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The Benefits of Blogging for Your Business

by Sharon Vornholt on January 8, 2013 · 25 comments

  
blogging for your business

I have been blogging for several years now. What I have found is that the business benefits of blogging far outweigh the pain of getting started.

And what I mean by “the pain” is everything that a non-techie like me had to learn.

Sure; I knew my way around the internet. But I really didn’t have a clue about the big picture; what was really involved with domain names, hosting, setting up a wordpress blog, and all of the other million things you need to know about to start a blog. When a man at the hosting company told me all I had to do was “point my name-servers where I wanted them to go”, I just had to tell him that I had no idea what he was talking about. I must have been pretty convincing, because he actually took pity on me took care of it.

Well, all I can say is that a lot has changed in the last couple of years. I have managed to learn all of those “terrifying things”, one thing at a time.

Blogging and Your Expert Status

Blogging gives you a voice within your industry. It also helps you to achieve that “expert status” that directly translates into dollars for your business. One of the unexpected benefits for me was that I found I actually loved doing it since I had never really considered myself a writer. Since I first started my blog I have been invited to write for four national publications, and I have been used as a source for numerous industry articles, written guest posts on other blogs and have been included in many interviews about real estate investing. So for me, it has definitely been a good thing. I cannot say enough good things about the exposure you will get right here on this awesome site BiggerPockets.

Blogging will give you the confidence to do other things you never thought you could do. Taking calculated baby steps in your business will lead to massive positive change over time. So if you have been holding back and haven’t yet gotten started, make it your goal to take some steps toward creating your blog this first month of this New Year.

A Quick Start Guide to Setting up Your Blog

There are some “first steps” you need to take to start your new blog. I am going to give you a “quick start” guide to help you get going. If you get stuck on something, there is most likely someone here on BiggerPockets that can answer your question.

What Type of WordPress Blog Should I Set Up?

WordPress is actually pretty easy to use, so that would be my recommendation for a blog platform. There are two basic types of wordpress blogs.

  • The first is a blog that is hosted by WordPress at wordpress.com. It is completely free, but it has what I consider to be some significant limitations. The biggest one for me is that wordpress.com can decide at any time that they are unhappy with your blog and shut it down. That one is a deal breaker for me. And if you ever think you might want to sell information products or even some type of actual physical product you can’t do that with this blog.

  • I would recommend that you get a self-hosted wordpress.org blog. That is what most serious bloggers have.

Get Your Domain Name First

There are a number of places where you can get your domain name, and it will probably cost about $10-$14.00 for a .com name. It will also cost you about this much to renew it each year. If you can get a .com name rather than a .net name, get the .com.

Give some serious thought to what you want your blog to be called. You want folks to be able to find on the internet. If you have a real estate blog, it is good to have the word “real estate” in the title, but there are a lot of other keywords that work very well like “property” and “invest.”

There is a retail store here that sells ice cream and yogurt called “Red Apple”. Would you have ever guessed in a million years what this business does? Choose your name carefully.

Many of you have a business already so you might look for “yourbusinessname.com”. In my case, my blog was specifically for real estate investors. I don’t want motivated sellers coming to that site, so my blog does not have the name of my business associated with it. I do have another site with that domain name.

Your Self Hosted Blog

If you decide to have this type of blog (and you should) you will need a hosting company for your domain name and your blog. Your hosting company provides a place on the internet for you to put your blog and store your content. There are a lot of hosting companies where you can pay less than $10.00 a month for multiple blogs. In fact, some are even less than $4.00 per month. My advice to you is to go to one of the better known companies. They do a great job, they are economical, and if you need help quickly even in the middle of the night, they have 24 hour support.

BiggerPockets recommends HostGator and BlueHost for your web hosting needs.

Setting Up Your Blog

The hosting company will have a “backend” called cPanel where you can install the blog. They have all sorts of help topics and videos in there too.

There is a program called Fantastico that is quick and easy to use in cPanel to set up your wordpress blog. If you want to really take the easy way out, head on over to my favorite site of all times where you get help for just about anything: fiverr.com (No affiliation here). You can get someone to set up your blog and install some basic plugins (tools) all for $5.00.

Pretty and Functional

For most of us our blog needs to be easy to work with, and it needs to look good. Once again your blog should be a reflection of YOU and your individual personality. There is no right or wrong way to do this.

Wait a Minute; I’m not Really a Writer.

I know this is a concern for many people. They say they just don’t know what to write about, and their spelling and grammar is terrible. What I would say to you is to just sit down and write your stories, share your experiences or teach something to others. There are folks online that can help you with the editing process if you need that. It is your “voice” that people will ultimately connect with. The most important thing is to just get started.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have. And if you liked this post, please share it.
Photo:Mike Licht

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Greg Turnquist January 8, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Good article Sharon!

I personally picked blogspot, but that is in the noise. Wordpress would have been my second choice. I like the option of automatically having a mobile option, so the blog is easy to read on the iPhone or other mobile device. Blogspot and Wordpress both have that.

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Sharon Vornholt January 9, 2013 at 8:20 am

Hi Greg -

I downloaded a simple free plugin for wordpress so that it could be viewed on a mobile device. It seems to do the job. I know some folks also use blogspot and love it too. Thanks for your comments.

Sharon

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Joshua Dorkin January 8, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Great stuff Sharon! It really continues to amaze me how few people in the real estate investing niche maintain an active blog. All I know is this . . . those people that do tend to get a TON of value from them. Everyone I know that is an active blogger will go on and on about the merits of doing it; so why aren’t more people?

Hopefully they will ask themselves the same question and get themselves up and running.

At the very least, they can test if they like it by setting up a free real estate blog on BiggerPockets. You don’t have all the bells and whistles that come with your own domain, but you do have one MAJOR advantage — a built in audience of readers…

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Sharon Vornholt January 9, 2013 at 8:38 am

@Josh Dorkin – Setting up a blog on BP is a good idea. It gives folks a feel for blogging, and you do have a built in audience. You can test the waters a bit.

As for why people don’t get started, I think that the whole job just seems overwhelming at first. Non techies may just need a little help to get going. With sites like fiverr.com. you can find that initial set up help really cheap.

Last night on my mastermind call, we were talking about writing blog posts. One person really hates writing; she said she would rather go to the dentist than write blog posts. But she can shoot a video and convey the same message or teach something in a couple of minutes. Since she loves doing video, that is primarily what she does. That is just one way you can get out of doing so much writing.

There are some bloggers out there that primarily video their rehab projects as they progress and just write short blurbs to explain that particular video. That is their method of teaching and blogging.

There really is no “right way” to do it. As always, I appreciate your comments Josh.

Sharon

I really enourage every active real estate investor to set up and maintain a blog. Once again, I think ou just need to find what works for you; your personality or your “voice”, your particular skills and you preferences.

Sharon

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ketty boucher January 9, 2013 at 4:57 am

Hello Sharon, in my point of view blogging attract more audience and if you have a vast knowledge in your business so with the help of blogging you will express your views and also take suggestions from others.I’m business owner in real state in happy valley and love to treat buyers and sellers locally.

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Sharon Vornholt January 9, 2013 at 9:05 am

Ketty –

There is no better way to attract an audience than blogging in my opinion. Whatever your level of knowledge, there is an audience for what you have to teach and the stories you have to tell.Good luck.

Sharon

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Nasar January 9, 2013 at 8:34 am

Sharon,

Great article as usual.. Thank you for giving such great information. I intend to launch my blog this year. Alot of people have a old school mindset and are scared of the internet unfortunately..

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Sharon Vornholt January 9, 2013 at 9:10 am

Nasar -

Just follow the steps and do it! We all had to learn. Good luck.

Sharon

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Toyin January 17, 2013 at 7:54 am

It is a good article Sharon. That said, I just started my real estate company about 5 months ago and about three months ago, I set up my blog page but I am not a WRITER! I live in Nigeria and employing a content provider here costs an arm and a leg. The idea I have about my blog is to talk about topical issues in my city, though I am a realtor. But getting started is where I am stuck! Any help?

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Sharon Vornholt January 17, 2013 at 9:43 am

Toyin –

I think that would be fine. You can always narrow your niche later down the road.

A lot of Realtors talk about their city, schools, neighborhoods etc. When you have a listing, you can post good things about that particular neighborhood.

You could also talk about the value of working with a realtor, make a list of tips for having a smooth closing or getting your loan, or other things that you already know about. Just put your knowledge out there for folks. Just remember; most folks don’t have YOUR expertise.

Sharon

You might check into Odesk for articles. You can find some pretty good writers on there that are very reasonable.

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Greg Turnquist January 9, 2013 at 9:11 am

One golden nugget I read about building your blog, is that you have to build it slowly over time. Your readership doesn’t grow overnight. (I’m sure Josh can testify to that.) But the key to a good readership is making sincere contributions. In other words, when you visit and comment on other blog sites, don’t be looking for a quick blurb just to drop a link back to your own blog. Actually try and contribute something of merit there, and people are 10x more likely to come visit your own blog.

Another strategy I adopted is trying to publish periodically on my own blog instead of in a flurry. Most blogging platforms let you schedule when a blog is published. That way, you can spend a week to a month working on an entry, and as long as you have a pipeline of entries in progress, you can maintain a consistent release of publishings.

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Sharon Vornholt January 9, 2013 at 9:25 am

Greg-

It does take time to build an audience, and you have to provide quality content. But I also think, you have to publish on a pretty regular schedule or folks will forget about you.

I recommend that when you are first getting started to have 5 or 6 blog posts on your site before you start promoting it. (Your fist post should be an introductory post). Also, don’t start promoting your site before you have some good content there for folks to read.

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Greg Turnquist January 9, 2013 at 9:37 am

I also found http://twitterfeed.com/ more effective at getting my blog postings into my twitter feed than the plugins that came with wordpress. Blogger doesn’t have any such plugin. That site also supports facebook.

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Sharon Vornholt January 9, 2013 at 9:45 am

Thanks Greg. I will take a look at that.

Glenn Espinosa January 9, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Sharon,

Thanks a lot for this post. Because of you I jumpstarted my blogging today. I’ve been putting it off for months now and today I finally sat down and wrote something. Now I think I’m hooked! I have so many things to say but I want to let my first post sink in first before I follow them up.

I’m doing a multi part series on my forray into green real estate investing and showcasing it here on Biggerpockets. Any idea on how often I should be updating. I have enough material to put out 3 more posts right now but I wanna keep the cliff hanger going for some time.

Thanks!

Glenn

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Greg Turnquist January 9, 2013 at 10:27 pm

Glenn,

If you don’t mind me jumping in here. It took a bit of exploration with my first few blog posts, but I found that if I posted every two weeks, that gave me a enough time to form a series of regular blog posts. Some of my entries were really quick, while others I would spend a whole month forming. But knowing I had a chain of scheduled articles took the pressure of wanting to get stuff out right now, and gave me the freedom to scrub my entries until they were good enough for me. I didn’t want sloppy, poorly worded material to distract my readers.

I have felt that if I have a consistent time, like Monday every other week, my own readers will start to develop an expectation, and that would be a good thing. I don’t have much concrete feedback to go on beyond total number of hits. But I’m still building things.

Good luck in your own writing endeavors.

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Sharon Vornholt January 10, 2013 at 7:08 am

Glenn –

In the beginning, I posted 3 times a week just to get people used to seeing my name, and to begin to get followers. After a month or so, I began blog regularly twice a week; sometimes I will post 3 times a week on occasion. I also use a free plugin called “sexy bookmarks” to share my posts via twitter, facebook, google+, google bookmarks and and some other places. You can see it on my blog at the bottom. It just looks nice.

For instance, last week I had a 3 part article on how to make money from facebook, and I wanted folks to remember the previous article. Even though I had a link in there to the other parts, they would have lost interest if they didn’t get to read the whole thing quickly. But for the most part, my readers know to hear from me about twice a week.Sometimes it will be a video interview instead of a long written post, but it’s always twice a week.

If that works for Greg to blog infrequently, then he can do that.

In my opinion though unless you are a very well known blogger like Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, you won’t build followers and build “authority” in your niche unless you blog more often. You have to find a way to stand out. There are a million bloggers out there so why should they read your blog? That’s what you have to nail down.

The other main function of blogging is list building. Don’t make the mistake of not collecting the names and email adresses of your readers from the very beginning like a lot of us did. I use aweber to collect those names and send out my autoresponders.

Blogging is very addictive once you get started. I went from dreading the whole process when I first set up my blog to loving every minute of it.Good luck with your blog.

Sharon

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Greg Turnquist January 10, 2013 at 8:17 am

I would second Sharon’s points in a heartbeat. If you can blog 2-3 times a week, then do it. My point is that if you sit down, and craft three blog entries in one sitting, don’t immediately publish them all. I think spreading them out to Monday/Wednesday/Friday will provide some nice juicy content for your future readers, and not leave you wondering tomorrow what to blog about next. Tomorrow, you can start working on next week’s blog entries.

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Glenn Espinosa January 10, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Sharon & Greg,

Thanks a lot for the tips! I will definitely keep working at it.

Glenn

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Troy January 10, 2013 at 1:57 pm

I wish I had started earlier in my investing to be blogging. Albeit it was only about a year. I haven’t moved into “teaching” post so much as telling my day to day story as a landlord and investor.

Its great to have an audience, but mostly I am doing it for myself. It’s relaxing to sit down and write about todays current problem and how I can/could address it differently. It also is great to craft the story so that I look at the problem or issue in a different way.

I hope that you get more into this subject about investor/bloggers.

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Sharon Vornholt January 10, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Troy –

I sure wish I had started sooner. Once I did, I discovered the same thing. I really liked blogging. I think there is an audience for just about every type of blog, so just do what feels right for you. It really is a good way to build your brand.

What exactly would you like me to cover?

Sharon

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Troy January 11, 2013 at 8:35 am

Sharon,
The Title of your Post is: The Benefits of Blogging for Your Business. And yet you spend most of the article talking about how to set-up a blog, and to just go do it. In fact the only major Benefit you point out is increasing your expert status.

Sure having expert status may be great for some people, and my be where some people want to go, but I’d be interested in seeing some posts from you about the different kind of benefits each type of investor can get from blogging. A birddog should be blogging differently to increase their business than a landlord should blog?

I’d also like to see you go into more depth about the trial and tribulations you have had in building your blogging brand.

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Sharon Vornholt January 11, 2013 at 4:44 pm

I will do that in a future post Troy.

Sharon

Rachel January 10, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Nice write-up Sharon!

I think it’s different for everyone — people blog for their own reasons. Some do try to build up a business around it while others use it as a podium to voice their opinions and experiences.

For me personally, it’s been more like an exercise in therapy and reflection than anything else. I think in this business it’s kind of hard to find people who see value in what we do. Let’s face it, the majority of people continue with the status quo and keep doing the same thing everyone else is doing. So when faced with someone who is different, someone who goes against the grain and the norm of what is generally accepted, it’s a challenge to have a common ground of conversation to say the least.

When I first started blogging, I did write for a lot of people — there was always a topic that folks wanted to be discussed. However, as I evolved as a blogger I found that writing for myself and sharing my experiences with others was much more enjoyable. Once I started having fun with it, I didn’t see blogging as a grind — it was something I looked forward to.

Apart from improving my skills as a writer and sharing my experiences with the world, blogging has given me an opportunity to have discussions with others interested in the same topic(s) and also meet other bloggers some of which I have developed lasting friendships with. At its heart, blogging gives others a way and ability to connect with others.

No matter what the medium (i.e. text, video, audio, etc) blogging gives folks the opportunity to have their voice heard as contributors to history by leaving their mark on the world.

Thanks for the tips Sharon, here’s to another year of blogging! :)

p.s. I forgot to mention. When I was contemplating using a different platform for my own blog (previously on blogspot), I asked for some feedback from my blogging pals who all suggested using WordPress. I was thinking about using tumblr but glad I took their advice and made the switch to WP, definitely a more suitable platform for what I was doing!!

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Sharon Vornholt January 11, 2013 at 9:17 am

Hi Rachel-

I think one of the things you pointed out is really important; the opportunity to have conversations with like minded folks. There are so many ways we can share information with and learn from other people in our business. Blogging is a great way to do that. I know that some of the things like moving into video did not come easily for me. But amazingly once I did it, video was just another tool that I have come to rely on.

I think it is also a great way to build your confidence. You really do find out just how far you have come and also how much you still want (and need) to learn when you interact with others investors.

Like you, I have built many lasting friendships through blogging. It has opened many doors for me, and I know it has done the same thing for you.

For anyone that doesn’t know Rachel, she is the author of a fairly new book called “Adventures in Mobil Homes”. Those of you that are thinking about working in this niche, should definitely check out her book, and you can find a review of it on my site.

Thanks for commenting.
Sharon

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