Can a someone by ubiquitous, relevant, and transparent, all at the same time? Chris Johnson seems to be giving it his best effort. Chis is a contributor Lenderama, The Mortgage Cicerone, Blood Hound Blog, and authors Ten Day Team and Genuine Chris. Yet, he’ll be the first to tell you blogging is not for everyone.
Hi Chris, what made you decide to start a blog?
Well, I was blogging on Live Journal all the way back in 2001, mostly about my goals and dreams. The odd thing was is that I picked up transactions by being part of communities. I was 25 at the time, so a lot of the stuff I saw I absolutely cringed at, so when RE blogging took off I decided it was a great channel to reach out to people and to make myself available.
When the market turned in late 2005, I thought it would be a good time to start really advocating good business practices. You told me that people that blog to advocate last.
On the Ten Day Team blog, you recently wrote about finding you niche in blogging. What advice do you have for real estate agents as to just how focused their blogs should be?
Lenders and Real Estate Agents should create a ridiculously compelling reason for someone from the outside to contact them, or they should simply not blog. It doesn’t have to be hyper-focused, but it does have to have a reason to come back. Some breathtaking content. It’s hard to achieve, but once you find something you believe in, you’ll know right away. In this business it STILL doesn’t take a lot of transactions to make a great living, so instead of focusing on subscribers, I’d focus on providing quality, organic and authentic content.
The great thing is–that you and others have proven–is that there’s no limit to what can get accomplished by blogging correctly.
I was kind of blown away at something on your other blog, Genuine Chris. You’ve actually listed your personal goals, AND exactly where you stand in meeting them. I know the blog is an, “Experiment in Personal Online Transparency”, but where does one draw a line between public and private with regard to their blog.
I did that–and I’ll do it again–to help me “walk the walk.” Google docs and other programs help us to do that quickly, and if I’m going to hold myself out as someone that knows how to survive the loan industry, then it’s helpful to show that I’m actually following the plan that I preach.
I don’t know where the line is drawn–because I love accountability. I don’t want to go off the deep end, but if I voluntarily expose wide swaths of my life, then I will live better in those areas. If I know people (and some people that dislike me) are watching, chances are that I will live beyond reporach. Am I there yet? Hell no, but it’s the direction I am going..
Your blogs are all about helping other people get better at their jobs. There’s ways to monetize this, but with everyone and their brother racing to share their knowledge on the blogosphere, do you see a day when the asset of knowledge will have no value?
Not really. I am combining knowledge with accountability in the projects that I have coming out. Personal trainers make a great living not by helping people do proper exercises, but by creating a control that ensures that people do it. We’re not being paid so much for the information itself as being a trusted filter. Brian Brady made the comment that he learned nothing new from my book, but still found it a great value.
The models and info is out there, but what I’ve done is distilled it. Did David Allen’s GTD teach us anything new? No, not really. But what it did do was gave us some of what he calls ‘enlightened common sense.’ A trusted filter will be viable for decades into the future.
I never ask when I’m recruiting people to join, but I’m always curious as to other’s motives. Why do you contribute to Lenderama?
It was the best Lender blog around. The people you’ve collected are all outstanding and solid examples. I wanted to have to create content that was as good as the stuff that was coming their way. I had had a good experience on Blown Mortgage when Morgan was experimenting with being multi author, and I wanted to help originators in any way that I also wanted to kick it up a notch or two, as far as quality goes, and I was new at making a name for myself on the internet.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
Instead of listing the ones that everyone knows, I’ll try and get some of the ‘unusual’ suspects.
Bliss Point Blog, Confident Writing, I like the Art of Manliness, JustDugUp is fantastic. I like the Xbroker and BawldGuy because they let their guard down and aren’t afraid to call out the BS that is in the market.
What advice do you have for prospective bloggers who are sitting on the fence.?
Get started on your own blogging, leave comments, don’t be afraid to disagree. You have to be both remarkable and good if you’re going to do this long term, so learn from people. Also, subscribe to the Long List on Bloodhound, and poke around Rembex a good bit. Then when you engage, listen first and talk second. I am honored to get to be on Lenderama and to get to be on Bloodhound and to get to be on the Cicerone. There is some work creating original content for 4-5 places, but it’s really rewarding.
I’d also say that it’s possible to be relevant WITHOUT blogging, and if you don’t see it as a “get to” vs. a “have to,” it’s 100% OK to skip doing it.
Chris Johnson is a loan officer, and author of the Loan Officer Survival Guide. You can buy his book at losurvialguide.com.