It will never earn him a dime, but Geno is one of my favorite real estate bloggers. I’m a huge fan of funny, but with Geno, it goes farther than that. He’s a great story teller.
Hi Gino, what made you decide to start a blog?
A couple years back our office, a boutique north side Chicago brokerage with less than 20 agents, changed names from Pinto Realty Group to Chicago Home Estates. These key real estate words, Chicago, Home, Estates, were chosen primarily for SEO (Google spidering) purposes as the new direction of our company shifted to almost 100% internet; no newspaper advertising, no direct mail, no flyers, balloons, etc. Our web guys suggested we agents start blogs for linkage and ‘organic’ purposes to augment the various pay per click campaigns that the main site had initiated. I chose my blog’s name, Chicago’s Home Weblog for recognition/association purposes to our main site. A few years later, I think I’m the only agent still posting on a regular basis.
I first started following you on Bloodhound Blog. I liked reading you stuff because, frankly, it was funny. This might sound weird, but… are you funny on purpose? Steve Martin is known to be a fairly serious person that works at being funny. Other people can’t help it. When you sit down to write a blog post, are you trying to be humorous, or does it just happen?
Greg Swann and Teri Lussier found me back in October ’07 and I joined Bloodhound then. I usually get an idea, sometimes it’s a very small idea, then start writing when I have a few extra moments throughout my day. It usually takes me 3 or 4 sittings to complete a single post over a period of a couple days. When I sit down and begin writing it just all comes out. When I sit down again to contiune, sometimes the voice is a little different and the piece takes off in another direction. The same with all subsequent sittings. I generally do a final rewrite to eliminate the clunkiness, tie everything together anecdotally then push the Publish button. As far as being funny; after I delete all the sad parts, the overly dramatic parts, the hyperbole and profanity…sometimes humor is all that remains. I like to leave the ‘semi-serious stuff’ between the lines (and beneath the tongue in my cheek) and the ‘real serious stuff’ for my fellow real estate bloggers across the REnet. Yeah, the funny stuff just happens, I guess. Satire perhaps?
Has you humor ever backfired on you in a blog post?
Every so often I get a comment reprimanding me but no one has ever threatened bodily harm or legal action. One time Dan Green e-mailed me at midnight to let me know I wrote something inappropriate. I concurred, yanked the post, rewrote it and posted it a few weeks later on another blog. I spend most of my time trying to sell my listings and appease my buyers, not writing politically correct content that a million (possibly more) other bloggers can do much better than me. I make it a point to do at least one complete rewrite before publishing to CMAss.
With so much of your personality on display, I can only assume that many of the clients who find you through your blog already feel they “know” you. Have you ever had an unnerving experience where a client relationship was too close for comfort because of your blog?
Nothing ‘unnerving,’ per se. Not surprisingly, most of my clients come through the ChicagoHomeEstates.com website and not my Chicago’s Home Weblog. Most have no idea who I am or that I even write about real estate at all. It’s probably a 30-1 ratio in favor of the latter. Most people who become my clients initially Googled ‘Chicago real estate’ and found themselves on our website to look at properties. They then register to use our MLS search engine and the verified registrants get distributed randomly to us by the managing broker. Most of my readers, I think, are actually other REnet bloggers. I think Greg Swann refers to it as an ‘echo chamber’ and none of them have ever bought anything from me to date. I do probably connect with a client from my blog every month or so but no one yet has gotten too close for comfort although one crazy woman did email me off and on for months telling me how she was in the market for a 7 million condo at Trump’s new project. I Googled her quite unusual name and hometown and discovered she was on a couple Medicaid chat room forums complaining how her and her children were in dire need of public aid and the her bi-polar meds had been cut off. I couldn’t help but spend the commission dollars in my head, though.
Geno From Chicago is an idea worth mimicking for any blogger who spreads their content around the Internet. Please share with us the motivation behind this project.
Geno From Chicago is just a landing page for a collection of my most well received postings on Bloodhound Blog, Chicago’s Home Weblog, Active Rain, and the occasional guest spot on other sites. I use this trimmed down platform mostly as a hyperlink in my query letters to publishers. I usually disable the comment section and do a minor rewrite unlinking all the ‘unliterary’ extraneous sales stuff. This way they can read a variety of my content without getting sidetracked by all the sidebar linkage, widgets and SEO stuff. So far, not much has shaken from it although AARP The Magazine has taken a few looks, or so they’ve told me in an auto-reply.
What are some of your favorite blogs?
I always liked Bloodhound and Sellsius (ironic, isn’t it?) as well as Pat Kitano’s TransparaentRE and Hanan Levin’s Grow-a-Brain. They all ‘sent the elevator back down’ as it were, when I was starting out and shared samples of my writing with their much larger respective readership bases, as well as took the time to comment favorably. I also check out the ‘bubble blogs’ for the same reason as I listen to NPR and occasionally Christian radio; to find out what the other half is saying about issues that may affect my destiny and to foresee how I might end up if I ever decide to; make a living trashing realtors, become more liberal, or get religion…and jump ship.
What advice do you have for prospective bloggers who are sitting on the fence.
Stay seated unless you’ve found your own voice. I find myself on such a fence most days with nothing to say and nothing to say it with.
A final note.
In ending I’d like to share with you my response to something Jay Thompson wrote in one of my comment sections a few years back. He wondered if I sold real estate as well as I wrote–to which I replied: “I closed 30 deals last year for over 16 million in volume but didn’t make a nickel from anything I wrote.” Glad (sad?) to report that while the sales numbers are around half that amount for this most recent fiscal year, the writing revenue has held steady at 0. Now I ask you, is that or is that not… funny?