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How Has Blogging Changed Your Real Estate Career? - Jackie Colson-Miller

Jackie-Colson-MillerThis is the first in a series of interviews we’ve conducted with some of our clients that have completely made-over their marketing strategies since the launch of their real estate blog.

Our goal is to illustrate just how much the Internet has become a part of their client acquisition process now that the blog has become the center of that strategy.

Our first interview is with the author of Real Estate Sizzle, Jackie Colson-Miller of Tampa, Florida.  She launched her site and training with us in March last year (2007).

During arguably the worst year in recent real estate history, Jackie finds herself thinking outside the box, embracing new tools, philosophies and efforts.  With a focus on real estate blogging, internet savvy clients, and increasing productivity, Jackie is reaping the benefits.  As of Jan 2008, she has 13 concurrent Tampa area listings for the first time in her real estate career.  All generated because of her new approach.

-Tomato:
Jackie, how would you describe your current marketing strategy outside of the Internet marketing you do?

-Jackie:
Besides the bench, the yard signs and my business cards, which all showcase the RealEstateSizzle.com, it is non-existent.

Nearly all my efforts for new client acquisition are centered around the Internet.

-Tomato:
Well, what did you used to do, so far as traditional marketing is concerned, that you no longer take the time to do now?

Client-acquisition-online-Jackie:
So much.  I did mail-outs, holiday items, recipe cards, just-listed, just-sold, open houses, newsletters... you know, the usual and then some.

-Tomato:
And now you do none of those?  No open houses?  No holiday stuff?

-Jackie:
I have done a rare open open house.  But the rest of it I have completely abandoned. 

Put it this way... when I go to a listing appointment I set the homeowners' expectation that there will be no print advertising, no fliers, no magazines, no mailings... nothing of the traditional sort.  I then back that up with my entire online marketing strategy including my blog readership and its dominance in the search engines, custom online property fliers, email broadcasts and the social networking reach that I have.

My goal is to attract clients that are like-minded.  I want to work with people that appreciate and understand this approach to achieving the results they are expecting when it comes to getting their home sold.

I also plan on doing some future holiday marketing campaigns, but you can be sure that they will be a platform that advertises the blog more than anything.  I used to advertise myself, now it's all about the 'Sizzle".

-Tomato:
Besides blogging, online marketing and seeking out internet savvy clients how else has your commitment to integrating the Internet into your business changed your approach to real estate?

-Jackie:
In just the last several months, I have moved to a total online transaction.  I have changed title companies to one that supports the ability make the real estate transaction, from listing to sale, a completely online experience for all parties involved. 

I encourage my clients and the other parties involved in the transaction to use email as the primary communication tool.  I believe all Realtors should embrace this as a rule.  Email makes for a very clear and searchable paper trail, keeping everyone on the same page.

-Tomato:
What about office time and meetings and such? 

-Jackie:
Believe it or not, I have stopped going to all non-mandatory office meetings.  They are a waste of my time.  I have goals in mind that actually separate me from more than just taking the office meetings out of my schedule.  After reading The 4–Hour Work Week, I'm really looking at ways to increase my productivity and decrease my time-spend. 

Blogging, internet marketing and the online transaction are all huge pieces of that puzzle.  Soon you'll see that I am working less and less from Tampa, and more and more from anywhere I choose.

-Tomato:
As long as you’re blogging regularly, we’ll never notice

-Jackie:
That’s the idea.

Thanks for your time Jackie!

We’d love to hear from you about how blogging has changed your real estate career.  Feel free to post below, or email me to interview you directly for a future post.

Other Interviews with Tomato Bloggers:
Week 2 – Uncle Jack LeVine
Week 3 - Mary DeLuca

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Comments

Jackie's experience mirrors mine: no (very little) print marketing, complete focus on online client acquisition and no non-mandatory office meetings. Makes me wonder (out loud) what the future of the full service brokerage is. Practically everything I do as an agent is online and not brick an mortar. I suppose the virtual brokerage is the next logical step.

I was intrigued by the complete paperless transaction from the listing side. I'd like to pull that off in Georgia, but we aren't there yet and close with attorneys rather than title companies, if that makes a difference. I'd be curious as to whether Jackie's selling clients perceive a benefit in the paperless listing or if the benefit is one really for the agent.

I look forward to the next interviews in this series...I'm off to tend to my blog!

Great interview Jackie! I love going to the Sizzle to see what's up with the latest- not only in her market- but in blogging. She's always got something new on it.

Thanks Jim...always happy to help with anyone needing advice. My clients LOVE the online transaction. I just posted a new listing with the title company and they have found an issue with the deed and the condo docs which will need attention ASAP. The seller has been notified (one day into the listing period) and all the comments and documents are on the website, so any party to the transaction will be granted a password for access. Better to discover this now, rather than 10 days prior to closing with no time for a remedy. With clients all over the world, and the U.S., it is the ONLY way to keep everyone informed on their OWN schedule.

I also use the online transaction for weekly updates to clients...then I send a mass email to all clients that says...be sure to check your online file for the latest updates!

Thanks for the great interview Jim and Jackie! Congrats, Jackie, on not only your listings, but having pulled off the paperless transaction :) I have to ask: what management system you are using? I completely buy into the concept, but haven't yet found the right platform.

Awesome! I've been operating pretty much the same way and have found the bigger bang for less buck to be the best reason that internet marketing is the key to my success. Why spend time in an office when you can reach more people writing a post on the internet?

Great interview Jim. I love Jackie's site and have been reading it ever since I started my Tomato blog. I am actually going to do some offline marketing for my blog. I am having some business cards printed up, and am putting the logo on some shirts. When I get inquiries, I will have cards that explain on the back what my blog is all about. So I'm basically marketing my blog, not my company, like Jackie does. I'm also curious about what transaction system she uses. Do tell. Thanks for sharing the great interview. - Karl

I use a local title company for my online transaction management. I looked into using "Settlement Room", but using the one at the Local Title Company made it much simpler for me. I tell all clients about the "online transaction" as soon as we meet. They think it's pretty cool! As soon as I start a file, or take a listing, I contact the Title company, they open the file, contact all parties and send their passwords with an introduction. Then they start the title search and upload everything to the online file...title information, condo docs, hoa docs, etc. I upload disclosures, survey, etc. Every week I leave messages for my clients in their online file and the system sends an email telling them to check their file! It is great! Lenders and other agents in the transaction have limited access to only the documents they need to view, not anything private, or confidential.

Florida agents can use "Transaction Desk" which is available on the FAR website! Feel free to email me if you have any questions: Jackie@RealEstateSizzle.com

FYI...the transacation management system used by the Title Company is called "Closing Site"...

Way to go Jackie, and think of all the trees you're saving, Jim and Jackie! Thanks for both being cutting edge in your thinking and business strategies.

Great interview and very encouraging stuff.
I too have been making it clear that NO newspaper/magazine/office tours/mailing/blah blah blah, will be a part of the effort, as I did in a recent email to a potential listing client -
"Gone are the days when realtor office tours, newspaper and magazine ads, paper flyers, mailings and the like were an effective marketing tool.
All that stuff is useless fluff, that some realtors continue to hang onto, and use, to justify that they're doing everything possible to sell the home."
Hurrah!

I LOVE YOUR BLOG.

THE REAL ESTATE INFORMATION YOU ARE OFFERING IS PRICELESS TO PEOPLE LIKE US WHO NEED IT.

Wow Jackie, congrats!

Jim...one more comment. With three more clients from my blog this week...their comments were that they felt like they already "know me..and trust that I will help them". I am not afraid to let my personality shine on the Sizzle because I only want to attract clients that are similar to me, or appreciate my forthright approach. Those are also the kinds of RE blogs that I like to read. Any blog full of statistics and no personality from the author sends me away.

Jackie and Jim - nice work. You can't have too many of these "here's how I'm doing it" type of posts. Very productive. Jackie - I am glad to hear you say that you're cutting down on the non-productive uses of time and advertising money, too. It took (still takes) me a while to get over my "blogging guilt" - but when I think about it, blogging is still a highly productive use of my time, or more specifically, the time my clients demand that I spend to help them. So no guilt needed.

Jackie;

Great interview and I love your bus bench story. It's inspired me to go out and find some good ones we can use!

Great insite to one just starting his blog. My website lead me to begin blogging as its the next logical step. You are correct about the meetings, as they are for management much more than the agents. They have been turned inot selling sessions.

Thanks so much of the response on the online transaction info Jackie. And congrats on the new leads. I love your blog and know that it will attract clients to you. You are an inspiration.

Jackie and Jim:

I had read this interview and article when it first came out--and am revisiting it again.

Thanks for all the tips--and I love the positive energy of Real Estate Sizzle. It truly reflects Jackie Colson-Miller--and offers so much information to the reader.

Congratulations to you both!

--Roberta Murphy

Great interview!! Good stuff. I've used Settlement Room and Relay but you're right, some of the title companies have that all in place too - good reminder.

Congrats on the huge success of your blog!

Well written and informative articke Jackie. I feel sorry for the people and businesses without at least one blog, because the bloggers of the world are dominating every niche.

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