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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.

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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

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.

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As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(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 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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