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Establishing a Vision for Your Online Engagement

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Wondering From The Trail

I’ve noticed an emerging trend in the past few months in the Real Estate Blog world.  Bloggers in both single-author and multi-author environments have been expanding their topics from the initial visions they had. 

It’s frustrating for some readers to subscribe to a blog and then see the tone or writings change.  I’m not saying that Bloggers can’t broaden their writings and nor do they not have the right to do so, but I think they need to be willing to lose a few readers along the way.

Early on when I started blogging I wrote a post on faith for my real estate blog.  There were only a few people who made comments and did so by email.  Some understood my beliefs, but were nice enough to point out that it wasn’t why they were there.  Instead of sacrificing those readers I established another blog for faith-based writing.  Lots of readers subscribed to both – but it was their choice.

Strategic Planning

I consider my blog a primary marketing tool and thus part of my business.  Every aspect of my business has a strategic plan attached to it.  Why not the blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc…?  I suggest that you sit down with a blank piece of paper and bullet-point your desires from your online marketing.  Here are a few things to consider:

Vision – What is your desired audience and desired response from your readers

Resources – What tools do you have?  Creativity, ability to reach an audience, subject knowledge, etc…

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Goals – How often do you want to post?  How many readers do you want to have?  How are you going to earn readers?

Remember that your Plan should be measurable and achievable.  This simple technique has really helped me with consistency.  On occasion I’ve also referenced this Plan to confirm that I’m on track.  Posts that aren’t in line with my vision get posted on another outlet. 

Some authors do a great job of merging various topics on one blog to show the “real you”. I haven’t been one of those authors and this technique has really helped me.

Written By

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is



  1. erichempler

    November 29, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    This is a similar thought I had when I started working in Real Estate. I was finding about all of these different Social Media sites, but not sure where to start. I concluded to look at each one and see how I can put them to use.

  2. Susie Blackmon

    November 30, 2009 at 7:17 am

    Branding and blogging … I appreciate your ‘reminders’ as my business plan is not a ‘quick fix’ situation but one that I do work on as deliberately as I can. My real estate website blog and my horse website blog have ultimate goals and direction and will tie into each other; just wish I could spring for some VA help to gather the information that I am doing, laboriously, in between everything else!

    Thank you for the good read.

  3. BawldGuy

    November 30, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Though I tend to keep particulars to myself, it’s been obvious which RE blogs have ‘run off the tracks’ so to speak. There’s a huge difference in letting some of yourself spill onto a particular post, even commendable, but some of what we’ve observed this past year has been remarkably chaotic to be kind.

  4. Ken Brand

    November 30, 2009 at 10:31 am

    It never hurts to get the map out and double check, “Where am I, where and I going, what’s the best route.” Thanks for reminder.

  5. Matthew Rathbun

    November 30, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    @BawldGuy: I don’t think it’s just one blog that has done it. I began reading an insightful blog about engaging Gen X/Y in the Church. Over the past year it’s become more of a technology blog. I dumped it because I already have so many others in that category.

    I think it’s also difficult to change the flow of the blog if the community you’re trying to engage wants to take you there. If the community of readers want more information about politics than the practice of say marketing… Than that becomes your new platform. I think it’s a tough choice for authors to stir the community back to your initial vision at some point. I personally have sorted through my feelings on allowing blogs to be ran by the readers or setting the tone myself. Is there even a difference? It’s a tough call. Personally, I’ve just stopped reading certain posts when I recognize the name of the author.

  6. BawldGuy

    November 30, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    If it’s not about the blog owner’s vision, then what’s it about?

    Keepin’ the crowd count up, right?


    The answer to that is obvious for those who become ‘shape-shifters’. There’s nothing illegal, immoral, or fattening about it. For me? My blog is about what it’s always been about. Show up, don’t show up. There are 300 million Americans plus the rest of the world. I’ll get whatever share I earn.

  7. Bob

    November 30, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Mathew, I would argue that th tone has changed or the focus broadened because many think its about quantity, not quality. As long as they are taught that “blog it and they will come” is the answer to ranking better, this will happen because they will run out of stuff to write about and still maintain quality.

  8. Matthew Rathbun

    November 30, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    Bob (I am honestly asking, and not being snarky here) Can I have both quantity and quality? How about Yes, it’s the same topic and vision, but there is a ton of blog posts. Inman and even AG are the same way.

    I’m learning to sift through those authors and posts that I don’t like to “create my own adventure”, if you will.

    I think that many have sacrificed quality for number of readers – but do you think every has to?

  9. Matthew Rathbun

    November 30, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    Susie: I meant to thank you for bringing up “Branding and Blogging”. They do both submit to the same considerations!

    Eric: There are sooo many SocMed sites that are out there. After a lot of trial and error, there are some that I just exist in and then a few others that I actually engage in. Twitter and Facebook are where I actually have a plan and purposefully interact with people who have become friends. Everyone else is just a place to be…

  10. Bob

    November 30, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Mathew, I’m not saying it isn’t possible to write a large quantity of quality content, just that it doesn’t happen that often because it isn’t easy to do. You mention Mashable, who now seems to cover everything – from tech to Tiger’s accident. So much of what is blogged these days is “me too” stuff. I dont see a whole lot of originality, and I believe much of that is due feeling obligated to write for some perceived, but unproven value.

  11. BawldGuy

    November 30, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Matthew — Why does your particular blog exist? What’s your vision for it? What’s your #1 end game?

    The rest is superfluous.

    I suspect most blogs which have, at first blush, gone ‘off the tracks’ have really simply remained focused on their initial vision/goal in the first place. They’re monetizing the best way they know how. Unless the original purpose was totally unrelated to any business (profit oriented) purpose, the idea from Day 1 was to create a blog to generate income — period. They don’t now, nor did they ever envision themselves as a blog version of the Red Cross. 🙂

    A century ago when the automobile began making itself felt, makers of leather goods for horses and carriages had a choice. They could go outa business, or start making leather goods for car interiors and the like. That’s what’s happening with many blogs now.

    They’re simply adapting to the new reality. Make sense?

  12. Matthew Rathbun

    November 30, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Bob and Jeff: I agree with both points and it’s great to get that perspective!

  13. Karen Goodman

    November 30, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    I think a lot of real estate bloggers with consumer focused blogs lately have been forggeting to create timeless content. One of my goals when I started my blog was to create a vast resource of information for consumers when they stumbled on my site during their home buying or selling period. I just don’t think that the typical consumer focused blog is going to get a lot of long term subscribers. Readers go into intense research mode when they need information, but after they move, they won’t have a reason to keep stopping by. And I’m ok with that.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t comment on current events in our blogs, but when I get hits from long tail searches a year from now, I want the information to be helpful enough that they’ll stay on my site and hopefully contact me when they are ready for an agent.

    There are a lot of real estate blogs that I really enjoyed a year or two ago, but lately there is so much focus on industry changes and national RE policy politics, that my feed reader is a lot thinner now.

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