Interview with Jim Cronin of The Real Estate Tomato

[photopress:jim_cronin.jpg,full,alignright]This past summer Jim has came out of seemingly nowhere to quickly become a leading voice in teaching agents how they can use blogging technologies to better market their business online.

With a flair for fun (he has a tomato theme after all!), Jim is always entertaining and has become a daily read for many of us in the real estate blogosphere

What inspired you to start blogging?

I have been in the online real estate marketing industry since 2000 and have always made an effort to keep an ear to the ground as to what actually works. I started my first real estate marketing blog in mid 2005 as a platform for a potential book. Two posts in, I lost my drive. Then I started to realize that I was getting the majority of my own news from blogs; baseball, politics, entertainment… it was all being read on independent blogs. Suddenly I felt that without my own blog, I was falling behind when it came to utilizing the internet as a marketing tool. In late June of this year (2006) I jumped in with both feet, determined to be heard. Never looked back. In fact it has so consumed me that I started a business to consult others how to leverage the business blog as the ultimate online marketing tool.

Are there any special topics or issues that you enjoy covering?

I found my topic niche just as I started to gain a consistent audience, or was it the other way around? It has always been my style to educate, and once I had a grip on why I was gaining readership and search engine success, I was compelled to share it. In turn this changed the landscape of the Tomato’s content, and I chose the path of “real estate blogging consultant”. This choice has helped me separate myself from other great real estate bloggers whom I admire so much: Sellsius, FutureOfRealEstateMarketing, RainCityGuide, Bloodhound to name a few. I still enjoy uncovering a new web 2.0 tool, breaking some news, or picking on the bigger media types (read: RISMedia, NAR etc), but I most enjoy delivering an article that examines the real estate blogger’s concern or challenge and (hopefully) provides some solution.

What have you done to personalize your blog?

Every stitch you see on the Tomato was placed there by me. I have considered redesigning it many times, and in fact have done so in Photoshop, but like the emotional letter you write and never send, the effort itself has been satisfaction enough.

[photopress:realestatetomatobannersm_1.jpg,full,alignright]Do you have any favorite posts?

I am proud of all the educational pieces I have done in the ‘blogging advice‘ category, but there are two posts that, for me, stand out more than any others. The first post I ever wrote, on that first failing blog appears in its original form on the Tomato – It’s called Understanding Your Audience. I feel that this is a subject that anyone marketing their business needs to master. This particular article won’t apply forever, but its concept will.

The other post I can’t ignore is titled ePro Is A Tinfoil Badge. This piece my first attempt at “stirring the pot”. The results we fantastic. Half my audience loved it the other half wanted me hanged. I really feel that it represented the catalyst for my success; I was able to engage the audience that agreed with me and those that weren’t so sure.

What are some of your favorite blogs (real estate or otherwise)?

I mention real estate blogs I like all the time, and most of them are probably covered in your interviews… so here are a few personal favorites (non real estate) that I consider the cream of the crop.

Soxaholix. Above and beyond the best sports blog, evah! It is a peak into the Red Sox fan psyche through the dialogue of clipart characters. Hart Brachen (pseudonym, Heart Breaking, get it?) masterfully weaves Boston Red Sox culture and news with pop culture and literary reference into a fabric so entertaining that I actually miss his strip on weekends. In fact it is so good that Yankee fans are actually jealous.

MichelleMalkin. Simple design. Powerful. Attentive. Reactionary. Every political blog should learn from her command. You don’t have to be a republican to recognize her wizardry.

Gizmodo. Gadget Pr0n. ’nuff said.

What tools/websites do you find most helpful in putting together your blog?

iStockPhoto, Wikipedia, Technorati, BlogJet,, Photoshop, Toshiba, Firefox, Jim Beam and Sonos.

How does blogging fit into the overall marketing of your business?

It is everything. 100% of my business has come from my blogging. In fact, blogging has eclipsed what I did for a living from 2000-2006.

What plans do you have to improve your blog over this next year?

Where do I begin?… Let’s just say that the education we deliver will be bigger, better and more comprehensive than ever. In addition, we look forward to showcasing more guest authors that recognize the Tomato as their personal soapbox for expressing their knowledge of embracing technology as an effective marketing tool.

What is the one tool or feature that you wish your site had?

Number one item: Comments email notification. It is ridiculous that TypePad blogging platforms do not offer the “notify me of new comments” functionality with their software. This is nearly a deal breaker. I have been able to ‘work around’ many other TypePad deficiencies (trackback weakness for example) but this one just drives me crazy. Maintaining the conversation that develops in the comments is crucial, and to not offer it as a standard blogging feature is just ridiculous if not stupid.

What do you think real estate blogging will look like 3 years from now?

The unfathomable amount of content that is generated because of this (gold)rush to blog will persist longer than you and I, no doubt… but in 3 years the blog will no longer be the tool that “gets it done”. TheVlog (video blog) will be the most effective marketing platform for real estate. As the internet, television, Xbox, music, etc. merge into one console, and we sit 15 feet from the flat screen with remote in hand, browsing through channels/websites/whatever do you really see us reading? Video will be the most effective form of marketing (it already is, duh), and learning how to embrace it on an independent basis (like the blog) will be crucial to real estate agents in 2010.

Thank you Jim for this interesting insight! 🙂

Want more? Here are the other interviews I’ve done to date: