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Opinion Editorials

First Ever Real Estate Bar Camp = Awesome



Image Courtesy of Brad Coy
image courtesy of Brad Coy

Although Andy did his best attempt to sabotage my attendance to REBarCamp, I made it. It was an incredible event, but for those of you who couldn’t make it (or were attending one of the other excellent break-out sessions), here’s what I got out of it.


I know this is all what you really care about. The laminates are awesome, great design, great idea and a great icebreaker. So happy I scored a killer t-shirt too because I think I may have packed a little too light. I scored a killer pen/flashlight/level courtesy of RMC Vanguard. Yahoo! provided some tasty mints. Okay, fine, you don’t care about the schwag…

Social Networking Session

The first break out session I attended was covering Social Networking. Big surprise that Teresa Boardman and Jeff Turner had lots to say 🙂 I know the people I was sitting with were all very interested in learning more about how exactly Teresa and Jeff use Flickr as a social network. I’m on there, but not very active, but after learning a few of the tips and tricks, I’ll definitely be spending some time. These were the recommendations I took away:

  • Create an uber-group for your listing photos with sub-groups for each individual listing
  • Take TONS of local area photos since that’s what the general public is going to be most interested in
  • Tag, tag, tag! People will find your photos via search and good tags are the best way to find them

A couple of stories I heard were of people taking pictures at conferences and their Flickr photo sets showing up higher in Google than the conference web site. Perhaps we can do that with REBarCamp…

General Discussion

Next I met with Reggie, NikNik and Chad from MyTechOpinion. They did a very brief product pitch for, which is a new real estate product and service directory. Think DMOZ, but covering all the various products and services for the real estate industry. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to help out in building the directory. Then we had a great general discussion about the evolution of marketing in the real estate industry.

Blog Networks

In this session, we discussed group blogs and networked blog sites. I see brokerage networked blog sites as a great recruiting tool because many new agents I encounter would love to get into blogging, but desire a bit of help getting started, so having a company provided solution could be great.

Guerrilla Marketing

Mark Eckenrode hosted a great Guerrilla Marketing session covering a ton of free/inexpensive marketing tactics that can complement any current marketing you may be doing. We discussed setting goals and making your path to accomplish that goal as easy as possible. It was definitely a bit of information overload, so I’m hoping Mark will give even more details on his site.

My Conclusion

REBarCamp was incredible. It was a great way to spend some time getting to know a ton of people and have great, more intimate conversations about all things real estate technology and marketing. It even looks like REBarCamp Texas will be happening October 22nd! I look forward to hearing about more of these and working on getting one close to home once life settles down.

Thanks to everyone who made the event what it was.

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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  1. Rich Jacobson

    July 29, 2008 at 8:51 am

    Nick, I totally agree. The atmosphere and enthusiasm at RE Barcamp was electrifying. It’s hard to adequately describe the environment. It felt like we were all part of some underground resistance movement, and we were meeting to plot our strategies for battle. There was a pronounced hunger and thirst for knowledge, as well as generous sharing of experiences/information. The sessions were informal and free flowing. We are planning to have a couple of events here in our area soon!

  2. teresa boardman

    July 29, 2008 at 9:56 am

    I totally agree as well. I liked the kind of informal setting and the way we could just share ideas. It is rare that I get an opportunity to be with my web 2.0 peers so that I can learn from them.

  3. Brad Coy

    July 29, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Nice picture 🙂

    Thanks for the follow up Nick. I did not get nearly enough of what happened throughout the day and have been dependent on posts like this to occupy my curiosity. I love what Rich says above about an “underground resistance movement”. I have a feeling that this movement of Bar Camp is going to be bigger than anyone could have imagined. This could be the start of something very innovative and cool for the Real Estate industry.

  4. Robert Luna

    July 29, 2008 at 11:51 am

    Bar Camp was awesome the structure, the vibe, the people this was a major Home Run thanks to all the people who put it together and supported it I can hardly wait for the next one.

  5. Derek Overbey

    July 29, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Nice recap Nick. Having attended SocialMediaCamp a week earlier (Andy was there too) I can honestly say this was by far the more useful and informative Camp in my opinion. Plus for myself, being new to this social media group, this event opened the door to the tens if not hundreds of new relationships I have now.

    I also had the opportunity to use Qik during RE Bar Camp which was great for people who could not be there live. I know Poppy Dinsey of Zoomf was in London watching the sessions that I was streaming. You can check out the video at

    I hope there are many more in the future and I will try with all my might to be in Houston in Oct.

  6. Vicki Moore

    July 29, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Hey – I’m still bragging about that pen/flashlight/screw driver thingy.

    I think I learned as much at BarCamp as I did at Bloggers’ Connect – and it was free. I’m checking off my list of things to do – every day a little at a time.

  7. Kim Wood

    July 29, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    While I didn’t get any Schwag….and arrived very late… I did find out that it would have been worth it to have been there earlier!!!

    That was the first place my meet ups began…and although I know Flickr and Teresa Boardman, it was fun to sit in on her session.

    No comment about Beer for Bloggers that night ??? ::grin::

  8. Matt Kelly

    July 30, 2008 at 6:46 am

    Thanks for the mention of the pen/flashlight/level. I was suprised at how fast they disappeared and really glad I didn’t have to haul a bunch of them back to Houston!

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Opinion Editorials

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.




Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note…so let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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Opinion Editorials

COVID-19 acts are unfortunately too short sighted

(BUSINESS NEWS) The biggest flaw in the CARES act is simply that it won’t last. Numerous issues have extended the life of COVID-19 but the act hasn’t matched it.



rev pay issues act

The CARES act gives an additional $600 weekly to those on unemployment assistance. The idea being that, combined with the $380 already granted by unemployment, the payments would roughly equal the wage of the average worker prior to the pandemic- about $1,000 weekly.

But on July 31st, the expansion that CARES provides will expire, and benefits will return to pre-pandemic amounts. Those currently receiving the maximum payment will see a 61% decrease in their income. In states that offer lower benefit payments, that percentage goes even higher. All of this comes during a national rental crisis, and moratoriums on evictions across the country are also nearing their ends or being extended last minute.

This isn’t the first or only “yuge” hole in the federal government’s COVID-19 safety net. Many Americans (this writer included) have seen neither hide nor hair of their promised stimulus checks. The HEROES act, which is being billed as a second round of stimulus money, remains under debate- as it has been for several weeks.

And the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires certain businesses to provide two weeks of paid leave to workers who may be sick (or caring for someone who is) has plenty of problems too, namely the laundry list of exceptions to it.

This is just the most recent push to return to the pre-virus economy before effective protective measures have been put in place for workers and consumers alike. After all, with cases of COVID-19 spiking again in the US, it’s apparent that the act is still absolutely necessary. Our lawmakers either lack patience, or compassion – take your pick. Frankly, I say it’s both.

Not only have countless health experts warned that reopening too early will be disastrous, but if a second lockdown is in our future, all of the time, money, and human lives that went into reopening will be wasted.

There is a silver lining among the storm clouds on the horizon. Because ballooning unemployment has created long wait times for benefit applicants, unemployment assistance programs are shelling out retroactive back payments to those deemed eligible.

Good news, at least, for laid off workers who have been waiting months to hear their fate.

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Opinion Editorials

Women-owned businesses make up 42% of all businesses – heck yeah!

(EDITORIAL) Women-owned businesses make a huge impact on the U.S economy. They make up 42% of all businesses, outpace the national growth rate by 50%, and hire billions of workers.



women-owned business

Women entrepreneurs make history in the U.S as female-owned businesses represent 42% of all businesses, while continuing to increase at DOUBLE the national growth rate!

Women are running the world, and we are here for it! The 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, states 13 million women are now self-employed entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2019, women-owned businesses grew 21%. Think that’s impressive? Well, businesses owned by women of color grew 43% within the same timeframe, with a growth rate of 50%, and currently account for 50% of all women-owned businesses! Way to go! What this also means is that women employ over 2.4 million workers who together generate $422.5 billion in revenue.

What can we learn from these women that’ll help you achieve success in your businesses?

  1. Get informed: In a male-dominated business industry, women are often at a disadvantage and face multiple biases. So, know your stuff; study, research, and when you think you know it all…dig deeper!
  2. Stay hungry: Remember why you started this journey. Write down notes and reminders, goals, and inspirations, hang them up and keep them close.
  3. Ask for advice: Life is not meant to go through alone, so ask questions. Find a mentor and talk to people who have walked a similar path. Learning from them will only benefit your business.

Many of these women found ways to use their passion to drive their business. It may not be exactly what they thought it would be when they started out, but is it ever? Everyone has to start off small and rejection is part of the process. In fact, stories of rejection often serve as inspiration and encouragement to soon-to-be self starters.

Did you know J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book was turned down TWELVE times? Seven books later with over 400 million copies sold, the Harry Potter brand is currently valued at over 15 billion. While you might not become a wizard-writing fantasy legend like J.K Rowling, you sure as heck can be successful. So go for it, and chase your dreams.

If you want to support women-owned businesses, start by scrolling through Facebook or doing some research to find women-owned businesses in your community. Then, support by buying or helping to promote their products. Small businesses, especially women-owned, black women-owned, and women of color-owned, are disproportionally affected by the current economic crisis ignited by a health pandemic. So if you can, shop small and support local. And remember, there’s a girl (or more) doing a happy dance when you checkout!

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