3 Tips to Protect Yourself when Using Public WiFi

Posted on: January 19th, 2012 by
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We work in a wonderful industry, don’t we?  In this digital age, we are afforded the flexibility and freedom to work darn near anywhere and anytime.  At the beach, in the mountains, at the local coffee shop, or at the not so local cafe in Venice, Italy, we are able to log on to any one of the estimated 1.5 million public WiFi networks available in the world.  With all of this freedom comes some very real risks, mainly being hacked and unknowingly sharing all of your private information with a stranger who has bad intentions.  There are some precautions you can take to protect yourself, and your information, when you are using a public WiFi connection.  Here are 3 tips for you to safely use a public network wherever you may be.

  1. Use only secure websites when transmitting sensitive data.  You know the ones I’m talking about – the ones with the “https” in the address bar.  These sites scramble the information being sent or received so that it is much more difficult for the bad guys to get info they can use.
  2. Install and use a Virtual Private Network on your device – Virtual Private Network (or VPN) software encrypts the data you transmit across the internet to all sites (secure or not). VPN’s have been used by large corporations for years, and now they are available to individuals for small monthly fees.  Companies like Private WiFi and VPN4ALL charge anywhere from $9.95 to $19.95 per month depending on the amount of data you transmit and receive.
  3. Do not automatically connect to a wireless hotspot – Change the settings on your laptop or iPad so that it will not automatically connect to WiFi.  Some hackers will setup fake WiFi hotspots to make their job of stealing your information easier.  Don’t fall prey to them.  Use only Public networks that use WPA2 technology.  The network’s security system is displayed in the box where you enter a password to connect.

Follow these 3 tips to protect your info and save yourself from a huge headache by having your computer hacked.  If you’ve had your computer hacked or your identity stolen electronically, then please share your story with us below.  It is a great opportunity for all of us to learn how these bad guys are doing their dirty work.


Google AdWords for Real Estate Lead Generation

Posted on: January 17th, 2012 by
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Google AdWords is a great way for Realtors to increase the amount of prospective buyer and seller traffic to your website.  Charts show that more people actually click on the first few “organic” search results than click on ads listed above them; however, the evidence cannot be ignored and Google AdWords does work to drive traffic to your personal real estate website.  Just like everything else in life, the unknown in real estate marketing is scary.  So, let’s eliminate this fear of the unknown of Google AdWords by showing you how Google determines what you pay for your ad.

The Auction -

Google uses an “auction” in determining which ad gets placed in a certain position in their search results.  The auction determines 3 things:

  1. Which ads show on a particular search results page – Google first looks for all eligible advertisers based on keywords and other target settings, such as geographic location.  Each search results page can have up to 15 ads per page.
  2. How the ads are ranked (order of placement of your ad) – Google now uses AdRank to determine where ads are ranked in their search results page.  AdRank is calculated by multiplying the advertiser’s maximum bid by their Quality Score.  An advertiser’s Quality Score is a measure Google uses to determine how well your ad and the page where you direct your visitors match what searchers are looking for.  Google will then rank the ads for that keyword from highest to lowest based on AdRank.  Below is a picture of how AdRank works to give you an example.

    Google AdWords for Real Estate

    Google AdRank Chart

  3. The cost each advertiser pays per click – Your AdRank is divided by your Quality Score and you will pay $.01 more than the maximum bid of the next advertiser.  Therefore, you often will pay less than your maximum bid.  You should note than an advertiser with a better quality score can actually pay less than other advertisers and have its ad appear higher up on the page.

So having success with Google AdWords is more than just outbidding the last advertiser since Google’s “auction” is not  really an auction.  Your Quality Score plays a huge role in determining which ad shows up where and how much that ad costs.  Google AdWords allows advertisers to choose how much it will pay for an ad and how often that ad displays.  You may even set a daily budget to limit your spending on the service so that you don’t wake up one day to find a huge advertising bill being charged to your credit card.  Take some time to learn a little more about Google AdWords and begin implementing it in your business this Spring to help increase your pipeline of prospective buyers and sellers.  If you are already using Google AdWords in your marketing efforts, please tell me how it is working for you in the comment section below.


Do you Suffer from Friggatriskaidephobia?

Posted on: January 14th, 2012 by
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Scientists call it “friggatriskaidephobia.”  You and I say it is the fear of Friday the 13th.  I often run across those who are more superstitious than I am, and today someone made me wonder where this fear of a day, one certain day, comes from.  so i took a few minutes to visit a few sites on the internet to find when and how this fear of Friday the 13th started.

It appears there are conflicting reports out there as to the origin of the superstition, but the consensus is this… the fear of Friday the 13th is a modern creation of two older superstitions – That Friday is an unlucky day, and that the 13th is an unlucky number.

Here are some facts that may help to explain these fears:

  • In numerology, the number 12 is considered to be the number of completeness – 12 hours on a clock, 12 months in a year, 12 apostles of Jesus, etc.  But 13 is considered irregular, overstepping that completeness – 13 people dining at the last supper of Jesus, etc.
  • Friday has been considered unlucky since the 14th century novel The Canterbury Tales.  Here are some examples of unlucky Friday – Black Friday (Crash of the US stock markets), according to Christian scripture the crucifixion of Jesus Christ took place on a Friday.

I, obviously, am not going to try to dispel your superstition of Friday the 13th, so here are some notable occurrences of Fridays the 13th:

  • Four of the 12 films in the Friday the 13th series were released on … Friday the 13th.
  • Tupac Shakur was pronounced dead on Friday the 13th.
  • Black Sabbath’s debut album was released in the UK on Friday the 13th.
  • Astroid 99942 Apophis will make a close encounter with earth on Friday the 13th.

The effects of friggatriskaidephobia are great.  The Stress Management and Phobia Institute estimates that the 17 – 21 million people are effected by this day and that $800 – $900 million is lost in business on a Friday the 13th.

Don’t let the fear of today take money out of your pocket because you are in hiding.  Get out there and make the first of the 3 Fridays the 13th this year a great day.


7 Tips for Sticky Real Estate Blog Content

Posted on: January 12th, 2012 by
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You know that you need unique and relevant content for your website.  After all, the proper content will help you attract more buyers and sellers to your website.  The more qualified traffic attracted to your website, the more listings and sales you will make.  The more sales you make, the fatter your wallet.  The fatter your wallet, the…  Well, you get the idea!  Yes, having the proper content for your website and blog can, and will, make you more money.  The results won’t be noticed right away.  The truth is that you are not the only one who struggles to put good content on your blog, but the good news is that all is not lost.

Here are 7 tips that can help to strengthen the content on your blog:

1. Determine your target market for your blog. You have to know who you are marketing to with your blog in order to put out content that will bring them to you.

2. Give thought to how your content will help you attract more of your target market.  Are you trying to get their initial attention or do you want them coming to you later in the process?  I recommend both because otherwise they are going to find another Realtor while they are searching for answers to their questions.

3. Promote your blog.  Get on the sites that your users are on and engage them – answer questions, interact, etc.  After time, this will spark others to start researching you online and discover your blog.  This will take time: however, it works!

4. Track your content to see what your readers respond to, who your advocates are, and your ROT (Return On Time).

5. Build rapport by being personal, friendly, and writing on only one person.

6. Provide quality over quantity.  If you can only provide content to post 1 awesome post per week then only post 1 awesome time. The key is to be awesome!

7. Make sharing easy by adding share buttons to your blog so others can promote your blog on social media platforms and by email.

Keep these 7 tips in mind when writing your next blog posts and you will find your hard blogging work paying off with more buyer and seller leads coming from your real estate blog.  I would love to read your blog and help to share the info you are posting, so leave a comment below with a link to your blog, please.


Blogging Tips for Realtors

Posted on: January 11th, 2012 by
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How do I know which blog post on my website will be shared by many readers?  Highly shareable posts tend to create a compounding effect of sharing.  Someone will read your post, share it with their audience, and so on.  We all get that, don’t we? But, the question is how we can improve the odds of increasing our post’s ability to be shared?  Well, first we need to increase the rate of readers who share the post; and second, we need to increase the initial number of readers.

We can increase a blog post’s rate of sharing by triggering an emotional reaction in your reader.  You have to create an article that your reader will want to pass along to their friends.  This need to share will be triggered when the reader feels a noticeable change in a thought process or emotion.  What do I mean by this? Well, a blog can have an emotional impact based on the relevance of the post to the reader, the uniqueness and tone of the post, the timing of the post, as well as how well the blog is written.

The reader could be intrigued by the post’s headline.  As you write your post think about your reader and write as though you are writing to them personally.  Create a relevant blog and focus on delivering value.  Again, the key is to get your reader wanting more and coming back to your blog and sharing it with others.  Consider telling stories, using diagrams, visual aids, and also statistics (when necessary). Your blog should be about making your readers’ lives easier.  We are all very pressed for time, so your message needs to be read and understood quickly.  If necessary, write several short posts about a topic and post them as a series.

To increase the rate of readers who share your post is obviously based on your connections and network of friends and acquaintances, the accessibility and ease of sharing, as well as your availability to reach a large audience through advertising.  So in other words, the larger your network is, the easier it is to share the post.  Your Facebook Fan page is a perfect example of your availability to reach a large audience through your advertising.  You know your fans, so you can create the ads necessary to reach whomever you want to.

Remember, you are writing your blog for your regular followers to read it, but you want them to share it with their networks as well.  This way you and your blog get more exposure.  Remember you are having a conversation per se with your readers and you want to invite them to participate in your conversation.  Your blog should invite conversation or invite sharing without specifically inviting comments on the blog itself.

So, let us know… what kind of content are you most likely to share?


How to Build a Top Rated Real Estate Blog

Posted on: January 7th, 2012 by
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So we discussed why you need a website.  Today I want to talk to you about creating a top ranked blog.  Most people don’t blog because they don’t have the time.  However, there are certain strategies that help you can get around that.

Make it a priority. There will always be some kind of resistance to any blog effort.  It takes time and resources.  Focus on your audience and what they will be interested in reading.  Make sure you add some humor and fun to your blogs.

Research keywords and phrases your audience searches for most often.  Incorporate these keywords into your writing. Find out what your clients are searching for on the web.  When you know what your audience likes or what they are interested in it will help shape your message and writing.

Learn from others.  Spend about 15 minutes a day looking at other people’s blog and see how they write their blogs.  By giving a little time to the work of other people’s blogs you get a better understanding of the direction you want to take your blog in.  Interact on their blog. Other companies appreciate your interaction with their brands and they will likely reciprocate.

Get Organized.  Make a list at the beginning of the week of what you would like to write about and write out the titles of your blog posts for the week.  As a matter of fact, you can write out all of your blogs for the week.  Most blogging software allows you to post-date your blog so your blogs can be written for the whole week.

Stay on topic.  Once you have figured out what you want to write about, stay on topic. Define a topic and stick to it. This will ensure that you create a loyal following of interested readers.

Stay informative.  If you are attempting to create the impression that you are knowledgeable about real estate, then make sure you stay current with latest trends.

Adhere to a schedule.  Create a schedule and stick to it. Realizing that blogging requires time and effort, don’t create unrealistic expectations and be unable to deliver. An occasional lapse or holiday is generally understood but readers returning to find stale, out-dated content will likely look somewhere else.

Clarity and simplicity.  Keep your blog posts clear and easy to understand. Remember, the web is global and expressions, idioms and acronyms don’t always translate. Sometimes a little explanation goes a long way.

Make sure your blog post is keyword rich.  If the goal of your blog is to increase your visibility, include related keywords in the title of the blog. Use the title as a headline to attract interest. Each item post should have a title that will attract attention but still be relevant to the post. The title should be no longer than 10-12 words.

Frequency.  If your blog content is updated frequently, search engines will tend to spider the pages at regular intervals.


Home Office Tax Deductions

Posted on: January 4th, 2012 by
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Ah, yes, it is that time of year again.  The hangover has subsided.  The party horns have been put away, and the college football bowl games are in full force. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that it is time to start getting your receipts and tax information together.  Yep, it is tax time once again, even though it seems like we just did this a couple of months ago.  Since most Realtors are working out of their homes in today’s market, I thought I’d give you some tips on home office deduction tips.  Even though I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night, I am NOT an accountant, so please consult your CPA before taking my word on these tips.

– In order for your home office deduction to be allowed, your home office must be used exclusively for business purposes and as a principal and regular place of business to meet with customers.

– The basis of your home office deduction is the percentage the total square footage of your home or apartment comprised of your home office.  So, if the total square footage of your home is 2,500 square feet and your home office is 200 square feet, then your deduction would be limited to 8% (2,500 / 200 = .08) of any of the following allowable costs:

  1. Property taxes
  2. Mortgage Interest / Rent
  3. Homeowners or Renters Insurance
  4. Utilities
  5. Cleaning Expenses
  6. General Household Repairs
  7. Depreciation of all home office and major capital improvements – new HVAC, water heater, roof, etc.
  8. Telephone / Fax line, if you don’t have a dedicated business line.

*Note that any capital improvements that are exclusive to your home office can be 100% deducted.

If you are honest on your return and keep good documentation, the use the home office deduction to help lower your 2011 tax burden and keep more of your hard earned cash in your pocket.


Google+ for Realtors

Posted on: December 30th, 2011 by
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Google+ for RealtorsSome Realtors scoff a little when I mention the importance of having a Google+ brand page (Google’s version of a Facebook fan page).  It seems most people don’t think that Google+ can dethrone Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.  Not only that but most people seem to think that consumers are at the point of social media platform overload.  I’m not going to attempt to punch holes in any of those arguments above today, except to mention that Google has lots of money to throw at making Google+ a lasting endeavor.

I am going to mention one reason why all Realtors should have a Google+ brand page… Search!  I don’t believe we have yet to see the full benefit of what a brand page will do for your business’ SEO.  However, most of the large companies are building brand pages for their brands primarily because of its integration with Google searches.  Because Google has their hands in so many platforms (Google Chrome, YouTube, and their Android Operating System), I believe there are MANY more reasons to build a brand page coming down the pipe in the very near future.

So, this begs me to ask the question, “Why not be an early implementer?”  Because setting up a Google+ brand page takes little effort or time and no money, why not setup a Google+ brand page tonight?  When you do, be sure to integrate it into your Google Places page and your SEO as well.  This way you can begin to see all of the benefits for your SEO to come from your Google+ brand page.

So stay in tonight with a cup of hot cocoa and your laptop and build your Google+ brand page.  After you do, please come back to this blog post and let us know how long it took you and your page name so we can be your first follower.


Social Media Marketing Myths Realtors Should Avoid

Posted on: December 29th, 2011 by
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As you are putting together your marketing plan for this upcoming year don’t be overwhelmed by the fact that social media is no longer an option when it comes to competing. Social media has become a battleground in the efforts to gain consumer attention.  It is not a difficult task. You just have to be aware and not be stumped by the following myths.  By being aware of the following these steps you will be on your way to being a successful marketing guru!

  1. Social Marketing Is Free.  Just because social media platforms are free doesn’t mean that you don’t need to invest time and energy into your marketing.  You will definitely need a strategy, as well as adequate time to maintain whatever you set out to do in your marketing plan in order to be successful.
  2. Everyone is Doing It.  Just because everyone is using a certain social media platform, doesn’t mean that it is going to be successful for you.  Make sure it is the right platform that will appeal to your clientele.  Keep in mind that poorly-handled marketing can do more harm than good.
  3. Use All Social Media Platforms.  This is a problem a lot of businesses tend to make.  You need to be where your clients are.  It may be that you will only need a few social media platforms that you need to frequent regularly.  You don’t want to spread yourself to thin.  Search Twitter or
  4. My Clients Don’t Use Social Media Sites. Most everyone nowadays is on some type of social media platform.  People want to connect with their family and friends.  Families now are living in different states or maybe even different countries and everyone is looking for a way to connect with their loved ones.  Social media does just that.  Why not take advantage of something that is already in place.
  5. There are Negative Reviews.  No one wants to get a negative review from anyone.  But, how can you change something if you don’t know that you are doing something incorrectly.  This is a great way to defend your business and respond in a timely way to problems that may arise.  Being where the discussion is taking place allows you to address existing problems before they get out of hand.
  6. Social Media is Useless. I have tried it for a month and it didn’t work.  This is one of the most common myths.  Social marketing doesn’t give you instant, measurable results.  It takes time for people to find you and warm up to you.  If you begin adding content to existing conversations, and add content that is valuable and usable people will take notice and will follow you.  To use a quote from the movie, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”  There is a lot truth to this.

There is a lot more to social media than just simply ‘doing it’.  Evaluate your marketing plan and figure out which platforms are best for you. Understanding which platforms will be beneficial to your business can make a huge difference in how you present your business to your clients.


Marketing Tips for Realtors

Posted on: December 28th, 2011 by
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It’s that time of year again! The holidays are coming to an end and it is time to get back to business.  Now is a great time to plan for the next year, so that when 2012 rolls around we will be off to a good start with our marketing plan.

We all know that a successful marketing plan can make a big difference in our success.  Making a plan now will help you to keep on track and ensure you are spending your marketing dollars effectively.  Most importantly, it will help you to focus on your plans for the upcoming year.

The next question we all ask ourselves as we sit down to write out our plan is, “Where do we start?”.  We have to first take a look at the previous year and determine what worked and didn’t work for us.  Where did our marketing dollars succeed for us?  Also, you want to look at some creative and innovative ways to expand your efforts to reach other clients, without expanding your marketing budget.  Here are a few tips to help kick start your marketing efforts.

–          Begin at the End.  In order to ensure the best tactics and strategies to meet your goals for 2012, you need to begin at the end. What do we want our end results to be? How much do we intend to make this upcoming year and what do we have to do to reach that goal?  In order to figure this out, we have to take the ending result and break it down over the next 12 months, into weekly and then daily goals.

–          Look at Last Year’s Results.  Review your marketing plan for 2011.  Did your marketing plan exceed your goals?  Where were your marketing dollars most effective?  What lessons can you learn from last year that will help you increase the effectiveness of the dollars you plan to spend next year.

–          Stop Doing What Doesn’t Work.  If you are placing ads in the Yellow Pages and find that you are not getting any business, don’t advertise there anymore.  Are you utilizing the social platforms that are available to you? Do you find that some work, and some do not.  Stop using the ones that are not working.  Letting go of something that isn’t effective can be difficult to do, especially when businesses are supposed to be using that “type of marketing”.

–          Be More Visual.  If your marketing plan is to increase your social media presence, do it.  Don’t forget that all marketing is Visual! Write out exactly which platforms you plan to use and do it.  Then visualize what you need to do in order to make those platforms effective.

–          Just Do It!  One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when it comes to marketing is that they don’t put together any marketing plan.  It is important that you take the time to analyze your marketing strategy and see what is working for you.  You will be rewarded with better results.

Whatever you do, resolve to write a plan. Having a plan will help you to be more focused and give you an idea of what you need to do this year to be successful.  Please feel free to post any comments that you feel will help others with their marketing efforts in 2012. Happy Marketing!



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