Category Archives: Colorado

Expert Panelist; Rob Blake

Rob Blake is one of our expert panelists. Many may remember his long running “The Mortgage Insiders” radio show on Saturday mornings. Today, Rob uses blogging to accomplish many of the same goals. At the event Rob will be covering strategies for making your blog an effective business tool.

What do you like to blog about?

We blog about mortgage and real estate consumer issues…that’s all. No funny posts or link baiting posts…only usable information for consumers to steer them in the right direction when making real estate or mortgage purchasing decisions.

I know a lot of bloggers use antagonistic or sensationalized posts to create a lot of “buzz” or link backs to their posts. We don’t do that. Our first rule of thumb when deciding what to write is, “Will the reader learn anything of importance from reading this post?”

Where do you go, or what do you do to find topics to blog about?

Being a mortgage professional for over 15 years, Terri and I have a plethora of personal experiences with current and past clients to locate areas of consumer confusion to rectify.

In addition to the “street level” mortgage and real estate advice, we look for the “story behind the story” type of article. In a financial world where not a lot of due diligence is performed when giving advice in the media, we look for story planted in the main stream media that may have an “agenda”.

For example, when the home builders lobby trots out there “Chief Economic Advisor” to tell us all how great the market is for new homes…that smells fishy. So I gather the real numbers and economic data and debunk the obviously planted story full of bad advice.

We look behind the scenes to get the truth on dangerous loan programs, deceptive advertisements, bad companies, and politically influenced public policy that is designed to cheat mortgage and real estate consumers. Since both industries are enormously and intentionally confusing, this is a consumer need I don’t see evaporating anytime soon.

How does blogging fit into your overall marketing plan, or does it?

Truth telling is always good business, but that’s not why we do it. We are dedicated to provide the “inside information” on these industries mainly because it’s so hard to find.

The internet is without a doubt the greatest tool consumer could ever hope to find to shield themselves from rip-off artists. Our goal is to have The Mortgage Insider Blogsite the number 1 resource for unbiased mortgage and real estate information. The big mortgage websites are compromised by the advertisers so they dare not say anything uncomplimentary to the industry heavy weights.

We don’t have that problem…and we never will.

If there was anything you could change about your blog to make it better, what would it be?

We are looking in to developing training video so we can do an actual “evening news” style podcast to replace our weekly audio Mortgage Insiders News podcast.

They say 2007 will be the year of the Vlog…video blog. We believe they are right.

In addition to your own blog, you also contribute quite a bit of content to Active Rain. Can you explain the motivation or strategy behind this?

Believe it or not, the real estate community was falling for all the same mortgage lies consumers believed. So my motivation was to help inform the agents so they don’t pass on tainted mortgage advice to their clients. Belonging to a community of real estate and mortgage bloggers is also an excellent way to stay informed on their challenges as well. I have a tendency to get a little myopic, and AR pulls my out of my world and into theirs.

What are some of your favorite blogs?

I read a ton of blogs…hours and hours each week. Most blogs I have to say are a complete waste of time. People trying to be funny, or provocative for the sake of being provocative, or just plain “salesy”, bore me to death. You wonder why they even bother.

The silver lining in that cloud is they won’t be around for long.

Readers need usable information, clearly written. With that said, a few stand-outs to recommend excluding of course, your blogs and my blogs, for mortgage consumers is The Mortgage Professor’s site. and HSH.com.

What web sites, blogs, tools, or people do you find most helpful in building your blog?

Well the first thing that comes to mind is WordPress…the open source blogging and content management platform. I build all my sites with this as the underlying delivery system. It can be more daunting than other systems, but with complexity comes functionality. I could write an entire book on the advantages of this platform over all others. And when it comes to squeezing all the power out of the system, I read a blog called Lorelle on WordPress, plus the WordPress support forum.

When it comes to getting traffic, a perfectly search engine optimized blogsite is the key. There are a lot of contradictory views on just how to do this. My view, as in all things, is the long view. And the long view when it comes to search engine ranking is to build “trusted” sites.

What is a “high trust” or “trusted” site in the eyes of Google or other search engines?

Well it’s one that shows in unambiguous ways, it’s here to stay. Things as simple as a domain name purchased for the next 10 years instead of the “fly by night” one or two years. Putting your blog on a dedicated IP address and installing a SSL certificate (even if you’re not collecting sensitive user data) shows you are a serious webmaster.

As a matter of fact I have a domain that has no pages, but has a 10 year domain, dedicated IP and an SSL certificate installed in preparation for my WordPress blog install (which I intentionally left empty just to test this theory) that already has a Google PR of 2!

How could that be…there are no words on the page, no links, no nothing?

It’s a trusted site…that’s how.

That’s where it starts. Get that wrong, you’ll hurt yourself forever. After that, then it gets a little complicated. Keyword research, natural linking strategies, great content all play their part…and the WordPress blog platform simplify most of them.

To make sure I don’t take the wrong SEO information I read Matt Cutt’s blog Google’s blogging spokesman on all things that could be construed as spam or bad webmastering.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being Bill Gates, one being my great grandmother (bless her heart), what level of computer savvy would you say you have?

Well I’m no Bill Gates, but I’d give myself a rank of 9 at least. I’ve built static HTML websites and now have turned by attention to blogsites, blogging, and search engine optimization.

So if the raking were limited to WordPress, blogging, and getting traffic, I’d give myself a 10!

Do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?
To steal a phrase from Nike… Just Do It!

Get a WordPress blogsite installed, start writing to develop your “voice”, and remember to write for the reader, not for yourself.

Blogger Spotlight; Greg Polashock

Real estate blogging is not just for real estate agents. Loan Originators are turning to blogs as well to elevate themselves above the crowd. Today’s spotlight blogger is Greg Polashock, a Mortgage Planner with Cherry Creek Mortgage, who blogs on Active Rain.

What inspired you to create a real estate blog?

A real estate acquaintance of mine, Steve Scheer, encouraged me to start a blog. The second thing, and the deeper benefit to blogging, is that I was not getting much traffic through my website. As I continue with my blogging efforts, it has the added benefit of improving the google rankings for my personal site.

What do you like to blog about?

I blog about three things – 1) Items which may be educational or informative to industry-related professionals, 2) Items pertinent to the Home Mortgage sector, 3) Items of community/consumer interest

Where do you go, or what do you do to find topics to blog about?

First, I think like the audience I am trying to reach. As far as obtaining information, I am very well read and trained in matters related to the real estate industry from professional aspects relevent to Realtors to Estate Planning to Appraisal to Financial Planning.

How does blogging fit into your overall marketing plan, or does it?

The internet is a core feature for my marketing model as well as client/prospect/partner education.

If there was anything you could change about your blog to make it better, what would it be?

I’d like to be able to make it more fun for readers. Visual and sound effects would be really cool

What are some of your favorite blogs?

I don’t have any favorite blogs at this time. I’m still new to this and anything I find is just for informational purposes so far.

What web sites, blogs, tools, or people do you find most helpful in building your blog?

My friend, Steve Scheer, and his wife, have been very helpful. I’ve also gotten some good information by checking out Kristal Kraft’s blogs.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being Bill Gates, one being my great grandmother (bless her heart), what level of computer savvy would you say you have?

Mmm, good question – I’d put me at about a 6. (Geez, 10=Bill Gates? Now, isn’t that a pretty high bar.) 🙂

Do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?

Gather some pictures of your and your company logo; write (and then rewrite) a paragraph each on the following – business focus, about you, what makes you different; write a few brief articles that you think would be of interest; just go for it.

Blogger Spotlight; Steve Scheer

Steve Scheer started Real Estate in Denver and the Suburbs in February of this year. In addition to being a great resource for local market data, New bloggers should take note of the ways Steve makes his data more accessable through the RSS Feed Buttons on the top of the left column. We’ll talk more about these tools during the panel discussion of Blog Fiesta.

What inspired you to create a real estate blog?

The short answer is my wife, Laura. The long answer is, I was absolutely fed up with PPC costs that had begun to decrease in quality of leads. The problem was, I was too busy to figure out another way to enhance my internet marketing. My wife has a bit more technical know how than I (in the google/seo/blogging arena) and had more time than I to look into it. Thus, she found Active Rain. There has been a significant learning curve for me in understanding how blogs are helpful SEO-wise, but I am glad I stuck with it. My wordpress blog was recently moved to the .org side and I need to make a few more changes before I feel that it is fully functional.

What do you like to blog about?

I have to say that it is the local pieces that have I have received the most interest from my consumer base. There is a satisfaction from receiving emails from people saying “What a great source of information you have provided.” I do not blog because I just like to blog. Let’s face it – it takes a lot of time to create quality marketing information – whether it’s a print ad, emails, newsletters or blogs. I blog because I see tremendous value as a marketing tool.

Where do you go, or what do you do to find topics to blog about?

That has become much easier as time has passed. Sometimes I think of common questions customers ask me. I have blogged a bit about local events. I do receive a good deal of feedback from potential consumers after posting market statistics. Laura is always bringing up ideas too, some I like, some I don’t. But she is a great resource for bouncing ideas off of – as since she is not an agent, she has the ability to really give me an opinion as a consumer how a blog is quality wise.

How does blogging fit into your overall marketing plan, or does it?

6 months ago – it didn’t. Now, it does. To what extent, that is still yet to be determined. I do know that as long as I see value from it and my customers see value that I will continue to blog. I just need to find more time to do it.

If there was anything you could change about your blog to make it better, what would it be?

Well, I think making my “new” blog “live” before it was completely done was a mistake. I wish I had just finished it before telling others about it. But that is ok. I also think it has been difficult for me to let people get to know “me” through my blog. I think providing the info is easy. Its that “voice” part that I need to work on. When you think about it, everyone has different talents. My forte has never been “writing” – I have learned to realize that it is an area that I need to improve on. I am actually a very funny guy, I don’t think that has shown through in my blog, yet.

In addition to your own blog, you also contribute quite a bit of content to Active Rain.

Can you explain the motivation or strategy behind this? Motivation wise – Mostly because of the ease of the format. And the wealth of information about blogging in particular. My “new” blog was not done yet and so it was a great way to get going. The google ranking benefits have been tremendous.

What are some of your favorite blogs?

I am thoroughly enjoying the new weblogging 101 blog from Blood Hound realty. I also have learned quite a bit from reading phoenixrealestateguy and rsspieces has good info too. Jeff Turner on AR is a not to miss as well. As for learning how to write local content – I would recommend checking out Laurie Manny, Marianna Wagner, Lenn Harley Chris Elizabeth Griffith and Rennee Burrows. They are all on Active Rain but some have other sites too. – I also have read most of the Realty Blogging Book which was very helpful as well.

What web sites, blogs, tools, or people do you find most helpful in building your blog?

Jay Thompson, The Phoenix Real Estate guy moved our wordpress.com blog to .org and has been a tremendous wealth of information on all sorts of topics. I have to say that Kristal was very helpful to Laura in particular when we were getting started as well. And of course Laura was great – she didn’t come into this knowing all but she has really studied it and helped a great deal.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being Bill Gates, one being my great grandmother (bless her heart), what level of computer savvy would you say you have?

I would say I am a 3-4 and Laura is a 6 – 7 so we are a good team techno wise.

Do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?

Do it.

Blogger Spotlight; Joanne Hanson

Joanne Hanson blogs on her Summit County Real Estate web site. This blog is an excellent example of how blogging can be published a seamless section of an existing web site. Something yesterday’s spotlight blogger was looking to do as well. It’s beautifully done in my opinion.

What inspired you to create a real estate blog?

The fact that it would help my website in organic search positioning. That was all initially, but now I am getting into it and enjoying it. I need more sleep though 🙂

What do you like to blog about?

I am in a vacation home market and there is little out there about how to manage a second home, plus I wanted to highlight the lifestyle in our area.

Where do you go, or what do you do to find topics to blog about?

Active Rain primarily (I also have my own blog on my website )
I also have RSS readers set up and read several blogs regularly, plus I have google alerts set up for “vacation homes”. There is not much out there though, which is good I guess, as I am one of few rather than one of many!

When people ask questions or make comments, I make note and blog about them. Plus I write about things happening in our area, but not so much events. I figure our local paper will do that. I am trying to highlight local businesses and people without losing my real estate focus. Then I email the subjects of my post and let them know about it so they can send to friends etc. Too many people just blog about listings and that is not interesting to me. Just more advertising. I think my readers would feel the same way.

How does blogging fit into your overall marketing plan, or does it?

SEO, SEO, SEO. Plus market and area knowledge once I get a decent number of readers

If there was anything you could change about your blog to make it better, what would it be?

My knowledge…backtracks etc

What are some of your favorite blogs?

RSS pieces, Tomato, AR, others I am still discovering

What web sites, blogs, tools, or people do you find most helpful in building your blog?

My webdesigner initially, Active Rain primarily, google analytics, hittail, and anything else I can find that I can use.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being Bill Gates, one being my great grandmother (bless her heart), what level of computer savvy would you say you have?

I am trying to learn trigonometry without having had algebra. I might be a 5 if I stretch. I generally educate myself enough to know what I need to do, but I hire someone to actually do it. I don’t have the knowledge for that, but I am learning!

Do you have any tips or advice for a fellow real estate professional that’s looking to get into blogging?

Get online and read everything you can. If you dont’ understand it, read some more and find places that keep it as simple as possible. That is why I like active rain so much, because a lot of stuff out there is written in geekspeak and I need easy.