This is the second in a series of posts on tools and technologies for real estate agents that want to compete in a Web 2.0 world.
Let's get this out of the way at the top of the show... There are two "brands" of WordPress to pick from. The one I will be almost completely ignoring is WordPress.com. That is the version that is NOT self-hosted. Basically, unless you pay to upgrade your account, the URL will be WhatYouPick.WordPress.com. That isn't the only thing, though...
- Related posts from other people's blogs can show up on your post... and you don't have control over whose posts those may be.
- There is little control over the theming and plug-ins of the site.
So, the main event...
Some people refer to this as WordPress.org... that is where you can go to get it... But most of us just call it WordPress. It is an Open Source Content Management System tuned especially for blogging. And what that means to the non-UberGeeky is that we can install content, separately from the style of the site... This allows the theme to be (fairly) easily changed, and the site to be optimized by the individual user.
I should mention that I could write a LOT about WordPress. It is VERY cool and VERY flexible. In fact, I already have written a lot about WordPress on LaneBailey.info. And that brings me to one of the coolest things... The link I just gave you is a Landing Page. Basically, instead of sending you to the front page of the website, or to an individual post, I gave a link to every post on that site that is tagged "WordPress". Instead of having to wade through posts about other subjects, you get a site that is tuned to your expectations... Imagine sending buyers to a site that has just information for buyers, or a site just for sellers, or just local business reviews or even just posts about holiday decorations. If you make a tag for it, the site can sift through all of your posts and present only the posts that have that tag.
Why Blog on WordPress?
Control... Complete and total control. For some, that is the scariest thing in the world... for others it is terribly exciting. Plug-ins, design, function... everything. You can get under the hood and tune it until it is optimal for you and your usage. And that usage can be wide and varied...
Some of the uses that can be applied are:
- Regular blog
- News magazine
- Property website
- Neighborhood news site
- Group blog
- Dynamic website
Unlike WordPress.com, Blogger, Active|Rain or most other hosted solutions, having a self-hosted WordPress blog allows almost an unlimited amount of creativity and flexibility. And, after getting a hosting account set up, building blogs with WordPress is effectively free. Many hosts allow you to have scores of sites hosted for under $100/year... I have more than a dozen websites on my host, BlueHost. They also have a service called Simple Scripts. This allows one-click installs of WordPress, Joomla and other web applications.
Whether you want to build out a website for each of your listings, a news site for neighborhood associations in your farm area or just a dynamic website for your business, WordPress allows that goal to be accomplished in a straight forward manner.
Why Not Blog on WordPress?
Now, this is specifically about blogging for business, not about maintaining a business website, personal blog, property website or neighborhood site... JUST about blogging for business, for the real estate business.
Time. Not the time it takes to blog, because I feel that is a worthwhile expenditure, but the time it takes to make the blog rank with search engines. Also, sites like Active|Rain allow more community interaction.
When building a property blog, the primary means of promotion will be direct linking and advertising the link. Using an Active|Rain blog to promote property blogs (by blogging about them), or promoting a dynamic website (by deep-linking) to pages inside or building a neighborhood news site by giving out the link in neighborhood newsletters are all ways to use WordPress that avoid the shortcomings of a normal self-hosted blog.
Also, allowing a business blog to take time building rank, while using a parallel platform like Active|Rain, is a solid strategy.
When I started my primary self-hosted blog, LaneBailey.com, Active|Rain didn't yet offer "outside blogs" or RainMakers. Had that choice been available, I might not have embarked on the WordPress journey. I am glad that I did it, but there have been some tough times... I have crashed my site more times than I can count. I have made things disappear, re-appear, get changed around... I have sat up all night trying to figure out why my site was inaccessible. But I have also learned how to get past those challenges. And I know that I can do almost anything I want with WordPress.
I can't say everything about WordPress in one post. Just like Active|Rain, it is a versatile and multi-faceted tool. But, it is a tool that is worth learning about. Hopefully the links above will help deliver a little more insight into ways to use WordPressto build a better real estate business.