Such is the place where I find myself this week as I enter my third year on my All Phoenix Real Estate blog, which itself was preceeded by six months on RealTown blogs, making the anniversary of the switch to WordPress less a real anniversary than a simple milestone.
If I had to find a way to sum up 2008 from a blogging perspective, particularly the last six months, I would say it was a period where I found myself thinking too much and therefore writing too little. Listening to the various blogging experts I experimented with shorter posts, keyword-rich posts, posting less frequently to give everyone a chance to read everything. I stopped writing about national issues and tried writing for the audience that I wanted, only to learn the audience I want isn’t there these days.
Simply put, I stopped doing much of what I had done over the first two years (including the RealTown days) that made my blog successful and, even more importantly, that kept me engaged in my own blog.
While many real estate bloggers do so strictly for business, it’s never been quite so easy for me. Make no mistake, the ultimate goal is to generate business and I’ve been able to do that with some success. When other agents were trying to figure out how to market to Calgary when their main client acquisition strategy was an open house, I was reaching across the border through the blog and building relationships.
But truly, as a writer by one-time trade and with a writers’ heart, there also was a real need to cause people to identify with what I was writing. Traffic for the sake of traffic is meaningless and my mind knows this, but my ego wants to see the traffic for the same reasons that drove Howard Stern through much of his career … the admittedly insane notion that everyone ought to be reading what I have to say.
Speaking of Howard Stern …
I once was told that I’m the guy who says what everybody else is thinking but doesn’t want to say. At the time, I accepted the statement as a compliment even if it probably wasn’t fully complimentary. When Active Bob told me at Inman San Francisco that I was a cynical bastard – less than 20 seconds after we had been introduced for the first time – I accepted the statement in stride, even wearing it as a badge of honor.
Truth be told, there are far easier paths to pursue. But after pursuing those paths and realizing they’re not necessarily going to lead to the ancillary benefits I would have hoped for (read: I’m waiting for that Social Media position to materialize), and after feeling the near-daily struggle over the past months to try and find something to write about … perhaps it’s better to accept what I am.
Acerbic. Caustic. An a-hole.
But also honest, to my readers and to myself.
I can’t continue to write as if I’m trying to please an anonymous focus group. I also can’t continue to justify decisions to intentionally not pursue traffic, even if I know the traffic number itself is meaningless, when I need that number to feed my ego. I can’t add H2 tags when I’m too busy ranting to try and figure out a logical place to add a sub-headline.
Silly or not, these are the things that have spurred me on through more than 1,500 posts on sites ranging from my own blog to sellsius, NAR Wisdom, the sadly-murdered Phoenix Real Estate Technology Exchange and, of course, Agent Genius.
It’s not in my nature to sit idly by as some vendors attempt to promote their products by denigrating what’s offered by others. It’s not in my nature to remain moot as a totally meaningless debate over whether a real estate weblogger ought to accept a free trial of a vendors’ services.
(Missing in that argument is the reality that as real estate agents first and foremost, we ought to be in the business of using whatever services allow us to help our clients. This standard of alleged objectivity is a red herring, an attempt to focus debate on a non-issue lest the real issue – how many clients you have helped – be brought to the forefront.)
Over the past couple of months I have found myself settling for counterpunching more and more often. There’s been little effort to mount an offensive; rather, I’ve leaned on the ropes and jabbed here and there without trying to move myself back into the center of the ring.
Ironically, business has not suffered because of this decision.
But that isn’t to say that it’s impossible to have it all – to meet business objectives, and to feed the ego that caused me to put the BlogTopSites widget back on my blog for the first time in two months. (In the interest of disclosure, since that seems to be the new buzzword, I removed the widget because it was slowing down the load time on my blog.)
That’s who I am. That’s what I need. And that’s what I’ll be doing from now on.