Revolutionize Your Business in Only 3 Days with Blogging!

Maybe I’m becoming a blog snob, but I’m seeing more and more BAD marketing advice about blogs as they relate to real estate agents. A lot of people simply don’t understand the marketing potential of blogs and rather than giving useful advice, a lot of marketing “gurus” are stepping up to deliver advice designed to keep them in business. A good real estate blog is extremely cheap and costs much more in time than money. If someone is trying to sell you a blogging service that replaces time with money, they are likely trying to sell you a website with blog-like features. If your goal is to increase your presence on the web, then a website with blog-like features will get you about the same benefits of a typical website except you’ll end up with all the formatting restrictions inherent in a blog.

What got me started thinking about bad marketing (at least today) was when I read a comment on my 8 Mistakes article from an internet marketing expert who completely misses the marketing potential of blogs:

Some of the things this blogger wrote about were insightful and probably very appropriate guidelines for creating a typical blog. But on the other hand, there were a couple points that I just couldn’t look past:

* Don’t put your real estate listings on your blog
* Don’t “spam” your own blog with self promotion

Now, I’ve experienced a good deal of success in the real estate marketing business by executing a blog strategy that is not focused on being a “typical blog”. I’m not terribly concerned with creating a forum for discussion about Chicago real estate, nor am I terribly concerned with generating a loyal readership who will return to my site over and over.

If you keep reading his post, you’ll notice that the writer goes on to say that many people want to see homes when they search the internet for real estate information. He is right on that point, which would help explain the current bubble in new home search tools. However, even if people do want to look for homes on the internet, designing a blog around this is missing out on a large slice of potential home buyers who are looking to learn about neighborhoods, find appropriate real estate professionals, and research home-purchase advice.

However, the real kicker is that while there are some great ways to display a home listing on the internet, a blog entry is not one of them. Compared with the stuff you can do with a simple website creation tool like Microsoft Frontpage, let alone more advanced website creation tools, a blog post is down-right ugly. Blog posts are really geared toward text and they simply have limited graphic capabilities (while my blog software is top-notch, I have to dive into HTML code just to change the color or size of the font within the post!)

The author mentions the great success he’s had blogging about home listings. But does this typical listing on his blog come anywhere close to comparing to this beautiful listing that Joe put together? If your aim is to advertise a listing, then a webpage (or an entire website for that matter) is a much better way to accomplish this task than a blog entry!

However, I suspect that the author (who consults as an internet marketing expert) is under the assumption that because the home listing is in a “blog”, there is some type of search engine optimization benefit over a standard website. Not only that, but I’ve heard this logic said enough that I suspect this notion is prevalent in the real estate community (i.e. blogs show up better than websites in search results!). But this is a myth. Search engines do not even try to tell the difference between a blog and a typical website (after all, they both just appear to be a collection of HTML code to a search engine).

The REASON blogs tend to perform better in search engine results than typical webpages is a direct result of the community that has created them. When done right, a community of bloggers share links with each other and not just any links, but deep links associated with quality content. To create a blog without the intention of creating community (or loyal readers for that matter) is to completely misunderstand the marketing potential of blogs.

I also believe the authenticity of the author when he says that he has had success marketing homes through his blog. However, I think the success has a lot more to do with the fact that the author has created a community around providing interesting advice for buyers despite his lack of care for these readers. When I said it was a mistake to put listing information on a blog, this is because there are better ways to display listings than in a blog post and too much self-promotion inhibits creating a community.

I actually remember noticing, and then unsubscribing, to the author’s blog a long time ago because of all the self-promotional stuff. Interestingly, I would never have even found out about his post or linked to him had he not linked to me! By linking to me and taking part in the larger real estate blogging community, he has earned some backlinks to his site that will help him score better in search engines! A blog without community is simply a website that is organized chronologically and will be treated as such by the search engines.

If you want to see this bad idea taken a step further, check Ubertor’s latest product where they sell a self-updating blog of featured listings. What could possibly be the benefit of a blog (with all it’s ugly formatting restrictions) if it is self-updating? If an agent doesn’t think it is worth their time to select a few featured listings for their blog, do they really think it will be worth anyone’s time to read it? Let alone comment and link to these posts? Sometimes understanding whether or not an idea is a good marketing strategy takes little more than common sense.

Talking about common sense marketing… In putting together this post, I came across this great video featuring Seth Godin where he discusses with Google employees how much of their amazing success is related to how they have marketed their products (Thank you Grow-a-Brain!). The 48 minute video is so darn instructive for understanding how marketing should be done (and I believe that real estate agents are either in marketing or broke) that I’m going to experiment with including the video below so you can watch it directly from this site:

38 thoughts on “Revolutionize Your Business in Only 3 Days with Blogging!

  1. Pingback: Real Estate Technology

  2. Well done Dustin. This may be the best post yet.

    On my blog I focus on being a resource for buyers and sellers and keep the self-promotion down to a minimum. Naturally, my listing focused site is linked on the blog and on the navbar. The way I look at it, when buyers in the Boulder Colorado are ready to look at property, I want to be there for them. In the meantime, there is a lot of research to do and I can help.

    Since I live and breathe the market and have *some* analytical skills, I feel like I’m in a great position to add value for prospective clients. And with this strategy, in the few months I’ve been blogging, I’ve noticed an uptick in my regular website traffic as well as the blog.

    It’s turning into a nice win-win.

    p.s. I *will* be linking/posting to this entry.

  3. How do you link and “deep link” and trackback? It seems these are required tools of blogging. I can add a link on the sidebar in my blog, but I don’t know how to put a link into the post like you do. You say “my blog” and that is hyperlinked to the blog. Can we have some “how to’s” or maybe there is an old post here your can point to that gives some instruction.

  4. Ardell,

    Back when I started learning HTML, I used to read the WebMonkey religiously (7 or 8 years ago) every time I had a question like “how to link” or how do I change colors with HTML. Looking over the webmonkey site again, it looks like it still have lots of good information on basic HTML type stuff and if you want lots of detail, that would be a good resources.

    However, there is an easier answer to your question because the blogging software on RCG makes it really easy. To link to another page:

    1) Go to the page you want to link to and copy the URL. (It will look something like: “”.)

    2) Return to the post you are writing.

    3) Highlight the text you want to link to

    4) Click on the button that looks like a chain (or “link”).

    5) This will bring up a pop-up menu where you can paste the website URL you copied in step 1.

    Once you get used to this, I think you’ll find it is so easy you won’t think of it as five step! It will all kind of melt into one linking step!

  5. I think too many realtors want a successful web site without the work involved. (Don’t we all?) They seem to think that all you need is to buy a site from iHouse or Superlative, pay them the $X/month to host, and the traffic & leads will be coming in. Perhaps that worked in 1996 when nearly nobody was on the internet yet, but getting noticed on the net is a lot harder now.

    To quote Lombardi = “The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.” Kudos to Dustin, for telling to world that time & passion are the true keys to getting noticed on the net.

  6. I think you have misinterpreted what I was getting at in my post.

    There are a lot of people who come to my Chicago real estate web site to find lots of content about great neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, or Chicago’s Gold Coast, and more recently, about a single high rise condo development along Lake Shore Drive, called Lake Point Tower. There is a lot of information on my web site about cultural events, places to go, things to do and see – but I’m not a Chicago tour guide. I am a Realtor. I help people buy and sell property.

    With that said, the most important function of my web site (I plainly, honestly tell everyone that it is not a “traditional blog”) for people who find me on the web, is to provide the single thing they want most – to look at properties.

    People can read Rain City, or Tim O’Keefe’s Houseblogger, or many other web sites for great content, but that doesn’t get the job done in and of itself. In my opinion, if any Realtor is going to be successful in using their web site as a business tool rather than a general reader resource, the only way to do that is to direct users to the MLS listings, and attempt to capture an email address and phone number as part of the MLS registration process.

    If people find my web site to be a great source of information about Chicago, great! But what I really want to know is what kind of house they want to buy, and how I can help them acheive their goals.

    But, you can still find out about things like where to find great Chicago hot dogs, whether or not the new Wrigley Field bleachers will be finished in time for opening day, and all sorts of things Chicago.

    But you can also find spectacular photos and video tours of great Chicago high rise condos, and you can search the Chicago Multiple Listing Service.

    What’s wrong with that?

    We can agree or agree to disagree, but let’s be nice and fair about it.

  7. Robbie:

    You are so right – it takes HUGE amounts of time to maintain a site that is timely, regularly updated, and has content – no matter if that content is about real estate listings, or whether or not the Cubs will play the Sox in the world series, or any other topic.

    I’m fortunate – I work with my wife, and a couple of other team members. So I focus on what I do best – get people to call us and email us asking for help buying and selling real estate. The way I do that is through the web, and it’s easily a 40 hour a week job.

    “Build it and they will come” is a joke, and any Realtor who isn’t ready to work 15-20 hours a week on building their web presence and web marketing strategy is working toward an early retirement from the business.

  8. David,

    I hadn’t realized I was being unfair. And for the most part, I agree with your entire comment and if I sound like I have some “inside” knowledge about what works on a real estate blog, I’d be fooling both myself and the readers. Real estate blogging, and business blogging in general, are still pretty darn new, and yet, I’m of the opinion that blogging is perfectly suited to benefit real estate professionals, if they treat it with the proper respect.

    If you watch the video within the post, you’ll see that Seth makes a huge deal out of “permission marketing” where you are able to market a new product to your “base” because you’ve built up enough trust with them based on your previous products.

    You’ve obviously built up enough “trust” with your readership that throwing an ad for a new listing works for you. And I really have nothing against that! If it works for you… Go for it!

    But I think the reason it works for you is because of the crucial first step you’ve done of building up a level of trust with your readers. I see so many agents skip the “be interesting” step and go right to the “featured listings” step on their blog, and I just can’t imagine a successful outcome from that strategy.

  9. Dustin,

    I was formulating a post like this, but I will leave it in the hopper. You did such a great job with explaining the difference between why blog taking is never successful, blog love is the only way to make it work.

    I think realtors spend so much time feeling the intense competition that is being a real estate professional today, that the concept of blogging is hard to understand.

    As Dave Winer the Godfather of Blogging has said so well, to have a successful blog you have to send your readers AWAY every chance you get.

    It is the Gods honest truth.

  10. Dustin, Tom, and Everyone,

    Let me clarify one or two more points, so that we all get where I am coming from and my main theses:

    1. I love blogs – true blogs that talk a lot about all sorts of different subjects – politics, culture, real estate marketing, or any other subject I am interested in. I am a believer in the blog concept, and the blog community.

    2. Don’t confuse my efforts as a “real estate internet marketing blogger” and my efforts at selling Chicago real estate. They are two totally different, separate approaches to using a web site to drive business. Both work.

    My Realtor internet marketing blog is a true blog – it’s opinion, commentary, “what’s new”, etc, etc. I’d love to have a great conversation and about the subject, and I’m not so interested in anyone signing up for anything or providing me with an email address to view that site’s content – it’s more of a credibility building tool and a way to become an opinion leader in the field.

    But the Realtor web site is a totally different animal. It is NOT a blog at all if you consider the traditional blog concept. I don’t think I have a single comment on the site, nor any trackbacks, and I’m not really interested in havng any. In fact, I think I’ll go into my templates some time in the near future and remove the ability to comment and view trackbacks. It is blatantly promotional, as it needs to be for me to acheive my overriding goal – providing the ability to search the Chicago MLS for free.

    Having people search for real estate through my site is the single most important goal I have. It just so happens that I use blogging software to get that job done. Blogging software is superbly designed for every level of internet user out there – if you can type, you can publish a web site that has wonderful internal linking structures, includes the capability to use RSS out-of-the-box, and has a ton of third party tools available at your disposal. And to top it all off, a lot of these services are either free or extremely inexepensive.

    How could anyone find fault with that?

    The alternatives for a Realtor are to go sign up with iHouse or Z57, or Alamode, and in my opinion, those aren’t very good alternatives.

    Thanks for the backlinks, though, even if they are “nofollow”. I’m happy to reciprocate.

  11. pcdoc:

    Thanks for the head’s up… That’s an interesting message board. I ran across the site a while back, but I don’t remember seeing such a high quantity of good information.

  12. Excellent post Dustin!

    I was all geared up to write a post on Realty Blogging specifically about your reference to a community of bloggers because it ties in very nicely with Blogging Systems community publisher. Though, I should ask, what do you mean by ‘community’?
    “The REASON blogs tend to perform better in search engine results than typical webpages is a direct result of the community that has created them. When done right, a community of bloggers share links with each other and not just any links, but deep links associated with quality content. To create a blog without the intention of creating community (or loyal readers for that matter) is to completely misunderstand the marketing potential of blogs.”
    Are you referring to a community blog network, such as Blogging Systems provides, or an affinity-based community that is knit together via common interests?

  13. What is a community?

    Great question… I’m not sure I know the answer to that question, although it does remind me of a post I just read I Can’t Define Pornography, But I Know it When I Squint at it. The author of that post is definitely in my “community” because I know and like the guy offline as well as online. When talking about community in this post, I was definitely envisioning something much closer to the latter example you gave “an affinity-based community that is knit together via common interests?”

    But your blogging network you are creating is also a community… A online community is created when people have a place where they feel like they not only have an interest in the overall dialog, but they also want to take part in the conversation. In other words, I may not be able to define it well, but I know it when I see it because it interests me!

  14. Thanks Dustin. Just wanted to be sure because I didn’t want to leave readers with the assumption that the way you were using the term and the way I was using it was the same, if in fact, it was different.

    The community blog network I was referring to is separate from the network of blogging evangelists we’re creating at Realty Blogging. In effect, I was talking about a community blog platform. An online hyperlocal community “newspaper” like blog hosted by realtors. The content of which is generally contributed by about 10 members of the local community. Community organizations frequently post about local news, events and information, creating a great deal of community interaction and amiably marketing the host.
    It’s a pretty cool tool for realtors looking to market their busniess and connect with their community…without having to show all of their listings!

  15. Interesting comments and ideas throughout, I am getting brain overload.

    I don’t know too much about SEO but, I would guess that blogs do well compared to websites because blogs are not loaded with html and other code the way websites are. Thus, keyword ratios are better on blogs.

    Just my 2 cents worth!

    Have a great evening,

  16. Mark,

    Thanks for following up… While potentially overloading you with even more information, you made me think of two interesting follow up points…

    1) There’s no need for SEO with a blog. No kidding. At its most basic level, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a way to trick search engines into believing that bad content is valuable. I’ve never done any traditional SEO with this site and we rank really well with Google. We’ve got lots of good real estate content on this site and so there is no need to “trick” the search engines into believing that we do. Put another way, if you provide the highest quality content on a particular issue, then Google does their best to send traffic your way. So you can either feed the search engines crap (bad content) and try to trick them into believing that you are offering something valuable (this normally involves lots of money buying links), or you can feed them good food (quality content) and they will love you for it!

    2) This blog has a huge amount of HTML code behind it, (more than Anna’s original website), so it is definitely not an absence of HTML code. But this does lead to an interesting tip-of-the-day. Did you know that you can right-click and select “View Page Source” (“option-click” on a Mac) on any webpage to get the html code that created the page. I use this all the time to find out how someone got a particular feature to look the way it does on a webpage.

  17. Pingback: BloodhoundBlog - The weblog of, an exceptional-service residential real estate brokerage in Metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona.

Comments are closed.