This week we welcome a guest blogger, Heather Elias, of Century 21 Redwood. Please enjoy her post on how and why she started blogging, and how she continues to grow her online community.
Confession: I’m one of those ‘hyper-local’ bloggers. By definition, that means that I write about my local area, a lot. I’d probably prefer to say that I’m a local blogger, hyper local makes it sound like I’ve had too much Red Bull. As a full time Realtor, I fall under the category of real estate blogging, although that isn’t typically what I write about. For me, blogging came naturally as a way to reach current and potential local clients. I have a journalism degree, so combining writing and real estate suits me.
When I started LoCoMusings (LoCo is short for Loudoun County, where I live), I didn’t set out to write a ‘real estate blog’. I only wanted to show people in my area that I was knowledgeable about Loudoun. So I started writing about things that were happening around me, issues that my neighbors were talking about, and stuff that was part of my everyday life. I included real estate as well, but my content is probably 80 percent local area and 20 percent real estate. I’ve written about road developments, power lines, holiday parades, youth sports, new construction communities, and builders that have gone out of business. I’ve also posted local area photos from across my county.
What I found as I developed my voice was that I was filling a need in my community that wasn’t being met by our local (weekly) newspaper, or DC Metro area television stations. My local news on my site covered stories and happenings that otherwise weren’t getting noticed by the media. LoCoMusings has become, to my readership, one of their news sources for Loudoun County. The difference between what I write and local media, though, is that you get my perspective, my opinions, and my spin on it as a local resident and business owner. For the readers, it’s honest, and for me, it shows my personality.
In 2009 at the BlogWorld conference in Las Vegas, I sat on a panel about the future of local media and hyperlocal blogging with another real estate blogger, Dave Smith, and two ‘traditional media’ representatives. At the time, it seemed like traditional media felt (very strongly) that real estate bloggers should leave the reporting to the professionals. From my perspective, the vibe was almost hostile. Now, however, things have changed, and local media (at least in the DC metropolitan area) is reaching out, sharing, and collaborating, which puts my blog in front of a much wider audience.
What I’ve learned since I started my blog is that you don’t have to write only about your industry to provide relevant, useful content to your readership. Develop relationships with traditional media to widen your audience, and use your local area knowledge to grow your readership. Your unique perspective on your area is valuable to your readers, and will bring a sense of community to your blog.