Telling Your Story
For well over a decade I’ve been a Real Estate instructor and Broker. In that time I’ve studied a number of agent-behaviors that sometimes are hard to understand. Today I am going to help agents who often have no problems verbally sharing about themselves to potential clients, but have a very hard time writing about themselves. I don’t know if it’s the concept of writing it down, being judged or knowing how to start; but it seems one of the hardest things for agents to do is write a meaningful and engaging bio. They find it hard to tell their own story in a meaningful way. This post is aimed at helping you walk through the process of building a meaningful bio that assists in converting clients and getting their attention. Right in the first paragraph I want to establish that this is entirely my opinion on how biographies are to be written and a reflection of what has worked for me after a great deal of trial and error.
We’re in a world where content marketing rules. People want online media to help them make decisions. Your bio, your introduction video and your online assets tell that story and do so using your written content.
The Importance of “YOU” To Your Followers
I love the allegory that Seth Godin gave us in his book Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us. Godin asserts that business people create a sphere or influence or “Tribe” based on things about you that people can connect to. At this point in my career, I know that when I meet with people they have often read my bio and visited my website before we chat. When we met I find that they will reference things they found in my bio letting me know that they did a little research. It helps that I encourage them to do so by making it easy to find and even emailing a link to it before our meeting together. It allows me to keep the focus of future meetings on them, because they have already gotten to know a little about me from my bio. Your clients want to know who they are working with and they do indeed want to know about you personally. They want to trust you. They need to know you’re someone like them.
Define Your Audience
Its important that you begin your writing experience with a persona of whom you’re trying to reach. What does the client who is reading your bio look like, think like, what are they looking to see, what will make them want to work with you? This may seem like a lot of unknown, but that’s because agents often think too broadly and we try too desperately to appeal to everyone in the world who ever wanted to buy or sell a home. I’m a proponent of writing your content toward a certain people group and not every generation or potential buyer. For example, I primarily work with sellers. Therefore when I write I focus on what a 38 year old home-seller, who has probably only sold once before would want to know about me. What would interest them? Take out a piece of paper and write a one paragraph persona of who that client is. Here’s an example:
John and Joy are 38 and 32 years old. They have two sons who are in grade school in a local private school. Both John and Joy work and make about $78,000 a year. They’ve lived in their first home for about six years. They have a Golden Retriever named Pixel. They are “digital natives” who are tethered to their devices, they are very well informed and research everything online.
This simple imagery will help you visualize who you’re writing to and what direction you need to go in to understand what to say next. You can find a great report on realtor.org regarding the generational trends in real estate. Don’t get trapped in the “Market of Me” and begin thinking that every client is like you or is your generation. Your sphere may be a reflection of you, but they may not be a reflection of the majority of clients in your market place.
Find Writing Time and Write Well
Here’s the deal… You just got your pretty new license or you just transferred to a new firm and the Broker is standing in the door of your office, looking at their apple watch and impatiently asking for a bio in order to get something posted on the company blog or website. You feel the knot in your throat and you open up a Word document and start pounding out a fourth-grade level 500 word essay on “Why I’m An Awesome Realtor”. Stop. The largest majority of bio’s that I have read have all sounded the same The bios come across self-aggrandizing, boring and exactly like everyone else’s. If I can put my finger over your name on the bio page of your site and you sound just like every other Realtor, then you’re just like every other Realtor.
Don’t rush it. Don’t write a bio as just part of your checklist. Put some thought into it, go somewhere where you can write and focus for the 30 minutes it may take you to write it out. Everyone has a different environment that works for them. Me? I love coffee shops for writing or sitting in front of the fireplace at home with my Golden Retriever curled up at my feet. I do my best creative thinking at those times. Find what works for you. Is it a park bench, the lake or locked in your bathroom? Wherever it is, take advantage of that space and focus. If you get writer’s block then stop and come back it. That happens to everyone.
Your bio should be fun to read, interesting and focused. Tell them your story, but from their point of view. What benefits them about you? Why is what you’re writing important to them? Unlike many other speakers in this area, I prefer a first person writing style for your real estate bio. No one thinks that you’re successful enough to have a professional writer following you around and writing your bio. They know that you wrote it so write to them in a conversational manner.
Answer the following questions for them:
- Who Are You?
- Why Choose You?
- Why Are You Unique?
- In What Ways Could They Connect With You?
Remember that Google is going to be reading this bio too. Remember to write with keyword that will help Google index you when people search. Make sure that you have your name, your city, your company name and other words that are unique to your market. Now, I mentioned a bit earlier that you should write in the first person, so now you’re asking ‘how do I write in the first person and make sure that my name is in the bio?’. Easy… “Hi, I’m Matthew Rathbun….” See? Easy.
You’ll Need Three
You’re going to basically need three bios. One full-length bio that tells different aspects of your story. This typically exists on your personal website. Yes. You MUST have a personal website. (I think the best site for most agents is Placester.) The second bio is an abbreviated version for your profile on your company site, aggregators, etc… The third bio is a very short, one-sentence bio for your social media sites. I find that writing the full bio first then helps me to do a one or two paragraph summary for the short bio and then that helps me create a one sentence social media bio.
I suggest writing all three in a Word document or in Evernote so that you can simply copy and paste them into whatever document or site you need to have a bio for. At some point you’ll want to ensure that you have a well-written and unique bio on your website, your company website, your franchise profile, Realtor.com and Zillow.com for starters. Each should be a little different, but that can be tweaked later. At first just ensure that each profile is complete.
Remember Your Disclosures
State regs very, but the Realtor Code of Ethics outline some basic disclosures that I feel reflect most obligations to the various state’s regulations for what needs to be in included in your content. Don’t forget to make sure you list your name as it shows up on your license, disclose that you’re a REALTOR® or licensee, list the city and state of your office and what company you’re with.
I imagine that if you read this post to the end then you’re most likely new and writing your new bio or you’re experienced and know that you need to freshen it up. I hope that this has been helpful to you. If it has, please share with other agents via email, Twitter or Facebook.
Here are a few resources to help you: