When to pass on a real estate writer
I recently wrote an article for Easy Agent Pro websites about how to fire a real estate client. As an agent, I had one client in particular who was firing-worthy but I toughed it out. Looking back, I wished I’d kicked him to the curb.
The problem with working with anyone, whether it’s a new dentist, a hair stylist or, yes, a freelance real estate writer, is that you really don’t know which way the relationship -- and the quality of their work -- will go.
Let’s take people in your industry, for instance. Marketing is the name of the game. Marketing homes for sale, marketing your business. It’s all in a day’s work for you. Over time, you become pretty good at it.
So, if you tell me you’re the “neighborhood expert," and that’s important to me, how do I know for sure you’re telling the truth?
It’s the same thing when you hire a writer to write real estate content for your website, blog posts and marketing materials. Writers can talk (and write) the good game just like real estate agents.
So, how do you know you’ve found a good real estate writer?
Always ask for writing samples and ask that they be real estate-specific. There are a couple of us who actually once listed and sold real estate and now write about it. That should be your number one criteria.
Unless, of course, you have time to teach a writer about the industry or heavily edit everything he or she writes.
I often see agent blog posts that contain factual errors, making it obvious to me that it was written by someone who was never actually involved in the industry.
I think I mentioned this one before, but I’ll do it again. I was hired by a mega-agent as a real estate blogger for his website. In coming up with a content calendar I went back over his blog to find out which topics his previous “writer” had covered.
I was amazed, first, that this agent allowed these posts to be published. They made him look like an idiot. From calling a plat map a “plant map” to telling readers to never hire the agent they worked with before, it was downright embarrassing.
You know those real estate newspapers some agents send out? The most prominent one once ran an article under the agent’s name that claimed that the real estate agent will pay for any damages found during the final walkthrough.
Yes. She. Did.
Do yourself a favor and hire a writer who has actually had real estate boots on the ground.
Read through the writer’s samples carefully. Be on the lookout, particularly, for laziness. A glaring sign of this is trite sayings, such as:
“Buying a home is a huge investment.”
“Buying a home is the largest investment you may ever make.”
“Buying a home is frightening.”
While these may all be true, they’re way overused and at this point, they make a reader’s eyes roll. When I read a real estate piece that begins with any variation of any of those three sentences, I think to myself:
"Nothing new here. Move on.”
It's either the sign of an amateur or a lazy writer.
Next, go to the writer’s website and read the content. Look for the following:
What’s your first impression? Does the writer do a good job of selling his or her services?
Look for SEO best practices (if you’re familiar with them). If the writer doesn’t use them on his own site, he probably won’t bother using them on yours.
Spelling and grammar. I know that these should be expected on a writer’s website, but you’d be surprised how often I see mistakes on my competitors' sites.
Pay close attention to the writer’s blog. It is here that we can let loose and get personal, be casual and, hopefully, have fun. But there is such a thing as being too casual. After all, we’re in a B2B situation, so “professionalism” should always be at the top of our minds.
One real estate writer in particular peppers her posts with profanity. And, if you’re thinking “cuss words don’t bother me,” you should look at it another way. This is a business-facing blog.
Her target audience isn’t comprised of her buddies; she's not hanging around a pub having a beer.
She is addressing people she hopes to do business with.
Even if you curse in your own life, you know that it isn’t always appropriate and it is never considered professional.
Finally, consider the fact that writers should have an arsenal of words from which to choose. If the writer doesn’t, then there’s always %&*!. Why take a chance on offending even one reader?
My point is, potty-mouth blogging on a B2B website shows a lack of judgment.
In a nutshell, then, pass on any real estate writer who:
Doesn’t have experience listing and selling real estate
Doesn’t provide real estate-specific writing samples
Uses trite phrases in his/her writing
Doesn't sell her/his own services admirably
Doesn't understand SEO
Doesn't exhibit proper spelling and grammar
Shows poor judgement and a lack of professionalism in his/her writing