Learn From One of the Best Real Estate Blogger
We had the pleasure of interviewing the best real estate blogger in the business, Bill Gassett. He was kind enough to join our weekly Blogging Mastermind and everyone in the room learned so much.
There were several things Bill Gassett covered that could dramatically impact the kind of blog content we create as well as how our blogs rank on the search engines and how it can enhance our visibility and reputation on social media.
In the following recording of the meeting (in our virtual office!) we discuss the process of WRITING the blogs and then what Bill does to PROMOTE the blog posts. You’ll also find the meeting’s key takeaways below. I hope you enjoy and learn a thing or two… or three!
About Bill Gassett, The Best Real Estate Blogger
Bill Gassett has been in the business for 30 years and is with RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. It’s West of Boston and is actually where the Boston Marathon starts. He said that “The population of the town I’m located in is around 16,000, but I cover a territory known as Metro West, which encompasses around 15 or 16 different towns.” Bill’s main website is MaxRealEstateExposure.com and then he has another one called MassRealEstateNews.com, which is kind of a site that he uses as part of his overall blogging strategy.
He is also on ActiveRain and has always been VERY generous about sharing what he does. On a personal note, I’ve been following him for more than 10 years and am always so impressed with the blogging content he creates and how CONSISTENT he is with his blogging over the years.
Interview with Bill Gassett
Notes and Key Take-Aways from our Interview with Bill Gassett, Real Estate Blogger Extraordinaire are below.
Brad Andersohn, our Director of Education at eXp Realty, introduced Bill as a “prolific real estate blogger and a master of social media.” We also joked that this meeting is called “Grill Bill” because we have so many questions for him!
We broke the meeting down into the following two sections:
- Blogging Tips on Creating and Writing blog posts
- Blogging Tips on Promoting blog posts
1. Blogging Tips on Creating and Writing a Real Estate Blog
Using Guest Blog Posts
Bill’s main website, MaxRealEstateExposure.com, is the hub of his business and in addition to having lots of real estate blog articles, he also has an MLS feed (aka IDX) that comes into the site. He uses his other website, Mass Real Estate New, to drive traffic to your hub as well as a place to do ‘guest blogging.’
Every month he posts the best of Google Plus’ where he picks great articles that are found in Google Plus. He has it set up is one person a month will be the host and they’ll be the ones that pick the articles they find to be the best that month. Bill will also have people ask to do a guest blog post, so he’ll specifically use that News site to host guest blogs.
Karen Highland chimed in because she actually wrote a guest blog post on Bill’s News website. It’s a genius idea because the person who blogs on his site is going get a lot of visibility online and in return, the guest real estate blogger is going to promote Bill’s website EVERYWHERE, so it’s a win-win for both agent real estate bloggers.
How did you start blogging?
Bill started blogging on the Activerain real estate blogging platform in the 2007-2008 timeframe. He said “I started the thought process that a lot of people have that having your own content on your own site would be more beneficial than having it on a platform that somebody else owns and change by the year, anything can happen.
I just felt that it would be better to have my own self-hosted blog. The first site I actually had was Mass Real Estate News, and to be very honest with you, I got to the point where I felt it wasn’t meeting current standards as far as the web goes.
Probably been about six or seven years now where I had somebody go out and build the site for me, which ended up becoming Max Real Estate Exposure, so that’s kind of where it transpired. ActiveRain to Mass Real Estate News to now Max Real Estate Exposure as being my money site, so to speak.”
Find your own voice when creating a real estate blog
Karen Highland said, “One of the things that I like about you and I think is inspiring and learned from you is developed your own voice. I mean, you mean what you say and you say what you mean.
We were talking a little earlier about the whole concept of authenticity. When people go to your blog, they’ve come to expect what you’re going to say. Were you always that way, or did you develop that along the way?” Bill Gassett jokingly answered, “I’ve always been very opinionated.”
Over the course of Bill’s real estate blogger journey, he’s been contacted by many home buyers and sellers who read his real estate blogs and appreciate his honesty and ability to show the reader both sides of the story. When the buyer reads his articles it doesn’t feel like you’re pressured to “Buy NOW!” or “Sell ASAP.” Here are a few of my favorite real estate blog posts written by Bill Gassett:
After you read a few of Bill Gassett’s blogs, you can see that they are detailed, honest and AUTHENTIC. When people go to his real estate blog, they’ve come to expect what you’re going to say and that you are a trusted source for information and advice.
When you are a truly helpful real estate blogger and serves as a resource for your local market, potential clients feel like “Wow, this is great. I actually have somebody that’s in this area that I can reach out to that I feel confident in.” It doesn’t really have so much to do with potential clients thinking of you as a great real estate blogger, but more of a person (realtor) that I know I can trust.
Great Blogs Can Create Social Media Interaction
Much of Bill’s interactions on social media is a result of his real estate blog… and he loves being able to create those relationships. It can give you a leg up on a listing appointment when the seller is interviewing several real estate agents.
Or, if a home buyer isn’t getting the service and assistance they need from their current agent and they find you’re incredibly helpful real estate blog, they may want to reach out to you for advice and/or representation.
Bill said that “I do find that leads that come through blogs are more of a sure thing. It’s almost like your percentages go up when you meet somebody that comes through that aspect rather than other means.” As well all know, it’s much easier to work with someone you already know, like and trust — and over time, you can accomplish that with your articles as a real estate blogger!
How Long Does it Take to Create a Real Estate Blog Post?
Bill dedicates each Monday to writing and editing his real estate blogs. He tells us that “I would say hours [to create a blog post like a pro real estate blogger], but I don’t do it typically all in one sitting. I’ll usually get a good chunk of it done and come back to it a couple of times.
Just clear the mind. You always come back when you look a second time, and I found that that’s the best way for me, anyway, rather than just sitting down and just doing it all at once. Coming back in a few times, dotting the Is and crossing the Ts. Maybe a new idea that you thought about since the first time you sat down and put it into drafts. At least that’s how I like to do it.”
How to Find Great Topics for Your Real Estate Blog
Finding great topics are challenging, even for top real estate bloggers like Bill. Since he’s been blogging for more than a decade, it’s even more difficult, but he’s always trying to think about what’s going to be a popular topic that a lot of people search about.
For a little inspiration, it’s helpful to look at the topics used on other real estate blog sites. He’ll look at the articles and then say “How can I take that topic and kick ass with it and make it better? How can I create an in-depth article so I’m going to beat them in search?” Bill will also use his 30 years of real estate experience and think ‘What would I do? What would I say?’… And use that experience to try to enhance what I’m putting out and publishing.
Also, when you are thinking about topics for a real estate blogger, do a Google search, and see how many results you get. If you look at the best articles ranking on Google and think that they did a really good job, don’t try to recreate the wheel. You can take a different spin on that topic or just look for another one.
Using Images that POP in your Blog
This is something Bill does best and is his favorite part of blogging, by far. He tells us that he can hardly wait to get to put together the graphics. He finds that to be the entertaining part of being a real estate blogger.
Images can really help tell your story and encourage people to read your blog post. Mr. Gassett thinks that imagery makes or breaks a blog post.
“Words are words, but putting that graphic together breaks everything up, keeps people’s attention. It’s critical.”Bill Gassett
Favorite Tools & Resources for Images
Bill: Without a doubt it’s Canva. I love Canva. I think it’s fairly easy to use. I’ve gotten better at it since the first day that I started with it, and now it’s almost like anything else you do; it’s second nature, like riding a bike. I actually, from when I first started using it to now, I’ve gotten so much better at it than when I first started. I love it. It’s a simple tool. It makes your graphics look professional.
Before you edit the photos for your blog, Bill also recommends looking at DepositPhotos.com for imagery. It’s fairly inexpensive and you can pay by the month (currently $29) or pay by the number of photos downloaded.
Once he started enhancing your images with interesting photos, blog titles or teasers, he saw a SIGNIFICANT spike in social media traffic. Especially on certain sites. Bill’s number one source of the traffic to my blog is Pinterest – yes Pinterest! Images are huge when it comes to social media, but especially so with a site like Pinterest. As of today, Bill is averaging about 6,000 visits a month from his Pinterest site.
Be sure to check our Bill’s Pinterest page — he has an incredible 23,000 followers!
Using Controversial Topics on Your Blog
Bill: The controversial stuff is what I like. I really do, because you’re really educating people on important things.
(NOTE: When Bill says “controversial” he doesn’t mean political, religious or other current world issues. He wants to create content that people may have an opinion about so that it creates a conversation.)
Karen: Yes, I keep reading quality content is the differentiator for us. When I see the definitions, that’s what makes quality; it is getting really into detail. Getting into the nitty-gritty, explaining things and giving people real detailed knowledge.
Getting Leads from Your Blog
Bill: In the heyday of what I would call blogging in my career, monetarily speaking. Going back to when short sales were in vogue, that was a gold mine. That was probably the topic that would bring in more money per year than anything else. Not many people at first were blogging about short sales. I immediately started to, and it was amazing, the number of people that would be calling me, asking for my help, and wanting me to do the short sale for them. One of the things that I did when I saw how many people were responding to me, I added a little bit of text at the bottom of every post saying that if they were in some other part of the country, I would help them find a qualified short sale expert in their area. I was literally, every year, probably making 50 to 75 thousand just referring people from writing on short sales every year.
Is SEO Still a Big Part of Blogging?
In the early years of real estate blogging (2006-2010), agents were all about search engine optimization. Karen asked, does Bill thinks about SEO as much about that as you used to?
Bill: Yes, but in a different way. To me, people talk all the time about SEO and things that you should be doing and not doing and all that. It’s good advice, but if I broke down into the very basics of how are you going to get yourself found online, onto the first page of Google for what you’re writing about, it boils down to two things; the content and links. Those are the two things that are going to drive you to the first page. You can talk about so many other things, but those are so huge.
Karen: Right. What kinds of things are you doing to get the links back, just in general?
Bill: As you know, I’ve created a lot of relationships with people online. I’ve actually got almost kind of like … I would call it a tribe. There are probably 20 of us or so that … active real estate bloggers and we share each other’s content all the time. We link quite often if it’s appropriate. That’s one major thing for sure. I use other sites to link back to my money site. I’ll write on other platforms. Some of the bigger ones have actually asked me to write for them, which is great. Places like RIS Media, are great links to have to your money site because they’re good links. They’re really good links. Those are just a couple of quick things.
Advice for New Real Esate Bloggers
Bill: For someone that’s just starting out, I’d recommend writing on things that you’re really comfortable about. Maybe it’s something that’s happening to you along the way in your business and you feel like you can put your passion out there about whatever the topic happens to be. I think that’s probably the easiest way to get into blogging, is to just talk about things that you’re comfortable talking about. And just try to be as detailed as you can. Think about the end person that’s going to be reading it, and trying to help them. How are you going to help them as best you can?
2. Blogging Tips on Promoting Blog Posts
Bill has a fairly scheduled process for creating and promoting his articles and creating that system has made things easier over the years. When he publishes, it’s every Monday morning, usually between 7:00 and 7:30 in the morning. Once he hits that publish button, he has a set thing that he does every time.
First, he will go into every social major channel and share it the post. Then he also uses a couple of tools that allow things to be shared throughout the day. Buffer is a big one. It allows you to share at whatever intervals you want throughout the day, so typically, when I publish a new article, it’s shared multiple times in the first couple days. You can also schedule posts on Buffer and Bill typically posts from 7 am to 8 pm, just because those are the most active hours during the day.
Sharing Blog Posts on Facebook
Bill: I do share my blog posts on Facebook in my personal, but I’m only doing it once. I would caution people to bombard your personal page with too much real estate because I don’t think people really probably go typically for that there. It’s good to let people know you’re in real estate. Obviously, you want people seeing that, so I’ll post the article on my personal page that Monday that I was a real estate blogger, but I don’t post it again after that until the next Monday.
Promoting Blog Posts / Articles on Other Social Media Sites
Bill: I do put them on all [social media sites]. As I was explaining before, Brad, at 7:00 – 7:30 on Monday morning when I hit the publish button, the next hour or so, I’m spending on placing the posts in all the big social sites. That’s the first step that I follow in my provisional efforts.
Brad: In that process, though, are you putting some different verbiage on Twitter and then going over and putting some different verbiage on Facebook and a different image? Or are you just putting one like a Hootsuite or a Buffer and just sending it out to all of them with the exact same wording and the exact same links?
Bill: No, I don’t use exact stuff. For example, with Buffer, I use Buffer for Twitter. That will be sent out immediately. Then I’ll take it… The way I have my blog set up, when I click Pinterest, for example, it already has exactly what’s going to be shared to Pinterest, because it’s taking it right from my meta description. LinkedIn, I’ll go in and I’ll write exactly what I want to write. Facebook, I’ll go in, I’ll write exactly what I want to write. Google Plus, the same thing. So yeah, it’s got a little bit of a different spin on every site.
Brad: As you heard him say, he’ll go to Google Plus, he’ll use this for Twitter, LinkedIn is a totally different environment. You’ve got to present things differently. And I think that that is gold for anybody watching this or listening right now, because oftentimes, agents don’t know what is the best way to get this content out instead of just sitting back, chewing my fingernails, hoping that Google finds it and this thing called SEO kicks in.
Don’t forget about Sharing Blogs on Pinterest!
As we mentioned earlier, Bill has a huge following and fantastic imagery that really gets your attention. He has almost 23,000 followers on Pinterest as a real estate blogger and gets about 6,000 visits to his real estate blog each month from Pinterest.
He’s also created nice Pinterest boards with popular topics, like Real Estate Advice, Tips for Selling a Home, Home Improvement, etc. All of the boards have a description, which helps others find your board faster. He offers quality content. It’s not something he just finds something and just throws it up there. A lot of thought has gone into the creation of his Pinterest boards.
When you post images to Pinterest, Bill tells us there are certain characteristics of images on Pinterest that do well. They say lighter ones are certainly better.
The taller images are very important, so you’ll notice on Pinterest that when you go in there, there are various sizes and how they’re presented. The ones that are square, that are smaller; those do not do nearly as well as the taller images. You’ll do significantly better with the taller image.
The other thing that you want to do is what’s called rich pins, which I won’t get into trying to explain to you how to do it. If you just google “how do I get rich pins on Pinterest”, you’ll see a very detailed explanation on Google if you do that. But what it does is it adds meta description and those tags and so forth to your post so they stand out. Things are bolded, the title’s there. They just stand out from other pins.
Karen Highland also mentioned that people might not be aware that whenever I just open up a Google window and search for things, especially if it has to do with anything to do with the home, there’s usually somebody’s Pinterest board on the first page of Google.
There’s that aspect of it, too. If you create a really good board or join a really good group board, sometimes that group board’s going to show up in a Google search because Pinterest has huge, huge page rank.
Group Boards on Pinterest
Bill: Group boards are actually one of the most important things, because if you’re on Pinterest and you’ve only got a few hundred followers, getting in and joining group boards is going to change your exposure dramatically because many of the big real estate group boards have thousands of followers. When you post on a group board, all those people that are part of that board see your post, and that’s how you grow as an agent using Pinterest, is by joining these group boards.
Karen: So how do you find a group board?
Bill: There are a couple of search tools that allow you to search for group boards. I would recommend actually going in and looking at my profile that Brad had up on there, and there’s a couple that anybody that’s in here who wants invites to a couple of my big boards, I would be glad to have you come along.
Sharing Buttons on Your Blog
Bill also highly suggests that your use sharing buttons on your blog posts so that your readers can promote the article on their social media sites. One of the most popular WordPress plugins is “Add This”, but there are many others you can research and use.
Brad Andersohn: I’ve always respected and appreciated your topics as a real estate blogger. I know you said that’s the hardest part, but because you take it seriously, that’s the one thing I have learned about you, Bill, and your reputation, is that your topics are usually dead on for that target audience, and it’s the questions … It doesn’t matter if you’re writing about open houses. I’ve noticed your home buying tips. If you’re talking about social media. Everything has a very high value to it because it’s significant to that audience.
For example, your home buying tips for retirement. I’m showing it up on the window now that’s being recorded. You all can’t see it in the cloud, but just the point that you make in the article; right in your first three paragraphs, you’ve sucked me in.
You’ve got me on the line. You caught this fish. And it’s because of the topic, the title, and everything’s relative to the audience you’re trying to reach. Kudos to you, man, for that, because that’s … some people call it finding your voice. I just say you found your way and been able to successfully articulate the message to the right audience very effectively.
THANK YOU, BILL FOR JOINING US IN THE CLOUD – YOU ROCK!
Editor’s note: This meeting was hosted by Brad Andersohn and Karen Highland in the eXp World office. Meeting notes transcribed/interpreted by Kerry Lucasse, Agent/Owner at eXp Realty. Information deemed reliable but is subject to change.
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