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The Secret of My So-Called Success


Several months ago, someone off-handedly observed that I don’t like to share the secrets of my so-called success. Maybe it’s because I’ve never felt all that successful (and likely never will) or maybe it’s because I believe what I do is transparent. In any case, I’m certainly not in a position such as Russell Shaw where I’ve earned the right to pontificate on what I do and what you ought to do.

In any event, if I had to explain what it is that I do to generate business in one word or less, it would have to be “Internet”. It’s about that simple. This isn’t just about blogging, though the blogging is paying off in this era of the Canadian buyer coming south. It’s about having a direct, value-added web presence.More importantly, especially to those new agents who are experiencing the feeling of having a dozen hands in your wallet from the get-go, leveraging the power of the Internet and particularly the blogs is one of the most cost-efficient prospecting tools available.

Postcards, football schedules and other silliness

My first marketing piece as a series of high school football schedules, hand created and printed on my miserable HP printer. They looked good. They did nothing. I went to a professional printer for a mailer with Arizona State and Arizona Cardinals schedules. They also did nothing.

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Then came the monthly mailers – every month a new picture of Tobey with some almost clever cutline – sent to a thousand or so homes in a handful of subdivisions. It took a few hours to print, cut, label and mail all of the postcards. And after two years of this, I had exactly two deals to show for all of the work. ROI probably came out flat on that one.

Compare that to my original website, which took about an hour a week to maintain and started to pay dividends two months out of the box. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want a website just to have a website. And so I took everything I didn’t like about all of these other sites, culled the few things I did, and there it was.

Evolution to the blog

It wasn’t until July 2006 that I really started blogging. And it’s been at the heart of my prospecting ever since. There’s little cost involved, aside from the time spent in front of the computer. It’s search-engine friendly. And it speaks to people in a way that recipe cards in the mail can’t.

(And don’t even get me started on door-knocking. No one wants to see a 300-pound man schvitzing on their doorstep.)

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I’ve learned much through the blogs I read and believe I’ve been able to share quality information with my peers and the public along the way. Somewhere down the line my blog even became a local blog, though I don’t know how this happened. It certainly wasn’t a concerted effort. Or maybe it was …

Blogging = prospecting

There’s no denying that real estate is a face-to-face, belly-to-belly business. But you have to find a way to get the public in front of you in order to do face-to-face. Blogging, or any concerted web presence, can help you do that. Simply telling new agents they need to get in front of people without giving any indication how isn’t just wrong, it’s shameful. Because what you’re doing is setting them up to spend a fortune buying all of these advertising systems and prospecting methods that cost a fortune and return very little.

My regular blog reaches 100 or so readers a day. My niche websites such as Westbrook Village Real Estate attract another 75 or so viewers a day, all looking specifically for real estate in a specific neighborhood. Simply put, this is prospecting – I’m reaching out and getting in front of consumers, albeit in a low-pressure, no-hassle kind of way.

Right now I have about a dozen or so Canadian buyers in my pipeline … every one of them came to me because they found me on the web. Every one of my listings came to me from the web, either the blog or my static websites. Of the deals I will have closed by the end of May, all but two came as a result of the web. A full 52% of my career sales have come through the Internet.

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There’s more than one way

So to summarize … get a good website. These days you can take a WordPress platform, turn it into a decent website and have a blog on the side like what I set up for a colleague in my office (who better add some content soon, I might add.)

You don’t have to rely solely on the website but it ought to be a component of your overall marketing strategy. I almost guarantee you it will be the most cost-efficient marketing you will find. All you need to invest is minimal hosting fees, possibly a setup fee and then a little bit of time.

Spend an hour working on a blog or knocking on the doors of people who don’t want to see a solicitor standing on their doorstep? Seems like a no-brainer from here.

And now I’ve shared.

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UPDATE: If you read an earlier version, this one’s a little different. A couple of people thought I was attacking the host here … I sort of assumed anyone who has read anything I’ve ever written understand there are equal parts sarcasm, irony and hyperbole in just about everything I write. In any event, the intent never was to attack anyone or have them perceived their were attacked.

As a side note, if my novel “Lost on the River” ever is published, I’d like the good citizens of Las Vegas who read the first line to know it’s nothing personal.

Thanks for all the fish. – J

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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.



  1. Vicki Moore

    April 7, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    And thank you for sharing. It sounds like you suffer from what a lot of us have: successful-itis. Definition: People think we’re bigger/better than we think of ourselves.

  2. Craig Frooninckx

    April 7, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Nice, direct, to the point and you’re not selling anything. Best advise I’ve seen in awhile.

  3. Jay Thompson

    April 7, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Great post JD. Blogging is prospecting, really nothing more. It works for some, and not others (just like any form of prospecting). It’s not instant (just like any form of prospecting). Applied diligently, it can work very well (just like any form of prospecting).

    For what it’s worth, I read the original version and didn’t think you even remotely attacked anyone.

  4. Charles Woodall

    April 7, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Great post Jonathan and sage advice for all agents. Now, I have a question for you.

    You mentioned that your regular blog (daltonsazhomes I would assume) gets 100 or so readers each day. Is that traffic you are talking about, or subscribed readers, either by email or in a feedreader?

    I ask because I am curious as to what kind of traffic I should be expecting, fully six months into my effort. I would interested in any and all input on this.

    Thanks in advance.

  5. Jim Duncan

    April 7, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    If this “blogging” thing isn’t instant, I quit.

  6. Jonathan Dalton

    April 7, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Charles – Google Analytics shows 100 visits a day. I’ve actually got about 170 or so subscribers, depending on the day. I’m assuming GA is hard clicks but I’ve never worried about it enough to double check it.

    Jim – it was worth a try. Best of luck with cold calling. 🙂

    Vicki – probably the way it ought to be. I’ve seen it the other way, where we perceive ourselves as better than everyone else does and it ain’t pretty.

    Craig – much appreciated! And Jay – Thanks all around!

  7. BawldGuy Talking

    April 7, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    Jonathan — I’ve been pissed at Steve Jobs for not sharing his secrets with Dell too. 🙂 Good Grief.

  8. Larry Yatkowsky

    April 7, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Nice to know Canucks make a difference in your life. Now if they could only play hockey .>)

  9. Bill Lublin

    April 8, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Jonathan – Nice post – and I agree, you should never buy into your own PR 🙂 For your perception you have earned a free lunch certificate from the Restaurant at the end of the Universe!

  10. Jonathan Dalton

    April 8, 2008 at 10:46 am

    Larry – they can, just not in Vancouver.

    Bill – “might I suggest my shoulder? It’s quite tender this evening.”

  11. Chris Johnson

    April 8, 2008 at 11:14 am

    WEllllllllllllI I’ll take the bait. And say that you’re dead wrong.

    In my own blog.


  12. Matt Scoggins

    April 8, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Great post! I couldn’t agree more.

  13. Jonathan Dalton

    April 8, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Chris – I’ll take the bait back …

    If I’m writing about what has worked for me, how can I be dead wrong? Do you have some deep insight into where my closings are coming from that I don’t? Am I sleepwalking and knocking on doors?

    You’re welcome to argue the merits of prospecting online but I’m not sure how you can tell me that that isn’t what has worked for me. I’m pretty sure I’m right when it comes to where my clients come from.

  14. Matthew Rathbun

    April 8, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Just for the record, I think that playing solitaire on the desk duty computer and randomly calling people out of an archaic phonebook, thus increasing my chances of an $11,000 federal fine is WAAAAYYY more fun than using the internet. I mean who wouldn’t want to pay for a ineffective $400 print media ad to “make the seller happy?” That low cost social media stuff that really requires me to meet the client where they are, is just too much for me to handle…..

    Ok, I’m done being cynical….

    Your humble approach to delivering information is your strength. I am glad that this approach is working for you. That means that you’re doing it well.

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