BiggerPockets.com is an amazing learning resource for real estate investors. That’s why most of us are here.
But like all great resources on the internet, it comes with a big challenge.
There is so much great information that it can become overwhelming.
This article is about simplifying your learning experience, getting more clear and confident, and making real progress towards your investing goals.
I’m going to give you 5 specific strategies that you can use alone or in combination.
Let’s get started.
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5 Steps to Make REAL Progress Towards Your Investing Goals
1. Answer the Question: Why Are You Here?
Have you ever watched that awesome TED talk “Start With Why“?
Everything great starts with why. Awesome companies. World changing movements. Inspiring leaders.
Your real estate investing career is no different.
Your “why” gives you perspective on the “what” and the “how” of real estate.
Exploring “why” also helps you focus. It helps you simplify the information you take in because you will be attracted to some information and ignore other information.
So, why are you here? Why do you read articles, listen to podcasts, and interact on the Forums at BP?
- Do you hope to buy your first rental property?
- Do you hope to start a business fixing and flipping houses?
- Do you want to be a deal finder as a wholesaler or an agent?
- Or do you not know exactly why you’re here? Are you still trying to figure it out?
Any of those answers is reasonable. But take some time to explore your own motivations before you dig into the next set of articles or podcasts. Focus on the short-term, like your “why” in the next 6-12 months.
If you have trouble with this, try asking the opposite question.
What are you NOT here for? Choosing what to exclude may be just as useful as choosing what to focus on.
2. Figure Out Your Main Study Topics (Exclude the Rest)
Once you get a little more clarity on your why you’ll be able to focus more on specific topics taught here on BiggerPockets.com.
For example, let’s say your “why” or objective is to buy your first rental property.
Here are the topics that I would recommend you study:
- Factors that affect values and rents
- Financing options for real estate
- Deal analysis (the numbers)
- Rehab and construction estimating
- Strategies to find and negotiate deals
- Property management best practices
- Basics of real estate laws and contracts
In another article, I wrote about “The 7 Must-Read Real Estate Books For Beginning Investors,” and I called these topics the “101 classes” of your real estate self education.
Unlike a real university, YOU decide the teachers and the curriculum for your 101 classes. So choose carefully!
This is one of the main reasons for information overload. Without a “why” and without an idea of what topics you should focus on, you tend to drift about from one eye-catching headline to another.
Trust me, there are plenty of talented authors and knowledgeable experts who are more than happy for you to read their stuff. And most of it is pretty good.
BUT it doesn’t matter how interesting or good it is. What matters is does it move you forward toward your objective?
So, I recommend actually writing down an education plan, just like you would for any other important project. Pick the most important topics and use them to choose what you learn and what you ignore.
If you are so new or overwhelmed that you don’t know the most important topics or even the questions to ask, do one of the following:
- Leave a comment at the bottom of this article sharing your objective (your “why”), and I will be happy to do my best to help you explore the topics you should focus on.
- Post a question in the Forums, either in the New Member Introduction Area or in the specific forum that matches your “why” or objective (like rental properties, wholesaling, flipping, etc.). BP is known for the knowledgeable people who are willing to help.
3. Use BiggerPockets Tools to Help You Focus
Now that you’re more clear on why you’re here and now that you have a list of topics to study, use technology as your friend to help you focus.
Here are some of the best BP tools (feel free to comment below if I left some out):
If you haven’t used it before, the BP search box is here:
You can search for any of the topics you’ve chosen in step #2. The more specific you get, the better.
Below is an example of the search results you would get if one of your topics was “house hacking duplex.” There are 957 forum posts and 5 blog posts related to just this one topic!
You can also click on “filter results” in order to narrow your results by most recent, by author, or by other criteria.
This is a great way to find forum topics, blog posts, and podcasts that are relevant to you.
Subscribe to Forums
The forums are probably the richest resource on BP because you can find discussions on just about any topic. But they’re also HUGE and cover more than you need to focus on.
So use the “subscribe to forum” tool. This allows you to just get notices on your BP Dashboard from the forums that are relevant to your education needs.
Subscribing to the BiggerPockets Forums is simple.
- Visit the Forums Categories Page.
- Click on a forum that you want to follow.
- Click on the “subscribe to forum” box (like picture below).
4. Now every time you check into BP, you can view your “Subscribed Forum” tab on the main forum page to get a list of all conversations and topics you’re interested in.
This is a very handy tool. You can choose words that you want to follow anywhere on the BiggerPockets.com Forums and Marketplace.
People use these alerts for finding deals in their market and connecting with other members. But it’s also very useful for learning about specific topics.
Go back to your topic list, figure out the most urgent ones to learn, and add them to your keyword alerts. Now you’ll be notified anytime a conversation occurs about that topic in the Forums.
It’s nice to jump on topics quickly because then you can ask questions or offer your own experience to the topic. These conversations are a great way to learn.
4. Go Deep With the Right Experts (Ignore the Rest)
Now you know why you’re on BP and what you want to study, and you’ve used the BP tools to focus your information intake.
But it’s still possible to focus your learning even more.
Of all the blog authors and forum experts on BP, some of them will resonate with you more than others. Maybe it’s because they have a similar story to yours. Or maybe you just think they’re funny (it’s hard not to laugh reading a Ben Leybovich article).
Whatever the reason, find a few people you respect on BP who cover your topics, and go deep with their content.
Read all of their blog articles, new and old. Read all of their forum posts. Ask them questions in the comments and forum posts. Use the “follow” tool to keep up with them on BP.
Part of learning is studying specific information. But another part of learning is just absorbing successful people’s approach to business and life. The more you observe what they say and do, the more you’ll pick up.
Famous personal development teacher Jim Rohn once said:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
The community of BP is great because you can choose to spend time with whomever you want, and this can “average up” your real estate game in the process.
I also like to find out who the experts I respect study. What authors do they like? What books do they read? What courses have they taken?
For example, I love reading everything about Warren Buffett I can get my hands on. But who did he learn from? How did he improve himself to get where he is today?
One of his biggest influences was Benjamin Graham. As a result, I have read and enjoyed Graham’s book The Intelligent Investor.
5. Schedule Offline Learning Time
As much as I love the internet for its wealth of free information and the ability to connect with people from all over the world, it does have its downsides.
For me personally, the downside is just the amount of distractions and diversions any online reading can bring.
One minute you’re reading about rental leases, and the next moment you’re on ESPN.com reading about the Clemson Tigers’ chance at a football national championship.
By the way, my Clemson Tigers do have a good chance this year! [Editor’s note: Go Tar Heels!]
But back to our REAL topic. I like to take my learning offline from time to time. I do this in a few ways:
- Turn off alerts on my cell phone
- Read printed books (I know, that’s old school)
- Print articles (even MORE old school)
- Attend classes or networking events in person
Maybe I’m the only one, but I still learn best in a quiet room, in a comfortable chair, with my pen and a book or printed article.
Not only do you learn this way, but your mind also has space to make creative connections between ideas. Using your brain to THINK is just as important in learning as absorbing information.
Sometimes this time to think gets lost in our manic obsession to absorb more information.
So take time offline to get quiet, read, journal, and just absorb all of the information you’ve been learning.
Educate Yourself in Motion
I hope the 5 strategies I’ve shared will be helpful for you. Feel free to take what works for you, and discard the rest.
But no matter what, I hope you’ll combine all of the information you’re learning on BiggerPockets.com and other places with a healthy dose of hustle.
You have to get in motion. You have to apply what you learn, even if you fail and fall flat on your face.
Once you get in motion, you’ll have more context and challenges that will take your education even deeper. This is where the real learning happens.
Best of luck to you with your learning and with your real estate investing!
How do you keep up with all of the real estate information you learn? Have you used any of the 5 strategies I’ve suggested? Do you have anything different to suggest?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.