The places we live have always been something to celebrate. And with all the extra time spent inside them in recent years, our relationship with them has become stronger than ever.
Homes are not simply bricks, timber, glass and subway tiled splashbacks. They are offices, entertainment spaces, retreats, libraries, gyms, classrooms and so much more! And when it's time to sell a home, it is so often about emotion rather than simply “3bed, 2bath, 2car”.
Successful real estate copywriters can take any address – big or small, fancy or festering – and tell its story in the best light. They dispense with common cliches and instead get potential buyers excited about living there (or investing). It’s a fun job – allowing you to witness first hand the current (and not so current) trends and create powerful sales messages for a variety of homes. And with many jobs, you can do the whole thing from home (with supplied photos, floor plans etc).
So, how exactly can you break into this real estate writing game? Here are some ways to improve your chances…
1: Do a Real Estate Copywriting course
Okay, it’s a shameless plug up front (this author created the AWC course on Real Estate Copywriting), but it’s also a great way to understand the psychology and methodology behind writing unique and creative real estate copy.
Suitable for new and existing copywriters as well as property agents, this self-paced course is a fun romp through what the industry expects of real estate writing and how you can stand out. It’s great value and a great investment – with plenty of practical exercises and examples to cement your learning. Highly recommended! Ahem.
2: Contact your local agent
Every town has a real estate agent. Most have two. Or three. Or six. And the best way to contact them is simply to walk in and make yourself known! (Yes, it’s scary, but it can pay off.) By making a personal connection, you’re already on your way.
Even if an agent cannot offer something on the spot, leave your details. For example, many agencies may say “we do our writing in house” or “we have a content place that handles that” – but that might not always be the case. Agencies change hands and things may open up. Sometimes the decision on writing is up to the individual agent – not the principal of the agency. If that’s the case, contact ALL the agents on site (get their cards – they love handing them out!). Also keep an eye on new agent announcements (often advertised) – welcome them and offer your services at the same time.
If an agent seems unsure, offer to rewrite a current listing. If you catch their attention this way, it could be all you need to get a foothold for future work.
Note that there is no set industry fee or rate – every relationship with an agency or agent will be different. However it’s a good idea to establish a fixed rate from the start – based on what they require and what you’re happy to receive for your time. By getting this sorted upfront, you won’t need to quote every job and the agent will feel confident in their marketing spend.
3: Team up with another provider
Speaking of marketing spend, a good mindset to get into is to think of yourself as an essential part of the marketing mix of a property. An agent will typically engage a professional photographer, floor plan designer, perhaps a videographer for a walk-through or drone footage, as well as sign company for the front lawn. As a copywriter, you are an integral piece of this puzzle – so don’t sell yourself short!
In fact, so wide is the list of providers for agents that you may already know a friend (or friend of a friend) who works with an agency. This can be a softer way to introduce yourself, on the back of an established provider.
For example, you may know a photographer who does real estate work – so grab the agent’s details off them and (with permission), use their name as a springboard to introduce yourself. If the agency already loves the work this other provider does, it can make your ‘cold call’ somewhat toastier.
4: Join a real estate content company
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – and with many agencies choosing the “one stop shop” of companies that do it all (photography, copy, plans, printed material etc), your skills will be highly sought after at such a location. Here’s an example of one in Australia.
Whether it’s a boom or a bust, people are always on the move, meaning there are always houses for sale. That’s why these kinds of places are always looking for copywriters to write great listings. (And because people are always on the move, new jobs come up all the time). The advantage is that you don’t need to contact agents yourself – your jobs are delivered to you.
Many enjoy this option as it can provide a more regular stream of work and payment is straightforward. (In the Real Estate Copywriting course, we include a case study of a content agency writer.)
5: Set up your OWN real estate copy agency!
As a property writer, you might work in a content company like above or provide your copywriting services direct as a freelancer. As the latter, you might also do other copywriting jobs (for example, an ad for a hair salon or web copy for a new local cafe). But if you decide that property writing is your thing, why not double down and create your own brand specialising in purely real estate writing? (In our course, we include a case study of a writer who has been successful doing exactly this.)
Now, do you still have to secure gigs and form relationships with agents and clients? Of course you do. But by marketing yourself in this niche and creating a specific brand, it may give you more clout than offering direct services as a ‘jack/jill-of-all-trades’ copywriter.
Finally, the most common question: how much can you get paid as a real estate copywriter?
The beauty of real estate writing is that there is always a supply of potential jobs – with every house that goes on the market. How much you’re paid to write a listing will depend on many things, including the budget for marketing (a fancy house may allocate more $ for copy), the services required (script, signage, inclusion list, feature story etc) and whether you need to visit the address in person or can write remotely.
A typical listing on a property website usually has a limit of 2500 characters (including spaces) – approximately 400 words. For this, you should expect to be paid approx $150 to $250 – a rough ballpark as many writers get less writing short blurbs in bulk, while others charge more for luxury listings.
Ultimately it’s about knowing your worth – valuing your time and doing the sums. If you think your writing is worth $100/hr and the job will take you three hours (including travel if necessary), then $300 it is. Just be prepared to be more flexible than stubborn at the start (while still needing to eat) – getting in the door with a new agent is sometimes the priority.
Remember, as a property writer you are providing a valuable skill. And if you do it well, just a few property listings a week can provide an excellent side income. Happy hunting!
Dean Koorey is a freelance copywriter who has created more than 1000 property listings for everything from shacks to mansions. His online course, Real Estate Copywriting has valuable information on how to write memorable property listings, as well as many dad jokes.