Online Marketing for Real Estate Agents – Tips & Tricks

Editor’s Note: There are numerous books, websites, and other mediums devoted to assisting real estate agents who want to grow their business. Few of these mediums, however, provide substance when it comes to leveraging the possibilities of online marketing. Mary Beth Downing is a Dayton, Ohio real estate agent who has gotten off to a fast start in her career by leveraging the web. In the article below, she shares how she has achieved early success.

Breaking in as a real estate agent is incredibly difficult. This difficulty is the reason why so many agents quit within their first few years, out of frustration. I’ve seen realtor discussion boards in which many agents say that one should only expect to sell three to four homes in their first year. As of this writing, I’ve had my license for slightly over five months and I’ve put eight homes under contract. The most exciting part is that each month has been better than the previous. I’m excited to use this article to share how I’m going about growing my business.

The biggest thing that has surprised me, early on, is the extent to which many new agents entirely devote their time to trying to meet people face to face as opposed to leveraging online resources. These online resources can include paid ads as well as things which you own outright (more on this below). It’s understandable that many new agents don’t want to put money into building a website or into online listings. In my opinion, however, there’s a flaw in refusing to do so. If you take the approach that “I’m not spending any money and I’ll spend my time networking and trying to meet people” then you’re only saving money if you value your time at $0. Given that time is valuable, and can’t be replaced, I find online marketing to be highly effective.

In my first five months I’ve focused on three main areas: my website, my blog, and video. I’ll discuss each of these in turn.

Real estate agents can use their website to attract and capture leads

Most agents don’t invest the time or money to create a website for themselves. This is the first mistake as having a web presence helps to validate you in the eyes of potential clients. Simply, having a website, however, isn’t enough; too many agents build a basic page for the sake of having one, but don’t truly leverage their site. You can use your website to attract clients who would have never heard of you otherwise. You can then use it to capture more of those leads and turn them into signed contracts.

I didn’t want a website that simply said “Hi, this is me. I’m a real estate agent.” I wanted something that would actually provide value to potential clients. This is why I had my webmaster integrate the MLS (through third-party software) into my site. This allows people to search listings of homes for sale through my site instead of through a service such as Zillow. One of the big benefits of this has been that individual home listings tend to show up well in organic search results on Google and Bing. So when people see a for sale sign, and search for the specific address to get more information, my site’s listing of the property shows up. People then land on my website and call me from there. This results in leads with no additional time or meaningful financial investment on my part.

Another big benefit is that the MLS integration into my website allows me to automate the follow-up process. The software I use, to integrate the MLS, allows me to add a lead’s email and other information to a database. That lead will then receive automated emails whenever a new listing, which meets their desired criteria, comes on the market. This means that, instead of me having to call someone about a new listing, they receive it automatically. This helps people to be informed of listings they may be interested in and, importantly, ensures that the information is coming from me. I could spend hours, every day, researching listings and calling people or I could have an automated system which handles this task. I prefer the latter.

My blog is crucial to my strategy of driving seller listings

As I mentioned above, most realtors don’t create a website. Of the ones who do, very few create a blog and maintain it. Blogging is crucial to my strategy going forward. The thing about a blog post is that it can be the gift that keeps on giving. Say, for example, that I write an article on “how to price your home for sale” and it gets clicked on just five times a month in search. That’s five clicks every month that I pay no money for and spend no time on after I’ve written the article. In other words, investing a little bit of time provides me with web content, which I own outright, that will continue to give me indefinite exposure to potential

clients. This is why I wrote a comprehensive series on the subject of “selling your home.” I see my blog as a crucial component to obtaining listings without expending extensive time or money.

Video is important to helping me convert leads into clients

One of the first things I did after starting my business is hire a videographer to make the following “intro” video:

This has been vital in terms of helping me convert leads into clients. This has happened in two ways.

First, the client with the highest dollar contract I’ve signed so far explicitly mentioned my video when they first contacted me. In other words, these clients found me on the web and were considering calling me. They watched my video and it helped clinch their decision. Second, and interestingly, is another call I received. I market heavily on Zillow for a given zip code. My video appears on my Zillow profile as well as on my website. I received a call from a homeowner in the zip code I market to. She stated that she had been receiving letters from realtors offering to assist with selling her home (a common tactic for obtaining listings). She went onto Zillow to get an idea of what her home may be worth as part of deciding whether or not she wanted to sell it. Since I market to her zip code, she came across my Zillow profile and watched my video. She then contacted me regarding the listing of her home and, again, explicitly mentioned my video.

The foregoing are two examples of how my video introduces me to clients and helps me to convert more leads into signed contracts. I own this video outright. That means it’s another gift that keeps on giving. It’s another way that I’m getting clients, on an ongoing basis, without having to expend large amounts of time or pay ongoing amounts of money.

I strongly believe that many real estate agents are missing out on their opportunity to leverage the web. This is actually good news. The fact that agents aren’t leveraging the web means that it’s not as competitive as one may think. In my humble opinion, this is the best way to leverage one’s time and money when growing their business.

I owe a big thanks to Amanda Clark and the team at Grammar Chic for inviting me to write on this topic.

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How to Be Self-Confident in Your Job Search

The job search is really all about salesmanship. You’re selling yourself to potential employers, seeking to persuade them of the value you can offer in return for their investment.

This type of selling comes easy to some, but for most of us it’s rather tricky. In fact, the job search can represent a low ebb in self-confidence—a season in which we have the hardest time believing in our own value. The more rejections and dead ends you accumulate, the worse the problem gets; and, when you’re feeling a lack of self-confidence, it makes it much tougher to sell yourself.

You can see what a vicious cycle this can be. Yet, it’s a cycle that can be broken. We’ll show you how. In this post, we’ll detail a few practical ways to inject self-confidence into your job search.

Deal with Your Inner Critic

Our self-confidence erodes when we spend too much time listening to our “inner critic”—the voice in our heads that tells us we’re not good enough, delighting in showing us all our faults.

Unfortunately, the job search experience can bring that inner critic out in full force, emboldened by every rejection or every bad interview.

So how do you silence the inner critic? A few possibilities include:

  • Practice positive self-talk. Every day, devote a few minutes to simply speaking affirmations to yourself. Remind yourself that you are worthy, and that you do have talents to offer. Speak them out loud to yourself.
  • Keep a list of your past career achievements—all the things you’ve done or accomplished that you can feel proud of. Refer back to your list whenever the inner critic pops up.
  • Have people in your life who can encourage you and remind you often that they believe in you. Their encouragements can stifle the inner critic.

Practice Self-Care

Something that can really take the wind out of your sails, and cause your confidence to further plummet, is neglecting self-care. Allowing yourself to become lethargic, overtired, undernourished, stressed out—all of these things can make confidence gaps even wider.

Be intentional about practicing self-care during your job search—and that means:

  • Getting enough sleep at night.
  • Eating three meals a day—actual nutrients, not just protein shakes or fast food!
  • Logging some physical activity each day, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the neighborhood.
  • Engaging in a stress-busting activity—yoga, meditation, drawing, journaling, etc.

Prepare Your Branding

One final thing you can do to inject some self-confidence in your job search: Make sure you have some personal branding materials you can feel proud of.

Remember, the job search is all about selling yourself—so make sure you have some sales materials that can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.

Having a strong resume and cover letter can allow you to enter into interviews with confidence—and even the process of drafting those materials, in conjunction with a professional resume writer, can remind you of past achievements in a way that bolsters your enthusiasm and self-esteem.

Talk with a resume writing pro who can really help you embrace the job search process, feeling confident in your abilities to land a rewarding new position. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. to start the process: 803-831-7444 or www.grammarchic.net.

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5 Factors That Give Your Website Credibility

Your website provides customers with a peek into the kind of business you run—its reputation, its trustworthiness, and its basic value proposition. In other words, your website hints at how credible your company is, and whether or not customers should trust it with their time and money.

Just think for a minute: There are plenty of legitimate businesses on the Web, but also some sketchy ones. Potential customers aren’t going to bank on your business unless they see that it’s the real deal—not something shady or unscrupulous.

And customers aren’t the only ones who care about credibility. Search engine algorithms also work to assess the credibility level of your website. As you might imagine, a higher level of credibility will improve your SEO rankings.

But just because your business is credible doesn’t mean your website conveys it—which raises the question: How can you inject some credibility into your website design?

5 Ways to Develop a More Credible Website

Here are five factors that can make a world of difference.

Reviews and Testimonials

One of the quickest ways to establish your business’s legitimacy is to simply offer some social proof—direct reports from satisfied customers. Reviews and testimonials are both powerful ways to accomplish this. Just make sure you steer clear of any fake testimonials, which can come back to bite you. (And today’s savvy online consumers are better than you might imagine at detecting fakes.)

Advertisements

Some businesses host third-party ads on their site in order to generate extra revenues. This may seem tempting, but it can ultimately be counterproductive. Simply put, the presence of ads makes your business seem a little iffy.

Regular Updates

Have you ever stumbled upon a website that seemed as though it hadn’t been updated in years? That’s obviously not a good look for your business site, as an out-of-date website can make it seem like the business itself is dead. Build credibility by refreshing your website content annually, and by updating your blog often.

Clear Contact Information

Here’s an easy one: Make sure your company contact information is clearly listed on your website, and invite customers to call or email with any questions. If you don’t include this contact information, it can make it seem like you’re hiding from your own customer base

“About Us” Content

Finally, you can make your business seem more credible by offering some information about who you are. Ideally, you’ll have team member bios and photos on the website, emphasizing the real people behind the company.

Boost Your Website Credibility Today

Make it clear to search engines and to potential customers alike that your business is the real deal—and that it’s worthy of their time and money. To learn more about enhancing website credibility, reach out to the team at Grammar Chic, Inc. today. Connect at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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3 Ways to Get Your Resume Down to a Page

Some jobseekers—experienced professionals, C-suite executives, those who’ve had long and robust career histories—may need their resumes to span two or three full pages. That’s perfectly fine. Other jobseekers—the younger, the less experienced—can make do with just one. That’s fine, too.

The trouble comes when you find yourself in the middle ground—with a resume that doesn’t fill two pages, but also doesn’t quite fit into one.

The last thing you want is a resume with a lot of empty space on it. So that one-and-a-half-pager? It’s gotta get cut down.

The question is how. Making razor-thin margins or opting for a microscopic font aren’t good options, because then your resume isn’t readable. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to tighten up your resume and get it down to one action-packed page—helping you portray maximum value quickly and cleanly.

Get Rid of Old Jobs

For starters: How far back are you going in your career history? A good rule of thumb is that employers are most interested in what you’ve done recently—so jobs that are more than 10-15 years old usually don’t need to be included on a resume.

If you’re one of those more experienced workers, and if you have seven or eight different listings in your career history, there’s a good chance you can cut one or two of them to save space.

Eliminate Unnecessary Stuff

Are you including any of the following items on your resume?

  • Hobbies
  • Volunteer positions
  • References
  • “References available upon request”
  • Your high school or college GPA

If so, then just getting rid of these items may be the best approach.

We’re not saying these items never have a place on your resume—but if you’re looking to save space, they can definitely be axed without any great loss.

Keep Your Bullet Points Short

Your career history should take up the bulk of the space on your resume—so that’s ultimately where you need to look as you try to keep things brief.

The best resumes list job accomplishments and responsibilities in bullet points—and most of the time, you should be able to keep each bullet point to a single line. If yours are longer, trim them down, focusing each one on strong action words, numbers, and statistics, while removing any “fluff” or filler.

Also remember to remove any redundancies. If you “provided exemplary customer service” in your last four jobs, you don’t necessarily need to list it under each one; saying it just once is usually sufficient.

Bring Focus to Your Resume

At the end of the day, a good resume is a focused resume—and if you’re having a hard time finding focus, that’s something we can help you with. Schedule a call with one of our resume writing professionals today. Reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. by visiting www.grammarchic.net or calling 803-831-7444.

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5 Ways Jobseekers Can Address Employment Gaps—Positively

Everyone’s story is different. Maybe you got your first job when you were still in high school, and have been working steadily ever since. Then again, maybe you left the workforce for an extended period of time— whether to go back to school, to raise a child, or to contend with some medical issues.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, of course—but it can lead to some resume complications. How can jobseekers address gaps in their employment history? Here are a few positive, pragmatic tips from our resume writing team.

Addressing Employment Gaps on Your Resume

Whatever You Do, Don’t Apologize

First and foremost: Remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with taking time off for pursuits as noble as raising a kid or going back to school. It may give you an unconventional career trajectory, but it is nothing to feel ashamed or sorry about. Avoid taking any sort of an apologetic tone on your resume—because frankly, that can scan as negativity, which is the last thing you want on your resume.

Use Your Cover Letter to Your Advantage

Your resume doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting! If you have a year or two where you weren’t working, you can bring it up in your cover letter—noting succinctly (and unapologetically!) that you briefly detoured out of the workforce to care for an ailing parent, seek medical attention, or whatever else. Don’t be timid about offering a quick and direct explanation, then moving on.

Consider an Alternative Resume Format

Most of the time, we recommend a chronological work history—but if your work chronology is a little weird or wonky, you may benefit from a functional resume, one that’s laid out by skills/competencies rather than a straight job history. This can be a smart way to emphasize your strengths while being discreet about your absence from the workforce.

Avoid Complaining About Old Bosses

Sometimes, an absence from the workforce is all because you had a really bad wok experience, and just couldn’t stick around any longer. That’s fine, but make sure you never lapse into complaining about a former boss—no matter how bad the boss was! Simply put, nobody wants to hire a complainer. Don’t brand yourself that way.

Keep the Emphasis on Your Achievements

If you missed a few months or a few years of work, it’s important to let employers know that you didn’t lose your mojo in the interim. Make sure you include plenty of strong, specific achievements from before and after your time off. And if you’ve not yet returned to the workforce after a long absence, include some details about what you did during your time off—such as volunteer work, freelance projects, or continuous education. Just make it clear you weren’t sitting idly by!

Get a Tune-Up for Your Resume

Could your resume do a better job of addressing an employment gap? Ask our resume writers to help. Give us a call and schedule a resume consultation—www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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10 Things You Need for Successful Social Media Marketing

Every business wants a robust presence on social media; indeed, it’s almost impossible to succeed without one. But social media marketing requires a lot more than just signing up for a Facebook account and posting the occasional meme.

Actually, it requires a comprehensive strategy, involving many moving parts. Here’s a quick checklist—some non-negotiable elements of any successful social media marketing campaign.

10 Things You Need for Your Social Marketing Efforts

  1. Goals. What’s the point of your social marketing outreach? How will you know whether or not you’re succeeding? You need to have clearly defined goals to guide your efforts—and that means goals that are specific, measurable, and time-bound.
  2. Audience. Who are you trying to reach? On which social networks will you find them? And what kind of content are they looking for? Use buyer personas to ensure you’re speaking directly to your target audience.
  3. Automation. Not everything can be automated, but using a program like Hootsuite to schedule some posts can remove some of the grunt work, and help your campaign run more efficiently.
  4. Humanity. The whole point of social media is connection. Make sure you’re humanizing your brand: Use humor when appropriate and include some candid photos of your team.
  5. Consistency. Regular activity is critical for social media success. Simply put, nobody’s going to keep up with a social media presence where the updates are infrequent or sporadic. Use an editorial calendar to stay on schedule.
  6. Interaction. Social media is a two-way street! Monitor your accounts and take the time to respond to any questions or comments you get from customers or fans.
  7. Curated content. If you’re looking to build thought leadership and display your industry authority, it’s important to sometimes share informative content from external sources (not your competitors).
  8. Original content. Curated content is important, but hopefully you’re developing plenty of branded content to share, too. Aim for a spectrum of content—blog posts, photos, videos, Web page shares, etc.
  9. Data. Are you regularly consulting analytics to see what’s working—and what’s not? Make sure you’re using the right dashboards and tweaking your strategy as you go.
  10. Optimization. Finally, make sure your social media bios and profiles are all well-optimized. Include target keywords and convey the value proposition for your brand. Refresh your profiles roughly once a year or so.

Those are the basic elements of a strong social media presence—but of course, bringing them all together can be tough. We’d love to chat with you about how the Grammar Chic team can provide strategy, day-to-day management, content creation, and reporting. Contact us today and ask about our social media management services! Reach out at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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Your Cover Letter Should Include These Six Elements

When submitting a resume to a recruiter or hiring manager, it’s usually a good idea to include a cover letter, as well—even if you’ve been told that cover letters are “optional.” Simply put, a cover letter gives you an additional chance to pitch yourself; it’s one more piece of marketing collateral that can help you convey your value as an employee and stand out from the competition.

But all of this is contingent on your cover letter being well-constructed. If you’ve never drafted a cover letter before, you may wish to consider consulting with one of our resume writers, who can ensure you’re putting your best foot forward.

Or, consider these brief guidelines—six elements that characterize an effective cover letter.

Six Things Every Cover Letter Needs

  1. Specifics. Using bullet points, outline two to four of your most significant career accomplishments—and whenever possible, use statistics and numbers to lend those achievements some specificity. Hiring managers respond better to quantifiable accomplishments than to generalities; “increased sales by 35 percent” is always better than just “increased sales.”
  2. Personalization. Every cover letter you send out should be customized; don’t simply copy and paste the same text for every job opportunity. Whenever possible, do a little online research and find the name of the hiring manager or HR head who’s going to be receiving the cover letter, and address it to them individually.
  3. Brevity. This isn’t the place to tell your life story. It’s not even the place to outline your career history; that’s what your resume is for! A good cover letter is more like an elevator pitch, quick and punchy. You never want it to exceed a page; often, half a page is sufficient.
  4. Keywords. Another important way in which you can customize your cover letter? Look through the job description for the role you’re seeking, and try to incorporate some of that verbiage into your cover letter—emphasizing your fit for the position. If the job description uses the phrase “customer service” two or three times, that’s a phrase you should include in the cover letter.
  5. Contact information. Your name, address, phone number, and email address should all be included in the cover letter—always!
  6. Value. The big picture here is that you’re trying to show a potential employer the benefits you can offer them—and that means displaying the unique value you have as a professional. Try to articulate those things you believe make you special as an employee. This is where those specific accomplishments come in handy; and, where generalizations like hard-working and motivated generally come up short.

These guidelines should point you toward a strong cover letter—but if you still have questions, we’d love to look over your resume and cover letter and suggest some revisions. Reach out to the resume writing team at Grammar Chic, Inc. to schedule a consultation. Connect with us at www.grammarchic.net or 803-831-7444.

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