Building An Apartment Investor Website With Todd Heitner
Episode 332: Building An Apartment Investor Website With Todd Heitner
If you are not online in this day and age, then you are missing out. In this episode, Todd Heitner, owner and founder of Apartment Investor Pro, talks about building a website for the apartment investor. He shares how you can get credibility and portray to the world that you’re in the game through a professional website with the right content and SEOs that can move you straight to the top. Todd dives into the options available for business owners in building their own website, from doing it yourself to hiring people online. Todd then shares why he and his company would be the best option and fit for you to build your website with over fifteen years of experience in the industry.
I’m with Todd Heitner. He is in Virginia. He’s going to talk to us about how to build a website as an apartment investor. How to get the credibility and portray that you’re in the solid game and the big game. Before we do that, let’s go to TaxFreeFuture.com and pay homage to my sponsor. Take a look at the website and the 37 little video vignettes because if you don’t have a tax-deferred or a tax-free investment vehicle in your tool belt, you have no idea the size of the tool you’re missing. It’s a wonderful product for IRAs, Solo 401(k)s, Health Savings Accounts. You can mitigate those taxes and grow your wealth. Please go to TaxFreeFuture.com. Check it out because you have no idea what your financial advisers are not telling you. We’re going to tell you what they’re not telling you. We’re going to tell you why they’re not telling you that and about that. Then you’re going to see how it all fits together and why it’s a terrific place to be. That’s it with TaxFreeFuture.com. Todd, thanks for bearing with me on that. We’ve interviewed you before and we’ve talked about websites for investors and for house flippers. Is that right?
That’s right. It is for single-family real estate investing.
Let me say this, you can go out there and make your own little website if you want to and get a free one. It’s not going to have an SEO. It’s not going to have the keywords. The backend is not going to be right. You are not going to have a chance to organically get anywhere if you don’t have someone to build your website. It’s very important that you have people that specialize in the kind of business that you’re doing. They’ve already researched all the keywords and all the meta tags. Give us a little bit about your background for those who have not heard of you yet, then we’ll jump into building a credible and effective website for apartment investors.
I’ve been building websites for real estate investors for several years. I started out doing websites for single-family investors, like people that flip houses. I’ve been focusing more on the multifamily side of it like apartment syndicators for example and other types of multifamily.
If you don’t know, the basics of having a website 101 or business 101 is you’ve got to have an online presence. When people are going to google you or your company and nothing shows up, it doesn’t bode well. People expect that if you’re concerned at all on any level or a minor concern, that you have a presence online. If you don’t, they’ll start to build a whole bunch of questions that shouldn’t be there. Do you find that most people know that? Do you find that most people don’t?
It varies. It’s half and half. Some people recognize that they thought it through, but I do see quite a few people that try doing it without a website first or they do something themselves and it doesn’t add credibility. It might even hurt them. It seems like common sense, but a lot of people do try without it.
The old-timers like myself or older than me are like, “I don’t do that online stuff.” You have to stop saying that. I know that you don’t get it or you don’t know how to do it or understand it. That’s why you’ve got to hire someone like Todd. I don’t know how to fly an airplane either, but I can fly to Houston from San Antonio. I can get there just fine. I don’t need to know how to fly the airplane to get someone to get me there. This is exactly the same process and they’re not horribly expensive. They should make you money because there should be traps or lead generating segments of that website that it should pay for itself. What’s the typical website cost to set up?
Do you mean with our service or trying to do it on your own?
Let’s start from the beginning. If you get a decent website and if you’re getting a more functional website and pull up all the bells and hustle. What expenses is it to a businessman?
It’s a wide range. I’ve seen some people use stuff like Wix or Weebly. It’s a do-it-yourself thing where you build your own website. A lot of people have used those. One person said it took him ten months to build his website. That’s the downside if you’re trying to run your business. You’re trying to do this stuff. It’s not the best use of your time really. The range is way out there. I’ve talked to people that say some people have paid $30,000 for a website to get it set up.If you say you're in business trying to raise money for a deal and you don't have a website, then are you really in business? Click To Tweet
I paid $20,000 for my 1000Houses.com website, but when you look at what it does and what it is and how much it can do for me. It paid for itself in the first 60 days from the traffic that I probably would have never gotten. I was in a game. It only took one or two sales of a certain product from someone I never would have met before unless it was because of that. It happened very quickly. I was nervous at first. It took some time because you don’t build those sites overnight. Now, I look at it like it’s been paid for forever. It’s there and it’s a $20,000 asset that paid for itself a long time ago.
There are other options for people. Some people will go on these websites like Fiverr or Upwork and hire people. You can do that. The downside is they aren’t going to understand real estate investing, especially, with what we’re doing with apartment syndication websites. They aren’t going to get that. It’s going to be difficult to explain to them exactly what you need and how you need it. You do have to come up with the content too, which is another side of things that people underestimate.
Even the terminology and the language of that business. The average person, even straight-up American, much less overseas, wouldn’t know how to get the right keywords in all your content so that you’ll rank it to the people that matter.
That’s why we’ve put together a service that makes it a lot easier. We’ve already done a lot of work for that. We’ve tried to make it easier for people to get their website up and running without all the hassle.
You’ve been in the business for many years. Obviously, you have your 10,000 hours. You know what you’re doing. We can’t be in business for several years and not be at the top of your class unless you’re a plain old, dumb ass. Apartment investors didn’t seem right off the bat to me that they need a website. Why do they need a website?
I would say credibility is the biggest thing because we expect people to have a website. If you say you’re in business and you’re trying to raise money for a deal and you don’t have a website, it’s like, “Are you really in business?” It raises red flags whereas if you have a professional-looking website that makes you look established. Even if it is your first deal, they wouldn’t know by looking at your professional-looking website. It makes a good first impression. It starts building a relationship with your clients.
If it is your first investment, at least it shows them you’re serious. You can give them a lot of information about yourself. They don’t have to go hunting around or give them the clues so that they want to do some further research to find out if you might be a good partner or the right person or the wrong person. You’ve given them enough evidence that they can go out now online and do some private research themselves on you.
People might search for you on Google and they’re curious. Before they’re going to spend money with you, they’re going to do a little research. If there’s nothing there, what message is that sending?
The first thing they’re going to do is check you if you’re a scammer or if there’s anything bad about you on the internet. That’s the first thing they’re going to do if they’re thinking about putting money with you. If they don’t do that, then they’re not very smart. I expect that everyone that loans me money has researched me. I’d have $20 million worth of private money. I had a nice website before that did all this functionality but was probably not making me look very good. It was archaic. It did what it was supposed to do for a little while, but it was way too long moving to the next level.
I have a side note on that too, I would say even pay attention to the email address because it’s important to have your email be at your domain name whatever your business name is.
In my book, I wrote all about that. I’m posing a question to everyone out there. You’ve got an email address. How many times a day do you email? Think about it. How many times do you text and put, “Email me,” in your text? Take that number and then your advertising @Yahoo.com or @Google.com. They don’t need your advertisement. You need your advertisement. You need to be Mitch@1000Houses.com or your company so that every time someone emails you, it’s another little ping driving your brand into their brand. Mitch@CashForHouses.net, Mitch@LiveComm.com. I have so many email addresses right now, but I picked the email address to send from so that I’m congruent with my business. I don’t want to say that I’m in a communication business and then start having an email address about finding houses. It’s like, “This guy is spread out. Who is this guy?” That’s a pet peeve and it doesn’t take much to do to go get your own .com domain. Make some email addresses for you, your family and your office. Everybody needs to be sending out yourbusiness.com, their name @yourbusiness.com. Look at the number of little pings that you’re getting right with branding your name. That’s a great point. What choices do people have when they’re thinking about building a website?
One option is doing it yourself, building everything from scratch, but it’s not a good use of your time. If you’re not a designer, for one thing, it’s going to take you way longer. If you’re not used to writing content, that can easily spend months on it and maybe not even end up with a website that looks professional enough to represent your business. That’s one option. Another option is hiring people to do it. You can go on Fiverr or Upwork or those things, but you run into the problem of trying to communicate. There are some language barriers there. You say something and you’re clear about it, but English isn’t their first language so they don’t understand. You’re also trying to explain real estate investing terms and things and what you need. They may or may not get it. That’s another issue with that. Somebody found out a little too late after they had already gone through the process. Instead of writing web copy and getting the site set up has been the bane of my existence and it is a pain.
Why would you? That means that it’s not what you do and you shouldn’t be doing it. If that’s costing you that much heartache, you should have dealt with it a long time ago.
That’s why we built the service we have that gives people another option. We have some designs that are already made. We have content that’s already written. You basically sign up and you’ve got a website. You can customize it. You should do that when you’re ready but you don’t have to. That’s the idea of it.
We’ve got some giveaways here. We’ve got a seven-point checklist for building a multifamily website. Also, you’re giving away a report on how to build credibility as an apartment investor. If you want a copy of that, if you want to get one of those freebies from Todd, go over to 1000houses.com/aptsite. That will get you over to the show notes. There’s going to be a lot more over there than that, but you can check out the free stuff there, go ahead and get it downloaded. You’ll also be linked to further your conversation with Todd if you want to or ask him questions. There will be all kinds of things over there for you to connect if you’re interested. Let’s talk a little bit about your Apartment Investor Pro service. Tell us about that.
We tried to take the hassle and pain out of getting your website set up and running. It is something where it can make a big difference for your business, but it’s also not something you should be spending a lot of time dealing with. We tried to make it where you can sign up and have a website up and running. As little as the same day, you can have it up and running. We already have designs done. We’ve already got content. Everything is customizable. We do offer custom options too if people want that. If they want something completely unique, but if somebody is just starting out, they don’t have to go that route.
Let’s get something up that looks professional and simple. That’s done. While that’s up there and available to people, you go work on the big kahuna and all the special sites with special traps and special SEO a little bit later. Sometimes it’s important to get something up, professional and simple.
I’ve gone to events and people hang out business cards and you go and look at their website. It’s like a park at the GoDaddy page or there’s nothing there at all. They may not even own the domain name. There’s no reason for that when you can have a website up the same day. At least, have something there. You can always upgrade it later and have it exactly how you want, but it doesn’t have to be the final.
There’s always room for improvement no matter what website on any given day. There’s room to improve. You’ll have ideas. You’ll have different offers. You’ll develop different products or niches. It’s a living thing. That’s one reason though you need to get it built by professionals too, because if you try to start doing some add ons, a bunch of stuff that’s piecemealed in different scripts and everything, it gets all herky-jerky. It doesn’t work. It makes it congruent through the whole site.
I find people run into dead ends when they’re trying to do stuff.Building a website is something that can make a big difference for your business. Click To Tweet
I did all this crap wrong. I did it all wrong the first time a couple of times. It’s nice when you find someone and you’ll say, “That’s my tech guy. That’s my website guy.” I don’t have to worry about that stuff anymore. If I got a problem, I call that guy. People call me, “Your website is great.” I tell my people, “Call Todd. Call him. Tell him what’s going on and they’ll get on it. They’ll fix it. They’ll tell us how to fix it. They’ll teach us how to fix it in the future.” That’s the other thing, websites, those things need a little maintenance every now and then, it’s like a car. Sometimes you’ve got to go and look under the hood and say, “Is everything running the way it’s supposed to?” You need to be checking your links all the time yourself on your websites because nothing is worse than to throw up a campaign, then one day on the campaign, something happens with your link and you don’t know. If you’re doing some big buildup to land on one day, you better check everything.
I would say even fill out forms on your site, make sure you’re getting the emails because sometimes you can have something. Maybe when you were setting up, when you typed in your email or something, different things like that can happen.
Always have proofreaders go through any of your content that you’re writing, especially on your website. I’m the world’s worst. I blamed it all on spellcheck but that’s not true. It’s me. Can you tell us a success story or have you got anything off the top of your head where the sites panned out for someone that did some great stuff?
I did have somebody told me about the impact of the website. They were an apartment investor. They were trying to do a syndication deal. They went to talk to the agent. In that business, the deals are bigger. Agents and brokers are like gatekeepers. They don’t want to waste their client’s time with people that can’t close. The agent asked, “What experience do you have with apartment investing?” It was their very first deal. What they said was, “Let me direct you to our website. It will answer that for you.” They went and looked at the website and because it was professional, they dropped their questions. They didn’t have any more questions. That person got the deal.
They’ve never said, “I’ve never done a deal before.”
They didn’t have to come out and say that.
That guy knows what he’s doing.
If you’ve got a professional website, it makes you look legit.
It answers that credibility.
That’s the thing that is powerful because it can give you instant credibility. Looking at a site, it gives you an impression.
I can vouch in another venue. I’ve written three books. We’re getting ready to come up with my fourth book. Let’s do a shameless plug. I have a series of My Life & 1,000 Houses. It’s a three-book series, but we’re fixing it to be a four-book series. The first one I put out was Failing Forward to Financial Freedom. It was my story, how I figured out how to do 150 houses a year and owner finance a large portion of them to my buyers on a 30-year fixed note. When I put that book out, I had heard a little bit about getting credibility. I couldn’t believe the credibility that people gave me because I was an author. I couldn’t believe how people admire that you could put the word author before or after your name. It was unbelievable. It’s like someone had given me like when you go to college, they’re giving you a degree.
They give you a PhD or something.
They give me like a PhD as a gift because you’ve spent many years in the industry. They bestow it upon you like knighthood. You didn’t go to college. They give me an honorary degree. I got this honorary recognition. You can get that from a website too. You can get an honorary lift in status because you look good. I’m going to reiterate this. My website makes me money because it introduces me to people that I would not have ever met because there are people searching topics online that you’re going to show up. They’re searching for a topic and then there I am in front of them. They happen to say, “This guy looks interesting or this website looks clean.” They click on it and now they’re a client of mine because they might answer any question or make any move on that site. Now, I have their contact information or a way to contact them. I picked up a lead or a customer out of the blue where I would never have had it. I don’t look at websites as a long-term expense. It’s a very short-term expense until I get my money back, then it’s not an expense at all. It’s an asset.
Credibility is so powerful. That’s a related thing that I’m trying to help my clients with having something on their website that they can give away. You do have that authority when you say, “Here’s this thing that I wrote,” that they are lined up for you, which gives you a way to capture their information. A lot of people come to a website and they bounce off. You’re not directing them anywhere. It’s basically like a business card.
If you don’t have a call to action on your website, you’re missing the boat. That’s what it’s all about. If you want to talk to people or you want to market to them, you have to have a call to action. I was talking to Todd about having a LiveComm number with a free recorded message about the ten ways to do whatever. The reason why we have those phone numbers on our postcards to buy houses and on our website is that people will find your website at not a very convenient time to call you. I use the example all the time. The guy comes in from bowling at 12:30 on Saturday evening. He sits down to drink one last beer. He’s halfway three sheets to the wind. He smokes a cigarette and there’s your postcard. He sits down to do some stuff on the internet before he goes to bed at 12:30 in the evening and there’s your website. He’s not going to call your office. He’s probably not even going to email you at that late at night on the chances that your ping might wake you up. They would call a recorded message because it’s non-confrontational. It’s not going to be bothering anybody.
What happens is that a LiveComm phone number captures their cell phone number and puts it in a distribution list. You can be notified when people listen to a LiveComm number that says, “Someone from this number listens to your recording on your website last night. They called from this number.” There’s a lead. You can call them in the morning when it’s a more acceptable time and say, “I noticed you were on my website. I’m the owner. Anything I can help you with or talk to you about?” There’s a lot of ways we call them. I don’t like the terminology, but it’s called a trap, to trap somebody’s information. Find a way to get what you want. Do you use a lot of things like that? What’s another way besides a recording? Do you know another way besides recorded messages and free stuff? What have you been using?
It is more about giving away something where people give you their name and email. You could ask for a phone number too. It is called a lead magnet. Something that people want and is going to provide value to them that they have to give you some contact information. That’s essentially what you’re describing with the phone number. It’s delivering it in a different way.
Let me tell you how I use it. We’re talking in general on websites now. Let me tell you an idea to get your juices flowing. When I put out my first book, I didn’t have a publisher. I was self-publishing. No one knew who I was. I said, “I’ve got to go out and promote this book.” I didn’t have any ratings on Amazon or anything. I’ve got ten of my family members and I tell everybody this. The first ten ratings on Amazon are me, my family and my friends. Don’t pay attention to those. I told them what to say. They gave me five stars and it’s a starting point, straight up honest. I don’t think there’s anyone in the world in any sense that doesn’t start that way. After that, it’s all legit.
There are ways to encourage five-star ratings. I decided to give away the first 100 pages of my 400-page book. When they did that, they had to give me the email address, but I also asked for their cell phone number. I was surprised that 95% of the people gave me a phone number and gave me the right phone number. What happened is when they downloaded the 100 pages, I had a message sent to my phone saying, “Someone from this email address,” if they gave me the phone number, “and this phone number is downloading your 100 pages now.” If they gave me the phone number, I would pick up the phone. I would call them and I could hear the 100 pages of my book being printed out on their printer in the back sometimes. I would say, “This is Mitch Stephen. I’m the author of My Life & 1000 Houses: Failing Forward to Financial Freedom. I wanted to thank you for downloading the first 100 pages of my book.” Then I’d be quiet.
They would think that there’s a sale coming or a pitch. First of all, they acted like I was Brad Pitt. They couldn’t believe that I was calling them. It was me. The second thing, it was a nice gesture because all I did was to say thank you. That separated me from a lot of people. I didn’t try to sell them anything. Before they hung up, I said, “If you ever want to discuss this book when you finish reading it, if you ever finished reading the whole book and you want to discuss it, you have my phone number now, will you please call me? We’ll discuss the book, what you got out of it or what you liked or didn’t like about it.”People run into dead ends when they're trying to do stuff. Click To Tweet
When people called me, no one called because they didn’t like my book. The only people that called me were people that love the book and wanted to talk. We’ll spend a few minutes talking. It’s unique to find out what other people’s perspective was on the book in fun because they’re talking about my art. It’s not a pain to talk to someone about my art. It’s actually a head rush. At the very end, I’d say, “I’m not famous by a long shot. No one knows I exist. The only reason anyone reads this book is because of the five-star reviews. If you ever want to do me a favor, go put a five-star review on Amazon. They don’t buy four-star review books or 4.5. They buy five-star review books. You might want to do that.” Every single one of them did it. If you want to go to Amazon.com and look up Mitch Stephen and my books, I have 250 five-star reviews and about 3, 4, 5 or 6 other kinds of reviews. If it wasn’t for that one tactic, I’d have no reviews at all probably. That’s one way you can do things. It’s a long story but I wanted to say, if you get creative about what you’re doing, you can find a way to get what you want and be a great guy.
Taking that personal interest in people, nobody does that. What author calls up people that buy their book? That’s by going the extra mile, doing something that people aren’t expecting.
I called them all, but I put a gate, “If they would do X then I would do something.” That limited a lot of people. I wasn’t getting inundated. Still to this day, I put my phone number on the front cover of all my books. No one ever calls me. It’s like the pretty girl at the high school, no one ever asked her out.
You don’t expect to get through. That’s powerful doing that thing. Those reviews then boost your credibility too.
It’s a big circle. It can be a vicious circle or it can be a great circle. You had the right things being written. Is there anything else you want to say to any of the apartment investors out there? Is there anything I’ve left out or should have asked and didn’t?
One little point is another thing a website can do for you is automating things. We were talking about when people sign up for things, put them in your CRM service or your email marketing system or something that will automate the follow-up because that can save you a lot of time. Also, make sure it gets done consistently and everybody gets this.
I didn’t think about that, the automation. I was talking about some automation. When someone downloaded my 100 pages, I got a text. I was posed with the option, “Do you want to call them or you’re too busy and let it slide or do you want to call them later?” I like calling them right then because that was the magic of it. I can still hear my pages being printed out. Automate them to go into your funnel. If you have a funnel or a CRM, it basically means there’s a set number of things that they’re going to get from you in the future, “They’re going to get this on the day after tomorrow. They’re going to get this immediately. They’re going to get this in three days. They’re going to get this in two weeks.” You set up a drip campaign or a funnel. You drip on them. One thing you don’t want to do, in my humble opinion, is beat some people up with some stuff every day. Make sure that what you’re sending them is of value to them, not so much of value to you. You have to earn their trust and you have to become a guy that they recognize, “This guy gives a lot. I should give back and respond or give him a review. I should do something because this guy is giving a lot.”
I agree completely because there are people that send out emails every day. It trains you not to open them because there’s no way it’s going to be valuable every single day. Most of it is not going to be relevant to you. If you don’t send it out too much and what you send out as high quality, it’s valuable, you get something out of it every time. You’re training people to open those emails. Every one of those emails is building a relationship. It’s one-sided but it is because they’re learning something about you. They are gaining trust for you. By the time you have an actual in-person phone call or face to face, they already know. They already trust you. That’s powerful that you can automate that process.
It’s unbelievable what you can do. Even this show, with complete transparency, I make some money off this show. You’ve got something to sell and you have affiliate programming. I may get a commission check from you, but the point is you have to let people know that there’s stuff available. You’ve got to get back to the content and the valuable stuff right away. People don’t return to this show or any other show or any other websites if it’s constantly trying to sell them something, that’s not the issue. I’m trying to interview business people that have been there, they know what they’re doing and trying to network them or connect to this show. People that need or want to learn about what you’re doing.
If it goes further than that, great. We made a great connection for someone. It’s not a forced or contrived thing. I’m trying to interview interesting people that this show is for real estate investors, entrepreneurs, motivational or inspirational. If the person can fit in one of those four categories, then I’d like to interview them. By the way, if you know someone that fits those four categories, please email me at Mitch@1000houses.com. Introduce me to them or tell them to call me. We’ll have a conversation and figure out something I will interview. That’s what it’s about. I have 17,000 downloads a month. That doesn’t happen because of infomercial. I am delivering content about things that are important and hopefully, people get a nugget that they can add. Stop using Yahoo and Gmail in your email. It’s freaking crazy.
That’s free advertising and you’re giving it to a huge conglomerate that doesn’t need your little effort. You’re counting on it. They want you to advertise for them. Stop that. That’s a good nugget there. That email will be with you for the rest of your life and be in front of millions and millions of people. Make sure that your email says what you do. Sometimes that’s difficult. Mitch@IBuyHouses or Mitch@CashForHouses.net. What is it I do? Apparently, he pays cash for houses or he buys houses. Don’t get a domain name that you can put on a billboard somewhere. No one would know what it means that you do. That last app, Whatever.com, has to be explicitly clear about what it is you do or what it is you want from them.
I think, especially with the single-family investors, that’s especially critical. I found that sometimes with multifamily investors, the ones that are trying to get raised money. Sometimes it makes sense for them. They use their business name, their LLC or whatever as that for the brand but depending on the goals.
It could be harder in this case like LiveComm. That’s a difficult one to make. What does LiveComm do? I’ve thought about that a lot, but I’ve got to go with LiveComm because that’s the name of the company. I have them brand it some other way. In other cases when you can, like Mitch and I renovate furniture, enough said, “The person needs renovating, I know where to get a hold of the guy. I’ll probably find his phone number and there is pricing and everything. I know where it is.” That’s the whole point. I want to thank you for taking the time. Let’s reiterate that you can go get the seven-point checklist for building a multifamily website. You can also get a report on how to build credibility as an apartment investor.
If you go to 1000houses.com/aptsite, there will be show notes. You will have contact information, you can talk to Todd about your website needs. He also builds single-family, we buy houses websites. If you’ve got a website need, talk to him. If he doesn’t do it, maybe he recommends you to someone who knows that specializes in that. Send them an email. If this is your issue, start taking some action, please. There are a lot of businesses out there waiting for you that you haven’t even come close to reaching yet because you’re not online or not online professionally. Todd, thanks a lot for taking the time.
Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
It’s always a pleasure. You did good work. I’d like to thank TaxFreeFuture.com. Please go out there and check it out because you will not believe what your financial advisors are not telling you.
About Todd Heitner
Todd Heitner has been building websites for over 2 decades, with a focus on real estate investor websites for the past 15 years. He wanted to make it easier for real estate investors to get a website up and running that will capture leads and make them look more professional without breaking the bank. His business, Done Deal Website, aims to do just that.
Todd and his wife live in Virginia and like to hike the Appalachian Trail and play music. They’ve designed their lives to be able to travel and spend time doing what they love and enjoy helping investors do the same. On this episode, Todd shares the importance of having a professional website as real estate investor, and some of the elements of good website design.