Expert Panelist; Rob Blake

Rob Blake is one of our expert panelists. Many may remember his long running “The Mortgage Insiders” radio show on Saturday mornings. Today, Rob uses blogging to accomplish many of the same goals. At the event Rob will be covering strategies for making your blog an effective business tool.

What do you like to blog about?

We blog about mortgage and real estate consumer issues…that’s all. No funny posts or link baiting posts…only usable information for consumers to steer them in the right direction when making real estate or mortgage purchasing decisions.

I know a lot of bloggers use antagonistic or sensationalized posts to create a lot of “buzz” or link backs to their posts. We don’t do that. Our first rule of thumb when deciding what to write is, “Will the reader learn anything of importance from reading this post?”

Where do you go, or what do you do to find topics to blog about?

Being a mortgage professional for over 15 years, Terri and I have a plethora of personal experiences with current and past clients to locate areas of consumer confusion to rectify.

In addition to the “street level” mortgage and real estate advice, we look for the “story behind the story” type of article. In a financial world where not a lot of due diligence is performed when giving advice in the media, we look for story planted in the main stream media that may have an “agenda”.

For example, when the home builders lobby trots out there “Chief Economic Advisor” to tell us all how great the market is for new homes…that smells fishy. So I gather the real numbers and economic data and debunk the obviously planted story full of bad advice.

We look behind the scenes to get the truth on dangerous loan programs, deceptive advertisements, bad companies, and politically influenced public policy that is designed to cheat mortgage and real estate consumers. Since both industries are enormously and intentionally confusing, this is a consumer need I don’t see evaporating anytime soon.

How does blogging fit into your overall marketing plan, or does it?

Truth telling is always good business, but that’s not why we do it. We are dedicated to provide the “inside information” on these industries mainly because it’s so hard to find.

The internet is without a doubt the greatest tool consumer could ever hope to find to shield themselves from rip-off artists. Our goal is to have The Mortgage Insider Blogsite the number 1 resource for unbiased mortgage and real estate information. The big mortgage websites are compromised by the advertisers so they dare not say anything uncomplimentary to the industry heavy weights.

We don’t have that problem…and we never will.

If there was anything you could change about your blog to make it better, what would it be?

We are looking in to developing training video so we can do an actual “evening news” style podcast to replace our weekly audio Mortgage Insiders News podcast.

They say 2007 will be the year of the Vlog…video blog. We believe they are right.

In addition to your own blog, you also contribute quite a bit of content to Active Rain. Can you explain the motivation or strategy behind this?

Believe it or not, the real estate community was falling for all the same mortgage lies consumers believed. So my motivation was to help inform the agents so they don’t pass on tainted mortgage advice to their clients. Belonging to a community of real estate and mortgage bloggers is also an excellent way to stay informed on their challenges as well. I have a tendency to get a little myopic, and AR pulls my out of my world and into theirs.

What are some of your favorite blogs?

I read a ton of blogs…hours and hours each week. Most blogs I have to say are a complete waste of time. People trying to be funny, or provocative for the sake of being provocative, or just plain “salesy”, bore me to death. You wonder why they even bother.

The silver lining in that cloud is they won’t be around for long.

Readers need usable information, clearly written. With that said, a few stand-outs to recommend excluding of course, your blogs and my blogs, for mortgage consumers is The Mortgage Professor’s site. and HSH.com.

What web sites, blogs, tools, or people do you find most helpful in building your blog?

Well the first thing that comes to mind is WordPress…the open source blogging and content management platform. I build all my sites with this as the underlying delivery system. It can be more daunting than other systems, but with complexity comes functionality. I could write an entire book on the advantages of this platform over all others. And when it comes to squeezing all the power out of the system, I read a blog called Lorelle on WordPress, plus the WordPress support forum.

When it comes to getting traffic, a perfectly search engine optimized blogsite is the key. There are a lot of contradictory views on just how to do this. My view, as in all things, is the long view. And the long view when it comes to search engine ranking is to build “trusted” sites.

What is a “high trust” or “trusted” site in the eyes of Google or other search engines?

Well it’s one that shows in unambiguous ways, it’s here to stay. Things as simple as a domain name purchased for the next 10 years instead of the “fly by night” one or two years. Putting your blog on a dedicated IP address and installing a SSL certificate (even if you’re not collecting sensitive user data) shows you are a serious webmaster.

As a matter of fact I have a domain that has no pages, but has a 10 year domain, dedicated IP and an SSL certificate installed in preparation for my WordPress blog install (which I intentionally left empty just to test this theory) that already has a Google PR of 2!

How could that be…there are no words on the page, no links, no nothing?

It’s a trusted site…that’s how.

That’s where it starts. Get that wrong, you’ll hurt yourself forever. After that, then it gets a little complicated. Keyword research, natural linking strategies, great content all play their part…and the WordPress blog platform simplify most of them.

To make sure I don’t take the wrong SEO information I read Matt Cutt’s blog Google’s blogging spokesman on all things that could be construed as spam or bad webmastering.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being Bill Gates, one being my great grandmother (bless her heart), what level of computer savvy would you say you have?

Well I’m no Bill Gates, but I’d give myself a rank of 9 at least. I’ve built static HTML websites and now have turned by attention to blogsites, blogging, and search engine optimization.

So if the raking were limited to WordPress, blogging, and getting traffic, I’d give myself a 10!

Do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?
To steal a phrase from Nike… Just Do It!

Get a WordPress blogsite installed, start writing to develop your “voice”, and remember to write for the reader, not for yourself.

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  1. Pingback: Weekly Digest: WordCamp, Interviews, 070707, Content Theft, and The Usual | Quentin Brown

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