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Monetizing your Real Estate Blog


Money Money Money

Before I start, let me make something clear – I’m not here to tell you yes or no on this topic – I would like to know how others feel about the possibility of monetizing their real estate blogs.

Hey, it’s nice to think about passive income, especially when you’ve worked so hard to create an audience and to be consistent with posting and providing valuable information.  I received a call this week from a dear friend and colleague in Miami who asked me how I feel about this subject.  I’ll throw my thoughts out there so you guys can throw darts at me if you please.

Quality Matters

There are plenty of advertisers offering one line ads in certain places within blogs – the question is:

  • how relevant are these links?
  • Is ad relevance important?
  • is the money they are offering worth prostituting your blog?  ( I know, I know….I’m being a little tough here)

From a purist stand point and for those of us who have defined an audience and stay true to that no matter what, it may be important to consider the quality of that Ad.  I personally would feel more comfortable if the ad was about a local business that reinforces the hyperlocal nature of my blog.  Or even a big national chain that has something to do with real estate services.

Placement

To think of all the information we provide on our blogs and how this information impacts the way our readers experience our blogs is crucial.  We have to face the fact that many of our clients don’t know about blogs and it can be overwhelming to visit a site that is packed with information and doesn’t provide a clear path.  And to then pack it with ads may not be an easy task.  The last thing we want to do is confuse our readers.

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So do you dedicate a column to ads?  Do you limit the amount?  Or do you start adding them and just hope it works out……NOT.

Be Creative

I know many bloggers that are approaching local businesses with a clear and consise plan to advertise and help each other out.  An example is how last year I started writing reviews for very particular restaurants and businesses where I had actually interacted with the owners and then asked them to include a miamism.com window cling at the front of their establishment.  The idea was to provide reciprocal help and most of them agreed.   In this case I did not monetize the blog, but created something to benefit both parties.

Have a plan

Bottom line is – Don’t just go crazy with ads without a plan and don’t leave any details out – think of quality, placement, color scheme, dollar amount and go for it.  I’m still not quite ready to start monetizing, and was crossing my fingers waiting for the perfect sponsor to show up at my miamism door….but the truth is that I will have to develop a marketing plan specifically for ads on my blog to make sure I make the most out of it.

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Written By

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors Miamism.com, PrimeMiamiBeach.com, and MiamismPix.com and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Lisa Sanderson

    October 17, 2008 at 9:19 am

    This is something I’ve thought about too, Ines, if only very briefly. You are right, it is not something to go in to haphazardly. I would love to hear some tips from those who are doing it already.

  2. Chris Shouse

    October 17, 2008 at 9:46 am

    I too have been thinking about it and I like the local business approach but I have been thinking about what goes well with a real estate blog. I have thought of being able to get your credit score and have found a company that does affiliate links. I also thought about talking with amazon about real estate related books. There is alos mortgage brokers. Anyone come up with something else I am all eyes on this one:)

  3. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 17, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Lisa – I’m with you on this one – hope to hear from some that started doing it and can tell us pros and cons

    Chris – love your ideas – also industry people (building inspectors, title companies, etc)

  4. Maggie Dokic

    October 17, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Ines, I think you’re right on with this one. Thanks for putting it out there.

    I hope someone who may already be monetizing their blog speaks up. I’d love to just see a blog that has some paid advertising links on it. I don’t know of any.

    I’ve had a few requests but haven’t yet taken any on. I agree that relevance is important. If I could take it hyper-local, so much the better, but the requests thus far have been neither.

  5. Irina Netchaev

    October 17, 2008 at 10:22 am

    I’d be interested like Maggie to hear from real estate agents that have successfully monetized their blogs. I love your idea of decals for restaurant that you’ve done reviews for – very creative and subtle.

    My opinion is that real estate agents for the most part are already monetizing their blogs. We write to get clients. Clients mean potential sales. Sales = Monetization (is that a word?)

    I interact with a lot of local Pasadena bloggers and they blog for the love of blogging. I also love blogging, but I currently blog for business.

    I don’t know that having a link where someone will click off my site to go look at their credit scores will help me by getting me an extra 50 cents or so. I’d rather have my consumers stay on my site or click off to where I point them. Parking here for more opinions.

  6. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 17, 2008 at 10:23 am

    Hey Maggie – it was you that brought it up, thanks for sparking the conversation on a topic that a lot of us have been considering. I personally don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer – it’s a matter of looking at options and having a plan – THANKS AGAIN!!!

  7. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 17, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Irina – I agree that the 50 cent thing is out of the question – but what if you found a sponsor willing to pay a couple of hundred dollars a month? or a yearly fee?

    Some hyper-local blogs have become the place to go for information and resources….very much like a local paper – passive income from that resource doesn’t look bad at all (although I confess if you asked me the same question 6 months ago it would have been a clear “NO”)

  8. Nick Bastian

    October 17, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Ines, you have a rockin’ blog with great search terms for many potential and related advertising options. For a blog like yours, I think it makes more sense than for most. Staying “local” and relevant to your readers would be a must in my opinion as well. I don’t see anything wrong as long as it is done tastefully, professionally etc which is the way you guys always operate. I know Jay struggled with this for a while and I was glad to see him jump in. Again, a quality blog with enough traffic as to have people be willing to pay and to be a benefit for both, the blog owner and the advertiser. You probably want to stay pretty limited and not have 50 million flashing ads as to take away from your main focus. A few quality ads, here and there, might even give the appearance of additional credibility. – Just my .02 🙂

  9. Irina Netchaev

    October 17, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Ines, definitely something to consider… I guess it depends on the quality of the sponsor as you mentioned and the tastefulness of the ad. Curious to hear other opinions. I don’t think that there’s a right or wrong answer on this. Just like everything else that we’ve experienced with our blogs – a work in progress.

  10. Jay Thompson

    October 17, 2008 at 11:01 am

    I started selling 125×125 block ads on Phoenix Real Estate Guy about 4 months ago. I display three adds at a time “above the fold” in the sidebar, and limit the total ads to six (the six ads rotate randomly through the three displayed slots). They are a mixture of local businesses and real estate “products”. I also sell one block ad on my blogs home search page.

    At this point I do *not* do text link ads. Google has issues (according to some) with paid text link ads. I also don’t do Adwords, or contextual link ads or place any form of ads in posts – just block ads on the sidebar. And I’ve turned down far more than I’ve accepted. I personally vet each advertiser and will only accept ads that I think will help my readership — be they “consumers” or agents.

    I’ve made local business connections from having ads, and made great contacts even from those that chose not to advertise.

    Visitors and page views drive what advertisers are willing to pay. I’ll never retire from my ad revenue. I may not be charging enough ($100/month per ad, more for the single ad on the search page) but I want both the advertiser and the reader to benefit.

  11. Jay Thompson

    October 17, 2008 at 11:13 am

    @Nick – “A few quality ads, here and there, might even give the appearance of additional credibility.”

    This is an excellent point, and one I never really considered.

    Relevance is important, IMHO as is how ads are displayed. Flashing GIFs, “inline” ads (ads embedded inside actual posts) are all very distracting.

    There is no question you can secure additional income from advertising, but you need some fairly reasonable traffic. Advertisers also look at things like Alexa and Compete rankings – flawed as those may be). Look at TechCrunch, they charge up to $12,000 per month. That’s significant money. Of course they get 3 million uniques and almost 8 million page views a month. I don’t think a real estate focused blog will ever remotely approach that kind of traffic.

    I held off on allowing ads for a long time. It’s a personal choice. But if it is done tastefully, with the right kind of advertisers, then I think there is benefit to the advertisers, the readers and the blogger.

    Sellsius is another RE blog that has ads. Joe’s been doing it for awhile and does have text link ads. I believe he suffered a PageRank hit for that, but PR isn’t the be-all-to-end-all.

  12. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 17, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Nick – Thank you – that means a lot coming from you. I also want to add that I was waiting for my blog to grow in numbers so that it would be more beneficial for the ad sponsors. Who wants to pay for a spot on a blog that gets no traffic? Love your take on credibility…..it make A LOT OF SENSE

    Jay – exactly what I wanted to hear – ty! I really like how you set up those 3 slots of advertisements on your home page – it’s tasteful and does not take away from the blog ( and really like the rotating idea) – I may have to consider going 3 column to make it work. You may not be charging enough, but a quiet passive income sure covers at least the blog expenses.

  13. Stephanie Edwards-Musa

    October 17, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Hi Ines,

    I was fighting with this idea earlier this year. Because my site is so specific to one niche market I get a few people a month asking to advertise on my site. The only paid link that I have on there right now is a utility company that goes with the theme of my blog and it doubles as a concierge service so I can send clients back to my blog to sign up all of their utilities but they are not required to use that utility provider (although most of the people I work with would want to).

    The problem I have with it is reputation. I do not want to advertise someone’s services on my site when they suck. The list of providers I have on there now I know would do a good job and I would use them myself. But getting paid to put a link there….just seems…I dont’ know. Not charging to be on the list right now makes me feel better when I tell people no you can’t be there.

  14. Jonathan Bentz

    October 17, 2008 at 3:10 pm

    There are a lot of options for monetizing a blog. I like Ines’ idea of being hyperlocal, and giving adspace to local co’s. Keep in mind that your blog theme can limit your ad opportunities. For example, if an ad network I’m interested in subscribing to has non-standard widths, their ads won’t fit on my site.

    IMO, having the code on text link ads doesn’t hurt your site, but if the search engines can catch it… it will probably make the link worthless to your advertiser.

    Two things to keep in mind:

    1. Affiliate ads in the sense that we are speaking about here have a very low conversion rate (know this from personal experience), so if you use them, try to target Cost Per Lead ads for your site. They pay less, but your chance for conversion is better.

    2. Text link ads seem to be better at converting, but anchor text links in blog posts covert the best IMO. If you want to monetize a blog, offer to do paid reviews with up to 3 permanent, “dofollow” links. This will bring an organic SEO benefit to your advertiser and monetize your site.

  15. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 17, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Stephanie – reputation is a good question. People, for the most part, will assume you endorse those companies. My bet is not to include anyone you doubt and maybe create a section for feedback on those advertisers for quality control (I really don’t know the answer…..but it’s something to think about).

    Jonathan – thanks for the specifics. I don’t think the size of the ad would be such an issue – I would only be comfortable if my advertisers follow my blog’s guidelines (but that’s the OCD talking). – affiliate ads and text link ads are something to consider…..your information is definitely helpful.

  16. Jay Thompson

    October 17, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    There is definitely an “implied endorsement” for any ad you place on a blog. That’s the main reason I personally vet all advertisers and don’t use ad networks or Adwords. I don’t have any problem at all telling some that ask that I won’t put their ad on my blog. I have on my “ad policy” page that an ad isn’t an endorsement, but let’s be realistic — no one reads those things and people will think you are endorsing the advertiser. Ad networks will just serve up whatever — and I don’t want “whatever” on my blog. With the block ads I use, people pay me on a monthly basis, whether they get clicked or not. My stats show they do get clicked. Whether those clicks turn into business for the advertiser, I don’t know, but advertisers are renewing so I assume they do.

    As for paid text links, I get multiple request a week, and simply don’t have time to vet them all, so it’s easier to just say “no text links”. Some very reputable SEO experts say Google will whack you for paid text links, some say they don’t. To me, it’s not worth a few bucks to find out.

  17. Jonathan Bentz

    October 17, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Ines – with networks, the blogger generally dictates the size of the ad… so self-management would be primo. Don’t accept an ad you can’t fit on your site.

    Jay – I totally see where you’re coming from. To me, there’s a difference in a site like yours versus a site from a less web-savvy agent, or an agent hosting a site with less authority that wants to monetize. The G can whack you for paid text links, sure, but it will never speculate. The person who loses out the most there, though, is the advertiser, IMO, unless they only want to piggyback off a site’s traffic.

  18. Jay Thompson

    October 17, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    @Jonathan – I agree. I get requests for link ads where the advertiser has obviously dug through the blog and is requesting links on high PR internal pages. I even get pitched that it’s “not a home page link they are after” so it should be cheaper. One from this morning was for an agent in Florida wanting a link ad “anywhere, even in the footer” on an internal page that has a Google PR of 4, but absolutely nothing to do with Florida real estate.

    In other words, they are trying to buy Page Rank. They know darn well no one will ever click on that link. I think those are what G is targeting. And while I wouldn’t really care if that page went from PR4 to PR2, that advertiser certainly should as they’d no longer be getting what they paid for.

    Personally though, I have a problem selling Page Rank. While it’s certainly not the be-all-to-end-all factor in search algorithms, my thoughts are if you want PR, earn it, don’t buy it.

  19. ines

    October 18, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Jay – what’s interesting with the whole monetization issue is that there are so many approaches. The perfect answer for me may sound cheesy to the next person and that’s OK – we are the only ones that understand the concept of our blog and the way that we give our readers information. I think this post served its purpose to let bloggers know that there are options out there. I visited a blog the other day full of ads and a bit overwhelming ….I later found out that they make over $5,000 per month in ads and sponsorships…..not bad at all.

  20. Rudy from Trulia

    October 18, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Ines!

    Re: Blog monetization, there are lots of options for blog publishers to consider, many of which have already been discussed. Some monetize their businesses and blogs by getting clients directly from the blog posts they write, comments they leave on forums, referrals, crumbs they leave on twitter, some via word of mouth, some via affiliate programs, etc…. For those interested in another option, we recently launched our Trulia partner program for companies and publishers to offer our products directly to their readers, members or sphere of influence. I wrote about it on Trulia blog if you want to learn more about it.

    Have a great weekend!

    Rudy
    Social Media Guru at Trulia

  21. ines

    October 19, 2008 at 8:24 am

    Hey Rudy – I guess there are many ways of making money on the Internet, that’s for sure. Frances Flynn Thorsen pointed out the new Trulia partner program and I do think it’s a great idea, if your blog’s audience is other agents and brokerages. It is about passive income, so something to think about.

    I have a rule on my blog – no links to platforms that advertise other agents and may take away from my blog. So you’ll never see a link there to Trulia, Zillow, Active Rain, Viva Real……..Although you will see see links to other agent blogs that add value to the industry and are not in my direct market.

    Thanks for the heads up btw.

  22. Rudy from Trulia

    October 19, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Thanks Ines.

    I hear ya, but you or anyone else can still make the Trulia Partner program work for you without having to place a link or banner ad on your site or blog. And, it’s totally up to you who you introduce to the program. You can email anyone or any local business with your partner link that would take them to a page on our site where they can find more information. And since you have already spoken with local businesses and restaurants in the past, this program might interest them as it’s a great opportunity to showcase their local business to targeted home buyers and sellers on Trulia in up to 20 markets.

    Just thought share this option with you too 🙂

    Happy Sunday!

    Rudy
    Social Media Guru at Trulia

  23. ines

    October 19, 2008 at 9:46 am

    Damn Rudy, you are good! Every time you show up to promote Trulia I think how smart they were when they hired you! Lucky dogs! 😀

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