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Opinion Editorials

The Fake Real Estate Blog – Pay-Per-Article is Just Wrong

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First of all, if you’re writing a blog to get to know your clients, potential clients, and your goal is for them to get to know you, then how in the world will that happen if you’re paying writers?  It won’t.  It’s lazy, it’s insincere, it’s writing for google and other search engines and nothing else.

There is a better way to accomplish the same mission and build your team, brokerage, and public image that is much more sincere and probably better for business in the long run- teach your team or set up individual area offices to blog. 

I cannot tell you how much I loathe the idea of would-be bloggers distorting this fantastic opportunity to meet the consumer face to face via written word- think twice before you travel this road. Now, if you’re creating information blogs with neighborhoods, an even more keen idea would be to recruit stay at home moms in that particular neighborhood to write for the local blog.  This approach is not only sincere, it’s ideal, and first hand.

Don’t be fake, consumers see right through you.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Robert D. Ashby

    December 13, 2007 at 8:33 am

    Excellent point.

    I thought the whole purpose of blogging was for it to be an “extension of one’s self”. I like to blog as if I was talking to a client (or business partner) and I cannot pay anyone to do that for me.

    My feeling is that if a client contacts you about a post, you better know why it is there and be prepared to ellaborate on it. Failure to do so will show you as untrustworthy or a fraud.

  2. Benn Rosales

    December 13, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Right you are Robert- dead on point…

  3. Colorado Mortgage Broker

    December 13, 2007 at 9:14 am

    The content will never be as good, so these blogs won’t produce the results that an original blog would. I wouldn’t say that it’s wrong, however. Most books written by celebrities and politicians are really written by a ghost writer. We have all accepted that as ok in the publishing world (via our purchases), so I don’t see it as any different when it comes to blogging.

  4. Benn Rosales

    December 13, 2007 at 9:20 am

    A ghost writer has input or an outline from the author. A randomly writen post on a blog does not.

    I don’t read a celeb’s book to learn to buy real estate in my hometown. I read an experts, I read trusted names, I read to grow understanding- if youre just writing to write then youre writing for google.

  5. NikNik

    December 13, 2007 at 10:02 am

    Well, obviously blogging isn’t for everyone…and that is what I tell my clients when they start asking about how often and what they should post on.

    I love your local niche neighborbood contributor idea though. If your goal is to infiltrate your farm or niche area, than getting thoughts and opinions from local residents is definitely one way to get the job done. Interviewing local business owners and community volunteers can help too. But if your focus is being the niche expert, you should provide YOUR expertise from time to time. And having a posting plan to incorporate your own industy articles with outsourced ones would keep you well organized and on track.

  6. PeterT

    December 13, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Great post, Ben. I expect that fake blogs will become more of a factor. There is a lot of buzz about blogs now and everyone is looking for the magic bullet that will bring them business. At the same time blogging and promoting your blog is hard work. People always look for shortcuts, and the services will grow until people realize they don’t work. Then it will be on to the next big thing.

    I really like your idea about recruiting stay at home Moms to write about their neighborhood. If done right this could become a neighborhood portal, and add value for both the Realtor and the residents. A big step beyond Google juice.

  7. Robert D. Ashby

    December 13, 2007 at 10:29 am

    NikNik – I agree that blogging is not for everyone. It takes time and to market your blog takes even more. But that doesn’t mean you should “purchase” posts.

    I mean, I subscribe to MMG (Mortgage Market Guide), but if I used what they said all I am doing is being a parrot (not to mention plagiarizing). That does nothing but make me look bad or like everyone else.

    If MMG says I should recommend floating (as they did today) and explains why, that makes me appear intelligent to some, but when asked to ellaborate, I wouldn’t be able to if I do not understand the real reasons why. (BTW, I suggest locking right now, not floating, and I have my reasons).

    So, it goes back to my point (and Benn’s main one). Blogging should be an extension of yourself. It should be as if you were talking with your client or business partner and you should be able to demonstrate your expertise easily when asked to ellaborate on your post.

  8. NikNik

    December 13, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    Robert, I couldn’t agree with you more. Blogging isn’t for everyone, therefore not everyone should be blogging.

    Although, some interested would-be bloggers could use a hand when it comes to content ideas. And not all of us find our voice right off the bat! So I think it’s important to offer suggestions and ideas to build upon.

    I’m not a fan of regurgitated content, unless it’s something you can add value to or important when applied in your industry.

    And yes, the best content comes from your own experience…your prior knowledge (client questions, niche info, your expertise, etc). When you share your experiences with people, it gives them something they can sink their teeth into and relate to….providing greater transparency.

  9. Ben Martin

    December 20, 2007 at 8:59 pm

    Those who employ ghost bloggers miss out on a valuable side benefit of writing a blog: The critical thinking one must do in order to develop a well-crafted post. Over time, this critical thinking makes you a better professional.

  10. Teri Lussier

    June 11, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    I think an informative, well-written ghost blog can teach and enlighten customers- an important and honorable reason for having a blog. Customers get smarter, we all win in the end.

    I’ve seen too many stoopid posts that do nothing but promote an agent. To me, that is a much worse thing than paying for solid content.

    The best thing is to use your own voice, but a ghost writer could definitely help push the industry forward.

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Opinion Editorials

How Gen X is nailing the COVID-19 social distancing order

(EDITORIAL) Of course, someone found a way to bring up generational stereotyping during COVID-19 and claim who is best, but are they onto something?

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Demographics and categorizing people helps us to process groups. A huge part of demographics and how we market ourselves in a job search, for example, is sharing our level of experiences and skill sets related to our profession – thus alluding to our age. Millennials (b. 1981-1996) received a lot of generational shame for being elitist and growing up in a time where they all received participation trophies – therefore being judged for not always winning a fair competition.

Gen X (roughly b. 1961-1981) has often commented that they feel like the forgotten generation which so much attention being play to the Baby Boomers (b. 1946-1964) who seemed to be born in to a great time of prosperity for “The American Dream” and then the Millennials who overtook Gen X and some of their jobs while they weren’t enough Gen Xers to fill them.

In this article “It Took a Global Pandemic, But Generation X is Finally Getting Love”, it is discussed how great Gen X is at this social distancing thing and maybe this will be helpful to anyone who feels like they are losing their mind. This is by no means an intent to shame any generation nor claim no one else knows how to handle it but this article does a great job about why Gen X might be primed to be handling the global pandemic well with the times they were raised in.

Right now, it’s a waiting game for many people who’s professions and lives have changed in what seemed like overnight. The patience required. The uncertainty of it all. The global pandemic forced (without any forgiveness), a swift move to new ways of life. The busy-ness of our days came to a crashing halt when we were no longer allowed to be out and about in places with large groups and possibly sent home to work remotely.

Many non-essential businesses were forced to close which meant people could not only not work at the office, but also had to cease their extra-curricular activities like working out at the gym, shopping, eating brunch with friends or taking their kids to their sporting events, a playground and/or coordinating a play date or sleepover. The directive from our local and federal government was for “social distancing” before the shelter in place orders came.

Gen X may agree that there were some pretty great things about their childhood – the types of things you do with your time because you don’t have a smartphone or tablet addiction and the fact that there was no way for your work to get a hold of you 24/7. Gen X did have TV and video games and sure, Mom and Dad didn’t really want you spending all of your time behind a screen but it also seemed that there wasn’t as much of a guilt trip if you did spend some of your “summer vacation” from school playing Nintendo or Sega with your neighborhood friends.

It seems like the article alludes to the idea that COVID might be helping people to get back to some of those basics before smartphones became as important to us as one of our limbs.

Gen X has had no problem adapting to technology and in their careers, they have had to adapt to many new ways of doing things (remember when caller ID came out and it was no longer a surprise who was calling?! Whaaaat?! And you can’t prank call anyone any more with your teenage friends at a sleepover! Gasp! You also wouldn’t dare TP an ex-boyfriend’s house right now).

Regardless of the need to learn new hard skills and technologies, everyone has been forced to adjust their soft skills like how technology and still being a human can play well together (since it is really nice to be able to FaceTime with loved ones far away). It seems those slightly unquantifiable adaptable and flexible skills are even more required now. It also seems that as you grow in your career, Emotional Intelligence might be your best skill in these uncertain times.

And not that we are recommending eating like crap or too many unhealthy items, Gen X has been known to be content surviving on Pop Tarts, Spaghetti O’s, Ding-dongs and macaroni and cheese which are all pretty shelf stable items right now. Whatever way is possible for you, it might be a good time to find the balance again in work, technology, home, rest, relaxation and education if at all possible.

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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms. 
 
Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.
 
The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.
 
And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.
 
We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.
 
That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

I just got furloughed. Now what?

(EDITORIAL) Some companies are furloughing employees, betting on their company’s long-term recovery. Here’s what you can expect and should plan for in your furlough.

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furloughed woman

Are you furloughed? You are not alone! What now? What does “furlough” even mean? How will I get money? Will I still keep my insurance?

A furlough differs from a layoff in a few ways. Whereas a layoff means you are definitely unemployed, a furlough is at its core unpaid time off. Not all furloughs are created equal, though the basic concept is the same: to keep valued employees on ice without being on the hook for their pay until a financial turnaround occurs.

The good-ish news is that a furlough means the company wants to keep you available. When a company is unable to pay their employees for an extended (often indefinite, as is the case with COVID-19 closures) period, they may opt to furlough them instead of laying them off. This virus has decimated whole industries, at least temporarily.

Furloughed employees are forbidden by law to do so much as answer a work email or text while furloughed–or else the company must pay them. The first large waves of COVID-19 furloughs are in obvious sectors such as hospitality (Marriott International), airlines industries (Virgin Atlantic), though other industries are following suit with furloughs or layoffs.

Some furloughs may mean cutting employees’ hours/days to a minimum. Maybe you’re being asked to take off a couple days/week unpaid if you’re hourly, or one week/month off if you’re on salary. With the COVID-19 situation, though, many companies are furloughing bunches of employees by asking them not to work at all. This particular furlough will last ostensibly for a few months, or until business begins to bounce back, along with normal life.

So, what are your rights? Why would you wait for the company? Can you claim unemployment benefits? What about your other work benefits? I’d be lying if I said I knew all the answers, as the furlough packages differ from company to company, and the laws differ from state to state.

However, here are some broad truths about furloughs that should apply. I hope this information helps you sort through your options. I feel your pain, truly. It’s a tough time all around. I’m on your side.

The first answer people want to know is yes, if you’re furloughed and have lost all or most of your income, you may apply for unemployment benefits. You can’t be expected to live off of thin air. Apply IMMEDIATELY, as there is normally a one or two week wait period until the first check comes in. Don’t delay. Some states provide more livable unemployment benefits (I’m looking at you, Massachusetts) than others, but some income is better than none.

Also, most furloughed employees will likely continue to receive benefits. Typically, life and health insurance remain intact throughout the length of the furlough. This is one of the ways companies let their employees know they are serious about wanting them back as soon as it’s financially realistic. Yet some other benefits, like a matching 401k contribution, will go away, as without a paycheck, there are no contributions to match.

Should you look for a job in the interim? Can you really afford not to? What if the company goes belly up while you’re waiting? Nobody wants that to happen, but the reality is that it might.

If you absolutely love your job and the company you work for and feel fairly confident the furlough is truly short-lived, then look for a short-term job. Thousands upon thousands of positions have opened up to meet the needs of the COVID-19 economy, at grocery stores or Amazon, for example. You could also look for contract work. That way, when your company reopens the doors, you can return to your position while finishing off the contract work on the side.

If the company was on shaky ground to begin with, keep that in mind when applying to new jobs. A full-time, long-term position may serve you better. At the end of this global health and economic crisis, some industries will be slower to return to their former glory–if they ever do. If you’re furloughed from such an industry, you may want to shift to something else completely. Pivot, as they say. Now would be a good time.

The only exceptions are “Excepted” government workers in essential positions, including public health and safety. They would have to work while furloughed in case of a government shutdown (and did previously).

Furloughs are scary, but they offer a greater measure of security than a layoff. They mean the company plans on returning to a good financial situation, which is encouraging. Furloughs also generally offer the comfort–and necessity–of insurance, which means you can breathe a bit easier while deciding your next move.

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