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Nationally, 8% of REALTORS Write Blogs. So What?!?

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NAR released its 2008 member profile recently. One of the most significant findings, for this crowd anyway, will be the number of agents who are blogging. At 8 percent of 1.2 million REALTORS, we now have 96,000 REALTOR-bloggers pecking away on a keyboard and clicking publish. That’s almost three times as many members as Virginia Association of REALTORS has in total. And there are, on average, more than 300 bloggers for each of the 300 largest US metro areas. This stat leaves me with a bunch of questions.

Q: How significant is 8 percent and 96,000?

What does it mean to REALTOR associations? With a small minority of members authoring real estate blogs, is there any sense at all in expending resources to provide services to just 8 percent of members? Maybe not on the surface. But with that trendline pointing up (last year the same figure stood at six percent), this is clearly a growing concern for REALTORS and their associations.

I’m fond of the business advice implied in a famous statement by Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer. Gretzky said he didn’t skate to the puck. He skated to where the puck would be. It’s a calculated risk that VAR and other associations are making. Just like the Great One, we’re committing to engaging bloggers and social media types now, not knowing exactly where the puck will go, so that when it bounces off the boards or a goal post, we’ll be there to corral it and put it in the net — repeatedly.

On the other side, consider the resources associations expend on other slivers of their memberships. Ten percent of the entire membership is often held up as a target to shoot for when setting attendance goals at association conventions. On average, click through rates on association e-mails hovers around five percent. There are programs for brokers, which overall represent a small minority of the total membership. I could go on and on.

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On balance, we know that bloggers have a wider reach than the average member. And just like you, we love when bloggers write about us, so we engage bloggers, no matter where they work, and try to do blogworthy stuff.

Q: Is VAR’s social media effort paying off?

Through VAR’s social media initiatives, such as dedicating an entire magazine issue to the topic, holding events for real estate bloggers, modeling the use of blogs, and undertaking social media research projects, we’re starting to see our members take a greater interest in social media compared to the rest of the country. While only 7 percent of Virginia REALTORS currently have a blog, NAR’s stats show they’re almost 20 percent more likely to start blogging than the national average.

That needle’s heading in the right direction as far as I’m concerned, but we still have a ways to go.

Q: 100,000 voices, yet why so quiet?

If there are really 96,000 real estate bloggers, why are so few engaged in the conversation here and around the REBC? I’ll tell you why: Bloggers in Name Only (BINOs). You catch my drift, don’tcha? I set up a account, therefore I’m a blogger and I answer NAR’s survey that way, never mind the fact that my only entry was the obligatory “Hello world!” post.

Q: What makes a legitimate real estate blogger?

How many posts do you have to make per month to avoid the BINO label? Or is it about posts at all? Maybe it’s links or comments? Or none of the above! How do you become a member of the REBC anyway?

Q: What do AgentGenius readers think of this statistic?

Psst! That’s your cue! (See comment button below)

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Written By

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.



  1. Jay Thompson

    June 30, 2008 at 8:31 am

    I suspect the vast majority of the 96K are BINOs. For evidence, go to any large “blog network” ala ActiveRain or the blogs offers and see how many are truly engaged. Just this weekend I got on the phone with a relentless cold-caller from She kept harping on the “free blog!” they offer. I asked her how many people use it and her response was, “Everyone is blogging!”

    No, they aren’t.

    300 bloggers in Phoenix? I don’t think so, and Phoenix is arguably the “epi-center” of real estate blogging.

    I don’t think being “real” blogger entails a certain number of posts or comments. But it does entail commitment and dedication. Quantifying those two things is difficult.

  2. Matthew Rathbun

    June 30, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Consideration: 1.2 Million seems like a lot but when you look at other studies, you realize that only about 20% are making enough income to not be considered in poverty level (this is a 2006 number). I try to keep that 20% in mind and think that most bloggers (yes, I know not all) consider themselves full-time. Therefore, 8% of REALTOR bloggers is really almost half of full time agents.

    Having said that, I think the number is significantly smaller if you were to ask that 8% who among them posts at least weekly and directs their posts to clients (as opposed to AG, AR, BHB, etc…).

    Regardless of how many, the ones who are doing it well (Danilo, Zebra, Jay, Jim, et al…) are getting the attention of NAR and others.

    It’s not the quantity, it’s the quality and the message.

    Unfortunately I think that the question of number of posts, etc.. Is really complicated. A Real Estate blogger conjures the image of one using a blog to get real estate business. If we were to use that image – I think that as a rule of thumb, it would be at least one client facing blog per week or original material and comment activity in as many industry blogs as possible. That’s just my thoughts when I consider how serious I take someone who says they are a “blogger”.

  3. Matthew Rathbun

    June 30, 2008 at 8:50 am

    Jay, I was evidentally commenting at the same time you were… I agree with it being difficult to quantify those things, as there is no Blog Overlord who is acting as judge. I can only speak for myself.

  4. Bill Lublin

    June 30, 2008 at 8:52 am

    @Jay If Phoenix is the epi-center of Blogging, is it in Virginia?
    @Ben I think the entire process of utilizing social media is a slow process because people have to be educated one at a time. And that’s only the start.

    They need to know about Blogging first. Then they need to embrace the need to Blog (or not) then they have to go through the four stages of learning, -which I will save for a post later this week πŸ™‚

    But think the first step is the BINO and they may not really be part of the RECB for quite a while.

    So if 8 percent of REALTORS blog & 20 percent of the population does 80 percent of the work that would guesstimate us at 1.6 percent of the total and about 60 bloggers in the major metros – Does that sound closer to real? (I love fuzzy numbers like the Pareto Principle) πŸ™‚

    Oh and I did the survey already. Do I get AR points now?

  5. John Lauber

    June 30, 2008 at 9:03 am

    I can speak as a recovering BINO. I have had domain names with good intentions for a while, but never consistently wrote for my blog until this year. I think that happens with a lot of people. You do need to have some commitment, I think, to call yourself a blogger. As Jay said, how much is difficult to say. I don’t think just signing up and not writing with some dedication makes you a blogger.

  6. Jason Sandquist

    June 30, 2008 at 9:18 am

    I should have been blogging along time ago, it is right up my ally as far as genarations go, but nonetheless I have been doing it very consistently for the past few months on a couple of different WP sites that I created and am self hosting. One is even a niche farming site around a neighborhood that already out ranks the developers site for the neighborhood, why I haven’t been doing it early on, I don’t know why. I’ve noticed a lot of blogs around my area are so redudant and lack attitude. A lot are just doing it because it is the ‘thing to do’ and almost feel like they are forced to do it, but whatever, that’s their thing I guess.

  7. Matt Thomson

    June 30, 2008 at 9:30 am

    I don’t see blogging as being much different from other forms of advertising/marketing/info disseminating. After the first blogging class I taught at my office, I was disappointed in how many BINO’s (thanks for that term) I had just created. Wasn’t I clear? Didn’t I show the real value? Why didn’t they get it?
    Then I got it. How many classes have I been to where the presenter gave us a “sure fire way to triple your income in 12 months” only to walk out of there fired up enough to do nothing? Blogging doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s not a good idea for many agents. For some, blogging would be a terrible idea. They’d spend time and perhaps money laboring away at something they didn’t enjoy or understand, only to be publishing something second rate and embarrassing to them for everybody to see. A bad blog is MUCH worse than no blog.
    I don’t know what the % should be, but if 8% of Realtors can write quality blogs, then it should stay at 8%.
    Keep in mind also that there are several real estate blogs out there, some good ones, written by real estate agents who aren’t Realtors.

  8. Benn Rosales

    June 30, 2008 at 9:43 am

    Binos are on ActiveRain unfortunately – Real Estate Agents (51155)
    I also believe they are alamode subscribers. Xsites (alamode) supplies blogs with their websites.
    and the rest are probably spread among blogger,, and the other free sites.

  9. Teresa Boardman

    June 30, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Out of that 8% .25 percent have been at it for a year or more and out of the .25% only half have any readers, and out of that half 10% get business through their blog. There are maybe 50 of us nation wide who have been make it work for a couple of years. I made those number up myself but am willing to bet that they are dead on.

  10. Barry Cunningham | Real Estate Radio USA

    June 30, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Active Rain has 92,000 the NAR numbers must be off! great Post though. πŸ™‚

  11. Barry Cunningham

    June 30, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Hey Bill..I commented before I saw your AR comment..LOL What is with these studies?

  12. Vance Shutes

    June 30, 2008 at 10:56 am


    My mentor in blogging impressed upon me the importance of starting a blog ONLY if you are going to be a regular writer.

    There may be 96,000 Realtors with blogs (8% of all Realtors), but I’m willing to bet that only 8% of that 96,000 are regular writers at their blogs. So what message is the Realtor sending when they start a blog, and then leave it languish? To the consumer, it signals “can’t finish what you start,” which is hardly a resounding inspiration for the consumer to choose that Realtor.

  13. Ben Martin, Va Assn of REALTORS

    June 30, 2008 at 11:11 am

    @Teresa You’re right that it’s only a small fraction of the 96K who are able to “make it work.” There are roughly 20 bloggers in Virginia alone regularly converting readers into clients, so I think your estimate is a bit low. I’d put the number in the 300’s.

    @Barry A|R actually has 95,000+ members but keep in mind that not all A|R members are REALTORS.

  14. Frank Jewett

    June 30, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Yes, ActiveRain’s vaunted 95K membership also includes home stagers like “Please Remove” who probably aren’t active. In fact, I’m shocked to see the 95K number bandied about in a sophisticated forum like this. No more than 20% of those members are “active” and 50% have done almost nothing since joining the platform. ActiveRain is essentially a Web 2.0 fraud in progress. The platform itself is legit and may someday have significant value, but the membership count is intentionally misleading.

  15. Frank Jewett

    June 30, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    If there are really 96,000 real estate bloggers, why are so few engaged in the conversation here and around the REBC?

    Because the smart ones spend most of their blogging time and energy conversing with clients and prospects rather than peers? The is as much about affirmation as information. People who don’t need the affirmation can read the information and apply it without joining in the backslapping.

  16. Matthew Rathbun

    June 30, 2008 at 12:17 pm


    1. Like any study, it’s the percentage based on number of respondents

    2. It’s a study using information gathered from the year prior, and social media (blogging) is growing everyday

    3. Yes, 95,000 people are on ActiveRain; but wasn’t it just like yesterday that there were only 85,000? (personally I’d like to see what percentage of those 95,000 post more than four times a month)

    4. Not all licensees are Realtors and not all the people on ActiveRain are even licensees, many are lenders, inspectors etc…

    So… “What’s with these reports?” They are guidelines, just like any survey.

  17. Matthew Rathbun

    June 30, 2008 at 12:27 pm


    I agree that there is a lot of affirmation in I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. Why are so many people down on a group supporting or even professionally debating topics with some level of respect? It’s nice that people support your ideas, befriend you and slap you on the back once and awhile. As someone of faith, I happen to think that is what God intended all of us to do. We should be supportive and helpful. I am frankly frustrated that people keep trying to make “happy places” stressful. Leave me to my nativity.

    I will also say this however, I’ve found just as much ill intended commenters and bloggers as I have positive ones. I happen to see that for every one person in who wants to help and support you, there are three who simply want to attack and break you down for no good reason, other than to be a bully and rant. There are just a lot of angry people out there who want to take it out on someone else.

    I happen to enjoy most of your comments and have even read your site. I wouldn’t be so down on back-slapping; we all deserve it at one time or another. Communicating with like minded folks is necessary to many. I have the advantage that industry folks are my clients, but even before that it was nice to know that there were others out there who felt as I did.

  18. Matthew Rathbun

    June 30, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Yeah….”nativity” was suppose to be “naivety”…. Don’t want Jim Duncan, the human-spell-checker, yelling at me πŸ™‚

  19. Steve Belt

    June 30, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Most bloggers are on an island. They aren’t connected. They never link out, they never comment. They get a bit of google love, thanks to how much google rewards new content, but their blog is so much less than it could be. For many, after 3 months, they never post again, if they last that long. Or for the few that keep posting, but don’t understand how to leverage social media, the fact that they don’t give up doesn’t change the fact that their lack of social media principles mean it won’t ever be a source of long term revenue expansion.

    I tend to agree with T…very few RE Bloggers are deriving significant revenue as a result of their blog. And I agree with Jay…Phoenix has a high percentage of the national total of those RE Bloggers that are financially successful.

  20. ines

    June 30, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    At first I saw your graphic and said – “Yeah! I’m a BINO!” – then I read on and said….”not!”. I with you about a big number of “so called bloggers” just opening up a wordpress, typepad or blogger account just to say they blog. I also know a lot in the industry who have picked it up, are good at it but are not consistent.

    Tell me when you come up with the equation of what defines a blogger – inquisitive minds want to know! πŸ˜‰

  21. Mariana Wagner

    June 30, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    Random thoughts…

    1. I am a BINO = Blogger IN Over her head. I blog way to frikken much.

    2. Teresa is my idol.

    3. I know my local market and happen to know that there are only about 3-4 “real live active bloogers” that serve as what-some-would-call “competition.” (Hi Joe! Hi Patricia! Hi Brian!) This means that LESS THAN .01% of our board blogs even somewhat consistently. Statistics are statistically wrong and people lie on surveys – whether intentionally or not. Do I care how many people WISH they were actually a part of the REBC? Because that is all this survey really told me.

  22. Ines

    June 30, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    mariana, you are too funny!
    now I have to either learn how to spell or type a little slower ( I always cringe at my mistakes)

  23. Larry

    June 30, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    @ Ines:

    DOB: Definition of Blogger – a totally unselfish perspective

    “someone who busts their hump daily trying to write needed intelligent prose hoping it will bring them true ROI love.”

    Having taken my own definition literally, I spoke to the priest, put a down payment on a ring and call out every day in the hope my lover will find me. πŸ™‚

  24. ines

    June 30, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Larry, I hope to be invited to the wedding! πŸ˜€

  25. Larry Yatkowsky

    June 30, 2008 at 6:59 pm


    I just can’t resist –

    I’ll keep your POSTED! πŸ™‚

  26. Paula Henry

    June 30, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Hello World!

    @Mariana – My statistics here are about the same as yours. 3-4 bloggers who are consistant. I think the time commitment is more than most imagine and the best intentions are overcome by the need for sleep, unless of course, you are Jay.

    The numbers seen high to me – going through my feed readers and online – I see many of the same people.

  27. Michelle B.

    June 30, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    Hi, my name is Michelle. I am a BINO. Please help.

  28. Brad Nix

    July 1, 2008 at 4:49 am

    Ben: The direction VAR has taken to progressively seek innovation is what all associations should be doing. I just completed a survey from GAR which seemed to hint at some possible changes to their tired magazine, poor website and terrible education topics. In the comments section at the end of the survey, I said ‘do what VAR is doing’ and you will be a better state association for Realtors. Keep up the good work.

    As for the stats and numbers, (and I’m a stat nerd) they really don’t matter at this point. It’s sort of like baseball stats at week 3 of the season. Some scrubs will be leading the league in certain stats, while other all-stars are scuffling to start the season. The real stats will matter when the season is over. I have a feeling the real estate 2.0 movement is just a few weeks into the season. It just seems like a long time for us early adopters. It will be imperative for us to adapt and improve as the season goes on.

  29. Eric Blackwell

    July 1, 2008 at 5:39 am

    At our office, I teach blogging to our agents. The TRUE bloggers are a SMALL subset of those with blogs. There is no way to track who really blogs and who does not. My own private way of ascertaining whether they are a blogger or not…

    Have you made a sale off of your blog? If so…you’re a blogger.

    I bet that number would drop precipitously if we applied that criteria.

  30. Faina Sechzer

    July 1, 2008 at 6:05 am

    In my local market there may be 3-5 agents who have blogs. Some of them post rarely and some of them are on Trulia Answers, I am not aware of any local “big name” agents who are bloggers. In my mind they don’t blog for several reasons: 1. they don’t need to -they get enough business without it, 2. it may not be possible to generate sufficient business from blogging in an area like ours. We have 18,000 residents, very traditional suburban area, with every resident already knowing at least half a dozen RE agents.
    I have been posting almost daily since 08/2007 . If I were to look at the ROI I would have had to stop long time ago. I didn’t, and in fact am investing more in my blog (RSS Pieces) because I love writing, teaching and sharing. The thought that few people read my “masterpieces” is not very uplifting, but I don’t want to give up.
    Teresa’s is probably right in her estimates – few people made it to the point of blogging being their main business generating model. There are people on AR who say they are swamped by leads from their blog. I’ll just leave it at that.
    If more agents were able to generate business form blogging on a consistent basis, they would be committed. IMO, they stop because they don’t see the return. Is it smarter then me?:)

  31. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 1, 2008 at 6:12 am

    BINOs are everywhere it seems cause its the “cool” thing to do – and it makes them look like they are completely on top of their game leading the way.

    Still, even with the BINOs watering down the data tremendously, I think it would be interesting to see how the the 8% of real estate bloggers stacks up against the remaining 92% production-wise, in aggregate and individually.

    The 92% number is probably too much of a hurdle to overcome in aggregate, but I bet man-for-man, the 8% crushes the 92%.

  32. Vance Shutes

    July 1, 2008 at 8:01 am


    A brilliant analysis! We regularly hear of the pareto principle in real estate. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head!

  33. Gwen Pangle

    July 1, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Well, BINO, huh? guess I qualify. I ‘m always interested in learning new things and growing as a result. VAR’s forward thinking in the social media arena is good for all of us. I have dipped my toe into the “new venue” if you will. I find it interesting, and overwhelming all at the same time. I grew up in a military household; taught to “speak when spoken to”, “don’t talk unless you have something of value to say” and “don’t offer advise unless asked”. Given all of these “rules of conversational engagement” I am struggling to find my place in this new virtual conversation. The numbers and the stats are nowhere on my personal radar, I am happy to be able to get back to a site I set myself up on, figure out how it all works and then maybe feel as if I had something valuable to contribute, if I could figure out how to do it right:) Because I opened Scotts email and there was a link to this blog, (read, he made it easy) I am able to add my two cents worth to this conversation. There is a real sense of satisfaction in knowing that I am creeping up on understanding what I am doing in this brave new world. Sail on my blogging brothers and sisters.

  34. Teresa Boardman

    July 1, 2008 at 8:57 am

    Ben, Barry also keep in mind that out of all the AR members not all of them have started blog and keep in mind that of those who have many have stopped blogging. Maybe there are more than 20 successful real estate bloggers. I guess it depends upon how success is defined.

  35. Barry Cunningham

    July 1, 2008 at 9:20 am

    @TB “Maybe there are more than 20 successful real estate bloggers. I guess it depends upon how success is defined.”

    How do you define it?

  36. Larry Yatkowsky

    July 1, 2008 at 9:47 am



    Net $$$$$$.00

  37. Jeremy Hart

    July 1, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Hello World!

    Ben, you asked how you become a member of the REBC … I don’t think it’s specifically number of posts, or commenting and linking, I think it’s just making a conscious effort to participate and learn and contribute.

    Maybe I’m atypical in this respect and many others, but I’m not blogging with the goal of directly making money. Shocker to some, I’m sure, but I’m blogging to share ideas and connect with consumers and demonstrate a different approach to real estate. It drives me crazy to hear my industry described in such poor terms, and blogging gives me another angle to show another approach. If it turns into business, great, but that’s not my sole motivator going into it.

    IMO – and in this group I might be the minority – you don’t have to have a defined level of success at something to be considered a part of the community, or to be considered “successful”. All that matters is that you participate, you learn, you ask questions and you get involved. My $.02.

  38. Jonathan Dalton

    July 2, 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Wait, Larry … we’re supposed to be making money doing this?

  39. Larry Yatkowsky

    July 2, 2008 at 8:48 pm


    “we’re supposed to be making money doing this?”

    A new low I admit, but I’m long past being lonesome. .>)

  40. Jonathan Dalton

    July 2, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    Sounds like you need a guest post up there … πŸ™‚

  41. Frank Jewett

    July 3, 2008 at 1:39 am

    Jeremy, I don’t blog for bucks, either. All of my real estate marketing and technology consulting business comes from referrals. My local blog is a neat way of compiling answers to FAQ for my student, my clients, and anyone else (lots of hits for “Publisher templates”) who is interested.

    I occasionally get phone calls or emails from agents who need help. I try to help them. It doesn’t generate business and I don’t charge in five minute increments, but I sometimes learn things that allow me to add more value to my local clients and plenty of people have helped me along the way.

  42. Morgan

    July 8, 2008 at 8:38 am

    I work at a local association and am an avid blogger myself. The subject of Real Estate blogging had never really occured to me though I can see it’s appeal. I used to work for a work-from-home company selling scrapbooking materials and we were frequently encouranged to make facebook or myspace accounts for the prospect of attracting customers by having a nice and clean, professional looking site that we could post specials or discounts on and talk with other people in a direct and profession manner without being face to face with the client.

    I am not sure that this is an ideal way to attract clients from a real estate point of view but it might be a nice way to be a little less formal. My personal blog is much more, well personal. I might talk about work or something funny that happened at the office but I don’t really think about it and it’s not just about how many posts you have but how many readers. There are some places you can get free hit-counters from to put on your blog or other websites to see just how many people actually click-through to your site and only about 1/3 of those click throughs are people actually stopping to read your latest posts. More often than not a person looking at a blog, professional or not, is looking for something specific. Maybe they did a search for a particular word or something that could be counted as significant in some way. If they don’t find what they are looking for they will move on rather quickly. I have done it myself many times to people’s blogs. Sure the more porfessional they look the more likely I am to stop and read it but if I don’t see what I’m looking for I am going to move on eventually.

    I guess the key is to tailor your blog to the particular reason you are blogging. If it is to attract the clients then make it look professional and sharp, cutting edge. If it is more for association purposes plain old black and white suffices. Not all bloggers are out there to make money either. Many simply want to have their oppinions heard by someone, anyone. So get on your soap box and let them hear you.

  43. Garreth Wilcock

    October 2, 2008 at 10:49 am

    Bloggers in Name Only – I think you’re spot on – I imagine 5% of the bloggers do 95% of the posts.

    I’m attending a great blog coaching class by Mariana Wagner and when checking on the participants blogs, notice that only about half of the attendees are doing anything actively.

    Mariana is an excellent teacher and coach, and we’re given every opportunity to make a go of it, but it seems that many are curious but not committed.

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