Somewhere on earth
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.”
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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
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)
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)
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.
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