This interview is long past due. When I started planning the Blog Fiesta that ended up leading to this blog, Shailesh was a big inspiration. He had organized and moderated a blog seminar in Pheonix just a few weeks earlier that featured Jay Thompson and Gregg Swann. He was kind enough to advise me as to how I might structure the Fiesta, and I had been aware of his mortgage blog for a while, but on top of that, I was really quite astounded to see those two videos. Forget mortgages for a second, Shailesh is networking with RE agents by teaching them about blogging. What an awesome idea. That idea was one of the deciding factors in making a blog out what was just going to be a little get together.
Hello Shailesh, You’ve been blogging about mortgage stuff for about as long as I have. Back at the beginning of 2005, there wasn’t a blogging bandwagon to jump on, what made you decide to experiment with this medium?
Hi Todd. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to answer to some questions. I have always been fascinated by blogging. I started reading blogs back in early 2002 and had always wanted to have one of my own. I never could justify blogging before I got into loan origination. Even when I did begin originating with my wife, I felt I had to have some degree of experience and knowledge in the field before I put myself out there. It all converged in early 2005 and so I started blogging. I just did it because I felt it would be another differentiating factor for my clients.
How does blogging fit into your marketing plan?
Blogging is part of our online marketing plan. I was an online marketing manager of sorts back in 1999 for my employer, so ever since then I’ve recognized the value of a strong online presence. But as I’ve blogged I’ve realized there is more to it than just online market presence. Actually networking starts to happen and off line relationships being to develop. So, in a way blogging is starting to drive other elements of our marketing plan. It’s pretty cool how that is working out for us.
I’ve always had the feeling that your blogging strategy has been as focused on networking with real estate agents as it was communicating with potential borrowers. Am I close?
You’re right. My plan from the very beginning was to be a resource of consumers and then for real estate agents. As a lender you know that we can receive quite a bit of referrals from agents. In my years originating, I’ve found that the agent-lender relationship can become testy. I’ve wanted to ease that in many ways by putting myself out there. That way they know who I am when I call on them for a business relationship. I am very confident in our ability to perform as the best lending alternative and I want to make sure agents can access us, so in the long term they are served better!
On the consumer side, specifically, I want my attract my past clients and potential clients to be a part of the conversation. This way when a past client hears of some market movement they can always check the blog to see my take. For potential clients, I want to demonstrate my loan aptitude. Plain and simple, I want them to know that if they do business with me, they will be very well served.
You hosted blogging seminar earlier this year with Jay Thompson and Gregg Swann. Has teaching real estate agents how to blog lead to any referral business from these agents?
I did receive some referral business from this. So, the effort has paid for itself already. Additionally, I’ve been able to develop relationships with a whole new set of agents and I’m confident it’s only a matter time before business follows. The greater satisfaction for me has been knowing that agents are starting to blog and their business is benefiting from it. In fact just yesterday I received a thank you note from an agent who started blogging after attending one of my seminars. She was so excited to have just gotten a listing from her blogging. That was great. I am very happy for her and I know of other agents who are benefiting as well.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
I like blogs which dispense knowledge with personality. I follow a lot of real estate blogs, mortgage blogs, political blogs and non profit blogs, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. Locally, I like The Arizona Real Estate Notebook, The Phoenix Real Estate Guy, and The North Phoenix Agent Blog. Nationally, I like to read April Groves (Turn Around Tuesday), Athol’s Blog (Bad MLS Picture of the Day) and various writers on Agent Genius. These are only a few of the many I enjoy.
Do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?
My main suggestion is to be yourself. A lot of agents start blogging and I get a sense that they are trying to be like one of the better known blogs. Instead the secret to blogging is letting your expertise and personality flow through in your writing. Don’t worry about what others think and how others are doing things. There are some conventional tips which work but besides that don’t hesitate to post off topic, post a few controversial things from time to time and just be you. Also, don’t let SEO be too much a part of your blogging expectation. SEO comes as you blog. If you’re trying to do it the other way around, you’ll fall flat after a few months.
Also if you’re in the Phoenix market, attend my next seminar and I’ll really show you how you can get a listing in one month of blogging or less. (That’s a joke, the listing part that is.)