Category Archives: Industry Experts

Incredible Agent – Interviewed

One problem with the youth of the RE blog movement is that most web design companies have been slow to integrate blogs into there platform. One notible exeption is Incredible Agent. On top of it all, they even offer a free, blogcentric platform for RE Agents. I cought up with Tom Wolf to find out more.

Hi Tom, Tell us a little about Incredible Agent.

Incredible Agent provides comprehensive web marketing systems for agents and brokers. We are a company that has evolved dramatically since we got our start over 5 years ago. We were originally a lead generation company but have now transitioned into a much broader web marketing company. Our focus is on helping agents manage their entire Internet presence, and quite honestly, that presence extends out a lot further than most real estate professionals would even realize. Our goal is twofold. First, make sure that 100% of the real estate professional in the industry have a website. Second, make sure that real estate professionals can get back to doing what they do best, providing great service to the client.

Continue reading

Blogger Spotlight; Dan Green

I have a huge amount of respect for Dan Green because he can do something that I simply cannot. Through The Mortgage Reports, Dan blogs about mortgages to consumers. Sounds simple enough, but you try writing about ARP’s and the ten year note for more than a few days and see how well it goes. If you are a loan originator that wishes to blog about mortgages, I can think of no other blogger that you could learn more from than Dan Green.

Hi Dan, what inspired you to create a mortgage blog?

I used to send these terrific direct mail newsletters to my clients each month. It was a 4-page spread with fantastic articles on home financing and other “general knowledge” topics. In December 2004, one of the issues featured a piece on the benefits of “paying down your mortgage early”. The piece was well-written, but I advise my clients to keep their money out of their home. Unless they’ve exhausted all of their other options for “extra” capital, de-leveraging their home is an unsafe risk.

The next day, I stopped the newsletter service and starting looking for alternatives. That’s when I found Alex Stenback at Behind The Mortgage and Dustin Luther at Rain City Guide — two bloggers that we’re writing very interesting stuff. I watched how they both used their blogs as a way to communicate with their readers on their terms. This was the perfect replacement for the newsletter, as I saw it.

After I trolled their blogs for several weeks, I finally stepped out and tried it on my own. Continue reading

Expert Panelist; Kristal Kraft

Kristal Kraft’s blog was the first real estate blog I ever came across that focused on Denver. So, naturally, she was one of the first bloggers I contacted when planning this event. Kristal is one of our expert panel members for Blog Fiesta. Tentatively, she will be discussing blogs as a tool for social networking.

What inspired you to create a real estate blog?

I started hearing about blogs a few years ago, in fact my Denver Real Estate & Relocation blog has a birthdate of November 2003, in blog years that’s a long time! My purpose though rather clouded at the time was to see if I could pull one together by myself. I choose a TypePad template to publish a few thoughts, then proceded to make every mistake in the book, like regurgitating the news. (yawn) It wasn’t long before my blog was left abandoned.

Eventually I saw the importance of blogging and post again. Traction came soon, I would get messages like, “hey when are you going to post the Denver Sales Statistics, the month is half over!” A thump on the head was what I needed to realize someone (maybe the only one) was paying attention. Yippee!

Last year a friend Bonnie Cox from RE/MAX Masters invited me to join Active Rain. Bonnie and I became friendly competitors in the race for points, blogging our brains out. It was at Active Rain that I got a blogging routine down.

What do you like to blog about?

My blogs are pretty eclectic. Photography is my passion, I love taking photos of Denver and our picturesque state of Colorado. I am a one woman Chamber of Commerce. When you love where you live, it’s not really selling, it’s sharing. Writing about and selling real estate in Colorado is a cinch.

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

Topics to blog on are endless. The problem is finding the time to compose a worthy blog. So often I get ideas, but run out of steam and the relevance passes long before I have time to work it!

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

Blogging is a natural for my marketing plan. I’ve had a top ranked Denver Real Estate website for a decade now. Blogging is just one more way to encourage people to find me on the web. My blog welcomes them to the many doors of my websites.

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

I would have created my own domain instead of using a hosted TypePad.

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?

Social networking has many benefits. Thanks to Active Rain, I have found an amazing network of like-minded friends with whom to socialize and connect. We colaborate marketing ideas and teach each other technology. What I have learned on Active Rain thru specific subscriptions, far outweights any real estate seminar I could attend.

Many of my Active Rain blogs were crafted to help other bloggers learn how to use the network. For some reason, the AR developers never wrote a training manual. So I did. Now there are others doing the same thing. I love reading them, because I learn too.

My motivation is a Zen like thing, by giving to the universe, I receive.

What are some of your favorite blogs?

My feed reader is full of good blogs, I prefer blogs where I either learn something or are entertained. CopyBlogger, RE Agent in Ct posts bad and very funny MLS photos, Kevin Boer of 3 Oceans has a nice mix of both informative and funny, of couse Sellsuis and oh so many others.

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

Active Rain is a good place to get your blogging legs. Join up, read and subscribe to a few good ones, then jump in. Following the proper ettiquette a new blogger will be welcomed. When you reach a comfort level, get an “outside” blog and go to it.

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?

Oh, this is a good one! I’d say I’m an “7”. I know just enough to recognize when to call in the Cavalry!

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

Do it. (unless you live in Denver, then forgetdaboutit!) 🙂

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.