Article writing for local publications is one of the most effective marketing strategies that many loan originators overlook. While not every loan originator enjoys writing, it doesn’t have to be a complicated process and can provide exceptional visibility with both prospective customers and strategic referral sources, such as Realtors.
Writing articles can help position you as the “expert” and result in inquiries from borrowers. “For the past six or seven years I have been fortunate enough to write different ‘industry related’ pieces for a number of publications,” said Matt Elerding. The Elerding Team (Powered by MetLife Home Loans), Vancouver, Wash. “I have found this presents a wonderful opportunity to not only contribute to a publication that will most likely be read by a good many of your industry counterparts but also to have a piece that you can send to your clients, referrals sources and other members in your sphere of influence. Providing timely, relevant and helpful information to these people differentiates you from your competition and the fact that they are published in an established industry periodical lends credence to your message.”
Louise Thaxton, Fairway Independent Mortgage, Many, La., agrees with the advantages of writing for local publications. “Writing articles for local publications that will educate and ultimately benefit consumers in the purchase of a home, has given me the opportunity to brand myself as the expert in mortgage financing rather than advertise that I am an expert,” she stressed.
In addition to the basic news release announcing new staff people, special programs and other topics, you can write:
*Feature Article—Topics could include “How to Select a Loan Originator,” “When is the Best Time to Refinance?” “A Guide to Reverse Mortgages,” “The Upside to Short Sales” and any other topic you feel will be of interest. Obviously having a good connection to your local market will enhance the chances of your article being published.
*Column –You could also write a series of monthly/other columns on variety of mortgage finance subjects.
“I have written several articles about the value of contacting a mortgage planner several months before borrowers begin searching for a home,” said Thaxton. “This gives the potential home buyer some extra time to address any challenges, such as credit, limited assets or excess liabilities in advance of signing the contract on a home. I have also written articles about credit scoring, how it works, and the value of knowing your score before you begin the search for a home. Again, this helps brand me as the expert in home financing.”
Elerding pointed out that the way he develops article topics frequently depends on initial feedback from the editor. “The topics of the different write-ups I have done over the years are generated in a variety of ways,” said Elerding. “The editor of a particular publication often will provide guidance and recommendations for the subject matter, length and most importantly, the target audience. However, here are other pieces that are completely up to me regarding the subject matter and length. I have found providing write-ups of a topical nature such as HARP loans, historically low interest rates and “Short-Sale Do’s and Don’ts” is a good starting point.”
The best way to ensure publication of articles is to first contact the business or other editor of your local newspaper or real estate/homes publication and offer to write the articles. In a letter or e-mail provide a summary of your background, experience and why you think the article/column will be of interest. It is usually better to get a firm commitment that the publication will run the articles. That way, you don’t waste your time writing an article that won’t be published.
Thaxton noted that it is essential to clarify the content before starting an article. “Many times the editors ask me to write something that would be of value to the consumer which goes along with my philosophy, but leave the subject up to me,” she said. “But I always ask the editor, ‘Is there a particular topic you want me to address?’”
It is also critical that you understand for whom you are writing. “I have found one of the most important factors to keep in mind is the target audience,” said Elerding. “Are you writing to prospective clients, referral partners, or industry counterparts? Knowing who you’re writing to will help you in establishing a message that is meaningful, timely and well-received.”
Elerding, Thaxton and other authors will summarize the article writing action steps as:
*Determine the subjects about which you feel most qualified to write.
*E-mail or phone the appropriate editor to discuss the potential topic and share your background/areas of expertise.
*Get clarification as to subject, audience, length and deadline. If necessary, send samples of your writing or other details.
*Write the article and if you aren’t comfortable writing, have a freelancer ghostwrite it for you.
*Meet your deadlines.
So, what are you waiting for? Start writing.
By David Robinson
David Robinson is associate editor of Broker Banker.