While many on social media refer to their jobs as influencers, there are those who exert sway by simply doing something that others want to emulate. That’s what Haley Ingram does.
She developed Coffee & Contracts as a solution to her own struggles with a very common problem: finding new clients during her first few years as a real estate agent. While Ingram was bartending occasionally to supplement what she brought in as an agent, she also knew she needed to get creative and tap into another skillset to get in front of more potential clients.
Ingram, who had been a marketing intern for a real estate company in college, turned to designing templates in Canva to generate potential leads on Instagram. Soon she was finding more success with clients, but in a way she didn’t originally envision. Other agents started to take notice of her Instagram efforts, and eventually Ingram started designing and collaborating with them on their social media outreach as well. She even had an Etsy store where Canva templates for real estate agents were available for purchase.
Then, Ingram herself became influenced by a personal trainer who created a subscription service for clients with a weekly workout plan and an accompanying Facebook group to further build community. She took that model and set about providing similar services for real estate agents.
Not only does Coffee & Contracts offer social media templates, from blog posts to reels and quick captions, it also has a members-only Facebook group and offers training and support to build and keep agents’ social media skills fresh. The company currently has 5,400 members.
“The brokerages are really pushing for their agents to have a presence on social, as that’s how many people locate their agent nowadays, and it’s also a great place for networking,” Ingram says. “Unfortunately, many agents don’t know where to begin with this type of marketing or lack confidence in it.”
While Ingram’s youth was initially seen as a barrier when she was a real estate agent, given that she hadn’t bought or sold a house herself, it’s now a huge benefit. Within three months of launching Coffee & Contracts in Fall 2019, Ingram was able to leave both her bartending and real estate jobs and simply focus on her new membership subscription service.
“I grew up with social, so I can really explain how it works and help agents of all ages feel more confident using it,” she says. “We also have tutorials and trainings and offer hands-on training as well. We teach agents how to use their own images, videos and branding in our templates to make it unique to them and their brand. In everything we do, we’re helping them stand out from the competition, and saving our members both time and guesswork so they don’t have to start from scratch.”
Ingram explains that quality in posts is more critical than quantity: “If you’re just trying to up your post count with filler or generic content, that’s not going to attract sellers and buyers. It would be better to post once a week but have something with personalization.”
While Ingram successfully took matters into her own hands during her years as a real estate agent, she knows that influencers have to look outside themselves sometimes to further their reach. That’s where partnerships come into play. Ingram’s meter of determining what value a potential partnership could provide has everything to do with the needs of Coffee & Contract’s current and potential followers.
“Our partners help us fill in the gaps of what we don’t currently offer our members,” she says.
Given that Ingram wants to reach more real estate agents with the Coffee & Contracts opportunity, potential partners are also seen as more favorable if they have a large social media following or a following that contains a different audience or demographic than her business currently has. She finds her partners via Instagram, word of mouth or referrals from some of her current partners.
“It’s been my experience that agents enjoy helping each other out,” Ingram says, “and our affiliate partnership program offers them that opportunity.”
Her first partnership, a collaboration with The Broke Agent, occurred soon after Coffee & Contracts launched. While Coffee & Contracts contains more educational content, The Broke Agent brought a lighter side of humor and memes. He provides members with these types of templates on a monthly basis.
“This partnership has definitely helped contribute to our success,” Ingram says. “He was doing something similar, so when I reached out to him to have an initial conversation, the collaboration seemed to make sense.”
The Broke Agent also reaps the benefit. He gets a commission on each member he brings in, as long as they stay a member until they cancel their membership, and in return he provides Coffee & Contracts monthly templates.
Partnership opportunities also extend to the Coffee & Contract’s members-only Facebook Live events. “In those Facebook Lives, he’ll discuss how he grew his Instagram following, and our members will have the chance to ask him questions,” Ingram explains.
Ingram is also building partnerships with real estate influencers such as Stevie Hahn and Erica Richmond. They are real estate agents who use Coffee & Contracts for their own social media and teach other agents how to use the service as well.
What does Ingram see for the future? She’s currently the only full-time employee at Coffee & Contracts, with six contractors on the team.
“I want to continue growing this business, even further improving the user experience, and expanding out into other industries such as mortgage and title,” she says. “Partnerships will help enable that growth – there are a lot of people I look up to in the real estate world that I would love to work with in this capacity.”
Photos courtesy of Haley Ingram
Jill McDonnell is a Chicago-based content writer and communications professional. She has a bachelor's degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a master's degree in public relations and advertising from DePaul University. She is currently at work on a psychological thriller novel.