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Is that a Blog or a Refrigerator Magnet?



As is typical in our industry, as more and more real estate professionals awaken to the Web 2.0 paradigm shift, and attempt to embrace/adapt relevant emerging technologies, the more they carry their bad habits/practices along with them. No where has this been more apparent/prevalent than with blogging.

For many budding authors, their blog has simply become an extension of all their ‘other’ time-honored marketing widgets and gadgets. It reads more like a refrigerator magnet, a bumper sticker, or shopping cart. Anything that could possibly be considered as viable consumer content is quickly overshadowed by the “All About ME” self-photo syndrome (taken 10 years and 50 pounds ago), and with the corded phone shoved in one ear to show us all how ‘busy’ they are! And let’s not forget to stuff all those articles with SEO-juicy search terms, like your website domain, your snappy toll free 1-800-THE-BEST, the long list of designations you’ve proudly earned that consumers totally understand and appreciate, and that catchy marketing slogan/phrase/jingle/logo/avatar/cute pet pictures, etc..


As real estate professionals, it’s ingrained in us from Day One to ‘brand’ ourselves; to aggressively ‘self-promote’ at every opportunity. My kids are always giving me a hard time about this. Whenever we’re out in public together, they actually place bets to see how long it takes before good ole’ Dad starts talking shop with some stranger. Hey, so what if I believe everyone I come into contact with is a potential client? Forgive me for putting food on the table and shoes on your feet!


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But I digress……

And so it is, being creatures of habit, that we wildly plaster our name, our slogan, our picture, our website, on virtually anything and everything! Horizontal or vertical surfaces, moving or stationary, living or dead, it matters not. If there’s room for a business card, you better believe ours will be there!


Then, for some of us, there is that defining moment of epiphany. It usually comes to us after months and months of fruitless effort, talking to ourselves, and zero comments. We come to the earth-shaking realization,

“Blogging isn’t Advertising. It’s a Conversation!”

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RainCity Blog Diva, ARDELL DellaLoggia, once shared a very astute observation about blogging when she said:

“Blogging is like the Show, not the Commercial. If you make it into a commercial, then your readers will go get a sandwich, just like they do when a commercial comes on TV.”


Have you noticed what the TV stations are doing these days during the commercials? They’re turning up the volume! That’s right. If we’re going to ignore the message by getting up and going to the refrigerator, then at least they want to ensure we can still hear them all the way into the Kitchen! Can they possibly make things any ‘more’ annoying?

So ‘Rubber-Meets-the-Road’… What’s your Blog look like? Is it just a collection of Advertisements? Or is it a Conversation? And if people aren’t listening, don’t annoy them further by simply ‘Pumping Up the Volume,’ but consider making the message more meaningful and engaging.

If your blog really does read more like an ad, maybe it’s time to send out another batch of refrigerator magnets. At least that way, they’ll see your face as they open the door!

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Written By

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.



  1. Mariana

    May 20, 2008 at 9:41 am

    My blog IS a refrigerator magnet, thankyouverymuch. In fact it is the WHOLE DARN REFRIGERATOR. It is where people go to GET their sandwiches when other agents yell advertisements at them. Or so I would like to think…
    There is a fine line between letting people know who you are and what you do … and being an internet bus bench ad. And there IS NO balance … just a continuous counter-balancing act.

  2. The Harriman Team

    May 20, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Great post, Rich! To continue the analogy of the “show vs. the commercial”, I think that’s the beauty of the feed reader: if I see your “show” (blog), and I like it, I TIVO it (subscribe) so I can watch/read it any time I want, over and over if I so desire. But once the show moves into the realm of self-serving ego trip, I delete it (unsubscribe) from the DVR. My “DVR” is full of shows like AG, BHB, RSS Pieces, Transparent RE, PhoenixRealEstateGuy, et. al., so I never have to worry about a commercial sneaking in to make me hit that delete button. And, just like bad TV shows, the image blogs languish with poor readership, soon to be relegated to the dustbin of programming history, while the good ones just keep marching on, garnering increasing viewers and ever higher Nielsen ratings. Maybe we should have a Nielsen rating for blogs??

    OK, now that I’ve said this, I guess I should tend to my own “program” and ensure that the “commercials” don’t mysteriously creep in! Thanks again for a great first post for AG!

  3. Rich Jacobson

    May 20, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Mariana – you’re my very first AG comment. There should be some kind of prize, don’t ya think?

    The “WHOLE DARN REFRIGERATOR”…kinda like Thermo Nuclear Global Warfare Domination. Good eats always fills the room, or, in this case, attracts readers. Maybe our blogs should be more like an ‘Open House?’

    With as many articles that I read each and every day, the ‘fine line’ seems more like the Grand Canyon in many instances. And what amazes me is how difficult it is to convince people why what they’re doing isn’t going to be very effective.

  4. Lisa Sanderson

    May 20, 2008 at 10:13 am

    My children, too, cringe at the mention of anything real estate in public. And when they see my hand reach in to my pocket for a business card, their eyes roll in unison accompanied by LOUD sighs! They just don’t get it. lol

    You make a great point here. I am starting to get inquiries from my blog, after about a year of writing, and they generally start off like ‘I found your blog and the info you provide is great-thank you,’ or something similarly GRATEFUL sounding. I think we need to show them what we know, not tell them that we know stuff.

  5. Mariana

    May 20, 2008 at 10:14 am

    Rich – I get 15 points. (And yes, I will make AR references for at least the next 3 posts that you write here. I just cannot hepl myself.) You are SO RIGHT! The “fine line” is more of a “Grand Canyon” in too many cases.

  6. Sarah Cooper

    May 20, 2008 at 10:33 am

    Rich in in AG?? Hi, Rich!!

    Yeah, talk to people, don’t sell at them. That irritates them.

  7. Frank Jewett

    May 20, 2008 at 10:54 am

    Rich, blogging isn’t exactly a conversation because fewer than 10% of readers will ever respond. The same is true for popular radio shows. We see a higher response rate in forums like this because this is a peer-to-peer or even more precisely blogger-to-blogger forum.

    I see blogging as a different way of publishing drip marketing. My simple test for a good blog post is “would you pay to print this and mail it to your clients or proudly hand it to them?” We shouldn’t lower our standards simply because blogs are less expensive to publish. It takes our clients the same amount of time to read them.

    I often joke about Realtor photos in my technology classes, but a few weeks ago I met an agent who told me that because his photo was so out-of-date, prospects and clients never asked him how much experience he had, even when he was just starting out. I had never stopped to consider that angle.

  8. Ken Smith

    May 20, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Sure that most agents know the “oh by the way…” line of Brian Buffini. I think that there needs to be something along these lines with your blog posts. Need to have some sort of hook to turn your readers into clients. Finding the balance between being blatant advertising and wasting your time writing because you never ask for business so nobody hires you is a delicate balance that is hard for most to learn.

  9. Mariana

    May 20, 2008 at 11:10 am

    I just add links to search for homes at the end of my posts. Kind of a passive “announcement”, yet I get a lot of positive response from them.

  10. Greenville NC Real Estate

    May 20, 2008 at 11:53 am

    As more and more real estate professionals awaken to the Web 2.0 paradigm shift, and attempt to embrace/adapt relevant emerging technologies, the more they carry their bad habits/practices along with them. No where has this been more apparent/prevalent than with blogging.
    For many budding authors, their blog has simply become an extension of all their ‘other’ time-honored marketing widgets and gadgets. It reads more like a refrigerator magnet, a bumper sticker, or shopping cart. Anything that could possibly be

  11. Bill Lublin

    May 20, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Rich; Please post my points at my AR blogsite 🙂
    Your post resonated with some thoughts I’ve been having.

    Here in AG I feel comfortable ruminating about the industry and being philosophical, but in my own fledgling blog, I try to remember to be consumer oriented. Not so much the magnet, but I’m not sure that the audience there wants to hear my thoughts about anything more then the market and what and when they might want to buy or rent or do other real estate stuff. Still struggling with it but absorbing your thoughts should be helpful as I try to find my way. Thanks for the help.

  12. Melina Tomson

    May 20, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Dang…I missed being your first comment. I was hoping for 1,000 AR points. (I’m saving them for a new Gucchi bag).

    This issue is complicated. As a fairly newbie to blogging (about 150 posts so far), it is a lot harder than you think it would be. I can honestly say that I finally feel like I have hit a groove and “get” blogging now. I agree that the “commercial” at the bottom of a blog, and all the widgets at the side saying “pick me” are irritating, but it’s not like there are any hard and fast rules. It takes a while to figure all of that out.

    I don’t see experienced bloggers doing these sorts of things, for the most part, BUT that is the catch…they are experienced. It just takes a while to learn these things. It isn’t until you have done a few blogs, done some reading, read some books, etc that you start to “get” blogging. By then…you have already irritated an experienced blogger with your inexperience. The good news is you gave that experienced blogger plenty of fodder and inspiration for their own blog. 🙂

  13. ines

    May 20, 2008 at 2:28 pm

    Ardell has always made some excellent points and I have learned tons from her. I do think it’s up to each person to decide how much bling to include in their blogs. I’ve experimented in the last year and have eliminated a few things and added others (and the only widget I find useful is one that provides listing info like v-flyers)

    There’s another controversial topic in the blogosphere about blogging listings. I have to tell you that I very seldom blog about my own listings on miamism, but I will blog about architecturally or historically relevant properties. I recently started a weekly luxury pick that is getting a lot of attention from my customers.

    Lesson – test what works for you, clean house if you need to, but don’t just add widgets for the bling of it – make sure it’s useful information.

  14. Barry Cunningham

    May 20, 2008 at 2:36 pm


    I have to disagree. it seems it is most agents who have the problem with advertising..not the consumer. The consumer EXPECTS to be marketed to. I think you have it wrong. Pick up a magazine, a newspaper, watch a television show, go to a movie, play a video game…we are in a marketing world.

    The consumer could care less about the site having advertising or marketing aspects to it. Our site gets really good traffic and they click on our ads. We are launching a new real estate has ads and in beta our rankings our higher than most established real estate blogs.

    As Russell Shaw says, the consumer wants results. If while they are searching they see an ad, then fine. Real estate agents need to get with it and diversify.

    Over at Active Rain a revolt is being sounded and it’s from agents who are getting their lunch for free.

    You have the wrong outlook Rich …it’s not the advertising message, you are listening to the wrong audience. It’s the agents who have a problem and they are missing it…BIGTIME!!

    But hey, that’s fine…if you don’t want to then don’t include any but don’t rely on the fact that you think people are being annoyed.

    If you want stats I can surely give you some. It’s not the message. it’s what the message contains, who it is delivered to and the form in which it is delivered.

  15. Rich Jacobson

    May 20, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    Barry: Don’t hold back on my account. Tell me how you really feel, okay?

    I couldn’t disagree with you more. Consumers are tired of being beat up with incessant self-promotion. They’re tired of the constant interruption and noise. Agents who use their blog solely as a virtual billboard are no better than annoying telemarketers. And how effective are they? Don’t contribute to the noise, give me something of value, something that piques my interests, and engages my brain. I’m not necessarily talking about ‘aspects’ here, Barry. I’m talking about people who post ‘ad’ after ‘ad’ and convincing themselves that they’re blogging.

    The message is just as valuable, if not more so, than the medium. In my humble opinion, quality content is critcial in attracting/engaging readers.

    Just curious, what exactly is this ‘revolt’ you’re referring to over in the Rain?

  16. Rich Jacobson

    May 20, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Ines: You’re right…one size doesn’t fit all. Do what works for you, and what brings demonstrated results.

  17. Barry Cunningham

    May 20, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    Hey Rich…I misunderstood what you were saying. You clarified it with your statement “incessant self-promotion” and I stand respectfully corrected. I agree..the “I’m a great Realtor” stuff isn’t going to work.

    I thought you meant ads on the site itself and certain “product placement” if you will. Normal integrated marketing and avertising is fine.

    The revolt on don’t know??? Sure you do. Saw your comment on it. People freaked because of a measly RSS text add that was inserted into their comment updates by email.

    That’s a whole other issue. Many agents called it spam. Obviously not understanding the definition thereof…which is typical over there.

  18. Rich Jacobson

    May 20, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    Ken: A ‘call to action’ is a good strategy to employ. It always amazes me how many agents neglect to ask for the listing. “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t list your house with me today?” Or with Buyers, “Is there any reason why you wouldn’t buy this house today?”

  19. Rich Jacobson

    May 20, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Barry: Nothing but love, man. Did Chris send you the Spotted Dick avatar? 🙂

    I certainly wouldn’t call that a ‘revolt’ per se. There’s bigger issues of concern than that which get debated often. The overall health of the network is pretty good right now. But I digress….

  20. Melina Tomson

    May 20, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I have to agree with RIch on this one. I have met some buyers, who told me that they would go into an open house and tell agents that already had an agent, not because they really had one, but they felt they were going to get bombarded by that person.

    With so many real estate agents out there, there is a constant “in your face” marketing aspect that is highly irritating to many buyers and sellers.

    Gen X (which I am a part of) and Gen Y want to get online and get our information. My friends agree with me that it is a total turnoff to have complete in your face marketing. We want to read and figure you out first. We bookmark you, then call you when we are ready.

    I have read your blog and you don’t write in every paragraph “Call Barry for all of your real estate information,” or “I am the best so work with me.” YUCK!

  21. Rich Jacobson

    May 20, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Frank: “It takes our clients the same amount of time to read them.”

    All the more reason to give them the ‘good’ stuff, and not insult their intelligence with promotional drivel. Consumers are much more likely to ‘lurk’ for extended periods of time without commenting. But you better believe they’re reading. And they’ll return, as long as you keep consistently serving up quality content.

  22. Frank Jewett

    May 20, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Rich, you definitely need to post something of value, but it doesn’t have to be designed to spur conversation. Posting information on rebates for energy efficient appliances is something of value to homeowners, but it doesn’t require a response. When you are looking for a response, I agree that calls to action are a must. Every RE blog should have a market update (since “How’s the market?” is the number one question we get asked) and every market update should end with something like “But remember, all real estate is local. Please contact me to get market conditions in your neighborhood.”

  23. Barry Cunningham

    May 20, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Melina..You and Rich are correct. I misunderstood. I hate the “can I help you every five minutes type of approach”…makes me feel like I am the gold toothed thug in the department store..wait..that is me! LOL..Yeah the old cliche realtor speak is definitely a put off. doubt AR is in good health. I actually like AR.. One day I will tell you how it REALLY helped us. Used it like a $5.00 crack ho…but it most assuredly works and has tremendous benefits no doubt…and wazzup with the “spotted dick” me the love man!

    You know what I really hate??? Give me all of your information BEFORE I let you search my IDX! What’s up with that! Where’s the transparency there. Love the way Jay Thompson does it. “Feel free to look” I’ll get ya when you want to actually save something. MUCH more qualified lead…Jay don’t you agree? Jay you around..Hey Jay..I’m talking to ya!

  24. Broker Bryant

    May 20, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Barry, You’re cracking me up here!!!

    Rich, Personally I feel the consumer, at least in my area, wants good useful information given to them in an entertaining way. Kind of what Barry does. Of course his way is more like a freight train coming at you. My way is a little more laid back BUT both ways work and that’s because neither are boring “hire me” crap. You have to get the consumers attention first. Give them a reason to come back. And you can’t do that by posting static info on a living web site(blog).

  25. Barry Cunningham

    May 20, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Hey BB…we can do a little skit…you can be like Marie and I’ll be Donny…You’re a Little Bit country..and I’m a bit Rock n Roll! I don’t know what’s scarier. You in a dress or me gusied up like a white mormon boy!

    But are correct. The consumer wants AND deserves the goods. I think too many agents can’t deliver. or don’t know how to deliver or have a hard time defining..”the goods”.

  26. Scott P. Rogers

    May 20, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    > “You know what I really hate??? Give me all of your information BEFORE I let you search my IDX! What’s up with that! Where’s the transparency there.”

    I agree — I spent 10 minutes on the phone last week with one of the more popular template web site vendors who was trying to convince me that their request for contact info prior to the IDX search was a good thing, and generated qualified leads. I asked him what he thought about transparency and web 2.0 — he said “web 2.0, is that some new technology thing?” 🙂

  27. Maureen Francis

    May 22, 2008 at 6:05 am

    OHMYGOSH Rich is on AgentGenius! I’ve been showing houses for the last few days and THIS happens!

    It takes some practice and observation for most Realtors to “get” blogging. It’s natural that they use the “bang ’em over the head” method with “me, me, me” because that is what we have been taught by the marketing pros.

    Personally, I don’t find that consumers want to participate in a conversation on my blog. But they do contact me all day long about the things they read and about their real estate needs. Its just almost never through the comments.

  28. ARDELL

    July 10, 2008 at 11:38 pm


    Even my refrigerator magnets were informational. I had one with the heimlich maneuver and one that showed the conversion of teaspoons to tablespoons. Agents thought the one with the heimlich maneuver was too “dark”, but hey, if someone’s chocking on their dinner, you’d be glad it was right there on the fridge! LOL. My sister has 18 years of my refrigerator magnets on her fridge and she doesn’t read my blog. You’ve got to mix it up. What one person loves another will hate…so we do 10 things at once. But blog readers, generally speaking, don’t like a consistant commercial. Someone can happen on to your blog from google and not care. But consistent blog clients who read almost all of your posts, don’t want the commercial and repeat commercial at the bottom of every post.

    Hope you like AG!…and hope to see you at Inman.

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