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Where am I?

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Somewhere on earth


Searching

Sometimes when I go surfing on the internet I get lost. I get lost walking down the street and driving too but that isn’t relevant to this post.

I click and go from real estate blog to real estate blog and hit a few web sites, and they all have a similar look and feel. Real estate web sites and blogs kind of stand out that way.

Pictures Rule

Posting photos of local places and of real estate can give an agents blogs an edge and really make it stand out from the competition. Photos help create a sense of place. My goal with my blog has always been to make it look like St. Paul so that when people stop by they know where they are and can see that I know my way around the place. They just know they are not in Kansas any more, they have entered my world.

Here on agent genius every post has a photo. We have created a world here too. Filled with pictures of the latest gadgets, and ideas. Our pictures communicate to the readers that a bunch of us got together and started sharing information and ideas with our peers. The blog is bright, colorful, and friendly. I can glance at a page of it and absorb ideas just by looking at the images.

A sense of place . . makes sense

At a recent conference I talked with a couple of the companies that make the big national real estate sites. I told them that they are missing the boat because each of their pages looks the same. The sites have no sense of place. They really don’t have any personality either, each page just has a different set of real estate agent photos on it. Alabama looks pretty much the same as Hawaii.

The internet is just packed full of advertising and it all looks pretty much the same. I mostly tune it out and I am sure others do too. The advantage in having local photos on a real estate blog is that they make the site look less commercial.

Kill the competition

When it comes to competing on the web I think our blogs have an advantage over the national sites. We can create a friendly environment and that sense of place, that attracts home buyers and sellers. Corporations and real estate brokerages just don’t seem to be able to make it look anything but commercial and impersonal. I will even suggest that a marginal photo is better than no photo or clip art.

For bloggers who write for Google it doesn’t much matter how the site looks but for those of us who like to have the readers come back and linger awhile and interact with us, it is a big deal. The internet is for more than words. We can use it to create an experience or environment by using images.

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.

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19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Susie Blackmon

    September 16, 2008 at 5:34 am

    Hi T, great post as usual. I love (and get carried away) with photos and use them a good bit. I am the only regular blogger in my County believe it or not. Trying to build up my content before the others catch on, and am about 10 months into ‘it’ and growing and learning. Need to fine tune while I’m trying to hang on financially. Am so tired of posting the real estate updates (everything still going down) that I’m writing more about community with photos.

  2. Teresa Boardman

    September 16, 2008 at 5:37 am

    Susie – I was one of the first bloggers in my market and I used to worry about someone taking me out of my top spot. It has not happened. I think there are advantages to being first and building up content. Keep at it!

  3. Lisa Sanderson

    September 16, 2008 at 5:40 am

    Teresa: Okay, okay, I’ll do it already. (Been meaning to make a custom header for my blog for some time now but have procrastinated as is per usual for me.) Seriously, your point about creating a sense of place is a great one. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  4. Mack

    September 16, 2008 at 6:22 am

    Teresa, You always seem to hit the nail on the head. Just as we should have multiple photos on our listings we should add photos to our blogs and websites. I heard one time that a picture is worth a thousand dollars. Think about it, when buyers are searching the web for homes if a listing does not have multiple photos it will more than likely be skipped over. Perhaps the same is true for our sites and blogs. I must admit I don’t have a picture on each blog post but I try to have as many as I can.

  5. Teresa Boardman

    September 16, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Lisa – go my child, create!
    Mack – what are you waiting for, grab a camera, or heck even your phone and go shoot something. Daylight is burning.

  6. Todd

    September 16, 2008 at 8:05 am

    A great resource for photos of your local area is Flickr, just be sure to use only photos that are under the Creative Commons license and include a reference of who took the photo. Examples:

    https://flickr.com/search/?q=St.+Paul&l=cc&ct=0

  7. Jay Thompson

    September 16, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    “For bloggers who write for Google it doesn’t much matter how the site looks but for those of us who like to have the readers come back and linger awhile and interact with us, it is a big deal. The internet is for more than words. We can use it to create an experience or environment by using images.”

    a-freaking-men.

  8. Jack Leblond

    September 16, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    I hope you folks don’t get tired of this….Write for YOUR reader and content is *KING*! The more content you can add to your sites that describes your local market, the better off you will be. Photos do a great job of capturing eyes on a page, and if tagged correctly – they had better be – they are great at capturing the attention of the robots too.

    T – You comment about being first is great, Google and the others give bonus points for the age of sites. Those that or older and more established are presumed to be of greater value.

  9. Karen Goodman

    September 16, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    As a new blogger last November, I really didn’t get how important pictures were. Some posts had pictures, some got clip art, some got nothing. As I started reading more blogs I realized that I really preferred the look of blogs that used photos instead of clipart, and I almost always skipped longer posts if there weren’t any pictures (still do!).

    I’m getting ready to move by blog to WordPress from P2, and spent countless hours last week searching for pictures that I could sub for the clip art in the older posts. None of my posts now have clip art, and every future post will have at least one photo.

    I’m also planning to have plenty of local photos on my market report pages to highlight local attractions and the style of housing you can find in each part of town.

    Thanks for reassuring me that all the hours I’m spending shifting my focus is time worth spent!

  10. Dan Connolly

    September 16, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    I have gotten some good photos from istock dot com. They are about $1 – $1.50 each for a license to use them on your website or in your blog. It’s a sliding scale depending on the resolution of the picture. The smallest (300 x 400 px) are around 1.50 to download. To me it seems worth it here and there for the right picture.

    I have many of my own pictures on my site, but the occasional shots like a hand reaching up from a pile of bills, or a light at the end of a tunnel, or hundred dollar bills floating down from the sky, these kind of images can go a long way to making a point.

  11. Karen Goodman

    September 17, 2008 at 8:05 am

    Dan – I try not to pay for photos since it all adds up. I found two great sites that I use for most of my photos.

    https://www.stockxpert.com/index.phtml – full size versions are available for purchase, but small photos are free; the size isn’t always big enough but other times small is ok when I just want to highlight a subheading
    https://www.sxc.hu/home – larger pictures that are free, not as good selection as stockxpert but still have some real winners

    I also usually check Microsoft clip art and search for photos. They have some good pictures for free too. I haven’t had much luck digging through flckr, but did find a great fireworks picture and some perfect shots of local attractions.

  12. Don Drew

    September 17, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Pictures of blogs that you’re writing about…hummmmm not since they starting writing about Britney Spears has putting a picture with the words been such a great idea!

  13. Teresa Boardman

    September 17, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Karen and Dan – I use some stock photography too. There are shots that I need and don’t have. It is worth the money

  14. ines

    September 18, 2008 at 7:59 am

    It’s no secret that you an me are visual people and the photograph or image is important to us – how do you feel about those that argue that pictures take away from the content and are fillers when the content is not substantial? (I know how I feel about it, but I’d love to get your take)

  15. ines

    September 18, 2008 at 8:00 am

    btw – is it you and me? or you and I? (that’s one of my “english as a second language” flaws)

  16. Teresa Boardman

    September 18, 2008 at 8:42 am

    Ines – sorry to say I am not much of a gramarian. 🙂 To the people who say that pictures take away from content, I say pictures are content and that the internet is visual and that people who may be interested in buying real estate like to look at real estate. I am of the a picture is worth a 1000 words school. But pictures should for the most part be related to the post or maybe just the area. Ines I could write an enitre post on this subject. BTW I am using your blog in my presentation in Vegas tomorrow as an example of a blogger who uses photos. Make sure you have a pretty one up on Friday.

  17. ines

    September 18, 2008 at 8:53 am

    Just what I thought – don’t worry….I’ll take care of you with my Miamism Fridays 😉 and I’m flattered

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Business Marketing

What entreprenuers can learn about branding from trendy startups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) What’s the secret of focused startup branding, and how can you apply it to large enterprises?

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A set of wine from Craft Hugo, showing off pleasing branding in labels.

Think of your favorite brand. Is it the product they offer or the branding that you love? Exactly – brand ethos reigns supreme, especially with those trendy, aesthetically-pleasing startups (I never thought Glossier had good makeup, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t visit their website once or twice a month).

So let’s break it down.

Co-founder of Red Antler – a company that assists startups in creating successful branding – Emily Heyward believes in a few branding truths.

Firstly, you have to make sure not to market your brand as a single product or experience. Doing so, she says, will pigeonhole you and thus truncate your ability to expand and offer new products and services (she gives MailChimp, known almost exclusively for email marketing, as an example).

What Heyward does say to do is instead market an idea. For example, the brand Casper (one of Antler’s clients) markets itself as a sleep company instead of a mattress company. By doing this, they kept the door open to eventually offer other products, like pillows and bedding.

Heyward states that this “power of focus” is a way to survive – with countless other startups offering the same product or service, you have to position your company as offering something beyond the product. Provide a problem your customer didn’t know they had and offer an innovative solution through your product.

Ever used Slack, the app-based messenger? There were other messengers out there, so focus of Slack’s branding is that regular messaging is boring and that their app makes it more fun. And customers eat it up.

How can this logic apply to mid-to-large enterprises? How can you focus on one specific thing?

Again, placing emphasis on brand over products is essential – what is it about what you offer that makes your customers’ lives better? It’s more cerebral than material. You’re selling a better life.

Another thing to remember is that customers are intrigued by the idea of new experiences, even if the product or service being offered is itself not new. Try not to use dated language that’s colored by a customers’ preexisting feelings. Instead, find an exciting alternative – chat solutions are desperately trying move away from the word “chat”, which can bring to mind an annoying, tedious process, even though that is in fact what they offer.

Broadening the idea of focused brand ethos to a large company can be difficult. By following these tips and tricks from startups, your company can develop a successful brand ethos that extends beyond your best product or service.

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Business Marketing

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.

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Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
  • templates based on popular product niches and themes
  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
  • & much more!

“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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Business Marketing

This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.

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Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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