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Two Rants for the Price of One

(Deep breath.)

Perhaps it’s due to my own personal bent, but anytime I see a post explaining … nay … lecturing on how you should operate your blog, what you should and should not post, what topics are allowed and what is taboo all filtered through testament as if the art of real estate weblogging was written not on WordPress but chiseled in stoned … well, I become indignant.

Last season, the director of my son’s soccer club in chiding the rest of us for asking questions and making suggestions said it was insulting that we believed we knew more about the sport than her staff. We never said any such thing. But just because we not know as much as someone else does not mean we don’t know anything at all.

That seems to be where we are and where we return to over and over again in the real estate blogging world – there seem to be a cadre of folks who believe they alone hold the sacred secret of success and the rest of us are mindless dolts.

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To which I ask, would you like to learn some Yiddish? Kush meer in toches.

(Yes, Benn, Agent Genius will become the blog of choice for the nation’s Yiddish speakers come hell or high water!)

Some step onto the soapbox in order to push product. Others claim immunity from such mortal concerns, though they still are pushing product – themselves as experts, rather than as real estate professionals as they by their own admission prepare for their next career doing something other than what the rest of us are doing.

High Technorati ranks and heavy traffic are no more indicative of real estate and/or real estate blogging knowledge and success than high placement on Google for Phoenix real estate denotes high levels of sales. You can attract thousands to come watch a demolition derby as easily as you can to watch sprint cars go round and round.

I don’t know what he thought he was doing in making that video, but what it actually communicates is a profound contempt for ordinary people.

Jeff Turner chose another snippet to make the same point in the comments on the “other” dog blog but the irony of the above statement is jaw-dropping. Outside of the bubble blogs, that has become the haven of contempt for everyone without thorough knowledge of Latin. At least until others started writing there.

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“Know your audience” is a useless assertion (and looks doubly ludicrous in a lengthy post based partially on the premise that you don’t ever know your audience is.)

Know your audience often is used by those who maintain that you have to blog locally to be successful. You simply don’t. The Phoenix Real Estate Guy is proof. Hell, I’m proof (and I have the escrows to prove it.)

Hyper-local blogging as a means to absolute success is a myth.

Like any other type of blogging, for every person for which it works there are 10 more who’ll fail miserably in the effort because they don’t understand who they’re really going to attract to their blog.

In general, real estate websites attract buyers far more than sellers. (No need to explain how many listings you have off of your site – I have, too. But I maintain the number of buyers generated is higher.)

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Buyers want to know about areas, about schools, about things to do – but usually on a macro scale. This is the genius of what Teresa does in St. Paul. She shows you the city – literally – in all of her photographs. But she also writes about topics that are larger than just St. Paul even if she relates them back to the Twin Cities.  Others do the same.

But in writing strictly about items of interest to those in a given neighborhood, only those in that neighborhood will care. Your average buyer wants to know what there is to do in general; a farmer’s market from 10 – 2 at the corner of State and Main probably isn’t going to create the a-ha moment that causes them to move to your city. And finding it on your blog doesn’t mean they believe enough in your knowledge of real estate to hire you.

An extensive community directory does not a great real estate agent make. And in some cases it can be detrimental. When I see posts celebrating the opening of a new Chick-Fil-A, my first thought is “what kind of cow town is this?” I mean, it’s a really good chicken sandwich but this is the height of excitement?

(The above does not apply to In N Out Burger, which actually is worth the excitement … it’s helping my cardiologist build a home in the Hamptons.)

Having said all this … I’m not saying you can’t have an extreme focus on the local. Maybe it will generate more sellers and if that is your aim, bully for you. But you stand a better than equal chance of losing buyers who are less interested in the opening of the new Cabela’s than they are an agent who can help them not only find a property but manage the escrow in such a manner that results in the least possible headaches.

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Writing for any specific audience other than the one sitting in your chair in front of the keyboard only can serve to alienate wider audiences who might have interest in what you’re saying.

I never set out to become Calgary’s choice for Phoenix real estate but it’s worked out that way. Most seemed less interested in the arts and crafts than the nuts and bolts of buying. In my case, they get more of the latter but a little of the former.

Maybe I can’t tell you when the Foothills Elementary PTO is having their annual bake sale. But I think if you’re looking to move here from Maine, you probably don’t care.

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Written By

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    December 21, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Thank you J. I knew you could deliver the Yiddish demo- I just knew it…

  2. Carey Goldberg

    December 21, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    The Yiddish reminds me of my childhood

  3. Teresa Boardman

    December 21, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    I have so much to say here, yet I just can’t. I like the post and agree with much of it.

  4. Charleston real estate blog

    December 21, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Jonathan, I never learned yiddish, my parents kept the meaning from my brother and me but there was one phrase I did get, gay kahkken (spelling unknown).

    Dogs sh*t anywhere they want and then we have to pick up after them. It doesn’t seem right.

  5. kelley koehler

    December 21, 2007 at 4:20 pm

    my cowtown doesn’t like you either.

  6. Jonathan Dalton

    December 21, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Teresa – really? This from the queen of the local blog? (Though I think those who characterize you as such sell you short.)

    Kelley – I never said I didn’t like it. Well, at least not in this post. At least I didn’t stick UA Sucks in the Title tag, deserved or not.

    For my Yiddish followers, here’s the best curse I can find. Of course if you aren’t fluent in Jewish tradition you’re missing the subtlety of it all:

    ?? ??? ???? ??? ??? ? ????? ????
    “They should name someone after you already!”

  7. Christina Ethridge

    December 21, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    Hey – I was blogging about Cabela’s because it was such a “to do” around here – plus it shows growth for our area 😉

    I totally agree with you about “hyper-local”. Sure, if you live in LA, blogging about your specific city or mega PUD would be beneficial. But for the rest of the country, hyper-local blogging just seems . . . like a waste of time since consumers really want to know about real estate – not the “local PTO bake sale”.

  8. Kristal Kraft

    December 21, 2007 at 9:06 pm

    You are right about Teresa, she is brilliant and real. That’s the secret of her success, the real part is a true attraction to the consumer.

  9. Brett Meade

    December 22, 2007 at 3:55 pm

    It certainly makes more sense to blog about the issues that matter to home buyers and sellers, rather than writing a press release for a new restaurant. Even if it is an In N Out Burger!

  10. Jay Thompson

    December 22, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    “It certainly makes more sense to blog about the issues that matter to home buyers and sellers, rather than writing a press release for a new restaurant. Even if it is an In N Out Burger!”

    What follows is just my opinion and I could be wrong. That happened once :). (That’s sarcasm folks, I’m wrong frequently, just ask my wife and kids)

    Call me crazy, but I blog about the issues that matter to me. Now since I try to make a living in real estate, what matters to me happens to coincide fairly often with what may matter to buyers and sellers.

    But there are other things that matter to me that Joe “Consumer” probably cares less about. And Joe Consumer likely blows right past those posts.

    Or maybe not. I’ve had clients ask me about my kids, my pets, heck even my thoughts on college and/or NFL football. How do they even know to ask? Because they read something on my blog about these things.

    I wrote a restaurant “review” post just last week. Two people emailed me along the lines of, “Thanks, I’ll try that place, have you tried this one? it’s good.”

    Will those people turn into clients? Probably not. Could they? Sure, stranger things have happened. But you know what? I didn’t write that post to get a client, or a “lead” (a word I’m disliking more and more every day). I wrote it because I love that restaurant. It kicks ass, and I wanted to share that with anyone that might care.

    You know the best thing about that post? I’ve got two new (to me) places to try out.

    I learn WAY more from blogging than from anything else. Sometimes I learn marketing tactics, sometimes I learn about market conditions, often I learn about human nature,and sometimes I even learn about great places to eat.

    That’s pretty cool.

  11. Jonathan Dalton

    December 22, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    As you know, Jay, I break the so-called rules as often as anyone. I can’t say there’s anything wrong with writing about a restaurant; I just had a photo essay on Margaritaville.

    But I’m also not telling would-be bloggers that they have to focus solely on local events at the expense of the greater world of real estate.

    Know how much traffic I’ve gotten from the two posts on Margaritaville? If I could parlay that into a Jamaica Mistaica I’d be damn happy.

  12. Athol Kay

    December 22, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    >>I learn WAY more from blogging than from anything else. Sometimes I learn marketing tactics, sometimes I learn about market conditions, often I learn about human nature,and sometimes I even learn about great places to eat.

    100% agree Jay

  13. Jay Thompson

    December 23, 2007 at 12:27 am

    “But I’m also not telling would-be bloggers that they have to focus solely on local events at the expense of the greater world of real estate.”

    And should you ever do that, I will WALK across town and smack you upside the head.

    With a bat.

  14. Athol Kay

    December 23, 2007 at 12:48 am

    >>I will WALK across town

    The last few miles of that trek would look like a Special Olympics event was in progress.

    (sorry Jay, I couldn’t resist)

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