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Which blogging format should a real estate agent choose?

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WordPress & Blogger & TypePad, oh my!

So, you have decided to embark into the addictive world of blogging and have been researching the options for where to host your blog site.

After asking about and doing some Google searches you distill your list of options down to (most probably):

Blogger, WordPress, ActiveRain, TypePad and Posterous

Which is the best format for REALTORS?

Well, that depends on your goals and level of technical acumen. I will cover my point of view of the pros and cons for each, but I really hope to use this post as fuel for informative comments that a new blogger can take as sage advice and questions that experienced bloggers can answer.

Blogger:
The service that brought blogging to the everyman. This service (now serviced by Google) was revolutionary for early adopters in 1999 who wanted a quick and easy service to start their blog.

  • Pros: FREE, super to easy to use at any experience level
  • Cons: Not great for branding, limited templates, widgets can be hard to use, support may be difficult

WordPress:
The most popular blog format today, WordPress is open source CMS blogging software.

  • Pros: FREE, lots of template options, widgets and applications are added daily, flexiblity in hosting options (you can start at www.wordpress.com and convert to a self hosted domain with www.wordpress.org later)
  • Cons: longer learning curve

ActiveRain:
A free social network and marketing platform for real estate professionals. This network helps agents to create business relationships both within the industry and with the consumer.

  • Pros: FREE, super easy to learn to use with WSIWYG editing, great feedback from peers
  • Cons: barely customizable, not easily imported to other blog options, limited interaction with general public

TypePad:
Based on Moveable Type, but intended to be minimal in technology experience needed.

  • Pros: Easy to use interface, built in photo album, ability to add scripts, highly customizable if you have the skills.
  • Cons: NOT free: starts at $8.95 per month, few integrated widgets

Posterous:
Boasts integrated and automatic posting to other social media tools such as Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook, a built-in Google Analytics package, and custom themes.

  • Pros: FREE, great for photo blogging or mobile blogging, very easy to use, can push content to a large number of sites including WordPress.
  • Cons: No disqus commenting, limited themes.

There are so many other venues out there that I haven’t covered because I wanted to focus on the ones I hear most discussed, but I am looking forward to hearing your opinion of the options I reviewed as well as others.

photo by Mike Licht on Flickr

Lesley offers 21 years experience in real estate, public speaking and training. Lesley has a degree in communications and was the recipient of an international award for coordinating media in real estate. In the course of her career Lesley has presented at international real estate conferences and state REALTOR associations, hosted a real estate television program, written articles for trade magazines and created marketing and PR plans for many individuals, companies and non-profits.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Duke Long

    June 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    POSTEROUS
    Drag, drop, e-mail and forget it. You are a blogger!!!

  2. Tavia Ritter

    June 18, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    This article was PERFECT timing as I am currently in the process of learning about all of these. The only thing I have to add from my research is that Active Rain DOES allow exposure to the public IF you pay a fee. So, while the ‘members only’ is FREE, the exposure that gets you the powerful SEO-Cred & consumer interaction will cost you. But…it’s a GREAT place to get started, if only for the peer interaction!

    • LesleyLambert

      June 21, 2010 at 11:07 am

      I agree that Active Rain is great for peer to peer advice and interaction. Without an outside blog (paid) I don’t think it works well for reaching clientele.

      • Tavia Ritter

        June 21, 2010 at 11:12 am

        Honestly, I think if they are just starting out in writting a blog to communicate with clients, then they may be doing it for the wrong reason.
        Will they eventually find an audience (or will the audience find you) sure they will. But the more immediate purpose for a begining blogger would be the search engine optimization that a blog can lend in terms of long-tail searches, key word searches that point back to your blog that will ultimatly land the potential consumer on your website as well. (and hopefully, once there, they register and become a client).

  3. Jonathan Benya

    June 18, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Posterous is by far easiest, but really, for a great looking site, there’s no better option than wordpress, IMHO

  4. Lani Rosales

    June 18, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    For SEO and licensing purposes, I don’t believe in someone else (like Posterous) owning your content, but that’s just my one cent 😉

    That said, I have a Posterous for my humor blog because it’s simple and it’s for fun. All of our businesses run on WordPress.org with URLs we host and own. Think rent vs. own.

  5. An Bui, DocuSign Social Media

    June 18, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Lani brings up a good point. However, if the goal of your blog is to drive traffic to your sites, provide context as to who you are / services you provide and you need links…

    Posterous is do-follow. For right now. Posterous is great for a supplemental blog – content you create for link juice to your real blog or site.

    That’s why I love posterous. To riff off Lani – think vacation home vs. primary residence.

  6. Tassia Bezdeka

    June 18, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Generally I recommend our agents head to Blogger just for the ease of use (which has changed since the release of our new agent websites, with built in blog platforms).

    Also, there’s nothing wrong with outsourcing WordPress design, as that’s really where the learning curve hits heavy. As far as the actual blogging goes, it’s a fairly streamlined system.

  7. Fred Romano

    June 18, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    This is really a “no brainer” answer – WordPress is hands down the best blogging software on the planet. I can’t image using anything else, and to be quite frank, I wouldn’t be in business without it!

    Although I am a geek and not the “typical” Realtor, it’s still easy enough for most to get a great design with minimal learning. Of course if you have someone customize your site (like mine) then it will make a huge difference. I do all my own designing because I am anal and like to control every detail 🙂

  8. Sean Dawes

    June 18, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Hands down wordpress has the best capability for a blog platform. Self hosted of course not .com version

    @seandawes

  9. Mike Mueller

    June 19, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Blogger: I was actually a Blogger Blogger before it was Blogger (Pyra Labs) it certainly has it’s limitations. Years ago (pre WP) it was my fav.

    WordPress: Hands down winner all the way! Learning curve? If you can write an email you can use WP. I also like to point out that WP is like the iphone in that if some new wiz bang product comes out they’ll make a widget for WP before anything else. I’d also make a distinction between WP.com and WP.org

    ActiveRain: Not free if you want a public post. (I’m assuming the Agent is grandfathered in) That said – pretty easy to use and somewhat limited as to the widgets you can add.

    TypePad: Had potential but I don’t think there are enough developers and widget makers making things for it anymore? Is it the Treo of blogging platforms? Maybe…

    Posterous: Love it for it’s simplicity and ease of use, marvel at it’s conversion technology (you can upload most anything in any format and it somehow figures it out) – but that’s about all.

    Tumblr: Wait! You left off Tumblr! Never mind…

    : )

  10. Brian Wilson

    June 20, 2010 at 7:42 am

    I think Tumblr is the best. WordPress seemed like I was alway upgrading or adding or deconflicting plugins with themes, etc. It was too much work that took away from just writing.

  11. green titled homes for 55+

    June 21, 2010 at 2:32 am

    Great going I was about to start my blog….So you have solved my problem by explaining the pros and cons of all the blogging format….You have really made my work easy…

    Thanks a lot…

  12. Miami Condo Shop

    June 21, 2010 at 6:49 am

    For newbies, Posterous is the best option. For business purposes, I believe WordPress is the finest platform in the planet and the new version (3.0) was recently released. Most of the bugs (more than 1,000) have been fixed and it is now more streamlined for blogging purposes.

  13. Susie Blackmon

    June 21, 2010 at 11:03 am

    WordPress is my favorite. I love Posterous and use it as a lifestream, although recently I’ve been using it maybe too much for posting things to my Horsealicious blog, while I am transitioning from NC to FL, as my time and focus have been someone limited. I have a Tumblr account too but can’t figure out how to best utillize it, so, it languishes.

  14. Anita Koppens

    June 21, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I vote for all of them speaking from an SEO perspective. Whichever option becomes your most beloved (which is hopefully a WordPress.org blog), use the others to develop and support the domain authority of your primary blogsite.

  15. LesleyLambert

    June 21, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I love Posterous for easy posts, especially photo blogging. I didn’t leave off Tumblr…I probably should have mentioned in the body of the post that I was limiting this post to the most obvious and discussed choices. There are, of course, a ton of others available that I didn’t touch on. It seems that the majority is for WordPress.

    Looking forward to hearing from more of you on this!

  16. Jonathan Washburn

    June 21, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    Lesley,

    Great comprehensive and fair review of all the platforms. At ActiveRain we started accepted our members testimonials about how ActiveRain works for their business about a year ago and so far we have received just about 2,500. I don’t think there is any other blogging platform that competes with that!

    You can see the list here: activerain.com/action/testimonials

    We also created a new area of the site this month where members can show themselves holding commission checks from deals they got from blogging on ActiveRain: activerain.com/success

  17. Pamela Scott

    June 22, 2010 at 5:51 am

    Well, I’m just starting to blog. And its blogger. I see not many people here fancy blogger. But I love it instantly. Anyhow, let time and need shape my future decision toward blogging platform.

    Cheers,
    Pam

  18. PioneerTraining

    September 21, 2012 at 6:04 am

    The post talks about the five reasons why real estate agents are needed. Most useful
    https://www.pioneertraining.org/res-course-providercea-approved-real-estate-course

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Social Media

New Pinterest code of conduct pushes for mindful posting

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media sites have struggled with harmful content, but Pinterest is using their new code of conduct to encourage better, not just reprimands.

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Pinterest icon on phone with 2 notifications, indicating new code of conduct.

It appears that at least one social media site has made a decision on how to move forward with the basis of their platform. Pinterest has created a brand-new code of conduct for their users. Giving them a set of rules to follow which to some may be a little restricting, but I’m not mad about it. In a public statement, they told the world their message:

“We’re on a journey to build a globally inclusive platform where Pinners around the world can discover ideas that feel personalized, relevant, and reflective of who they are.”

The revamp of their system includes 3 separate changes revolving around the rules of the platform. All of them are complete with examples and full sets of rules. The list is summed up as:

  • Pinterest Creator Code
  • Pinterest Comment Moderation Tools
  • Pinterest Creator Fund

For the Creator Code, Pinterest had this to say: “The Creator Code is a mandatory set of guidelines that lives within our product intended to educate and build community around making inclusive and compassionate content”. The rules are as follows:

  • Be Kind
  • Check my Facts
  • Be aware of triggers
  • Practice Inclusion
  • Do no harm

The list of rules provides some details on the pop-up as well, with notes like “make sure content doesn’t insult,” “make sure information is accurate,” etc. The main goal of this ‘agreement’, according to Pinterest, is not to reprimand offending people but to practice a proactive and empowering social environment. Other social websites have been shoe-horned into reprimanding instead of being proactive against abuse, and it has been met with mixed results. Facebook itself is getting a great deal of flack about their new algorithm that picks out individual words and bans people for progressively longer periods without any form of context.

Comment Moderation is a new set of tools that Pinterest is hoping will encourage a more positive experience between users and content creators. It’s just like putting the carrot before the donkey to get him to move the cart.

  • Positivity Reminders
  • Moderation Tools
  • Featured Comments
  • New Spam Prevention Signals

Sticking to the positivity considerations here seems to be the goal. They seem to be focusing on reminding people to be good and encouraging them to stay that way. Again, proactive, not reactive.

The social platform’s last change is to create a Pinterest Creator Fund. Their aim is to provide training, create strategy consulting, and financial support. Pinterest has also stated that they are going to be aiming these funds specifically at underrepresented communities. They even claim to be committing themselves to a quota of 50% of their Creators. While I find this commendable, it also comes off a little heavy handed. I would personally wait to see how they go about this. If they are ignoring good and decent Creators based purely on them being in a represented group, then I would find this a bad use of their time. However, if they are actively going out and looking for underrepresented Creators while still bringing in good Creators that are in represented groups, then I’m all for this.

Being the change you want to see in the world is something I personally feel we should all strive towards. Whether or not you produced positive change depends on your own goals… so on and so forth. In my own opinion, Pinterest and their new code of conduct is creating a better positive experience here and striving to remind people to be better than they were with each post. It’s a bold move and ultimately could be a spectacular outcome. Only time will tell how their creators and users will respond. Best of luck to them.

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Facebook releases Hotline as yet another Clubhouse competitor

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As yet another app emerges to try and take some of Clubhouse’s success, Facebook Hotline adds a slightly more formal video chat component to the game.

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Woman forming hands into heart shape at laptop hosting live video chat, similar to Facebook's new app Hotline

Facebook is at it again and launching its own version of another app. This time, the company has launched Hotline, which looks like a cross between Instagram Live and Clubhouse.

Facebook’s Hotline is the company’s attempt at competing with Clubhouse, the audio-based social media app, which was released on iOS in March 2020. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported Facebook had already begun working on building its own version of the app. Erik Hazzard, who joined Facebook in 2017 after the company acquired his tbh app, is leading the project.

The app was created by the New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, Facebook’s experimental development division, and it’s already in beta testing online. To access it, you can use the web-based application through the platform’s website to join the waitlist and “Host a Show”. However, you will need to sign in using your Twitter account to do so.

Unlike Clubhouse, Hotline lets users also chat through video and not just audio alone. The product is more like a formal Q&A and recording platform. Its features allow people to live stream and hold Q&A sessions with their audiences similar to Instagram Live. And, audience members can ask questions by using text or audio.

Also, what makes Hotline a little more formal than Clubhouse is that it automatically records conversations. According to TechCrunch, hosts receive both a video and audio recording of the event. With a guaranteed recording feature, the Q&A sessions will stray away from the casual vibes of Clubhouse.

The first person to host a Q&A live stream on Hotline is real-estate investor Nick Huber, who is the type of “expert” Facebook is hoping to attract to its platform.

“With Hotline, we’re hoping to understand how interactive, live multimedia Q&As can help people learn from experts in areas like professional skills, just as it helps those experts build their businesses,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “New Product Experimentation has been testing multimedia products like CatchUp, Venue, Collab, and BARS, and we’re encouraged to see the formats continue to help people connect and build community,” the spokesperson added.

According to a Reuters article, the app doesn’t have any audience size limits, hosts can remove questions they don’t want to answer, and Facebook is moderating inappropriate content during its early days.

An app for mobile devices isn’t available yet, but if you want to check it out, you can visit Hotline’s website.

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Brace yourselves: Facebook has re-opened political advertising space

(SOCIAL MEDIA) After a break due to misinformation in the past election, Facebook is once again allowing political advertising slots on their platform – with some caveats.

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Facebook open on phone in a wallet case, open for political advertising again.

After a months-long ban on political ads due to misinformation and other inappropriate behavior following the election in November, Facebook is planning to resume providing space for political advertising.

Starting on Thursday, March 4th, advertisers were able to buy spots for ads that comprise politics, what Facebook categorizes as “social issues”, and other potentially charged topics previously prohibited by the social media platform.

The history of the ban is complicated, and its existence was predicated on a profound distrust between political parties and mainstream news. In the wake of the 2016 election and illicit advertising activity that muddied the proverbial waters, Facebook had what some would view as a clear moral obligation to prevent similar sediment from clouding future elections.

Facebook delivered on that obligation by removing political advertising from their platform prior to Election Day, a decision that would stand fast in the tumultuous months to follow. And, while Facebook did temporarily suspend the ban in Georgia during the senate proceedings, political advertisements nevertheless remained absent from the platform in large until last week.

The removal of the ban does have some accompanying caveats—namely the identification process. Unlike before, advertisers will have to go to great lengths to confirm their identities prior to launching ads. Those ads will most likely also need to come from domestic agencies given Facebook’s diligent removal of foreign and malicious campaigns in the prior years.

The moral debate regarding social media advertising—particularly on Facebook—is a deeply nuanced and divided one. Some argue that, by removing political advertising across the board, Facebook has simply limited access for “good actors” and cleared the way for illegitimate claims.

Facebook’s response to this is simply that they didn’t understand fully the role ads would play in the electoral process, and that allowing those ads back will allow them to learn more going forward.

Either way, political advertising spots are now open on Facebook, and the overall public perception seems controversial enough to warrant keeping an eye on the progression of this decision. It wouldn’t be entirely unexpected for Facebook to revoke access to these advertisements again—or limit further their range and scope—in the coming months and years.

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