Are you enjoying the latest run of blogger interviews? Thank Jonathan Dalton. I’ve been building a list of interveiws on my ToDo list for a few weeks now, but just hadn’t made time. Jonathan’s little guilt trip shamed me back into action. 😉
Hey Jonathan, How did you come to the decision to start a blog?
Blogging was the big discussion on RealTalk at the tail end of 2005. Internet Crusade was offering a platform and a few were trying it out. I started one myself but quickly abandoned it – all the “I commented on your blog” and “I added you as a friend” seemed to make the whole thing seem like little more than gratuitous back-slapping. I didn’t quite get the concept until later in the year when I resurrected the blog in July. Since I had no clue what to do I asked if anyone was willing to mentor a newbie. Ardell DellaLoggia stepped forward and essentially told me to just write, which I did and I have. Fifteen months and 900 posts later, here we are.
How does blogging fit into your marketing plan?
It’s mixed. On the one hand, I understand the importance of writing local. On the other hand, some national topics are too good to ignore. So I write both, with what I’d like to think is some success. I’m not necessarily using the blog to attract clients, though I’ve gained clients who have started reading what I’ve had to say on whatever topic I’ve written about and decided I was the person they’d like to work with. In general, though, I’m writing because I love to write and I enjoy the attempt to educate.
RealTown was a great platform on which to begin. But after six months I still barely understood trackbacks and pingbacks and such because they weren’t a part of the platform. The blog also wasn’t overly customizable … I tried, but with limited success. Moving to WordPress also allowed me to move all of my content onto my own (albeit shared) server under my main website, which has helped the SEO for the search “Phoenix Arizona Real Estate” (only 4.1 million entries today in Google.) I was able to customize the blog and have had next to no trouble, aside from occasionally losing the content low because a column width is off. WordPress 2.2 also created some opportunities. I’ve started a new website using WordPress that will be a mix of multiple static pages and blog content.
Would you recommend it to others who blog exclusively on RealTown or Active Rain?
If you have the slightest technical skill, absolutely. RealTown’s undergone some changes but as best I can tell it’s still not the most customizable platform. The one advantage you have with either of the other two platforms is they’ve got a ton of Google juice. But I think quite a few folks have proven you can get the same Google juice working on your own, and all of the content clearly is yours (still a debate on Active Rain) and it’s all on your own server.
I asked Kelley this same question. As Arizona is a market that attracts many out of state buyers, it only makes sense that Internet marketing would be strong among the real estate community. But even then, Arizona hosts more than it’s share of bloggers to date. Why do you think this new medium has caught on so well in your market?
Some of it is the competitive online nature of the market. It seems like everyone has a website here so it’s natural that there’s be a large percentage of agents who also would jump into blogging. Competition is stiff from a quality standpoint, too, and we all seem to have a competitive streak. Bloodhound Blog was like my daily dose of Howard Stern. I usually checked to see what Greg wrote that would get me sufficiently aggravated to answer on my own blog. Jay Thompson has a completely different approach. What’s really been amazing is for all the blogs here in Phoenix, the content across the blogs still remains fairly fresh. We’re not all writing the same thing so there’s a different flavor depending on where you go.
You are now contributing to a industry focus RE blog called Agent Genius. What was your motivation to contribute?
It’s all about Lani, of course. Wait, seriously? One of the weaknesses of my blog is I do rant. With a Jewish mother from Brooklyn, how could I not? NAR tends to be one of my favorite targets but frankly there are a lot of things in the industry that make me shake my head. Agent Genius has become the new home for most of those rants because the blog’s explicit purpose is for agents to talk to other agents. So I can rant there then come back to my own blog and write a little more local without all the pent-up vitriol.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
I’ve got about 100 in the Google Reader but there are a handful that are absolute musts – San Diego Home Blog, Bloodhound Blog, Athol’s RE Agent in CT, Jay’s Phoenix Real Estate Guy, all three Curbeds, RE Revealed and, of course, Agent Genius.
Do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?
Best advice is to ignore most of the canned advice because you’ll end up with a canned blog with no discernable voice. If you’re following the advice and blogging solely to pick up clients, the average reader will sniff that out a mile away and click on to someone with someone more unique to say. Write as long or short as you want, include as many or as few photos as you want, write about the local barbecue or why NAR drives you nuts. Just find your voice and write.
How does Tobey fit into your blogging?
Tobey spends much of his day laying on my feet under my desk while I’m working. He’s a marketing genius – I do all the heavy lifting and half of my clients ask me where he is when I show up on an appointment. It’s also funny how many agents I now see being photographed with their dogs. That didn’t happen much a couple of years back. I don’t think we started the trend, mind you, but I’ll probably take credit anyway.