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“Trulia Blogs” Rolled Out On The DL

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Trulia went old skool…

No press release. No big announcement. On the DL and using only word-of-mouth marketing, Trulia rolled out “Trulia Blogs” (beta) last week.

Does it remind you of anything?

Trulia Blogs definitely some similarities to Active Rain such as the “headline” feel of the real estate blogs home page. And the posts are all on Trulia’s platform, not a live RSS feed from participating bloggers and their own outside blogs. This may seem very attractive to those who just want to write posts and not worry about setting up their own blog on WordPress, Typepad, etc. But you may want to check out this post and this post (especially the comments) for a discussion relating to some of the pros and cons of this type of blog platform.

I noticed that you can’t tag your blog post with your own tags – they’re preset in a drop down menu labeled “Categories”. Therefore, you can’t search posts by keywords. Nor can you search posts by location (only “Trulia Voices” has that ability). This is a concern for me as a Realtor blogger because it doesn’t allow consumers to find my blog by searching keywords or by location. (It’s still in beta so maybe these things are in the works…?)

SEO and ROI…

As for SEO, I have no idea how it’ll do. Others such as Active Rain have some good SEO due to tags and keywords, which Trulia Blogs doesn’t have. If you’re a Realtor and blogging to get your name out there in front of potential clients, you may not find Tulia Blogs attractive if there’s no SEO.

It seems that the way it’s currently set up, your blog will be visible mainly to those who come across you on Tulia Voices. If they like one of your answers and click on your profile, they may also click on your blog. Other than that, the only way to run across your blog is by looking through a specific category.

Problem with that is that even if a consumer likes your post/blog, they may be buying or selling in Seattle, Washington while you’re in Loudoun County, Virginia. That doesn’t translate into a client nor ROI and even the most passionate Realtor bloggers are in it to make money to pay the bills.

Currently, the blogs are only visible to registered members who are logged in. Wonder if Trulia will open it up for people to read as a teaser to make registering more attractive…

Tip of the iceberg?

Trulia has usually done things well and intuitively so that leads me to think (and hope) that this beta version is only the tip of the iceberg. But they’d better roll out the new and improved version soon…

Danilo Bogdanovic is a Real Estate Consultant/REALTOR(R) in Northern Virginia and author/owner of LoudounScene.com and LoudounForeclosures.com. Danilo serves on various committees with the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS(R) and the Virginia Association of REALTORS(R).

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Frank Jewett

    July 22, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Problem with that is that even if a consumer likes your post/blog, they may be buying or selling in Seattle, Washington while you’re in Loudoun County, Virginia. That doesn’t translate into a client nor ROI and even the most passionate Realtor bloggers are in it to make money to pay the bills.

    This is why real estate blogs should contain at least 40% local content. Don’t argue with me, argue with Teresa Boardman.

  2. Heather @ Trulia

    July 22, 2008 at 10:25 pm

    Hey Danilo – Heather from Trulia here. Rudy will probably want to stop by too, but he’s busy Beering with Bloggers at the moment :). In the meanwhile, let me clarify…

    1) We haven’t “launched” anything (yet). You are looking at a private, invite only beta that only a handful of people currently have access to.
    2) Tags/searching/other really cool stuff – absolutely in the game plan. Stay tuned.
    3) Discoverability – as with all things on Trulia, we think that someone searching in a specific location likely cares most about content relevant to that location. Again…stay tuned.

    Tip of iceberg? Yes. Awesome feedback and have a great night!

  3. Frank Jewett

    July 22, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    Congrats to Trulia on implementing this “metoo” feature!!!

    Time to update our list of online real estate portal differentiators…

    online listings – commoditized
    photos, maps, and drive-bys – commoditized
    online property valuations – commoditized
    agent blogs – commoditized
    community portals – commoditized
    local real estate experts – still up for grabs

    I almost hesitate to say this in a room full of outsized egos, but it really is all coming down to you, the local real estate experts. Your participation will be the only real differentiator still in play in 2009.

    Think about that while you guzzle their booze at Inman Collect Connect.

    It’s time to ask “what’s in it for me?”, with “free” being the floor rather than the ceiling.

    Repeat after me: “If you’re going to monetize me, you should pay me.”

  4. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 23, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Yay…..pull out some deflated balloons.

    Another place to get people to create more content for someone else for free – so that THEY, not the local agent that created the content in the first place, can then dominate the search engines.

  5. Danilo Bogdanovic

    July 23, 2008 at 8:39 am

    Frank – Don’t worry Frank – I agree with you (and Teresa) about local content. Personally, I would shoot for at least 75%, if not more. And not all of us have “outsized egos”.

    Heather – I hope so, but I’m still wondering why it would be rolled out without the most key and important features left out. As some have said here and as many have said before, why would we give someone/somebody all of our content, time and effort without any ROI for us while that someone/somebody benefits. Doesn’t make sense to me… In my business, my time + intellectual property (need to) = money (for me, not someone else).

    Everything can be commoditized except the expertise of a great local real estate agent.

  6. Matt Stigliano

    July 23, 2008 at 9:49 am

    I realize the discussion about ROI is always an important one for real estate agents and rightfully so, we all need to succeed in our business or its just not a good business.

    But here’s where I get a bit confused on all of this (and feel free to give me your thoughts, that’s why I’m here)…

    Although sites like these may be getting your content for free…your name, personality, and knowledge are still attached. You may not be getting the SEO you’re looking for, but someone might see what you wrote and say, “hey, this is someone I’d like to work with…let me dig deeper.” You’re not getting the direct connection you’re searching for via your own personal blog or site, but you are getting an introduction to someone who may not have found you otherwise (I guess you could argue that it makes you harder to find, but even if you’re the number search, that does not guarantee you business).

    A great example:

    My band was offered to be in the movie “Fahrenheit 9/11.” They wanted to use a song that apparently was popular with troops as they blew stuff up in Iraq. The band usually collects a very high fee for this kind of use of our music. Plus, this movie was being highly anticipated and the publishing royalties would have added up to a lot of money (plus the initial payment). We all love money. Don’t let anyone fool you, everyone in a band wants to make money at the end of the day. However, we were all excited about the prospect of being in the movie and what it could do for us. The film was coming out in 2004 and the song was from 1996…this could revive an old song for us and bring about more sales of a record that was not in the public’s eye anymore. So we gave it to Michael Moore for free. We collected zero. But, the ROI on the release of this movie was incredible for us. More tours, better pay, more interviews, more exposure to fans and non-fans alike, more album sales for an older record, more spins of the song on radio…whether they hated us for participating in the movie or loved us for it, we got the exposure out of it that helped push us out of a long hiatus (we took off from 2001-2004 after nearly killing each other on a year and a half tour that was absolutely non-stop).

    Don’t get me wrong, I see the benefit of having everything under your control, but I also see the potential for exposure…which can lead to those returns that we all seek.

  7. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 23, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Although sites like these may be getting your content for free…your name, personality, and knowledge are still attached.

    Thats the thing. They can export the data to another site and/or modify it however they so desire. Its no longer your information. It belongs to them.

  8. Matt Stigliano

    July 23, 2008 at 10:04 am

    Jennifer – Are there cases where this has happened? As someone who had to deal with the Napster/Intellectual Property debate constantly, I’m always interested in this topic.

  9. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 23, 2008 at 10:19 am

    One example happened a couple weeks ago. Activerain information was exported and is now powering Localism – and they are now charging agents to be the “neighborhood sponsors” (utilizing the very information they created in the first place). Michelle DeRepentigny wrote an article about it over at Bloodhound Blog on July 9th called: Gagging on the Kool Aid: Active Rains rolls out new Localism.com.

  10. Rudy from Trulia

    July 23, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Hi all!

    I’m listening in on the first panel of bloggers connect where they are talking about what to write about and who to write to [your audience]. I haven’t heard them talk about where to write. That being said, our blog platform is is beta. We invited a number of people to test the platform and love the feedback we’re getting. And, as Heather mentioned, we will include many of the things that Danilo pointed to.

    Trulia has a built in consumer audience. Our blog platform is an extension of our Q&A platform. What’s interesting is that consumers will be able to blog as well. It’s another place to connect with a consumer. We agree, the ROI is yet to be tested – that’s the exciting part. After we go live with the new platform, I hope that some of you here give it a test drive to see if it can work for you.

    You never know where a consumer will look.

    Thanks all for your feedback.

    Rudy
    Social Media Guru at Trulia

  11. Eric Bramlett

    July 23, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    Given Trulia’s track record, I highly doubt the links on these blogs will be followed. If that’s the case, the SEO advantages to agents will be in the negative (in the negative b/c they sucked time away from doing something productive.)

  12. Bob

    July 23, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    An excellent example Matt, but the big difference is that a) there were only so many songs in that movie and b) you got a credit at the end that everyone could see if they sat in their seat long enough.

    The movie gave you exposure you could not have gotten on your own. That isn’t the same thing with Trulia, where, like AR, it is looking for a needle in a haystack.

    Put a link to my blog on a Trulia page that everyone sees and I’m in.

  13. Eric Bramlett

    July 23, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    You never know where a consumer will look.

    Is that the new tagline? 🙂

    Put a link to my blog on a Trulia page that everyone sees and I’m in.

    I second that motion!

  14. bill lublin

    July 23, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Danilo Interesting post. And while I think starting a blog on someone else’s site is not the best long term move,I can understand where some people would choose to write a single post or 2 in a trulia or AR Environment, but in the long run , there is nothing free in the world. If they provide the environment and you use it,what’s wrong with their getting a benefit from it, They want Trulia to be THE place for consumers to look for real estate related stuff. If you’re OK with that, support it. If you’re noy OK with it ,write somehwere else

  15. The Harriman Team

    July 23, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    @Matt – ah, Lüpüs Thünder! We don’t need no water…good song, good band, good film. Methinks I’ll have to upload some new music to the iPod…

  16. Dan Connolly

    July 23, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    Actually I have gotten two leads from Trulia!

    Let’s see the first one was from a nice young lady who needed help cashing a $500,000,000 check from her late father. The other one seemed like an actual customer asking about properties in an area I work, no phone # just an email. I responded within 5 minutes of her inquiry, followed up several times and never heard back from her. Yeah, I know, that comes with all leads…

    These two came after participating in Voices for a bit, but for me, wading through the endless posts of agents asking people to check out their award winning websites was really boring. I can’t really imagine that the blogs are going to be any more interesting. Someone will ask about a neighborhood, or post a piece about an area and then get to hear from everyone who wants to be their agent talking about how great they are.

    I am waiting to hear someone from Trulia weigh in on the no follow aspect of the signature links in the Trulia blog, but I’m not holding my breath. It seems simple enough, if you want agents to contribute some content to your website, how about paying them for it with a little link love? Afraid that too many will spam the blog? What do you think the agents are doing in Voices? If that’s not spam I don’t know what is!

  17. Ken Smith

    July 23, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    I am waiting to hear someone from Trulia weigh in on the no follow aspect of the signature links in the Trulia blog, but I’m not holding my breath. It seems simple enough, if you want agents to contribute some content to your website, how about paying them for it with a little link love?

    I look into my crystal ball and predict that Rudy will say “we no follow the links because it’s an industry standard”.

  18. Frank Jewett

    July 23, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    Ken, you forgot “Just to clarify…”

  19. Ken Smith

    July 23, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    BTW Frank this is great “If you’re going to monetize me, you should pay me.”

  20. Heather @ Trulia

    July 24, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Hey – Heather again…Rudy is busy paneling/socializing/causing mayhem at Inman Connect.

    We’ve been listening over the past few months to agents, and know how important SEO is. The blog content will be dofollow. The blog comments (and prop detail pages) are nofollowed “as is industry standard” (shout out to Ken).

    Joking aside, we agree with all of you that if we can’t prove ROI, we don’t have a product. We are working hard and listening to feedback… Trulia Blogs are meant to help agents and consumers connect with other agents/consumers/locals/etc. If you want to give it a test run, email me at heather [at] trulia to get beta access. Have questions? Same email.

    Thanks!

  21. Laurie Manny

    August 8, 2008 at 4:39 am

    You never know where a consumer will look.

    I know exactly where a consumer will look. They look on the search engines. They search the top 3 positions. The leads can pour in up there in the stratosphere and Trulia is trying to take those positions.

    I love this talk about ooooh I got 2 leads from Trulia. You can get more leads than that before you wake up in the morning on your own blog if its set up right.

    Why don’t you ask the top voices on Trulia how many leads they have received for all of the work they have done. I asked while we were up at Inman. While you are at it, ask them about the quality of those leads, I did.

    All I’ll say here is that it wasn’t anywhere near worth the work and time involved.

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Opinion Editorials

Idea: Color-coded face masks as the new social contract to combat COVID-19

(BUSINESS NEWS) Americans must come together on a new social contract if we have any hope of permanently reopening the economy and saving lives.

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A church in Texas used a stoplight color-coded wristlet system to help churchgoers navigate the new social awkwardness of closeness. Those with green bands are comfortable with contact including high fives, yellow bands indicate someone who wants to talk but not touch, and red is for someone interested in keeping their distance altogether.

In pre-pandemic America, basic social cues were sufficient to communicate these feelings, and most violations of them were annoying but not harmful. We now live in a world where daily banalities like grocery shopping and shaking hands with a new acquaintance are now potentially dangerous – for you and those you care about.

So what is the way forward?

Humans are social beings, and much of our survival is reliant on our relationships to, and interactions with, other humans. A way forward is critical. But our brains are trained to find and read faces in an instant to assess emotion and whether that emotion indicates a presence of a threat.

Not only has this pandemic challenged our innate notions of community and safety, the scientifically healthy way forward is to cover most of our faces, which is staggeringly counter to our understanding of a threat. It is now impossible to tell whether a sunglassed-masked stranger walking into a restaurant is a robber or just a person who was walking in the sun.

But because we are humans with large brains, we are able to adapt. We are inherently compassionate and able to emotionally understand fear in others and ourselves. We are able to understand both science and social grace. In this case, the science is straightforward but the social grace is not.

Governor Abbott of Texas announced the second closure of bars and reduction of capacity in restaurants last Friday in response to the dramatic increase in coronavirus cases statewide. During the press conference he said: “Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can.”

It is this shared responsibility that we must first embrace before any meaningful reopening can proceed.

We must accept that for the indefinite future, we have a new normal. We have to adapt to these new social codes in order to protect ourselves and our neighbors. Color-coded bracelets, masks, hats, choose your accessory – this could be a way forward.

First, we must agree these measures are necessary. And we shouldn’t take them because a politician told us to or told us not to – many people feel that our government has failed to provide us with coherent guidance and leadership considering a broad social contract.

We should adapt them because if you are not free, I am not free. We can do this together.

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Opinion Editorials

What to do when you can’t find your passion and you’re feeling lost

(EDITORIAL) Global Pandemic or not, people struggle to search for job opportunities, their career, and find their purpose. Knowing yourself is the most important part.

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career choices

Feeling lost? Can you relate to this Reddit post in the Career Guidance forum?

Careers that aren’t boring?

I’m really lost right now. I just graduated high school and I really don’t know what I want to do with my life.

At the moment my only idea is to join the military (United States) and see how it goes. I really want to go to college on the side but I don’t know what I want to get into. I tried coding in high school and it didn’t make sense, making me feel like i won’t be successful in the technology field. Medical field costs too much+ time in school. Only other career field that’s on my mind is engineering but I don’t know if I’ll be successful?

Is it okay to feel like I’ll fail? Will college actually teach you unlike in high school? I feel like high school didn’t really prep me and I’ll be behind”

And then you have to love this response:

Is the grass really not greener on the other side?

I’ve been a trucker since I left school 10 years ago. Every post I come across are full of people dreading the office culture, politics, environment etc. and saying how they’d love to be outdoors.

I work outdoors and it’s shit, -5°C in winter and 40+°C in summer. Slogging 12-15 hour days behind the wheel, micro-sleeping and hallucinating just to make delivery times. Getting filthy and soaking wet when working outside.

The idea of being in a nice cooled office, not having to put my life on the line and actually working on a project with a team sounds so stimulating to me instead of being a monkey behind a wheel. But then I see so many people call themselves monkeys in other professions and hate the office.”

It’s alluring how the ego is meant to ensure our security and survival, and unless we learn how to work with it and the messages we tell ourselves, we can often feel alone, isolated and the only one with these feelings. It is when you start exploring others’ stories that you may feel an a-ha moment, or things may seem like they click.

One would venture to argue that many people are sometimes lost in a fog, and not sure what to do. Above was an example of a high schooler who is feeling like the military might be his only option, but if you read through the thread, it does appear that he has other ideas but just doesn’t know enough about them or doesn’t trust himself enough to look further in to them. And if the military is the right option for him, that is okay too.

“The ego is the human consciousness part of you. It was designed to ensure your security and survival. Unfortunately for many of us it has never relinquished its initial purpose. Instead, for many the ego became the master script writer and because of it, everything becomes a drama based on past happenings.” Beverly Blanchard

If you’re feeling in a fog, people may ask you:

  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. What do you love doing that you can make money from?
  3. What company do you want to work for?
  4. Where do you want to live?
  5. Are you living for your resume, or for your obituary?

If there’s a screaming feeling inside that literally feels like you are going to BURST with all caps of “I DON’T KNOW”, then let’s take a breath and see what we can do to work with that. Here are some ideas that may be great activities for you to help move forward.

Kindly note, the first thing is to allow yourself TIME. You need some time to figure it out, do some research, look in to options, have conversations, possibly work experiences, maybe some inner soul searching and spiritual work. If you think you have to have this figured out right away, you may have already put a limit on yourself (sorry to be a buzzkill but you might need YEARS to figure out your purpose). You ideally need to figure out how to get from A to B, not A to Z right now.

  • Do some research on Design Thinking.
    Spend some time with a journal getting out some of your thoughts so you can move them from the emotional part of your brain to a more logical and rational place (usually once you’ve put something on paper or even said it out loud). You may like this Design Your Life workbook based on a Career Exploration class at Stanford where you explore your interests, and how they can align with work and your purpose. The workbook is great because it gives you writing prompts that help guide you (they also give ideas on how long to spend on an activity so it could be 10 minutes or 30 and you can decide if that is something you can do at that point in time). They also just released a book, Designing Your Work Life. How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work.
  • Make a simple list.
    Spend 5-10 minutes just writing out things you really like or love (no explanation, just the name of the item). There is no judgement to this list and nothing is too silly (Iced coffee, video games, tennis, music, dogs, photography, favorite subject(s) in school, friends, family, reading…) Walk away. Come back to it. Do any of these things give you clues on what type(s) of professions fascinate you? Then make a list of what you need to do from here (more school, internship, volunteering, pro-bono projects, part-time or full-time job). Stop and ask yourself how you can get more of these things in your day to day.
  • Consider yourself an Investigative Reporter, and talk to people about how they chose their areas of study and/or careers.
    The hope is that you are pleasantly surprised to hear many people have had this feeling and they moved forward anyway. They made decisions with the information they had, and their career and projects grew from there. This could help you recognize what is that next step you need to take.
    I would tell that high schooler to go meet with military recruiting offices and see what they have to say. I’d also suggest they reach out to mechanical engineers and learn about what they work on and what they had to do to get there. If they are unsure of how to find any, check out LinkedIn to start. Many people look at those that they consider to be successful and see where they ended up – often we miss the part of the story about what they had to do to get there. This is what we should be looking to uncover, and that may give us insights on what our next steps can be.
    In job searching, a great tool is conducting Informational Interviews and speaking with people that are in jobs that you think may interest you and they can tell you more real details. Whatever you find to be really intriguing and makes you want to know more about, that could be a good sign of a career/job you’re interested in. Ask them about education and skills requirements and take notes.
  • Consider your life like a flight of stairs.
    Each step is leading to the next one. You don’t have to know or see the entire staircase, and you may not even know what’s on the second floor.
  • Write your Eulogy.
    This sounds really morbid and maybe slightly is, but a plane doesn’t just take off on a flight plan without knowing where it’s going and landing. If you write out your eulogy, you may discover what you want to be remembered for, and start living a life that includes those types of efforts, endeavors, and projects. This also may take a little bit of pressure off of you that everything in your life will not be solely based on your job or career. Then, maybe hide it so your family doesn’t think you’ve lost your mind.

Whatever you do, please know you are not alone and the more you think everyone else has it all figured out, the better acting you are witnessing. Yes, there are people that have known what they wanted to do since they were little but even their job/career has had it’s twists and turns.

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Opinion Editorials

I was laid off, but then my position was filled, what can I do?

(EDITORIAL) Is it good form for your position to be replaced in the middle of a pandemic? No. Is it legal? Well, usually, but what can you do about it?

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If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being laid off, you might have found yourself revisiting your work place’s job posting to see what kind of ship they’re running in your absence–only to find that, instead of downsizing, your employer has filled your old position.

You would be well within your rights to question whether or not your employer screwed with you, and you might even consider contacting legal representation. Before you do, though, keep in mind that being laid off from a position due to budget cuts, and having that position cut entirely are two different things–and you might just be looking for a problem where there isn’t one.

After all, according to Evil HR Lady, this kind of process isn’t just legal–it’s actually pretty normal.

Yes, it’s normal to assume something sinister when you find yourself without a job that someone younger (and let’s not forget cheaper) than you is now doing.

But Evil HR Lady (a personality who, despite the title, seems absolutely benign) points out that seniority often plays a role in who stays and who pays: “[Imagine] there are five team leads, and the company decides to lay off one of the team leaders. This person has seniority over the people below him, so he takes the top remaining position and bumps that person out of their job…The position eliminated is Team Leader, but the person who loses his job is junior trainee.”

The above process is legitimate on paper, but the true take-away here should be that such a “replacement” might not be a replacement at all; downsizing is still downsizing, even if your position isn’t the one that is actually cut.

It is worth noting that the sheer volume of layoffs due to COVID-19 does leave some potential for system abuse. Under the cover of a global pandemic, it wouldn’t be unfeasible for a company to sneakily replace older employees with younger talent under the guise of downsizing, and even though the former employees would have a case for age-based discrimination, they might not think to make that case given the obvious context.

If nothing else, this phenomenon is a functional reminder to keep an eye on your workplace after you leave for a trial period–if for no other reason than to ensure that your employer isn’t trying to pull a fast one.

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