Why Should You Care About Blogging Voice?

I recently wrote about understanding blogging voice and how real estate bloggers can find theirs. During the process, an important question cropped up: why should you care about your blogging voice?  Is it really important to your real estate content marketing efforts?

The Blogging Voice Challenge

Take this challenge: read five of your competitor’s or service provider’s blogs. Include your brokerage’s blog. You don’t need to read the entire blogroll. Pick one or two articles that seem interesting. When you’re done, wait a day and see if you remember any of them. I’d bet most likely not, but if you do, it’s probably because that blog had something special to leave a lasting impression. The special sauce? Chances are, it’s the voice!

Why You Need to Find Your Blogging Voice

Everyone has read something that has induced a page coma: when your eyes scan the page but nothing sticks. Maybe you’ve read something just to fall asleep. Conversely, you have probably read something gripping from start to finish, whose suspense caught you still turning the pages into the wee hours of the night. Another article literally made you laugh out loud. Why can’t those qualities follow through in a blog?

Maybe you’re not a jokester. That’s okay. Some people can paint such a clear picture with words about any subject that it sucks in its audience. Perhaps that is your style. Others adeptly connect complex topics to real life scenarios. This, too, is a valuable skill and way to generate a unique voice.  Some people write with a no-nonsense style, and there are readers that appreciate cutting to the chase.

Many big brands have the same voice. They are trying to be business casual: conversational, politely informal, and quick to read. That’s not to say their content isn’t valuable or worth reading. I simply mean after a while, they all sound the same. You, as an individual, can be distinct and rise above the corporations, by finding a unique blogging voice and writing with a distinct personality.

Stay tuned for our next blog, which will have examples of real estate professionals with strong blog voices.

 


Want to craft a unique blogging voice for your content? We’re currently accepting new clients! Give us a shout.

What’s the Future of Blogging?

In the face of expanded video content, is blogging a dying medium?  I don’t think so. It may be a changing medium, but it’s not necessarily a dying one. The future of blogging for content marketers remains optimistic, even as we explore other content types.

The Blog Types

There are numerous blogging trends in the industry.  You have the microblogs: super short-form, less than 250 words with an abbreviated style. Running counter to these are long-form blogs, which are broken into indexable sections, dive deep into content, and rank high on LinkedIn. In the middle is the traditional blog of approximately 500 to 750 words detailing a specific subject, paired with images, broken into small sections, and carrying a voice unique to every author.

The Relationship Between Other Content and Blogs

But what about all the other content forms dominating the marketing industry? Podcasting, video content, video blogs, infographics…. I see these other content types as complimentary.  Each can be paired with another content type and gain the benefits that go along with it.

How can these different content types compliment blogging?

  • A 2-minute video on a subject can tease to a blog that tackles the topic more in-depth.  That blog can link to an infographic that dives deeper into relevant related data.
  • A blog can be a transcription of a podcast, with each linking to each other. The transcription adds indexable content for search engines. Your audience will have the choice to read or listen, based on their personal preferences.
  • A microblog pulls content from and refer to a free, downloadable white paper.
  • A long-form blog can promote the content found in a webinar series.
  • An infographic perfect for social media promotion can tie back into a blog.  

There’s no right or wrong answer. Writing is a malleable art form that can change to meet our needs.

Do Blogs Work?

What does research say? Data shows more value comes from long-form blogs that cut through all the content clutter. These blogs delve deep into a topic. They tend to be published less often, but end up chock-full of keywords that search engines love and precision readers appreciate. Neil Patel discusses in detail the value of long-form content as evergreen material and what you can do to produce it.

Even if blogging isn’t for you, the ability to understand its value and how it can help your other content marketing efforts will help you strategically plan your content marketing program. For instance, if you intend for your blog to host only videos, pairing those videos with transcripts or with short summaries will help sell the video. Search engines will index that text to help consumers organically discover your content.

As long as people have ideas to share, the future of blogging remains bright. Millions of posts continued to be published every day, including this one.

Need help with your real estate blogs? Let’s talk!

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Understanding Your Blog Voice

I find one question often trips up new clients. In fact, most of the disconnect I see with first draft expectations boils down to an inaccurate understanding of voice. Whether writing it yourself or outsourcing to a team, you must have a clear understanding of your blog voice to create a cohesive brand.

What is voice in writing?

Voice is tricky. When we read, the words take on a personality. This “personality” is formed from the grammar, rhythm, and word choices writers make. Writers use character adjectives to explain voice. For example, if I said, “this article sounds like it was written by a professor,” that likely means the writing is bogged down by jargon, complex sentence construction, and advanced vocabulary.

Why the voice disconnect?

During initial client consults, I’ve had people say they want an informal or casual tone.  The first draft is delivered, and in the reviewing remarks, it becomes clear they wanted something else entirely. A response might be that the content seems too basic, delivers a surface-level grasp of content, or needs more data. What the client is really expressing a desire for a different voice. They would like something more business casual, like discussing the industry during a conference panel. Their audience is familiar with the industrial jargon and trends; these can be used casually during the writing.

When coming up with your content marketing program or when getting ready to draft your blog, really put some thought behind what you want your blog to sounds like. You may have heard of the content marketing term “persona.”  I find creating personas a viable exercise, especially if more than one person will be working on your marketing. Having a document that gives a clear understanding of the company voice is invaluable. I particularly remember reading one detail from a “Social Media Persona” document: “The individual is in with the latest trends; they are likely to buy Warby Parker and Bonobos.”

Advice for understanding your blog voice

I recommend giving some solid thought to your blog voice. Create a persona. While you don’t necessarily need to go so far as to describe where your content marketing character is going to shop, don’t boil it down to just one or two words. Describe the person behind the blog. Determine if it will be in first or third person. If you would like to be more formal, how formal do you want to be? Are you looking for a more scientific blog devoid of opinions?

Consider this:

If you want your blog to position you as a thought leader, your voice might be:

  • Professorial. Shown through data and research.
  • Positive. Upbeat language showing excitement for new developments.
  • Confident. Self-assured opinions about industry directions backed with research.

If you want your blog to appeal to a luxury audience, your voice might be:

  • Formal. Likely third person.
  • Sophisticated. Write naturally with advanced, but not obnoxious, vocabulary.
  • Confident. No wishy-washy suggestive language like “should be” or “might.”

If you want to appeal to a millennial audience, your voice might be:

  • Business casual. Discussing the industry without showing off jargon.
  • Fun. Use clichés or pop culture references.
  • Informal. A first-person that addresses the reader.

For one of my clients, I think, “upbeat, cheery, positive” when I write. They want their content to be knowledgeable, but in person they are extremely friendly and easy to talk to. Their excitement is palpable. Their blog combines a deep knowledge of the local residential real estate industry with an approachable personality. It’s what is most natural for them.

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into understanding your blog voice. My final word of caution: don’t try to be something you are not. If you’re trying to adopt a bubbly, youthful persona when that’s just not you, your marketing effort will fail. Make the blog voice natural to your brand and business.

 

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Need some help finding your voice? Schedule some time to chat with us!

The Invisible Time Behind Crafting Blog Content

Behind every word you’re reading is a thousand more you cannot see. That’s why many new blogs fail: as new writers get going they realize how time-consuming it is to run a blog. I call this “invisible time.” These minutes are the ones you, the creator, experience in crafting blog content, but the audience never considers.

Dear reader, consider the work behind the code on this very page. Besides the words, work for just this post included:

  • A carefully crafted header
  • Time in outlining and revision
  • Proofreading through an automated grammar check
  • Sourcing and editing images into the right format
  • Adding alt text to Images for SEO
  • Using a widget to program SEO, including writing a meta description and header
  • Adding appropriate related inlinks
  • Proper formatting with headers and for mobile devices.
  • Promotion on social media

This blog is a 500-ish word anecdotal style post. There’s no deep research or outlinked posts. No interviews with thought leaders. No photo shoots.

Let’s break down exactly what “invisible time” could entail:

Before Blogging

A great blog starts with preparation. For a typical 500-word, quick-spin content blog, I budget 25 percent of my work time to researching. This means finding and reading multiple sources, including ones that don’t contain relevant facts needed for the writing. Preparation means verifying statistical information. Sometimes this is tracking down the original source of the data from a mention in another blog, others it’s finding a second reliable source with the same information.

All this gathered data must be organized into a form that makes sense. Usually, that means an outline.

Writing the Blog

The first draft is usually the easiest step. Take the outline and just write. Don’t dwell on quality. Occasionally, information gaps become apparent. Then it’s back to research.

Polishing the Blog

After drafting comes revision. Good writers re-read their work for awkward phrasing, active voice, and general proofreading. Again, this takes time. Sometimes revision identifies gaps in information that could require more research.

Additional Blogging Duties

What else goes into blogs? Beyond planning and revision, there might be:

  • Keyword research. This helps identify topics mostly likely to resonate with your audience and search engines.
  • Imagery. Blog search engine rankings, readability, and social media promotion benefit from high-quality related images. You’ll have to find the right image(s), make sure they’re free to share, or purchase the rights.
  • Social media promotion. Different platforms require different content styles to maximize their reach.
  • SEO optimization, which could require more revision if not accounted for in the beginning.
  • Uploading. The act of uploading requires more time than you think. Something could go wrong with the formatting. Add adding categories and tags, links and related posts, meta and summaries, and time adds up.

All these steps account for the “invisible time” that makes blogging a more time-consuming effort that you might not consider when launching your blog. Luckily, solutions like Power 10 Social with experienced writers exist to help busy professionals with crafting blog content for any medium.

9 Tips on Revising Real Estate Blogs

Revising: the torturous process that improves writing. All blog content deserves at least one thorough second read, but benefits from multiple reads. But what exactly are you looking for? Search “revision tools,” the web results are lacking. I’m not talking about grammar and punctuation, but sentence phrasing, organization, the idea “meat.” Every writer’s unique style and quirks call for different revision tactics, but these nine tips for revising real estate blogs apply to most drafts.

1. Wait time

All content needs to simmer. Write and let it go. Move on with your day. Stepping away from the first draft allows you to return with fresh eyes and better address the mistakes, reframe awkward sentences, or recognize gaping organizational holes. At Power10Social, I write in batches. This particular blog had three weeks between initial draft and its first revision.

2. Reread your old work

This might sound time-consuming, but I find it particularly powerful. Woman reading on tabletThrough re-reading, I discovered every draft I’d written had one sentence that started with an independent clause and the word “by.” As in, “By rereading my blogs, I discovered this trait.” Whoops. For another example, after a recent round of draft edits, I realized I’d fallen in love with the word “leverage.” Rereading reveals what special writing quirks to add to your personal “watch out” list.

3. Include SEO practices

Check your blog for basic SEO practices. Each blog should have a keyword that appears a few times, organically, during the writing. Ideally it should appear in the first and last paragraph. Some SEO optimizers like Yoast SEO will warn you if the keyword doesn’t appear in the title, first sentence, or header. Personally, I prefer natural writing over hitting every SEO strategy.

4. Active Verbs

Search and cut as many passive verbs as possible. Generally these verbs belong to the “to be” family, especially in past tense form: “was,” “were,” and “have been.” Stay present and active. Words “is” and “are” belong to the “to be” family, but cutting isn’t always possible for sentence structure or flow. As long the blog varies word choices and incorporates active verbs, no one will notice a few “is” and “are” verbs.

5. “There are”

Cut in general. There are many reasons why this phrase needs to go. There are some that say it’s unnecessary–just get to the point. There are others that cite the phrase signals lazy writing. Do you feel engaged in the writing? Let me redo the above sentences to illustrate the difference. “The phrase “there are” needs to go. Just get to the point. Using the phrase signals lazy writing.” See what we mean?

6.Work the introductions

Introduction definitely are tough. I typically cut the introduction I written in my initial draft; I just write something to get started. Spend some time thinking about hooking your readers. The first sentence challenges writers: it needs the right mix of SEO, selling the general topic, and engagement. Try various tactics like playing with words, asking questions, or launching into an anecdote.

7. Cut the transitional phrases

The best writers transition without transitions. “However,” “in addition to,” and “due to,” are some despised phrases whacked by writers. Note: some search engines and SEO optimizer do love the transition words. Decide what strategy matters most to you: organic writing or an algorithm bump.

8. Befriend the thesaurus

Stuck on a word? Sometimes in drafting real estate client content, some words naturally crop up, like “process” and “listing.” That’s when the handy-dandy thesaurus becomes mightily important. I’m not afraid to use it to discover a better way to rephrase the idea.

9. Call to action?

Somewhere your blog should hint at a call to action–usually towards the bottom, when you ask readers to visit other content or subscribe to your blog. Like this blog. I’m asking if you like this revising real estate blog, please share to your social networks! You can approach the CTA as a boilerplate, a button, or directly in text content.

5 Ways to Reinvent Your Real Estate Blog Content

Get creative with your expertise! You don’t need to just write blogs. Different content types appeal to different audiences. Repurposing blogs into new content forms creates new avenues of reaching potential customers. And who doesn’t like expansion? Next time you’re not looking forward to clicking away at the keys, try these alternative content types to reinvent your real estate blog.

Video

Produce engaging visual content with video, both pre-recorded or live. Added bonus: statistics show videos receive more content traffic than blogs. Practically every major social network supports video: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, etc. Keep in mind some networks do restrict length. Plus, viewers prefer short and sweet to lengthy.

Podcast

This content form has made one impressive comeback. Users like to stay informed while multitasking: driving in the car, making breakfast, doing chores. Make the most of your podcast. Conduct interviews with industry colleagues, offer customer advice, and other important tidbits. Check out these podcasting tips from Social Media Examiner.

Infographic

Taking data-heavy blogs and transforming them into a mobile-friendly graphic encourages audience engagement. Infographics appeal to us because they’re visual, are quick to scan, and contain valuable nuggets of information. The best infographic content should be: evergreen, informative, and factual. Careful to keep the design streamlined, and remember to cite your sources. Check out one of our infographics, Social Media Hashtags for Real Estate, or how start building an infographic for free.

Downloadable PDF

Turn your blog into a helpful, downloadable PDF that clients could take with them. For example, a house inspection tips blog could become a house inspection tips checklist. Visitors love free offers. It makes you seem more approachable. Free content says you are more interested in helping people and not viewing clients as a paycheck.

Ebook

Have a series of related posts? Curate them into an e-book to offer website visitors. Ebooks serve as evergreen and unique content. Capture the downloader’s email address for your email list and keep serving them with exceptional content.

Looking for more ideas to reinvent your real estate blog? Talk to me at Power10Social about how we can help you craft real estate content.