In Search of a Secret Weapon

You: An articulate, interesting and dynamic real estate agent/broker with a desire and determination to turbo-charge your online marketing activities. You have a wild streak and are willing to consider the day (potentially sooner than later) when nearly all of your business is generated online (a la Ardell)

Me: A ruthless online real estate marketing machine looking for a short-term commitment so that we can walk on stage in San Francisco at Inman’s Bloggers Connect conference as the winners of Project Blogger. πŸ™‚

I happen to know that Ardell already has already chosen her secret weapon… so has Jim. While I have a few people in mind, I figured I’d open it up to the RCG community before I commit to anyone. (While not required, it would be helpful if you’ve either already attended one of my seminars or would be willing to attend the March 30 seminar in Pasadena…)

Note that there are a bunch of rules and guidelines, but we’ll do our best to differentiate ourselves by not following too many! I’m of the opinion that no one wins in marketing (personal, professional or corporate) by following the rules. πŸ˜‰

Also, there was discussion while developing “the rules” on the appropriate amount of money that a participant could spend promoting themselves. If you team with me, this will be a very cheap endeavor. I need someone willing to commit time not money…

You can apply to take part by leaving a comment below. My recommendation is to read up on the event and then convince me that you are hungry and can commit to focusing your marketing activities to the online environment over the next few months. There WILL be a lot of publicity around this event, so this is not for the timid.

And in all seriousness, expect to have a lot of fun!

47 thoughts on “In Search of a Secret Weapon

  1. Dustin…

    HEY BUD I’d be interested in take to your stage. After all I am a STAGER. WHICH is a HOT trend in marketing properties.

    WHICH I know is not exactly what you are looking for. BUT I have a background in advertising and marketing (11years) and think this is the reason so many like what I blog on. WHICH is not just about staging.

    You might not know but…

    Inman featured me in an article about blogging about a month after I started. One of my posts was voted “Most Memorable for 2006” on Active Rain. Grow a brain has discovered me. And twice now I have had posts “WIN” in the Carnival of Real Estate.

    NOT bad connsidering I have only been blogging for 8 months and I am a lowley stager.

    PLUS… I “staged” the picture of one of the handsomest bloggers in the WORLD… LOL, wonder who that is.

    Anyway, give it a thought…

  2. Craig,

    There’s no doubt it would be interesting to work with you, but I think there is a minor problem… We get judged on how successful you are a s a real estate agent. Are you willing to give up staging and start selling real estate for a few months? πŸ™‚

    (Please don’t! I love your blog and advice!)

  3. A competition within a competition? You’re so not making this easy!Attended your conference? Check? Monopolized you at the break with several questions? Also, Check!

    Wild side? Does building one of my business trips around the Grateful Dead touring schedule and not getting fly the freak flag high enough for ya? I have other stories, but this is the safest:-)

    Before real estate, I was involved in several highly creative industries: I began in publishing sales, moving to photographic licensing before doing a very short stint in public radio. I got into real estate because I have a strong independent streak that does not always do well when I am repeatedly pushed inside the box.

    My original post, the shameless self plug.

  4. What the heck, I’m in. Twenty three years in the business and it is time for this old dog to learn a few new tricks. Having read almost every blog on activerain for 3 months I am determined to get into the blogoshere.
    Dateline -San Francisco July 31St. – It is rumered that Dustin Luther and Ron Brown are the early favorites at winning the Project Blogger award at the first Inman Bloggers Connect conference this week in the city. Says Luther of his protogee Ron Brown “This guy has amazed me. I cannot be more thrilled with what we have accomplished in the last few months. His ability to take direction and utilize the tools I have givin him and watch the creation of a blogging monster has perhaps been my biggest accomplishment of my career.”
    Meanwhile Ron Brown is preparing his whirlwind tour of 4 other blogger conventions set to take place later this month.

  5. BTW, should I play on your Seattle roots:-) to enhance the shameless plug?.. Ron’s already writing press releases..this is war!!

    For volunteer work, I was awarded the Seattle King County Assoc of Realtors Community Service Award in 2004, the newest agent to be so honored.

    ” Irene Potter and Dustin Luther electrified the Inman Bloggers Connect Conference with an extraordinary tale of tears and triumph. Irene, a much loved up and coming new blogger at Active Rain, has made exponential gains in her business since being selected as Dustin Luther’s Apprentice for Project Blogger.

    Dustin, the founder of Rain City Guide, is widely respected as one of the pre-eminent blogmasters in the real estate industry. Irene was especially gracious in her speech to give extensive credit to Luther for her success and plans to name her next cat after him.

  6. If you’re into breaking rules, can you break the one about not having any business OR LEADS from blogging? If not, start a separate contest for taking a blogger from GOOD TO GREAT – which is my blogging goal.

    Bonus points for attending one of your seminars? How about virtual attendance via the Podcasts on Bloodhound? Of course I’d join you onstage in San Francisco…

    Mouths to feed? Not only at home, but three on my team – my daughter, my son, my “adopted” daughter, and their families – and my husband’s boat has a bottomless pit for fuel and repairs! Hungry, dedicated, ambitious, competitive, smart, quicklearning, diligent, focused…and a secret weapon to beat all secret weapons.

    Besides, I think that Florida and Washington are a great cross country team – stretching as far as possible and encompassing all that’s in between.

  7. Sharon,

    You make a great point! I never liked the idea that someone could not have had any online marketing success with blogs to begin with! πŸ™‚

  8. Dustin:

    I think the whole point of not having online marketing success with blogs is to help out the new folks. There’s a lot of very fine Rainers who backed out of the contest because they have had some success. Hopefully, this thing will grow in popularity and they’ll give it another round for the experienced/successful bloggers.

  9. Hi Dustin,

    I’d love to be considered for the contest. I’m trying to learn as much as I can about blogging and would love to learn from the best and have fun at the same time.

    I’ve attended your conference in Glendale and will be there on the 30th since it’s right down the street from my office.

    I’ve been testing the waters with AR for a month or so and am getting hooked. YIKES!

    You’d have a willing and open student. πŸ™‚


  10. I definitely remember meeting up with you in Glendale! I’m so glad you’re interested… I’m going to let things settle, maybe pass a few emails around and make a decision this weekend…

  11. Sorry to everyone for not responding quicker and picking someone out. I fully expected to do that this weekend, but instead I took some time to play with the family… Essentially, I played at the beach with the family, took my daughter horseback riding, hung out on Melrose, celebrated two years of RCG, and played extensively with our reef aquarium. Needless to say, it is time for me to get down to the business of real estate blogging! πŸ™‚

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  13. Dustin… what a weekend from the beach to Los Feliz to Melrose and time to play with the fishies… I don’t know. Sounds pretty intensive for a weekend off. πŸ™‚
    Congrats on your 2 years of RCG success. I was reading your Russian travel journal ~ I didn’t realize you were married to a Russian. I’m going to have my husband read your Banya experience. I’m sure he’ll get a kick out of that. He’s heading to Russia next month to take care of some outstanding family business in Siberia of all places.
    In any cases, a huge CONGRATULATIONS on the Rain City Guide’s anniversary.
    See you on the 31st in Pasadena.

  14. > We get judged on how successful you are a s a real estate agent.

    Dustin, are you sure? I actually didn’t read that in the rules posted. “Business viability” was the term used in the judging criteria.

    And the goal?: “We will be selecting 10-15 blogging coaches to each train a real estate blogging apprentice of their choice. Over the course of about 4 months, the blogging coaches will aim to develop the most successful real estate blogger they can.”

    “Agent” isn’t mentioned.


  15. Judging Criteria:

    a. Degree of innovation in approach
    b. Consistency
    c. Quality of postings
    d. The Apprentice’s community involvement
    e. Traffic or reach of apprentice’s blog(s)
    f. Documentation of experience and participation in ActiveRain’s Project Blogger’s group
    g. Cost effectiveness of campaign
    h. Improvement/progress of the apprentice
    h. Business viability of approach

    Perhaps “cost effectiveness” means making more than you spent?

  16. Dustin,

    I’d like to throw my hat in the ring if you have yet to make a decision. I am from the frozen tundra of Minnesota and would love to represent the Midwest in this competition. I am a big time lurker on all the real estate blogs (including Rain City) and I have literally just posted my first ever blog entry last week. You’d be dealing with a newbie in the blogging arena and I have the time and resources to commit to a consistent and different blogging campaign.

    I have some great ideas I’d like to implement that would differentiate us from some of the run-of-the-mill bloggers out there. I currently have 18 listings, so I’m not a part-time agent with a bunch of spare time on my hands. I’m looking to continue to develop my business by being at the forefront of technology and I believe learning the ins and outs of blogging would be a big step in the right direction.

    I look forward to walking out on the stage at the Inman conference with you!



  17. Last but not least, I’d like the opportunity to see what the Dustin+Project Blogger combo can inject into a blog a little further afield. So far, it seems everyone entering has been from the US and whilst blogging there is huge, here in the UK and Europe I think it needs a bit of a jumpstart, maybe a challenge in itself! I am in the overseas property industry, probably bottom of the innovation pile when it comes to harnessing the power of new technologies, however a sector which may well be the future of real estate investment given the high prices we are seeing in the UK and US today. We’ve been online since Dec 2005 and have a small if fairly quiet community of readers so trying to get them to engage is a struggle – are they more conservative? reading related property forums would lead me to say no, maybe US blog readers just get blogging and comments and like to bring the discussion out in the open?

    I know the basics of SEO and online marketing and I get the concept behind successful blogging-I regularly read a variety of blogs, just applying the theory to a tough crowd and getting your voice heard above the hype and marketing fluff is a daily battle. I believe that overseas property can benefit from a community based resource to debate the market and its goings on, question is do you?

  18. Ardell, you’re correct to point out that there are several measures of “success.” My point was that nowhere in the goal, rules, or judging criteria does it mention the word “AGENT.” Dustin eliminated Craig because he wasn’t an agent.

    There’s more to real estate (and Active Rain) than real estate agents.


  19. Mike,

    I was posting the most recent judging criteria for Dustin’s benefit, as I think I know where he is coming from.

    Since one of the rules is that the Apprentice Blogger cannot have made any money from blogging PRIOR to being selected by the Coach, we assumed that making money AFTER, and during, the competition was going to be one of the “measurements”. I think the “cost effectiveness” portion is the “catch all” as in “did you make more than you spent”.

    It would appear that so far the apprentices, as announced, have all been agents. Dustin’s dilemma might be that he likes to break rules BUT he also likes to WIN!

  20. If Ron Brown can figure out how to hyperlink his name in the comment here, I’d say he may be the odds on favorite so far πŸ™‚ I’m glad I picked early before hats were thrown into the ring. This is a tough choice, Dustin.

  21. Ardell, safe is risky. If he could find a good (GREAT) candidate that wasn’t an agent, he’d have his secret weapon.


  22. Okay if you’re looking for a challenge I’m in! I just bought a book on Blogging and this is my very first blog experience. Although I’ve been in the business over 30 years I’ve adapted to computers (yes, I learned DOS), web sites, email, text messages and now Blogging. I’m eager to learn and have no frame of refernece except the will to succeed. BTW: I’m planning on retiring from real estate on my 100th birthday so I need to keep my skills up to date for post retirement years!

  23. Inquiring minds do want to know… πŸ™‚

    Lee, sounds like you are really on top of the latest and greates in technology. I don’t know though about working in real estate until I00. Too scary! I’d rather have real estate work for me. πŸ™‚

  24. Again… I want to thank everyone for their interest. While I haven’t committed to anyone, there have been a few people who have emailed me with some very compelling stories in addition to people like Irina and Ron who seem more than up to the challenge. I’m definitely getting antsy to pull the trigger, so don’t be surprised if I announce something soon!

    The nice part about whatever route I go down with this challenge, everyone can take advantage of the opportunity in that all of the mentors will get graded based on how well they share their advice far and wide…

  25. Hi Dustin,

    Again want to throw my hat into the ring. I have been an reader of RCG since the end of last year and in fact was associated with one of your posts that generated close to a record number of comments. I have attended your seminar (we spoke at the end of the Seattle seminar on your way to lunch). I have also consulted with Ardell a few times and am really looking to stretch out and make a HUGE change in the way I do business. I know that together we will win this contest and knock em dead in San Francisco. Pick me! Pick me! Pick me! Thanks.

  26. Expert Blogger Helps Seattle Newbie Turn Huge Profits Blogging!

    Hi Dustin-

    I’m a brand new newbie to AR. No experience with blogging but was told at a local Seattle chapter Dan Kennedy marketing meeting I attend that I should start a blog.

    After numerous Real Estate searches on google, AR kept coming up so here I am. You won’t find another newbie as motivated to get this done!

    I’m extremely interested in getting the best Real Estate blog up and running and get results from the internet.

    David Gaffney

  27. Hey Dustin,

    This sounds like a great opportunity at the perfect time for me and The OC Coastal Group. I am the marketing coordinator for The OC Coastal Realty Group. We are aggressively pursuing our online marketing campaign to maximize our return on investment and optimize all aspects of our web marketing mediums.

    We have recently purchased a domain to post a blog, and we are in the beginning stages of building the page. I will be attending your conference in Pasadena, and I am eager to learn how to make this work for The OC Coastal Group. We are a dedicated team and we are constantly looking for new ways to separate ourselves from the pack through hard work, creativity, and passion.

    Topics I have experience in:
    -Link management
    -Email drip campaigns
    -Google Adwords
    -Yahoo! Search Marketing
    -Social networking

    New Topics I am exploring

    I have purchased various books to guide me through this process, but a mentor with your experience would be invaluable. If you want a secret weapon, who will work hard to accomplish goals and objectives. Look no further.


  28. Dustin,

    Another point I thought might be of interest to you. Because I am a marketing coordinator FOR a real estate group, my focus will solely be on Marketing and Advertising. Whereas many realtors have many responsibilities that they must account for, I can devote nearly all of my time to the tasks you believe will help The OC Coastal Group improve its standing.

    You stated that you like loopholes, so this may be some food for thought.


    P.S. – I am a sponge for information

  29. Aw shucks, I guess that means its not me then! Well Mr Dustin protogΓ© I wish you all the luck in this contest. If you have a moment of time, a couple of feedback comments as to why my blog and I “we’re not worthy!” would go down a treat and put paid to any late night wonderings why oh why πŸ˜‰

  30. Chintan (and the others who offered up their time/energy/expertise!),

    The truth is that there are a ton of worthy people who offered up their help. So many that I was honestly having trouble figuring out who to choose!

    And then I got a one-two punch via email that essentially made my decision for me. One, a friend recommended an agent and two, that agent had a follow up email that demonstrated he wanted to take part for all the right reasons. I could tell that he already understood the marketing and self-promotion angles, but he wanted to learn to use his website to differentiate himself in a VERY tough market.

    The fact that he is local to me in LA is pure coincidence, but sure didn’t hurt in that we were able to have breakfast yesterday.

    Thanks again to everyone who was interested… I’m hoping that you will still find the entire Project Blogger a useful exercise!

    (more to come early next week…)

  31. Dustin, congratulations on picking your apprentice!!! I’m sure it wasn’t easy. My best to both of you.

    I’ll be following your blog closely and will shamelessly steal as many ideas as I can! πŸ™‚

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  33. Desperately Seeking My Voice! If I had realized you were a late holdout for picking your apprentice I would have been hounding before now. I am so-so at technical skills (see my blog as of 4/6/2007 I embrace the internet (see my Active Rain profile at and am passion & excellent at real estate sales & marketing. I am trying to figure out what my voice in the blogosphere is…my writing tends to lead to the techinal side and I need to learn to humanize it and open up a little more. I’ve been blogging for just over 1 month on Active Rain.

    If you are still searching for someone who is trainable, I would love to be β€œit

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  35. Michelle (and everyone else)… Thanks again for your interest! I really appreciated all the comments, emails and phone calls I received (way too many to respond to everyone individually!). I finally made my decision public! It took a little while as I really wanted to get his blog up and running (and acceptably functional!) before I made the announcement, but we’re live! πŸ™‚

  36. The future is now and web marketing and advertising is the only cost effective and functional way for real estate agents to advertise and market their services. Particularly if they are new in real estate there is only one effective method…internet marketing. PRINT IS DEAD.

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