I started a community blog because there was no single source of information for all the events occurring in my neighborhood. Since this is also my market area for my real estate business, it made sense for me to sponsor the community blog. As you can see I use the vFlyer widget to showcase my listings. Potential clients can click on the photo of my husband and myself to learn more about our areas of expertise.
The site consists of a front page with leading news, but readers can click on "Continue Reading" to see the full text. All the posts are categorized and readers can view posts by category by clicking on the category on the left sidebar.
Both residents and organizations use the Community Calendar to check on the times of events and to determine when to schedule events so that there is no overlap. The Discussion Forum is still not very user friendly and is a work-in-progress.
I don't get many comments on the blog itself, but I receive a number of e-mails from residents who tell me that they rely on the community blog. In fact, when there is a storm, I get up early and post the school closings. Both kids and parents rely on my school closing posts as it is much easier to scan the school closings online than to listen through a long list of school closings on the radio.
I use the Blogging Systems platform because it allows multiple authors. In this way, I don't have to post all the information myself. I give author and editor capabilities to local organizations. You can see which ones are authored by me and by others as the name is listed under the post title along with the date of the post.
My community blog is on page one of Google for keywords related to real estate in my market area, so I have received a number of leads as a result of the blog. If you check out the Black Rock Community Blog, you'll see that readers can sign up for e-mail updates. Over 180 readers have signed up to receive e-mail updates. By signing up I can send out express e-mails easily (I use GoDaddy Express Marketing, a permission e-mail marketing tool) I provide e-mail updates once a month on new posts and I provide direct links to those posts for the convenience of my readers.
Does a community blog make sense for your market area? Would you have the time to commit to keeping it updated?