Two Years and Still Learning…

Mind if I reminisce a bit?

When I started Rain City Guide two years ago today, I honestly didn’t see the big picture.

I built the site because I *knew* I had to market my wife’s budding real estate business and I didn’t want to spend any money… (Even if I wasn’t a cheapskate at heart, my job as a transportation planner didn’t provide a lot extra money to begin with). Blogging was cheap and interesting (and I’ll admit it helped that I was familiar with the technology having hand-coded travel blogs going back as far back as 2000), but most importantly it would allow me to focus my wife’s marketing energy on something that wouldn’t siphon money from my family’s bank account.

But then I started doing some research and I realized that I could probably still make an impact because of my first-mover status. There were a few Seattle agents blogging at the time (Jim Reppond and Beau Betts come to mind…), but I could tell that neither of them were really harnessing the power of blogs to function as a local newspaper on a very niche topic.

It has become cliché to mention that in this latest incarnation of the internet (web2.0 for lack of a better world), the user has become the content creator. One of the lessons I try to drive home in my seminars is that this same “user” is you. Thanks to the power of blogs, you can now become the publisher of your own newspaper (What would Abbie do with wifi?).

The power of self-publishing (and the part that is easily overlooked) is that you do not have to create the news… You just have to report it (preferably in an interesting way!).

I see so many agents get stuck on their blogging because they are trying to say something novel, unique and/or brilliant with every post. Very few people are that talented and it is not a skill necessary skill to either selling real estate or successful blogging. As a publisher of content, it is much more important to add a little personal insight into the aggregated knowledge of others.

So, what is the big picture? Enjoy the journey because the destination is unknown!

My advice? Enjoy yourself, make friends, get an education, invoke change in yourself, ask questions, play hard, experiment, and, most importantly, be prepared to fail.

But I’d be doing myself and everyone else a big disservice if the best I could do after two years of blogging was pontificate for a few paragraphs. The reality is that the thing I most value in RCG is the community. Through 1,010 posts (1,011 when I hit publish!) and 9970 comments, I’d like to think that we’ve not only created one hell of an interesting conversation, but that we’ve managed to learn a few things along the way. Thank you for participating!

31 thoughts on “Two Years and Still Learning…

  1. Happy Anniversary Rain City! Following your ascendancy for the past couple of years has been quite a time. Congratulations.

    A question for you – two years ago, what did you foresee as being the future of blogging? How is today’s incarnation different than you expected?

  2. Congrats Dustin. Recently, I pulled up our first email conversation from two years ago. It’s kind of funny to look back at what we were doing at the time, bouncing ideas off of one another, most of which are not representative of our blogs today. I think what I’ve liked most about blogging is the collective brainstorming atmosphere that encourages evolution, even if it sometimes fails. As blogging becomes more and more popular, I think the collective motivation to improve will benefit the entire industry.

  3. Thanks everyone!

    Jim: Two years ago, I honestly wasn’t thinking about big picture items like the future of blogging. I was purely self-interested and thinking about how I could drive traffic to my wife’s website. It wasn’t until I started to develop relationships with others who were running real estate blogs, that I started to realize I was thinking too small.

    Is it different than I expected? The obvious answer is yes!

    Being a “first mover”, I really wanted to believe that real estate blogging was going to be huge, so the interest in real estate blogging has not come as a shock. The part that I did not anticipate was the amount that I was going to learn. By running RCG for two years, I feel relatively comfortable conversing on relatively technical topics (like SEO, SEM, long-tail, etc.) as well as REALTOR specific issues (commissions, home valuations, etc.), none of which would be possible had I not been learning by doing.

  4. Congratulations Dustin and RCG!! You have inspired many of us with your creativity and energy. Thank you!!

    Question: When is your next workshop here in Seattle? I want my whole office to attend

  5. Happy RCG Anniversary, Dustin. I am so honored to be included in this community. It’s amazing how much I have learned from you in just the past few months…it’s hard to fathom how blogging will continue to evolve in the years to come.

  6. It was 2 years ago today
    Mr. Luther taught his bloggers to play
    They’ve been going in and out of style
    But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile.
    So may I introduce to you
    The act you’ve known for all these years,
    Mr. Luther’s Seattle Rain City Guide…

    Let the good times roll… 😉

  7. Congrats and Thank you! Your project has turned out to be a treasure and inspiration for not just myself but countless others. Please keep up the Great Work!

  8. Hi Dustin,

    Wow, only 2 years for all that “chit chat”…Congratulations!! From what I can tell, you have the no. 1 real estate blog in WA, and you’ve earned it. You’ve kept it relevant and interesting, and I wish you continued success. 🙂

    BTW…at the risk of exposing how little I really know about blogging, how do I become a contributing author to RCG? I see how I can add comments; but I don’t see how I initiate a blog article? Could you tell me please?

    Thank You,
    Joe Beitey

  9. Joe,

    Sorry for not responding earlier (I did get your email, but I’m about 60 messages behind!). To become a contributor, I simply need to register and then I need to elevate you to “contributor” status. The trick, however, is that I’m pretty darn selective and normally pick out people from the Seattle real estate community who I think will make a positive contribution. The easiest way to get my attention is to (1) let me know your interested and (2) leave some comments and/or blog posts (on your personal blog) so that I can get to know your writing style.

  10. Right on my man… I’ve said it before and here it is again. I started The Tomato after reading your work. I knew I would have been left behind if I didn’t emulate something so powerful and relevant!

  11. Congratulations Dustin –

    You started this blog with no true roads to follow, but you created such a great mixture with your contributors that this type of (searching for the RIGHT word) concoction can never be duplicated.

    So – with congratulations to you AND to your team of contributors – you all have made RCG what it is today!

  12. Dustin – I have learned and “borrowed” so much of your philosophy. I really ramped up my blogging in late January. Following much of your guidance I have managed to turn my two blogs into lead machines. And enjoy the process tremendously. I think my readers have a little fun.

    I’m no where near your readership…yet. But I am building here in Kansas City and couldn’t be happier. So “Thank You!” from the Jayhawk. Keep up the good stuff.

  13. Dustin,

    Of course, you rock! Kudos to you and the entire RCG gang for what has been not only the model for all RE blogs to follow, but the Gold Standard even now. I, for one, can not thank you enough for the precedent you have set for the entire blogging community. You do it with wisdom, style, grace and charm.

  14. There once was a Seattle blogger named Dustin
    Whose site was two years old – this just in!
    He defined the category
    In a manner adulatory
    And we hope for many more years before he starts rustin’!

  15. Good job Dustin. When I was first starting my blog I noticed there wasn’t much happening on the real estate blog scene here in Seattle…except for yours which was just in it’s infancy. That’s when I realized this was something I need to get started on… quickly. And I I kept checking on yours to see what you’ve done next to get ideas and such, but of course you set yours up in such a way that it took on a life of it’s own and now its an incredible resource for real estate information. Good work!

  16. Dustin- Congratulations on your bloggiversary. I just had my two year this year as well. It is amazing how much the whole scene has changed- for the better. You have done a great job setting the bar for us all and have assembled quite the team. I’m sorry I missed the Seattle seminar. I’d love to host you on the sunny side of the mountains some time if your ever for a trip to our Bavarian Village.

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