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Bring The Blog [Product Review]

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How many times have you said this or heard it at a conference or in a course, “I’m too busy to blog,” “I get writer’s block,” “I’m a terrible writer,” “I’m extremely lazy” (my favorite) or any variation of these? We’ve all said it or heard it and one of the industry’s bright minds has spent a massive amount of effort grooming his product into the perfect solution.

Bring the Blog is like the AP of blogs- the content is written in a professional manner regarding real estate and mortgage news and can be copied and pasted into your own blog, imported directly to your blog or you can use one of the blog templates that comes *with* the Bring the Blog service. This is how your local newspaper, magazines and national news media function- they all draw from the Associated Press articles and reproduce them, sometimes adding their own analysis (like on television), other times republishing the article on local news venues (like in local papers).

Why You’ll Love Bring The Blog

  • Bring The Blog is an awesome supplement to your existing articles.
  • Because of Bring The Blog’s integration into existing websites, the product offers turnkey marketing perfect for your database.
  • Bring The Blog only costs us a little over a dollar a day. That’s what it costs me to eat Peanut Butter M&Ms every morning!!
  • SEO customization options and site statistics are provided.
  • New users’ sites are populated with ALL articles written by Bring The Blog in the past, not just those going forward. It’s a great way to populate a new site!
  • The articles are well written and consumer-centric.
  • The interface is non-threatening, extremely intuitive and simple so all levels of bloggers can access the backend easily.
  • Bring The Blog sites are fully customizable (add footers, side widgets (postlets, meebo), market stats, etc.)
  • Users can opt-in to daily tips via email which are all useful coaching tips ranging from how to use the service to how to promote your blog.
  • You can attribute writing to yourself, to Bring The Blog or a combination thereof and you can enable or disable comments on the Bring The Blog sites.
  • Users can hide posts they don’t wish to publish.
  • Q&As are always on the sidebar of the backend, answering questions you didn’t even know you had!
  • You can opt in to having a newsletter style email sent to your entire database with the week’s top articles from your Bring The Blog blog.

Check Out The Back End

No, not that back end! C’mon, stay focused here:



Check out the Front End



Overcoming Objections

  • “Blogging is supposed to be about YOU as an AGENT, not somebody else’s words”.
    Blogging is about getting more business. It’s marketing.
  • “If you don’t have time to blog, you shouldn’t be blogging.”
    If you don’t have time to blog, you should be using Bring the Blog. Every agent has to be giving their clients information they can use based on what’s happening in the market TODAY. This is a clear case of where doing NOTHING is worse than doing something, even if it’s third-party content. If you’re not educating your clients, somebody else will earn that relationship.
  • “I don’t want the same blog as everyone else.”
    Tweak, modify, and customize then. Bring the Blog is a head-start for your daily post.
  • “I don’t want to use Bring the Blog’s Web site — I want more customization.”
    Each member’s license entitles them to re-publish and alter the content in any way they want. Many choose to publish it on their own third-party blogs.
  • “What will happen when a buyer reads an agent’s blog and realizes that he didn’t write that blog post, or has no idea what he’s talking about?”
    The agent should not misrepresent himself on his blog, or anywhere else. But many of Bring the Blog’s members tell us that they enjoy the morning posts because it educates them and gives them talking points for the day.
  • “As a broker, I love this idea.”
    Of course you do — your agents are spending more time away from their laptops and you’ve just eliminated a whole bunch of liability issues because Bring The Blog is not overly opining. Bring the Blog reports and interprets news that your agents’ clients need to know.
  • “Duplicate content is terrible in search engines.”
    Bring the Blog members can personalize and customize their sites to reduce duplicate content, and before Labor Day, they’ll be introducing a new blog post algorithm that makes each post inherently unique. If duplicate content is a major concern of yours, it won’t be a concern starting in 8 weeks.

Dan Green has been publishing Bring the Blog for real estate and mortgage professionals since December 2006 and the product draws rave reviews from members. Many AG readers teach courses to beginner bloggers and we anticipate that Bring The Blog will be recommended as a great supplemental tool. AG readers and writers go on vacation or get burned out on local blogs (or hyper local blogs) which is where Bring The Blog also comes in handy.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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49 Comments

49 Comments

  1. Matthew Rathbun

    June 23, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Lani,

    I think this is a GREAT tool to get the blogger started or to supplement the downtime that they may have when they get writers block or just insufficient time! I like the concept and the price is very reasonable.

    I think the Agent can certainly create their own “voice” by augmenting these existing articles or picking the ones that best reflect their outlook on the business. This is a great teaching/support tool for agents.

    It looks well done and easy to use!

  2. Jay Thompson

    June 23, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Great review. Love Dan Green, he’s a helluva guy. I still have a little problem with the whole “it’s not you thing”. Yes, blogging is about business and marketing, but a lot of that business and marketing IS about you. Blogging is the single best way to get your personality out there for others to see — and decide whether or not they want to use YOU as their agent. So much of blogging is about YOU.

    Full disclosure that the posts aren’t written by you is (or should be) mandatory. But I still see something missing as the individual “voice” is gone.

    Fantastic tool as a “supplement”. But as your only stand alone blog, I’m not so sure. As for the solution of customizing, well, if you’re going to take the time to do that (and a huge percentage won’t) then why not write it yourself?

    “they’ll be introducing a new blog post algorithm that makes each post inherently unique. If duplicate content is a major concern of yours, it won’t be a concern starting in 8 weeks.”

    And what makes one feel Google isn’t smart enough to see this? Doinking with algorithms to beat Google at it’s own game is a frightening proposition. At least to me….

  3. Jeremy Hart

    June 23, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Blogging is now being outsourced.

    I’m a huge proponent of blogging being locally-focused first, then looking outward. At first glance, that was my hangup. I start reading blogs that are focused solely on the topic I’m interested in first, then I start to push through the links and I find other topics or sites that are of interest. I think real estate consumers follow the same pattern – they reach blogs, and read blogs, that are focused on the area(s) of interest, and if agents will supplement their local content with information from Bring the Blog then I’m all for it (i.e. for instance how the Midwest flooding might affect home values locally).

    Besides, if it’s written by Dan it has to be good! 😉

  4. Jay Thompson

    June 23, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    @Matthew – “It looks well done and easy to use!”

    Is is very well done. And easy-peasy to use. And the articles are extremely well written. All that speaks volumes for it. I *love* the idea of supplementation (is that a word)?. I’m still not quite sold on it being a turn-key solution as ones only stand-alone blog (if left unmodifed).

  5. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 23, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    Jay I think the stand-alone would probably best suit beginners who are scared to get started don’t you think? Coaches can now say, “just push these 5 buttons and you have a blog and you should add your own material OR zip this material over to your OWN blog.” I’m thinking supplementation could let me sleep an extra hour at night…. (hear the gears turning??)

  6. Jay Thompson

    June 23, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    @dearest – yes, I think for the frightened noobie, it’s clearly better than nothing, and provides a “fright-free” entry into what can indeed be an often frightening world. As a sometime coach and instructor for folks not familiar with blogging, I think it’s my job to reduce that fright factor. And this solution may just be perfect for that. It’s simple, and well done, and allows one to dip their toes in the water.

    As a sometime coach though, I think I’d be remiss if I said that you could use this tool, and this tool alone with no modification and become a “successful blogger”. Not that anyone said that, but I assure you there will be a certain percentage of the population out there that think exactly that — that they need do nothing more than write a check to be “successful” — happens with every tool provided to/for agents.

    PS: Sleep is over-rated. 😉

  7. Dan Green

    June 23, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Hi, everyone. Thanks for the terrific press and feedback.

    @Jay: I think you’re right about how some people will sign up for a service and think it will lead to business right away. But as you and I and everyone else who’s converted business from our personal blogs knows: blogging is marketing and it takes a lot of hustle.

    You were the guy who printed http://WWW.PHOENIXREALESTATEGUY.COM on your business cards — probably one of the best examples of “hustle” I’ve seen ever.

    Having a blog is just part of the story — it’s still up to the agent (or loan officer) to promote it and make it their own.

  8. Jay Thompson

    June 23, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    @Dan – There are some that will sign up for anything and everything that just remotely promises success. There was an agent in my old office that used to literally pull her checkbook out of her purse during vendor presentations. She bought it all, without ever really thinking about if it fit into her business model (because, well, she had no business model). Not surprisingly, she’s no longer in the business. When she left, she said – and I kid you not – “I can’t afford all the crap you have to have to succeed in this business”.

    I’ve never seen or heard you promote BTB as the end-all solution to independent wealth and fame, and there is clearly nothing you can do to stop people from feeling that way.

    I do love the idea of using BTB as “supplementation” and as a “kick-start” for some that are new to blogging. Hadn’t really considered that before. Will now!

  9. Daniel Bates

    June 23, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch!

  10. C

    June 23, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I was under the impression that this might be sort of an ezinearticles.com for real estate.
    Does anyone know if there are any services out there like ezine but with a real estate focus… and not trashy like ezine? I figured since we were on the subject this would be the appropriate time to throw such a dangerous question out there.

  11. The Harriman Team

    June 23, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Carson,

    I have a blog post by Brandon Cornett in my reader about this web site:

    https://www.armingyourfarming.com/articles/

    I haven’t checked it out yet, but it may be something close to what you’re looking for.

  12. Ken Smith

    June 23, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    My thought on this is that you could use it purely to give you a topic and some information on that topic as a starting point. Really that is what many bloggers do anyways by reading other real estate blogs…ever notice a string of posts on the same topic across multiple blogs?

    “they’ll be introducing a new blog post algorithm that makes each post inherently unique.”, would have to see it to believe it. The software that takes a blog post and rewords it to make it unique that I have seen always ends up sounding like a 1st grader or non-English speaking person wrote it. Will wait and see before assuming, just making an observation based on past experience.

  13. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 23, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Daniel, I wholeheartedly disagree. Being a “big name blogger” may not directly correlate with “success” (which is so subjective anyhow). 🙂 Just my 2 cents! Everyone that has the will is welcome to join into the blogiverse.

  14. Gia & Grant Freer

    June 23, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    BTB sounds like it is a super concept. For new bloggers especially, it’s definitely a great way to get started and I very much like its simplicity and ease of use – very reasonable price tag too. A great point was made earlier that blogging is essentially a marketing tool and a lead generator first and foremost, but that being said, it’s only one part of an overall marketing strategy.

  15. ines

    June 23, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    IMO, in order to learn, you have to do it – I can see where this could work as a supplement to your blog (as many have said above), but can also see people using it as a tool instead of blogging. I really don’t see it for beginners. I can only imagine where my blogging would be today if I wouldn’t have immersed myself in the medium.

  16. Teresa Boardman

    June 23, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    It is my voice on my blog that brings me business and the people who find me are great to work with. Just got through writing an offer for a woman who live just half a mile from me who found me on my blog. We instantly clicked and it is like we are old freinds. I would love to pay someone to write my blog if I could find someone who writes exactly like I do and has the same personality and attracts the same kind of clients. Anyone interested?

  17. Barry Cunningham

    June 23, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    I’m with Ines, this will suit some but most can’t write as it is and will wholesale copy the whole thing.

    And there’s always the press release…I get loads of info from press releases. Why pay for a service like this when you can actually just read a release. OMG..stop me I sound like Greg Swann beating down a vendor..yikes!

  18. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 23, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    I agree that people should find their own voice but I personally would have gotten started with blogging much sooner if I had a boost like this. Instead, I remained as intimidated as people who haven’t embraced blogging yet (oh, and I thought blogging was just for politics. my bad).

    It’s also hard to stay on task and I think this could be a great way to do so (like Ken said). Soapboxes are fun but don’t always make the phone ring (unless your name rhymes with Ray or Reresa). 🙂

  19. Frank Jewett

    June 23, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    How long before all the title companies home warranty companies offer services like this? If every agent has a blog and 90% of them are “metoo” pap, will consumers dismiss RE blogs?

  20. Paula Henry

    June 23, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    I’m off to check it out – cause sometimes I just need an idea to get me going.

  21. Dan Green

    June 23, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    @Frank: You bring up an excellent point and the answer is “no, they won’t”.

    Open up your hometown newspaper this morning and take notice of how many articles came from the Associated Press, Reuters, and Thompson Newswire. Then look at how many were written by your “hometown” team.

    This is what Bring the Blog is. We’re the bigger picture stories that help complete a blog. Consumers are no more likely to dismiss RE Blogs than you are to stop reading your newspaper or watching your local news.

    I encourage you to see the content we’re publishing. It’s not Pulitzer Prize-winning stuff every single day, but it’s pretty darn good and it’s written for consumers in a language they can understand. If you’ve ever read my personal mortgage Web site, you know how successful this approach can be.

    Next time you’re sitting around with nothing to do, stop by the Bring the Blog live real estate demo site at https://realestatedemo.thewrittenblog.com.

  22. Paula Henry

    June 23, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    I’m back – for $400., I’m sure I can think of something:)

  23. Shailesh Ghimire

    June 23, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Very interesting concept. I think it would be a great tool for beginners. However, I’m more along with Jay’s point earlier. Quite honestly in the basic blogging 101 seminars I’ve done I’ve seen how some people “get the concept” and it clicks with them and for others it just doesn’t. I don’t think blogging is for everyone. You really have to enjoy interacting with folks on the web. Generating blogs posts is relatively easy in my opinion – I know you can run dry from time to time, but thank God for Washington politicians and the mortgage crisis. There is so much to write about it’s insane.

    What I’ve found is that the folks wanting to get in want business right away and that results in a lot of abandoned blogs. However, I think there is a place for a tool like this – just like there is a place for a tricycle. Eventually to really make the thing fly you have get a real bike! IMHO.

  24. Dan Green

    June 23, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Okay, I’m going to explore Paula’s idea that $400 is a lot to spend for Bring the Blog.

    1. $399 is Bring the Blog’s annual membership fee
    2. There are roughly 260 weekdays in a year.

    Therefore, Bring the Blog costs roughly $1.53 per post, 260 times per year.

    If you spend 30 minutes posting every day (and you should be posting every day), that values your blogging time at $3.06 per hour. You could cold call the White Pages and get a better hourly wage — just ask Chris Johnson and he’ll tell you how.

    Or, rather than use Bring the Blog, you could hire a personal writer who will charge you $400 per MONTH and probably won’t write as impactful content as Bring the Blog will for you. Remember — you’ve got the benefit of having a writer that knows how to make blog content connect with a reader.

    I can understand Teresa’s position and Ines’ take on this, but balking at the price of Bring the Blog is the one opinion I can disagree with and have libraries of time management books to back me up.

    The goal is blogging is to get a return on your time and money investment. Bring the Blog accelerates that return.

  25. Paula Henry

    June 23, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Dan –

    No disrepect intended for the concept or the cost per article. For me, it was more about getting ideas, not using each post in it’s entirety. I would be the one who customize it for my area as needed, which, may in fact, take as much time.

  26. Todd Carpenter

    June 23, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I read Bring The Blog Content everyday in my feed reader. It’s that good. There’s a Mortgage Broker I know that uses it just like Dan’s AP analogy. Some content is her’s, some is BTB’s. The blog is better with the BTB content than it would be without it.

    If I were to start another consumer focused mortgage blog, (with three years of blogging experience and nearly twenty years in the industry), I’d buy BTB.

    I’d disclose that it wasn’t my content. I’d write plenty of my own content. I wouldn’t worry one bit about the SEO of it all. I’d have it because I’d want my readers to enjoy their experience on my blog, and BTB does that.

  27. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 23, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    Todd- perfectly said. I couldn’t agree with you more!

  28. Frank Jewett

    June 24, 2008 at 1:42 am

    Dan, I understand the model and I wasn’t slamming the quality of your writing. I think the home protection company blog content would be inferior (unless you sell your service to them when the market turns). My question is whether the proliferation of blogs, particularly inferior blogs (read: “other people’s content”) would dimish the public view of RE blogging. How many consumers look forward to receiving a newsletter from an agent? It seems like respect was lost at some point.

    Again, this isn’t a shot at you, but if you and your clients succeed, others will follow. The people who have spent hundreds of hours building their blogging skills may see blog proliferation as a form of vindication in the short term, but in the long term it levels the playing field at their expense. Right now they may feel like they are shouting in the desert. If your model succeeds, they may be trying to shout over the din at consumers who are put off by all the noise.

  29. Bill Lublin

    June 24, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    You guys all know I’m one of the new kids here (God I love the sound of youth that imparts) . I want to post really frequently, but I often get lost in the mundane everday world. For example, I’ve been really busy at work this past week. It left me with little time to twitter and write posts. And even then, I’m not feeling an easy flow at the keyboard (though my mind flies when I’m on the treadmill each morning).

    It seems that it might be nice to have a steady flow of consumer driven information to work with so that it might be modified and utilized. Or maybe using more posts each day (or week would be nice)even if they were attributed – It might be like a multi-author blog, where the BTB posting is listed for people who want to check in each day, and my own creativity is supported and supplemented by that feed.

    Since I’m also trying to maintain a more industry/introspective blog at rereflections.com as well as my initial effort at http://www.movephilly.blogspot.com, the idea of a feed that could support one when I work on the other is somewhat seductive.

    I need more information on the ability to feed more then one blog and still not anger the great god google before I could determine if it would work for me though.

  30. Danilo Bogdanovic

    June 24, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    IMHO, BTB goes completely against the very core and integrity of blogging, whether it be in real estate or any other profession. A blog is supposed to written by the author(s), not an outside person(s) nor bought and paid for.

    Yes, blogging IS about marketing. But you don’t see Nike running an almost identical, if not identical version of Puma’s commercials.

    The reason why Nike, Puma and the real estate bloggers that are successful are successful is because they resonate their expertise and knowledge in their own voice. It’s the same when it comes to real estate blogging.

    But that’s just me…

  31. Todd Carpenter

    June 24, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    “A blog is supposed to written by the author(s), not an outside person(s) nor bought and paid for. ”

    Daniel, what’s the difference between BHB and hosting a guest poster? Or bringing on a contributor?

    I think it would be wrong to represent this content as your own. IMO, it would violate NAR’s code of ethics. But if each of these posts were represented as being authored by “nationally syndicated content”, I don’t see what the big deal is.

  32. Todd Carpenter

    June 24, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Sorry, I meant BTB, not BHB.

  33. Bill Lublin

    June 24, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Todd You’re correct, I believe that Article 12 of the code would indicate that posting from BTB should be properly attributed, much as an AP or Rueters wire service article would be in a newspaper. If you were using the material as a springboard, what’s wrong with mentioning that either?

    I agree with the guest author analogy (as you can see from my earlier post) but I understand Danilo’s position – because its born from the passion that leads him to blog (I think) and would not make it a fit for him.

    But Danilo, if its attributed, wouldn’t it be the same as using a photo that you didn’t take or a graphic that was made by someone else as long as it enhances your publication is consistent with your message, and is not represented as being your work product?.

  34. Barry Cunningham

    June 24, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Uh..oh..here comes the Code of Ethics injection…@ Danilo..blogging IS about marketing. But you don’t see Nike running an almost identical, if not identical version of Puma’s commercials”….

    That is the central problem with the real estate industry. Everybody (for the most part) doing the same thing that everybody else does. That’s not marketing!

  35. Danilo Bogdanovic

    June 24, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    Todd – You really think that people will put “this is a BTB blog post and not written by me”? I’m not sure about that one… I bet that most agents will just import the content and not change it around at all because they “don’t have enough time.” After all, not having enough time is the reason why they’re using BTB in the first place.

    When blogs such as AG with multiple authors publish a post, it’s clear as to who wrote it. I never said anything about using a guest poster or bringing a contributor to “ghost write”, which is basically what BTB is doing.

    And just because BTB is approved by NAR doesn’t make it right. That’s like saying that if the WSJ said “ok, you can copy all of our articles for $1 each, you can use them on your own site” – the content would still NOT truly be yours.

    I write two local real estate blogs and all the content is my own. If I cite an article on WSJ or the Wash Post, I give credit to and link to the article. If I do copy something verbatim, I make sure it’s in blocks to signify a quote with the bulk of the post being my own analysis of it in my own words.

    Bill – Yes, I have a passion for blogging and the true definition of it, which is (courtest of Merriam-Webster):

    “a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer”

    Notice the words “personal” and “by the writer”…

    To me, BTB is like paying your buddy to borrow his car because you’re too lazy to fix your own and then telling your date the car is yours ONLY after she asks if it’s really your car.

  36. Bill Lublin

    June 24, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    @Danilo:
    No one said that BTB is approved by NAR – What I said was that you need to provide a true picture in your representations to the public. I agree with you that for people to pass off the product of another writer as their own is improper. But I still think that adding the content and acknowledging that the content was written by someone else is no big deal.

    For example, I have a DIlbert widget on one of my blogs. Its obvious that I didn’t write or draw the cartoon. Therefore its not an issue to have it as part of my content (unless you don’t like Dilbert). I’m not as accomplished a photographer as Teresa Boardman, so I use creativecommons.org for graphics when I need them and then credit them to the creator. I think, if its properly applied BTB can be a useful tool. I don’t think it takes the place of original content.

  37. Bill Lublin

    June 24, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    @Barry Uh..oh..here comes the Code of Ethics injection… Might not hurt you to get injected – but as real estate professionals and REALTORS, the Code of Ethics is part of the way we do business every day – We don’t need an injection. 😉

  38. Charleston real estate blog

    June 24, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    I’d like to disagree without being disagreeable 🙂

    How many real estate agents bought a template website and didn’t do anything with it and actually think they have a website.

    Do you really expect anything different with BTB. A blog is a web log. A journal of *your* thoughts, not content for contents sake. One important reason to blog if you are using it to market for new clients is to give people an opportunity to get to know you.

    They say the entry barrier to real estate is low and sadly it is. The barrier to success in real estate is a bit higher, it’s called hard work. And that’s the way it should be.

  39. Barry Cunningham

    June 24, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Bill you seriously crack me up with the chest thumpin..not going to hijack someone’s thread but the NAR stuff you try to promote is laughable. Don’t worry..not going to get into it with you. It’s just funny at this point. You wrote ” part of the way we do business every day”…really???

    How about this, I’ll concede that YOU may do business ethically everyday, if you stop using the word “we” to include all agents which in its statement and implcation is completely and utterly preposterous.

    Lani’s got a good thread going here, not looking to hijack and waste time dancing with you.

  40. Matthew Rathbun

    June 24, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    So…. If I order recipe cards and send them out on a regular basis, is it an article 12 violation if I don’t say that I’m not a chef and someone else wrote the recipes? Do I need to disclose that I didn’t design the Century21 logo, when I use it on a Yard Sign? I suppose I don’t agree that it’s a marketing violation, since most marketing is bought off a shelf and stamped and mailed by agents. There is no intentional desire to deceive a consumer here. The way that I saw the system was that the agent would still need to decide what gets posted and what doesn’t. So, in totality of the blog and posts, it’s still what the agent decided to create their message with.

    The Code of Ethics is obviously a good tool, as many states (to include Virginia) tend to adopt a version of the Code a year or two after NAR has set them forth. It’s like any other type of rule or regulation – it’s only as good as the people who file the complaints. There are some cases in which the Code holds the agent to a hirer standard. For instance in Virginia a Listing Agent is only required to present expressed (written) offers; but verbal offers they do not. The Code requires all offers to be presented…. The courts will hold the agent to the hire standard, if the agent was hired by the seller and expected the hire standard. Unfortunately in both the Code and the law the consumer hasn’t much of a clue as to what is required of the agent.

    Either way, you all can keep arguing the same points over and over, I can drop in to just about any post on AG and find Barry sparring the same issue over and over again. I just decided to jump in here, because I don’t agree with either arguments…

  41. Bill Lublin

    June 24, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    @Barry – Thanks for the Nod at my practices, and I understand your point about “we”, but I really believe that most people do try to do the right thing – TRUMPETS PLEASE – This is the closest we’ve come to agreeing here – (though you wrote a post about Investing that I read on BHB and after reading it- I was going write another post entitled “OMG I totally agree with Barry Cunningham”)
    🙂

    Matthew – I agree with your point, and would even go further to make it – (because of something I didn’t think through when I wrote earlier) Agents have for many years bought newspaper services and article services (in print and electronically that they have put their by-line on with no Article 12 issue – So I’m going to back up from that position and agree with you. I think I got too caught up in the pride of authorship (if such a thing exists) and would (for myself) want to differentiate between the BTB stuff and my own poor offerings. But saying that, I really like the BTB product, and thanks Lani for bringing it into the spotlight here.

  42. Bob in San Diego

    June 24, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    Open up your hometown newspaper this morning and take notice of how many articles came from the Associated Press, Reuters, and Thompson Newswire.

    The reason you can do that is because the source is properly attributed. You can’t compare this to a news wire if you allow everyone to take credit.

    If people pay $400 and use most of the 260 to get their money’s worth, the weaker sites will have dupe content issues. Other agents will just rip it off, NAR membership or not.

  43. Barry Cunningham

    June 24, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Bill..I think it’s the “we” thing that gets me. I can only wonder what kind of industry it would be if most of the agents out there followed your prescribed walk. It would indeed be heaven..now where’s that post!

  44. Robert D. Ashby

    June 24, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Wow, interesting debate that I have been missing. First off, Dan Green is a great guy and has great material, so BTB is a product I would look at if I decide to venture that way, which I might seeing as my time is getting rather “lost”.

    That being said, I still feel that blogging is best when it is an extension of yourself, as if you were talking with your clients (or prospects) face to face, or at least close to it. I do think that you can still receive content from a source like and personalize it, so long as you understand the subject. How woul dit feel if a prospect or client called you up to discuss something on your blog and you knew very little about it?

    My preference is to do my own thing, covering topics that are on my mind at the time, especially about what is going on in the mortgage market regarding rates. As my free time dwindles, though, I can see the potential value of BTB and may even look to join myself simply to maximize my time to more immediately profitable functions.

    Dan broke down the cost to $1.53 per post. That is very reasonable. Even if it cost $400 and you only used one post all year on your blog, but that one got you one deal, it definitely paid for itself. Also, look at it this way. If it saves you 10 minutes (or more) per day on your blogging, isn’t $1.53 worth it? If you think not, then you expect to make less than $9.13 per hour and maybe you shouldn’t be in this business. (Yes, I am a numbers guy).

  45. BawldGuy Talking

    June 25, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    Uh, HELLLOOOO out there. Thank you. Blah Blah Blah.

    Does BTB produce results ending with a smile on your bankers ugly puss? Keep usin’ it. I strongly suspect most BTB users are indeed seeing re$sult$.

    The rest is the same talk we hear when the subject of the DH comes up in the baseball crowd. Use it — don’t use it. If you’re not bankin’ more because of it, then don’t do it.

  46. Missy Caulk

    February 26, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I just heard about this at Family Reunion from a friend, who supplements when she is busy but adds her voice to it.

    I have always been against this type of stuff, but as time has gotten away from me, I am considering.

    I like Todd’s comment it is for our readers and can be supplemented.

  47. The Harriman Team

    February 26, 2009 at 9:28 am

    Just took another look at BTB and it appears that the cost has risen from $400/yr back when Paula commented about it on 6/23/08 to $57/month ($684/yr) now. Also, if you look in Lani’s example blog in the post above (and also in BTB’s demo blog), it says, “To be notified when I write something new, sign up for daily email alerts or subscribe to the feed.” Doesn’t the “I” imply to the reader that YOU are the one actually writing the articles? I think it would to any reasonable person. And in the demo blog I saw no mention of the blogger NOT being the one who wrote the post or any attribution to the actual author. Or did I miss something (which is totally possible)?

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Business Marketing

The rise of influencer marketing and its effect on digital marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) More businesses are planning to invest a larger part of their marketing budgets on more relatable, branded content and influencer marketing.

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Influencer speaking to camera for marketing segment.

The digital age has created more savvy consumers, and the barrage of advertising on top of the plenitude of content online can be a lot. Many consumers have learned to hide ads or they simply scroll past them to their content of choice. Most business owners know that digital marketing is a crucial part of any ad strategy, and branded content and influencer marketing continues to grow in the market, because consumers see that it’s different from traditional advertising.

Hardly anything stayed the same in 2020, and traditional advertising also has shifted. Advertiser Perceptions reported on the trend for 2021, based on a survey from late 2020.

“More than half of advertisers using paid branded content and influencers say doing so is more critical than it was a year ago. Throughout the second half of 2020, 32% increased spending on branded content and 25% spent more to back influencers. They’re now putting 20% of their digital budgets into the complementary practices, which is more than they put into any other digital channel (paid search is 14%, display 13%, paid social 12%, digital video 12%).”

The benefits of branded and influencer content are that you are speaking to the consumer where they already are, when you choose an influencer. The people who follow their accounts are more likely to trust that the influencer would only share something they like or use themselves. The best matches are when the influencer marketing fits nicely into the kind of content, the voice, and any specialties they already deal with.

The word “influencer” as well as the concept rubs some people the wrong way. Marketers see the value, though, as influencer marketing can be effective if done well, and the cost to hire them is often less than a traditional ad campaign. If I want to know about food in a city, I’ll follow the hashtags until I find a local food blogger or micro-influencer whose style I like. Then I’ll seek out those restaurants when I visit. Sure, some of the meals are comped, but the truth is that food bloggers and influencers like to share their food recommendations. I have been influenced this way more than once, and not only for food. I am not alone in this, either, which is why it’s an important part of a marketing strategy.

In influencer marketing, the content creator is then given free rein to create within their own style, voice, and persona. They need to connect with their audience in an authentic, familiar way without creating a dissonance for their followers between their public page(s) and the brand. The level of trust is fairly high with influencer marketing, and many influencers realize that promoting something crappy or something outside of their area of expertise or recognition hurts everyone involved.

The power of storytelling comes into play here, as with all good advertising. Branded content is specifically all about the story, often the story of the business’s philosophy or some lifestyle aspect that goes with the brand’s vibe–or is so off that it goes viral. Some branded campaigns join into or build off of conversations already happening in the wider world. The purpose is to have people engage with the brand, with the content, build awareness, encourage conversations, sharing, comments, all with the long term goal of fostering a positive image of the brand so that down the line, they will become consumers.

Think of 2004 Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, based on a study showing that around 2% of women saw themselves as beautiful. The widely studied, award-winning campaign featured women of all backgrounds and body types, without airbrushing and Photoshopping them into a narrow vision of “beauty.” While some people hated it, many loved it and applauded the brand for treading into traditionally uncharted waters. Among haters, fans, and people who weren’t sure what to think, the Dove Real Beauty branded content campaign generated conversations. The campaign also encouraged women to feel good about themselves and lift up other women. One could argue that the campaign you could argue that the Real Beauty campaign was a forerunner to the currently popular body positivity movement, which started gaining traction around 2012. Dove increased sales by at least $1.5 billion in the first ten years the branded content campaign ran.

The goal of branded content is to raise awareness of the brand, but the path from point A (creating the content) to point B (brand awareness, ultimately leading to better sales) is not a straight line. Brands are paying attention to grabbing attention, aka building brand awareness via more upper funnel marketing than lower funnel.

One thing that marketers are looking for now, however, is almost eliminating the funnel. With the mind-boggling increase in e-commerce since the beginning of the pandemic, clickable sales capability becomes important in any kind of marketing, including influencer and branded content. It pays to listen to customers, to find an influencer who meshes with your brand’s purpose, and to create thoughtful branded content that isn’t out of line with your core product or service.

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Business Marketing

Need design help? Ask a Designer offers free peer-review for better design

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Good design is more than just slapping some fonts and colors together. Ask a Designer promises free design advice on their new website.

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A white sign in an urban setting reading "In Design We Trust" with glowing yellow lights above.

With the necessity to create and maintain an online presence for our businesses nowadays, content creation is essential. One impact this proliferation of content has had on entrepreneurs, bloggers, and small businesses is that many non-designers have had to take a stab at design work. Sometimes this works out for the amateur designer, but often it could be better: More effective, accessible, and appealing. This is where Ask a Designer comes in.

Creating designs online can be fun, but your average Canva, Squarespace, or WordPress user, for example, has no more of a sense of design than the man on the moon. Design work encompasses so much more than just slapping some words on a stock photo and calling it a day. While there are truly incredible and helpful free or inexpensive DIY design and business tools out there, nothing beats the power of knowledge and experience.

Ask a Designer provides one more level of professional review and counsel before a business owner puts their DIY (or even paid) design work out there for the world to see—or worse, not see. As a writer, I have always valued editorial reviews, comments, and feedback on my writing. Second eyes, third eyes, and more almost always serve to improve the content. It makes business sense to get as much feedback as possible, even better to get expert feedback.

For example, an experienced web designer should have a good idea of how to incorporate and test for UX and UI purposes, thus making the user interaction more functional and pleasant. A skilled graphic designer knows what colors go together for aesthetic appeal, accessibility, and even the psychology behind why and how they do.

Take logos. Pick a color, image, and font you like, and go for it, right? I’m afraid not. There is a lot of data out there on the science and psychology of how our brains process logos. There are examples of logo “fails” out there, as well. Consider the uproar over AirBnB’s logo that many thought evoked genitalia. Or the raised eyebrows when Google changed their color scheme to one similar to Microsoft’s palate. Just search for “logo fails” online to get an idea of how a seemingly innocent logo can go horribly wrong. I haven’t linked them here, because they would need a trigger warning, as many of the worst examples can be interpreted as some sort of sexual innuendo or genitalia. Searchers, be warned.

It always makes good business sense to use professional designers when you have the option, just as it makes sense to use professional writers for copywriting and professional photographers for photography. After all, if you have the chance to get something right the first time, it saves you time and money to do so. Rebranding can be difficult and costly, although sometimes rebranding is necessary. Having a designer review your design (whether logo, WordPress, blog, or other) could possibly help you from missing the mark.

How does Ask a Designer work, and is it really free? It’s super easy—almost like designers had a hand in it! Know what I mean? First, you go to the website or app and enter your question. Next Ask a Designer will assign your question to the appropriate type of designer in their network. Within 48 hours, they’ll get back to you with feedback or an answer to your design question.

While Ask a Designer is available to anyone to use, the website suggests it is especially helpful for developers, teams, junior designers, and business and product owners. They suggest, “Think of us as peer-review in your pocket.” The team at Ask a Designer will provide feedback on specific projects such as websites, logos, and portfolios, as well as answer general questions.

Examples of questions on their website give a good idea of the scope of questions they’ll answer, and include the type of feedback they provide. Sample questions include:

  • “How do I choose colors for dark mode?”
  • “I’d love feedback on a logo for a restaurant.”
  • “I’m an industrial design student and I’d like to move into automotive design. What are some resources that can get me to where I need to be?”
  • “Please send me some feedback on [website link].”
  • “How can I use my brand fonts on my website?”
  • “I’m a full stack software engineer. Are there any resources you could suggest for me to level up my design or UX skills?”

Ask a Designer is new, and so they currently list 2 design experts, each with 20 or more years of experience in their fields. They promise to add more “desig-nerds” soon. It may sound too good to be true, but from what they state on their website, this expert design review service is free. Considering the other excellent tools out there with some free components out there for business, it is possible that this is true. Whether they will add a more in-depth paid version is yet to be seen. In any case, it’s worth trying out the app or website for your burning design questions and reviews.

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Business Marketing

6 tips to easily market your side hustle

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle marketing

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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