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If you could give a novice blogger one word of advice…

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monetizing-your-blogSometime in 2007 I became the blogging expert in my market centre. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but I think it came a month after I closed my first transaction with an investor who found me through my blog on investing in real estate in Kitchener Waterloo.

My business coach told me that I was part of a small group of Realtors who had closed business from a real estate blog.

Most real estate agents today still don’t have a website, let alone a decent site or a interactive community page like a blog or wiki. How can this be ?

As Teri Lussier points out today at BHB, there is a different paradigm for ‘online’ agents and ‘offline’ agents, and you need to have different conversations with both.

Tomorrow morning, I’ll be sitting down with about 20 realtors – some brand new, some experienced; all offline – to start their blogs.

I’ve put on classes at the market centre before about blogging, but tomorrow’s class will be different. We’re meeting in our computer lab at the office and having everyone set up free blogger or wordpress accounts. It’s going to be pretty cool!

What do you think s a brand new (to blogging) agent needs to know about blogging? What can you tell them that would shave months or years off of their learning curve ?

If you were talking to an offline agent, what one piece of advice would you give them about blogging and building your brand online? Leave your answer in the comments.

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Before you blog, READ and COMMENT other blogs like agent genius, and BHB, all while avoiding active rain and balancing a laptop on your head.

  2. Jim Duncan

    November 29, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    – Don’t do it with the sole purpose of making money.
    – Read – a lot.
    – Ask questions.
    – Don’t sell.

  3. Jay Thompson

    November 29, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    Can’t add much more than the two consummate pros above me.

    Read, read and read some more blogs. You’ll learn from the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    Avoid shameless self-promotion.

    Don’t treat your readers like “leads”. Treat them like…. people.

    Write for your audience, not the search engines.

  4. Jay Thompson

    November 29, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    “… and having everyone set up free blogger or wordpress accounts”

    Personally, I’d skip Blogger.

  5. Jim Duncan

    November 29, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    I gave a presentation yesterday to another company in my market. In response to the “lead” question – I said something like this:

    “I don’t consider people who email me because of my blog to be ‘leads.” They are people who are interested in real estate; that they might buy or sell real estate is great.

    I would also add these two

    – everything you write will be saved FOREVER on the internet
    – Assume that your clients will read your blog.

  6. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 5:06 pm

    If you’re in a fantastic market say so- but never ever ever infect your fantastic market with Detroits problems- unless you’re in Detroit. In that case, it is all about solutions to win in a tough market. Be honest about your market- but remember, nagativity is viral.

    Sorry, had to slide that one in, and also, do this while standing on one foot hoping up and down with a laptop on your head.

  7. Benjamin Bach

    November 29, 2007 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks Benn Jim and Jay!

    Jim, important note about the longevity of blog posts. I’ll make sure to mention that tomorrow!

    Jay, what blogging software would you reccomend for a newbie ?

    Benn – good point. Negativity may sell papers, but it doesn’t sell houses!

  8. Jay Thompson

    November 29, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    I just sent you an email BB.

    WordPress (self-hosted) is the best, IMHO. Probably not for the non-techy though.

    WP.com is a dumbed down version that can be easily transferred to a self-hosted WP blog if/when the time comes.

    Blogger may have the same export capability, I don’t know.

    I’ve just seen a lot of folks that started on Blogger and said they wished they’d just started with WP.

    Typepad is OK, it’s easy to use. More expensive and for the life of me, I can never get track-backs to work right with TP blogs. Heard a lot of TP users saying they wished they’d started with WP too.

    For complete newbies, I’d probably go with WP.com

    My post on longevity and being careful what you say on the internet:

    https://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com/be-careful-what-you-say-on-the-internet/287

    It’s *really* important.

  9. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    thanks – and yes, blogger exports to wordpress very nicely.

  10. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 5:24 pm

    I’ll say something else, you’re going to get better google saturation with blogger. Trust me.

  11. Mariana

    November 29, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Benjamin – (on the down low) KW MAPS will be offering blog coaching in the near future … just FYI … (Look for me at Reunion …)
    I must disagree with Benn on avoiding Active Rain. For the seriously new blogger, AR is a good place IMHO to get an idea of what people can write about, and practice in a relatively safe environment. Just make sure you point them to “recommended bloggers” so they dont wander into the wrong territory.

  12. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    “practice in a relatively safe environment” this is exactly why we say avoid active rain, you should practice by reading and comment other blogs. Safe means you’re not exposed to the audience most agents will need. plus, active rain blows. but I’ll still let you disagree with me.

  13. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 5:58 pm

    =]

  14. Teresa Boardman

    November 29, 2007 at 6:33 pm

    After a couple years of blogging I don’t know anything. i used to though, don’t agree with all of the advice here but I also know that there is often more than one approach that works and many approaches that do not work.

  15. Jay Thompson

    November 29, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    So T, how ’bout telling us your thoughts? What do you disagree / agree with? Anything to add?

  16. Athol Kay

    November 29, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    Never use any words like *** or **** and especially not ***** on your blog. The spambots will attack you.

  17. Athol Kay

    November 29, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    Mmmmmm… *****

  18. Teresa Boardman

    November 29, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    I teach some classes. I talk a lot about content and voice and doing it. I encourage the use of different platforms, I use four of them myself on a regular basis and each has some advantages. Blogger is looking better all the time and has capabilities built in that WP users have to install. I want people writing not installing widgets. There are some does and don’t about setting up a blog. If it is set up correctly the chances for success are much greater. I don’t talk much about SEO I think people spend too much time worrying about it and not enough time writing focused content. I think it is OK to have the goal of making money from it. One of mine is purely for prospecting and I truly enjoy writing it, but I also think it is OK to do it for fun.

    I agree with the advice on active rain people get trapped in it and think blogs are about your friends coming by and commenting. Sales are just as nice as comments.

    I agree with the no selling. There is enough of what I call the “I am all that and a bag of chips” marketing out there and consumers ignore it.

    I don’t beleive in treating people like leads either and no longer use the word. No one wants to be a lead, I want to start a conversation, develop a relationship and meet people. It is about helping the people who live inside of your computer find you.

    I beleive pictures are very important.

    It keeps changing and I keep learning. I encourage people to look outside the real estate industry for how to’s and new ideas.

    The trackbacks on my typepad blogs are moderated. If you leave a trackback it won’t go through unless i say OK. I have to to protect myself from spam. my comments are not moderated I monitor via blackberry and zap spam. links can be left in the comments, which serves as a trackback.

    Forgive my last comment, I am in a great deal of pain this evening and should not be on the internet. I am passionate about blogging and I got carried away.

  19. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    “It keeps changing and I keep learning. I encourage people to look outside the real estate industry for how to’s and new ideas.”

    So true.

  20. Brian Brady

    November 29, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    I’m going to agree with Benn about the “protective cloak” of Active Rain; I was terrified with my first BHB post, last December because of the AR bubble.

    Nothwithstanding, AR doesn’t suck.

  21. Benn Rosales

    November 29, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Well, for fear of derailing Benjamin’s post, I’ll agree with you, Brian, ar doesn’t suck. It’s just not for me. ;]

  22. Drew Meyers

    November 29, 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Be honest and write about what you’re interested/passionate about — “forced blogging” (just pumping out content for the sake of having more content) doesn’t usually work

  23. Athol Kay

    November 29, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    I think Blogger does get a bad rap overall. It’s instantly out of the box more functional than WordPress is by a long shot.

    Blogjet is the only thing that makes WordPress tolerable.

  24. Brian Brady

    November 30, 2007 at 12:46 am

    Benjamin:

    Transparent passion, not passionate transparency. Let the readers see your angst, your elation, your zeal.

    Read my Canadian investor posts on MRR. If you can’t grasp that I’m utterly despondent about the US$ slide, read the petty jabs about the Cup being in Anaheim. They’re petty but they show that I’m human and crushed that our economy is sliding; so crushed that all I have is a stupid sporting event to hang my hat on.

    That’s my angst

  25. Teresa Boardman

    November 30, 2007 at 7:06 am

    Funny I hate blog jet, but then I don’t need it with typepad. I agree with Athol about blogger. My mobile blog is on it and I impressed with the technology and ease of use. I encourage new bloggers to try it. content can easily be exported into another platform if necessary. Blogger is made by Google and is compatible with many other programs. With a couple of clicks a photo in flickr can be turned into a post on blogger. The mobile blogging is drop dead cool. Take a picture with a phone, add a few words and post. Love it! They keep improving it too.

  26. Charleston real estate blog

    November 30, 2007 at 7:15 am

    I’ll chime in with a couple of thoughts for the newly minted blogger starting out. I spent at least a couple of months reading everything in the blogosphere before writing my first post. I took a month before even commenting on another post.

    Once you start posting, be yourself and be real. And don’t try to sell.

    I hope Jay is right about WP because my new blog, with his help, will be on the WP platform.

  27. Jay Thompson

    November 30, 2007 at 7:30 am

    “Blogjet is the only thing that makes WordPress tolerable.”

    Huh. I don’t even know what blogjet is. I’m guessing some sort of editor?

    I’ll humbly retract my statement about Blogger. I looked at it about three years ago and shouldn’t have popped off about it. LOTS of things change in that length of time (though I do hear a lot of people say they wish they’d gone straight to WP. But since it can export now, who cares?)

    I’ll stick with the thought that if you want the ability to completely customize a site, WP is the only way to go.

    WP can be a PITA at times, but it’s pretty powerful stuff with a huge user base.

  28. Teresa Boardman

    November 30, 2007 at 7:46 am

    Jay – blog jet is an editor. Yes blogger has changed when I first looked at it there was not a lot going on.

    For the record I totally customized my typepad blog but modifying the CSS. They can be totally custom. I would not recommend it for a new bloggers. There is a learning curve with CSS. Typepad like wordpress offers many templates and they can easily be modified for a custom look. Widgets, gadgets doodads and functions can be added with a couple of clicks using a library found on the typepad site.

  29. Mariana

    November 30, 2007 at 9:01 am

    Benn- Thank you so much for letting me disagree with you. You are so very kind. 😉
    Here’s the scoop:
    1st: I have closed 8 transactions from AR – Consumers who found me there… 2 even before the Localism site was up. That does not count the 4 direct referrals that I have closed/still working with because of AR.
    2nd: Personally, I never would have been a blogger if it weren’t for Advanced Access telling me to go start a blog on AR (WTF?)
    3rd: For me, AR was a platform for me to jump off into the Blogosphere. With the exception of Athol, I have found all my other MUST-READ bloggers through their AR blog or a recommendation from an AR post.
    4th: I believe that bloggers that come from AR are better commenters in general – as they have been trained to comment right out of the AR womb.
    5th: I still use AR as an idea generator. I flip through the thousands of posts, and even in the most lame, I can sometimes get a great post idea.

    My point (yes. I have one…): AR can be great tool for people who are just starting out and have no flipping idea what “blog” means. Sure, many people do not use that community correctly … but what does it really mean to “use a community correctly?”

    Topics for Benjamin:
    1. How to format your post to include the use of bulletted points, pictures, paragraph breaks and bold text to make it more entertaining for the reader.
    2. How to blog to your niche market.
    3. The importance of internal and external keyworded links.
    4. The importance of subscribing to Blog-Help Blogs

    Woah!! I just hijacked an entire screenshot!

  30. Benn Rosales

    November 30, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Dear Hijacker, ;]

    “AR can be great tool” I believe everything you just wrote, but believe this is the greatest point you made, with one exception- AR can be ONE of a great MANY tools. If new bloggers understand that simple fact, they will be so much better off in the long run.

  31. Mariana

    November 30, 2007 at 9:11 am

    I have one blog on Blogger and several on WP (niche blogs). I like the ability to post directly from WORD2007 to WP – pictures and all.

  32. Mariana

    November 30, 2007 at 9:11 am

    Yes. One of MANY tools. 😉

  33. Athol Kay

    November 30, 2007 at 9:33 am

    Blogjet is a blog editor. I write all my blogs from the same editor and just toggle which I want it to post too.

    After hearing for months how much better WordPress was than Blogger, I made the switch and discovered that it was not much more than BS. The WordPress default editor is shockingly bad. The only thing that kept me on WordPress was getting Blogjet.

    Also Blogger never gave me a tenth of the spam WordPress does. I wish there was a way to subscribe to comments in Blogger though.

    “With the exception of Athol, I have found all my other MUST-READ bloggers through their AR blog or a recommendation from an AR post.”

    QFT Mariana. 🙂

    (Quoted For Truth)

  34. Teri Lussier

    November 30, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    This is too late to be useful this morning, but for the rest of eternity: The most important thing, I think, for a novice blogger to know is that blogging should be fun- truly fun. If it’s a chore, don’t do it. Please- I ain’t too proud to beg. If you don’t enjoy it, neither will anyone else.

    As for platforms- WordPress. If you can’t set it up (I can’t) find a local geek who will do it and pay them or barter. It’s not the easiest to use, but it’s brilliant, and from what I’ve seen, it’s the best for branding yourself. You can have a blog that looks unique, memorable, and “you”.

    And, BB, thank you for the mention. 😉

  35. Courtney

    March 2, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    I think this is so great that you are going to be doing this class. I have been out there trying so hard to make agents understand the importance of getting on the web. I think hand holding at first is probably going to break the biggest barriers.

    I also love AR:), but do enjoy doing my own blogs now more – I use WordPress hosted on my own site.

    Good luck!

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Opinion Editorials

Have an in-person job interview? 7 tips to crush the competition

EDITORIAL) While we all know the usual interview schtick, take some time to really study for your next face-to-face job interview.

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So, you’re all scheduled for an in-person interview for a job you’d kill for. It’s exciting that you’ve made it to this step, but the question is, are you ready? Especially with remote interviews being the new norm, your nerves may feel shaken up a bit to interview in person – but you’ve got this! And many of these tips can be applied no matter the interview setting.

We all know the basics of a job interview: dress nice, get there early, come prepared, firm handshake, yada, yada, yada… However, it’s good to really sit and think about all of the requirements of a successful interview.

There are seven steps for crushing a face-to-face interview. Do your homework upside down and inside out in order to walk into that room.

Which brings us to the first step: know everything you need to know backwards and forwards.

This can be done in two steps: getting to know the company and getting to know yourself. By doing website, social media, and LinkedIn research, you can get a feel of the company culture as well as the position you’re interviewing for.

By getting to know yourself, have a friend ask you some interview questions so you can practice. Also, take a look at your resume through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you. Make sure everything is clear and can compete with other candidates.

The next step is to anticipate solving future problems. Have some insight on the department that you are interviewing for and come prepared with ideas of how to better this department. (i.e. if it’s marketing, give examples of campaigns you’ve done in the past that have proven to have been successful.)

Step number three requires you to go back to the research board and get some information on the employer. Find out who you’re meeting with (head of HR, head of the department, etc.) and make your self-presentation appropriate for the given person.

Next, work on making the interview conversation a meaningful one. This can be done by asking questions as people like to see you take an interest in them. Also, be sure to never answer the questions as if it’s your regular spiel. Treat each job interview as if this is the first time you’re presenting your employability information.

With this, your next step is to have stories prepared for the job interview. Anecdotes and examples of previous jobs or volunteer/organization experiences can help bring life to an otherwise run-of-the-mill resume.

After this, you’ll want to make sure that you’re showing enthusiasm for the position you’re interviewing for. Don’t jump on the couch in the lobby like you’re Tom Cruise on Oprah, but definitely portray that you’re excited and up for the challenge.

Lastly, make a good impression by being impressive. Be professional and in control of your body language. Put yourself in the mindset of whatever position you’re interviewing for and show them that you have what it takes.

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Opinion Editorials

The benefits of remote work are just too good to overlook

(EDITORIAL) Employees scream it from the rooftops and businesses don’t want to admit it: Remote work is just too beneficial to pass up- and here’s why.

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Work from home written with scrabble letters.

Remote work has been rising in popularity in the past several years. Especially following the COVID-19 global pandemic, more companies saw significant benefits for both their business and their staff that went beyond the realm of finances by allowing remote labor.

Less happily, many people lost their job during the pandemic, but they ended up having more time to put toward their passions or were compelled to get creative with their remote business ideas to ensure a consistent stream of income.

If you remain on the fence about allowing your employees to work remotely, or are considering a career shift yourself, take a look at the top four benefits of working remotely, which may sway your decision.

Better Overall Quality of Life

Allowing your employees to work remotely doesn’t necessarily mean they work from home full time. There are benefits to having your employees work in an office part of the time – say, two or three days – and working from home, in more familiar surroundings, the rest of the week.

In this way, your workers enjoy some freedom and independence while retaining the ability to interact face-to-face with their peers. That provides human interaction, which can play a substantial role in terms of improved mental health for your staff.

Happy employees means healthier employees, which can save your outfit money in the form of healthcare costs and lost productivity. But we will get further into the cost-saving benefits a little further on.

If you’re a remote worker, you should see yourself becoming significantly more productive. But why would this be the case if you don’t have a manager over your shoulder watching your every move?

It’s true that when employees have a greater sense of independence, they also experience a significant sense of trust on the part of their employers and managers. This is one of the huge benefits of working remotely because it has a trickle-down effect on the quality and overall production of people’s work.

Can Work Anywhere with Internet

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Multi-member Zoom call on a Apple Mac laptop with a blue mug of black coffee next to it.

Set Your Own Hours

In some cases with remote businesses, you have the freedom to set your own hours. Content writers, for instance, tend to enjoy more flexibility with regard to when they work because a lot of what they produce is project-based rather than tied to a nine-to-five schedule.

When you’re a business owner, this can be incredibly useful when you outsource tasks to save money. You can find a higher quality of performance by searching for contractors anywhere in the world and it doesn’t limit you to workers who live near to your office.

Saves Everyone Time and Money

 In the end, remote work typically saves money for every person and entity involved. Businesses save costs in terms of not having to pay for a physical space, utilities, Internet, and other expenses. This allows you, as the owner, to spend more of your income on providing quality software and benefits for your employees so your operation runs more smoothly and efficiently.

According to FlexJobs, employees or remote business owners may save around $4,000 on average every year for expenses such as car maintenance, transportation, professional clothing in the office, or even money spent dining out for lunch with coworkers. Eventually, the costs add up, which means extra money in your pocket to take that much-needed vacation or save up for a down payment on your first home.

These benefits of working remotely only skim the surface. There are also sustainability factors such as removing cars from the roads and streets, because people don’t have to travel to and from an office; or employees missing fewer workdays since they have the ability and freedom to clock in from home.

Weigh the pros and cons as to whether remote work is right for you as a business owner or online professional. You might be surprised to find that working from home for more than the duration of the pandemic is worthwhile and could have long-lasting benefits.

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Opinion Editorials

Do these 3 things if you TRULY want to be an ally to women in tech

(EDITORIAL) We understand diversity helps and strengthens our companies, and individual teams. But how can you be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce?

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Two women at meeting table discussing working in tech.

More and more women are leaving their positions with tech companies, citing lack of opportunity for advancement, wage gaps, and even hostile working conditions as some of the reasons why.

What’s better for the tech industry and its employees than cultivating inclusive and diverse departments? Diversity is known to strengthen the overall performance of a company and its teams, and there are a number of ways you can be an ally to the talented women already on your workforce. To name a few:

1. Be open to listening to different perspectives.

It can be awkward to hear so many reports of workplace politics stacking against women, especially if you’re not a woman!

Instead of getting uncomfortable or defensive – ask open ended questions and be interested in a perspective that isn’t yours and may be unfamiliar.

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Listening to and validating what women have to say about the quality of their employment with a company is an important step in the right direction.

Expressing something as simple as “I was interested in what you had to say – could you elaborate on your thought?” can help.

2. Develop an Employee Resource Group (ERG) program.

An ERG is a volunteer-based, employee-led group that acts as a resource for a particular group of employees. An ERG can help to foster inclusiveness through discussion, team-building activities and events. It’s common for a department to have only one or two women on the roster.

This can mean that the day to day feels disconnected from concerns commonly shared by women. disjointed it might feel to be on a high performing team, without access to relatable conversations.

3. Be responsible for your company’s culture.

Chances are, your company already has some amazing cultural values in place. That said, how often are you checking your own performance and your co-workers performances against those high standards? Strong company culture and values sound great, but whether or not they’re adhered to can make or break the mood of a work environment.

Many women say they’ve experienced extremely damaging and toxic cultural environments, which lead to hostility, frustration, and even harassment. Take action when you see the new woman uncomfortable with being hit on at team drinks.

Call out those who make unfriendly and uncouth comments about how women perform, look, or behave.

Setting a personal threshold for these kinds of microaggressions can help you lead by example, and will help build a trustworthy allyship.

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