flight without too long of a layover has been a fascinating experience. I’ve learned that there really isn’t much rhyme or reason to how airlines price tickets – other than they’re seeking to fill as many seats as possible at any given time. What that means is that in a matter of hours (or the next day), you can be quoted a drastically different price for (seemingly) comparable flights.

On Sunday/Monday, when I checked various airline sites (Sidestep.com, CheapTickets.com, CheapOAir.com, Priceline.com), I was looking around at least $1100 for a flight from Philly to Spain with unless I was willing to take a 12 hour layover (no thank you). Tuesday morning when I checked back, I found a brand new option – I could fly through Paris with a four hour layover for around $750 (but I only found this deal on one site – all the others are much more expensive.) Not wanting to press my luck too much, I jumped on that. (For comparison, that’s about one-third the price of a non-stop flight.)

Some other things I picked up on saving money besides shopping around:

  • If you can, be flexible with the dates you’ll be traveling.
  • Try flying to a cheaper airport.

Neither of those applies to my trip, but they’re good to know.

Rent a Car

I had no idea that virtually all cars in Spain were manual transmission (I guess it’s not surprising, given the gas prices) – which means renting one is considerably cheaper than renting an automatic transmission. Compact, manual transmission cars start at about half the price of the cheapest automatic car I found – and most were much more expensive than that. Most of the travel sites have car rental options, but the cheapest site I’ve found (so far) is AutoEurope.com. I’m also told that it’s far cheaper to book your car in advance than at the airport.

On another note, if you plan on renting a car, it helps to pick up an International Driver’s Permit from your local AAA. I talked with someone on the phone today, and she said the process is fast and painless – you just need to bring two passport photos and the $15 fee. They can create them on the spot in about 10 minutes.

I’m still looking into options to save on auto insurance. I believe AAA and (possibly) some credit cards will cover you so you don’t have to pay the outrageous rental insurance prices.

Learning the Language

If only there was more time… I admit, my choice for a crash course in Spanish isn’t cheap, but so far, the lessons have been pretty good. I bought the Pimsleur Spanish series, and have been practicing for one-to-two hours each day. My goal is to at least be able to give taxi-drivers directions to my villa (not that I’ll be taking a taxi, but I’ve had some crazy experiences in Mexico with Spanish-only speaking cab drivers and I’d prefer not to go through that again.)

More..

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So, have any of you been to Northern Spain? The place where I’m staying is about a two hour drive west from Barcelona, so I’m open to suggestions for day trips, restaurants, wineries, etc.

How To Build a Referral-Based Business

This is step 5 of a five-part series on how new agents can successfully break into the real estate market.

Yesterday, I talked about the importance of nurturing your prospect list. Today, I’m going to shift gears and discuss what you need to do to build a referral-based business.

Last week, Mike asked me, “Where do you get the most bang for your buck in marketing?” Personally, I think there’s no question that it’s referral marketing. So why did I spend the last few days talking about building credibility, educating prospects, generating leads and following up consistently? Because when you’re starting out, those are the steps to building a referral-based business.

Most successful agents will tell you they get most of their clients through referral – and yet, a large portion of them spend considerable resources on prospecting and lead generation with only a small portion of their marketing budget going to cultivating referrals from past clients.

Initially, yes, you have to prospect because you need to build credibility and expertise. You need to learn the business cold, how to manage client expectations, and how to provide exceptional customer service. In other words, you need to get through The Dip (as Seth Godin calls it) – “the long slog between starting and mastery.”

Why Referral Marketing?

Most people erroneously believe that referral marketing doesn’t require much work. After all, if you do a great job, your clients should automatically refer people to you, right? If only that were true.

The truth is, creating a referral marketing system still requires all the basic principles of relationship marketing that I’ve previously talked about – except instead of focusing your attention on prospects, you create education-based marketing around past clients and continually follow up with a keep-in-touch strategy.

You might be asking – what could I possibly need to educate my past clients about? There’s always the local real estate market, local neighborhood events, or home improvement tips … but there’s also a great opportunity for you to promote other local businesses to start building a network of referral partners.

Once people move into a new home, there are quite a few things they might need: lawn care, landscaping, a swimming pool, new home additions, interior decorators, plumbers, electricians, and so on. You could easily interview any number of local business owners who would love exposure to your client list. With a bit of negotiation, you may even be able to get a referral fee from them for anyone who buys their services from your recommendation – thus giving you an added source of income.

Just as with prospecting, the more you follow up with clients and provide them with valuable information, the more likely you are to continue your relationship with them well after their home buying or selling process – and the more likely they’ll be to refer others to you.

How To Build a Referral Business

Building a referral-based business means you must focus on long term relationships rather than short term profits. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Decide who your ideal clients are. – This is incredibly important because you must be able to communicate what types of people you want to work with to others. If you simply ask for referrals, chances are, you’ll get referrals that aren’t a good fit for you or who won’t translate into business.

  2. Fire (or refer out) any prospect or client that doesn’t meet your standards for an ideal client. – This can be difficult to do because no one likes to pass up work, but from a long-term perspective it’s essential. Bad clients are essentially psychic vampires – they consume as much of your resources as they can without giving you anything in return (aka referrals, positive recommendations, testimonials, or even a “thank you”). These types of clients might nickel-and-dime you, berate you for not doing something “their way,” complain about everything, or seem incapable of making a decision. In worst case scenarios, they demand so much of your attention that you don’t have time to provide exceptional customer service to those clients you like best – which doesn’t bode well for getting referrals in the long run, either.

  3. Focus on delivering an exceptional customer experience worthy of talking about. – In order to create Sneezers, Raving Fans, and Customer Evangelists who spread the word about you to everyone they know, you must make it easy for them to talk about you. You must give them stories to tell where they’ll look “cool” to their friends and family while showcasing what great client service you provide.

  4. Create incentives and make it easy for clients to refer business to you. – Give people a reason to refer business to you – such as by holding contests, offering free services with their vendor of choice (i.e. refer three clients and receive six months of lawn care), and holding client appreciation events.

  5. Keep in touch consistently – Just like with prospects, following up is key. At minimum, you should add them to your newsletter, but also add bonus perks and personal correspondence that they’ll appreciate.

Creating a referral-based business can be extremely rewarding personally. It also costs less than prospecting because these people already know who you are, have worked with you, and know why working with you was an excellent choice. And having others tell your story, rather than you telling it, adds considerable credibility – you must be good if others are talking about you.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you a bonus sixth step – how I’d spend Mike’s $2500 budget as a new agent.

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