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Blogging: A Time Suck or Sweet Sunshine?

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Time Suckage

Blogging isn’t the Holy Grail, a magical Silver Bullet or a Savior.  For some, it really is a time-suck, a distraction or a poor idea.  For others, it’s like Sunshine for Sweet Success.

Sunshine for Sweet Success

Think of everything you do to attract, uncover and discover listing and selling opportunities as your personal real-estate-business-solar-system.

You and your blog sit at the center of your business-solar-system.  The planets and moons in your business-solar-system are the networks, tribes, niches and online communities that orbit around you.  I’m talking about your In-Real-Life (IRL) spheres like past clients, suspects, neighbors, your Bunco crew, Yoga classmates and other places you live, love, play prospect for business.  Additional planets and moons in your business solar system are the online communities you share and interact with.  For example Facebook.com,  LinkedIn.com,  Youtube.comSlideShare.comTwitter.com, Flickr.com, etc.

Because competing real estate agents live and work within common solar systems, it’s important that you position yourself as the MMIC (Main  Mistress In Charge) of your solar-system.  Authoring a blog is like owning the Sun for your real-estate-business-solar system.  When you own the Sun, you rule.  Like our real Sun beams sunlight to all the planets in our solar system, your blog beams  your personal brand of sunlight to all your important prospecting communities, tribes, niches and networks. The intensity, illumination and warmth of your sunlight is determined by the quality, relevance and frequency of the things you share on your blog.  If you’re beaming sweet sunshine and your competitors aren’t, you’re going to win, right?

Your blog is where you can show (instead-of-tell) others who you really are and what you’re about .  What you stand for and against.  How knowledgeable and helpful you are and the emotional and logical reasons why someone should choose you to help them with their real estate needs.   You accomplish all these things by sharing stuff on your blog (aka creating sunlight).  Specifically, shared stuff includes things like; neighborhood news, photos of neighborhood parks, Festivals and Art Shows, real estate market updates, local restaurant reviews, answers to commonly asked real estate questions and the like.  If you’re sharing and your competitors are not, you have a advantage, right?

Another blogging bonus, once you hit the “Publish” button on your blog post, your “Share” becomes part of the Online-Information-Ocean and becomes sharable via  perma-web-link.  Once you’ve shared (published) something on your blog, you and your friends and friends of their friends, can now rebroadcast-share your stuff (sunlight) around the inter-webs and within your/their social circles (planets and moons) using your perma-web-links.   For example you and others can share and cross-post your permalinks with your/their tribes on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, email, etc.  This is what ReTweets, Facebook Likes, Shares and Comments is all about.

Your blog also provides you with a powerful opportunity to further enhance your online presence by incorporating share-tools in your blog posts.  I’m talking about using share tools like Flickr.com for photos, SlideShare.com for presentations and Youtube.com for video – all for free.

Bottom Line

Blogging beams your personal shade of sunlight to your IRL spheres, networks, tribes and niches.  As a bonus, it makes your stuff sharable by others.  Which is a beautiful thing.  Of course their are other compelling reasons to blog too.  Blogging makes you Findable, Discoverable, Sharable, Choosable and Referable.  In my next share, I’ll expand on the Findable, Discoverable, Sharable, Choosable and Referable idea.  Till then, grace, speed and success.

PS.

I was wondering what you think about blogging?  If you do, what keeps you doing it?  If you don’t, why not.  Like I said at first, I know it’s not the right idea for everyone.

Thanks for reading.  Cheers.

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and BrandCandid.com. On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. David Pylyp

    February 7, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Writing a great blog!
    Having people comment!
    Engaging your perfect target audience!

    Never answering their phone calls or emails, Priceless!

    The point of all this is to make the phone ring; we are in a belly to belly, provide the details show the Property business. When your phone rings, answer it. It is a prospect holding up their hand saying “Help Me Please”

    Living in Toronto waiting for my phone to ring with referrals
    David Pylyp

    • Ken Brand

      February 7, 2011 at 9:50 am

      I hear you, it’s like baking a bunch of cupcakes, but forgetting to add frosting. To win these days requires connecting all the dots. Thanks David.

  2. Eric Hempler

    February 7, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I think if you really want to leverage your blog correctly it takes a fair amount of time out of your day.

    Story ideas come from everyday experiences, such as making calls, door knocking, open houses, deals going great or going wrong, etc. After you get the idea you want to write it down somewhere and then expand on it later. Then there’s the last component of the post, optimizing it for search. If you put all of the steps together it does take some time to write a post. So I guess I’m not that surprised if top producers don’t blog. Although, I still think it’s a great addition to your business because you’re demonstrating your knowledge and expertise a lot more than what a website can do.

    (Even writing this comment took a little time. I wanted to make sure I put some thought into it.)

    • Ken Brand

      February 7, 2011 at 9:57 am

      I’m with you, it takes time. Stephen King, yeah that Stephen King said, “Writing is refined thinking.” We don’t get much time to sit and think these days, authoring a blog provides that quite-time-thinking that crystalizes our thoughts, beliefs, angels of approach, etc. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not doing it right. I can spend 5 or 6 hours on one blog post. Not all at once, but over time with rewrites, edits, deletes, start overs, adding and crystalizing my thoughts.

      Then again, sometimes and some subjects flow like water. I’m thinking the way to tackle the time issue is to not necessarily add a new time suck commitment, but redirect time that’s currently wasted on things or activities that don’t work so hot. And let’s face it, there are very few real estate agents who are working 50 – 60 hours a week. If you want to earn 100k+ it’s hard to do in 20 – 40 hours.

      The universal law remains so, the people winning are doing what others won’t.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment Eric. Cheers.

  3. Greg Lyles

    February 7, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I think blogging acts as a “silent salesman”, enabling others to find out about your level of expertise – and to some extent, your personality, before they engage you one-on-one.

    If you’re looking at blogging simply as an SEO tactic, or you’re not a gifted writer, I believe there are easier ways to go about it. For example, using your smartphone camera to take photos that are posted via posterous.com. You’ve always got your phone with you (don’t you?) so taking pictures of new listings in your area, neighborhood attractions, etc. can also serve to establish your knowledge of the market.

    • Ken Brand

      February 7, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      You’re right on the money Greg. Great points. Thanks

  4. BawldGuy

    February 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    All activities in our business take time, some more than others. Results, or lack thereof tend to dictate what survives. It’s always seemed nonsensical to me when folks say blogging takes so much of their time. Compared to what? They wouldn’t be considering a blog if their current efforts using other strategies were producing adequate, you know, results.

    I liken farming, that is, knockin’ on the same doors each month, with blogging. Slowly but surely they got to know me in the 70’s when I farmed. I got invited in for coffee, a donut, and conversation on cold, damp days. After awhile the neighborhood more or less thought of me as ‘theirs’. The experience has been eerily similar for me with blogging. I have folks tell me all the time how they’ve been readin’ me for months, even years, then ‘bam!’ something I wrote, maybe a strategy, maybe a case study, hits ’em between the eyes.

    It all takes time. It either produces results or it doesn’t. Your banker doesn’t know how you earned your money. He just knows you’re there a lot — or not.

    • Ken Brand

      February 7, 2011 at 3:45 pm

      Too true. When you’re a cool person, in real estate, familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, it breed trust and connection – which leads to being chosen and referred – which leads fatter bank books. Cheers.

      PS. Knocking on doors was so easy. I marched up and down the hills of Bay Park and it worked as reliably as the sunrise…as long as I did too.

  5. MH for Movoto

    February 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Blogging in thoughtful, readable ways definitely is a time commitment. When you create and curate a blog, you’re basically creating an artifact/time-capsule/hand-print in cement/whatever you want to call it. It’s a static record of your/your company’s thoughts and attitudes at a given moment in time – in fifty years or so, well-known blog archives will be like the fossil record of the internet age.

    • Ken Brand

      February 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm

      It’s an amazing time. Imagine people 100 or so years from now wanting to delve into the family tree/history. It’ll all be there, text, video, pictures, audio – everything. I’d love to do that for what was going on 100 or 200 years ago, wouldn’t you?

  6. Liz Benitez

    February 8, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I think my blog falls under the discoverable category and not the sunshine one. Right now I am just hoping to become more findable. I enjoy it so I continue. Maybe someday I will be sunshine 😀

    • Ken Brand

      February 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      Being discoverable is HUGE. I believe that every blog post is like sunshine, so whenever whoever is reading your blog, they’re sun bathing in your shared stuff. The more you share, the more findable you are….keep on keep’n on. Thanks Liz. Cheers.

  7. Cindy Marchant

    February 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Hi Ken, I normally write fairly lengthy comment here on AG; but your blog says it all well. For me it is sunshine…I’ve been blogging for three local communities for years and it doesn’t take much time at all…15 minutes to write it. And best of all, it forces me to become the expert in my area. I can tell you how many houses are listed right now, how many we sell in a year, what the price per sq ft is, how many sold in January of 2010 and 2011, etc…the list goes on. Why? Because I write about it every month. And best of all (really best of all this time)…there is nothing more thrilling than hearing, I’ve been reading your blog and want you to help me find a home in “x” city.

    Guess it is still a lengthy comment!

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Business Marketing

Hear me out – Google Alerts but for Facebook Groups

(TECH NEWS) Groouply is a new App that helps you find out what people are saying about your business in facebook groups, even closed groups

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Facebook groouply

Mike Rubini, an Italian developer focused on a portfolio of software-as-a-service offerings, recently announced the launch of a new Facebook tool, Groouply.

(Note: Groouply is not to be confused with the educational forum Grouply, the community management app Grouply, or the now-defunct company Grouply, which developed social networking and online forums for small businesses.)

Groouply lets you monitor Facebook groups for keywords of your choosing. Depending on how it works, this could be a big deal. There are plenty of online trackers. In fact, there are two or three distinct industries built on collecting and processing the vast amounts of information we generate online. SEO, social media management, and big data processing have all developed into large industries with their own dedicated firms, tools, language, and (in big data’s case) terrifyingly powerful hardware.

But so far, Facebook Groups haven’t been a point of focus. You can check search engine results pages, Reddit, Hacker News, Twitter, and public FB posts. But automatically notifying a user about specific mentions in FB groups is something new. The developer claims the tool can even collect data from closed groups.

The potential applications for this are striking. You could get a sense of who’s talking about your company, and what they’re saying. You could make course corrections based on how you’re perceived. You could learn about potential markets you hadn’t considered yet. You could step in to discussions about your company to correct misconceptions. (You could also get dragged into some pretty unprofessional arguments, if you aren’t careful. It is Facebook, after all.)

You pick a group and a keyword, as well as the frequency of your email updates. Options shown in the demo video include daily and hourly. Once you’ve set up the account, the company takes 1-3 days to set you up on the back end, and then you’re good to go. At the current pricing, a $99/month account lets you track 10 keywords across 5 different groups.

Some folks have raised concerns. People have inquired about how the tool collects the data, wondering whether it’s compliant with Facebook’s terms of service. Others have expressed hesitation over the price. Paying $99/month for online marketing tools isn’t unheard of. The popular SEO research tool ahrefs charges $99/month for their basic package, and claims that their $179/month package is their most popular option.

But ahrefs offers a week-long trial for $7 so you can test-drive the service. They’re also running a robust, proven service. Your $99/month gets you 500 tracked keywords, updating weekly. It also gets you keyword reports and batch analysis, backlinking alerts, and 10,000 pages’ worth of site audits.

Groouply’s arrival has generated some buzz. When it launched two days ago, it became the #4 Product of the Day on the tech forum Product Hunt. Depending on what happens next, it could fill a much-needed niche in the social media marketing toolbox.

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Business Marketing

Accessibility to your website could make or break your brand

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Some companies are making sure their websites have more accessibility, and are creating design tools that help simplify the process for other designers.

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accessibility design

In August, The American Genius reported that Domino’s Pizza had petitioned the Supreme Court to hear a case it had lost in the Ninth Circuit Court, in which the court ruled that the pizza chain was required to improve the accessibility on their website to blind and visually impaired users.

Last month, SCOTUS declined to hear the case, maintaining the precedent that the standards set forth by the American Disabilities Act (ADA) apply not only to brick-and-mortar business locations, but also to websites.

The decision was a major win for disability rights advocates, who rightly pointed out that in the modern, internet-based age, being unable to access the same websites and apps that sighted people use would be a major impediment for people who are blind or visually impaired. Said Christopher Danielson of the National Federation of the Blind, “If businesses are allowed to say, ‘We do not have to make our websites accessible to blind people,’ that would be shutting blind people out of the economy in the 21st century.”

Although legislators have yet to set legal standards for website accessibility, the Domino’s case makes it clear that it’s time for businesses to start strategizing about making their websites accessible to all users.

Many companies worry that revamping websites for accessibility will be too costly, too difficult, or just too confusing given the lack of legal standards. However, some forward-thinking companies are going out of their way to not only make their websites more accessible, but to create design tools that could help simplify the process for other designers.

A great example is Stripe.

If you have an online business, you may already be using Stripe to receive payments. Designers Daryl Koopersmith and Wilson Miner take to the Stripe blog to detail their quest to find the perfect and most accessible color palette for Stripe products and sites.

Color plays into accessibility for visually impaired users because certain color contrasts are easier to see than others. But making Stripe more accessible wasn’t as simple as just picking paint swatches. Stripe wanted to increase accessibility while also staying true to the colors already associated with their brand.

Our perception of color is quite subjective; we often instinctively have strong opinions about which colors go well together and which clash. To make matters even more complicated, existing color models can be confusing because there is often a difference between how a computer mathematically categorizes a color and how our eyes perceive them.

Koopersmith and Miner give the example that if the human eye compares a blue and a yellow that have the same mathematical “lightness,” we will still perceive the yellow as the lighter color.

To achieve their goal, Koopersmith and Miner created new software that would adjust colors based on human perception and would generate “real-time feedback about accessibility.” In this way, the designers were able to adjust Stripe’s pre-existing brand colors to increase accessibility without losing the vibrancy and character of the original colors.

Not every company can afford to hire innovative designers like Koopersmith and Miner to create new tools every time there is an accessibility challenge. But Stripe’s project shows gives us reason to be optimistic that improving accessibility will become steadily more … well … accessible!

Disabilities rights advocates and designers can work synergistically to set standards for accessibility and create comprehensive tools to achieve those standards. In our highly visual age, it’s important to ensure that no one is left behind because of a visual impairment.

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Business Marketing

10 inspirational print brochure examples

We believe that print is nowhere near dead, it is just changing as things go digital, and only the best stand out.

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Below are 10 inspirational print brochure examples that show print is not only alive and kicking, but when infused with a bit of creativity, can make an enormous impression. Gone are the days of horrid clip art and walls of text that overwhelm. Clean typography and design are the name of the game, and added flair can go a long way. Here are some ideas to get you started, click any of the images below to see more photos of each campaign and to dig deeper:

Craft Beer Field Guide

With this fold up brochure guiding Madison’s Craft Beer Week attendees, a vintage vibe is created through color and typography choices, with an emphasis on function and ease of reading. The guide is so enchanting, it is likely that most attendees kept the brochures, a dream for any designer or marketing team!

Italian Loft Brochure

In this Italian Loft Brochure, a classic Tiffany & Co styled blue and chocolate brown highlight the features of this luxury loft community, and is presented in a beautiful, heavyweight cardstock cover that keeps all additional papers that come along with tours. It’s more than just the brochure’s design, it’s the presentation, simplicity, and choice of materials that is eye catching about this print brochure.

Campaign for Freedom

Expressing the dire situation in North Korea, this campaign brochure uses simple to digest infographics and keeps to four colors – black, white, red, and yellow. It is effective for sticking to the point and using bold graphics.

Gourmet Natural Foods

Retailers often go overboard either by offering too many walls of words and facts, or by trying to be clever. Instead, this company’s design focuses on the simple ingredients that goes along with their streamlined, organic-looking containers. This brochure makes you want to go start eating hippie food, even if you’re a cow eater, just because it’s so aesthetically pleasing!

Graphic Designer Portfolio

When a seasoned graphic designer shows off, you can be sure that their presentation will never be an aged headshot of them with bullet points of their accomplishments. No, graphic designers show instead of tell, as below:

Typefamily Brochure

When introducing a typefamily to the world, a designer can choose to slap up a website, or go the traditional, and more elegant route of printing a type booklet explaining the type and giving buyers of the typefamily (font) a closer look at what they are buying. Brilliant.

Yahoo! Brochure

Yahoo’s brochure is a reminder that simple design elements can go a long way – a folding tab, white space, ditching clip art, and keeping consistency between pages all work in harmony to create a quality print brochure.

Antique News Format

In a very clever move, this commercial and residential space is being sold in the form of a large, folding antique- looking newspaper, complete with appropriate fonts and an antique layout, with surprisingly sharp and never cheesy images.

Architect’s Timeline and Story

Promoting an architect’s impressive timeline and story, this print campaign shows the power of red, black and white, making a dramatic impression at a quick glance. Using high quality photography and traditional movie poster tricks, the campaign is stunning.

Our Favorite: Lennar’s Old School Fun

Lennar’s new “Spencer’s Crossing” community brochures got a touch of old school, making the brochure a game that anyone can play. It’s more than a gimmick, it is consistent with their collateral that appeals to the youthful nature of the product and area.

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