Interview with Jim Cronin of The Real Estate Tomato

[photopress:jim_cronin.jpg,full,alignright]This past summer Jim has came out of seemingly nowhere to quickly become a leading voice in teaching agents how they can use blogging technologies to better market their business online.

With a flair for fun (he has a tomato theme after all!), Jim is always entertaining and has become a daily read for many of us in the real estate blogosphere

What inspired you to start blogging?

I have been in the online real estate marketing industry since 2000 and have always made an effort to keep an ear to the ground as to what actually works. I started my first real estate marketing blog in mid 2005 as a platform for a potential book. Two posts in, I lost my drive. Then I started to realize that I was getting the majority of my own news from blogs; baseball, politics, entertainment… it was all being read on independent blogs. Suddenly I felt that without my own blog, I was falling behind when it came to utilizing the internet as a marketing tool. In late June of this year (2006) I jumped in with both feet, determined to be heard. Never looked back. In fact it has so consumed me that I started a business to consult others how to leverage the business blog as the ultimate online marketing tool.

Are there any special topics or issues that you enjoy covering?

I found my topic niche just as I started to gain a consistent audience, or was it the other way around? It has always been my style to educate, and once I had a grip on why I was gaining readership and search engine success, I was compelled to share it. In turn this changed the landscape of the Tomato’s content, and I chose the path of “real estate blogging consultant”. This choice has helped me separate myself from other great real estate bloggers whom I admire so much: Sellsius, FutureOfRealEstateMarketing, RainCityGuide, Bloodhound to name a few. I still enjoy uncovering a new web 2.0 tool, breaking some news, or picking on the bigger media types (read: RISMedia, NAR etc), but I most enjoy delivering an article that examines the real estate blogger’s concern or challenge and (hopefully) provides some solution.

What have you done to personalize your blog?

Every stitch you see on the Tomato was placed there by me. I have considered redesigning it many times, and in fact have done so in Photoshop, but like the emotional letter you write and never send, the effort itself has been satisfaction enough.

[photopress:realestatetomatobannersm_1.jpg,full,alignright]Do you have any favorite posts?

I am proud of all the educational pieces I have done in the ‘blogging advice‘ category, but there are two posts that, for me, stand out more than any others. The first post I ever wrote, on that first failing blog appears in its original form on the Tomato – It’s called Understanding Your Audience. I feel that this is a subject that anyone marketing their business needs to master. This particular article won’t apply forever, but its concept will.

The other post I can’t ignore is titled ePro Is A Tinfoil Badge. This piece my first attempt at “stirring the pot”. The results we fantastic. Half my audience loved it the other half wanted me hanged. I really feel that it represented the catalyst for my success; I was able to engage the audience that agreed with me and those that weren’t so sure.

What are some of your favorite blogs (real estate or otherwise)?

I mention real estate blogs I like all the time, and most of them are probably covered in your interviews… so here are a few personal favorites (non real estate) that I consider the cream of the crop.

Soxaholix. Above and beyond the best sports blog, evah! It is a peak into the Red Sox fan psyche through the dialogue of clipart characters. Hart Brachen (pseudonym, Heart Breaking, get it?) masterfully weaves Boston Red Sox culture and news with pop culture and literary reference into a fabric so entertaining that I actually miss his strip on weekends. In fact it is so good that Yankee fans are actually jealous.

MichelleMalkin. Simple design. Powerful. Attentive. Reactionary. Every political blog should learn from her command. You don’t have to be a republican to recognize her wizardry.

Gizmodo. Gadget Pr0n. ’nuff said.

What tools/websites do you find most helpful in putting together your blog?

iStockPhoto, Wikipedia, Technorati, BlogJet,, Photoshop, Toshiba, Firefox, Jim Beam and Sonos.

How does blogging fit into the overall marketing of your business?

It is everything. 100% of my business has come from my blogging. In fact, blogging has eclipsed what I did for a living from 2000-2006.

What plans do you have to improve your blog over this next year?

Where do I begin?… Let’s just say that the education we deliver will be bigger, better and more comprehensive than ever. In addition, we look forward to showcasing more guest authors that recognize the Tomato as their personal soapbox for expressing their knowledge of embracing technology as an effective marketing tool.

What is the one tool or feature that you wish your site had?

Number one item: Comments email notification. It is ridiculous that TypePad blogging platforms do not offer the “notify me of new comments” functionality with their software. This is nearly a deal breaker. I have been able to ‘work around’ many other TypePad deficiencies (trackback weakness for example) but this one just drives me crazy. Maintaining the conversation that develops in the comments is crucial, and to not offer it as a standard blogging feature is just ridiculous if not stupid.

What do you think real estate blogging will look like 3 years from now?

The unfathomable amount of content that is generated because of this (gold)rush to blog will persist longer than you and I, no doubt… but in 3 years the blog will no longer be the tool that “gets it done”. TheVlog (video blog) will be the most effective marketing platform for real estate. As the internet, television, Xbox, music, etc. merge into one console, and we sit 15 feet from the flat screen with remote in hand, browsing through channels/websites/whatever do you really see us reading? Video will be the most effective form of marketing (it already is, duh), and learning how to embrace it on an independent basis (like the blog) will be crucial to real estate agents in 2010.

Thank you Jim for this interesting insight! 🙂

Want more? Here are the other interviews I’ve done to date:

26 thoughts on “Interview with Jim Cronin of The Real Estate Tomato

  1. Hmm, I don’t think video is going to replace text anytime soon. It’ll be an addition. In addition to writing about real estate in your city, you’ll have pictures and videos, but there will still be either written or spoken text. Note how the internet didn’t replace the written word, just changed the medium.

  2. John, I don’t know that I said it would replace text, as much as my intent was that video is going to be the tool that creates the gap in marketing success. Yesterday the website, today (perhaps) the blog, tomorrow the vlog. My outlook with the convergence of mediums (tv, computer, entertainment etc) is that the skill of embracing video as a personal marketing tool will help you ‘keep up with the jones’ or rather outpace them.

  3. John,

    I think you missed something there… I don’t think Jim is saying that video will replace writing, just that it will be a more efficient form of online real estate marketing into the future. In other words, the bloggers who are able to grab the most attention in the future will be the ones who can effectively wield a camcorder! 🙂

    I’m not 100% sure I agree, but I think it is a compelling idea, especially since some of my favorite (non-real estate) bloggers are already doing video.

  4. Jim,

    I only say I’m not convinced because I think community building via video is a lot harder than writing. One of the reasons I think blogs works is the extensive quoting and linking between influences. While this can be done in video, it is definitely beyond the technology scope of the typical agents (hell, it is beyond my technology scope!). That doesn’t mean that a few real estate agents won’t take it up over the next few years, I just can’t picture (yet!) how a community is going to build up around this technology in the same way as blogging.

    To give an example, the Turn Here videos are great, but I’m not seeing a community build up around these videos yet…

  5. D-

    Fantastic point.

    I see that the demand for video (through convergence) will create a need for a platform to make it easy enough for business professionals to embrace. Just like blogging makes it “easy” for us all to be web publishers (something unfathomable to your avergage web designer 5 years ago) we will be embracing video as a marketing medium online in no time.
    So, to address your point about the community aspect that supports blogging success, perhaps it is we bloggers of today that forge the community and need to embrace the video as well to stay on top.
    I just can’t ignore that reading will wane as we learn to sit further and further from the screen, with remote in hand.

  6. Great interview Jim and Dustin.

    The whole vlog thing is an exciting idea to me and I can see it taking hold in a very big way. Most new technologies can be mind boggling at first and then they become amazingly simple with a little time. Video, and software which supports it will be no different.

  7. If video ever does replace text, I am going to be one hated blogger if there is no transcript along with the videos since I am nearly deaf. I imagine there is going to be some lawsuits on the way if we don’t somehow find a way to accomodate both the blind and deaf and allow them the same access that we allow others. Just ask the Washington Redskins 🙂

  8. Derek,

    You bring up a really interesting point and something that the mapping team at Move has discussed extensively. Unlike the typical home search, a pure “map-based” search does not work very well (if at all!) for the blind.

  9. I would love to read a longer post on how to connect with deaf and hard-of-hearing clients using newer forms of media like video/audio. Optional scripted subtitles? I’m in.

    I agree with Jim. Video is where we’re heading, although without a great concept and script, the real estate videos suck. Some of the ones I’ve seen so far are just talking heads. So John, yes, there will always be a place for those who can write.

    Video by itself needs a narrative trajectory, structure, dialogue, a beat, rythm, motion because they are one-directional. Inform me, entertain me.

    Blogs are taking off because they are multi-faceted, interactive, and can be used as a teaching tool. Someone puts out an opinion, others respond and share more ideas.

    How about a hybrid video blog. Text AND a simple video commentary.

  10. That is interesting about the potential of vlogs…although I hope that the viewer will be able to control the video’s speed and the flow of information in ways that make sense. When I am reading text, I often “scan” the words to see if the content is interesting enough to focus on, and I would hate to have to wait and watch an entire video only to find out that it had little interesting content, or was badly executed. I also like the flexiblility to “jump around” the post and comments.

    Posts that are “mixed media” including vlogs I think would add texture to them if well done.

    As a side note, I very much dislike looking at “virual tour” videos for listings because the time for the uploading….then having to watch them…sometimes it feels like you are a hostage to poor production!

  11. Pingback: Interview with Rudy and Joe of the Sellsius Blog | Rain City Guide | A Seattle Real Estate Blog...

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