For professionals and business owners, time is scarce, yet it should be clear by now that blogging offers such a strong return that it should not be ignored. So what’s the solution? How is it possible for a busy professional to work blogging into an already crazy schedule? Here are a few tips:
Tip one: Just post once or twice a week
It’s been said that posting every day is great for search rankings. It’s true that more is better if you’re shooting for the best search rankings possible. However, search rankings are only one of many ways to benefit from blogging. And not posting every day does not detract from any of those other benefits. It also does not remove all search ranking benefits. Many, many successful bloggers only post once or twice a week. Post every day if you like and can maintain that type of schedule. However, don’t think about it in black and white. If you can only post once a week or so, there is still a lot of good you can do with a blog. Not being able to post something new every day is not a reason to not start a blog for your business.
Tip two: Don’t worry about SEO
Little bits of time add up to big chunks of time! If time is a factor (which is usually is for small business blogs), make the commitment to just not worry about SEO. That’s right; I said it! It will save you a lot of heartache, and it will save you a LOT of time!
Truly I understand that this may come off as crazy to so many of you who are already sold on the value of SEO. And I’m definitely not saying there’s no power in it. There is. But believe it or not, worrying about SEO for your small business blog is not going to do you a lot of good unless you really know what you’re doing!
First of all, it takes a good amount of time to learn about it, implement on what you learn, all for marginal results unless you really are very good and committed to it. SEO is an entire industry. Dipping your toes in does not make you an expert. If SEO is a concern for you, hire someone who knows what they’re doing to address it. But know that if you’re writing a blog on a good platform like WordPress, and you’re regularly posting content about a focused topic…like the business you run in your niche…you are ALREADY doing a lot for SEO. There’s simply not a need to become absorbed with it unless you truly find it interesting.
Too many business people with a blog take it upon themselves to become an “SEO expert”. With all due respect, it’s not gonna happen any more than you’re going to start fixing your own car or performing your own dental work. There’s just too much to learn, the rules change all the time, and if you have a business to run, you don’t have time to become an SEO pro. Focus on your business. Owning a blog doesn’t make you an SEO expert anymore than owning a rental property makes you Donald Trump.
Really, you say? Can I really just write content for my blog and not worry about SEO at all? Yes, you can! And believe it or not, you’ll STILL likely to get lots of traffic from Google. And guess what else? Google is not the almighty god as you’ve been led to believe! Google rocks; don’t get me wrong. But there are a LOT of places for a small business owner to get traffic…email marketing, local advertising, word of mouth, social media and many others…for your locally based business, these are more than sufficient, and none of them require you to ever learn what a robots.txt or a meta description is, nor do you have to even care!
For the time-stressed professional who wants to blog, just hire a professional to address your SEO concerns, or throw it out the window altogether. You’ll thank me for it!
Tip three: Don’t post your listings…or at least hire someone else to do it
The number one thing I see real estate professionals post on their blog is their listings. I get it. It’s an easy thing to come up with. You have listings, you want to promote your listings, and you have this blog that needs new content all the time. So posting your listings makes sense. Except for the fact that listings are one of the most boring things you can put on your blog!
Think about why YOU would want to read a real estate blog. You would probably want to know more about the market in general, get real estate advice, stats and updates on particular neighborhoods that interest you. You’d probably like to know more about the actual agent, how they work, etc. Ideas on how to know what to offer for a home, how to find an agent, tips on moving to your town, etc…things like that.
I’m not saying don’t put your listings on your blog, but if yours is one of the many real estate blogs that has NOTHING but listings, don’t be surprised if you’re getting very few subscribers and very few (or zero) comments. A blog is supposed to be conversational and informative. Listings are valid, but don’t let them be the focal point of your blog!
That said, post your listings if you want but understand that it takes time, and it’s entirely possible someone on your staff can post your listings for you. I still would rather see more real estate blogs with NO listings at all (just provide a link to your IDX, and you’re all set), but if you’re going to post your listings, have someone on your staff do it for you, and spend your TIME working on actual content that is informational and helpful to your readers. If time comes at a premium for your blogging, then spend your time on actually engaging your readers in conversation…not just doing the clerical work of posting your listings!
Tip four: Pick a couple social networks and don’t worry about the rest
Yes, there are many social networks out there. And truthfully, they all have some value to them. But so many of us see things in black and white. It’s not all or nothing. I feel that as soon as you’ve started building your network online, you’ve gotten your feet wet and started to see results, you’ll see how leveraged and powerful social media marketing can be for your business, and you’ll start to take on more as things progress. But let it progress naturally.
I’ve been asked many times what social networks are important to join. The big ones right now are Twitter and Facebook. Join those. It will take some time to get the hang of it. Just dive in and learn em. Don’t let it be any more complicated than that.
Definitely don’t bother with setting up a hundred profiles everywhere if you’re not planning on being able to maintain them all. That’s not going to do you any good! Just set up a couple, and check in a couple times a day. Let it grow from there : )
Tip five: Keep a journal of post ideas
I carry a steno book with me everywhere. Old school, I know. But it works for me. I write down ideas for posts when they hit me. I have a catalog of nearly a hundred or so article ideas at my fingertips. Any time I need to crank out a post, I grab my list and look for something to strike me. 15 minutes later or so, post is complete. A simple system like this enables you to always have content for your blog. Writing a post really doesn’t need to be over-thought or belabored. Just write that sucker! Truly, blogging doesn’t have to consume your whole day, and if you have a business to run, it shouldn’t.
Tip six: Use Twitter to monitor topics
Twitter is a huge conversational tool. I’ve met many great people, have made lots of money and even have met a few potential business partners on Twitter. But if time is a factor, you can do what many professionals do, which is to use Twitter primarily as a tool for monitoring certain topics.
You can install a client like Tweetdeck and set up searches, so anytime someone mentions your name, the name of your business or a specific topic that is particularly relevant to your operation, it shows up right on your desktop. Pretty cool, eh? So use Twitter that way.
When someone says “man, that agent so-and-so is awesome!” you will see it, and you can say thanks. Pretty simple, right? And the person will be ultra-impressed with your responsiveness. You just turned a fan into a real advocate. Or on the flip side, if someone is complaining or bad mouthing you, you have the opportunity to tactfully offer to make things right. Responding to a complaint promptly can easily turn a complainer into a fan with just a minute of effort.
Twitter is a powerful tool for monitoring your reputation online, and when used solely for this purpose it literally doesn’t need to take more than a few minutes a day.
Tip seven: Get on, get done, get off
What takes the most time when it comes to working online? Is it blogging, checking messages on Facebook, etc? What is it? I’ll tell you what it is. It’s distractions. It’s kitty photos and links that you decide to follow because “it’ll just take a second”. Those seconds turn into minutes, which lead to more distractions and so on.
I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s doable: log on with a specific task, complete that task, and log off. I’ve even gone so far as to write it down, so I have a 1, 2, 3 list right in front of me. Knock those things off the list, and close your browser.
Seriously, killing distractions and just doing what you need to do can cut the amount of time you spend “working” in half.
Tip eight: Get help
Real estate professionals use staff and virtual assistants for numerous things. Printing, clerical work, mailings, etc. I encourage you to look into the prospect of hiring a virtual assistant to do things for you. Things like email marketing, blog software maintenance, etc. There are a number of things that you really don’t need to do personally that can be delegated without having any effect on the power of your social media presence.
You should be the one to write your posts, respond to comments, etc. There are some things you just need to do, but there are a lot of little details that can be handled by someone else.
Additionally, hiring a consultant from time to time to help you plan your social media strategy can go a long way to killing the learning curve and get you on your way to seeing real results fast. There are a number of blogging and social media consultants and coaches out there. Find someone you’re comfortable with that speaks your language. Someone you connect with who’s clearly had success with building a social media presence, and work with em for a bit. Get some straight answers, tailored specifically for your business. Implement on what you learn from them.
Don’t take it upon yourself to do and learn everything for yourself any more than you’d expect your clients to know everything there is to know about real estate! There’s a lot to learn; getting help can drastically save you time and hassle.
It’s important not to ignore the value blogging can bring to your business. Since blogging is the ultimate way to maintain a personal conversation with a large number of people, it’s really worth whatever time commitment you can make to it. As is the case with most worthwhile things, you get out what you put in.
That said, time is ALWAYS a concern for busy professionals, so it’s essential to realize blogging can be fit into any schedule.