Grasping for pebbles & listening for grasshoppers

[photopress:grasshopper.jpg,thumb,alignright]Gordon Stephenson of RPA asked me the other day for blog setup advice. Although I consider myself good friends with the master of real estate blogging, I am a blogging grasshopper compared to many folks. You see, I have never set up a blog before. Sure, I’m a contributor on RCG, I comment on popular real estate blogs, and I even write Virtual Earth based IDX/MLS systems (w/ geocoded RSS feeds) for fun and profit. However, I’m sure Dustin sets up more blogs before 10 AM in a typical day, than I do in a year. Hence, the reason for my post. Besides, as another real estate blogging master has pointed out to me, blogging about blogging is always a good topic.

Anyway, I essentially told Gordon the following…

  1. I’d pick up a copy of the Realty Blogging book and read it. It’s probably out of date, (like most technology related books are) but I suspect it’s as good a starting point as any.
  2. I’d recommend finding a good shared hosting company that sets up & hosts WordPress or Typepad blogs.
  3. Most importantly, I’d ask other bloggers what they think!

I feel that’s good advice, however my clients deserve superior advice, and I don’t feel qualified to give it. Besides, Master Dustin took his pebbles when he left Seattle. 😉

Anyway, I really don’t want to host their blog. Besides, Zillow hosts their blog on Typepad, Move hosts their WordPress blog with Inmotion Hosting, and ShackPrices hosts their WordPress blog with Dreamhost, so I know I’m not alone in my thinking that they are better off out-sourcing to a shared hosting company that does blogs. So I have the following questions for the blogging masters.

Real Estate Blogging Questions

  1. What value / features do Real Estate targeted blogging platforms (Blogging Systems, Ubertor, etc) provide over general purpose alternatives (WordPress, Typepad, Community Server, dasBlog, subText)?
  2. ActiveRain or Real Town Blogs – To join or not to join, that’s my question…
  3. Are free blogging platforms, such as Blogger or Live Spaces, considered the blogging equivalent of using or for your e-mail?

General Blogging Questions

  1. What blogging platforms do you like or dislike and why? I know most of the masters recommend WordPress, so I’m more interested in hearing from folks who use something else and are happy with it.
  2. What company would you recommend or avoid for blog hosting? There’s a million of them out there, everybody uses somebody different.
  3. Do these companies provide tools that make it easy to setup? What about analytics, back-up, comment spam blocking, and everything else you want to do?
  4. Any good books or blog posts you’d recommend?

Geek Blogging Questions

  1. If I were crazy enough to host my own blog, what’s the best blog platform if you want to host on IIS/SQL Server/Windows?
  2. What blog platforms or plug-ins do you recommend for code syntax highlighting?
  3. Is there a way to get WordPress to not mangle, HTML/Javascript in a blog post?

Thanks for your help,

Your humble grasshopper

20 thoughts on “Grasping for pebbles & listening for grasshoppers

  1. Robbie-
    Being a developer, it’s surprising you’ve never set up a blog before.
    Personally, I’d recommend wordpress all the way – it’s far better than typepad. I use Dreamhost for my personal blog and have been pretty satisfied. There’s some useful content on the Zillow wiki on the topic of real estate blogging as well for those looking to further their knowledge (—Real-Estate-Blogging).

  2. My blogs are all on Typepad – Note: You can work directly with the HTML and CSS in Typepad if you convert the template sets to “Advanced”. I found the trick is to build as much as possible with their custom template wizard, then convert to “advanced” to finish customizing. The process to park a domain name on Typepad is easy and painless. PHP is not yet in my skill set, so I can’t answer on that.

    For me, Active Rain is a great place to network with other real estate professionals. I doubt if I would want to present my Active Rain blog as my only public blog, though I do add stuff to their Localism section for good measure.

  3. Drew,

    I agree, it is surprising. I think part of the reason, is that I’ve always had a place to blog and an audience on RCG and so I haven’t had a need to setup my own. Also, DreamHost has had well known issues (so I’m not comfortable recommending them). However, they do get bonus points for blogging and having Web Hosting Haiku.


    Thanks for your comments. PHP isn’t in my skill set either (I’m more of a C#/ guy), so I wouldn’t worry about it.

  4. Thanks for asking this question Robbie, I just asked this question Friday on Active Rain because I have been having difficulty deciding on what platform to choose. Ardell and several others suggested WordPress, and there were some other suggestions as well.

    I did finally choose TypePad because I did not want to have to choose a “Hosting” platform (?) too. I can also upgrade much higher than “Pro” when I am ready.

    Dustin, I now have a proper “neighborhood” blog beyond my Active Rain blog!

  5. Deborah, what’s your address? I’m using Typepad as well and have been pretty happy so far. I’m doing the pro version since I might recruit other writers for mortgage porter (CFPs, CPAs, insurance, etc) down the road. And I’m trying to encourage my neighbors to start blogging on my local blog. My only experience with WordPress is here at RCG. 😉

  6. Robbie, I really like Dreamhost, but I can’t say I’d recommend them for a “real” blog. They seem to have more outages than your average host.

    We host our blog there because we’ve never gotten around to moving it onto our own server. It sure is easy to set up a blog with them though.

  7. I have used Typepad for my main blog since May 2006. I found it easiest to use for a limited htmler like myself. I am dabbling with a couple of blogs set up in WordPress and the jury is still out there.

    For first time bloggers I would recommend at the very least to buy a descriptive domain name and forward/mask your blog to it. It is much easier to promote http://www.MadisonRealEstateShow than it is to promote

    I too post occasionally to my Active Rain account but am most dedicated to developing my typepad driven account.

  8. Hi Robbie,

    I’m in the same boat you are (but you obviously know more than I do already). I’m trying to figure out this blogging stuff in my spare time so I can meaningfully create & syndicate my own blogs. I’ve posted several blogs on my newest website,; but so far, I don’t have them posted anywhere else (but I hope to change that asap). I’d be absolutely thrilled to listen to any advice you may have on this subject…would you keep us informed through RCG???

    Thanks for the great blogging questions!!

    ~Joe Lawyer~

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