A couple of years ago, I worked with a very good graphic designer on a client I project. I liked her and respected her design talents. Since she also offered website design, I chose her to help me with my first website. She looked after graphic design - the look of the site - and her husband, a full time IT professional, designed the technical elements of the site, after his normal working hours.
At the first meeting with my design team, the graphic designer behaved as she had in all of our other meetings. Her husband acted like a know-it-all, answering questions that I directed at his wife. Because I had faith in his wife, I ignored his behaviour and we proceeded with the site development. With minimal fuss, we came up with a design and appearance that was exactly what I wanted.
However, when I started research issues such as search engine optimization and driving traffic to my site, I realized that there was not much behind the attractive appearance. Missing were the element that feed the search engines. Also missing was the ability for me to monitor traffic, pages visited, referral sources and similar features.
When I raised those issues with the graphic designer, her response was simply to tell me that they had done what they were contracted to do.
Now looking back at having paid to have a site developed as well as building and developing my own site I realize how much I have learned experience truly is a great teacher.
In terms of website design, I've learned about once strange but now familiar terms such as "keywords", "meta tags", search engines", "HTML", "URL", "traffic stats" and many more.
Overall, building and continuing to develop my new website is one of the most positive and most enriching experiences of my business life.
But the best part of learning new things in the challenge of figuring out how to apply new concepts to familiar situations and circumstances.
From a totally practical point of view, after learning the basis of design and development, I can now maintain my website myself, without having to rely upon - and pay - someone to make additions and changes. I can also monitor the flow of the visitors to my site. I can do those things whenever I choose, where ever there is Internet access.
Having made the transition from techno-klutz to developer/webmaster of my own site, I firmly believe that all self employed business owners can and should, invest the time and effort in building their own unique websites.
For purposes of Real Estate marketing, unique websites are critical marketing tools for individual agents. Assuming that you want to distinguish yourself from the competition - and if you don't, you should - your website should reflect your unique strengths and ability to serve clients.
Unfortunately, most Real Estate Agents default to the standard website design and format supplied by their brokerages or companies. As a result, each agent's "website" is usually little more than a few standard looking pages on his company website. Presenting the same look and feel, there is no question that all agents on the corporate site work with the same company. But what distinguishes one agent from all the others? What specifically on your company-supplied web pages helps clients recognize your uniqueness? What helps them understand how you are different from the other agents listed on the site?
From my own experience, I have learned it's not necessary to become a geek or techie to build and develop your own website. You need only the desire to make it happen. And yes, even Real Estate agents can and do build their own websites.
Certainly her site displays Century 21 branding and clearly identifies Joanna as an agent with that company. But her site goes far beyond simply identifying Joanna as one of many agents working in the same office. It is information-rich, presenting Joanna's unique strengths and outlining the benefits that clients receive from the services she provides. Joanna uses her website to promote her services and distinguish herself from the other local agents.
Assuming the you have a website, how effectively does it distinguish you from your competition? How effectively does it present what you can do better than anyone else?
If your site doesn't do for you what Joanna's site does for her, maybe you should follow her example and build your own site. Believe me it's time and effort well spent.
Larry Easto is a best-selling business writer, syndicated columnist and author for of four e-books about Real Estate marketing. He is also publisher ofwww.real-estate-marketing-link.info
You can view the scanned copy of the article here.
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