Thursday, September 17, 2009

Short and Sweet Blogging Inspirations - Gotta Love Google Alerts!

Whether you are a seasoned blogger or just getting started, its always good to go back to basics and check yourself to make sure that you are covering all bases. I found this article today and wanted to share it with you:

Inspiration for your Company Blog

Pay special attention to the Google Alerts point. Google Alerts is a great tool for getting news feeds straight to your desktop. If you're not familiar with it or are not using it, be sure to check it out. You can sign up to get alerts anytime information that matches your keywords appears in Google. As an example, I am originally from Wisconsin so I am signed up to receive news alerts anytime my city appears. I am also signed up to receive news alerts for the word 'REALTOR' so I can keep on top of what everyone is up to in the news! To sign up, click here.

Where Google alerts is most helpful to your business is when you can get information on local market news. Be the first to share and disseminate the information through your blog or Facebook Fan page and your clients will appreciate that you are a one-stop shop for everything local.

Finally, I also happen to love their suggestion to get guest writers. Check your list of friends and business associates and start thinking about how they could offer your clients beneficial information. Whether its a friend in the mortgage and finance business, real estate law, title companies or maybe even your company's broker, ask them to be a guest to your blog. Decide on a topic ahead of time and be sure to promo your guest to gain interest. Once they've posted, be sure to spread the word through your various social media sites. If you can bring new, interesting and unique content to your blog, you'll be able to capture readers again and again.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

SEO Quick Tip #1

Try to keep your word count between 300 - 750 words on each page of your website, especially your home page. This is a good way to keep your site search engine-friendly, and it also keeps the site from running on too much. People won't read what you have to say if you're trying to say too much.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Marketing Quick Tip #3

Put links to a few of your favorite websites on your homepage. But make sure they are links that are actually relevant to your website (for instance, as a real estate agent, you don’t really want a link to NASCAR). You can also send the company/website an email letting them know you linked to them. Maybe they’ll be nice and return the favor, which is free marketing for you!

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Finding the Purpose of Your Real Estate Blog

I know we talk a lot about how to improve your blog, how to make it pretty, how to be good at SEO stuff, and why you should have a real estate blog. But I think the most important topic is the one I have not yet mentioned! I can't believe I forgot this one!

Why do you blog?

That's actually a really important question, don't you think? Let's delve deeper into the answer...

The purpose of my blog is two-fold, as with most blogs. I blog to teach you how and why you should blog, and I blog because it's good for CyberSunshine's SEO. But if you're a real estate agent or a real estate broker, you're most likely not going to want to blog to teach people about blogs and SEO. You'll want to cover topics closer to home (your home).

One of the most important ideas with a blog is to always keep a good focus on your audience and the purpose of your blog. Don't get roped into the politics on other social networking sites, and don't write posts that are geared towards real estate agents or brokers. You'll want to write posts geared to the local people in your town, or the people who want to move to your town. Keep that perspective, and you'll be just fine.

To help you maintain your perspective, I'm going to be doing a new series that will give you ideas for blog posts. That way you'll always be able to come up with a post that is appropriate for your real estate blog. Make sure you check back for it!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Your Real Estate Blogging Dictionary: Trackback

The simplest definition of a trackback is that it is a comment containing a link to a post that someone wrote and referenced to the original post. Yeah, that made sense, right? Okay, so I'll give an example that does:

Jack wrote a post on his blog about water sources. Jill read that post and then had so much to say on the topic that she went and wrote her own article about wells as a water source. She sent a trackback to Jack's blog, and a comment appeared on his post about water sources. The comment contains a link that goes to Jill's post. So now, Jill's readers can go to Jack's blog and read the post that inspired Jill, and Jack's readers can read what Jill had to say on the topic if they want additional information. So Jack and Jill are both benefiting from the trackback, because now both get additional traffic from each others' sites. Hooray!

Now if you want to send a trackback, here's how you do it:

1. Write your article.

2. On the site you want to link to, find the Trackback URL. Usually if you click on the title of the particular post and scroll to the bottom, you'll find something that looks like this:

Trackback URL:

http://www.cybersunshine.com/blog/2008/11/yourreal-estate-blogging--dictionary.asp

3. Put that link in your post wherever you like.

That's it! The internet elves take care of the rest for you. Congratulations, you have just done the easiet networking ever!

By the way, sometimes blogs are not equipped with Trackback. In that instance, just go ahead and leave a comment on their post with a link to your own post. Usually I write something like, "Great post, thanks for pointing out (insert valid point)! You inspired me to write my own post about (insert your article topic). You can check it out here (insert the URL to the post, not to your blog)."

Other places to read about Trackbacks:

Wikipedia

Reference.com

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stuff You Need: Cool Captcha

Okay, so maybe simple things amuse me tremendously, but I think this captcha is really neat.
We are all familiar with "captchas", those "questions" you fill out at the end of an online form that is used to limit cyber-bots from spamming too much. Usually it's just some word or words, or even just gibberish, and the letters are all wobbly and hard to read, and you have to try and distinguish what letters you're seeing so the site will allow you to submit your form. Anyway, those are not only annoying, but ineffective. The reason I think they're ineffective is that you have to try really hard to separate the letters on some of them, and even if you're not a cyber-bot, you may still get it wrong and then you can't leave your comment or submit your form or whatever it is you're doing. I know most of them only give you so many tries before it kicks you out and won't let you post.
Anyway, this particular captcha asks you to choose all the cat photos. When you hover over one, it makes the image bigger so you can see it better (which explains the large image of an orange cat in the middle of the photo). The other feature I love about this captcha is that it shows pictures of animals that are currently adoptable through Petfinder.com, and encourages you to adopt one. CyberSunshine is big on helping the animals.

This isn't the only neat captcha I've seen out there though. I have seen some that make you do a math problem, which, for me, is a bit of a problem since I tend to be more creatively-minded than mathematically-minded! I'd like to show you an example of that particular captcha, but it escapes me at the moment who's site I saw it on. So since I can't show you that one, here are two others: "KittenAuth" and "Are You Human?".

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Real Estate Blog Project: Give Your Blog a Face Lift

You can't deny that this country is obsessed with looks and beauty. Aesthetics are important, whether we like it or not. When you meet a new client, you are expected to be well-groomed and have an outfit on that matches at the very least, and you should look like a professional person that can be trusted. So if you go to all that trouble to make sure YOU look good, shouldn't you put the same effort into making sure your real estate blog/website looks good? Think about it... your internet self is seen more than your actual self, and by many more viewers. You owe it to your real estate website to make sure it looks fabulous at all times.

You may have noticed that CyberSunshine just got a fancy new makeover. We're prettier than ever now (Jealous? You should be!). Every few years you should get a makeover for your site, for several reasons. And here is a list of those reasons:

1. Your site looks outdated and old-fashioned. That's not good. It makes you look like you're not up to speed with the times, and nobody (especially not the twenty-somethings that are currently making up the largest buyers market right now) wants someone that's outdated. Your real estate website is your image, and it is a direct reflection of you and your services. Make sure you're presenting yourself in a way that matters.

2. Your site is cluttered. This is really bad. Nobody wants to muddle through your mess of links and blurbs about how wonderful you are, just to find your listings. Not to say you aren't wonderful. I'm sure you are. But you don't have to drill it into people's heads a thousand times with all the testimonials and the paragraphs your assistant wrote six years ago covering your degrees and accomplishments. Make the site nice and neat, and spell out clearly who you are and what you do, and do it in a short paragraph if you can. Nobody wants to read your resume. They just want a basic description about why they should hire you, and then they want to see your listing. So make it easy, and make sure your content is limited and your navigation is clear and makes sense.

3. Your navigation doesn't work, or other links are broken. HUGE mistake! Always, always, make sure the links work on your page! Every couple of weeks (or days if you're a little OCD) check out the links on your page to make sure they work, especially the important ones (Contact Us, Listings, Home Search). If your links don't work, the potential buyer is going to continue on to another site that came up on Google and not even give you a second thought.

4. The services listed are no longer services you offer, and your photo is from 1986. Okay, seriously, you do not still have a poufy bangs thing going on, nor do you rock the blue eyeshadow. And what's with those shoulder-pads? Are you a line-backer for the Cowboys? Make it a point to update your photo once a year. Misrepresentation is a mark against you, and when your potential lead meets you for the first time and realizes that a) that photo was not from last year's Halloween party, and b) you're nearly 25 years older than they thought you were, they are going to be a little perturbed. While you're at it, make sure your service and your specialty areas where you sell are actually accurate. Nothing turns a buyer off faster than calling your office for a specific neighborhood and finding out that you USED to sell there, but it's been several years since you actually have.

I'm sure there are other great reasons to give your site a face lift, but for now these are the best ones I can come up with. So check out your site, give it an assessment from a non-biased point of view, and determine if it needs some help. Then email me and I'll get you set up with a fantastic designer!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Stuff You Need: Tablefy.com

Tablefy is a nifty online tool that allows you to compare things. You can make your own tables or search the ones already made by other users. I made this one so I could see how it works:


go to the table!

It's pretty easy to use. All you do is choose the topic and the components, and then the attributes to compare. It only takes a few minutes. I found all my info by doing Google searches (Sorry to disappoint you, but I didn't know all that superhero info off the top of my head!). You can use this tool in a variety of ways to help you with personal things and business things. It doesn't tell you which of the items is best, but it does put the most important information side by side so you can better evaluate which (of the items you're comparing) is best for you. You do have to register with the site, but it's free.

A few good uses for this tool:
  • Comparing cell phones or any other electronic device
  • Comparing cities (this would be a good idea for a post, making your city the favorable one, of course!)
  • Pros and Cons of a situation, for those times when you need to make a decision but you're stuck

I am sure you can come up with a million other uses for this tool, so have fun and get started!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Your Real Estate Blogging Dictionary: Page Rank



Page Rank - n - Page rank is a value that Google assigns to a web page based on the importance of the page on the internet.

Page Rank is a Google feature, owned and trademarked by Google. Basically it's a ranking system that determines how important your website is to the world wide web. In Google's own words:

"PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves 'important' weigh more heavily and help to make other pages 'important'."

Basically it's like all the pages linking to you are voting for you, and you're voting for all the pages you link to. Sites that link to you and have a high page rank get you more "votes" than sites that link to you and have low page ranks. It's sort of a popularity contest, but the popular kid's vote counts more than the unpopular kid.

There are other factors too, like your keyword relevancy and the amount of traffic you receive to your site (which is why SEO is important). I know there's some math to the whole thing, but I'm a writer, not a mathematician, so I can't help you there.

Some SEO companies (but not CyberSunshine) will manipulate the Google Page Rank for you, to make yours higher than it actually is. But that's cheating and I wouldn't recommend it. In the long run, cheaters never win. The best way to increase your Page Rank is with good old-fashioned hard work. Get out in the blogosphere and make friends, and hopefully they'll like you enough to link to you. You can even ask people to link to you if you have the nerve. Most bloggers wouldn't be offended by you asking, so go for it! But be prepared to link to them too.

Wikipedia's article on Page Rank

How to check your Page Rank

A complicated article on the math of Page Rank

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stumped: Simple Topics To Get You To Your Next Post

You know how sometimes you just can't figure out what you should write about, and you really need to post something? That happened to me today. I have this small window of time to write in, and the part of my brain responsible for writing blog posts is apparently on vacation. So while navigating the vast sea of posts still unpublished because they aren't finished yet, I came up with this idea. I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets stumped and can't get their writing brain in gear, so in the event that you find yourself in this predicament, here are some ideas to get you out of your rut.

1. Tell your readers who you are, or what you're thinking. It's your blog, so nobody's going to stop you. You can take an online survey and post it with your answers in it. For some reason people like knowing odd, intimate details of other people's lives. The details don't necessarily have to be too personal if you don't want them to be though! You could simply make a list of your favorite things (raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, anyone?). For some quick and easy surveys, go here. Make sure you keep it rated PG though.

2. Find something funny on You Tube. Not only will you have a blog post in mere seconds, but searching for the perfect funny video will boost your mood as well. Maybe it will even clear up that darned writers block so you can post something important to follow your goofy You Tube video.

3. Publish A Poem. It doesn't even have to be one you wrote, although it could be. But for those of us less poetically-inclined (like myself), here's a good place to find old favorites. If you're not so into poems, you can also find song lyrics and other quotes there.

4. List some cool facts or laws. Here are some laws (pick your favorites) and here are some facts. Yes, this is a "fluff" post. But it gives your readers something to think about for a bit.

5. Show off the kids. Or the fluffy little dog that fits in your purse, if you don't have kids (or the purse-dog with the kids, if you're like me and have both). Your female readers will ooh and aah over the cutie pie (applies to both purse-dogs and human-kids). To accompany the photo(s) you can write a caption about it, or an antic that might have something to do with the photo.

Remember, don't take yourself too seriously. Yes, your blog is about real estate, but you have a personality outside of your job and it's okay to show that sometimes. So when you get stumped, reconnect with your readers by showing them you're a person. Your guaranteed to get a better response from any of these blog ideas than from doing yet another space-filling (and sleep-inducing) market report.

Related Reading: Ten Tips to Spice Up Your Real Estate Blog

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Real Estate Blog Project: Use an Image in a Post

This is probably the easiest thing you can do to improve the image of your blog. It sounds simple and silly, but it really does have benefits. An image can make or break your blog post. If you use the right image, it can attract readers. Images can also be used to make a point or to give an example. Here's a blog that strictly uses images.

I use images from time to time in my posts, but not too often. I don't see the need to use images frequently for my own blog, since it's more tutorial than anything, but you might be able to use images more for your blog. And that's great. You can certainly use an image in every post. I know of some series posts that require images. Here's an example of a good one. These kinds of posts are interesting, fun, and frequently shared, especially if the images are funny or really odd. People like to email interesting things to their friends and colleagues. Your blog can be one of those interesting things. On several blogs, I've seen a series where the blogger features a different mailbox, or a different local flower, or a local attraction every week. You don't have to make a series to use images, but it does make it easier.

I think the only "rule" I'd advise on this topic is to keep the number of images per post to a minimum. You don't want to have so many images that they overpower your writing. The image should accent your writing, not take over the post. Of course, also make sure your image isn't offensive or vulgar, unless you want to anger your readers!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Your Real Estate Blogging Dictionary: RSS

RSS Subscription is a term you'll hear often in the blogging world. So for all you novice bloggers, I am going to provide the definition of RSS and tell you what purpose it serves and how it can benefit you.

RSS - n any of various XML file formats suitable for disseminating real-time information via subscription on the Internet; Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication

I like the term Really Simple Syndication best. That is a clearer example of what RSS is, in my opinion. Basically, an RSS is a tool that allows readers to subscribe to your blog, and in doing so, they will get emails every time you publish a new post to your blog. So if people "Subscribe Via RSS", they must really enjoy reading what you have to say. In addition to receiving emails, some people might have a Feed Reader. Microsoft Vista, for example, provides a feed reader, and you can constantly get updates via the feed reader. It keeps track of your subscriptions and posts a link to each new entry on each blog to which you are subscribed. It makes it easy to keep track of all your reading material in one place.

Now if you are the owner of a blog, you'll need an RSS Subscription tool on your blog page. It should be part of the side bar, and it should be prominently displayed on every page of the blog, so people don't have to look for it. People like to subscribe, since it simplifies their lives, and they don't want to have to look for the subscription tool. So be sure to have the tool on your blog, and make sure it's visible. Usually the RSS tool is recognized by the color orange, and a little logo, which I have attached in this blog post.

If you are a blog reader, you'll also like RSS. I, myself, am both a blog writer and a blog reader, and of course I have favorite blogs that I like to read. I'm not telling what they are though. But I do enjoy having the option of receiving emails with links to the new posts, rather than having to track them down myself. It saves time when you get an email, because the email tells you the name of the post, and usually gives you the first few lines of the post, so you can determine if you even want to read it. That way, you don't have to waste time visiting each of your favorite sites to see if and what they have posted lately, or whether you'll even want to read it.

In each of these "Dictionary" posts, I am going to provide useful links that will further your knowledge on the topic. So here they are:

Wikipedia's RSS Definition

Tech-y info on RSS

More definitions are coming to you, so if you have a special request for a term or word that flabergasts you, email it to me. You can remain anonymous in case you feel silly asking.

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Saturday, November 1, 2008

CyberSunshine - Real Estate Blog Project: Reply to Your Comments

This is part of a new series I'll be doing that will give you tips on how to improve your blog with subtle changes and easy-to-implement techniques. The first tip I'm going to cover is replying to comments left on your blog.

There are several reasons why you'll want to reply to your comments. First, it shows the commenter that you actually read the comments you receive and you value them. Most of the time when people leave you a comment they come back to see if their comment got any responses. People get the warm fuzzies when they see that the blog author read the comment and actually responded. You'd be surprised to know how many blog authors don't bother to respond to comments, even though it seems like simple logic to you and I. Personally, when I leave a comment and it doesn't warrant a response, I feel ignored, and I find that rude. It's like when you leave someone a voicemail and they never call you back. Another reason to respond to your comments is that it can gain you additional comments. You can start a dialogue of sorts on your blog. If someone comments to you, you have the opportunity to respond and possibly open up a conversation (depending on the topic, of course). Then you can invite other people to share their opinions on the comment, and then you have a dialogue (or a debate, but we'll talk about that some other time). Not only does this dialogue get you more hits to your blog from people checking back to read the comments, but it also gives the commenting parties a feeling of community, as if they have made friends on your blog and they're sharing ideas and thoughts. That's another warm fuzzies type of feeling.

Now on to how to do it. First of all, you can't really respond to a comment like, "Great point, I love your blog!" and expect to start a conversation. You have to look for the right type of comment. If someone asks a question or makes a point that corresponds with your original point (the reason you wrote that post), then you can comment to get an intelligent conversation started. Sometimes it won't work, and the commenter won't return, and nobody else will comment. That's okay. You did the polite thing by responding, so let it go. Don't post an additional comment asking for more opinions or wondering where the original commenter has gone. It makes you look desperate, and nobody wants to look desperate. Another thing to remember is that you do not bother responding to mean, hurtful, or negative comments unless you are fully prepared to deal with the lashback. The blogosphere can be a harsh place. There are so many types of people with so many varying opinions, so make sure you can handle the heat if you're starting an arguement. When I get unpleasant comments, I usually just delete them and move on. To me, it just isn't worth the hassle of starting a huge arguement, and it makes your blog look unprofessional.

Good luck in your commenting endeavors, and try to remember a very important point. You will not get a lot of comments. That doesn't mean your blog is boring or you're unpopular. You're not writing a blog for the comments, you're writing it to boost your site and to introduce yourself to potential clients. The comments are just an added bonus.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

CyberSunshine - Real Estate SEO For Beginners: Writing Home Page Content With Keywords

One of the very first things you'll need to do when starting a website is write the home page content. That content is the paragraph(s) that describes who you are, what you do, where you sell and why anyone should stay on your site any longer.

When you start a new site with CyberSunshine, we always ask for this content. I am available to read over the content for you and make suggestions if you want. I actually recommend that. There are several things to consider when writing this content, and the most important one is keywords. You need keywords. You see, this content serves dual purposes. Not only is it a cute blurb about you and your company, but it also needs to house your main keywords several times. This is very beneficial to your SEO success. Basically, using your keywords in the main body of content assures the Google spiders that your site really is about what you claim. That's important if you want Google to like your site.

As with anything, there is a downfall to this. Over-using those keywords can make your blurb run together in a big, bland, monotonous run-on sentence. If your blurb sounds like you're fishing for keywords, you're going to lose potential buyers. People are not stupid, and many potential leads are going to be reading your site and they are going to realize that you're just trying to get Google's attention. That's going to lose you some leads.

The key is to come up with a balance. I recommend using your primary keyword phrase 3 times, and additional keyword phrases once each (and try to only use 2-3 of those additional keyword phrases). Your main keyword will be something like, Cincinnati Real Estate, and your secondary keywords will be things like, Cincinnati Realtor or, Cincinnati Properties.

When you feel like you've done the best you can, then email your blurb to all your friends and your family members and ask them to critique it for you. Then email it to me and I'll tell you if it needs any tweaks. The more eyes that see it before it goes on the web, the better.

Related Reading: Real Estate SEO For Beginners: Choosing Domain Names

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Friday, October 3, 2008

The Rules of Commenting on Other Blogs

When you want to make cyber-buddies and gain some sort of credibility, you have to get yourself out there and get noticed. One way to do this is by commenting on other blogs. But, as with most things, there are good ways and bad ways of doing this. Today I'm going to give you my set of basic rules for commenting on other blogs.

1. Don't comment unless you're comment is valuable. Meaning, don't just say, "Great post!" and be done. That is not useful. Say you're reading something about how there is a housing market slump in your area, and you have additional information (like your own statistics) to back that up. Posting a comment like, "I agree, my stats indicate that I have sold less properties this month than last month. The solution I have found is _______." I can't fill in the solution, because I'm a blogger and an SEO knowledge-holder, not a real estate expert. Anyway, you get the point.

2. Do not ever answer a question that was not directed at you. If another person leaves a comment asking a question, that question is directed at the person who wrote the post. It is not directed at all of the world. So unless you wrote the post, don't answer the question. The original posted will probably be offended. The only time it would be okay to answer would be if the original poster commented that they do not know the answer and asks if anyone else does.

3. Don't leave rude comments. If you don't like a blog, then don't read it and move on. There is no reason to be rude or nasty to someone, and all you'll end up doing is hurting your own reputation.

4. Make sure you are 100% sure that you're happy with your comment. In most cases, once you submit the comment you can't alter it. So be sure you're saying what you want to say, and be sure you don't sound like a crazy person. Also, make sure you checked the spelling and that the comment makes sense.

5. Check back to see if anyone responded to your comment. That way you know if someone is actually paying attention to you, and you won't seem rude if they ask you a question that you never answer.

6. Always fill out all the boxes that the comment form asks for. I know it's annoying to always type in your email address and your web address, but it serves a purpose. Once your comment is published, your name becomes clickable and if someone clicks on you it takes them to your site. So if you leave a comment, then someone reads it and says to themselves, "Hey, this person might have additional intelligent things to say!", they will click your name and be sent to your site. Look at that, instant traffic!

Okay, that's all I have for you. I hate that there are six rules, because I would feel much better with ten. Ten is a nice, even number. But that's just my OCD talking. If you have an additional four rules, please comment them so I can sleep tonight!

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Slow Market? What You Should Be Doing Right Now

The real estate market is slow. There is no denying it, no sugar-coating it. But that does not mean you should just curl up in a ball and give up. Its likely you're not selling as many properties as you were a few years ago, and you're either a) waiting tables/delivering pizzas/working the cosmetics counter at Macy's to pick up the slack, or b) throwing all your efforts into marketing yourself, improving your image, and getting to know the community around you. Can you guess which is going to pay off when the market starts to accelerate again?

I know, it's hard to imagine what it will be like when the market picks up, since you've spent so much time thinking about how down it's been. But if you've been in this business more than five years, you know that the market goes up and down and constantly fluctuates. Just like the dollar. So if you're smart, you're preparing appropriately.

Here are a few things you could/should be doing with your newly abundant free time:

  • Blog. Yes, you should be writing a blog on your website. If you're a client of ours and you don't have a blog, email me and I'll get you all set up with one. If you're not a client of ours (then you should be, *wink, wink*!) you should contact your web company and demand they install a blog ASAP. Not only does a blog give you something to do, but it turns you into a human being. You will get readers and they will be interested in what you have to say. Imagine this... You currently get, say, 1,200 visitors each month to your website. Each visitor goes to maybe 5 pages on average while at your site. The reason they're there is to get to know you, and see what properties you have to offer. Well sometimes your About Me page just doesn't cut it. I can tell you, that's not enough information to sell me on a specific realtor. That's where a blog can be helpful. Not only does it turn you into a real person, it can also show how knowledgeable you are about your community, and how involved you are as well.

  • Learn about SEO. Currently, you don't have any knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because you don't need to, right? Well, I can tell you from my own experience that the top real estate agents in this country right now know all kinds of stuff about SEO and how to enhance their sites. You should be one of them. You want to be on the cutting edge so you can stay in the game. If you don't focus on SEO now, while you have time, then once the market picks up you WON'T have time and all your competitors who spent the time and effort will have a leg up on you. If you want to know more about SEO or where to find some excellent resources that can help you get started, email me.


  • Network. And not just with people in your area, per se. You should be on the social media sites like Twitter, MyBlogLog, Facebook, Myspace, LinkdIn, and any others you can find. If you don't have time for that many, you should at least be on Facebook, Twitter, and MyBlogLog. Twitter is even mobile, so you can put it on your phone and keep up that way. And if you have an iPhone, Facebook has a really good version to use on the go. The purpose of all this networking is that one day, one of those awesome real estate agents in another part of the country may have a friend of a friend who needs a good real estate agent in your area. Who do you think will get the recommendation? You, or some realtor they have never spoken to before?


  • Read Blogs. As many as you can find. I have a personal list of favorites that I visit frequently, and so should you. You should probably just subscribe to the blogs you like, that way you don't have to remember them all. By "subscribe", I mean via RSS Feed. You'll see a link for it on any kind of decent blog. We have one here, to the right and under the Archive. All you do is put in your email address and Voila! new posts are emailed to you for your enjoyment and convenience. The purpose of reading all those blogs is twofold. First, you can see how the market is doing in other areas, what other agents are doing to market themselves, and what topics are relevant to them and their readers. Second, you can stay on top of technology. Many real estate bloggers find some cool stuff on the internet and blog about it. You'll be privy to the cool tools they find just by reading their blogs.

I hope this has put some things into perspective for you, and if you have any questions about any of these hints, or need assistance implementing them, don;t hesitate to contact me. You can comment here or email me.

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Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy Labor Day!

And Happy End of Summer! Well, it's happy here in Southwest Florida since the heat is leaving us. You Northerners are probably not so happy to see winter around the corner I bet. But, the kids are going back to school, so that's a happy occasion anyway!

A little Labor Day history...

Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894. It commemorates a march on City Hall in New York City on September 5, 1882. The march was a protest to the long hours, child labor, and low wages that basically every American was living with. Labor Day marks the beginning of child labor laws, worker rights, union strikes and minimum wages. So enjoy your day off to appreciate the laws and rights we have in this country, and spend your last sunny summer day lounging by the pool... That's where I'll be!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Trulia.com: What It Is And Why You Need It

Most web-savvy Realtors already know what Trulia is and are using it to their advantage. But this blog is not directed at the web-savvy Realtors. This blog is for beginners, so I'm going to tell you a little about Trulia and how it can help you. That way you're not left behind the times.

According to Trulia.com, "We are a real estate search engine that helps you find homes for sale and provides real estate information at the local level to help you make better decisions in the process." According to me, Trulia is a really cool site that allows you to post your listings in the most informative way possible. When a potential buyer does a search on Trulia, not only do they get accurate results, but they also get way more information than they ever expected.

When you do a search and then click on a listing, the information provided is astonishing. To name a few things, Trulia gives the user comparables, similar homes that are listed, public records information, ratings on the local schools, and a map of the location of the home. There is also a neat sidebar called Trulia Voices, which is a real estate blog that specialists in the market contribute to daily, and it feeds in information relevant to your search location. By far, this is the most user-friendly real estate search site I have ever encountered.

As a real estate agent, this is very helpful. Trulia allows you to create an account and post your listings as you please. Your listing has a photo of you and links to your site, your photos of the home, the MLS listing of the home (if that's what you want) and details your contact information. Plus, Trulia is the only site of it's kind that (in my experience) non-real estate experts are aware of. So by using Trulia, you have a better chance of reaching people that are out there searching the web for their next home (as opposed to using some site nobody has ever heard of).

If you consider yourself a "techie" and want to read more about Trulia and it's features, here's some recommended reading for you.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

CyberSunshine's Guide to Grammar: Don't Make These Mistakes in Your Blog, Part III

Time for three more grammatical lessons to help you expand your knowledge of the English language and (hopefully) seem smarter when you write things. This section will cover apostrophes, double negatives, and making confusing word choices.

7. Improper Usage of Words
We are all guilty of this. Maybe some of us more often than others, but I know you're not perfect and you have made a mistake before. Misusing words is one of the most common (and most annoying) grammatical errors out there. Some of the more commonly misused ones are:
- There, Their, They're
- It's, Its
- You're, Your
I'm not going to give an explanation of every one of these, because that would take all day. But the basics to know are these:
- An apostrophe followed by other letters means a merging of two words. So You're means You Are. Same goes for They're. It means They Are.
- It's means It Is. It does not insinuate that something belongs to It.
- There is a place, and Their means belonging to Them.
If you want additional explanations, and examples of more of these misused words (yes, there are more of them!) go here.

8. Apostrophe Disasters
Apostrophes are pretty basic. You use them for (mainly) two reasons. The first is to show ownership. The second (as we learned above) is to merge words. But you can't just make up your own word merge and throw an apostrophe in there. That's not how it works. Anyway, here are some examples of those:
- Ownership: Tim's bike, the Realtor's blog
- Word Merge: Don't = Do Not, Could've = Could Have
As with everything, there are many, many more examples of how people screw these up, and the best ones I found are here. One additional thought on apostrophes... If you are writing about the 1980s (or whichever time period you like the most), there is NO apostrophe! Leave it off.

9. Don't Do Double Negatives
Double negatives surprisingly go unnoticed by many writers. This is one of the reasons I highly recommend reading what you write before you publish your post (or whatever you're writing). A double negative sentence is where you use two negative words in combination, therefore making it a positive. For example: "I don't want nobody to come visit us next month," actually means that I do want people to visit. The correct way to say this would be, "I don't want anybody to come visit us next month." Don't and Nobody are both negatives, so they cancel each other out. Here's some more information on double negatives, including a list of common ones.

And so comes the end of our grammatical lesson. Stayed tuned for the next awesome series. It'll be a good one, I promise!

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Domains Names: The New Real Estate?

Earlier today I was browsing Facebook like I normally do, just to see what everyone else in the Real Estate blogging world was doing, when I came across this group. I found it to be a fairly interesting concept, so I did some additional research on the matter. It seems that people are using sites like Moniker.com to "flip" domain names.

No, I'm not kidding. Apparently there is a broad and vast market for domain names. Not surprisingly, either. I recently had a client who badly wanted to buy NaplesRealEstate.com, and of course, it was not available. She was able to find other domain names that were suitable to her needs, so it all worked out.

With the recent flux in SEO concerns, people are buying up domain names by the dozens just to keep their competitors from owning them. It's getting cut-throat out there, too! Since we're based in Fort Myers, FL, we have a lot of clients that are selling in Fort Myers, Naples, and other Southwest Florida communities (we do have clients all over the world as well, but I can't speak on their behalf since I don't see as much of the competition in other parts as I do in my own backyard). With our clients alone, I see the need for better and more keyword-rich domain names, simply to improve their searchability (is that a word?). So I know real estate agents all over the world are dealing with this issue too.

I find it fascinating that the market for a non-tangible item is so hot! It seems that the domain name market is most definitely a seller's market right now. So if you have domain names that don't benefit you (based on your keywords), and you don't want to hold onto them any longer, you could potentially turn a profit. There is always somebody, somewhere, that wants what you have.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

CyberSunshine's Guide to Grammar: Don't Make These Mistakes in Your Blog, Part II

Welcome to Part II in our grammar series. This installment will teach you about proper sentence structure, quotation marks, and how to properly use commas. Stick around and learn a little!

4. What's in a Sentence?
The most basic sentence you can build will need only one word: a verb. For example, "Go!" could be considered a complete sentence, because it doesn't need any additional words to make a statement. However, when writing a blog you're going to need many additional words to get your point across, so I'll give you the basic rundown of the sentence parts and which you need. First, you need a verb. No sentence is complete without one. A verb is an action word, like run, write, blog, go, stop or whine. Next you will probably want a noun. A noun is a person, place or thing. If you're not sure if something is a noun, just ask yourself if it is a person, place or a thing. Dog, house, James, and peanut are all nouns. He, she and it are pronouns, which can be used in place of the noun when you have a sentence like this: "She runs fast!". Now on to adjectives. Adjectives are descriptions of nouns. In the sentence "The blue car was totalled," blue is the adjective. Finally, we have adverbs. Adverbs describe the verb. So an adverb would be "fast" in the sentence, "She runs fast." The following are two sentences, one is complete and the other is not. I'm not telling which is which. You figure it out.

"Last week admitted that the market is experiencing difficulties."

"Prices of fuel and food inflation increased to 5%."

Don't forget to pay attention when you write your blog. I sure wouldn't want to hire someone that can't write a complete sentence, especially considering that person would be writing descriptions of my house to be used in online and print marketing!


5. Quizzical About Quotes?
Aren't we all? Quotes are pretty easy, if you can remember the rules. But if you can't, then just come back here for a reminder.
1. Punctuation goes inside the quotes only if it applies to the quote itself, or if it ends a sentence.
Sophie said, "I know!" Sophie asked, "Do you like my dress?" Did Sophie say, "Eat your peas"?
2. When using a quote at the beginning or the middle of a sentence, it needs to end with a comma.
"Here's your package," said the UPS man.
3. When quoting a quote, use the double quotes first and the single quotes inside of those.
"She said, 'I have an idea!'" repeated Mary.
4. When you quote numerous paragraphs of text, only the last paragraph gets end quotes, but all the paragraphs get beginning quotes.
"Paragraph one.....
"Paragraph two.....
"Paragraph three....."
For additional rules about quotes, check here.

6. Crazy Comma Conundrums
Commas can be a source of great confusion. The most basic rule for commas that I can give you is this one: use a comma if you need to separate things, or if there should be a pause in a sentence. Of course, you also use commas when listing things, in dates, and in quotes.

Here are some good examples of comma usage:
I'd like to eat steak, crab cakes, or pasta for dinner. I would not like chicken, pork, or fish.
Her daughter was born on March 8, 2008, in Omaha, Nebraska.
Unfortunately, I will not be attending Inman this year.
Your ultimate goal, to sell a house, won't come true unless you market yourself properly.
I love my dogs, but they certainly annoy me.

Here are some examples lacking commas:
I want to go to the beach home to change and then the restaurant.
Obviously your plan won't be successful.
I want to date a soccer player not an attorney.
Helen you can't go to the movies!

For more on commas, check out this site.


Come back next week for part III of this series, and lots of other great stuff that is sure to come!

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

CyberSunshine's Guide to Grammar: Don't Make These Mistakes in Your Blog, Part I

I recently saw this blog post, which I found to be hysterically funny, over at Agent Genius. Go read it, it will make your day. It made me realize how often I see mistakes in other blogs, as well as in emails and other types of online communication. I think that typing makes people less worried about misspellings, incorrect word usage, and improper punctuation than if they were writing by hand. You know, like we all did back in the day... "which was a Wednesday, by the way," according to Dane Cook.

Anyway, here are the first three tips in a series of three. In case your math is worse than your grammar, that's nine tips total.

1. Don't Space Out Over Spaces

All sentences and paragraphs need spaces, and you should probably use them properly to avoid irritating your readers. One thing that I see frequently that annoys me is spacing that changes throughout a document. For example, I have seen documents where the writer uses double spaces after each period until about halfway through, and then switches to using a single space after each period. That annoys me, and I can't imagine that I'm alone on this one. So here are the rules for spacing.
  • Each word gets one space after it.
  • Sentences can have either one or two spaces after the period, as long as you are consistent. The rule used to be that you needed two spaces but it has since changed. I think either is acceptable. Personally, I do two spaces because that's what I'm used to.
  • Colons get two spaces after them, like a period.
  • Commas, apostrophes, quotations and all other punctuation get one space after them.

For more on spaces, check here.

2. Spell Check is Your Best Asset

I know you thought it was your amazing ability to balance a spoon on your nose, and while that might impress the ladies (depending on who you're dating!), it certainly won't help you look like the polished, educated, professional real estate blogger you are. When your blog or email or, yes, even your property listing, is littered with misspelled words, it makes you look careless and rushed, and possibly even less intelligent. Just to clarify, even one misspelled word can cause that impression. That's why I so highly recommend spell check. I know for a fact that Outlook and Word contain spellchecks, and so do the most popular blogging platforms. So there really is no excuse. Which brings me to my next tip...



3. The Importance of Proof-Reading

As we all know, spell check is not fool proof. Sometimes you can accidentally allow it to replace a misspelled word with a word that doesn't make sense, you can accidentally type a word correctly correctly twice, or you can leave out a word altogether and that can cause a lot of confusion. I always reread everything I type after I run spell check, just in case. Also, if it doesn't make sense written down, read it out loud. Yes, the person in the cube next to you may think you're temporarily insane, but at least the recipient of your letter (or your blog readers) will have a good impression of you!


If you're looking for spelling errors, you won't find any. But have fun looking anyway. Who knows, you might find something else that's wrong *wink, wink*. Check back next week for more of these cool tips, and let me know if there's one in particular that you want to know more about.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

CyberSunshine Enters the Active Rain Arena

Yes, it's true. CyberSunshine is now on Active Rain. The blog on Active Rain will feature some (but not all) of the same posts you see here on your favorite blog in the whole wide world.



If you want to check out the Active Rain blog we have, you can do so by clicking here. See you there!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Blogging Basics: Making the Most of Your Real Estate Blog Part V

Here we are with the last installment of The Blogging Basics. Hopefully you've learned a thing or two. If not, keep reading and maybe you'll learn a thing or two in this post! Here are the final two tips in this series to making your real estate blog a success.

9. Love the Links
I know it probably seems like a dumb idea to encourage people to leave your blog by providing them with links to other blogs, but trust me, it will pay off. I try to link to other blogs at least once per post. Sometimes I can't do that, and that's okay. Sometimes I can link to 10 other blogs, and that's great. Just keep it in the back of your mind to link out in your posts. The reason you want to do this is twofold: first, you're being friendly to whoever you linked to by providing that link. Second, you're showing the search engines that you're related to whoever you linked to. Not related like cousins, but related by a common interest. So if you link out to another real estate blog, the search engines see that and know that you have a common interest with the other blog, and that helps your page rank. You also need to link to yourself. This is a good way of keeping people on your blog, and showing that you have other interesting topics to write about. If you check out this post I did on our blog, you'll see that I linked to our own blog twice. Look at that, I just linked to my own blog in order to show you how I linked to my own blog! Its pretty easy to squeeze those links in once you get the hang of it.

10. Write Often, But Not Too Often
I try to publish a new post about twice a week. Sometimes there may be three in a week, and sometimes there may be one. But for CyberSunshine, two a week is good. When you're writing a blog, you have to remember that people don't always have time to keep up with your every thought, so I don't overload the posts. It's never a good idea to write 800 posts a day, unless your blog is super successful like Problogger. At the same time, you don't want to only write one post every other week, because then people stop visiting your blog since you never have new content. It gets old going to a blog and seeing nothing new day after day. And if your readers are bored with your lack of content, I can assure you they won't be your readers for very long.

Thus concludes our series. I have a few more series ideas in mind, but you'll have to wait and see what I've got up my sleeve. In the meantime, if you have a series or a post you'd like me to write, email it.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Blogging Basics: Making the Most of Your Real Estate Blog Part IV

Part four in our series is going to be all about you. More specifically, it's going to be all about who you are, who you should be, and what you should do with your online self. Let's just get right into it then...

7. Develop an Online You
I'm sure the offline you is just fine, but for the sake of this post, let's just say that you're a dull, drab, uninteresting, anti-social cave-dweller. Or something equally unpleasant. And let's say that your only interest is being a hacker. So you basically blog about being a hacker and whatever it is that hackers talk about, and it's all very techy and complex. Of course, the only other people who have any inkling what you're blogging about are other hackers, so that's going to be your primary audience, right? Well in that situation, maybe it is. But you are a blogging real estate agent, and you have a life, and friends, and maybe a family or at least a cute little dog. You don't want your audience to be other real estate agents, unless you're blogging to make friends and have no interest in getting leads (which of course, is not your case!). So you need to be a human and you need to be interesting. Don't write drab market reports all day long. The general public has no idea what those even mean. You need to write about things that interest you (so you look like a real live human being), and you need to write in a way that's engaging and interesting. Even your market reports can be entertaining. Check out Teresa Boardman's blog to see what I mean about finding your online personality.

8. Take That Personality on the Road
So now that you've got yourself a nifty new persona, it's time to take it on the road. Commenting for traffic is not a new practice, although it may be to you if you're just venturing into the blogging world. The basic idea is that if you go to other blogs that talk about the same stuff your blog talks about, and you leave comments, then people will venture to your site to check you out. And then, of course, they will fall in love with your blog and subscribe via RSS immediately. Hopefully. Anyway, the important thing here is that your comments shouldn't be bland "Great point, I love your posts" type comments. Nobody cares about that. You want to say something intelligent so people stop and say, "Oh, who's that person who has all these interesting opinions?" You know what I mean? Now get out there and try it. You'll probably even make some new friends.

And again, we have come to an end. Check back next week for the final installment of this series, and I'll do my best to make it worth your while.

Have an idea for a series or a post? Email it.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Blogging Basics: Making the Most of Your Real Estate Blog Part III

Today's post is the third in the series, and we're going to talk about two things that are crucial to a successful blog. Those things are headlines and keywords. If you don't have good ones, or you're not using them right, it will only hurt you in the end.

5. I'll Think of a Good Title Later
A good headline (or title, or whatever you want to call it) is critical to your blog posts. Basically, if you have a title that's not interesting, nobody wants to read the post. But you also don't want to make up a title so weird and out there that nobody gets it either. There's a fine line. Read this post on Copyblogger.com. It's about this very topic. The key to writing a good title is simple. Make sure it says something to get attention, and also tells the reader what the post is about. For example, if you wrote a post on the Stanley Cup and your opinion of the Penguins, but title it "Hockey is a Great Way to Lose Your Teeth", that isn't very helpful. It's funny, I suppose, but not helpful. A better title would be "Stanley Cup Recap: Penguins Waddle Away Empty Handed". For the record, I am neither a Penguins fan or a Red Wings fan. I'll keep you guessing on this one. Now, the reason the second title is so much better is that it tells the reader briefly what the post is about, but its also interesting enough that the reader thinks it will probably be somewhat witty and informative, so they might read it. But keep in mind that if you are writing about the Stanley Cup, you should probably not be doing it on a real estate blog! Which brings us to tip #6...

6. Got Keywords?
Your keywords are by far the most important part of your blog. Think of them as the "About Me" section of your blog's personality profile. The way keywords work is that when you use them repetitively, that tells Google that your site is about that topic. For instance, lets say your site is about Custom Real Estate Web Design (because that's what my site is geared towards, so that's what we're going with for this example!). Now, you'll want to use those terms as frequently as you can within your site and/or blog in order to convince Google that that really is what your site is about. For me, using Custom Real Estate Web Design in a blog gets a little difficult, so I have backup keywords too. My favorites are Real Estate Blog and Real Estate Design. They're easier to incorporate, and it doesn't seem too obvious when I use those. So make sure you keep it short and sweet. A long phrase that you keep repeating over and over in your Real Estate Blog (see that?) gets really annoying to the reader. Also, don't capitalize the first letter in each of your keyword phrase, that makes it really obvious! For more in-depth reasoning on the topic, check out what Lorelle has to say. She's a smart cookie!

Well that was week three for this series, which sadly means it is drawing to an end soon. Only two more posts left. That's okay, there will be a new series to take it's place. If anyone has any ideas for a new series, I'm open to them, by the way!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Blogging Basics: Making the Most of Your Real Estate Blog Part II

Well here we are with part II of the series, and I have some great ideas for you this week! I'm glad to see you've come back. Enough small talk, don't you think? Here are your next two fantastic tips to make you the best blogger in the real estate blogosphere!

3. Make Sure It's Pretty.
I know, this sounds somewhat superficial, but the fact of the matter is that if you have a less-than-attractive blog, people won't want to see it again. There are several rules to follow to ensure you have a beautiful blog, and I won't go into all the details right now (check back for that post later on), but you should at least know the key points. Keep your color scheme simple. Black text on a white background works best, since it has the most contrast and won't hurt the eyes of your readers. Also, be sure that the site is easy to navigate and that a reader won't get easily confused looking for something on your site. If the reader gets frustrated, they won't be a reader of yours for very long. The object is not to keep a person on your site for as long as possible, but for you to get as many people as possible to come back.

4. Don't Be A Bore.
I know you have a real estate blog and that you're trying to sell real estate. But you don't always have to write about real estate. Break it up a little sometimes! I've met a few Realtors in my time and I know they have interests other than the housing market. A few of you may even have a sense of humor! So take a break from spewing out market statistics and staging tips, and try something a little offbeat. You know that funny (but not offensive) email you got from your sister in Tucson last week? Why don't you share it with your readers? Fridays are best for these types of posts, since most people don't feel like working on a Friday. They'd rather goof off and have a laugh (you know it's true). Check out this post from Ines Garcia. I love this, probably because I live in Florida and find it to be disturbingly true. Or this post from Chris Griffith, about the mailboxes. It's a series, which makes it even more fun since the readers get a new mailbox every week.

We have come to the end again, so I will see you next week when we continue this series. Till then, you know the drill. Questions and comments are always appreciated. Have a phenomenal week!

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Ten Tips to Spice Up Your Real Estate Blog

Quite frequently I come across people who think there just isn't enough to say to warrant having a blog. Not true. Yes, you are somewhat confined to talk about real estate, since that's what your blog is about. But you don't have to do the same old market reports day after day! Below is a list of 10 things you can (and should) write about to spice up your blog, along with links to examples.
1. Hit the Local Hot Spots
I am sure that, no matter where you live, there is something beautiful or interesting to see or do. Teresa Boardman, for example, has a peaceful lake nearby. This post is not really about real estate, but it does talk about the area she sells in, and promotes the area by showing off it's finer points. Buyers want to live in nice areas, so you have to show them how nice your area is!

2. Review a Restaurant
You know that place that you always seem to have a craving for? I have a few of those places presently, but we'll not get into that! But if I had a real estate blog, you can bet I'd be sharing my opinions of my favorite eateries. If you tell the owners of the establishment what you're up to, they'll probably pose for pics and maybe even throw you a freebie appetizer! Check out Ines' favorite Mexican restaurant in Miami.

3. Show Your Lighter Side
I know, you feel like you should always be professional and conservative to avoid giving off the wrong impression, right? Wrong. This is 2008, and buyers and sellers don't expect their real estate agent to be uptight and humorless. I personally have had the pleasure of meeting a billion real estate agents, and I find that the ones not afraid to show off their personality are more appealing. Which is precisely why I like this post from Kristal Kraft. She saw a funny photo op and took advantage, and I thought it was cute.

4. Tempt Them With Tips
Here's a nifty post from Roberta Murphy with tips on how to Feng Shui your house. You may not be into Feng Shui, or whatever the latest house-harmony trend is, but your readers might be. And, you'll learn something new and different in doing the research for such a post. A tip for you: readers love tips and lists, so anytime the opportunity arises, seize it!

5. Helpful Reminders
Everybody needs to be reminded of common sense now and again, and it's always a good idea to blog on a topic that hits close to home. In Phoenix I would imagine that pool safety is always an issue, as it is in South Florida. Jay Thompson reminds us all to be careful near the pool, and I think that's excellent advice.

6. Investigate a Product
You're a real estate agent, so you see all sorts of things in houses that the rest of us only see on HGTV. And the best source for this info is the homeowner, with whom you happen to be buddy-buddy. So take a cue from Jack Blacksmith and get floored.

7. Make Some Plans
One important thing that I always consider when moving is what types of activities are going on all year. I have several dogs, a husband, and a baby that need to be entertained, and it always makes me very happy to have options of things to do. I don't think I've ever seen a more complete list than this one, so kudos to Betty Jung!

8. Pat Yourself on the Back
...or pat your town on the back. Either will be sufficient. The thing is, you pay attention to accolades that your town receives, but the rest of the world probably doesn't. The same goes for you receiving an award. You should be proud and give credit where it's due. And you can do it tastefully, like the Boston Real Estate Blog did.

9. Write a How-To
There are plenty of things buyers and sellers need to know before plunging headfirst into the current real estate market. And you, conveniently, are the local expert. So write a little how-to on something that you think is important, like staging. Here's a how-to on staging from Jerry LaRose that is short, sweet, and easy to digest. If you want, you can even do several how-to's and make them a series. Readers love posts that come in series.

10. Publicize Your Social Calendar
As a real estate agent, and as a blogger. you probably have speaking engagements or training seminars that you're part of from time to time. Whether you'll be doing the speaking, or just attending, you should let your readers know where to find you. Buyers and sellers like to know that their agent is "in the know", and by telling them you attend conferences such as NAR and Inman, you look like you're "in the know". Kris Berg is going to be speaking at Inman, and she should be proud.

Well, there are 10 tips for you. Now you can shake up your blog and get creative. Don't forget that you're not just limited to these topics. You can cover a variety of subjects on your blog, and it doesn't always have to be about real estate. Your readers know you're a person, so don't be afraid to act like one!

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Blogging Basics: Making the Most of Your Real Estate Blog Part I

So you are now the proud owner of a brand new real estate blog, huh? Well you're going to need some tips and advice, and as I told you before, that's what I'm here for. Let me introduce you to our first blog series. I'm going to give you ten extremely helpful tips, as well as examples when I can, that will make your real estate blog a hit. I am going to give them to you two by two, so they will be easier to digest. You can check back weekly for the next two tips.

1. Digg It.
When you write a new post, it's very important to submit it to social networking sites so others can find it and stumble on to your real estate blog. Digg is the easiest, and you'll get the most exposure from it. You'll have to go to Digg.com and create a free account, and then you're ready to Digg. Each time you write a new post, login to Digg and follow the steps to submit your new masterpiece. I do this with each of my posts, and when this one's complete I'll Digg it, too. You can also Digg posts written by your favorite fellow real estate bloggers. Most blogs will have a little button that says Digg at the bottom of the post. If you click it, you will be prompted to login to Digg and the site will recognize that you loved the post you're Diggin'. It's kind of like voting. Except that popularity is more important than delegates in this case.

2. Say It Right.
Once upon a time you were taught that grammar, spelling and punctuation are important. And then you probably forgot it, as did most of the world. Well, it's time to dust off that part of your brain, because one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to look uneducated. I don't mean that you should use big words and sound like a dictionary. That's boring. What you do need to do, is make sure you use words properly and by all means, please use your spell check! The good folks at Microsoft were nice enough to provide you with all these fancy tools, like a spell check and a thesaurus, because they intended you to use them. And if you don't write in Word, that's no excuse either, because most of the popular blog platforms (Blogger, Wordpress, etc.) come with a spell check. You can also use http://www.dictionary.com/ or http://www.thesaurus.com/ for extra help if you need it. I can't tell you how important this rule is! Look at it this way... You are trying to become an expert on real estate to gain traffic (and hopefully leads), which is why you blog. You want to look good so people keep reading what you're saying. But if you're saying it with the wrong words or you're spelling everything wrong, you won't look too smart will you? If you don't believe me, check out what Brian Clark had to say on the subject.

Congratulations, you have just learned your first two blogging tips! See, I told you it would be easy. So I'll see you here next week for the next two. In the meantime let me know if anything I have explained is confusing, or if you disagree with me, or if you loved it. Especially if you loved it.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

CyberSunshine: Your Favorite Custom Real Estate Website Solution

Since CyberSunshine just kind of magically popped up in the blogosphere all of a sudden, I figured it would be nice if we were properly introduced. So I'm going to share a little bit about CyberSunshine's history and some stuff like what we do and why and how, so that you'll feel like we're old friends. Let's get to know one another, shall we? We'll start at the beginning…



About 11 years ago, a couple named Chad and Cassandra decided they wanted to do something a little different and somewhat cutting-edge, so they started a company that builds stunning custom websites for real estate agents and brokers. The idea was to offer services that other companies didn't, like integrating searches on the site itself and other tech-y stuff that we won't go into here (back in the nineties, having a search box on your site made you super cool, in case you didn't know!). Currently CyberSunshine does IDX Integration and loads of other really cool custom stuff that you'll love. Basically, we can make whatever you can dream up. Seriously.


Obviously, CyberSunshine turned out to be a success since we're still around. And we have thousands of overly-satisfied clients to boot. We try to stay involved in our community, since we know you (a real estate professional) are also very aware of being involved in your own community. You can also find us at numerous conferences and events all over the country, such as NAR and Inman. You all know about NAR and Inman, right? Look for us the next time you're there.


So today, CyberSunshine is breaking into blogging. We currently offer several SEO Packages to go with your custom-designed website, ghost writing and blogging services, and, of course, top-of-the-line designs accompanied by completely custom sites (even the programming is done on a per-site basis). Check out our Portfolio if you want to see for yourself.


If you want more info, feel free to send an email. Otherwise, make sure you keep an eye on our blog, it's going to be constantly changing and improving, and I can't wait to share all my knowledge with you.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Why Do I Need a Real Estate Blog?

Well you've heard all the hype and still, you don't quite know why exactly you should jump on the blog bandwagon. Lucky for you, I have the answer! It's quite simple, really. I don't know why some people feel the need to make blogs complicated, because it really is just a fun tool to get you more site visits and more recognition from Google. Let me explain.

When you create a new blog, Google (I'm going to say Google, even though I mean all search engines. I just happen to think Google is the most important one, so when I talk about search engines I only typically refer to Google.) sends little computer-dwelling spiders to check it out. The spiders come back every time new stuff ends up on your blog, and they index. That means they file away the new info and report to Google that new info has been obtained from your website. These spiders are like little spies, and they not only see the new content but they also see the links within your post. For example, I am going to link to the CyberSunshine website right here, and when the Google spiders come and check out what I just posted, they are going to see that I am talking about and linking to CyberSunshine. And since CyberSunshine is a respectable site that has been on the web forever and ever, linking to their site makes me look good. Its kind of like when you're in high school and you're lucky enough to make friends with the head cheerleader, making you popular by association. So if you keep doing that, it makes you look good. I'm not saying that you have to only link to one site. Don't do that, it's not helpful. You need to have broad horizons here. The one thing that is important to note, is that most of your links should be to sites that have some kind of connection to your own. If your site is about kittens, don't link to a million sites about nuclear waste. It doesn't make sense. The bottom line is to get Google's spiders to your site a few times a week, so that they see you're constantly making updates. The more good visits the spiders have, the faster your site climbs up Google.


Another cool thing that blogs are good for is making you new friends. You need to get out there and socialize, and I don't mean only with people in your zip code. The blogosphere is a big place full of wonderful people and you can learn from a lot of them. So network your behind off, while you have the time! We all know that this lull in the market isn't permanent, and when it ends you'll be the busiest bee you've ever been. The reason you need all these new friends is quite clear if you think about it. Say you meet Betty Sue in Chicago, and become blogging buddies. Well one day Betty Sue's little sister Susanna decides that she wants to buy a condo on the beach in Naples. Well, who do you think Betty Sue is going to send her to? You, her Naples luxury real estate specialist and blog buddy! In addition to Betty Sue sending you leads, you'll also be charming her with your wit and wisdom in each post, and she'll be so impressed with you that she sends all her other blogging buddies to check out your site as well. Soon you develop a following of new friends, and every time one of these new friends (i.e., readers) comes to your blog (which, of course, is embedded in your actual website), that's another site hit for your site. Google counts your site hits, and if Google notices that your site is really popular, then your Page Rank goes up and you are loved throughout the lands.


That's basically it. You need a blog to encourage spider visits and to make new friends. I can assure you there is no faster way to get your site to climb Google and all those other search engines. And with all the competition nowadays to be on Google's page one, you'll need all the help you can get! Now, if only you knew what to blog about.... Don't worry, we'll get to that too!

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