Real Estate YouTube Spotlight: Bern and Courtney’s Perfect Fundamentals

best beginner strategies for real estate agents on YouTube
Founder of InboundREM an inbound marketing lead generation company focused on SEO. Blogger. Real Estate SEO expert. Real Estate Lead Generation expert. Real estate online marketing fanatic. Podcaster. Occasional public speaker and frequent vlogger.

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Real Estate YouTube Fundamentals

When I reached out to Bern, I was not surprised to find out he’s had impressive GCI increases due to his YouTube channel leads.

He had plateaued at about $12 million in transactions before committing to his channel. The following year, he saw $44 million in sales. Last year, he had $51 million. 

That’s a 367% increase in GCI after one year and a 425% increase after two years.

Given an average commission around 2.5% for San Diego realtors, that’s an estimated $1.3 million in annual commissions. 

Bern estimates that 2/3 of his leads are YouTube generated. In other words, his YouTube efforts generated $867,000 in commissions in the second year of its development. 

If you’re thinking of committing to YouTube, here’s the perfect roadmap to maximizing your success right off the bat.

1. Thumbnails

Check out these example thumbnails from Bern and Courtney. We’re going to use them as models of the best tips for creating thumbnails that intrigue, engage, and most of all, get clicks.

Keep It Simple

Keep It Simple

This is the most effective type of thumbnail. The majority of your content should look this simple.

What this thumbnail highlights perfectly is the wording. Bern and Courtney used white and yellow lettering, a bold font, and an extra-large, mobile-friendly font size. Choosing a background color that allows the words to pop was also a smart move.

Plus, it’s also extremely simple for the eye to digest. That’s huge! Do not underestimate how many viewers are on mobile, maybe with mediocre lighting.

The Story

The Story

This is a strong example of a thumbnail that manages to tell a story without feeling overcrowded. It also uses strong color contrast to make the image pop. That said, it is definitely pushing the limit of how much the eye can digest.

If at this point you’re thinking, “Well I can’t do that.”, then good. I can’t say this enough. You shouldn’t be creating your own thumbnails, no matter your budget or level or experience. Hire a college student or go to Fiverr, but let someone else do this crucial aspect.

There is a graveyard of real estate agent YouTube channels that never took off for one reason: bad thumbnails. If you create a video a week, it should cost you $250-$400 for a year of thumbnails. It will probably be the best money you spend in your real estate marketing life.

The Mystery

The Mystery

Mystery and intrigue are excellent ways to get clicks, but they can be difficult to pull off from a graphic design standpoint.

A strong graphic designer will be able to do this without much instruction. However, it’s always smart to send example thumbnails to your graphic designer. You can view our list of 50+ amazing examples of real estate YouTube thumbnail designs, or you can download the image pack below.

The Freak Out

The Freak Out

Another strong angle to take with your videos, and subsequently your titles and thumbnails, is light scare tactics. I’m not saying heavy doomsday predictions. No sandwich boards declaring the real estate apocalypse. No nuclear bombs dropping on a family residence.

But a pretty house on fire next to a headache expression? Or a gravestone beside a shocked expression. Yes, absolutely. For more ideas about leveraging negativity effectively, check out our YouTuber spotlight on Jeremy Knight.

The Opinion

The Opinion

Opinion-based thumbnails are one area I think Bern and Courtney could improve. So I’ve switched here to content from another highly successful San Diego real estate YouTuber.

You can check out our full YouTube spotlight on Dan Parker. I really encourage you to take a look for lots of advanced techniques and lots of little details you didn’t know you could optimize much better.

To be fair, it’s no easy task to create thumbnails that express an opinion, especially if you’re limiting yourself to two words of text. One tip is to be either controversial or superlative. By superlative, I mean talking about the very best of something, like a neighborhood. Alternatively, you can talk about the worst of something.

The Pretty

The Wink

Obviously you should remain completely professional. You might accompany millionaires to the most luxurious properties in town, but you’re not that kind of escort. If you occasionally include a drop or two of physical attractiveness, you’ll see a positive boost.

Key Takeaways

The main takeaway from this section is to hire a professional with experience creating real estate thumbnails. You can easily buy them from $5 per thumbnail or cheaper. When you hire someone, follow these tips:

  • Find freelancers that do what this section advises
  • Make sure you can ask for 2-3 revisions
  • Audition 3-5 graphic designers
  • Bundle orders (3-4 at a time) for better pricing
  • Submit 2-3 perfect examples of what you want
  • Find someone you can work with long-term

For that last point, that means someone who communicates with native fluency and provides you with a consistent style (Think branding!). But it also means someone in that sweet spot between available but not too available.

Beyond that, here’s a checklist of the tips for creating the best thumbnails. They are loosely ordered by importance.

  Large, clear, expressive faces
  Tell a story, give an opinion, scare the viewer, create mystery, or ask a question (Ideally 2+)
  Keep it simple for the eye (simple background, clear face, very short text)
  Bold fonts in big sizes (mobile-friendly)
  White and/or yellow text
  A varied range of 0-4 word texts (0-2 is best)
  Use color contrast to make things pop
  Use backgrounds that allow white or yellow words to pop

More Tips

  • Include fire, cash, and gravestones where relevant
  • Use a box light for clear, bright facial expressions
  • Study other agent YouTubers every time you search

For that last tip, I mean ask yourself which thumbnail for each search makes you want to click the most. Then ask yourself why. Often the answer will be the sum of many parts. Pay attention to those details.

Was there a white outline around a face that made the contrast perfect?

2. Video Topics

Best Ideas for Real Estate Videos

It’s immediately clear that Bern and Courtney have a solid content map that targets the right kind of content at the right pace. Here’s a list of the kinds of videos they create.

  Living In (Insert Area) Pros and Cons
  Moving to (Insert Area)
  General Things to Do Lists
  Specific Things to Do (Legoland, Best Beaches, etc)
  Best Neighborhoods/Suburbs
  Where to Live in (Insert City)
  Best Places to Live in (Insert State)
  Cost of Living
  Listing Tours
  Generational Content (Kids, Millennials, Gen Z)
  City Comparisons (San Diego vs Los Angeles)
  Q&A Sessions About Local Life
  Local Housing Market Reports
  Should I Buy a House in (Insert Area)?
  New Construction/Best Home Builders
  Best School Districts
  Best Bars, Restaurants, Date Night Activities
  Reactions to Economic Trends

Now here’s something about video topics that new real estate agent YouTubers often don’t realize. Video traffic can be much more spiky than blog content. It’s normal for traffic to spike at the beginning and then fade rather quickly.

Sometimes content gets a second wind when the algorithm starts publishing a video on homepage feeds. But generally speaking, new content is king.

That means the above list should provide you with basically all of the content topics you need. You need to find ways to repackage the same concept multiple times in order to continually have somewhat recently published videos for all the major keywords.

Major keywords would include “Moving to (Insert City)” or “Best Places to Live in (Insert City)” rather than “Best Cafes in (City)” or “(Insert Neighborhood) Tour”.

Repackaging Major Video Topics

Let’s break down how you can stay trending for the highest-traffic keywords by repackaging content in different ways.

Living In
  Pros and Cons (City, State, County, Etc.)
  Living In (Area) Life Hacks
  Things No One Tells You About Living In…
  Why Are People Leaving…
  The Truth About Living In (Area) Q&A
  Things We Miss About Living In…
  The Reality of Living In…
  Homes of Celebrities that Live In…
  Expectations vs Reality
Moving To
  Reasons You Should Move To…
  Moving to (Area) From Another State
  Things We Wished We Knew Before Moving To…
  Moving to (Insert neighborhood, suburb, etc)
  Why I Moved From X to Y
  (Replacing “Moving to” with “Coming to”)
  The Reddit Guide to Moving To/Living In… (Example Video)
Buy A Home
  Top Places to Buy a Home in…
  Should You Wait Until (Insert Year) to Buy a Home In…?
  Is Now the Time to Buy a Home in…?
  Avoid Buying a Home in (Insert Area, Suburb, etc)
Things to Do
  Best Things to Do
  Affordable Things to Do
  Free Things to Do
  Things to Do When it Rains/Snows/Etc.
  Things You Should Never Do
Best Places to Live
  Best Places to Live in (City, State, County, Etc)
  Best Places to Live in (Area) for Empty Nesters, Families, Etc.
Cost of Living
  The Real Cost of Living
  Year-Based Cost of Living
  Hidden Cost of Living
  Cost of Living City Comparisons
  Best Neighborhoods In…
  Most Walkable Neighborhoods
  Best Neighborhoods for Families/Singles/Millennials/Etc
  Neighborhoods with Best Deals/”Secret Neighborhoods”
  Best New Construction Neighborhoods
  Most Expensive Neighborhoods

By using these variations on a theme plus the topics above, you probably have enough content ideas for 2 years. I would recommend creating a repackaged video every about 3-6 months if possible.

Keep in mind another added benefit. When deciding how much to push your content, YouTube will factor in how much existing content you have on a topic. It demonstrates the expertise and focus of your channel to the algorithm.

3. SEO-Smart Channel Titles

New real estate agent YouTubers often overlook this fundamental tip. It’s essential to choose a channel title that targets a powerful local keyword. Check out the search results for “living in San Diego”.

SEO-Smart Channel Titles

If you can’t read those channel titles, they are the following:

  • Nicholas Miele – Living in San Diego California
  • Living in San Diego with Bern & Courtney
  • Danny Quesada – San Diego CA Living
  • Dan Parker – Best Life San Diego

That’s not a coincidence. YouTube factors in channel titles significantly when determining the ranking for search terms.

When choosing (or renaming) your YouTube channel, it’s important to have your name and your area. If you want to include some form of “Living in…” or “Moving to..” or “Real estate” phrase as well, that’s a smart strategy.

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Real Estate YouTuber Spotlights

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