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Are You IN or OUT With Real Estate Blogging?

Our resident Internet Marketing Specialist, Marc Grayson of Webographers fame, has just sent over his first Tomato contribution of 2008, and it couldn’t have been more timely.  I hadn’t told him when he submitted the idea, but I have been meaning to write on this topic for the last week.  You snooze, you lose.  Perhaps I’ll save my banter for the comments along with y’all. 


Are You IN or OUT With Real Estate Blogging?
By Marc Grayson

You may have thought I was referring to, "are you in with blogging or out with blogging".  Actually, what we seeing today are differentiations in blogging and communicating online given: your peers (Inside) and to consumers (Outside).  Should real estate professionals stick to one audience...having more than 1 blog?

Why is this important?  Let's take a look at what service providers are up to. What were seeing today in Web 2.0 are lines being made in where and how to keep "Inside Communication" (Peers) separate from "Outside Communication" (Consumers).  A few examples of where we see these lines being drawn are:

On the Inside...

On the Outside... 

  • ActiveRain/Localism - agents can elect to also "publish" posts through to Localism, or answer consumer Q&A through their dashboard when logged in.  In addition, it's understood they are looking to engage outside blogs (likely personalized, brandable for the RE professional) for the purposes of blogging to audience of consumers.
  •  Trulia Voices Q&A - specific feature for consumers to ask questions, agents/brokers to provide answers, and scoring on which answer best meets the needs of the consumer at hand.
  • Zillow Discussions & Zillow Q - Zillow Discussions allows consumers to ask questions on any topic within real estate, where Zillow Q&A allows for specific Q&A at the scope of an individual property.  Zillow Q&A can be between (a) FSBO Seller and Consumer or (b) Listing Agent & Consumer, (c) whomever.

Is-there-value-in-sticking-to-one-audience-with-your-real-estate-blogDoes "outside" / "inside" apply to your Blog?

So does the separation of audiences found with service providers apply to your blog.  Is there any value in [a] sticking to 1 audience on your real estate blog, [b] maintaining two blogs (or another community profile), or [c] not giving any thought to this and writing on anything you desire.

Here are some perspectives of bloggers I had a chance to ask that question:

Jonathon Dalton (RE/MAX Desert Showcase,

"...I’ve honestly never given conscious thought to whether I should write exclusively to other real estate professionals or the public because you never know who is going to be attracted to what. And you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out, mostly because you never really know who your audience is.

I simply write what I find interesting and either someone connects or they don’t. Even my own mother skips some of my posts. I’ve picked up listings and buyers just as easily as referrals from other agents, all because they have connected. If someone doesn’t connect with me, that’s fine. It probably wouldn’t have been the best working relationship anyway..."


Jay Thompson (Thompson's Realty / Century 21 Aware,

"...Although I contribute to blogs that are wholly industry focused (, and ), I also post "inside material" to my own blog. Some well-intentioned folks have told me this makes my blog "lack focus" and that "consumers" aren't interested in inside real estate stories. Lacks focus? Oh well. It's me, people can like me or leave me. Consumers not interested? Phooey. I get a lot of feedback from consumers that say they appreciate it. Some in the mainstream media even seem to find me "an expert".

I really pay little attention to whether a post will appeal to the masses, or drive prospects. I write about what interests me. Being human (despite what some people think), I find if it interests me, it tends to interests others.."

What are your thoughts? 
Should there be clearly defined lines in what vessels are used to reach consumers versus connecting with your peers?  Are their pros and cons to talking to both in 1 vessel? 

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Thanks Marc, it’s a pleasure having you on the vine.
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Marc Grayson is the president and founder of the National Institute of Webographers, the owner of the REAL ESTATE WEBOGRAPHER™ certification found at He has provided consultation to real estate agents and brokers in web-based technologies and implementation.  Marc is an advocate for real estate technology adoption and implementation. 

To contact Marc directly, you can call him at his extension: 888.877.0159 *3 or email Marc (at)


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I'm definitely OUT. The first rule of writing is to know your audience, so if you say that you don't know who you're writing to, than you should stop and take a minute to think about it.

I'm in the business of selling homes to consumers not to my peers, so that is where I focus most of my attention. I still spend time visiting websites like this to learn along side my peers and occasionally share my comments, but I probably spend more time learning marketing, advertising, and blogging tips than talking about real estate, because they don't know my market, so what's the point.

If I have something to say that isn't geared toward my audience, than I'll find somewhere else to post it , like this guest post I did for Jim -

I'm writing to me, Daniel, and my audience is people who are interested in the kind of things that I'm interested in. Makes it much easier. And do you know who is reading your blog? Names? E-mails? Phone numbers?

That was my point ... 99 percent of your audience is lurking and will remain lurking. None of us know with any certainty exactly who are readers are. We can have an intended audience, but that doesn't mean that's the total audience.

You forgot a biggy and it's an outy, I have gotten two bonafide leads from this forum since I started posting in October, 2007. That's huge! Give it a try. I enjoy it more than any other site. It's very inter-active. Best wishes in 2008!


I stick to consumer-only for my blog - writing things that I would want to read if I were considering buying a home in my area.

I leave the peerposts for when I write for Agent Genius. I DO post random things on Active Rain - but mostly consumer stuff that can be found on Localism. I do not contribute (for the most part) to Trulia or Zillow blogs - not enough hours in the day.

"The first rule of writing is to know your audience"

The first rule of blogging is there are no rules. There is no one way to do this. Is your audience buyers, sellers, investors? Do they have a sort term purchase horizon, or long term? People come to my blog for all sorts of reasons. Some of those reasons I can determine roughly by the search terms they use, some I have no idea.

"I'm in the business of selling homes to consumers not to my peers, so that is where I focus most of my attention."

Sure, you won't sell a home to another agent. But you sure can get referrals from them...

I blog about just about anything. Sometimes about nothing. I think the primary power of a blog is to show who you are and what you know. For whatever reason, some people will connect and want to work with you as an agent, and some won't. If you blog to please everyone, you'll likely please no one.

I think the answer to that question is pretty clear.

Ask yourself the following:

Why do you as a reader find yourself reading this very article? Might it have anything to do with the fact that, like me, you have come to know Jim Cronin and The Real Estate Tomato to be a dependable and consistent "Vessel" of peer-to-peer Real Estate Blogging advice? Or did you just happen to land here while Googling "The Love Boat"?

I'm on the "consumer" side of blogging. It's easy to write about little things I like around the city...Business comes from those in my neighborhood who find me by searching local real estate terms. And, business comes from those moving here (or that live in other various Chicago neighborhoods) because my site and Internet writing pops up all over.

I'm personally not into writing for peers... although I love reading about the "inside" and talking local real estate with my peeps on the ground here.

My blog is very local and folksy. And I have substantial business coming directly from it. I think "business bloggers" in real estate miss the point of staying very local and the need to write about the "every day". I rarely mention anything national that has to do with real estate.

My take is the following when it comes to blogging... and I believe that it is this take that has gotten this blog and our business to the exciting level we enjoy.

We begin by writing. Writing what we want to write. However, when (and if) we gain an audience, it is going to define itself, regardless of our aim.

At some point we need to make decisions based on our observations.

Do we aim to grow that audience by writing to their interests and participating in their arena? Or, do we work to shape that audience, persisting with content that we want to post regardless of their behavior.

Although it may truly feel like we have chosen the former, more often it is the latter that governs our malleability. Attention is the drug. Getting it is the fix. When we find a regular source, we continue to go back to the well.

I'm not saying that those who were tempted by the traffic that an article about Zillow (for example) may generate have sold their blog's soul to writing about the industry. I'm saying that once one finds what their audience is piqued by, they won't resist the aim to pique again.

Those who have chosen to stay focused on the consumer by posting solely local subject matter may feel like they are immune to this pretense. However, I guarantee that the day you post something that generates more traffic and more comments than anything else you have published, that there will be an unavoidable tendency to blog on that subject matter again (and again).

If that is Inside content (as Marc puts it) then we can come to expect that there will certainly be more.

In our case... we were all over the place before we found the audience responding to us blogging about real estate blogging. And now, you all know the rest of the story.

I guess I would say that I'm IN & OUT. Mostly out though. Some posts with a consumer focus can also be helpful for reaching out to fellow agents locally and in other parts of the country. You never know who's going to have a client moving to your area and if they see that you write quality stuff on your blog, they are more inclined to contact you when they have a referral in your area.

The key is writing solid quality material that gets noticed by consumers and respected by others in the industry.

"However, I guarantee that the day you post something that generates more traffic and more comments than anything else you have published, that there will be an unavoidable tendency to blog on that subject matter again (and again)."

Agreed, and it is a double-edged sword. For a long time, my highest traffic day was one July 3rd -- driven by people looking for where to find fireworks shows. (I'd written a summary post of most of the local events).

That was a good thing, as it told me people are looking for "things to do" type posts.

But that insight needs to be tempered and balanced, less my blog turn into nothing but things to do.

I'm on a first name basis with three local newspaper reporters. I have the personal cell phone numbers of two television reporters. Rarely a week passes where one of them doesn't call. Why? By including some posts on "inside" stuff these people seem to believe I know what I'm talking about. I can only positively relate two closed transactions to getting into "mainstream media" articles, but it's certainly possible there are more.

That said, I don't write a post thinking, "Hey, I bet Misty at the Tribune will eat this one up and call me". I write it because I think my readers -- be they inside or outside -- will enjoy/learn/ponder it.

I suspect consumers find endless market reports and listing fliers to be just as boring as I do. Yes, I want to read informative content-rich blog posts, but I'm looking for some entertainment value, as well - humor, creativity, photos, and even an occasional glimpse behind the scenes at the person writing the posts.

My blog posts reflect this, whether they're for my inside or outside blog. The topics on my outside blog primarily focus on local real estate and community information, with an occasional "random topic" such as today's "National Wear Red Day". And, yes, some of these do find their way onto Localism, with a slightly broader target - i.e., County and State. But no (ActiveRain) industry-oriented post ever appear on my outside blog. There's a time and place for everything.

With the emergence of Agent Genius and NAR Wisdom, I've written less and less about industry-related stuff on my own blog. When I took on another blog, I didn't do it on my own - I could have and generated tons of traffic, but it wasn't traffic I really wanted.

My contention is there isn't a right way to do this. And not all blogs or real estate markets are built alike.

I'll leave you with this number ... 3,350,000. Okay, one more ... 2,340,000. Those are the Google search results for Phoenix Arizona real estate and Phoenix real estate. I invite you to compare to your market (except for maybe Erik in Chicago who wins hands down.)

If I look from an SEO standpoint, that's what I'm competing against. Writing for SEO is a bit overrated I think, but knowing where you stand isn't.

There are a dozen or more real estate bloggers in just my local market, some of them even are good. :-) If all of us wrote purely local, how would anyone ever differentiate from among us?

Sorry to hijack, Jim ... happy to have been here and hopefully added food for thought.

I agree that most real estate blogs are extremely boring when filled with date, market reports,economic forecast and little else. I also find the doom and gloom bloggers particularly unappealing. But the challenge I face is that my blog is multi-faceted with real estate being just a fraction of the topics that are offered. I find that networking for the real estate audience often leaves me with few choices other than traditional real estate blogs. My goal was to appeal to the general public first, however most most non-industry readers are just that - readers. I find that they don't participate in conversations nearly to the extent that the real estate professionals do.

I see an agent's blog taking on the "Whole Person Concept"...that all posts represent you in a way. Posts about local neighborhoods & communities implies a certain expertise that may ring a chord with me the consumer (not only the right house for me, but right community).

Posts written on "industry" matters moreso for the agent's peers, could appeal to me as a consumer. Such posts can show that the blogger agent is "with the times and", understands his or her field/craft, and is well-versed on many RE topics.

Should blogs stick to an 80/20 rule (80% posts specific to consumers, 20% to agents). I believe the answer to that is no...I believe the answer cannot be pigeon-holed.

Your blog is "you", the "whole person concept"...

Great question and one that has me perplexed.

I'm relatively new to real estate blogging, having started about 6 months ago. The problem that I keep coming up against is getting the consumer in my local market to interact more frequently. I have a hyperlocal blog that focuses on Los Altos, Sunnyvale, Mountain View and Cupertino California real estate and other issues that I like to write about. I've been told my articles are relatively well written and informative. The problem is it is such a narrow field of interest, that I'm not getting the interaction that I would like from the consumer. I also can't seem to break into the realms of the real estate blogging world for links, comments etc. that would help in placement. If I comment or create links to other (better known real estate blogs), for the most part they go un-noticed and aren't reciprocated (note,I don't comment or create links randomly. They must appeal to me and be of personal interest to me). I feel like there is a social heirarchy, a real estate blogger's glass barrier that I can't break into. Oh no, flashback to high school insecurities.

I want to write about my local area because that's what I am an expert at, but I need to interaction from the blogging community to get more notice in the search engines. Help, "I've fallen and I can't get up."

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

I'm certainly writing for a consumer audience, but am astounded at how well my secondary goal of educating other realtors about my "niche" is just happening without any "inside" blogging anywhere. I don't have time for activerain etc.

Vintage Vegas and our 4 key subjects, Vintage Homes, Historic Neighborhoods, Urban Living and Las Vegas History keeps them coming back for more, and I'm never facing a shortage of material.

My three blogs are for the consumer. I use Active Rain to post both for the industry and also for Localism, but some of my local content actually is read and enjoyed by other real estate professionals. Heck, I just found out I have a fan base with my local photos from none other than family members that live in other states (my mom is proud of me so she shows off my blogs to anyone she can). But my consumer blogs are filled more with "what it is like to live here" stuff then market stats, etc.

I check out Trulia Voices if the questions fit my business plan and experience, but I only comment on questions for Minnesota. I see too many people from other states making comments and giving advice when they shouldn't be...just like on the Q&A of Active Rain as well. If you are from Cali, don't comment on market conditions in Minneapolis please.

But it seems if you want to get noticed, you HAVE to write some where for the industry so other industry professionals take notice of you and know you are breathing. With so many blogs coming online, it is getting harder to get noticed.

I'm definitly just writing for the consumer. I'm very new to blogging, but don't really see getting high SEO ranking as a primary goal at this point. I'm even ok with having a small number of regular readers. The main purpose of blogging for me is to help potential clients off the fence when they are thinking about choosing an agent. I know that if I was thinking of hiring an agent, I would check out the agent's website. If I found a blog, I would read everything I could before deciding who to choose. If my blog helps convert cold leads by showing them that I know what I'm talking about, and that I've got integrity, it's done it's job.

Though I can't know for sure, I'm pretty sure that the blog has already helped convert two clients that clicked through from and craigslist ads and ended up on my site.

It's not that I wouldn't enjoy becoming a part of this fabulous real estate blogging community, but I'm busier than I can handle with just clients, marketing and improving my website. I'm getting ready to launch a niche market website/blog in addition to my general market ones and I already am worrying about where the extra hours will come from. I just don't have time to join Active Rain or the other industry focused communities.

"And do you know who is reading your blog? Names? E-mails? Phone numbers?"

Yes, I do. Not only am I called, emailed and stopped in the street by people that read my blog that tell me they enjoyed my recent article, but when I see a new email address on my feedburner or comment posting I take a minute and contact that person so I can get to know them and what they are looking for. Of course I'm in a smaller market than all of you, but it seems like something to strive for, doesn't it?

"99 percent of your audience is lurking and will remain lurking. None of us know with any certainty exactly who are readers are."

False, you can know you audience if you write articles that they want to read and encourage them to reach out to you, than they will and you can take some of the mystery out of the process

I'm not saying that writing to you peers is bad, if it works for you, than do it. As Marc pointed out, the 80/20 rule probably applies to this as well and would be great. I try to only blog about real estate (listings, neighborhoods, etc) about 20% of the time and it works for me. The other 80% is completely community information geared at pleasing the consuming and building a relationship.

Daniel -

I think it's great that people stop you in the street to tell you they enjoyed your blog post. But let's be realistic. You live in McClellanville, SC -- a town with a population (according to City-Data) of 471 people.

I live in a metro area the size of the state of Connecticut with a population pushing 4,500,000. I have more people living in my subdivision than live in McClellanville. It's completely unrealistic for me to expect or to strive for people stopping me in the street.

I'll freely admit that I don't have names, emails and phone numbers of everyone reading my blog. In January, I had 24,000 visitors. The *vast* majority of those left no comment, and did not contact me. How am I supposed to reach out to them? I can see what search terms they used to find a page, so I know the type of info they might be looking for. (though in reality, in most cases I have no way to know if what they found truly was what they were looking for.)

In a market the size of yours, it might be reasonable to try to know everyone that stops by your blog. In a market the size of mine, it is impossible.

Every market is different, every blog is different. That's one of the things that makes this whole blogging thing interesting.

That is an awesome question to ponder. I think that we can all relate and I think it just depends on who your target audience is. Thanks!

> False, you can know you audience if you write articles that they want to read and encourage them to reach out to you, than they will and you can take some of the mystery out of the process

I'm sorry but false. You're writing articles that you think will be of interest. All of us start that way. You've received positive feedback from some in your community, which is cool. But you'll never know what you have (or haven't) written that's turned people off.

For me, and only for me, if people want in-depth info on local events they can check out the local paper's website. They do that almost well.

They don't write real estate with a damn. And that's where I come in. Further, I'm letting loose with my personality as a screening process upfront.

I'd love it if my neighbors read this blog. Some of them in fact do. But since they're neither buying nor selling homes, there's little solace in their reading.

"In January, I had 24,000 visitors."

I don't believe that.

"Anonymous" - I don't see what the point in lying about it would be. Here's a screen shot of January's visits and page views:

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