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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

The science behind using pictures of people in marketing to convert more leads

(MARKETING) People fear using their picture in social networking profiles, but we make the case not only for using pictures of yourself, but of scrapping stock graphics for photos of people that studies show improve conversion rates in marketing.

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To avatar or not to avatar?

After all of these years of people using the web, the debate continues about whether or not people should use their headshots as their profile pictures and avatars on their blogs and their social networks. Many people are uncomfortable with the way they look in photos, and some are never satisfied with their picture, so they settle for their company logo, a cartoon image, or a random photo to share something about who they are. While some believe the argument is subjective, we would argue otherwise.

It is advisable to use a photo of yourself as your profile picture wherever you go, no matter how unsatisfied you are and how uncomfortable. There are many reasons from making it easier to connect with people offline after talking online, to giving people a better way to connect with you, but a personal side has become expected on social networks and blogs, making a profile picture culturally mandatory.

Throw culture out of the window

So let’s say you’re still uncomfortable advertising your face. I personally hate every picture of me taken since I was 11 and had a bad perm, I get it. Profile pictures can send some people into full fledged panic, and at that point, who cares if web culture dictates a photo?

You should, and here’s why… science.

Science? Yep. Any parent knows intuitively, and scientists have studied for years that babies love pictures of other babies, and part of socializing a child is giving them books with pictures of other babies to connect with, learn from, and see other ethnicities. Babies love looking at other babies, it helps them connect and learn, and believe it or not, many studies show that we don’t evolve past that point in our lives, so, adults love looking at other adults.

More science

If that isn’t enough to convince you to use a profile picture, a recent study shows that a website’s conversion rate can be skyrocketed by using human faces. According to KISSmetrics.com, using human faces “get your prospects to focus more and this causes them to draw towards a common point of interest. It doesn’t get more real than that.”

The company cites an A/B test on Medalia.net, an online art shop, which presented paintings from artists on their homepage, and during testing, they swapped out the photos of the paintings with photos of the artists hoping to increase user engagement. KISSmetrics said, “Making this small but relevant change sent their conversion rate through the roof – something they didn’t expect. Their site experienced a whopping 95% increase in conversions!.”

Reading between the lines

Using a photo in your profile pictures is important, it allows people to connect with you, just like babies connect with other babies through photos, and website viewers are converted by human photos. But, read between the lines here – using photos of people in marketing is a concept as old as the idea of marketing, and your using people in your blog photos and marketing can improve your conversion over outdated stock graphics. There are legal ways to obtain photos of people (through creative commons), and using photos of your own can have the most meaningful impact.

Whether you’re nervous to share your face with the world or not, web culture dictates that you should and studies show that a percentage of people distrust social networkers without a face shot. Independent of all of that, conversion rates improve when people see other people, as it is easier to connect with over stock graphics or abstract images, so take a leap of faith and put your picture out there, and while you’re at it, try to find ways of using photos of humans in your marketing and blogs.

Just remember – babies love looking at pictures of babies, and we’re all just babies when you boil it down.

This story originally ran here on March 6, 2012.

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Business Marketing

YouTube monetization change crushes smaller content creators

(SOCIAL MEDIA) YouTube has made some cavalier changes to their monetization strategy, kicking the underdog in the gut.

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Amidst much controversy, YouTube has revised the qualifications for monetization through its Partner Program, sparking harsh criticism from lesser-known content creators. YouTube says the new rules are necessary to “curb bad actors, stabilize creator revenue and provide greater assurances to advertisers around where their ads are placed.”

In mid-January, YouTube quietly changed its guidelines, requiring that content creators’ channels accumulate at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in the past year in order to qualify for monetization. Previous rules allowed any channel with at least 10,000 views over its lifetime to qualify, allowing creators to earn money on ads.

The rule change comes amidst a backlash from advertisers, who have been fearful that their ads may appear alongside disturbing and controversial videos, such as the much-publicized Logan Paul video in which the YouTube star finds and mocks the corpse of a person who had committed suicide.

To appease advertisers, YouTube is putting into place monitoring systems in which more videos will be reviewed by human viewers before being paired with ads. In order to streamline this process, YouTube is tightening up the qualifications for partnership.

Creators who do not meet the qualifications received an email from YouTube explaining that the site is putting in place “safeguards… to protect creator revenue across the YouTube ecosystem.” Small creators were given a 30-day grace period to attempt to meet qualifications and reapply.

As you might expect, small content creators were disappointed by the rule. Many have posted angry and sometimes tearful videos, some going so far as to beg users to run their videos in the background while going about their day to help the channel accrue watch hours.

The company admits that many creators will be affected, but that the vast majority of those who will no longer qualify were earning less than $100 a year. They say that 90 percent earned less than $2.50 last month (which proves how difficult it already was to earn on their platform).

YouTube, and many popular content creators with large followings, say that the change was inevitable to keep the site in business. If advertisers lose faith in the site, they argue, they will also lose their biggest content creators.

But many small creators say it’s not about the money. Creator Christine Barger explained “I’ve been a part of YouTube for a really long time, and I’ve finally tried to be part of this platform, just to feel like they don’t care about small creators.”

Other creators encouraged their fellow YouTubers not to be discouraged, and not to focus on the money. Said creator Kiara Nelson in a heartfelt video, “Don’t let the new rules of YouTube keep you from creating the amazing content that you do. Please don’t give up.”

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Business Marketing

MLB Cleveland Indians to finally nix controversial Chief Wahoo logo

(BRANDING) After much dispute, the Cleveland Indians will no longer don the offensive logo on the field – but is such limited progress laudable?

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Major League Baseball and the Cleveland Indians have announced an agreement that spells the end of the on-field uniform presence of the caricature known as “Chief Wahoo” (a cartoon-like depiction of a Native American that has been directly affiliated with the club since 1947), beginning in 2019. A similar version of the caricature appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1932 and it was a popular accompaniment to news of the Indians for decades. It, along with the 1947 version of the Indians logo, is considered to be far more offensive than the current version of the logo.

A polarizing figure in recent years, “Chief Wahoo” continued the tradition of associating the Cleveland major league baseball team with Native American figures since their name change to the Indians in 1915. The Indians, called such diverse names as the Infants, Spiders, Naps, and Blues throughout their early history, are alleged to have changed their name to honor the contributions to Cleveland baseball by Louis Sockalexis, a Native American from the Penobscot tribe, who played baseball in Cleveland from 1887 to 1899.

In recent years, many groups across the nation had protested the continued use of the logo, with little interest expressed by the team in changing either the “Chief Wahoo” logo or its profile on team uniforms and on in-stadium displays. In 2014, then-team president Mark Shapiro, began to reduce the exposure of the “Chief Wahoo” logo, replacing it with a capital-C, in block format. But that reduction did not lead to outright termination, with “Chief Wahoo” displayed on the Cleveland uniform and in-stadium in high profile games, including the 2016 World Series.

After national debate was renewed during that October postseason regarding the appropriateness of the logo, Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred promised at the time to speak to the ownership group about the logo’s future. In April of 2017, Manfred made good on that promise, making public his intention to press the Cleveland ownership to eliminate the logo altogether. After months of discussion, today’s announcement identified the results of those conversations. In a joint statement, Cleveland owner Paul Dolan said “”We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion. While we recognize many of our fans have a long-standing attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.”

So this is the point in the story where we can all feel good that a business, which the Cleveland Indians most assuredly are, realized that greater forces than remaining static in the face of history exist, right?

Wrong. It’s like the old adage, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

While the logo won’t be seen on the uniforms or in-stadium displays beginning in 2019, “Chief Wahoo” hasn’t left the building or the public consciousness just yet. The Indians will still maintain the trademark, which means that, with the approval of Major League Baseball, they still control how the logo is used.

Maintaining the trademark to the logo is a prudent move for Cleveland—if they abandoned it, the logo could be claimed by another business or organization and be used in nefarious ways. But because they maintain control of the trademark and the logo, they can still create and sell merchandise with the “Chief Wahoo” logo on it. Which they are planning to do, profiting off of items with the “Chief Wahoo” logo on them available for sale at the souvenir shops located inside their home stadium, as well as retail outlets in the northern Ohio area. Major League Baseball has no current plans to make items bearing the “Chief Wahoo” logo available at their fan shops at MLB.com.

So, should we applaud the Indians and Major League Baseball for coming to grips with an outrageously out-of-place logo and banishing it from the field? Only if you think that limited progress is better than none.

While you won’t see it on or around the field in 2019, you can still buy it in the stadium, wear it, and thus continue to propagate a harmful stereotype in the name of team history, fan loyalty, or any one of a number of other worn excuses. The Indians move allows them to continue to profit, and to do so handsomely, thus doing nothing more than sweeping the issue aside in the name of corporate uncomfortability, when what was called for was corporate courage.

Doing the right thing isn’t easy, or popular, it remains the right thing. There’s a difference between worrying about political correctness gone amok and understanding that the times have changed from when your logo was created and deciding to reflect those changes for the better. And the Indians, and by extension Major League Baseball, chose to do the expedient thing and hope that everyone is satisfied, or at least quiet.

And that moribund silence and misplaced satisfaction is the last thing that we can afford.

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