A Look Inside the Mind of a Real Estate Blogger – Is This You?

Cognition

My pitch to the gang was,
“Now that you have been blogging for a while,
describe how your thinking/behavior has changed.”

9 Tomato Bloggers hashed out our topic on the Tomato Matrix, and the result of my patch-work follows:

Changing One’s Lifestyle

Daniel Bates points out: “Blogging isn’t a job or a hobby, it’s a lifestyle!”

One of the first things you notice, when you commit to putting blogging at the center of your online marketing strategy is the way it starts to overtake you thoughts.  A mix of passion, commitment, and opportunity energize the brain, making it difficult to ‘turn it off’.  A commitment to blogging means early mornings for some, late nights for others, and if you are like me, sometimes an exhausting combination of both.

‘Hearing’ Articles

When your brain is hungry for content, you begin to recognize the blog article in every personal connection.

Geordie Romer said it well:

Whenever I get an email that includes a question, I think, would that make for a good blog post?
Whenever I am stopped in the Leavenworth Safeway by a client or a neighbor and they ask me a question, I wonder… blog post?
When I am cornered after church for advice… blog post?
When I read the local newspaper and think “They didn’t really get that right did they?” I know I’ll have to blog about it.
When a new agent in my office is confused, I know that their clients probably are too, and that is a blog post.
When one person asks a question, odds are that dozens more are wondering the same, and hundreds more will ask the question in the next year or so.

Considering  and Catering  to the Needs of your Audience

Now that you know you have an audience, whether it be 10 or 1000 a day, you start to consider things from the reader’s point of view.  Your blogging becomes less about what you can offer, and more about being in tune with their needs.

Judy Peterson states: “Buyers and Sellers need so much information to make informed decisions today. I try to be empathetic, listen to those needs and answer their concerns.”

Making a Stronger Connection to the Community

With the power to represent the community, one’s connection and thirst for it surges.

Establishing yourself as a community expert means more than just developing a strong network.  Lenore Wilkas has made the effort of subscribing to anything and everything that offers local news and information.   Fran O’neal is interviewing local business owners and documenting their compelling stories.

The connection and responsibility to it becomes clear when bloggers start to notice the posts that they have written about the community are placing at the tops of the SERPs.  With the power to represent the community, one’s connection and thirst for it surges.

Noticing and Leveraging the Details

I’m certain writers must see the world in greater detail then those of us just getting from one place to the next.  Bloggers start to notice things about the community that before they had tuned out.  Suddenly your town comes alive: What is  history of the names of the local parks and schools?  How many mom-and-pop businesses do you pass on your commute?  Where does that old dirt road lead?

Fran O’Neal points out that these topics and details may not be real estate related… but one finds that they can’t help themselves from noticing, and their content is all the better for it.

Preparing for, and Recognizing Opportunity

It is a mistake for a real estate blogger to be caught without their camera.  Sure you have one on the cellie, but you and I both know the quality of these cameras leaves us wanting.  I know that Teresa Boardman would turn around 5 mins after leaving the house if she realized that she left her camera at home.

It is a mistake for a real estate blogger to be caught without a note pad or voice recorder.  Some of our best ideas come to us on the road, in the park, at the coffee shop, and in the shower.  The savvy blogger recognizes this, and is always prepared.

Feeling Rebellious

Ryan Rockwood’s blogging has him walking on the wild side:
“You will know you are thinking like a blogger when you get your first penalty fine from your Board of Realtors for your Website.  Maybe you borrowed’ content. Maybe you misused the term Realtor.  Maybe you posted video of the inside of someone else’s listing!  The bottom line is that you are on the cutting edge…and you are taking the blows.”

Fine Tuning One’s Skills

I still get a little sense of excitement or adrenaline every time I hit publish

Since jumping in with both feet, Bruce Lemieux has gone from confident, to concerned, to insecure, to hopeful, to a rebuilt confidence realizing that Rome [a successful blog] wasn’t built in a day.  Things have gotten easier, he has gotten smarter, his focus is clearer… he is not intimidated.

Mark Madsen sees his blogging as a “workout for his brain” and that his perseverance has reinforced his confidence.  With every post he sees his reach and exposure grow, empowering him to attack his Idea List, and get more done.  Mark also delivered my favorite quote: “I still get a little sense of excitement or adrenaline every time I hit publish.”

One Man’s Journey out of Blogging Infancy

I know that I am risking losing half of the readers that made it this far because of the length of remainder of this post, but if you would just bear with me.  Rod Herman’s story of growing into a blogger encompasses nearly everything above, and it makes for a great read.

When this topic was announced a few weeks ago, I still felt like a Blogging Infant. My new Tomato site had just launched a few months before and up until early January I was still knee-deep fine-tuning it, adding pages, learning HTML, and occasionally blogging.

So when January arrived, I committed to blogging on a much more regular basis. But I was still a Blogging Infant. Oh, I’d posted a few articles a month while my site was still being designed.  And I’d added some community posts in December.  But I didn’t really feel like a BLOGGER. Instead I felt like someone who HAD a blog.  I realized there was a big difference between the two.  (But then, I didn’t really KNOW how a blogger was supposed to “FEEL”).

I had lots of grandiose plans: I’d do a 2008 home sales recap, I’d start publishing a weekly housing inventory list for our market area.  I’d start reading my Google Reader religiously to make sure I stayed abreast of relevant real estate news.  I’d do everything I could to position myself as the clear real estate expert in our area.

By mid-month, I had about a dozen posts under my belt. It was all starting to feel a little more comfortable.  I started to notice certain subtle changes.  Whenever I went on a walk and noticed something interesting, I’d wish that I’d brought along a camera.  When I heard about something happening in town, I started to think “Blog-Post-Topic.”  When I’d read some national story on housing or the economy, I’d instinctively look for a local angle to write a post about.

Then, one evening, I went to Office Max and stopped by Cost Plus afterward to pick up some tea.  As I walked out of the store, I happened to glance up and noticed a bunch of “Everything Must Go” signs plastered on the front window.  It didn’t say going out of business, just “Total Store Clearance.”  Could CP be shutting this store? I hadn’t heard anything about it, so the moment I got home, I dashed to the computer, searched our local news media sites and found no mention of any closures.

Maybe it was just store inventory time, I thought, but something in the back of my mind said, “dig deeper.”  So I put Google and Yahoo to work and ultimately found a short article from some media site, in Florida as I recall, indicating that about 60 Cost Plus stores including the one I’d just visited would be closing.  Ours was the only Bay Area store destined for closure.

Next it was onto Cost Plus’s corporate web site.  There I found the full press release. Turns out the closure had just been announced and the clearance signs had probably gone up just hours before I arrived.  That’s why no Bay Area media outlets had yet reported anything.

I was already writing my blog post in my mind. This store was in a big-box multi-tenant building that had also been home to Linens & Things before it closed last fall. If other stores followed suit, could this once-thriving shopping center turn into a ghost town?  It sure would be nice to add some perspective to the post by describing the enormity of the building.  But the CP corporate press release didn’t describe anything other than the name of the city.

If I could just find out the size of the building space that Cost Plus would be soon be vacating, it might add a little perspective to my article. But where would I find it?  A little more Googling, and Voila! there was the leasing agent’s web site, complete with the square footage of every store in the shopping center.

As I sat down to write my article, I kicked myself for not bringing my camera with me that evening. How could I be so foolish? I could have shown the world those big bright red Store Clearance signs I had just seen a half-hour or so ago.

But wait! The next morning I’d be going near the shopping center on my way to meeting a client in Napa.  I could take a picture then. For now, I’d just drop in a little graphic with the Cost Plus logo.

I couldn’t wait for daybreak, so I could snap my photos.  Then I couldn’t wait to get back from my appointment so I could replace the CP logo with a photo showing the store with all its clearance signs.

This was ‘breaking news’ and I’d been there to cover it. Okay, maybe not quite the same as what Woodward and Bernstein discovered at the Watergate Apartments in Washington back in the early ’70s, but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

Suddenly, now, I felt different. I felt like my words had a purpose. A cause.  I had scooped the local paper. Okay, as it turned out, they published an article the next morning, so my scoop really only lasted about 10 hours.  And I had a PHOTO; they just had a brief digest-type article. So for those 10 hours, I felt like THE community expert — the place people could go if they wanted to find out the latest on their town.

Since that day, I’ve found myself rushing back to my computer almost immediately after hearing or reading about something worthy of a post.  My camera has become a regular companion; almost an appendage.

I look at the world a little differently now. Wherever I go, whatever I do, there’s a little voice in the back of my mind asking the question: “Hey, could this be worth writing about?”

I don’t think I look any different than I did a month ago.  None of my friends or clients say I act differently. But I definitely feel different. That’s because I look at the world through a different set of lenses than I did five weeks ago.

So I guess I’m no longer a Blogging Infant. I think I’ve become a Toddler. For, with each new step I take, I find myself embracing blogging in a way I never would have imagined.  I walk through the grocery store and I’m writing a post in my mind. I see something interesting as I’m driving around town and pull over to snap a quick photo.  I go to our weekly Realtors breakfast meeting and carefully write down everything that week’s guest speaker says.  And grab a photo of the speaker just in case it’s worthy of a post.

I know I still have a long way to go before I reach Blogging-Adolescence and ultimately Adulthood. But I’m definitely on my way.  A few months back, I wasn’t sure where my blog site would lead me.  I hoped it would take me down the path I wanted, but the blogosphere a was a confusing and mysterious place.

Today, it’s still somewhat confusing and, yes, still a bit mysterious.  But I’m learning everyday and more importantly, embracing everything I learn. I’ve written posts, syndicated posts to other sites, and even came in third in my first Real Estate Carnival.

No longer do I feel like an outsider or wannabee. I now know exactly where I’m heading.

And at long last, I know, too, just what it feels like to be a Blogger.

Word to the Wise:

You’re going to write about this on your BLOG, aren’t you?

Daniel Bates warns: “Just be careful – There I was on a remote beach, just me and my wife and a small houseboat with literally no one within miles of us. Waking to the sunrise, walks on the beach (intermittent fishing) and evenings staring into her candle lit eyes, when she says, “You’re going to write about this on your BLOG, aren’t you?”.

What could I say?

I didn’t write EVERYTHING, but of course I couldn’t resist tapping out my latest local adventure as soon as I was back on terra firma”

Tomato Co-Authors

Tomato-Patch

Daniel Bates – MyMcClellanville.net
Geordie Romer – IcicleCreekRealEstate.com
Judy Peterson – MainlinePAToday.com
Bruce Lemieux – MocoRealEstate.com
Lenore Wilkas – WilkasGroup.com
Fran O’Neal – RealEstateInChantilly.com
Rod Herman – HomeSection.com
Ryan Rockwood – RockysMLS.com
Mark Madsen – MortgageSalesBlog.com

 

Thanks to all for your participation.