Are you a self-managing landlord who’d like an easy and efficient way of providing information to potential and existing renters? Or perhaps you’re a landlord or property developer who’s looking to attract angel investors.
If so, let me talk you through how you can do this by creating your own website.
Websites can be very inexpensive to set up and run, and they’re not reliant on the algorithm of a social media platform.
In this blog post, I explain how websites can attract tenants, angel investors, clients and also serve as a mini tenant portal. I go through the costs of Wix and WordPress, share tips on the pages to create, and explain how landlords can hire good value web developers from online platforms like Fiverr.
In writing this post, I draw on my experience of running The Independent Landlord and the website for my property business, Suzanne Smith Properties, which is for tenants.
Quick Links: A Guide for Property Businesses on Creating Websites
- Before we start: Google your name and your business name
- Why websites are useful for landlords and property investors
- How much does a website cost to set up and run?
- How to bring traffic to your property business website
- Can ChatGPT help you create quality property content?
- What if you can’t or don’t want to build a website yourself?
- Make sure your web developer uses a recognised platform
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Before we start: Google your name and your business name
Try Googling your name or the name of your business. What do you see?
Without a website, it will be a hotch-potch of things. For property investors, it’ll probably be the entry in Companies House for your limited companies, followed by social media or random press articles and podcast interviews. Maybe even a photo you’ve been tagged on Facebook.
If you have your own website, and it’s properly optimised for the search engines, your name or your business name should come first.
You can see in the image above, that when. I search for “Suzanne Smith Landlord”, this website comes first, and even my simple landlord website, Suzanne Smith Properties, ranks on Google above my Instagram account. I don’t mind LinkedIn profile featuring as it mostly features posts being a landlord, and is aligned with this blog and my landlord website.
Bear this in mind when you read the rest of this blog post.
Why websites are useful for landlords and property investors
Websites are an effective way of presenting your property business to prospective and future renters, investors and clients. It’s easy to register a domain name that has your business brand name, and which means you can also set up a professional, branded email account.
A good website showcases your branding, approach and professionalism to the world. It’s a branded space within your control, that doesn’t rely on a social media algorithm. It can also bring new leads if it’s optimised for the search engines like Google.
Websites are a practical solution for landlords with portfolios. They’re an efficient way of making policies available to renters, and to include an information page with FAQs that answer common questions. Your website is independent of property management software, but can be used in conjunction with tenant and property management software such as Landlord Vision.
Blogs can be an excellent way of bringing traffic to a website, even if it’s just one post a month. It can establish you as a thought-leader in your investment area, and enable you to differentiate yourself.
Publishing regular new content that’s genuinely useful, optimised for search engines, and not some generic AI drivel, scrapped off the internet by ChatGPT, will bring traffic and leads. Show how you’re different. It can also give potential investors or business partners something polished to read when they’re duing their due diligence.
I will now go through a few specific examples of how websites can be useful for landlords and property businesses.
1. Websites can attract tenants
Classhouse Property director, Devon Parker, says she uses their website very much as a “store front” to attract prospective tenants, where they can register their interest. This gives her a waiting list of applicants for her next vacancy.
When a renter enters into a tenancy agreement, Devon gives them access to the tenant portal on Landlord Vision, where they have access to the relevant information and documents.
With good search engine optimisation, a website is a cost effective way of attracting tenants.
2. Websites can attract investors, off-market deals and clients
Although social media is an important tool to attract investors, off-market deals and clients for property businesses, a website that is optimised for the search engines can be very helpful in establishing credibility.
However, if you’re looking to attract investors, you need to be very careful not to fall foul of the FCA rules. Whilst it’s fine to include content on your website that showcases your projects and demonstrates credibility, you should not be “pitching” on your website or social media for investment.
FCA compliance is very complex. If this is something you’d like to know more about, The Investables is a membership that provides training and support on raising investor finance. It’s run by Caryn Yuen and Antoine Dufresne who both have solid FCA experience.
When potential investors and partners do their due diligence, they will most likely Google you. If you have a website, you will be able to publish compelling content that is targeted for investors and partners (and FCA compliant of course), and even optimise it to ranks well on Google (search engine optimisation, or SEO).
An excellent example is the website of KoMo Properties, a property investment company specialising in properties in the West Midlands, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire, run by Kim and Mike Opszala. Their website targets investors and landlords looking to sell properties, and it appears as number 1 for a Google search on KoMo Properties.
>> Related Post: How to use social media as a property investor
3. Create your own mini tenant portal
For landlords whose portfolios aren’t big enough for a tenant management system, a website can serve as a mini tenant portal.
I set up a simple website, Suzanne Smith Properties, to provide renters with information about renting a property from me. I don’t use tenant management software, so I created my own mini tenant portal on my website. It includes an online House Manual for every property, where I can upload the various certificates (EPCs, EICRs, Gas Safety Certificates etc), and answer the questions I’m commonly asked. It’s also somewhere for me to host my Pet Policy and tenant FAQs.
I provide the details of the website to shortlisted renters when they come for a viewing, so they can read the FAQs and Pet Policy. Once they move in, I give them the URL for their House Manual page, and the password.
Here is a template version of my House Manual page. This acts as as a House Manual, and I make a QR code of the page using Adobe Express and give it to them they move in.
4. Use your website to grown an email list
It’s easy to grow an email list if you have a website. Platforms like MailerLite enable you to create different sign up forms that make easy for people to sign up for a regular newsletter, with embedded forms and pop ups.
MailerLite a fantastic email platform, and it’s free until you reach 1,000 subscribers.
It has have lots of templates of forms that you can customise, and you can even segment subscribers into different lists depending which form they use (for instance “renters” or “investors”). This means you can send them different newsletters. You can see and example of one of their forms below, for my free landlord manual. This manual is a “lead magnet” to encourage people to sign up.
MailerLite also has an easy to use drag and drop newsletter builder. You can also set up automated emails to go out when someone subscribes or expresses an interest. The pop-ups and forms to invite people to subscribe are easy to use too. I’ve inserted an example of an embedded sign up form with an image just before this section, and one without an image at the end of the post.
To find out more and register for a free trial (which you can continue for free under 1,000 subscribers), click here for MailerLite
How much does a website cost to set up and run?
There are two main options for landlords to set up a website: Wix and WordPress. The costs are a range as they depend on the options chosen. These costs assume that the landlord or their VA builds the website themselves.
However, if you or your VA does not have the time, expertise or inclination to build a website, it’s easy to find someone to do it for you on Fiverr. This is a direct link to Fiverr’s WordPress web developers, and this is the page for Fiverr’s Wix web developers.
As a general comment, WordPress is significantly more popular than Wix, and is used by over 60% of websites around the world (Source: W3 Techs). Wix, on the other hand, has under 4% market share. I personally use WordPress for all of my websites.
Wix – all in one – £90-240 pa
Wix packages up website building and website hosting and has the advantage of being a one-stop-shop that is fairly easy to use to set up a basic website.
This bundling takes away the choice that can seem overwhelming when you have your first website. You can also pay extra to have branded email operated by Gmail.
I used Wix when I first started. It’s fine for a basic website but I wouldn’t recommend it for blogging.
The Wix plans which enable you to have your own domain name without Wix branding range from £7.50 – £20 pcm. Emails from Gmail are extra.
WordPress – self-hosted – £36-£145 pa
WordPress is an open source content management system, or structure, which you customise to your own needs. The platform itself is free, but you need to pay for hosting, and probably also a theme.
Which website host do I recommend?
For my property website, Suzanne Smith Properties, I use SiteGround as the host. I have the GrowBig package for multiple websites which is £4.99 pcm for my websites, including The Independent Landlord.
SiteGround are superb, and have a good value option (StartUp) for one site that is currently £2.99 pcm, including a basic email account with the domain. I use this free email account for my Suzanne Smith Properties website, but pay for a discounted Gmail account for The Independent Landlord.
SiteGround comes with a lot of bundled extras such as a free domain name for the first year, a free secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate, free CDN, and site statistics. The customer service is excellent.
Which theme do I recommend?
WordPress themes govern how how a looks, and means you can build a website without knowing how to code.
I use the Astra theme for all of my websites, including this one, and I recommend it highly. Astra do have a free version, but it’s fairly limited. I pay for the Growth Bundle as I need the functionality for this website. However, it’s more than possible to have either the basic Astra Pro package for $47 pa (£38 pa) or the mid-range one that includes starter templates for $137 pa (£109 pa) – currency as at 26 August.
Do you need plugins for a simple website?
If you’re just hosting a simple information website, and you use SiteGround for its packaged security, you won’t need to pay for plugins.
For Suzanne Smith Properties, I just have the free versions of Yoast SEO and WP Forms for the contact form. I also use the free Spectra plugin to increase the types of blocks I can use (eg an Info Box which combines an image text and a call to action button, and FAQs). You can see the Info Boxes on my home page.
How to bring traffic to your property business website
What is your target audience?
The most important thing when setting up a website is to be clear on your target audience. The content will be very different for (say) angel investors as opposed to prospective tenants (like Classhouse Property).
Once you know your target audience, you can write content that speaks to them, and optimise it for the search engines.
How can Search Engine Optimisation help your website?
It is possible to use search engine optimisation (SEO) to target your chosen audience of (say) angel investors instead of tenants.
SEO involves improving a website to help it appear in a higher position in organic search results. These are the results that appear in the search pages on sites like Google, that haven’t been sponsored and aren’t advertisements.
SEO is highly effective, but takes time to work. It took about six months before this website started attracting significant traffic from Google.
Why a blog can increase traffic to your property business website
One effective way of increasing traffic to your website is to publish regular new high quality content that is optimised for the search engines.
In time, not only can this build credibility and establish you as an authority in your field, but it can also help you to rank more highly on Google.
Blogging does take a lot of time and effort, and it’s unlikely to have a significant impact on increasing traffic to your website if you just publish a short blog post every now and then.
Can ChatGPT help you create quality property content?
In a word, no. Don’t be tempted to rely on ChatGPT for property-related content creation, as it’s stuck in September 2021, and is often wildly inaccurate. The technical term is that it “hallucinates”.
ChatGPT doesn’t “think” independently. It’s a “large language model” that is the product of sophisticated mathematical calculations of what words are most likely to come after other words. The text that ChatGPT generates is based on a probability distribution. It’s like a very advanced and sophisticated version of the predictive text on a mobile phone.
As ChatGPT doesn’t think independently, it won’t generate exceptionally good content independently. It only knows what it has been trained on, and that knowledge hasn’t been independently verified. It can get better if you provide detailed prompts and keep going back to refine the question. But it doesn’t “learn” and sometimes won’t remember what you’ve asked from one question to the next.
For instance, when I ask “tell me about the Renters Reform Bill in England”, it says it’s likely to include right to rent checks, new rules on EPCs, and a standard tenancy agreements all landlords must use. (All of which are wrong).
If you ask ChatGPT for suggested topics for blog posts, it will advise you based on the world September 2021, back when interest rates in the UK were still 0.25% and CPI inflation 3.1%!
Whilst ChatGPT can be useful for synonyms and rephrasing sentences, I’d leave it well alone for your content creation.
What if you can’t or don’t want to build a website yourself?
Although I have personally built all of my websites, I appreciate that not everyone has the time, patience, expertise or inclination to do it themselves. As an aside, whilst I provide consultancy services on strategy and content, I don’t build websites for other people.
It’s not a problem if you don’t want to build your own website. It’s easy to find a web developer to do it for you on Fiverr. Here is a direct link to Fiverr’s WordPress web developers, and this is the page for Fiverr’s Wix web developers.
Make sure your web developer uses a recognised platform
One big bit of advice is to make sure your web developer uses a recognised platform like WordPress or even Wix. The reason is that it’ll be easier and cheaper to maintain, and you won’t be beholden to your web developer to make changes.
Let’s use an analogy. If you want to create a document, you’d use Word or a pdf. Even the great might of Apple can’t get people onto Pages, despite it being pre-bundled on MacBooks. Everyone knows how Word and pdfs work. Don’t do the equivalent of building a website that no-one else knows how to use.
The good thing about WordPress is that it’s constantly being updated, and once you learn the basics, you can do it yourself. It’s customisable. Over 60% of the world’s websites are built using WordPress. This is greater than the percentage of companies using either Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps (Source: Enlyft).
Don’t be a maverick and choose a niche platform that very few web developers or SEO experts know how to work. If you’re wanting a simple website that is easy to maintain and optimise, then go for either WordPress or Wix.
Websites are now so inexpensive to set up and run, that they’re a good option for savvy landlords and property investors to establish themselves as a brand and create their own space.
Instead of leaving the visibility of your property business in the hands of social media, why not take control of your own narrative by creating a website with quality content.
Do make sure you choose the right platform, and know how to optimise the content for the search engines so it will appear in Google search results.
>> Related Post: How can landlords use tech to manage their own portfolios?