When I hit submit on our Hello World post 4 years ago, I had no idea what I was embarking on… but what a fun journey it’s been. You’ll have given me so many chance to test out different tools, meet so many interesting people and take part in so many fabulous discussions. Thank you!
This year, I want to continue the tradition by saying thanks to all of you that make RCG possible! You’all rock! 😉
And just to give you an idea of how RCG continues to rock the real estate world, I’ll end this post with a chart showing RCG’s growth since Feb ’06 (when I first started using Google Analytics). While the growth is no longer “exponential”, I don’t feel like I’m going out on a limb when I say there is no other local blog written by real estate professionals that generates nearly this much traffic! Interesting, traffic to the site continues to grow and last month we broke the broke the 100K PV benchmark for the first time! Obviously, none of this would be possible without so many awesome contributors and such an active real estate community in Seattle!
Just a quick update on some things I’ve been doing to the RCG site. First off, I want to thank everyone for their feedback on the Facebook Connect tool.
Thanks to your feedback, I cleaned up a number of issues (like the way that the avatars showed up within comments and the way profile information was displayed on people’s new profile page. To see an example of a new profile page for Facebook members, simply click on anyone’s photo who shows up under the “Last Visitors” section.
In addition, I recently added a few Rain Drop Ads to the sidepanel of RCG, so I really want to thank both Craig Blackmon and Western Van and Storage for stepping up the plate early on. I have a few more people who are showing interest in putting up Rain Drop ads, so I expect you’ll see even more in the near future.
Also, in a recent video, I mentioned at one point that I have a foot fetish and that I’ve been looking to make the footer of RCG more interesting. Along those lines, I just moved the Similar Posts and Recent Posts sections to the footer as well as added a new section, “On this Day,” that brings back to life RCG posts from the past.
You can see this feature below the comment section of any post on the site, including this one!
It should be no surprise I have a bunch more stuff planned, but that’s all the announcments for now… As always, if there’s something you’d like to see on RCG, please just let me know!
Redfin‘s been through so many business models over the years, I can completely understand why some folks would think that Redfin is entering a new area by working with real estate agents, but I can’t help remind folks that this is a business model that they’ve tried in the past… and it failed miserably the first time.
However, the Redfin evolution when Glenn Kelman took the helm of Redfin in Sept ’05. From this article Galen published in Jan ’06, Glenn Kelman is being quoted talking about Redfin’s referral busines to agents saying:
“How do we make money now? People sign up for a real estate agent… The real estate agent and Redfin share the fruits of that.”
I SOOO wish I had a screenshot of Anna’s profile she had on the Redfin site back in early ’05 because the content on the page would be shockingly similar to the current agent profiles. I can’t remember exactly what the profiles looked like, but I’m almost positive they listed the agent’s recent transactions and had consumer reviews (I vaguely even remember a star system for the agents).
I honestly wish no ill will on the Redfin folks and wish them the best in their latest endeavor. It’s just that the blogger in me can’t believe so many folks are letting them get away with saying they are doing something new. About the only thing I see new with this program is that they are charging a 30% referral fee instead of the 20% they used to charge to agents back when Anna took part in ’05.
If you’re been to RCG recently, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that I added Facebook Connect to the sidepanel. I really want to invite you all to use this feature, so I thought I’d let you know why I added it:
I’m a Facebook addict, love the service, and enjoy connecting with others. I’m thinking there’s at least a few other RCG community members who would enjoy connecting via the service
I’ve been looking for a way to give a “carrot” to folks who properly identify themselves when they leave comments. I don’t want to “punish” anonymous commenters, I just want to give a bonus to those who aren’t anonymous.
The carrot we’re now offering is two-fold:
Your comment will bypass almost all of the moderation filters that occasionally slow down a comment from showing up immediately on the site.
Your profile link will be of the “dofollow” variety.
For most of the folks in the RCG community, I’m positive you’re here because you love the conversation and could care less about the positive link luv RCG can give you. Nonetheless, if you’re willing to identify yourself with your “real” identity, then these two things are just two small carrots we’re now offering…
So, please consider taking advantage by clicking on the “Connect with Facebook” button to the right and follow the simple instructions. As a bonus, after you “connect”, you’ll be able to update your profile on RCG with a few additional fields that will make it easier than ever to connect with others from the RCG community.
And finally, I launched FB Connect on the site despite the fact that I’m not 100% happy with it yet. Here are some problems I’ve found and/or things I’m working on:
FB Connect plays funny (or doesn’t play at all!) with early versions of Internet Explorer, (especially IE 6.0 and below). This might sound harsh, but my solution is to beg for you to get and use Firefox (or even Chrome), but if you’re not willing to do that, at least get the latest version of IE
The feature that let’s you “add your comment to your Facebook feed” was giving some folks some problems, so I disabled it. I really like the idea of this feature, so I’ll work on troubleshooting exactly what was causing problems, although I think it had something to do with old versions of IE (see previous comment!).
I really want the avatar that shows up next to users to default to the “gravatar” instead of the FB avatar. My thought here is that many folks have a “fun” avatar on Facebook, but might prefer to have a more consistent avatar on a business site like RCG. I spent some time trying to get this work and while I made some progress, it’s still not working well enough for me to feel comfortable launching… but hopefully soon.
I have a feeling there’s going to be lots more to come in terms of taking advantage of Facebook tools within RCG in the future. Hopefully, you’ll play along and if there is something that doesn’t appear to be working right or a feature you’d like to see, please let me know!
Crossroads is at 156th Ave. NE and NE 8th Street in Bellevue
We likely will be at the street entrance end of the Food Court, where there are all tables and no food booths. We will have RCG signs on the tables in the area.
I put (behind 1/2 Price Books) as it is easier to see that from the parking lot, then to describe the exterior entrance to the Food Court area to the left of 1/2 Price Books.
If you are in the Food Court and looking for us, just call my cell 206-910-1000.
If anyone has been to a MeetUp and has any advice for us, that would be great. I know Redfin and Seattle Bubble have had them and they just hang out together and people find them. I expect we will talk about just about anything loan, real estate and anything else related. Blogging. Whatever. I expect if anyone NOT RCG has a topic, their topic gets preference. If no one suggests a topic, I’m sure even if it is just Rhonda, Jillayne, Robbie, Craig and me plus a few agents, we’l have plenty to talk about 🙂
Originally authored by Steve Smith, this plugin detects all ways to access your original WordPress feeds and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber. By FeedBurner.
Sends email notification of posts pending review. By iDope.
With the exception of just one plugin that will remain nameless for now, that’s the full list. If you have any questions about why or how I use any of the plugins, feel free to ask away!
I JUST realized I also forgot to mention the “new” RCG search box. I added a Google custom search box that searches not just RCG, but contributor websites and blogs as well. It’s pretty slick and I was even able to integrate it with the site so that the search shows up on right on the page.
We’re planning a Rain City Guide “Meet Up” at Crossroads in Bellevue on February 4th at 6:30 p.m.
I know Rhonda, Jillayne and I will be there. Possibly Robbie and/or Galen, and others from RCG.
Pretty informal, as most “MeetUps” are. No pre-planned “agenda” unless someone wants to submit a few topics they would like covered.
I picked Crossroads vs. “a pub”, as I don’t like to encourage drinking and driving. It will be in the food court area, so people coming from work can grab a bite to eat.
Hope you can make it, and we will post a reminder the day before or day of “the event”. Anyone from RCG who is planning to attend should send me an email. It would be nice if readers could RSVP in the comments here, so I could “reserve” tables as needed, but RSVP is not required.
We’ve never done one of these before (or I haven’t) so if anyone has any suggestions based on their previous experience at “MeetUps”, advices would be much appreciated.
I love this comment posted by David Losh over on Seattle Bubble. I decided to give it it’s own post before it faded away into oblivion. 🙂
“If you do come to the internet for information about a home purchase or sale you are in the wrong place. This site (Seattle Bubble) has excellent financial crisis dialog, but is very short on Real Estate information. It does provide much more information than a Ruin Sity Gaide, but still this is just entertainment. The internet Real Estate sales business model is a very long way off if it will ever be viable. radfun hired the expodia.com sales person to push the Real Estate sales agenda on line. Sellers with problems flock to the online Real Estate sites along with the week end warrior home shoppers. It’s a mish mash of confusion that radfun happily collects fees for. In time it will be obvious this was just a continuation of a problem rather than a solution. Be very careful of what you think you will learn about Real Estate online. These are sales people looking to collect your money for doing nothing, that’s the business model.”
So, it finally happened. After a few years of the same theme, I gave RCG a new look last night.
There are more than a few changes to the site, but the one that will probably stick out the most are:
New theme. I based it on the Andreas theme by Andreas Viklund. It’s the same theme I’m using on 4realz.net, although I modified it a bit before launching it on 4realz and even more modifications before launching it on RCG.
New header graphic. I switched out the photos. As part of the process, some of the contributors gave me some photos to use. Deborah Burns was extremely helpful and sent me dozens of photos of which I used both the farmers market and the space needle.
Updated the color scheme! (If you’re curious, I based the color pattern on color combo 220)
Author mini-bio at the bottom of ever post. I replaced the one photo that was at the top of every post with a “About the author” section at the bottom of each post. Not only will this make it easier than ever to learn more about the RCG contributors, but it will also mean we won’t have the funny formatting issues that sometimes came with having a photo at the top-right of ever post.
Page navigation. By moving the page navigation from tabs at the top to the left side, we’ll be able to do a bunch more with page navigation in the near future on the site.
I’m sure there’s even more, but I just wanted to pop off a quick note to get everyone up to speed.
Interestingly, in the process of looking at photos for the new theme, I came across this screenshot of the original RCG site (back when we had only 2 posts!). My how times have changed! 😉
Rain City Guide's original theme
Just realized I should have added that if you have feedback of any kind, especially if something is not working as you’d expect it to work, I’d definitely appreciate hearing about it!