Melissa started out by doing flips and creating owner finance notes. After being in the business for over 17 years, she is now transitioning into the coaching space. Melissa teaches other real estate investors her skills and helps them customize and apply her guidance to their business.
Melissa was finding up to 80% of her real estate deals with the help of her website. Its biggest advantage is that motivated clients come to you as opposed to you seeking leads via traditional marketing. In this interview, Melissa describes a step-by-step process of finding deals on the website if you don’t’ have any online presence yet.
Melissa Johnson Real Estate Background:
- Full-time real estate investor, and the Co-Founder of San Antonio InvestHer meetup group
- 17 years of real estate experience
- She has completed over 1000 flips, and has a portfolio of rental properties and notes
- Based in San Antonio, TX
- Say hi to her at: www.themelissajohnson.com
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“Testimonials are great for credibility” – Melissa Johnson.
Theo Hicks: Hello Best Ever listeners and welcome to The Best Real Estate Investing Advice Ever Show. I’m Theo Hicks and today we’ll be speaking with Melissa Johnson. Melissa, how are you doing today?
Melissa Johnson: I’m great. How are you?
Theo Hicks: I am doing great as well. Thanks for asking. Thank you for joining us again. Melissa is a repeat guest and, as of this recording, her episode actually hasn’t aired yet, so maybe in a few months from today, or probably a few months before this episode goes live, it will have aired already. So make sure you check that out, where she goes into more detail on her real estate investing background and what she’s focused on.
Today we’re going to talk about something more specific. Today being Sunday, this is a Skillset Sunday, so we’re going to talk about a specific skill that she has that you can apply to your real estate investing business, and that’s going to be finding deals through your website. So that’s going to be the main topic of conversation today. But before we get into that, a reminder – Melissa is a full-time real estate investor and the co-founder of the San Antonio InvestHER Meetup group. She has 17 years of experience and has completed over a thousand flips, and also has a portfolio of rental properties and notes. She is based in San Antonio, Texas. Her website is themelissajohnson.com. So Melissa, before we dive into that skill set, do you mind just quickly telling us more about your background and what you’re focused on today?
Melissa Johnson: Sure. So like you mentioned, I’ve been in the business for about 17 years now. I started out with flips and creating owner finance notes, which I really like. I bought a few rental properties, and then as the years have gone by, pretty much stayed with that. We did start wholesaling several years ago when the market was really good for that, so we’ve kind of thrown that exit strategy into the mix. That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing… Raising my kids, I’ve got five kids, and I’m still doing real estate, but I am also moving more into a coaching space. I’m working one on one with clients, just teaching them how to do what I do, very specifically to what their goals are. So it’s very individualized and it’s been a lot of fun; I’ve really been enjoying that.
Theo Hicks: Perfect. So let’s jump into the skillset today, and just to kind of set the foundation, could you maybe mention how many deals you’re generating through your websites, and maybe an absolute number, but also in relation to any other strategies you’re doing? Is it half your deals, is it all of your deals, or somewhere in between?
Melissa Johnson: It’s one of those things, I think, as with all marketing, it’s cyclical. There are times where it’s very effective and times where it’s less effective, just like with anything else. At my peak of doing deals, finding deals online, I would say about 80% of my deals were coming from the website, which was a very high percentage. And those are so great, because the difference between just shotgunning out a bunch of direct mail versus working with a website is when people are online, they’re searching for you, so their motivation is pretty high. So those deals, actually — we got more deals that way, and we were able to convert more deals that came from online more than any other channel than we’ve ever done.
That has slowed down a little bit, mostly just because I’ve kind of taken the gas off of that for a little bit. But it is still a very effective way to get leads and deals, especially from motivated sellers.
Theo Hicks: Let’s start from the beginning. I want to start finding deals online, and I don’t have an online presence. What’s my first step? What’s the first thing that I need to do just start to get the ball rolling here?
Melissa Johnson: When you get started with this sort of thing, obviously, the first thing you want to do is get a website. There’s a lot of companies out there that provide websites for you. Some people have completely custom websites built, and that can get very expensive. There’s also some great sort of out-of-the-box things, like Investor Carrot, LeadPropeller… Those companies provide websites for real estate investors… So those are a great place to start. You’re obviously going to want to have a domain, because you won’t be online without that, so that’s important to have… And then there’s a lot of other things. Do you want me just to jump into what to do?
Theo Hicks: Yeah, let’s just jump in. Well, really quickly. What are your thoughts on the domain names? Obviously, you have yours as themelissajohnson.com. So should it be my personal name? Or should it be my company’s name? Should it try to be something really catchy? What are your thoughts on the actual name of the website?
Melissa Johnson: There are different schools of thought on that, and it really just depends on you. This is, again, to like the coaching thing, this is kind of something that I coach people through with, is how do you want to be known? Do you want to be known as an individual out there? Or do you want to be known as a company? Do you want to build your company brand, or do you want to build up just who you are? I think they both can work. The thing is, though, to have something personal about that, something that people will remember.
So it really depends on what your goals are as to how you should name your website and how you should start that branding process. A lot of people do it Their Name Buys Houses, like Chris Buys Houses, something like that. Those are really good, because they indicate what you’re doing, but also puts a name to it; so I really like those names for things. But then some people want to use their company name, and I think that’s okay, too. Just make sure it’s something that’s easy to spell and easy for people to remember. It’s not something that’s a super complicated or a super long domain name, with underscores and weird things like that in there. You want to make sure that it’s something just concise, clean, and fits with your brand, whether that’s personal or company brand.
Theo Hicks: Oh yeah, that last point is key. I always like whenever I read people’s bios, if I don’t have to spell it out then I know it’s a good website. If I have to spell out and be like, “Is that a dash or an underscore? What’s that thing called?” That totally makes sense. Alright, so I’ve got my website. Now, what do I do?
Melissa Johnson: Now you want to make sure that you’ve got some key elements on that website. The first thing you want to make sure of is that you’ve got very clear call to actions in multiple places through the website. Starting that, you want to make sure that you have an area, it’s called above the fold. That came from an old newspaper term, when you buy a newspaper and it’s folded in half, that’s the first thing people see. It is the same thing with your website.
When people go to your website, you want to have as much relevant information and actionable things as you can above that fold, which means the point before they start scrolling. So right when you go to someone’s website you want to be able to see the call to action, whether it be a form – usually there’s a short form. Something that describes who you are, what you’re doing, and then just some way for them to contact you. Again, whether it’s a form, whether it’s “Call Now” with a phone number, or a text sort of situation.
Videos are also really great above the fold for ranking. If you can have some kind of short little video talking about what you do, I think those are fantastic. Because one, it puts your name and your face out there to people. So you’re starting to build trust right away with people; they can see your face, they see who you are, and then you have the opportunity to tell them what you’re doing, instead of reading through a bunch of text. Videos’ where it’s at right now. So if you can have a nice video and a very clear call to action above the fold, I think those are two really good things to have.
You also want to make sure when you’re getting started with your website that you’ve got relevant content. You don’t want to put a bunch of fluff and stuff like that in there. People want to hit the key points, so you want to make sure those key points are very clear, concise, not too wordy, things like that. You want to make sure that the content is relevant to what you’re trying to do.
Another thing that I usually encourage people to do is credibility. Even if you’ve never done a deal, you can get people to give you a character reference as a testimonial, or somebody that you’ve done business with. Maybe you’ve never actually closed a deal, but you’ve done some bird-dogging, maybe having some other people that you’ve worked with, with wholesalers, title companies, or loan officers, just anybody that can give you some kind of a credibility boost. And then of course, as you do deals, you want to make sure that you’re getting testimonials from all your customers.
So testimonials are great for credibility. If you’ve been featured in something, if you’ve been featured in a real estate magazine, or a podcast or something, those things are helpful to have in there, also just for the purpose of backlinks. But it also does create some more of that credibility, like you’re a reputable person, you’ve been doing deals, it just shows that you’re knowledgeable about what you’re doing. Then any reviews too, so Facebook reviews, Google reviews. There’s a great tool, it’s called Broadly, that you can use. That is something that we were using in the past. I really liked it, because it actually sends a link. So when we would close a deal, we would send that seller a link to our Broadly, and it would go directly in an email to them, so that they could type up a Google review, and then it would automatically post it on the website for you. So that was a really, really cool, handy little thing to have.
So just some things like that… And then also just make sure that you’ve got a clean design and everything’s easy to read. Don’t use some kind of funky font, that when you look at it, it’s like “I can’t really read that.” I think clean, simple is always the way to go as far as design. So those are some key things that I think are really important when you’re building that site initially.
Theo Hicks: I like that Broadly tool; that could be used for more than just when you’re fix and flipping. If you’re an apartment investor, you can use that whenever you have a new tenant, send them a link to Broadly to review and start working on your reputation. So we might have to start using that tool. Thanks for sharing that. I want to dive deeper into the relevant content, but I just wanted to ask – so are these all things you would have above the fold? Or is this just what you want to have on the website in general?
Melissa Johnson: You want to make sure above the fold that you’ve got at least one call to action, and that video if you can, or something that says about what you’re doing. The rest of it can fall underneath that, but you don’t want to scroll too far to get that stuff either. So you want to have a definite call to action at the top… But keep sprinkling in that call to action throughout the page; don’t just leave just at the top. Have it in multiple places, because you never know at what point somebody is going to say, “Oh, that’s the thing” that triggers them to contact you. They might read something and say, “That is exactly the situation that I’m in. I need to call this person right now.” If you’ve got it right there, then it’s good.
So you can’t pack everything to the top of the fold, but as a minimum, have a call to action, have a video, or even if you can’t do a video right now, just something that says who you are, and have a picture of yourself, or your company, your team, whatever up there also.
Theo Hicks: The two things I want to talk about in our remaining time would be diving deeper into the type of content, and then you’ve got a really nice website, you have all these key elements on your website, you’ve got great content. But then how do people actually find your website and get there. So I want to bring those both up now because I’m not sure if they are related to each other. You create content and you’re sharing in the right spots, or you write the right kind of content… So those are the two things I want to talk about in the end. Let’s first talk about the relevant content, and that ties into getting people to your website, and then, obviously, you can talk about that, too. But what type of content should I be creating in regards to video, audio, written, a combination? What should I be writing about? How often should I be writing? And then what do I do with that content once it’s written or created? So, lots of questions.
Melissa Johnson: Yeah, my head’s spinning. [laughter] Let’s see. Well, I think, first of all, just basic, relevant content; just stating, again, what’s your process. When somebody comes to your website, usually they want to know how it works. So you want to make sure that that’s laid out. That’s relevant content, for sure. This is what we do, this is how we do it, these are the type of people that we help, these are the situations that they’re in. So then you can start to go into more detail with that on a blog, for example. You can have a blog page set up on your website. This could be a video too if you wanted it to be. It doesn’t have to be like a written blog. But think about the situations that your sellers find themselves in, especially when you’re going on appointments or taking phone calls. Take notes about what they’re saying and use that for content.
Especially this is great too if you’re recording your phone calls. We record all of our phone calls with the sellers, so we can go back and actually listen and pull things from those conversations to use for content. But you want to make sure that you’re creating content that speaks to their situation, something that’s helpful. Don’t make it all about you and what you can do for them, but make it to where “Hey, this is a valuable resource. This person helped me and they don’t even know me, but this was really helpful for me.” So stuff like lists of moving companies in the area, or what does the probate process looks like in your state, or what does the eviction process looks like in your state. Any kind of free little tools that you can give them through a blog post is also relevant content that’s really helpful. So any little things that you can provide to the sellers that are helpful, pulling from things that they’ve actually said is just a really good place to start with all that.
Well, let me go back to – if you buy an out-of-the-box sort of website, you can customize those. Say you get like a Carrot website or a LeadPropeller website – a lot of them come loaded with content already on it. But that’s the same content that a lot of other people have. So you want to make sure that you go through and customize that to you and your company, your location, things like that. And then those blog posts are also going to separate your website from the 50,000 other websites that are just like it. So having that good content in there, in the form of a blog or something, is good. Thenyou want to make sure that you’re doing that regularly, putting out content on a regular basis. So maybe you start doing it once a month to begin, maybe, and then ramping that up as you talk to more people, you get more ideas for content, I would say bump that up to like once a week. And then of course, you’re mixing this with all the other things that you’re doing, like on social and things like that, you can pull micro content from that bigger content that you used in small posts and things like that. But everything goes back to the website. That’s where your meat really sits, if that makes sense. All the good stuff is there. So when somebody goes to your website, they can click on that and say, “Okay, this is an article I need to read right now, because I just inherited this house, I don’t really know what to do with it. Where do I start?”
Theo Hicks: And then once I have this content or while I’m creating this content, do I want to maybe keep in mind writing in a certain way, or using certain keywords to make sure that it’s easily searchable? Or are you attracting people by sharing it on social media and stuff? How are you getting people to read these blog posts once they’re written?
Melissa Johnson: So it’s both. Like I was saying, you can write a nice blog post, and then if you’ve got somebody on your team or if you can do this yourself, chop that up into smaller content that can be put out as Instagram posts or quick LinkedIn posts. But you can always link those blog posts back also. So if you share it on Facebook, if you share it on LinkedIn, if you share it on YouTube, if it’s a video, TikTok even I guess, all these different platforms – it just makes it easier to have it in that one place and then sharing it out through.
And also having it work back the other way too. That was something I was going to talk about too, is just ranking your site, like driving traffic to your site and then checking to see what’s happening with that. Because they’ve got all these great tools and stuff out there now where you can see your analytics for your sites. So that’s going to help you figure out what content is hitting, how your site is performing, and there’s a lot of things that go into that, too.
Like you were saying with the keywords, you want to make sure that when you’re writing something, that it is keyword rich, but not overly so, because there’s so much to SEO. I’m definitely not an expert in that area, but I know enough to probably be dangerous. I know that there’s a lot to keywords and things like that. You don’t want to have too much, I think, of certain things, because it can hurt you, but then not enough can also hurt you. So you’ve got to figure out what that medium is, and looking at the analytics really helps with that. And the more specific you can be with your keywords, the better, too… Especially with regards to location and situation, I think. So the more you can put in there, like inherited a house, or dealing with probate, or dealing with a problem tenant. There are resources out there, they’ll give you the good keywords to use and you want to make sure you’re peppering those throughout your website, so that that helps you become more easily found.
Another thing you can do too is driving traffic to your site through paid resources like PPC… You can do paid SEO, but you can also do things organically that don’t cost any money, to drive traffic to your site. That’s what I encourage people to do when they first get started. Because you need budgets to do AdWords; you need a budget to have somebody working the SEO on your site. But there are things that you can do yourself that don’t cost anything. So one of them is putting out good content and sharing it, another thing is — I like to add my website to all my mail pieces and anything that I send out. So if I send out a direct mail piece, I’m giving them the option also to go to another site, that way they can see that. You could put it on your bandit signs, if you’re putting signs on your car, put it on your car, put it on your business cards, flyers, brochures, door hangers, if you’re doing those. All those are places where you’re doing that marketing anyway, so you may as well throw your website on there too, and drive some traffic to it. That’s very low cost and easy to do.
Theo Hicks: Those are all great. Is there anything else that you have that you want to talk about that we weren’t able to hit, that you want to mention before we sign off?
Melissa Johnson: Yeah, there’s a couple of really quick things… One of them is if you don’t have a Google My Business Page, get one. That pulls you up on the map search. So if somebody says “I need to sell my house in San Antonio,” if you have a Google My Business Page, it’ll make you pop up on the map, and that’s free. So that’s a nice thing to have. Another thing is just make sure that your page load speed is good. If your website loads too slow or doesn’t load right, that can be a problem. Make sure all the external links, all those are working, and make sure that your website is mobile optimized. There are ways to check that, too. A lot of times with these site builders, you can actually click and see what your site looks like on desktop, what it looks like on mobile phones, what it looks like on a tablet… So you just want to make sure that everything looks good in mobile, because most people are doing searches from their phones these days. So it needs to look good and load fast on a phone.
One last tip that I have that is a super, super cool thing… There is a tool called Hotjar; I always want to say heat jar, but it’s Hotjar. It’s a really cool thing that you can use; you can put it on your computer and it actually tracks people’s movements on your website. So it’s kind of like a heat map, if you’re familiar with a heat map. This actually records where people are going on your site, so you can actually track them and see, “Okay, where are they hanging out? Where did they click? How long they spent this much time on this thing?” That will start to tell you if something’s confusing or unclear, or if they’re abandoning the site… Maybe they start filling out the form and then they abandon, or whatever – you’ll have all that information captured. You can even see what sort of device that they’re on, looking at your site. So it’s a really cool thing to help you improve the user experience on your site and to see how things are converting.
Theo Hicks: Perfect Melissa. Thank you so much for joining us again and doing a deep dive into finding deals through your website, growing traffic on your website. So I’m not going to try to summarize everything we’ve talked about. We’ve talked about so much, but we went from, “Hey, I want to find deals on my website, but I don’t have a website”, to very specific tips once the website is done. You’ve got all the key elements, you’re creating the content, how do you actually get people to your website? You also talked about a lot of different tools that you can add to your computer to help you along the way. So thank you so much.
Again, her website is themelissajohnson.com. I guess that’d be another thing, is go look at her website and see what she’s doing. Because I’m sure she’s doing all these things on there, plus more. Thank you so much for joining us. Best Ever listeners, as always, thank you for listening. Have a Best Ever day and we’ll talk to you tomorrow.
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