One of my favorite websites is Photography for Real Estate and Larry does an amazing job of keeping new content, ideas and tips flowing on his blog like few others. A while back, he pointed out a WordPress theme an agent named Link Moser was using to power a single property website and I fell in love with this theme and now am trying to figure out how to use it almost exclusively as well.
The problem with creating single property websites and then using it as the virtual tour for our listings is that we typically have to have an unbranded version with no contact information for it to be used as a virtual tour. Now, as nice as it is to make one of these sites, it really becomes too time consuming to make two of them for each listing. Not anymore!
Here is the Scoop
If you do a lot of these for yourself as an agent or if you do them for clients as a real estate photographer, it can be done one a single domain using the WordPress multisite feature and one simple plugin that allows you to make the website for the property one time and then copy it in exact form and simply add the branded pages to the second site in seconds!
Here is how to do it:
Pick a domain and install WordPress. Add this language to your wp-congig.php file:
/* Multisite */ define('WP_ALLOW_MULTISITE', true);
Download the plugin called Blog Copier here: http://wordpress.org/plugins/blog-copier/
This creates a domain that can have unlimited sites on it and a plugin that will copy a site in exact form. You simply go to the network admin and click “create new site”, enter the name and admin email and then select your theme and create your site the same way you do any other WordPress site. The new website will have the name something like the: example.com/123-main-st (you pick the name)
Once that first site is created with the content, images, etc…that you want, you simply go back to the network admin and copy that site and give it a new address like this: example.com/123-main-st-vt. 30 seconds later, that new site is up on that URL and it is an exact duplicate of the first one. All you have left to do is add your branding and contact page and you are done!
I suppose it’s possible to create a template site to start each one with by selecting the theme and creating that site with a home page, photo, page, etc…and then copying it to create your virtual tour (unbranded) and single property website (branded) or you could just go in and create the unbranded version and when it’s completed, copy that site – photo gallery, content and all – and then just add the branding to the second site. Either way, it is simple and pain free and it allows you to cut a great deal of time out of having to recreate that second site.
For a real estate photographer, this is a great service to offer and for an agent, it makes it more palatable to now make both versions so you can market your brand and the house at the same time!
Look, as an agent, I want to make sure the photos are great, but I want the display of the photos to be be equal to the photos themselves. This allows for a beautiful tour and showcase of the property and in a way that can be used on all of the important marketing channels including as a virtual tour in the MLS.
Other Benefits, Possible Reservations
One other great thing with this is that if you use this one theme and only this one theme you will very quickly know how to create it and get it live. I can knock one out in 30 minutes and 5 minutes later, I have the duplicate branded one complete.
If you don’t like the idea of not having the single property website on it’s own domain, just buy the domain name you want and use a redirect to send it here. It may be important for marketing materials to have a custom vanity URL and that’s ok too…
If you have any, just leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to help
With this theme that Link and I are using, you have to be careful of the license you have as the one I have for this theme is only good for one use at a time. There are lots of other themes, many of which have full size background images. Here is a good resource for them. I may ultimately switch to one of these if I can only use them in my example at the top on one site at a time…