Category Archives: Blogger Interviews

Blogger Spotlight: Andy Kaufman

Andy Kaufman is the epitome of of Web 2.0, and an example of why web designers are the video rental stores of the future. Gone are the days were one would need a computer science degree to DIY market themselves on the web. Andy was gone from, “I can do this too” to “let me show you how”. All the while his day job is still as a real estate agent.

Hi Andy why did you start MyEastBayAgent?

After I got turned on to what would become known as ‘Web2.0 sites’ like flickr, del.icio.us and bloglines, I had the ‘a-ha’ that someone with limited technical abilities like myself was now able to create my own content and self publish it super easily and that it was changing the way that we interact with the web. So I decided to start MyEastBayAgent so I could try it out for myself.


Photo credit: Chris Heuer via flickr

I found your original Blogspot blog, and noticed that you started off the same way I did. Creating a blog, posting a couple things, then letting it go dark. That’s the end of the story for thousands of bloggers, but you came back a few months later, and have been going strong ever since. What advice can you give for bloggers who are trying to get back in the saddle?

Don’t be overly self critical. Lots of people go dark for a length of time, no biggie. Just decide to get back into it and have fun with it.

In May, you switched from Blogger to WordPress. Why?

The more I got into blogging, the more I realized that all the cool kids were using WordPress. Since they’re a whole lot smarter than I am, I knew that WordPress was something that I needed to look into and once I did, I knew that it was exactly what I was looking for. The funny thing is that I was meaning to move things over for well over a year before I went ahead and took the plunge. I wish that I would have done it a lot eariler, but oh well.

You actively post on Twitter, and republish that content on your blog. Does twittering lead to new consumers? If so, how?

I wouldn’t say that twitter itself has led to new clients, but it is certainly an integral part of my overall marketing strategy. Making an initial connect in twitter is a low commitment event. You don’t need permission to follow someone, and if they follow you back, you can slowly get to know each other 140 characters at a time.

Now, I’m not totally sold on republishing tweets on my blog, but I’m playing around with it and trying to find the right mix. The reason that I’m doing that is that I believe that the content that I create in Twitter shows that I’m honest, knowledgeable and that I’m passionate about what I do. If I can clearly convey that to my target audience, I think that potential clients will gravitate to that.

What is RE.net Talks?

RE.net talks is a real time conversation tracker of the RE.net community powered by Twitter and my amateur media hacking. By building a twitter micro-channel and feeding it into a widget, I can now focus on the conversation between RE.netters in almost real time. Since I can control the flow of information, it’s a spam free channel full of info from thought leaders in the real estate industry. At least that’s what it is right now.

Why doesn’t anyone call San Francisco the West Bay?

Because it’s the city.

What are some of your favorite blogs?

Agent Genius, BloodhoundBlog, 4realz, ChrisBrogan, Web Strategy by Jeremiah, Hidden Track, The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, Lifehacker

What advice do you have for agents who are just starting a new blog?

You should find the online conversations that you care about and listen to them through RSS. Once you get the feel it, take the plunge and join the conversation with your blog. Create content filled with honesty and passion. Share, participate, link, learn & then do it better. Above all, make sure you’re having fun while doing it.

Speaking of having fun. I wanted to give RE BarCamp a quick little plug if I could. If you’re coming to Inman Connect SF, come out a day early and be a part of the first BarCamp for the real estate industry. The price is right (free) and you’ll probably walk away wondering how any future conference-like experience could ever compare. Plus, we’ll go out and party in San Francisco afterwards. No brainer, right? Cool, hope to see you there.

Blogger Spotlight: Jonathan Miller

What I love most about blogging is the ability to find people like Jonathan Miller. In my opinion, he’s the smartest guy in real estate.

Hi Jonathan, what made you decide to start blogging?

I was frustrated with the trends we were seeing in the appraisal industry, primarily the issue of appraisal pressure. Appraisers were relegated to form-filler status in the mortgage lending process and were no longer able to provide independent opinions without fear of losing their clients. In 2005 I was enamored with the idea of creating a podcast, but decided that a blog was the better medium for what I was trying to accomplish. I launched Soapbox in July 2005 but then decided I also needed to be able to discussion non-appraiser issues, so Matrix was born a month later.

Soapbox concentrates largely on appraisal ethics. A concept that is very en vogue today, but I imagine it raised a few eyebrows among your potential clients when you created it. How did this blog effect how your business progressed?

I’d like to think it helped get the conversation going. I have received a lot of feedback from various government agencies indicating that it has been a helpful resource in explaining what our industry is going through. As far as impact to my business, I would say that Soapbox helped raise our credibility as appraisers, but Matrix has created exposure for us that has resulted in a lot of business opportunities.

You are very well quoted among main stream media sources. Did your writings on Matrix play a roll in establishing you as an expert in your field, or did the blog follow?

Cart before the horse? 😉 I’ve been around for more than 20 years so I really see Matrix as an additional method of delivering my front line market knowledge in a way that wasn’t possible before, other than formally in speeches, market reports and appraisals. Its been very therapeutic too because I am able to vent and write things with a little humor and personality, something thats not possible when releasing a formal market survey. In other words, its totally addictive.

You provide analytics for a variety of resources from The New York Times, to Radar Logic, to Trulia Trends. Including your blogs, what one service do you provide that would be most helpful to real estate professionals reading this though out the country?

I think that I provide a neutral view point, which is why I am able to affiliate with a wide variety of organizations. Its really cool to be able to opine on what you observe, without retribution from your partners. One of the problems with real estate market reporting is that it is fraught with spin, especially on the extremes (positive and negative). I tend to associate with people or firms that run their businesses from a neutral vantage point.

Real estate professionals should always seek out neutral resources so they can more reliably inform their clients, who now more than ever, see through the spin. I’d also like to think I provide discussion, answers or raise questions on Matrix that buyers and sellers will likely ask of their agents, not just the regurgitation of news.

What’s the biggest misconception about residential real estate?

My favorite phrase is “There is no national housing market.” Every month financial institutions, Wall Street and consumers are pummeled with national housing market statistics. The readers of this information then try to apply these stats to their local markets or a specific property, resulting in confusion and frustration. What happens in LA, doesn’t impact Cleveland. While mortgage rates and the credit markets are a common bond, thats about it. Local market conditions are defined by many factors including, employment and the health of primary employers, the local economy, zoning, housing stock, availability of land, inventory, etc. National housing market stats are often defined by the mix of sales in each particular region that may or may not artificially bias the direction of the trend.

As a regular reader of Matrix, your posts seem to come in spurts. Usually two or three at a time. Do you set aside time for blogging, or do you just suddenly have the inspiration to write several posts at once?

This is a hot topic of mine. The idea of sitting down and writing a post in order to commit to a daily quota defeats the joy of doing this to begin with. Its not homework. Its just fun.

My wife and I have 4 sons, a cat, 2 appraisal businesses and other interests (aka chaos) Our residential appraisal firm is being acquired by Radar Logic, of which I am already serving in some capacity there. There is a lot going on. I used to get up at 4:30 or 5 in the morning to blog. Did that for a year but it was too painful. I usually write something during my commuter train ride in and out of Manhattan. During baseball season, I blog during the evenings when the kids are done with homework and the Yankees are playing (I tend to post more consistently from April to October). When football season is on, I tend to write my posts while watching the games on the weekends. In other words, avoid sitting still at all costs.

What are some of your favorite blogs?

In danger of alienating all my friends out there, here’s just a handful of my regular reads: Curbed, The Stalwart, The Big Picture, Greg Mankiw, Calculated Risk, Floyd Norris, and Global Economic Analysis.

What advice do you have for agents who are just starting a new blog?

Think twice. Its not for everyone. Are you committed to delivering information on a regular basis? Make sure your writing style matches your personal style – in other words, find your voice and stick with it. Do not think of your blog as a brochure for your company, otherwise no one will come back.

Blogger Spotlight: Kris Berg

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.

Blogger Spotlight: Ines Hegedus-Garcia

Much of what I wrote in my Hugh Hefner post would also apply to Miamism. I’ve written before that one doesn’t need a sexy blog to be a success. But it certainly doesn’t hurt!

Hi Ines. How did you come to the decision to start blogging?

This question merits 2 answers – one is how I learned about blogging and I actually wrote a post about it because it was our photographer, Roy Llera that first mentioned it to us.

The second answer and the most valid is why I started blogging and I think it has to do with the value of being able to establish dialogue with potential customers before meeting them. The idea of having customers know us and understand what value we bring to the table via blog is priceless, so you will see a lot of me in the blogosphere.

I think from a visual perspective, miamism is my favorite blog. How important was the look and design of your blog when you started blogging?

Todd, I thank you and I blush at the same time. Being an architect I can tell you that I am extremely visual and always have clear cut concepts on what things should look like as to represent me and what I’m about. Having a blog that reflects my high visual standards was extremely important and is still a work in progress. I have been called a “perfectionist” and other not so nice things, but can tell you that Mary McKnight is doing a heck of a job staying in tune with my requests (it’s what I call patience!).

On top of the design, you guys add lot’s of visual content in your posts. Some of looks like pictures you take. But do you create all of the pictures? If not, where do you find this content?

The content comes from different places. Our Miamism Fridays series started with Rick and me taking pictures of things that you only see in Miami and calling them …..another Miamism! (Which was obviously the concept behind the site name); then our customers and friends started sending in their contributions and now our audience is engaged in the blog (doesn’t get any better than that).

You will also notice that every post does have a graphic of some sort and the source may be one of my own photos or I may buy a graphic from 123rf.com or istockphoto.com (I love high quality shots and some of the stock photography sites have great content).

Rick and I are also starting to use video and although we find the editing process a bit overwhelming at times, at least I found something Rick really likes to do.

Today I set up a mobile photo blog to play around with my new toy (iphone) – it’s so much fun to be able to post photos directly into a blog from your cell phone. (As for the advantages…..we will have to wait)

One thing I noticed about Husband & Wife real estate teams with blogs is that, with rare exception, one blogs their brains out, and the other blogs once in a blue moon. Do you and Rick simply work off each other’s strengths, or is there some other factor (unknown to me) that’s at play?

I do all the blogging, but it doesn’t mean Rick is not part of it, as a matter of fact my whole family is. You may hear one of my kids blurt out “you need to blog about THAT mom!”, and Rick is constantly providing good blog fodder. He wrote one blog when Miamism first started back in June, he also helps me with editing and corrections and lately he has been contributing with the video aspect of the blog.

One of my best friends met her husband while living in Miami. She would speak English to him, and he would speak Spanish to her. And both of them seemed to communicate just fine. Your blog reminds me of them because sometimes you write in English, and other times in Spanish. What’s your philosophy behind bilingual blogging?

The bilingual blogging started off as a rant. During Project Blogger I was getting frustrated with the judging and decided to write in Spanish because the judges were not getting my concept, so might as well be in a different language. Then I realized that the Spanish real estate blogging market is untapped. Looking at the analytics behind Miamism I was shocked to find how many people were searching in Spanish so I decided to start translating content I already had. Rick and I are both bilingual and then my parents jumped in and helped as well. I have to tell you that keeping my “voice” in another language is not easy and some expressions cannot be translated, it is definitely challenging.

My goal is to have a blog in Spanish that mirrors Miamism and it will be called Miamismo – and yes the domain is already registered.

What are some of your favorite blogs?

Do you have room or should I just include my RSS Feeder here? J

As for sense of humor: Mariana Wagner and Lani Anglin are the best.

For fun: Danger Bay Stories

Group blog I have to say Agent Genius

One of the Miami blogs I love: Transit Miami

Real Estate: Sellsius, 4Realz….. I promise I kept it short, I have a list of about 100 blogs that I would add in here in a heart beat!

What advice do you have for agents who are just starting a new blog?

Joining a social network to start off and learn the “unwritten rules” is always a good idea. I started in Active Rain and have made such unbelievable friendships and business relations. I blogged there for over 8 months until I felt comfortable and opened up Miamism. Reading blogging books like Realty Blogging by Paul Chaney and Richard Nacht and Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel is also helpful. The biggest advice is to dedicate time, be consistent and not to give up. It’s as important to read and comment in other blogs as it is to write. To see results from blogging does take time, but it’s well worth it.