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Thursday WTF

Anti-DIY

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It might come as a shock to many, but I am extremely anti-DIY.

I am not trained as a plumber, electrician or mechanic and I have no interest in doing so even though I know it could potentially save me a lot of money.  I am not a REALTOR, lender, home inspector or stager and I don’t pretend to be.  I am a graphic designer, videographer, photographer, SCUBA instructor, welder, marketer and coder.

The things I DO are all things I either am or was interested in.  Only a few of them I got into because I thought they’d be business ventures.  The big issue is I value my time.  I know I’m only going to learn things I am interested in (there are many such topics) and that I should just pay people who are good at other skills to let them do what they’re best at.

The reason I mention this is that here and other sites in our industry are constantly encouraging REALTORs to do it yourself.  Don’t use/pay for a web site, just setup a WordPress site yourself.  Don’t pay for a single property web site, build it yourself.

I understand many people in this industry came from somewhere else.  Some of you are geniuinely interested in learning how to code a web site.  But to me, the tone has almost turned to a browbeating.   “You paid for that site? Why didn’t you just setup WordPress, it’s free!”

I mention this in many of my classes: if you run your business being chief cook and bottle washer, why can’t buyers and sellers do it themselves also? Now don’t get me wrong, I will use a REALTOR when it’s time to sell my house and buy a new one.  I value my time.  It’s not something I know how to do or want to learn (from a paperwork/liability standpoint, I teach REALTORs to market listings all day, so that I could do).

I really came to this realization at the Seattle REBarCamp and chatting with the ActiveRain guys.  I’ve setup close to triple digit WordPress sites now and didn’t see the point in AR.  The discussion was that there are (many) people who do not want to take the time to learn and setup a system and a turnkey site like AR is perfect for those people.  At least they’re blogging.

So I encourage those of you who are hesitant in setting up a new web site or becoming an “expert” overnight on a new social network: evaluate your time and consider letting someone help, otherwise the DIY concept may put this, and many other, industries out of business.

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

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Chuck G

    February 26, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    Nick,

    Even the most advanced DIY bloggers need to seek help sometimes. I hit some technical glitches with my site that were either caused by a WP upgrade or a wounded database… this was way beyond my comfort level of tinkering.

    So, I established contact with the very nice guy in Indonesia who created my WP theme. For a very modest spif on PayPal, he ripped things apart and got the site running better than ever.

    The best part? I developed a great new relationship with someone half a world away.

    CG

  2. fred

    February 26, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Cute post but sounds more like a plug for yourself :p

  3. Nick Bostic

    February 26, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    @Chuck – Great example. I recently stumbled across one of my first domain names from over 10 years ago to realize I had actually built a blog platform and I have years of experience with HTML/PHP/MySQL, but when I first got started with WordPress, I paid someone to help me get fast tracked into all of the nuances of the system.

    @fred – Interpret it however you’d like. In Oregon, I can get my real estate license for less than a thousand dollars, which would be significantly less than the amount I’d pay a REALTOR to help me with a transaction, so I might as well just get my license. If REALTORs are going to play at being graphic designers and HTML experts, why shouldn’t more people get the relatively easy license and do that themselves too? I’ll admit, there are more than a handful of REALTORs who have a previous life in multimedia and I can understand them doing it themselves, but in my day job (which keeps me so busy I don’t need to plug myself) I keep running into REALTORs who can’t even use Outlook, yet are encouraged to setup their own WordPress blog instead of using ActiveRain.

  4. fred

    February 26, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I never disagreed with you! I think most agents need help. I do think WordPress is the way to go, but going beyond the basic template design requires lots of work, learning css, php, and html. I know for a fact, I handle all my own sites.

  5. Dan Connolly

    February 26, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Fred,
    Cute comment, but sounds more like a plug for yourself.

  6. fred

    February 26, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Dan – I dont offer website design services like Nick so how is my comment a plug? Duh.

  7. Missy Caulk

    February 28, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Nick, if it were not for AR, I doubt as many bloggers would even know where to begin.

    They provide a great service for beginners. I STILL need help on my WP blog with all those darn plugins and updates.

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Housing News

Spare me your Excuse Party

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no-excuses2

My business is slow because the market’s down. Buyers are hiding in the woodwork and sellers don’t want to think about selling right now. My marketing is just not working and I need something new and shiny. It’s the fall and it’s always like this in the fall. But when spring rolls around, and when that stimulus passes, and when those leads start rolling in and when that software brings discipline to my business and when I attend that conference and when I start reading blogs every morning, and as soon as this social media thing kicks in…and…and.

I don’t want to hear it.

Do you want to know the Truth: You don’t want it bad enough. Nothing more, nothing less. Nelson Mandela spent 28 years in a South African prison for his opposition to apartheid and overcame it to become the country’s president and and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Elie Weisel was put in Auschwitz-Birkenau at age 16 and not only survived but went on to become a best selling author, professor and lecturer. But these are special people, you might say. Regular folks  not only survive tragedy, extreme financial problems, disease, poverty but flourish to become what others deemed impossible, EVERY DAY. The human power of will is strong enough to surpass the toughest obstacles life can pose. You mean to tell me, it can’t overcome your slow season, anemic conversion rate or weight loss troubles?

You already know “The Dance”

We all have been through a period of time (albeit, short) when we were on the ball, focused and productive, locked in and intense. We all have gone Nazi on ourselves when we decided to lose weight and stop trying to do so. We all have tucked away Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Hulu, Drudge Report or HuffPost to focus solely on closing business. I don’t need to tell you the results because you  know them. You know exactly what works because you have done it before. So what’s stopping you?

Troubling Trends

Two trends that I see in social media on a regular basis bother me like a pack of flies in a backyard cookout. The first is the Extreme Honesty Bridge to Nowhere trend. This is when someone is brutally honest about the troubles that they’re facing and go public with them in their blog or social media sites. The idea here is to involve your peers in your struggle and have them hold you accountable for results by proxy. This part of the idea I actually like. What happens next is … nothing. They move on to the next best idea they have only to return with another lame post about the same thing. You can do whatever floats your boat to get your focus in order, but DO something. The second is the “I’m an Idea Collector” trend. This is when someone reads articles from blogs and newspapers religiously every morning collecting great ideas but never acting on a single one of them. That’s the ultimate preparing to prepare surefire recipe to wasting your time. Antidote: Take one idea per week and put it to work. Internalize it and make it part of your repertoir. Way before I became a contributor on AG, I read a post by Lani on how to find Creative Commons licensed images to use in your posts with Flickr. Since that day, that’s what I do every time I blog. I read another post from Ken on the power of sending handwritten notes to clients to generate referrals. Now, that’s part of my M.O. Reading great content is better than not reading it but not doing something with the information will lead you to the exact same place. Nowhere.

Harsh?

I hope I wasn’t unclear. Did you find this a bit harsh? I can understand that. But I hope knowing that this rant was not only directed  to you but to me as well, can heal some of those bruised feelings. Now go out there and DO SOMETHING.

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Opinion Editorials

NAR & Local Boards Should Go Back to Being Broker-Only Organizations

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puntAnd Agents Should Form Their Own Membership (Union)

I think that maybe NAR and local boards in their zeal to capitalize on dues by a larger membership may have bitten off more than they can chew when they allowed regular agents to join the boards (as is evident by continued tensions between the boards and average agents on the ground).

The Punted Football That Has Become The General Membership

It’s true, in every instance we’re told to get involved, however, involvement has become to complicated, that one hand has no idea what the other is doing.  Rules are consistently created by Broker boards, and enforced and agreed upon by the NAR that have absolutely no Agent interest protected.

So Maybe It’s Time to Protect Ourselves

Once upon a time, the membership really was Broker only, and maybe it needs to be that way again.  The birth of an actual membership of agents could be born with a proper voice at the table, similar to a real trade union with real votes in our best interest.

Such representation could beat down costs for Realtor.com, and other services we’re producing content for, thus reducing costs to the agent.  Such representation could seek out better, more competitive boards that would spring up in contrast to existing boards and the NAR.  It’s conceivable that an opportunity such as this could fracture the entire MLS cluster flip, allowing for possibly a smaller more nimble MLS that could be provided to the agent membership at a much more fair price as it has now cut out the middle men.

The Time May be Near..

…that enough is enough, that when and if a rule greatly disrupts the agents’ ability to adopt new technology, that a simple vote of no says that the massive bureaucracy that has become the collective board needs to clean up, scale down, and take it’s policies back to the drawing board for a decision that weighs all things equally.

The Broker Can Pick Up the Shortfall for NAR

This would force the Broker to pay a larger premium to the board and the NAR I’m sure, but in reality, that in and of itself would force Brokers to become more competitive where the rights and interests of their agents were concerned.

NAR would only need engage with Brokers, simplifying the conversation of progression.

The Agent Membership Now Represented

  • Has a larger voice, and choices.

Yeah, if they really want to go backwards in time, maybe we should. And yes, I am aware that there are independent versions of the current NAR that have never really taken hold, but if the current state of affairs continues, I can see a day in the future where the concept has a more stronger footing.

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Thursday WTF

R.I.P. WheeeBacon

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suspended account

(Just a warning – there’s not a deep thought at the end of this post, and there’s no real estate tie in.)

I am @wheeebacon.  And I have been suspended by Twitter.

Turns out, "bacon" is an incredibly popular word on Twitter.  And as we discovered when we added Twitter to our IDX, the API is pretty easy to use.  So that some talented person in 15 minutes or so could write a simple application that searches Twitter every 30 seconds for the word "bacon" and responds "Wheee!  Bacon!" 

And it turns out, people love to talk about bacon.  And people love to invoke @wheeebacon.

Also turns out, there’s also some limits to how often you can make responses before Twitter rules you spam and suspends your account.  In our case, in about an hour.  If you’re familiar with @wheeepony and @wheeeunicorn, they’ve been suspended too, as of this writing.

Ah @wheeebacon, we barely knew thee.

We had even programmed it to respond in Spanish if someone said bacon in Spanish. 

There is at least one bacon-responder that lives on, @baconbaconbacon.  They’ve got a set of several responses and don’t answer every person who invokes the bacon.  @Wheeebacon had a better avatar.

There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere.

Maybe something about how to get nearly 50 followers in 15 minutes – talk about things people like.

Or maybe something about showing genuine enthusiasm for what you discuss on Twitter…

Wheee!  Bacon!

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