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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

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?

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Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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Opinion Editorials

How Peloton has developed a cult-following

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.

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Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.

I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.

Vertical Integration

If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.

Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.

Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?

Going Live

But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.

Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!

The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.

Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?

Getting Competitive

Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.

These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.

Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?

Conclusion

At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!

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Opinion Editorials

How a simple period in your text message might be misinterpreted: Tips to improve your virtual communication

(OPINION/EDITORIAL) Text, email, and IM messages may be received differently depending on your communication style and who you’re communicating with. Here’s some ways to be more mindful.

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Black woman smiling in communication talking on phone and laptop in front of her.

Life is full of decisions, learning, hopefully some adventure, and “growth opportunities” through our careers and work. One that some of us may have never considered is how our text, email or IM communication comes across to the receiver – thus providing us a growth opportunity to take a look at our own personal communication styles.

It may have never occurred to us that others would take it a different way. After all, we know ourselves, we can hear our voices in our heads. We know when we are joking, being sarcastic, or simply making a statement. The way we communicate is built upon how we were raised, what our English teachers stressed, and even what we’ve been taught through our generational lens.

NPR put out an article recently, “Are Your Texts Passive-Aggressive? The Answer May Lie in Your Punctuation”. This article discussed what to consider in regards to your punctuation in text.

“But in text messaging — at least for younger adults — periods do more than just end a sentence: They also can set a tone.” Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and author of the book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, told NPR’s All Things Considered last year that when it comes to text messaging,”the period has lost its original purpose. Rather than needing a symbol to indicate the end of a sentence, you can simply hit send on your message.”

While it may seem silly that the receiver would think you are mad at them because you used a period, here are some things to consider in our virtual communication now that we are all much more digital:

  • There are no facial expressions in a text except for emojis (which, even then, could be left up to misinterpretation)
  • There’s no sound of voice or inflection to indicate tone
  • We are emailing, texting, and sending instant messages at an alarming rate now that we are not having as many in-person interactions with our colleagues

Gen Z (b. 1995 – 2015), who are the most recent generation to enter the workplace, grew up with much quicker forms of communication with their earlier access to tech. They’ve had a different speed of stimulation via YouTube videos, games, and apps. They may have never experienced the internet speed via a dial-up modem so they are used to instantaneous results.

They also have quickly adapted and evolved through their use of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and now TikTok. The last two platforms are designed for pretty brief attention spans, which indicates our adaptation to fast communication.

Generational shaming is out and uncomfortable but necessary conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion are in (which includes ageism). You can’t just chalk it up as “those kids” don’t understand you, or that they need to learn and “pay their dues”.

So if you are of an older generation and even a manager, here are some considerations that you can take regarding your virtual communications:

1. Consider having yourself and your team take a DiSC assessment.

“The DiSC® model provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and to adapt their behaviors with others — within a work team, a sales relationship, a leadership position, or other relationships.

DiSC profiles help you and your team:

  • Increase your self-knowledge: How you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve problems
  • Improve working relationships by recognizing the communication needs of team members
  • Facilitate better teamwork and teach productive conflict
  • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
  • Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members

This quiz is designed to help you identify your main communication style. It helps you to be more conscious of how your style may come across to others. Does it builds relationships, or create silent conflicts? It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change, but you can adapt your style to best fit your team.

2. Always ask your direct reports about their preferred method of communication (call, text, email, IM, meeting).

Retain this information and do your best to meet them where they are. It would also be helpful to share your preferred method with them and ask them to do their best to meet you where you are.

3. Consider putting composed emails in your drafts if you are fired up, frustrated, or down right angry with your team.

You may feel like you are being direct. But since tone will be lost virtually, your message may not come across the way you mean it, and it may be de-motivating to the receiver. Let it sit in drafts and come back to it a little bit later. Does your draft say all you need to say, or could it be edited to be a little less harsh? Would this be better as a meeting (whether video or phone) over a written communication? Now the receiver has a chance to see you and have a conversation rather than feeling put on blast.

And finally, be curious.

Check out Lindsey Pollak’s books or podcast on the best ways to work with a variety of generations in your organization. Lindsey is a Multigenerational Work Expert and she does a great job explaining her research to drive multigenerational workplace success. She gives ideas on what all employees, managers, and even corporations should consider as we experience so many generations and communication styles in the workplace at the same time.

You may laugh that your children or employees think you are mad at them when you use a period in a text. But there’s a lot more behind it to consider. It may take adaptation on all sides as communication styles and the “future of work” continue to evolve.

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