First a disclaimer: Although this article is all about ActiveRain, I in no way am attempting to advertise for them directly. I encourage all agents (myself included) to research what works for them. This post is just about what I’ve learned as I experimented with ActiveRain. Although the post will remain ActiveRain specific, that in no way is meant to downplay what I’ve learned here at AgentGenius (or the help my ability to write here has given me) or the many relationships I’ve formed through all of you and your help over the past months. I’d also like to add that my graphics skills are lame, so I apologize to ActiveRain for my butcher work. Now that that’s out of the way…
It was a cold dark November…
Since I live in Texas it was actually neither, but a rather nice day when I was at an open house Twittering away when a fellow local agent (Kristin Moran) and I got to talking about ActiveRain. I had heard of it, but knew little of what it was all about. Instead of explaining it in depth and trying to sell me on it, Kristin sent me a link to join. I signed up as a test of a new (for me) product that I hoped might prove useful. I had already begun blogging here, but I knew it was time to step fully into the world of blogging for real estate purposes, so I dove in.
I wasn’t particularly pleased with my work at first, but overtime, I think I started to get better and see what I liked and didn’t like in my writing. What I did find at ActiveRain was a community full of agents who loved to watch others succeed and always willing to lend a hand (sounds a lot like AgentGenius). Its really helped me grow as an agent and some great other benefits have come from it as well.
Education – a living encyclopedia.
I’m a big fan of learning as much as I can. I don’t pretend to know everything about real estate. I don’t. I don’t think I ever will, especially since its ever evolving. ActiveRain allows me to keep up with trends, laws, marketing, ways to grow my business, products, technology, and everything in between. Since its international in scope, you also get to learn the nuances of things from state to state and even in different countries – although these won’t help in your everyday practice, knowing how it works elsewhere is always helpful. Because real estate is ever changing and new ideas and situations come up constantly, ActiveRain allows you to see changes through the eyes of the people practicing real estate every day – better than those courses you took to get your license.
Cutting your blogging teeth.
I got lucky. Before I was even a blogger I had the opportunity to blog here at AgentGenius. It helped me tremendously and I will always remember Benn and Lani for that. When I got into ActiveRain last November, I still wasn’t sure what to blog about for non-AgentGenius purposes and the first few posts were dreafully hard to write. The more I did it though, the easier it got. And as you’ll see from the next paragraph, the community itself will help inspire you to write more and to write better. They say practice makes perfect and I truly believe that someone who thinks they can’t be a great blogger can turn into a one – if they work at it. You’ll come into your own as a blogger, you just have to start blogging first and stick with it, even when it seems like you’re just talking to yourself.
I absolutely hate those stupid motivational posters on office walls. I despise them. They make me sick to my stomach with their smarmy goodness. Blech. I do however believe in affirmations on some level. Especially if you’re new to real estate. Its a hard business to dive into as its not like most other businesses you’ve probably been in. You need someone to tell you you’re doing alright (if you are). There are so many ways to run your business and ActiveRain has a member who agrees with your theories. As you build you “audience” you’ll come to know who will affirm what you’re thinking and give you that nudge to keep going or even to congratulate you on your latest bit of good news. The first few months are deadly hard on the brain, but these little confirmations that you’re on the right path will do wonders for you.
Much like here at AgentGenius, ActiveRain fosters a sense of community outside of the business aspects of the platform. AgentGenius has celebrated, mourned, and been a shoulder to lean on for many people since I’ve been here. I’ve seen the same sort of spirit at ActiveRain. I think the online world of real estate has really been good at going outside of the business and supporting agents through all sorts of points in their lives. I’m proud to be a part of anything that brings people together like that.
Build your referral network.
Living in a town with a large military presence, I see a lot of people from other states moving in and a lot of locals moving out. Because of this, having a referral network is pretty crucial to me. As I’ve gotten to know people in ActiveRain, I have learned there are some agents out there that I would trust implicitly with my clients. We’ve built friendships and I know that I like their work ethics and ways of doing business. I know there are a few out there that believe in me too and would refer their clients to me. Nothing like being able to help your clients no matter where they go.
SEO, Google, and all those things we all crave.
There are obvious benefits to being a blogger on ActiveRain. You’ll find the search engine ranking for your blogs push you quite high up in Google. I blogged about a local community once early on and within two hours, I was #3 in Google when you searched the neighborhood’s name. We all love to be pushed ahead in the search engines and ActiveRain certainly delivers. I did an open house in that same neighborhood a month or so later and a couple came in. He mentioned music and we got to talked about my former career as a rockstar – he stopped me and simply said, “I know all about you.” They had been reading my blog through ActiveRain because of my posts about that neighborhood (a place they were interested in). That’s a powerful ice breaker. Imagine all the people that might find you as you blog about a variety of topics.
You might actually have a bit of fun.
ActiveRain isn’t all business all the time. ‘Nuff said.
ActiveRain can give you the first steps as a new agent.
Where you take it once you’re comfortable is all up to you. ActiveRain has recently moved into the pay per month arena, although you can still sign up for a free basic account (that allows you to post “members only” posts – you won’t get the SEO advantages and consumers won’t see your posts). Even if you just use the free account and use it to perfect your blogging skills and maybe learn a few things, I think you can benefit from that alone. If you opt for the paid account, you are allowed to post “public” posts (seen by everyone – agents and consumers alike) as well as benefit from the power of ActiveRain’s SEO power. Its a great way to build a readership for your thoughts in the early days when you’re a virtual unknown. Whatever you choose to do, the world is waiting to hear what you think – I couldn’t imagine that people would care what I had to say, but they’re out there – watching, waiting, and reading. Let them see who you are and you will be rewarded.