Jay Thompson, The Phoenix Real Estate Guy recently spoke at a blogging workshop in Phoenix. After reviewing the video, it occurred to me that Jay not only has a great blog, but he’s a fanatical blogger, with real world results to show for it. If you want to make Internet marketing a central focus on generating business, read on.
Hi Jay, what inspired you to create The Phoenix Real Estate Guy?
I’ve always loved to write. Given that I lack the talent to pen a novel, blogging seemed like the perfect outlet for my writing. Just over two years ago, I thought about starting a “personal journal” sort of blog until I ran across Rain City Guide. It inspired me to try a real estate blog that would let me combine my two passions–real estate and writing. I never really thought about blogging as a marketing or prospecting tool until inquiries from local real estate consumers started to come in. And getting clients still isn’t the focus of The Phoenix Real Estate Guy. It happens, I’m not complaining, but it’s still mainly a writing outlet.
What do you like to blog about?
I try to keep politics and religion out of the blog, but other than that, *anything* is fair game! It’s not just about Phoenix real estate, though obviously that is a major component of TPREG. I’ve been “advised” on more than one occasion that TPREG “lacks focus” and that I’d “do better” (whatever that means) if I concentrated only on Phoenix real estate or a niche segment of that. But that’s not going to happen. The somewhat eclectic mix of topics is what makes TPREG what it is. Some apparently like it, and I’m sure some don’t. Many of my *completely* off-topic posts are my personal favorites—and most popular as judged by visits as well as on and off-line comments.
I’m a big believer in injecting personality and opinion into a blog, be that through the writing, pictures, design, or comments. I am more than a real estate agent. I’m a father, a husband, and a human being. Writing about things other than real estate is both therapeutic and occasionally good for business. That’s not a bad combination.
Phoenix Real Estate Guy gets some incredible search engine results in Google. How’d you manage that?
To be perfectly honest, I’m not totally sure. I’m a self-taught SEO (Search Engine Optimization) guy and I do apply a lot of SEO to my main web site. But other than keeping things like keywords and linkage in the back of my head as I blog, I don’t really apply any specific SEO to TPREG. I do tend to link liberally both internally to other posts as well as to outside blogs and websites, and I believe this helps generate links back to TPREG—which are good for SEO.
I also enjoy blogging about subdivisions, master planned communities and certain parts of the Phoenix metro area. These posts are usually swiftly indexed and rank very well in the search engines—mainly because they are not as competitive a search term as say “Phoenix Real Estate”. But posts like these can let you dominate search results for a specific area, and tend to lead to some contact with very motivated sellers and buyers in these areas.
How does blogging fit into your overall marketing plan?
95% of our marketing is Internet based. As I said, I didn’t start TPREG as a marketing venue, but given the success it has had, I’d be a fool not to leverage it. Recently the daily traffic to the blog surpassed the traffic to the main site. Granted, a portion of the traffic to the blog is other real estate professionals, but many people visit from real estate related consumer search terms. The blog definitely fits in to our overall marketing plan, and I plan to roll out some ‘hyper-local” blogs in the near future that should help further increase our on-line presence.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
Wow, that’s a tough question. Right now I’ve got 217 blogs in my feed reader (and yes, I look at them all. Skim some, read most). It’s hard to single just a few out. In the real estate world, I enjoy almost everything the team at Bloodhound puts out. Greg Swan isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, and Kris Berg is one of the funniest writers in the blogiverse. My inspiration – Rain City Guide – is still top notch, though I wish Dustin Luther would post more. Jonathan Dalton is a brilliant writer. Athol Kay is bright, funny and a straight shooter. Geeze I could go on and on… In the non-real estate arena, I learn a lot from Copyblogger, SEOmoz and Andy Beard, and Darren Rowse.
Out of the 217 in my reader, the one I read every day without fail is Dilbert… I worked in corporate America for 20+ years prior to real estate and Scott Adams apparently sat in the cube next to me the whole time.
I noticed you feature a “Latest Visitors” widget on your blog powered by MyBlogLog. Can you give new bloggers the skinny on this tool, and why they should consider using it?
The MBL widget is a lot of fun. Basically it puts a little “avatar” (think logo or photo) of MBL members on your blog whenever they stop by. It’s a quick way of telling who’s recently visited. Of course, many (most) visitors are not MBL members, but it’s still pretty cool. The thing I like about it best though is it is a great way to find new blogs to read. I always click through a new MBL avatar that I haven’t seen before and follow it to that person’s blog. You can find yourself wandering around the blogiverse for hours if you’re not careful. They also have a pretty slick stats package that comes with it too. Free and pay levels are available. (MyBlogLog.com for more info)
What other web sites, blogs, tools, or people do you find most helpful in building your blog?
Well, the ultimate tool is WordPress and all the developers that support it with plugins and themes. It’s the engine that pulls the whole train. While I do at times curse it, I’m glad TPREG is running on WordPress. I use Google Analytics as the main stats analysis, and it’s perfect for that. I wish Real Estate Weblogging 101 was around two years ago. People wise, one of the beauties of blogging is that people are (generally) very willing to help. Dave Smith down in Tucson is a WP wizard, but I can put out a call for help if I need it to a couple of dozen people. You gotta love this community.
Do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?
Read, read, and read some more. I wish I had read more real estate blogs before I started (though there weren’t many around then). Reading blogs will give you a great idea of what is good, and not so good. There are no real “rules” in blogging, but you don’t want to just churn out bad stuff, what fun is that?
Don’t jump on the blog bandwagon just because it’s all the buzz. Blog because you want to. It’s a lot of work. If you hate it, you won’t do it. If you enjoy it, it’s incredibly rewarding.
I wrote this for a RE Weblogging 101 post, and it sums up my opinion of blogging fairly well:
“I’m of the opinion that if you blog for the sole purpose of gaining clients that you will likely fail miserably. Blogging is not easy. It takes time. It is difficult to quantify the benefits if you measure it solely in cashed commission checks. If you blog only to gain clients, it will be apparent in your writing — it’s going to feel “forced”. People are smart. If they feel like all you are trying to do is reel them in, they will run away in droves. Blog to learn, to become a better writer, to increase your web presence, to share your knowledge. Do those things, do them well, and clients will come.”