There’s a handful of bloggers that I’m actually jealous of. Teresa Boardman, because of her wicked sense of humor, Kristal Kraft for her photo skills, Dustin Luther, Greg Swann, and Johnathan Miller for their insights, and Kris Berg for her power over the English language.
Hi Kris. How did you catch the blogging bug?
It was early 2006, and I starting hearing this buzz about these web site alternatives called “blogs.” I immediately decided I needed one, and then I immediately starting Googling to find out what a “blog” was. Rain City Guide was, of course, the first real estate blog that showed up on my radar. Steve said it was boring; I found it fascinating.
In a business where it is increasingly difficult to distinguish yourself from the seventy-eight gazillion other agents trying to list your grandmother’s home, I saw this as an interesting new approach to making that distinction. But, then again, I rarely engage my brain before whipping out my checkbook or “signing up” for the newest great idea. I generally act first and think later. On this one, I got lucky.
Though I could care less about real estate in San Diego (no Offense), I find myself reading your posts quite often. You’re quite a word smith. Before blogging, did this skill help you sell real estate? How so?
A “wordsmith”? That’s funny. I was a consulting engineer before I was a real estate agent; I was a right-brain girl in a left-brain field, with my greatest literary credit being my riveting piece titled The Legal Limitations of Development Exactions. (I won an award for that one!) I never knew I could write (am still not convinced I can), and I wouldn’t say that an engaging writing style is a necessary skill in real estate. I find that it does help to know how to spell words like “silhouette” (as in blinds), but beyond being able to communicate in complete sentences in the MLS, writing prowess rarely defines the successful agent.
By the way, if you indeed “could care less” about San Diego real estate as you say, then you must care a little. J
How has blogging effected your overall marketing efforts?
Blogging has complemented my marketing plan, but it has not replaced any one effort. It has allowed me to insert some personality into a dry online presence. Maintaining a blog is a process, not an event. After almost two years of enormous effort, I am just now starting to see measurable results in terms of business as a result.
I first read your writings on BloodhoundBlog. Greg has often mentioned that BHB is most definitely not about generating leads for any of its writers. Writing on BHB usually means you’re writing to other RE professionals. Your competition. So why do you contribute?
It beats the hell out of me. Seriously, BHB has given me an outlet to write about things that don’t belong on my San Diego Home Blog, things that my readers don’t give a flip about. Greg has also given me much more visibility. Does that translate to more business? Perhaps, in a very small way, I may gain some exposure that will lead to referral business, but that really isn’t our business model. For the most part, it has been a guilty pleasure. If you check the date stamp on my last post there, you will see that BHB is my sacrificial lamb when things get a little hectic; my blog is for business, and BHB is for sport. Having said that, my participation there has been an invaluable education. These guys have time (make time) to read and study and write about things that I do not. I learn volumes through the divergent opinions and points of view expressed there, and through the daily exchange of information. These things have made me a more informed and better agent.
I first met you last summer at Inman Bloggers Connect. You were sitting next to me in the audience. More recently, you were a speaker at Inman’s winter event in New York. How did your perspective of this event differ as “student” compared to “teacher”?
“Student” versus “teacher”: I don’t see it that way. It is more of “observer” versus “participant.” You have to remember that San Francisco was the coming-out party for the Bloggers Connect pre-conference. Last summer marked the first time that most of us had the opportunity to actually meet each other, in the traditional sense, and far fewer agents were actively blogging. Most were just getting their feet wet. New York was a reunion, and the feel and tone were quite different. Where the San Francisco format was a little preachier, for lack of a better term, the New York redux was more conversational. In the future, I think we will see a lot more sharing versus delivery of information at these conferences.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
I have purposely limited my feed reader to about 100 deep, and that is mostly unmanageable. When I am busier, I admittedly don’t have the time to read them all. When I am shorter on time (most of the time, lately), I would say that Rain City, 4realz, BHB, Agent Genius, Sellsius, 1000 Watt Consulting, and of course Inman are my mandatory reading. Oh, and Phoenix Real Estate Guy, because I love Jay. You can see that I mostly lean toward the group blogs, which tend to act as a de facto feed reader. All of the links to the more interesting articles can be found there – It’s efficient.
What advice do you have for agents who are just starting a new blog?
Run away! Just kidding. Determine who your intended audience is, and treat your blog like any other component of your larger business marketing plan. It takes dedication and an enormous time commitment. It takes discipline to provide fresh, frequent and meaningful content. It has all been done. Spend time discovering the sites that accomplish what you wish to accomplish and emulate. Then, market the heck out of your blog in everything you do, from your business cards, to your property brochures, to your static website. Cross-pollinate like crazy. Promote your blog on your website and your website on your blog, and both in every piece of advertising that you generate. Perhaps most importantly, do not forget (as we all have tended to do at one time or another) why you are blogging – for business. The social interaction with other professionals is fun and even valuable on some level, but in the department store of blogging, this is the toy store. And, don’t let ego, competitiveness, or negativity creep into your tone. Your blog is your online resume, and you have one shot at making it compelling.