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Initial Blogging Class Coming Tuesday

Most in my office roll their eyes (or worse) when I mention the Internet, to the point that I have reversed course and mockingly tell everyone the web is a myth anything the subject of electronic prospecting comes up.

Some, however, believe there’s more to what we are doing on the Internet than some form of electronic voodoo. For them, I’ve developed a one-hour entry-level course on blogging that will make its debut Tuesday after our regular weekly sales meeting. A similar course will be coming to First American Title early in 2008.

Obvious questions include why I would feel the need to help the competition. Except the folks I’m meeting with don’t really constitute competition. I don’t mean that to sound as egotistical as it likely does, but you’re not going to learn enough in a one-hour primer to seriously challenge what I’m doing.

At the same time, for those who actually apply what I explain (which would be a first as based on the utter lack of response to the 2006 “web presence” classes I also taught in my office), the sky’s the limit.

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Blogs, when done well (notice I won’t say right because I don’t believe there’s a right way … though I oddly enough believe there’s a wrong way. Makes sense only to me, perhaps), are remarkably sticky. They have value on the search engines. And they can give you a cache in your neighborhood almost no amount of postcards can match.

Best of all you don’t need to be a great writer. Those who can write tend to do so at length (and often overly at length, like me.) Those who can’t write as well focus on shorter posts with graphics and links. It’s not rocket science. It’s not all-consuming (though many of us find we spend more time on the blogs than we ever imagined.)

Most of all it’s not voodoo. It’s a concerted, focused marketing tool that can assist in areas from branding to prospecting to recruiting (for the brokers in the crowd.)

A dozen people are signed up for the initial go-around. If I can convert even one to the new world of real estate, I’ll consider the day a success.

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Written By

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Todd Carpenter

    December 8, 2007 at 1:49 am

    I’ve done a few trainings now and have come to the conclusion that it’s fine to help the “competition” because most bad actors wont bother to blog.

    There might be an exception, but I’ve yet to meet an RE blogger who I know for sure that I wouldn’t do business with. You have to want to help your clients to write a blog and keep it going.

    More bloggers mean more good guys getting over on the bad guys.

  2. Jonathan Dalton

    December 8, 2007 at 9:34 am

    I’m with you, Todd … I’ve seen a couple I’d have to think hard about, though. 🙂

    If you commit to the blog and start reading all that is out there, you can’t help but become better at what you do.

  3. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 8, 2007 at 12:41 pm

    I disagree that you don’t need to be able to write well to blog. You don’t have to be perfect; that’s for sure. Clearly the vast majority of people cannot write well enough to blog. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t successful. In fact, the wealthiest people I know are terrible writers. I am shocked when someone I know to be worth millions makes errors in emails such as using the word “right” instead of “write.” Some folks have horrendous grammar and spelling, putting blogging out of reach. There is, however, a way that those people can still blog. They just need to have their copy edited. WordsRu.com does this, and for a small fee.

  4. Jonathan Dalton

    December 8, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Being able to write and being able to spell are two different things, at least to me. Repeated poor spelling will make a post unreadable but a typo now and again won’t.

    Some of the more successful bloggers I know are famous/infamous for their typos. And I can’t tell you many times I’ve seen someone use “loose” rather than “lose” over the past two months. Probably two dozen.

    My point was you don’t have to write a novella every time out. I do but I’m also an overwriting gasbag. If you can’t write well for more than three or four sentences go with links, photos, graphs, whatever you have available.

    I also believe those who stick with blogging become better writers in time through force of habit and through reading other blogs.

  5. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 8, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    From emails I receive, the amount of people who can put a few good sentences together is few. I’m not talking about the misuse of a word here and there. I’m talking about extremely poor writing skills being more commonplace than people who can write even close to correctly. Blogging is out of reach except to a precious few. The good news is that ghost writers will re-write articles for $5-$10 per pop. That’s a far better strategy than trying to teach an old dog new tricks. If someone is in the 30-60 range and can’t write well, chances are that person will never be able to write well. I say pay a professional to turn your thoughts into a publishable piece.

  6. Jonathan Dalton

    December 8, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    But those posts lack any semblance of a voice or of anything that might cause anyone to come back. They sound canned, looked canned, feel canned.

    It might be a solution for the most dire of cases but in that case you’re almost better off scrapping the blogging concept entirely.

  7. Jonathan Dalton

    December 8, 2007 at 6:00 pm

    And I’m not arguing blogging is for everyone. Clearly it isn’t. It takes time, it takes thought, it takes commitment, it takes intelligence and it takes some level of grammatical and compositional competence.

  8. Athol Kay

    December 8, 2007 at 6:37 pm

    Only in his own town, amongst his own people, is a prophet without honor.

    Trust me, you could offer the same class two States over and people would just assume you were the fo’ sizzle of blogging and that blogging was vital for them to do.

    I suspect the best form of teaching is simply to get people to read the RE blogs as a jumping off point. If they do that and then catch the bug, they’ll be fine.

  9. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 8, 2007 at 6:56 pm

    Jonathan-

    I’m not talking about someone writing the blog from scratch. I’m referring to the RE professional writing the post and the copy writer simply fixing it. That won’t sound or feel canned. That is how most major books are written. Do you really think that celebrities and politicians write their own books? No. They write them and then a ghost writer fixes the text. It will work if someone who can’t write really wants to blog, and the cost is minimal.

  10. Athol Kay

    December 8, 2007 at 8:43 pm

    Colorado Online Mortgage – Can you point to a RE blog that is successfully ghost written?

  11. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 8, 2007 at 9:37 pm

    Athol-

    Absolutely NOT. I cannot point to a blog that is ghost written. However, did you read John McEnroe’s biography? I have a sneaking suspicion that he didn’t write it. I write my own two cents, but I’m just putting something out there for those who don’t have that ability. Call me a pioneer; I won’t contradict you.

  12. Athol Kay

    December 8, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    John McEnroe = World Famous
    Average Blogger = Not World Famous

    World Famous people get read despite being ghostwritten.

    Also a good part of blogging is commenting and being an actual presence across the web community. Ghostwritten blogs aren’t likely to get linked back or noticed like even a badly written but active blog/blogger will be.

    To a real extent the blog = the blogger. Good writing helps to be sure, but what causes any kind of response to your writing is your voice.

  13. ines

    December 8, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    I don’t consider myself a good writer but I can tell you that you only get better by doing it and when I look back at posts from a year ago, I’ve come a long way.

    That’s the beauty of blogging. For those that are great at formal letter writing, their blog comes out as stiff and boring – LA LA LA LA LA…..need some VOICE lessons.

  14. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 8, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    Ines-

    Good for you for jumping in the cold lake water and swimming.

    Athol-
    You say, “what causes any kind of response to your writing is your voice.” The question is: do bloggers make any money? Does blogging generate leads that you couldn’t generate the old-fashioned way? Indeed that is the question. We may be yelling, but is anyone listening? I have yet to make my first dollar blogging, but I haven’t been at it that long.

  15. Athol Kay

    December 9, 2007 at 8:59 am

    >>The question is: do bloggers make any money? Does blogging generate leads that you couldn’t generate the old-fashioned way?

    That is indeed the question. In my opinion it is an ineffective tool used by itself, it’s likely best used as a landing platform for other marketing attempts (i.e. business cards, handshaking, direct mail etc etc).

    Also there is a huge “chicken or the egg” problem. If you are already established an an agent, blgging seems to pay off much faster than if you a new agent breaking into the field.

    I will say this though – the primary blogging cost is time rather than money. Newspaper ads are simply gone once they run, your blog is forever. It can develop and snowball over time.

    Though I don’t encourage anyone to expect much return in terms of leads etc in the first year of a blog. That’s like burying an apple core in the backyard and getting angry you don’t have a fruit bearing tree after just a couple weeks.

  16. Ines

    December 9, 2007 at 9:27 am

    Athol – blogging takes time, that’s a fact but I can tell you that you can definitely expect leads in the first year if you play your cards right.
    The whole concept is to read your analytics and make sure you are writing for your customers. I can tell you that I have achieved a balance of different types of articles on my blog and the real estate advice ones as well as the architectural ones are the ones that get me leads. The fun ones don’t but I need them for balance.

    Once again, it’s not easy, but you really need to study who you want your audience to be in order to make it profitable.

  17. Jonathan Dalton

    December 9, 2007 at 10:17 am

    I’m in escrow thanks to the blog, so it does work for leads. It also helps with SEO which in turn will help with additional leads.

    CO – just caught up and it was my mistake in reading what you were saying. There is a HUGE difference between a ghost-written post and one reviewed by a copy editor.

    Now … I’m also a recovering journalist so I tend to despise all editors as tin-eared cretans with no sense of style … but that’s just me. 🙂

  18. Colorado Online Mortgage

    December 9, 2007 at 11:41 am

    Athol-

    Your points are well made. One question: do you see any benefit to blogging versus developing a content-rich website? Websites and blogs both establish Internet presence, but is there any benefit to one over the other as long as content is being added to both?

  19. Athol Kay

    December 9, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    I only see minimal difference between blogging and developing a content rich website. The majority of my content rich website pages are repackaged blog posts anyway.

    Ines – I’ve made copius mistakes in content and tone over my first year, so some of that lack of response is no doubt my fault.

    I will stand by feeling that blogging is a slow but steady creation though. It’s huge advantage over other forms of advertising is it’s permanance though.

  20. Ines

    December 9, 2007 at 1:07 pm

    Athol – we signed 2 listing agreements this past week alon because of our blog. “Permanence” is definitely an incredible benefit.

  21. Mariana

    December 10, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Because of blogging we have had multiple out-of-state clients (sellers) find and hire us … because of our blog. The blog is defnitely further reaching IMHO than a website.

  22. Mariana

    December 10, 2007 at 6:05 pm

    In my research, people like bloggers better than real estate agents. At least BLOGGERS are not in the top 5 most distrusted professions …

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