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Why It usually takes 18 months to make money from your real estate site

MY WIFE WILL VIOLENTLY PROTEST, but is building and marketing a successful site not unlike half of the pain and time of a full term pregnancy?  It starts with euphoria (not always well thought out), it starts growing on you, it becomes a reality, you eagerly wait for any spark of life, you look at it every morning and evening, then… there it is…*gasps*..a very young offspring that needs further care, diaper-changing and baby talk. (I had client share her life story just before signing the buyer broker.)

One of the hardest things about building a site is around the sixth month, after investing low-to-mid four figures in coding and programming, investing six-full-season-DVD-set worth of reading and writing, after essentially talking to yourself (otherwise known as first few months of blogging), you would hear some agent in another city (hopefully not yours!) closing $000,000 deals from his online leads!

The truth is it takes approximately 18 months to really see the fruits of your labor.  Why does it take that long? Here’s a rough overview (if you’re targeting organic rankings):

  • Researching domains and keywords (plotting your on page SEO through content positioning.)
  • Looking at other sites for inspiration and ideas.
  • Coding and programing — even if you hire someone, it still takes time explaining, planning and guiding.
  • Content creation and writing filler content/introductions for every page.
  • Fixing, tweaking, improving bugs and implementing new ideas
  • If you have a blog, content creation on a consistent basis.
  • Link Building
  • Promotion
  • Site aging
  • Rankings
  • Leads
  • Closing

Not too mention when you acquire a good link, say you get accepted at BOTW directory, it still takes about 2-3 months to feel its pull on your rankings.

And yes, you can go the short route of Pay Per Click, which is a viable path especially if you have no time and could afford tens of $6 clicks — could go significantly higher if targeting competitive keywords.  (Actually now that I think of it, a mixture of both organic and PPC is ideal once you feel more confident with your site’s conversion capability )

It takes time...but here is the paradox:  It gets easier and easier.  WHAT DO YOU MEAN?! You get rewarded for what you put in.  And the earlier you start, the better.  The primary example is how major search engines treat an aged site with good content.  In other words, search engines don’t treat all sites equally.  The older you are, the more trusting they become.  (If only that could bleed to real life, I probably would be a Justin Timberlake.)

Search engines, at the end of the day, follow people.

But make no mistake about it, you will need laser-like focus on the first year. Building and promoting a successful real estate site requires vision, endurance and commitment to see it through.

When somebody asks me if they should start blogging or do online marketing, I tell them that if you are serious in producing results, you cannot treat it as another advertising tool.  Online marketing is not just another tool you use; either it is your primary tool (along with sphere of influence) or it is not.  I have seen too many colleagues start and wither away.  Truth is, not everyone is willing to put the time and effort to succeed online.

But it is worth it.  Last month I closed my first five figure commission.  My biggest (from an online lead) since I stared in 2007.  Without the reach of the internet, she is somebody, as my cousin Bob puts it, waaaaay out of my league.  But she bit.

I want to encourage you:  Keep. At. It.  Incremental improvement is key.  Check and balance regularly.  Because it will come.  Hopefully sooner than mine.

About Joe Salcedo

Joe is fascinated with business models more than super models. The last two years he has been focused with his site and stalking the Reno Real Estate market since 2007. He works hard for his beautiful wife Anna, and two wonderful kids, Alonzo and Jiana. Add him on his Twitter account

This entry was posted in Blogging, Conversion, Lead Acquisition, SEO, Websites and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Very good point Joe. I do a significant amount of research on Realtor sites to improve my own and I constantly find abandoned websites that started strong and died off. I’m going to be doing a post here shortly with my experiences in the first 6 months of launching a new site. This includes 1 closing taking place next Monday directly from my new site. 

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  • That’s good to hear Ben, you’re wheel is definitely turning.  Send me a link once you finish writing your article.

  • Very good article Joe!

    Your statement about a balanced attack of Organic SEO and PPC is right on the money!

    I think it’s very important to stress that putting up a new real estate site doesn’t = leads right away. A lot of agents are under the misconception that new leads should start pouring in from the minute their web site goes live. Not gonna happen!

    Online marketing for a real estate site is like any other business… it takes time, marketing, research, strategy, and various other skills to get to a level where you have a steady stream of new leads.

    I just wrote a post on it —>

  • Interesting.  I Started selling in a new market in June and already have closed several deals from my site.  I agree rankings take time but i do get some organic traffic.  Combine that with a Craigslist campaign to drive traffic you can get immediate results.  My wite is by

  • Chris

    Wow, if it takes somebody 18 months to
    make money off of a real estate site, then they are obviously doing something
    wrong. I provide Internet Marketing services for agents across the nation which
    consists of a balance between short-term lead generation to start generating
    leads on day 1 (and that’s without PPC) and a long-term strategy which includes
    SEO. Most of my clients will have a couple deals under contract the first month
    and then a nice stead 1-3 deals per month after that (assuming they are doing their
    job with the leads)…

    First, you need a solid website that is
    optimized both for the search engines, and for lead capture. Just having a
    website out there does not mean you are going to get leads. Also, getting
    traffic on a website doesn’t mean you are going to get leads either… the key
    is it HAS TO BE OPTIMIZED FOR LEAD CAPTURE!… for example, one of my clients’
    website gets around a 10-20% conversion rate of traffic to lead…. (which is
    an incredible number)… another client gets around a 5% conversion rate
    (sometimes lower)… I do everything the same for both clients, but the only
    variable is their websites… one is optimized for lead capture, and the other
    isnt (as much)… unfortunately my client won’t see the light and switch to a
    more optimized lead capture website, but they are still happy with the results
    they are getting.. A totally unoptimized website will probably only get 1% or
    less of the traffic converting to leads… That number is so important because
    that is the difference between someone getting 10 leads per day and someone
    getting 1 lead per day… (from the same amount of traffic)

    Lets assume you have a great website
    optimized for lead capture, and a nice steady flow of traffic going to your
    website and that traffic is converting to leads. The next variable in the
    equation is the real estate agents’ system of follow up. If the agent has a bad
    system of follow up, then they probably wont convert any of those leads to
    sales. If they have a good system of follow up, then they will probably convert
    those leads into 1-3 deals per month, or more….

    Internet Lead Generation is an art, and
    a science. There are a lot of variables you have to get right or you will be
    unsuccessful and waste a lot of money. If you haven’t mastered Internet Leads
    yet, I suggest talk with someone that has (like myself and
    do what they are doing. It’s not rocket science, but there is some science
    involved (often trail and error)…

    • 18 months is to get to a point where you are generating consistent leads from your site without paying for them. 

      You can of course buy traffic to a website that converts to jump start the process, but most agents don’t do that. They instead try to add content to their site as a means to drive traffic. The right approach in my mind is a mix of both (which is what we do for our consulting clients at virtual results) paid traffic and investing in the longer term organic seo traffic.

  • Hey Joe, nice post. I believe that, if we properly implement SEO, Social Media Marketing and PPC, then it will definitely give the better results, but yes it will take a lot of time, to see the good results. I personally believe that it is necessary to create the better interaction with other persons who are of same industry. So in this way, we can do the best marketing for our Real Estate websites. It is always better to establish trust and it will definitely give the fruitful results.

  • Janifer

    nice information. Thanks for sharing this with us.


  • It’s also called the “search language” and a very essential part of optimization process. It’s quite unconventional thinking that one can come up with while trying to define something in appropriate term…

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