Or are they?

For years many have said (myself included) that building a blog is cheap and will perform better than your current real estate website. This is true and it is also un-true.

It is true that building a real estate blog is cheap IF you have the technical ability or at least the ability, desire and time to learn how to do it yourself by reading and asking questions. If you google “how to setup a real estate blog” or “how to setup wordpress” you will find a world of information that can lead you in the right direction. There is also a wealth of information at Real Estate BarCamps around the nation.

If you have no technical understanding of websites/hosting/DNS/FTP you WILL and you don’t have the time to spend learning how to build a blog then getting a blog will end up being as expensive any Real Estate website. And you will still need to learn how to log into your blog and start writing content, or your could pay for content to be written for you.

So, how much should you spend on your first real estate blog if you are going to PAY to have it done.

In my opinion there are 4 levels of pricing for a self hosted quality looking real estate blog.

Level 1 – Cheapest

  • Purchase a hosting account
    • Blue Host and Host Monster are my favs at this time
  • Setup/Install WordPress
  • Puchase a Theme
    • Studio Press Themes and Woo Themes are my favs at this time
    • Activate Theme
  • Start Blogging

Your upfront cost above would be approx $100 for 1 year of hosting and $100 for a quality real estate blog theme plus $10 dollar per year for a domain name.

Total Damage: Approx $200

Level 2 – Assisted Install and Setup.

  • All of the above included in level one
  • Plus a couple of hours of consulting/mentoring/tutoring/training

Hosting/Theme/Domain = Approx $200
Consulting Cost per hour = Varies around the nation. I charge $100 per hour. My average training/tutoring/consulting session for setting up a real estate blog – 3 hours.

Level 3 – Complete blog setup with minor to semi-major customization

  • Level 1 is included
  • At this level usually you are not being shown/tutored/trained on how to do this yourself
  • These type of blogs will be setup for you from installing wordpress to setting up plugins
  • Setting up Feedburner or other Email management program
  • Setting up Google Analytics
  • Setting up IDX (Real Estate Home Search)
  • Most of what you need to get started
  • Some will still give you one on one training at this level but usually it is email or video training based

Average cost = $750 – $2000

Level 4 – Complete custom blog

  • Everything you need and think you need
  • If you haven’t thought about it your designer/programmer/ whom ever you hired has though of it

Average Starting Cost = $5000 and it goes up from there.

The above costs are my opinion and based on vendors in the industry. I am not intending to insult anyone and their costs because at all of these levels the prices are completely justified.

Now I know you are asking where should you start and what level should you choose?

That answer will be in the next article

18 Comments

  1. Matt Fagioli on August 18, 2010 at 1:33 am

    Yo Loren,

    Thanks for this overview.
    I think these numbers are pretty much spot on.

    But, I don’t agree that real estate blogs are expensive.
    Not having a great blog is probably more expensive.
    A great web presence converts to real revenue – revenue that would be unrealized without that great web presence.
    So, if you spend $2000 and it makes you $20,000, that’s a bargain!

    It just depends on how you spent the money. You can spend $2000 and end up with nothing (a huge waste of time and zero lead conversion). You can spend $10,000 and end up with nothing as well.

    Did the guy you hire to “build your site” know anything about lead conversion? Does he understand the business you’re in?

    The details on the page matter so very much (as you know). The details of what you do off the page to promote your blog matter even more.

    My point is that people reading this post should know that setting up the mechanics won’t do anything unless it’s all part of a larger strategic plan to convert.

  2. Ken Brand on August 18, 2010 at 4:36 am

    Nice recap. I’ll share with the team. thanks.

  3. Christina Lannen on August 18, 2010 at 6:00 am

    I have a tentative real estate client. A newbie. His existing site is one of those GoDaddy Website Tonight sites with that logo prominently displayed in the footer.

    That footer just screams amateur and do I want to list my property with this agent? It tells me that I wouldn’t want to. Not in this real estate market.

    I’ve suggested that we use WordPress and use an existing theme that matches the parent agency’s colors, and utilize a couple of the great plug-ins available for real estate. Or even use one of the premium themes I have available.

    I am starting to believe that there are too many agents that just want everything to just come to them without any effort. That’s possible in a hot market, but certainly not in this one.

  4. Ed Kohler on August 18, 2010 at 6:51 am

    I think a great writer will be able to connect with their audience regardless of what they’re using for hosting, theme, or domain. For example, someone who writes consistently great content with photos about their city on a Blogger blog will be able to build a big audience, for free. If they want to switch to a custom domain from blogname.blogger.com to blogname.com, they can do so for less than $10/year.

    Given $5k to play with, I think most agents would benefit more from hiring a part-time underworked (or out of work) journalist in their city to help crank out some great local content.

  5. Matt Dunlap on August 18, 2010 at 7:53 am

    If the real estate agent approached the process of building a website from the standpoint of specific goals, they would probably be more inclined to accept the higher price.

    YES:
    1 more sale or listing a month
    5 leads per week

    NO:
    I want to blog
    I need a website for my clients

    I’m pretty sure most agents will happily fork over $3,000 bucks if they are going to make an extra 5 sales over the next year.

  6. Andy Ciordia on August 18, 2010 at 9:02 am

    I’ve been doing the real-estate circuit speaking circuit a while now and I can tell you that even if you get them to pay for a site, no matter what level, teaching them how to engage and then getting them to be consistent in providing healthy signal is the difficult crux.

    There is also only a small percentage which look at this space and understand that it is a great marketing and branding vehicle for them. They are very hard to convence that they will create leads from such a place. Such self doubt really is a predicating killer of a project.

  7. Tony Lazzari on August 18, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Lots of good comments on a great subject. Here is my experience:
    Had a Z57 site for around $100/mo after setup costs. Maybe 2 hits a day, very little traffic and resulting leads.
    Switched to self-hosted (eventually) WordPress blog running a free theme (Suffusion), moved the domain name over and I’m up and running for a minimal cost – less than $50/year. Added some content of value (Market stats data) and experienced moderate increases in traffic: cost an additional $750/yr.
    Tried various IDX/CRM solutions before settling on current provider – 1st year cost about $1200. Traffic increased to several hundred visits/day. Leads increased substantially.
    Bottom line – average monthly expense about $150/ month.
    100x the traffic of a prepackaged vendor site.
    One sale/year pays for everything.
    Compare to 3 print ads running 1x/mo cost $150.
    It is an investment in marketing my brand and providing valuable content. Is my blog expensive? No, not when I get this kind of return. My static website was expensive as it had no return.
    …just my thoughts….

  8. Matt Fagioli on August 18, 2010 at 9:34 am

    Yeah, so it’s kinda what Matt (Dunlap) said above. Right?

    It’s about getting leads to convert into sales. If you’ve built something that converts 5 or 10 or 50 closings per year, then any reasonable cost is still presenting an amazing ROI. That’s what I’m talking about all day long with brokers and agents.

    Lets focus on making lots of $$$ from lead conversion

  9. Loren Nason on August 18, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    @Matt Fagioli
    Spot on Matt … not having a great web presense will cost the most. Completely agree with everything you said

    @Ken Brand
    Thanks for sharing

    @Christina Lannen
    Exactly my point. They want a great blog with tons of leads with no effort and for free

    @Ed Kohler
    Mostly my point
    A high cost blog will not be the solution if you content is crap

    @Matt Dunlap
    Exactly, building a blog to have a blog is not the way to go

    @Andy Ciordia
    Getting them to engage and be consistent is the key. I see so many high priced blogs that are ultimate failures because there is no content or content that is just regurgitated and no engagement.

    @Tony Lazzari
    Exactly the story I was looking for.
    You didn’t drop 5k on your blog upfront. You will eventually drop more than 5k and also your time investment but you have made it work for you.

    @Matt Fagioli
    If your site converts then it is worth the cost. But conversion comes at a cost of dollars AND time. You can’t just throw money at something and not invest time into it.

  10. Matt Fagioli on August 18, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    well… and….

    If you’re gonna spend $5k, you might consider spending $500 on the blog itself and maybe $4500 with someone who knows how to make it convert 🙂 ( also agree with the comment above about spending it professionally written content, but that gets you only traffic and NOT all the way to conversion)

    • Loren Nason on August 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm

      And that is why having a custom blog can excel over a standard theme because conversation tools/tricks/tips can be built into the blog that increase the conversion making the blog worth every penny.

  11. Matt Dunlap on August 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    The best tool available is absolutely FREE… Google Analytics

    any site can produce results if you plan, monitor, tweak and test…
    optimization 101

  12. Tom Royce on August 18, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Conversions, Conversions, Conversions.

    If you want to blog just to be heard, great. Don’t worry about optimization and great content. Blog about your cats and enjoy.

    But if you are serious about your real estate career you need to be serious about your real estate blog/website. It is your first impression with many potential clients.

    And it is a great waste of time if you are not focused on Conversions, Conversions, Conversions. (Remember that old adage about Location, Location, Location? Well Conversions, Conversions, Conversions is the how you should look at your web presence.)

    Odds are you will not have the skills on day 1 to create a blog or website that will be effective converting viewers into buyers. That is where the real benefit of outsourcing to an expert comes in. Sure you can do it yourself, but you will be costing yourself money and prestige.

    The final package Loren is talking about will get you up to speed and converting viewers into clients and profits much quicker than if you go it alone.

    Great post, Loren.

  13. Christina Lannen on August 18, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Chris Brogan wrote a great article http://www.chrisbrogan.com/if-i-were-a-realtor/.

    I really love some of his suggestions, and while I am not a Realtor (just a web designer/developer) , but if I were I certainly would be doing everything in my power to start implementing his suggestions.

  14. Ed Kohler on August 18, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    @Christina, one top Chris doesn’t mention, and seems to be missing from a LOT of real estate blogs is perhaps overly simple: Put your client’s phone number on every page of the site. Prominently.

    Perhaps hiding the phone number is some sort of analytics trick to force people to contact them through more measurable online forms, but I think most agents would rather have someone on the phone than a lead in their inbox.

  15. Loren Nason on August 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Yes, have your phone number and email address (and a form) everywhere. And make the phone number actual text… not an image

  16. Matt Dunlap on August 18, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    Chris might be a good Realtor, but…
    Social media takes a lot of time and selling real estate takes a lot of time.

    blog more…get more business…no time to blog because I’m too busy working deals…deals dry up…gotta blog more. It’s a never ending cycles of pain and turmoil. Maybe not that bad, but you get the idea.

    Chris has a lot of experience with handling the social media part of the business. His blog goes back to 2004. It probably took him a good 2-3 years to really get a grasp of how to effectively use SM, but real estate agents don’t have that much time on their hands to learn how to GTD.

    Can you put a price on the time spent learning as much about SM as Chris? put that into comparison to consulting fees… it would be outrageous.

  17. seo on January 31, 2012 at 10:29 am

    My partner and I stumbled over here from a different website and thought I may as well check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to exploring your web page for a second time.

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply