Rhonda Porter is an example of why I think traditional media has seen it’s best days. As a mortgage professional, there’s nothing more annoying than watching the nightly news stumble through a story about the industry. It seems like they never get a story completely right. An industry expert can offer insight and understanding for a particular niche that no general reporter could ever hope to. For this reason, I believe an Army of Davids like The Mortgage Porter will eventually change the way most people get their news.
Hi Rhonda, how did you reach the conclusion to start blogging?
I was watching the local news one evening in late November and the reporter was talking about a local elaborate mortgage fraud case. As if that wasn’t enough to launch me, the reporter misstated information about Washington State’s new Loan Originator licensing laws. She incorrectly commented that all originators will be licensed when actually; it’s only those of us who work for brokers and some correspondents (bankers are “unlicensed). It was like a one-two punch. I had just started reading blogs and I felt strongly compelled to get the correct information out.
In addition to the Mortgage Porter, you also contribute to Rain City Guide. What was your motivation to contribute to someone else’s blog?
After starting Mortgage Porter, I began to search out other real estate blogs in the Seattle area and of course, RCG was at the top of the list. I began commenting on their blog and it wasn’t too long after that, Dustin Luther invited me to be a contributor. I had never met any of the other writers for RCG. I really had no idea what a privilege it is to be a part of Rain City or what I was getting into! I’m not sure that I had a motivation at the time…similar to creating my personal blog, it was a gut reaction to say “yes, I’d love to write for RCG”. I’m glad I did!
How does blogging fit into your overall marketing plan?
Blogging is becoming the meat and potatoes of my marketing. I’m slowly phasing out other resources that I have used and replacing it with my blog. For example, I use to email weekly rates utilizing my Loan Tool Box Platinum Plus membership, now I post it on my blog and send that page to the Realtors and referral partners that I work with. Plus I let clients know rates will be posted every Friday at Mortgage Porter. Blogging is reducing my marketing budget. Eventually, I’ll probably cancel my LTB membership, I don’t need their marketing when I can create my own and not pay $70 a month for it! Even better, the marketing or information that I create on Mortgage Porter is custom tailored for me instead of working for thousands of other LOs (LTB does a great job, this is just an example). I will continue to send out my quarterly Newsletters which reach my clients via the mail and I’m beginning an email campaign with Constant Contact which will point to past articles on Mortgage Porter.
I’m using my blog to attract clients who are more like me. I recently wrote about this at my R TEAM blog. I’m using Mortgage Porter to attract Seattle/Washington area consumers; R TEAM is for Real Estate Agents and I also have a neighborhood blog where I don’t produce mortgage posts, but I do have a small Mortgage Porter widget/ad. The neighborhood blog is just plain fun, neighbors are guest authors. I’m also using it to start a Block Watch. It’s becoming a community resource.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
I could go on and on….I have different favorites based on varying types of content…this is too tough to answer completely…my blog roll has a lot of my favorites for consumers.
What web sites, blogs, tools, or people do you find most helpful in building your blog?
My platform is Typepad. It is very user friendly for someone who just knows enough to be dangerous with computer stuff.
Speaking of blogging resources, you have created one yourself with the R Team. In your first post, you proclaimed, “I passionately believe that blogging will help your business”. Care to expound?
My business has changed dramatically from blogging. Not only has my volume doubled in this market, the loan size is higher and even better, the clients are very qualified and as I mentioned above, they are a delight to work with. The clients who find me from the blog all ready feel like they know me based on reading my views on mortgage and the personal information I interject. I’ve heard it referred to as “rock star marketing” and as funny as that sounds to me, when I meet with a client, it’s true. I’ve noticed a higher level of trust even above clients who have been referred to me. I do believe, if you blog long enough and you’re true to yourself and your beliefs, it comes through and readers see it. I’m sure there may be people who have read my posts and say “I don’t like her or what she writes…” and it is better for both of us that we don’t work together. I believe blogging has weeded out those who would not be a good client fit for me and has replaced those borrowers with ones who are a great fit for me. I’m not knocking the people who don’t appreciate what I write; they probably work out better with someone else.
I also mention in the first post at R TEAM that “Blogging is to business what personal web sites were in the 90s”. As I title rep, I had the opportunity to build canned personal websites for agents…it was huge then (and great fun). Now those personal sites, in my opinion, are dead are being stifled from all the active live content that blogs have. I’m trying to help the agents I work with “stay alive” by having a blog to support their personal site, if they feel they must have one. I only keep my website, rhondaporter.com so clients can complete a loan application or inquire for rates, etc.
Besides subscribing the R-Teams RSS feed, do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?
Don’t be afraid! Just take blogging one step at a time. It can be very overwhelming when you look at some of the established blogs…everyone has to start somewhere! I think it’s helpful to have a notepad on hand to jot down ideas or future post when an idea strikes you or if you have spare time while you’re waiting for a client, etc. It’s also fun to have a camera available, too if you want photos on your blog.
Read other real estate blogs to get an idea of what you like as far as content and style. Start off with commenting on a few blogs as a way to get your feet wet.
Soon you’ll figure out what you like and you can always change to look or direction of your blog. You really develop your style and voice as you go.
Clients are a great resource for blog posts. Dustin Luther gives a great tip to read your email “sent bin”—it is rich with information and right under my nose! I once asked ARDELL how she decides what to write and she responded via a post on Active Rain teaching me how to answer my clients questions with blogging. It was simple brilliance. Now when a client asks a great question, and they do all the time and it’s stuff we answer day after day (what’s a point, how do locks work, etc.), if I don’t all ready have a post on the topic; I’ll answer the question with a post and send a link back to the client letting them know their question was so great, I just had to write about it. This exposes the client to my blog and they don’t feel like they’ve asked a “stupid question”.
Enjoy it—blogging has put more fun back into my business. I’m having a great time!