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Why Should I Write My Own Blog Posts?

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Consider this …

A real estate agent (lets’ call her Ronella Isabella Fontaine) hears from a fellow office-mate that blogging is the way of the future and decides to start a blog. So, Ronella starts a real estate blog. She posts a few market reports and a couple posts about buying and selling a home in her area.

After 3 months, Ms. Fontaine gets bored and has no interest in maintaining her blog any longer. However, she still wants to be a part of the “way of the future” and has a partial understanding of how blogging could benefit her business. So, instead of writing her own posts, she hires a couple people to write posts FOR her and her blog.

Does this defeat the whole (or part of) the purpose of blogging?

See, I think that an important facet of real estate blogging is allowing the public (the home buying and selling and investing consumers) to get an “inside” look at who YOU are … not only as a real estate agent, but a as a HUMAN. And personally, I LOVE to write blog posts. My blog is me.

But, as anyone who has ever met me would confirm, I am not LIKE many other people out there.

However, most real estate agents are in the business of real estate because they like people/negotiating/seeing their faces on bus benches/wearing polyester/having unpredictable income/whatever. Rarely do people (like Ronella) think,

“Wow. I love writing about real estate stuff and engaging an online audience, maybe I should become a real estate agent.”

So if people, like Ronella, get bored of blogging or do not “have time” to blog for themselves but still want the “benefits” that blogging can bring to the real estate business … is hiring a writer okay?

I am not talking about a guest-blogger or a co-blogger. I am talking about a ghost-writer … someone who writes posts for you, instead of you. If this IS okay, then I want to know…

Why Should I Write My Own Blog Posts?

Mariana is a real estate agent and co-owner of the Wagner iTeam with her husband, Derek. She maintains the Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection Blog and is also a real estate technology trainer and coach. Mariana really enjoys helping real estate agents boost their businesses and increase their productivity through effective use of technology. Outside of real estate, blogging and training, she loves spending time with her husband and 2 sons, reading, re-watching Sci-Fi movies and ... long walks on the beach?

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65 Comments

65 Comments

  1. ines

    July 29, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Maybe she’s boring….and probably better that she doesn’t write! 🙂

    seriously…..I don’t see why you couldn’t have other people writing for your blog, I do have a problem with those other people writing under your name as if they were you. There’s a j’nais c’est qua….we can call it deceiving factor behind it?

  2. Dan Green

    July 29, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Ronella hiring a writer is MORE than okay — it’s essential. Her abandoned blog is less helpful to clients than having no blog at all.

    Disclaimer: I write real estate and mortgage content each day for Bring the Blog members.

  3. Mike Mueller

    July 29, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    M-
    I think Ghost writing – No.

    However I do see your point and perhaps a twice weekly interview would be fine.

    Yesterday I sat down with Mariana and we discussed how to properly price a home to sell. Here’s what she says…

  4. Laurie Manny

    July 29, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    It seems wrong to have other people write your entire blog, especially under your name. Although I haven’t used a ghost writer to date, I can see some benefits to using one to supplement my blog. Community posts, area information, upcoming events would be OK. Template market reports could easily be done by somebody else, its just dropping numbers in.

    The real estate updates? Buyer and Seller information? Advise regarding anything RE related? No Way! That should be pure you.

  5. Todd Carpenter

    July 29, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying content that may be of value to your readers. Where I object is when someone tries to represent it as their content. As if they wrote it.

  6. Larry Yatkowsky

    July 29, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    As evidenced from the previous valid comments, finding a consensus on this question will I think, prove diverse if not impossible.

    But allow me to seek your opinion:

    “Why Should I Write My Own Blog Posts”

  7. The Harriman Team

    July 29, 2008 at 5:30 pm

    As Todd pointed out, buying some valuable content once in a while is OK, especially if it’s content you weren’t aware of or that might be breaking news that no one else has heard before. But, I’m a big believer in self-sufficiency and in doing things myself. If I’m gonna have a blog, I’m gonna write the stuff that goes in it, whether it’s good or bad. If it’s gonna fail, I want to know the responsibility rests with me, and likewise if it thrives. I guess it’s pride of ownership and a sense of accomplishment that makes it worthwhile. My lowly little blog just got a PR2 in the recent update, and I know it’s because of MY hardwork, not somebody else’s. I know that’s nothing compared to some of the heavy hitters, but to me and my newborn blog, it’s a BIG DEAL.

  8. Holli Boyd

    July 29, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    I use other people’s work and credit them but I wrote all the local stuff and local re matters. For example, I use that Reed guy that the KW newsletter sends out cause he knows a whole lot more about mortgages and financing then I do …. unless I am writing about a specific situation (I have a post coming up about down payment programs from my perspective and my experience).

    Just want to say I jumped to a PR of 2 too 🙂 Really made my day!

  9. Matt Kelly

    July 29, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Is it ok if the President has speech writers? The idea is to engage the audience and distribute meaningful content.

    There’s also an element of “writing for the press/media” which is important for some people. I’m not suggesting that everyone hire a spin doctor, insomuchas being able to author content that is meaningful enough for a reporter to pick it up.

    One other thing I’ve done in the past…..I’ve turned blogs into press releases and vise versa and blasted them out through PR Web and 247pressrelease.com. There’s nothing wrong with that is there?

    BTW…I like Dan Greens writing style. It’s not bias or controversial. Just right down the middle facts. For lots of people it’s good, relavant content which mixes nicely with some originally authored ideas.

    Interesting topic.

  10. Matt Stigliano

    July 29, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    I don’t think I would ever have someone write for me, but I guess I can see the value in using some one else’s posts. I don’t think I would do it for local stuff, but perhaps for important general real estate info. Say for instance Jeff X offered me a piece about mortgages…I’d probably jump at the chance as despite only having heard of him in the last few weeks, I like the guy and like what he has to say (and as a side note, have yet to have a lender respond when I asked them what they thought of ratespeed). I in fact, can’t wait for him to write here, cause I feel I’ll learn a lot. If he could disseminate that to my clients or readers, that would be something of value I would be bringing to the table. Of course, I wouldn’t sign his posts with my name either and would make sure the world knew he wrote it.

    It also goes back to the idea of whether or not you should bring personality to your blog which was discussed earlier…since I think you should do it, then it wouldn’t make much sense to have someone else’s personality shine through on my blog.

  11. Drew Meyers

    July 29, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    I really hope I never get to the point where I have someone else write a blog post in my name — that would defeat the purpose of blogging for me. I’ve always said voice and personality are a huge reason I read blogs — without them, there’s no real reason to read a blog when I can go to the main stream media to get my news instead.

  12. Chris Griffith

    July 29, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    I find that the people that read my blog and hire me for handling their real estate have a personality similar to mine or at least understand and appreciate my personality and mannerisms. I wonder if I had a ghost writer if client would feel bait and switched. They “thought” they were getting someone they knew and what showed up was different.

  13. Matthew Rathbun

    July 29, 2008 at 7:39 pm

    I struggle with this when trying to answer the question for students. My typical response is: Marketing about you and your services only works if you believe in it, do it consistently and reflects YOU. The issue with most agents is that they do what works for someone else. If someone hires you about a particular article that you wrote, and then asks you questions about it that you can’t answer… they’ll know that you didn’t write it and now you’ve started a relationship with a known lie, from a client who assumed that since you’re an agent you lie anyways.

    I think it’s problematic and has a simple fix. The blog can be all about “John Smith”, and the articles that are written can be authored by “The John Smith Team”. I think the “team” approach in this instance may have the added benefit of telling the consumer that your group has a philosophy; but perhaps you’re too busy to write it out because you work with clients. Your assistants or team members write your thoughts out as a benefit to consumers.

    That’s one approach…. I happen to ghost write for certain folks, but only on specific issues where the client needs help with ONE issue and usually I only do this if it’s an attorney who has asked for help. Mainly because I am not an attorney and do not directly work for their office. However, I think that any ‘ghost writer’ must insist that the person hiring them to do so, pre-reads and approves post before it’s made public. The “name” on the blog is the one who is ultimately responsible for the content and the liability and accuracy. I am sure that Dan Green is an exceptional writer and very knowledgeable, but there are caveats to Virginia that make us unique in a short-bus kinda way. I wouldn’t want to have those issues / laws violated by a well intentioned writer…

  14. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 29, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    For me, I think authenticity and a sincere interest/passion – comes through in the writings to the reader. Their personality. Their interests. Their expertise. All should come through to the reader. A ghost writer simply doesn’t have the knowledge of the little details (like: whats a good dish at the local restaurant in the area, etc), that give a blog true personality.

  15. Julia

    July 29, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    Writing a blog is not just about providing information to your market, it also offers you opportunity to keep up on what you need to know to keep your professional edge. Where that dividing line is between what has to come directly from you and what you can extract from someone or something else is the age-old question every CEO, large or small, has to deal with. What can you use that will reflect you, not someone else. It takes time, it takes thought, but when you give to others, you’re also getting the benefit. I think readers ultimately know the difference.

  16. Mariana Wagner

    July 29, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Ines – Ronella may have been oring at first, but wait until she had a few Mojitos! (lol!)

    I am all for co-authors and guest authors. This post was intended to get feedback on “bloggers” who do not write their own posts, but hire out that “task” to others who write stuff in their name.

    Dan – Thank you for your insight. I appreciate having supplemental content for a blog for the times when you “can’t think of what to write” or when you are “too busy to write” and especially for the times when you want an article about a facet of the real estate profession that you are not an expert of (ex. I can’t write mortgage articles)
    I see that “bring the Blog even promotes “Heck, you never even have to write at all!” and that is the part that I am addressing with this post.

    When does it stop mattering that the personality of the blog is not that of the agent it represents?

    Mike – I love the idea of an interview. THAT would bring 2 personalities into the mix, and could be VERY engaging.

    Laurie – You make a very valid point: The posts that are more templated, like market reports, COULD be done by someone other than the blog owner, as there (usually) is not a lot of “personality” in those posts to begin with. (However, a market report with attitude would be a great read IMHO.)

  17. ines

    July 29, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    Talking about adding a little “umph” to market reports – here’s an example of what I did to my last market report:

    So if you have some pocket change laying around (like $24,000 worth), remember you will be able to afford a parking space at The Venture in sought after Aventura.

  18. Dan Green

    July 29, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    @Mariana — I agree with your comment and know that the Bring the Blog members who generate the most new business from their blogs are the ones that do add personal content at times and do market their blog with a little bit of hustle.

  19. Mariana Wagner

    July 29, 2008 at 8:44 pm

    Todd – That is partially my point. Is it EVER okay pass something off as yours, when it is not – even if you have permission?

    Larry – I was hoping for varied answers when I wrote this post. Personally, I will always be the author of my own posts (aside from guest/co-bloggers). But, like I mentioned before … that is me. I am curious how other bloggers see the use of ghost-written content.

    Wayne and Pat – I guess I err on the side of agreeing with you on that – at least for myself. I want to know that my success (or failure) is my own. However – that may not be a viable business plan for other agents.

    Holli – Crediting your guest authors (like David Reed) is one thing. But what about having someone just writing content FOR you?

    Matt – Interesting. I never thought about comparing blogging to presidential speech writing. I don’t know if I would compare them, actually. I DO agree that there needs to be a degree of talent and calculation behind blog writing… But,

    If you do not have the time or talent or whatever to maintain a blog and there are a multitude of other way to generate business, then maybe you should just do the “other” things?

  20. Mariana Wagner

    July 29, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Matt S – That is the ultimate dilemma: Do you use a blog to just convey information? Or also as a tool to introduce potential clients to you and who you are?

    Drew – I see “personality” as an important facet of maintaining a blog. It is an introduction to who I am and how i do business.

    Chris – “Bait and switched” is an interesting way to look at a blog that is wholly authored by someone who is not the blog owner. We get a lot of people who “like” us before they meet us. That is because of our blog.

    Matthew – Ah! That is a great point, regardless of whether a post is guest written on ghost written. The blog owner MUST validate the post and make sure it is accurate to their local standards, situations and laws.

    Jennifer – Are the “details” of a blog post what helps make it successful?

    Julia – Yes. Blogging makes me more competent as an agent – just by the simple fact that I do way more research on things than I used to. That, alone, is very valuable.

  21. Mariana Wagner

    July 29, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Ines – niiiice. That is a great addition to a market report.

  22. Rob Hahn

    July 29, 2008 at 11:18 pm

    My take:

    It’s perfectly fine to have a ghostwriter for your blog.

    However…

    If the substance of your posts is something that a ghostwriter can write, then you probably shouldn’t be blogging at all. If the substance is something that a ghostwriter cannot write, then you’re not likely saving much time.

    In other words, if your posts are not chock full o’ expert real estate facts and opinions that establish your bona fides, then they’re just fluff. Sometimes fluff is good, but not all the time. If your ghostwriter knows that much about real estate and your market, you probably should just hire that person to be an agent in your office.

    So for you to display your wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and expertise about all things real estate… you’re going to have to do a significant amount of work — at least having the writer interview you, then turning those words into finely crafted English. That is neither timesaving nor cheap. You may need to compile all the info, write it up, provide direction to the ghostwriter, set forth the general narrative, etc. etc. Well, by the time you’re through with that, you might as well just write the darn thing yourself.

    There is a third possibility: you yourself don’t know much about real estate. In that case, may I suggest spending less time blogging and more time learning about the business?

    This does not apply to specialized knowledge, like law or accounting. In such a case, just send your customer to a law blog or some such.

    -rsh

  23. Laurie Manny

    July 29, 2008 at 11:53 pm

    Mariana, I agree with adding a lil sumptin to the market reports and do when I can, which is why I still write them myself.

    Rob, I couldn’t agree with you more. Bloggers who don’t know enough about real estate and hire ghost bloggers to write are presenting themselves as competent Realtors, which is what the consumer believes they are getting when they work with them. The reality is more than a little scary. If a blogger has to hire a ghost writer because they don’t have the basic knowledge they either should educate themselves in a hurry or get the hell out of the business.

  24. Sean Rafferty, CMPS

    July 30, 2008 at 12:40 am

    nice post + great comments = a change in thinking!

    I’m a BTB client of Dan Green’s and have gotten plenty of good juice from end users (consumers)

    Definitely has added to my sales collateral and helped my “appearance”

    fyi, I’m a very well rounded Mortgage Planner that has taken my knowledge beyond what just Barry & Sue tell me via MMG!

    That being said, I haven’t been plugging BTB for their posts (I copy/paste to Typepad, though I did click the feature in BTB to give credit to BTB… just doesn’t show in the html paste… I’m pinging Dan @ that tonight!)

    I’ve been motivated in the past by Todd C, Brian B, & Mike M’s work to do more (funny enough, if you check my tweets from last night, you’ll see I was working on my blog quite a bit… looking better, but still not up to my standards, just got a plug today on how to make Altos Research widgets smaller – btw, there’s my plug for those still reading this… check out https://altosresearch.com …really good data and some of it’s free for your blog!)

    There you have it… the true confessions of a ghost writer user. Shhh, just don’t comment on my blog and give it away! LOL! Can you imagine that! That’d suck!

  25. Bill Lublin

    July 30, 2008 at 1:19 am

    Marianna;
    You’ve been making the real point all along in this discussion. Whether you add content personally, or purchase content to reprint, the final product will determine what the consumer sees, and therefore how the consumer interacts with the owner of the blog.

    Having a service like Bring the Blog does give you those days off, and still populates the blog with information that may not have been what you would have chosen. Or they might provide you with the start of a blog you generate yourself.

    I don’t disagree with Laurie that you shouldn’t be representing yourself as more educated or experienced then you are, but that may not be the issue of using another writer. It may be time, or it may be a lack of comfort with the writing process. Bottom line is I think you’ll get out what you put in –

  26. first time home buyers loan

    July 30, 2008 at 4:23 am

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  27. Mack in Atlanta

    July 30, 2008 at 6:32 am

    Wouldn’t having someone else write your blog posts be like buying links. It’s just not right. I am not opposed to a guest writer, just passing off someone else’s work as your own.

  28. Mariana

    July 30, 2008 at 7:04 am

    Rob – You bring up some great points… It is almost like a catch 22 no matter how you look at it.

    Bill – I guess this is where the road forks. One one side of the spectrum there are some folks may want a blog purely for SEO reasons and may not care at all if the posts are even read, nor do they care how they are perceived by their audience. Having a full-time ghost-writer could be an excellent option for this person. The other side of the spectrum is the blogger who is wholly engaging, caring more about the conversation than SEO. I guess it is where you fall in the spectrum and WHY you are choosing to blog that will determine how you view ghost-writing.

  29. Mariana

    July 30, 2008 at 7:08 am

    Mack – The interesting part about buying links or having a full-time ghost writer is that both of those are viable ways of doing business …

  30. Mariana

    July 30, 2008 at 9:20 am

    fthbl – What do you think about having a ghost writer for leaving comments?

  31. Dan Green

    July 30, 2008 at 9:30 am

    @ #31 LOL

    @ #29 The only reason to blog is to generate new business — just like anything else in marketing. The difference is that every other type of marketing a “throw-dollars-at-it” solution and blogging is a “spend-time-on-it” solution. Time, of course, is our only inventory as salespeople so there comes a point at which blogging is no longer cost-effective. This is the point that Bill, Todd and others are making.

    Some people generate a lot of new business from their blog(s) and other people generate none. I would argue that the blog as a marketing medium, however, is equally important to both because if you’re not blogging every day, your clients will get their information from somebody that is.

    Real estate markets changes daily and so should your content. And if you don’t have time to blog every day, make like the major newspapers and use third-party sources — ghost writers, Inman news feeds, Bring the Blog or otherwise. The key is to attract eyeballs, keep them, and convert them.

    @ #31 Still LOL

  32. Benn Rosales

    July 30, 2008 at 9:31 am

    I think you have to determine what you’re writing for first:

    a. longtail/seo
    b. demonstrating who you are as a person/expert

    If it’s both then great, you can have ghosts and yourself writing. If it is for local longtail, then it really doesn’t matter so long as what is bring written is tailored for local.

    If you are writing to be a local expert and demonstrating your personal self, then the choice is clear.

    What a lot of people miss is that the copy on a 1.0 site could be tailored to demonstrate your personal side- a blog isn’t always required, but if you intend to rank highly, then the blog is the best option.

    There are so many angles to reaching a consumer, it’s really a matter of defining who and what you want to accomplish, and then planning the shortest route to bliss.

    As for ghost comments, I don’t think it ever mattered to start with. I personally would have a hard time engaging a paid spectator in a meaningful and truthful conversation.

  33. Glenn fm Naples

    July 30, 2008 at 9:40 am

    By writing one’s own material there are some benefits that can be achieved – learning more about the subject matter via research and improving your own personal writing skills.

    A ghost writer used in a manner where the ideas and major points come from the blogger is fine if there is a lack of time available. I do agree with others that the post should be read over and approved prior to going public.

    One item not discussed about writing content is the use of an editor to edit the article.

    Does anyone use an editor to review their articles prior to posting?

  34. Mariana

    July 30, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Dan – “The difference is that every other type of marketing a “throw-dollars-at-it” solution and blogging is a “spend-time-on-it” solution.” You know, that is a good way to look at blogging, too.

    Now, I don’t think you need to blog everyday to have a successful blog. However, I do agree that resources like BTB can help a blogger have a bigger, better, badder blog. (Yes. I like alliteration.)

    Benn – EXACTLY. A blogger needs to figure out their goals and intentions with their blog before they can determine whether or not a ghost writer can be a part of their overall business plan.

    Glenn – An editor would be a great feature. In fact, I would wage a good bet that multiple bloggers would hire a Real Estate Blogging Editor if there was one for hire. Hmmm … DO I smell a business opportunity for someone?

  35. Glenn fm Naples

    July 30, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Mariana – it is not a new concept so there should be an individual that does editting. Just need to find someone that is good. 🙂 Preferably one that has a journalistic editor background. Without the real estate background may have a different perspective more towards the readers/public.

  36. Ben Martin, Va Assn of REALTORS

    July 30, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    A real estate blogging editor!?!?!? Ha! What would happen to the blogger’s personality?

  37. Mariana

    July 30, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Well, I was thinking an editor would be helpful for structure and grammar more than voice and attitude.

  38. Ben Martin, Va Assn of REALTORS

    July 30, 2008 at 1:37 pm

    Oh, the former aren’t really necessary on a real estate blog. 😉

    Seems I helped stir up a hornet’s nest about spelling, felines and grammar on real estate blogs at Inman last week. (sorry for the confusion, Mizzle, I tried to comment in a /snark tag on #37, but WordPress killed it.)

  39. Todd Carpenter

    July 30, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Jessica Sweesey was my editor while I blogged at Inman. I gave her carte blanche to change the wording my posts, fix the grammar & spelling, and change the titles. I would love to have an editor for every post I write. Indeed Mariana, ideas and attitude is all that I care about.

  40. Ruthmarie Hicks

    July 30, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I didn’t have time to read all the comments. I think “canned stuff” that appears EVERYWHERE on the web could harm the blog in the eyes of google. So the “blogger” needs to choose the ghost writer with care. I saw someone on AR saying they would “sell blogs” for a $1.00 a pop…um seriously – how many places has that content appeared? 100? 200? 2000????

    However, I can see where someone might hire someone to supplement their writing. Some people are very, very busy and if writing doesn’t come easily – bringing in a writer would be beneficial provided the owner of the blog is given sufficient input. The owner of the blog needs to think about what will be written in their name…and direct the content in the proper direction. It can’t run on “auto pilot” to be truly personal. This could be expensive, but if the price is too good to be true – it won’t work.

  41. Glenn fm Naples

    July 30, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Ben – I looks like others have defined the difference between a writer and editor.

    Ruthmarie – if someone does use “canned stuff” which some do – it should be limited to a set number of the article (limited) and the ultimate user should still massage the article to make it somewhat unique.

  42. Bob

    July 30, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Ghost written material by itself has little SEO benefit.

  43. Jay Thompson

    July 30, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    “Ghost written material by itself has little SEO benefit.”

    Bob – are you saying Google can tell who is pressing the keys???

    Assuming the content is unique, how can a search engine possibly know if the blogger or a ghost writer wrote the post?

  44. Ben Martin, Va Assn of REALTORS

    July 30, 2008 at 7:03 pm

    @Jay, don’t talk about the Google like that. You’ll only anger it.

  45. Daniel Bates

    July 31, 2008 at 5:03 am

    I am a real estate agent and write my own material. I often have people tell me they love my articles and ask me follow-up questions, so I think that would create an awkward moment if I didn’t write them myself. I honestly think that people that use ghost writers are committing fraud. They’re passing off other peoples thoughts as their own. Now that’s fine for the person who wrote it, because they were well aware and getting paid to do so, but what about the public who may be basing some of their decision to use you on a particular post?

    Fortunately, most of the so called ghost writers in real estate are really just copying and pasting articles from newspapers and other media sources. Unfortunately, I’ve had several of my articles plagiarized and found that when I contacted the agents, they tell me that they had no idea because the articles are written by someone else. The agent/webmaster is still responsible for any content though, so you may want to consider your source if using a ghost writer and the liability they are getting you into.

  46. Brad Nix

    July 31, 2008 at 6:46 am

    I have a real estate blog that is open to many guest writers. My agents at Maxsell use it to brand their personal service, our attorney partners use it to highlight key issues in commercial contracts, and I have local business owner guest write to add the entrepreneurial spirit to the blog. However, I have never had anyone ghost write for my own voice. I think it’s much better to have guest writers add their own unique personalities and ideas to your blog than to fake it yourself.

  47. Jay Valento - Long Beach real estate

    July 31, 2008 at 10:55 am

    If you grow your real estate practice to a team and have a lot of buyers or sellers in escrow, then you hire a transaction coordinator to set in to assist you with your clients.

    Would ghost writing be like hiring an assistant or coordinator? Perhaps you delegate your topics and categories to them to research and write a post that represents your beliefs about real estate….while it does not take up a tremendous amount of time to write a post for a blog, what else could you or someone be doing during that time?

  48. Bob

    July 31, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    No Jay. I’m suggesting that ghost written material usually isn’t compelling or original enough to generate links to it. Publishing content just for the sake of having more content isn’t an effective long term SEO strategy going forward.

  49. Cheryl Allin

    July 31, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I don’t think having a ghost writer for your blog is a smart idea, especially if you’re trying to develop your own ‘voice’ in the marketplace. Basically your blog sells you – but with a ghost, they’re getting someone else’s voice. I can see the need to save time, but that’s where you get an assistant to setup google alerts, surf other blogs, you dictate ideas you have for posts and have your assistant dig up some research…then YOU write the post in your own voice. That’s the best of both worlds IMHO.

  50. Mariana Wagner

    July 31, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    Ruthmarie – I am not talking about canned content or copyright infringement. I am talking about hiring someone to write an original post, or a series of original posts FOR you.

    Daniel – I do not believe that ghost writers and the agents who use them are committing fraud. If there is a legal agreement between the writer and the blogger, I do not see how that could be fraud. However, I do see your point that if a client chooses to work with you based off of an article they thought you wrote, then there may be an issue, if you are not as competent as the person who wrote it.

    Brad – I like this: “I think it’s much better to have guest writers add their own unique personalities and ideas to your blog than to fake it yourself.”

    Jay – I see your point, but TC work is a task (or series of tasks), whereas writing a blog post is WAY more than something that can be delegated to someone who can follow directions well.

    Bob – I guess that makes sense, if the writer is a mediocre writer. But if they are a great writer who understands SEO, then I do not see a difference.

    I guess there really is not a right or wrong way of going about this IMHO. What I am learning through this discussion is that, ultimately, it depends on your initial PURPOSE/GOAL/REASON for blogging. Some people obviously see it as a viable resource for internet lead generation with a side effect of educating consumers. Others see it as a place to converse with and educate an audience of potential clients and referrals, with a side effect of SEO.

    Personally, I find myself near the middle, with a heavy leaning toward the latter. Because of this, I do not see myself ever hiring someone to write FOR me. (But the busier I get, I DO see myself looking for more people to write WITH me.)

  51. Mariana Wagner

    July 31, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Cheryl – I like the “blog assistant” title. I am going to figure out how to fit that into my new business plan. Who’d a thought that THAT would be a job description ever? LOL!

  52. Bob

    July 31, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    But if they are a great writer who understands SEO, then I do not see a difference.

    The on page aspect of SEO is a minor factor.

  53. Ruthmarie Hicks

    July 31, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Right…that’s what I thought. If you have a professional who is VERY busy and they hire a writer to help them “get their ideas out there” I don’t think its a bad thing. This doesn’t come cheaply, but for those who are busy with buyers and sellers, it is well worth the outlay.

    When someone hawks $1.00 a blog – then that can really hurt the blog. How many times have they sold that “content”? Once? Twice, 500, 5000 times????

  54. Jay Thompson

    July 31, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    @Bob (#50) I’ll buy all that…

  55. Rich Jacobson

    July 31, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    I think there may be certain industries or businesses where ghost writing would be acceptable. Real estate, however, has such a strong relational element to it, I personally would find it misleading and disingenuous to my potential clients to convey one thing in my writing and be something else in person. That’s the true beauty of blogging – it removes the mystery dating period between agent and client. When you finally meet, it’s as though they’ve known you for ages, and the comfort level is established much more earlier on in the process.

  56. Mariana Wagner

    July 31, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Rich – You are right. There are some industries where the voice in totally unimportant. I agree that Real Estate is not one of those industries (for the most part). In fact, one of my FAVORITE things about blogging is the phone calls where someone informs me that I AM their agent, based purely off of the blog posts that I have written … and before I have ever even spoken with them. No ghost writer can create that kind of phone call for me.

    Also, I begin to wonder…

    How do you manage your reputation when other people are writing in your stead? At what point do you lose control when you Ghost Ride the Blog?

  57. Jim Gatos

    August 1, 2008 at 6:37 am

    Marianna, when I first came to THIS blog I was on the verge of “chucking” it all in, and killing of the blog…

    After I was “talked” out of it by you guys, I revamped the blog, tried a couple of things, borrowed (with permission) a thing or two from you guys, (especially Jay Thompson, thanks!), and now htp://www.massrealestateguy.com is the result.

    I could never imagine having someone “ghost write” my posts; where would my personality be?

    I don’t want my blog to be boring. The only way I am finding this to shape up is to be more “liberal” with my posts, and to post daily or as often as possible if I have something to say.

    I am now averaging 1 sign up a week in the mls portion of my blog, and I think it’s due to the “BuyWorcesterNow” posts I am making. The informative local posts seem to do the trick..

    I just can’t see someone GhostWriting my posts; it would be a wierd feeling.

    Yes a blog can be a lot of work, but after a while, when it settles, then the post writing becomes easier and hopefully takes a little less time..

  58. Mariana

    August 1, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Jim – You make a great point: “Yes a blog can be a lot of work, but after a while, when it settles, then the post writing becomes easier and hopefully takes a little less time..” Once you get in the groove, it WILL become easier.

  59. Steven Beam

    August 2, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Blogging is a lot of work but learning the process makes writing it easier. I know a lot of local Realtors that use writers for their content pages on the old static websites.

    It isn’t for me. I really enjoy keeping up to date and I can honestly say spending the time to do the market reports on my own has helpped me more than once when on a listing appt. or out at a party and a friend asks me a question about a neighborhood I cover. I can spout information like a pro.

  60. Sue

    August 4, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    I think its important to write your own blogs for the most part because its important to get your personality in there…for interest and to build a bond with readers, hopefully potential clients. I guess I can see hiring someone once in a while to research and pull info together for you and then you can take it put your personality into it. Blogging is alot of work. Statistics gets boring, but I believe its of interest to people. Regarding hiring Ghost writers to leave comments…hmmm that seems kindof tacky to me.

  61. Mariana Wagner

    August 5, 2008 at 8:09 am

    Steven – I can’t even COUNT the times I have been able to spout off a bunch of great information that I learned while blogging. That is an awesome benefit IMHO.

    Sue – (The “comment” comment was just me being a bit snarky at comment #27.)

  62. Jay Thompson

    August 5, 2008 at 8:19 am

    “The “comment” comment was just me being a bit snarky at comment #27”

    Mariana being snarky? I’m shocked, shocked I tell ya! 😉

    Sadly, I see what appears to be “paid for” comments every day. What an absurd practice. Even more so given that most major spam filters snag these comments before they see the light of day. SO people paying someone else to comment is a complete waste of money.

  63. Mariana

    August 5, 2008 at 8:40 am

    Jay – I know … snarky is just so NOT me.

    You know, I would wage a good bet that the people who “pay commenters” do not know they are “paying for [spam] comments” … it is just part of the lovely package that people get when they purchase services from “I-will-get-your-site-to-rank-on-Google” SEO “experts”.

  64. Gordon Baker

    September 6, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    To write an informative blog that has substance you have to do some research. That means stepping outside your comfort zone, learning something new, organizing it and putting it into words. I’ve found that blogging makes me constantly seek more information, and therefore become a better agent.
    It also allows you to show the personal side and connect with your readers.

  65. naks

    March 8, 2009 at 1:48 am

    Well , i know one company who is giving Year hosting and free web designing professional training but to students and professionals only.i am too taking their guidance, they are just charging around $75 that’s all, as to get hosting and guidance for high level designing this cost is too low.
    Weather you an Artist, fashion designer, architect, student etc this is a very good start for your business & projects.make your blog, your website do any thing you want, their experts are always for you.

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Opinion Editorials

There is honor in your job, be proud of that

(EDITORIAL) Regardless of what you are doing to make ends meet, whether you have a degree or not, the work you do matters, has honor, and you should be damn proud.

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honor at work

I was walking my dog the other day and as we were passing a construction site I saw a man in the process of cleaning a Port-A-Potty. My first thought was: “I could never do that.”

As quickly as my gag reflex kicked in, I replaced it with a feeling of respect for the man doing the work. I saw him doing his job and I gave him props because there is honor in work. And, just because I don’t think I could do his job doesn’t mean he shouldn’t feel good about his job.

Just like any employee, he was doing a job he may or may not like or enjoy. And, like any worker his job is providing him with funds to build a life. I don’t know his circumstances, but there is no reason to see him with anything but admiration – if only because so many people may think they are better than, smarter than and more deserving than someone taking on a “dirty job”.

When I was growing up in the Chicago area the steel mills were still open and employed thousands of people – mostly men. Then, the jobs moved overseas, the industry tanked and the mills were left vacant, like ghost towns.

So many workers were let go, including my uncle. He had to start over, but he didn’t let it get him down. He used his knowledge of management, recovered and found another position. Yet, many workers were destroyed when they lost their jobs because they felt unskilled And, at the time, the country was in crisis and there weren’t a lot of other jobs available.

Us kids, we saw the mills and thought, “Why would you want to do that?” It was hot, dirty and dangerous. But, for years those jobs provided steady income and benefits, allowing couples to have homes, build families and live decent lives. Those workers may have had many turn their noses up, but they were proud of what they did, because there was honor in it.

As time moved on, the next generation (X that would be) shied away from manufacturing and the trades. More of us bought into the idea of getting a college degree with the expectation we’d find security and high paying jobs.

ROFL!!!

I’d suggest our view of honor in work has been twisted over time. The idea that doing some types of work elevates a person and makes them superior. Or, as my mom would say, they think “their shit doesn’t stink” but it does.

As much as I believed everyone wanted to be rich and drive a Lambo, it wasn’t and isn’t true. Some folks are happy with the status quo. And, that is Okay. While it is quite a letdown to pursue a degree and then potentially end up in a market where your skills are undervalued, it doesn’t mean the work a person does is any less honorable. The experience of being between a rock and a hard place and surviving is much more honorable, in my mind. It requires a belief in oneself and tenacity. It also provides a great learning experience.

True, once upon a time you could get hired at a company, work there for 40 years and retire. But, no longer. Sometimes folks are required to work two part-time gigs and drive for Lyft or Uber, do Instacart to get by. Some folks love driving for ride services, others do it because there is no other option.

And, that is AOK.

Images perpetuated through movies, ads, social media, etc. have been pretty destructive because IMHO we as a society have this distorted view of what a good life is and what appears to be an honorable way to earn a living.

For young folks today, playing video games or starting a YouTube page with make-up tutorials seems like the way to fame and fortune. For others the stock market and clocking 80-hour weeks still seems rational. While others say, forget that, I’m starting my own business because there is no security.

Let me say: There never was security because things change. Appearances just made it appear as if security actually existed.

All of that aside, whatever you do to make ends meet, whatever work you are doing today and hope to do tomorrow, whether your future holds a Porsche or a Civic – or even a bicycle, whether you want to live in a penthouse or are just happy to have a roof over your head, whatever it is you are doing today to get you where you want to be, there is honor in it. Believe it. And, don’t let anyone else’s IG feed make you feel anything other than proud of who you are.

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Opinion Editorials

Could Facebook’s newest censorship tactic decimate an entire industry?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Facebook’s last line of defense seems to be platform censoring and they’re using it to demolish businesses and advocacy groups.

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censoring mark

In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, proclaimed that Facebook was meant to be a platform for all ideas. This was in response to the public’s theory that Zuckerberg was censoring political posts on Facebook. Even then, it was pretty clear that Facebook was, in fact, censoring by removing pages, profiles, and content related to political posts they saw as misleading or inaccurate.

But recently, Facebook seems to be playing both sides of the fence when it comes to censoring, favoring policies supported by well-known organizations like PETA (People of the Ethical Treatment of Animals), self-proclaimed “animal activists” who claim to focus on 4 main areas related to animals and mistreatment in labs, the food industry, the clothing trade, and the entertainment industry.

Of course, it’s also pretty commonly known that they expand beyond their definition pretty often, frequently attacking the beliefs and practices of some of the best pet owners and wildlife activists out there, like Steve Irwin. In February of 2019, PETA even went so far as to tweet a post on Twitter about how much they think Irwin did both before and during his untimely death.

In more recent news, PETA actually purchased Facebook shares. They did this because they were showing videos on Facebook that were gory, disheartening, and downright sad, which Facebook also censored by requiring a warning before their videos played. PETA obviously didn’t like this, so in a strategic retaliation to end the censoring of them, they bought shares in Facebook. This allowed them to attend shareholder meetings and to ask questions of executives.

This was actually a very clever idea on their part, but it is in no way a new idea. Indeed, they’ve purchased shares from companies like Levi, BooHoo, and Louis Vuitton in the past for similar reasons.

But now, with PETA’s involvement with Facebook, policies that previously went un-policed are quickly becoming top-of-mind for the tech giant. Facebook’s official policies have been notoriously obscure and are only really explained in-depth to Facebook employees or legal entities.

Plus, Facebook doesn’t really have a dedicated customer service team, so even if you found and vaguely understood their policies (again, mostly written in a way only a legal team or Facebook employee would understand) there’s no real avenue to get clarification. More recently though, Facebook posted their policies for all of its users to review.

One big policy that PETA’s involvement looks to be affecting is in relation to animal sales and rehoming. Facebook has had a rule against animal sales and rehoming for many years, but until now, many of its users (breeders, rescuers, and animal advocates included) weren’t aware or fearful of it.

That’s quickly changed over the last few months as Facebook’s vendetta against anyone selling, rehoming, or even reposting content with certain key words that remotely resemble animal sales or rehoming, has continued. Not only is Facebook now taking down pages, groups, profiles, Marketplace listings, and even comments. They’re also rejecting fundraisers, which we’ll talk about more in a few minutes.

Another scary thing they’re doing is putting some power in the hands of the typical Facebook user, in the form of a new content-reporting button, like the one below.

facebok report button

With that, it’s no surprise that legitimate and well-known animal breeders, rescues, and even long-time pages/groups are being affected negatively.

Facebook has historically been an outlet for pet owners, breeders, and rescuers alike, and it makes sense why. Facebook is supposed to be a platform where your friends, peers, enemies, and even “frenemies” come together to create an online community. It’s meant to support both the social and business aspects of a user’s life, but in recent months, it’s certainly not living up those standards. The result: Facebook is quickly being abandoned by users – especially animal lovers and those within the pet space.

Let’s take breeders as an example. Breeders often post animals on Facebook. In the past, they’ve posted photos and pricing. This is something they can no longer do.

Legitimate breeders are usually not too pushy, nor do they typically spam. They don’t usually sell on Facebook directly ether, which is what Facebook strictly prohibits. Instead, they opt for a 3rd party service like Paypal or Square, but that makes no difference to Facebook. Although the animals aren’t being sold on the website, just including a picture and a price are enough for them to take content down. In truth, they’re taking pages down left and right as a direct result of the metaphorical pitchfork they’ve handed users (the “report” button).

Now, not all breeders are good, just like not all taco stands are good, but does that really give Facebook the right to censor you or ultimately close your Facebook account down? I don’t think so, and neither do breeders.

I spoke with Scott Poe of Poe’s Pogonas in Corona, California this week, too. He’s a reputable breeder of high-quality Bearded Dragons (a very popular pet). When asked how Facebook’s policies have affected him, he said “It certainly has made it a little challenging to list Dragons as available for sale…”. He goes on to offer Facebook advice, suggesting that they certify vendors on their site to proactively vet through quality breeders who are looking to improve their niche’s gene pool, and not those who are simply looking to make a quick buck.

We agree that, of course, there are bad breeders out there, but putting a blanket policy over an entire niche of business owners is like prohibiting alcohol – it doesn’t work!

If we were to go a little further into this topic, we’d see that Facebook’s stance on policies is actually likely to deter many other business types that don’t sell exactly what Facebook deems to be “appropriate”. Obviously, this type of practice can have a major impact on those types of businesses.

To drive this point home further, ask yourself this: what if Facebook disagreed with the produce or service you provided. Would you be okay with them taking your page down, one you’ve worked hard at and one with a lot of followers? How would you feel if 3rd party users, who are not even Facebook employees, started reporting you based on their own beliefs?

It’s important to note that Facebook does seem to allow you to post if you are a brick and mortar, so pet stores, you may be safe… for now.

The same logic applies to animal rescuers, except that rescues are most often not for profit. Facebook doesn’t discriminate though, so if you do rescue (even as a person and not a group), they’ll treat you exactly the same way as they do for animal sales-related posts. What we know is that this will absolutely crush any attempts to re-home or adopt out animals in need.

There are a growing number of animals in need of homes, many of which will actually be put down at kill shelters if not adopted within a 3-5 day period, and with Facebook’s policies in place, it has essentially banned helping animals and their advocates through their platform.

To understand more clearly, I reached out to Jeff Stewart, one of the founders of Sunshine’s Shoulders Rescue in Tenaha, Texas, about their experience. He and his wife run a rescue out of their home. Stewart, like most other rescues, rely on donations from a few people to help feed and give care to their rescues, and while they have a vet that works with them on their bills, sometimes it’s not enough.

Stewart goes on to say that he used to do Facebook fundraisers, but there were two issues that forced him to stop. First, Facebook takes a cut of any fundraiser on Facebook, so if you’re donating to a charity, just know that all of those funds are not going to the charity of your choice and are, in reality, lining Facebook’s pockets. The second reason they stopped was due to Facebook’s declining of their fundraisers. Stewart said, “The past 3 times we have tried to have a fundraiser I have gotten a message telling me that it goes against community standards.”

He goes on to say that “the new [Facebook] policy also prevents us from finding adoptive homes for any of our animals through the FB platform.”

Due to the issues they’ve encountered with the platform, Stewart can no longer take in rescues. They’re costs for dog food alone are upwards of $500/month and their vet bills can get pretty extreme, too, reaching more than $2000 a times (even with the negotiated pricing from the vet). And it’s no wonder why they have to stop. Without the support from Facebook patrons, they’re paying for all rescue products and services 100% out of their own pocket.

To clarify though, Facebook’s policies surrounding rehoming are pretty vague. They strictly say no to “live animals”, but they don’t draw any conclusive lines as to what that could mean for a legitimate rescue who has paid their dues (literally) to become an official nonprofit organization. However, because the power now lies in the hands of the Facebook user, discretion seems to be up to them as to what they deem inappropriate.

Playing devil’s advocate here, there are many animals in need of homes as a direct result of a lack of regulation when it comes to pet ownership and breeding. I definitely agree that these things need to be monitored and regulated, but by censoring content for both entities, Facebook appears to be taking a very strong stance that they don’t want to be involved at all with animal-related content unless it’s funny, cute, or meme-worthy.

Finally, it’s important to know that although Facebook seems to want you to learn what you’re doing wrong, they definitely don’t act like they do. When a user is reported, Facebook will let you know. If you disagree with their assessment, you can appeal it. However, again, there’s no way (no easy way, at least) to talk to a real person. Often times the reported post will come back to the poster with some kind of vague warning that doesn’t go into details on what they did wrong. That means that even when your posts are taken down, you may have no idea as to why.

At the end of the day, Facebook does have the right to choose which policies to include and which to enforce, but it’s pretty clear that they don’t really have an understanding of how any of this is impacting their users.

I have one tip for Facebook: I invite you to take another look at your policies (as well as who’s supporting them and what their agenda is), reporting capabilities, and education on restrictions when reported and to consider lifting some of the bans on animal-related posts, groups, pages, and ads. It’s affecting the livelihoods of thousands of breeders and rescuers worldwide, as well as in-need animals that desperately need a home.

Note: The author has years of experience with breeding bearded dragons as well as marketing, and has unique insight into the aforementioned online niche.

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Opinion Editorials

Relax and refresh with our office life movie list

(EDITORIAL) Whether you are considering a new career path or not we have a movie list to pique your interest, and just maybe motivate as much as they entertain.

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Movie projector

It’s a new year! Woot! Maybe you’re feeling in a work funk and are rethinking your goals and future trajectory. Whether you need something to push you in a new direction, motivate you, make you think about where your career is going, or just to entertain, here are 10 movies about work, work ethic and how we can change our career path by just changing our mind.

Top 10 Movies About Work

1. Glengarry Glen Ross: This take on David Mamet’s play is at the top of the list. If you haven’t seen it, where have you been? If you have, it’s a good one to revisit. This ones got it all raw reality, ego, desperation and some surprising plot twists all with an outstanding cast. If you are in sales, don’t miss this. And, Millennials, take note. You will one day be in the same place as those old fogies – aka Boomers. Oh, and, remember, “Coffee is for closers.”

2. His Gal Friday: An oldie and a goodie with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell as an editor and reporter who worked together, married and then divorced. This slapstick movie is great for a peek inside media, especially journalism, because it shows the lengths that reporters and editors will go to in order to get the scoop. The movie has great dialog and is timeless. It also shows how fast things can move, which is still relevant today especially with social media and the life of a news story moves even faster.

3. Up In The Air: A hatchet man learns his job is being tweaked. He will no longer need to fly, and now the tables are turned and he is unhappy with his fate. This movie can be a challenge to watch if you recently lost a job. But, one lesson learned is that work isn’t everything, so live your life.

4. Office Space: A funny take on work and life and the balance between the two. Regardless of where you are employed, there are rules, regulations and office BS that can be on the one hand completely pathetic and on the other so laughable. It’s always better to laugh, rather than cry. Oh, and do not touch the red stapler.

5. Working Girl: Maybe you missed this one because it dates back to the days when shoulder pads ruled the workplace and women still wore nylons. Melanie Griffith portrays a secretary (remember this is before that changed to assistant) who is great at what she does. She’s got goals and dreams to take her career to the next level. But, she’s not taken seriously at the investment firm where she works. Sigourney Weaver is the boss and she will do whatever she needs to stay on top. Griffith has a twist-of-fate meeting with Harrison Ford, another executive and she takes a chance on herself and her future. This movie has big hair, humor and a love story to boot.

6. Good Will Hunting: Ok. This one isn’t necessarily about work. But, I picked it because it’s an example of what can happen when you let your past hold you back and you don’t pursue your dreams. We have Matt Damon (Will) a janitor at a prestigious university and his friend Ben Affleck, a brick layer. Damon portrays a guy with a rough past who is going through the motions until he has to work with a psychologist played by Robin Williams. He’s forced to consider his past and his future. He has a gift but what will he do? His friend, Affleck, wants him to pursue bigger things, but can Damon let go of his past and embrace his gift?

7. The Devil Wears Prada: Ah, the evil queen and the naïve princess. That may seem like a different story, but it is a similar plot line with a triumphant finish. Anne Hathaway portrays Andrea who is fresh out of school and lands a job at a prestigious fashion magazine. The fact that she had never read the magazine and got the job is beyond surprising, but regardless she lands the job and works for Miranda, played by Meryl Streep. Streep’s character is a Diva and a demanding and horrible boss. She challenges Andrea on multiple levels. Will Andrea become a workaholic like her boss? As they say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

8. 9-to-5: Way before the Me Too movement there was Fonda, Parton and Tomlin as three office employees who are sick and tired of their chauvinistic boss, played by Dabney Coleman. The women begin to plot for revenge and take their boss hostage in his home. In the meantime, they begin making changes at the office.

9. The Pursuit of Happyness: If you think your life is rough, maybe reconsider for a moment. This is a story about a man who was determined. He was pushing forward and as much as he was pushing, it seemed that he couldn’t get ahead. But he was resolved in the belief that he could and would make his life better for himself and his son. There is a great quote that says: “The harder I work, the luckier I am.” This movie shows that out.

10. Rocky: This movie made Sylvester Stallone. He wrote it and that my friends is a great story of tenacity too, because before Rocky Stallone was basically a nobody. Rocky is a nobody boxer who gets the chance to take on the reigning champion, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). He busts his ass and does whatever it takes to get the job done. This is a story of endurance, dedication and taking a chance on yourself.

This list is not comprehensive, but we hope you find inspiration, motivation and some laughs too. And, remember, work is not who you are, it’s what you do. Now, go get some popcorn and candy and take a break.

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