I’ve recently spoken with a number of leaders at successful real estate brokerages and real estate teams who are investing in blogs, and they admit, for the most part, to not having a 360-degree playbook for their content marketing effort.

There’s a reason — it’s hard.

Doing content marketing right basically requires you to become a mini-publisher. I was in the guts of publication during my time at Inman, learning from one the smartest and hardworking people I’ve met — Brad Inman — about how to do it well.

Inman — and all publications for that matter — are basically content marketing rags on steroids: they provide value (ideally), capture attention, then sell ads, conferences and influence off of it. Real estate firms, brokerages and agents have a slightly different relationship with the endeavor, but, at base, it’s the same: provide value, provide value, show expertise, consistency, build trust –> close deals.

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Despite what you might think, producing content is one, teeny-tiny small factor in a successful equation:

  • You have to know audience (who you’re catering to, trying to reach). At Inman, we shifted this every now and then. In the aftermath of Select’s launch in late 2014, it became clear that we had won a big chunk of agents, fueled by huge brand-wide deals. We shifted the publication’s coverage, accordingly — from issues primarily concerning industry brass toward strong, smart takeaways for agents. The still-reigning mantra for whether Inman publishes a story became: Why do agents care?
  • We knew this because we tracked our audience’s behavior — which stories were hot and why — and polled readers about what coverage they found valuable and wanted to see more of.
  • Audience and brand are two sides of the same coin. Inman’s brand, led by Brad, is sterling — hard-working, smart, honest, always quality.
  • Then we get to distribution, the dark horse of publishing, especially now that Facebook and Snapchat increasingly siphon away the little attention media outlets have left to throw their listicles at. Inman does a great job, some might say too good a job on Twitter (see its account and the break-neck frequency at which posts go out), about getting its content out with email newsletters, social media. Facebook and Twitter lead the way on social. It manages vibrant Facebook groups as well. (I imagine there are a lot of other features Inman’s added since I left last October.)

Questions to ask yourself if you have a blog or are thinking of starting one:

  • Who’s my audience?
  • What is my brand?
  • What should I write about?
  • What’s the specific business goal for my blog? Brand awareness, leads (top, middle, bottom of the funnel?), SEO, grow email list, increase sales?
  • Who will write my blog, how often? Who ensures content quality?
  • How do I measure my blog’s effectiveness?
  • How do I know it’s working or a big waste of time?

These are big questions and many real estate  firms, brokerages and agents interested in blogging (or doing it now) might look at all this and say, “Overkill.” And they might be right. But blogging (and all content marketing) requires tons of effort, money, time and skill. With no blueprint, you’ll add more drops to the ocean, but you won’t know why or how it raises your boat, if at all.

Speaking of content marketing, Zillow Group CEO Spencer Rascoff launched his podcast, “Office Hours” today, along with a sweet website (not clear how long this site has been up actually). Former Twitter CEO Dick Costelo is his first guest. (Rascoff is well-connected and has seen a lot, so his podcast will no doubt be smart and informative, but I’m starting to wonder, given that it’s expanding like a supernova, when the podcastverse will cave in on itself). 

Looks like Rascoff, as Brad is with his great podcast, “Unlisted”, is merciful with time: the first episode is under 20 minutes.

Photo credit: Artem Verbo