7 Myths About Real Estate Blogging

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Given John’s general disposition, I expect this piece to generate some discussion, so don’t let me down. =)

7 Myths About Real Estate Blogging

By John Lockwood

I’ve been thinking of submitting an article to the Real Estate Tomato for some time. The Tomato is probably the only real estate blogging related blog that I read regularly.  Webmaster Jim Cronin and his frequent contributor, Teresa Boardman, do a really good job of putting up with my somewhat twisted world view, and this tolerance has emboldened me to twist it up into a more full length article form.

I’ve been blogging for awhile, since the launch of the web site that now accounts for much of my business — in mid 2003 or thereabouts.  To give you an idea: I started out on Radio UserLand, which one might quip is the blogging software equivalent of the Altair or the TRS-80. I haven’t been blogging continuously since then; there was at least one gap of a few months.

I’ve had some successes with my blog, but I dare say almost all of them have been indirect, except the pleasure of meeting a small number of hardy souls who’ve made bold to befriend me. Lately however the more I read about what others are saying about real estate blogging, the more I feel like my efforts have been something entirely different from what other people are saying about their efforts.

So when I list these myths about real estate blogging, I should do so with an appropriate disclaimer:

I believe that my take on what’s right and wrong about blogging is pretty much a minority opinion.

So here is a minority opinion, then, on the top myths about real estate blogging.

1. There is a real estate blogging community to be a part of.

Those of you who like me spent a substantial part of your high school days reading Kurt Vonnegut may remember his discussion of Granfalloons, but for those who didn’t, Wikipedia as always will let you catch up quickly. Sure, there are a lot of folks blogging about real estate, but together they no more form a community than the people you pass on the highway form a community of drivers. As in driving, you’ll find lots of people you don’t care about one way or another, a few people who are entertaining to look at or easy on the eyes (or both), people whose courtesy surprises you, and people whose complete lack of courtesy surprises you even more.

2. Somebody important to your business is reading you.

If you’re blogging about real estate, your most likely audiences are:

The search engines. Actually these are important, but they’re not a somebody, they’re a some-algorithm.
Bubble blog readers who are waiting for you to claim that there’s some value in owning a home so they can pick a fight with you.
Your colleagues, who by and large are hoping you’ll amuse them, mention them, or link to them. Teresa will probably disagree with me on that point, but only because Teresa will read this. Q.E.D.

3. Blogs have built in search engine magic.

I have to thank Jim Cronin for being the first person to use the phrase “long tail search results” on me — I had to go look it up when he did that. There seems to be a prevailing opinion that if you just write enough stuff, you’ll be found for certain keyword combinations that will help your business. Well, in a way, that’s true, but it’s true in the same sense as the old-timer’s joke about the real estate business, i.e., you “throw enough [stuff] on the wall to see what sticks.” Moreover, blogs are not special in this respect, blog pages don’t get indexed any more than any other pages do, it’s just that blogging tools make it easier to create more pages than developing pages and FTPing them up to your site by hand.

There seems to be a sentiment that if you blog hard enough, you don’t have to understand SEO. Actually, come to think of it, I endorse that. The more you believe that, the less typing I have to do.

4. Real estate blogs are leading the industry toward greater transparency.

It’s fun being a Realtor®.

So many people think we’re crooks and liars that we have a whole organization, NAR, who gets a healthy fee from each and every one of us for the reputation laundering effects of saying we subscribe to NAR’s Code of Ethics.

Now everywhere I go I hear about transparency. Someone even paid me a compliment and said I was a model of transparency, and I had to read the post three or four times to understand that he meant it as a compliment. Now look: If you were a liar or a crook before you got in the business, neither NAR’s Code of Ethics nor your WordPress installation will redeem you. And if you were an honest person before you got in the business, chances are you’ll continue to be one without any special organizational or technological crutches.

5. ActiveRain is a great way to generate business.

Now don’t get me wrong, hanging around ActiveRain may be a great social thrill for you and you might meet some colleagues who will entertain you or mention you or link to you, but I wouldn’t call that working.

When I was a newcomer in the business, someone suggested that I should join the Chamber of Commerce. (Or as I fondly call them, the “Chamber of Convicts”.) So I paid my dues and got me a nice little plaque, and started going to some of the organizational meetings. Somewhere around meeting one or two it dawned on me that half the people in the room were Realtors®. I thought, “So this is where I’m supposed to prospect for clients?” It seemed to me then, and it seems to me know, that that particular stretch of the pier was pretty heavily fished already.

Now don’t get me wrong, hanging around ActiveRain may be a great social thrill for you and you might meet some colleagues who will entertain you or mention you or link to you, but I wouldn’t call that working. (Incidentally, neither is this article — you have to goof off some times.)

6. Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, Zillowfin, Falsia, Inmanfin, and The Kitchen Sink

Just now, as you were busy reading someone who’s goofing off, somebody somewhere was 1) discounting commissions 2) putting up free listings 3) otherwise competing with you.

Who cares?

Either you’re dominant in some segment of your market or some prospecting technique, be it web site promotion, blogging for dollars, working expireds, door knocking, direct mail, doing killer listing presentations — whatever — or you aren’t. Quoth the Borg: “Competition is irrelevant.” It’s pleasantly irrelevant if you win, less pleasantly so otherwise.

7. There has been a recent trend in real estate blogging toward localism.

Wha-a-a-t-t-t are you talking about?

Of all the myths I’ve heard about blogging, this one strikes me as perhaps the funniest of all.

A small group of pundits has so turned the agenda toward a discussion of the discussion, that now they turn around and tell us that just having the original discussion is a recent trend.Real estate blogging has always been local, so it lives in no other place from which it can trend back toward local-ISM. What isn’t local is real estate blogging blogging [sic], which consists at least in part about getting together to pass out awards for the best article about Zillowfin and Falsia, and having a discussion about the discussion.
Round about 2005-2006, the discussion of the discussion started to displace the discussion, and though I’m as likely to lapse into it as anyone, I lapse into it as an outsider to it. I’ve pretty much decided that there’s no place for me in the discussion of the discussion, and I either need to have a discussion about the discussion of the discussion, or fire up the local MLS software and just go back home and have a discussion.
There has been a trend in recent paragraphs toward obscurantism. But with that — you must be living right — I’m done

More info on John Lockwood, Broker, Elite Properties

Website:  http://www.sacramento-home.com
Blog:  http://www.sacramento-home.com/real-estate-events/