In preparation for my participation at Inman Connect 2008, I have been thinking a lot about our panel topic, Growing Pains: Take Your Blog to the Next Level.
Today’s post is a run-together of the relevant points on this topic, the way I see it.
If you are experiencing “Growing Pains” in your blogging, I guess it would entail that you have been at it now for at least the last year, and in some cases much longer. In addition, you probably find the following list familiar.
1. Your blog is at the center of your Online Marketing Strategy.
2. You enjoy the Discipline of blogging regularly.
3. You have integrated your blog into your Offline Marketing.
4. You are Generating Leads and Clients as a result of your blogging.
5. You have earned Prime Position in the Search Engines for desired terms.
6. You are recognized as an Authority on the topics you cover.
Well, what are your Needs?
1. More Content
2. More Authority
3. More Exposure
4. More Business
5. More Relationships
The Tendencies are to look for New Tools, New Design, and/or New Knowledge.
However, I don’t know that any of these will make any real difference.
In an earlier post, I penned that the Future of the Real Estate Blog is inevitably going to yield to proficient video bloggers. However, I don’t feel that embracing video is the next step for bloggers experiencing growing pains.
Although I still believe that video will be an amazingly successful tool for those that master its application, I don’t see it to be universally leveraged in the real estate industry.
Blogging, even with all the attention it has garnered over the last couple of years, is only being used as an effective marketing tool by less than 1% of active Realtors. Vlogging (video blogging) is a similar effort to blogging, in that to be successful it will require discipline, creativity, consistency, skill and practice. Given the effort required, I’m not going to broadly encourage bloggers with growing pains to jump on the vlogging train to solve the above Needs.
My first impression of the Real Estate Business was watching my father, who has been the broker of a successful boutique real estate office for longer than I have been alive. Admittedly, as a boy, I had little understanding of what he actually did for a living other than:
1. He took lots of pictures of houses and property.
2. He seemed to know everyone in town.
It was the second item that impressed me most as I tagged along with him, going about his business.
Landscapers, builders, roofers, lawyers, film developers, painters, housekeepers, plumbers, bankers, etc… he knew everyone, and everyone knew him. To me, it appeared as if his business was simply running around town, talking with people. His life was conversation after conversation with every business person in town. It was excruciating for me; “You know my son, Jimmy.” “Say hi Jimmy.” All day long.
I bring this up because I see that the greatest challenge in surging to success through blogging is the current form of the Conversation on the RE.net (Real Estate Blogosphere).
The current Conversation is dominated by the Industry itself. Blogs’ comments are, in most cases, a Realtor daisy chain. I am not singling out Industry blogs like Bloodhound Blog or or Agent Genius that are designed to be Realtor-on-Realtor action. In fact, I am referring to the hundreds of community focused real estate blogs that populate the RE.net. The worst offender of them all being the stadium of Realtors that is ActiveRain.
The result appears to be that Mr. and Mrs. Homebuyer are electing to stay out of the conversation. Whether it is for fear of ‘sounding’ dumb, or they are just getting the sense that they aren’t exactly welcome, their voice is just not being ‘read’.
Imagine a dinner party where one end of the table is made up of actors discussing a new, popular play. The other end of the table are non-actors. I think you can see where I am headed here. The actor end of the table would be engaging only to themselves, leaving the other end to listen, or talk about something else.
Tackling the challenge of the perpetual industry conversation, I believe, needs to be the focus of finding the next level for one’s real estate blog.
The successful, local Realtor, is a virtual rolodex, building relationships with the town. Conversations are open and inviting, and the content is presented from all sides. The Real Estate Blog and Web 2.0 Environment needs to reflect this real-world aspect of the Real Estate Business.
Bringing the voice of the community to your real estate blog will more easily open the conversation to your current silent majority.
By inviting your closest business contacts to take turns on your soap box, the conversation will open up to the whole table, where the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker and the Realtor are participating in the various discussions. When Mr. and Mrs. Homebuyer sense the openness of these conversations, they will no longer curb their opinions for fear of “not fitting in”.
More authors means more content.
You know how you earned your authority through blogging. Now your blogging partners themselves will gain said authority on your shoulders.
The Obvious: More content, more exposure in the search engines.
The Bonus: Now that you have a group of bloggers that are proud of their own efforts, they too will advertise the domain, and encourage others to to read and participate.
Successfully engaging your casual visitor will lead to more business opportunities for all.
The cumulative above all leads to more personal connections. And then, you’ll have a whole new set of growing pains to worry about.