Who NOT to hire to write your real estate blogs
Updated: Dec 1, 2018
One real estate copywriter that somehow shows up on page one of Google when agents are looking for a real estate blogger promises that his copy resonates with readers and that
“This ensures that your real estate copy standards a fighting change of being read - and acted upon.”
I don’t know about you, but that sentence certainly doesn’t resonate with me. Does he mean that your real estate copy STANDS a fighting CHANCE?
If not, what’s “real estate copy standards” and what’s a “fighting change?”
The fool can’t even bother to proofread his own writing for his OWN website and he wants you to let him invade yours?
Read on and you’ll see that he cautions real estate professionals to trust him, because he knows the nuances of the business. Yet, go to one of his clients’ websites and you’ll find “Realtors” referred to as “realtors.”
Only someone who has never been a member of the NAR would do that
Guess what? The "nuances" of the real estate business he claims to be such an expert on are those of the real estate investor, not agent.
He's never been on a listing presentation, had buyers in his car or walked a client through the alternatives available when an appraisal is low.
Only one who has actually BEEN in the business can even begin to understand the "nuances" of being a REALTOR®.
Finish reading that sentence on his client's website and you’ll find other, glaring grammar errors in the rest of the section:
“our team of professional realtors are”
Team/are? I counted no less than three grammatical mistakes in that one paragraph, making the agents this man writes for look like dunces.
Compelling writing isn’t overtly salesy
He calls his copywriting “compelling,” yet uses trite, overtly salesy and tired terms on agent sites -- terms such as “dream home,”
Yet, he claims to set the “industry standard” for real estate writing.
I don’t think so
The “industry standard” in writing, be it copywriting, non-fiction writing or any other type of writing – the “norm” – is writing that is proofed to death and contains no errors in fact, in grammar and in spelling.
In other words, industry standards include the proper use of ellipses, the avoidance of serial commas and exclamation points – all of which this copywriter ignores.
What to look for when hiring a real estate writer
For some reason, it’s open season on agent pocketbooks lately. I see scam after scam being peddled to the industry, preying on agents’ need for leads, to be seen as the local authority and all the other needs of the average agent.
Real estate bloggers, on the other hand, are a breed apart. It’s so very easy to separate the wheat from the chaff merely by reading how they promote themselves, yet few agents take the time to do so. If they did, these so-called writers would no longer be in business.
Before looking for the writer’s pricing page, go to his or her blog
If the posts ignore blog structure best practices, price doesn’t matter; regardless of how low the price, your business can’t afford shoddy writing.
For instance, one writing company’s blog is full of posts with paragraphs in excess of 10 sentences. I mean, they call themselves professional real estate bloggers, yet they don’t know that most blog visitors won’t read a post with overly long paragraphs? They aren't aware of even the basics of proper blog post structure?
Spelling and grammar matter
Then, examine their posts for grammar and spelling errors. We found this on the aforementioned company’s blog:
“But How’s That Make Me Money?”
“How’s” is a contraction of “how” and “is.” An example of proper usage would be Dr. Phil’s “How’s that working for you?”
In essence, what this “writer” is saying is “But How Is That Make Me Money?”
We found this next one on a website of a self-proclaimed “best” real estate writer – from a sample of a blog post she wrote for an agent:
In case you missed it – commas go inside quotation marks. And, trust me, your more astute readers will catch that and will think you’re ignorant.
That same paragraph, by the way, contains additional commas in places they don’t belong, incomplete sentences and capitalization errors.
Is that the type of grammar you want representing you on your website or blog?
Look for factual errors
I’ve mentioned this one in another blog post but it bears repeating. I found this in a piece published by a company that sells newspapers to agents to send to their farms.
This particular piece is an “Ask the Agent,” column, which is written in the agent’s name, from a paragraph about the final walk-through.
"Realtors will only pay for something that is broken so make it a mission to inspect closely."
Do you really want your buyers to expect you to pay for anything that’s broken in the home they’re purchasing? And, this particular piece was mailed on behalf of hundreds of agents, nationwide.
Then, there’s this gem from a real estate blogger who is suggesting calls-to-action for real estate agent blogs:
“Looking for a family-friendly home in [insert city], in the best neighborhoods? Let us help.”
I would change that one to:
“Looking for a trip to court for violating Fair Housing laws? Buy content from this company!”
Put your “trite detector” cap on
The goal of each piece of content on your site should be to set you apart from every other agent in town. Trite, overused garbage won’t do that.
“Interest rates are at an all-time low!”
“Now is the best time to buy!”
“A home may be the largest investment you’ll ever make.”
“Most home searches today begin on the Internet.”
Those are actual sentences written by people who call themselves “real estate writers.” The first on the list returns 666,000 Google search results.
One of the most overused sentences I see on agent sites and blogs is about how “challenging,” “frightening,” and hassle-prone the real estate process is.
“Buying your first home is not only exciting, it can be very scary and nerve-racking,” says the aforementioned, self-proclaimed "best real estate writer" on a client’s blog.
How many times have you read this or something similar? How many times do you think potential clients have read it? It’s become one of those sentences that makes readers roll their eyes and it’s a sign of a lazy writer.
The truth is, if buying a first home is "scary and nerve-racking," the buyer is working with the wrong agent
Sure, I’ve used the line a time or two myself, but ALWAYS followed by “but it doesn’t have to be. And, if it is, you’re working with the wrong agent.”
And then I go into how an amazing buyers’ or listing agent will fully counsel her clients so that nothing is scary and the process is never nerve-racking.
Learn more about the writer or company
Read the site’s “About” page carefully. What is the real estate writer’s background?
One site that claims to specialize in real estate writing brags that their company is “unlike most companies offering real estate content services and blogging” because it’s owned by a former feature writer and magazine editor.
As an agent, you should be interested in the writer’s credentials, but those go hand-in-hand with the writer’s REAL ESTATE background.
A generalist may or may not understand our industry
The Fair Housing violator, mentioned above, by the way, says in his bio that he writes about culture, business, technology, media, health, sports, arts, and entertainment. Did you notice the two most important words, “real estate,” are conspicuously missing?
Don’t just take the writer’s word about real estate writing experience either, but look at his or her samples. If the extent of his real estate writing experience includes nothing but neighborhood descriptions, reconsider using his services.
Stay away from offers of “pre-written” content
One real estate copywriter offers pre-written real estate blog posts as part of her services. On her website’s page that advertises the packages, she answers what she assumes will be common objections. One of them is: “But other agents will have the same posts…”
To paraphrase, she says yes, but the chance that one agent will share the same prospects and website visitors with another is “very slim.”
Not. One. Word. about Google’s duplicate content penalty
When it comes to identical content published on a number of domains, “Google will always show the version we think is most appropriate for users in each given search, which may or may not be” your page, according to Google.
In other words, using duplicate content may hurt your search engine rankings
It’s not like the duplicate content problem isn’t widely discussed online. Yet, this writer ignores it in her efforts to sell cheap blog posts.
Delegation in your real estate business is a good thing; it frees you to do the stuff that will actually make you money. But, it's critical that you hire the right people, whether that includes an assistant, a concierge or, yes, a writer.