There’s always something to howl about

Some Observations From a Crappy Blogger Who Can Barely Spell SEO

Though most of this post won’t necessarily be tech related, it’s probably wise for me to credibly establish by TechTard credentials. I’ll do it quickly by tellin’ a story on myself back when I was a beginning blogger. My marketing guys said, “Hey, this blogging thing looks to be real. You should do it, cuz you know stuff. Can you write?” And a blog was born. My first post was published, quickly followed by my first ever comment. It wasn’t really a comment though, as some of the text made my cursor turn into a hand. What the hell?! It was a trackback (ping?) from none other than Greg Swann at Bloodhound Blog. I literally was in a panic cuz I thought I’d been hacked. How did they get into my blog?! Betcha my marketing guys from back then are still laughin’ their asses off.

I know a bit more techie stuff these days, but not much more. So there you have it — I’m a legit, card-carryin’ TechTard.

OK — Let’s start with SEO, if only so we can leave it first. πŸ™‚

I use key words in my posts mostly cuz I need to in order to make the damn thing readable, not for juice. Check out my page rank, then tell me, cuz I don’t have a clue what it is, nor do I give a damn. Most decent bloggers readin’ this draw traffic orders of magnitude more than I do. They also, most of ’em, get more comments on their average post than I do in 10.

Please tell me how much money real estate bloggers earn per comment, I’m curious. How much more do they earn with 10,000 readers a month compared to the guy who doesn’t average 1,000? 10 X more? Go ahead, make my day, say yes. πŸ™‚ What a buncha hooey. Does SEO work to generate more ‘traffic’? No doubt. When driving, don’t we avoid traffic? πŸ™‚ Those extra cars don’t get us to where we’re going any faster, do they? No — they’re just traffic muddling up our commute. They don’t care where we’re goin’ or how fast we get there. Next, we’ll hear from experts who deny they drive anything but ‘quality’ traffic your way.

Yeah, and Barry Bonds never juiced.

IMHO, real estate blogs are a success for one reason: The bloggers clearly know what they’re writing about. Regardless of how much of a crowd Barnes & Noble creates on a given Saturday in a given store, if most of what’s on their shelves is junk, they lose. Anyone wanna challenge that? πŸ™‚ ‘Updates’? Those, for the most part, are used by agent sites sporting an IDX, duh. More traffic = more users searching for homes = more convertible leads. Again, not exactly E=mcΒ², right? SEO is often, not always, a con used by tech types who know that most folks simply don’t understand what leads to, well, business.

A Blog’s Value

How much are our blogs worth? I dunno. But, there are all kinds of ‘experts’ who’ll tell us. Let’s use an investment technique — capitalization of the net operating income. What’s the ‘expense’ of blogging? Our time, a small monthly payment or two? A double digit ‘cap rate’ is much admired by the real estate investment community. Let’s use a 15% cap rate.

If a blogger averaged roughly $300,000 a year from their blogging efforts the last several years, does that make the blog worth $2,000,000? It sure as hell should. If you hax $2Million to invest in a great, safe, neighborhood, and would get $300,000 annually, wouldn’t you seriously consider buyin’ it? Oh hell yes.

Put that ad on Craig’s list if ya wanna hear some hilarious one-line putdowns. I only include blog valuation here, as the amounts paid for blogs have been pennies, relatively speaking. Millions my ass.

Agent websites with IDX searches…

Show of hands — How many reading this post have IDXs that produce a sale a month consistently, month in and month out. Don’t be shy.

Do they work? Here’s an example of the golden side of the coin.

The leader of my ‘team’ in a state in which I’ve done much business, just went out on his own this year. He’s kickin’ ass and takin’ names. He already has a dozen agents. He has an IDX on his website. He knows how to use it. His conversion rate in terms of dollars is astounding to me. Even with all the time-suck he’s had to deal with in this start-up, he’s managed to put $ix figures of income into escrow in the first month or so — himself — all via his IDX.

Here’s the majority side of the coin.

Grab a thousand agent websites at random, all over the country. Ask them how much biz their IDX has provided them in the last 24 months. It’s my guesstimate 95% of them will say less than six, which is less than one a quarter. And that’s assuming they’re tellin’ us the truth. Agents don’t lie about their production, do they?

(Cue the commenters generating wicked high volume from their IDX sites.)

Save your breath, as I know most of you are for real. But you’re 5% of the crowd — at best, IMHO. The rest are suckin’ the big green weenie.

I bring up IDXs for a completely selfish reason. (Hat tip: Greg on the selfish angle.) πŸ™‚ For the first time since the last quarter of 2003, I’m now able to look for business in my own backyard. You can’t begin to appreciate what that means to me, as few if any of you have been doing literally 100% of your real estate brokerage business outside of your local market. People think I make a lotta money, and I do. But let’s be seriously, nakedly honest here — for every dollar I’ve made around the country the last seven years, I’ve lost 2-5 bucks not being able to work here in San Diego.

I’ve now added an IDX to my firm’s site, as prices have made it possible to at least list small income properties for sale/exchange. I still won’t sell SD props to investors, as I value my nightly eight hours and have a conscience. I will, however, put first time buyers into low priced stuff, including local 2-4 unit properties if they can’t afford/qualify to invest outa town. And no, it won’t be me drivin’ folks around town, but I’ve got that covered. πŸ™‚

Soon, that site will not only have blog posts added to it, but will attract investors wanting to list their income properties with my firm. There might (must be?) a real estate website/blog/IDX that consistently produces listings, but I’ve not seen it. What I mean by that, is a site where the primary function is to generate listings — not buyers. According to the experts with whom I’ve broached this subject, that’s been a pretty hard nut for them to crack.

I’m gonna do my best.

OldSchool VS 2.76949 — or whatever we’re up to now…

Don’t know about you, but I’m sick to death of the forever ‘just around the corner’ online revolution in real estate brokerage. None who espouse that line sport blue eyes, cuz they’re so fulla crap they’ve turned brown — IMHO. πŸ™‚

Stop typing your inane comment about dinosaurs, puttin’ words in my mouth I never said. I believe online sales/marketing works, and for some, wildly well. But I tire of the crickets’ chorus inevitably following my challenge to the tech crowd to show me a large firm of say, 40 agents or more, with more than one agent in the top 10 producers who generate 100% of the business through their online efforts — sans referrals. The OldSchoolers are still crushin’ ’em all over the country. (Lord, is it selfish of me to love writing that sentence, over and over?)

And yes, I believe there’ll come a day when we’ll look around and see most of our business coming from online efforts. That day hasn’t come, and it doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. Toward that end, I’m tickled pink at the prospect of doing local business again. Why? Primarily cuz my projections show a high probability of at least doubling annual income, and a reasonable likelihood of quintupling it. In other words, I’m gonna be my own guinea pig, as much of my local business (not nearly all) will come from OldSchool techniques. Hell, I even ordered letterhead and cards. πŸ™‚

By the way, being a consistent sort, I called ‘The Guy’ to run my blog and company website. I could study what he does for a year and not know what he’s forgotten. He’s already given me a couple ideas I wouldn’t have dreamed of myself. Yeah, I know, big surprise. At year’s end, sooner if circumstances permit, I’ll be sharing my experience both in returning to San Diego and the success — or not — of my approach to business generation.

Would love to hear your thoughts, advice, correction, or admonishment on any of the above. Have a good one.


10 Comments so far

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Brown, Real Estate Feeds and My REALTY, Mark Risley. Mark Risley said: Some Observations From a Crappy Blogger Who Can Barely Spell SEO: Though most of this post won’t necessarily be te… […]

  2. Ken Brand July 22nd, 2010 1:52 pm

    Our 950 agent company has an HEAVILY TRAFFICKED website IDX and we generate a bajillion leads, or at least, 1,000’s every month. You know what the conversion rate is? Well, it’s so low, I’m embarrassed to share it.

    Know why it doesn’t work magic, because “magic” isn’t worked on the leads.

    I bet, the wildly successful are wildly successful, because they know how to kick ass and take names. Doesn’t matter if they decided to focus on Open Houses (I’m talking residential here), door knocking, cold calling, social media, cocktail parties, whatever. People who know how to make things happen, DO.

    I’m imaging that your results will kick ass and take names too, not because an IDX is magic, but because it puts you in touch with more people/opportunity, then you do your magic, then “boom goes the dynamite.”

    I look forward to your report sir.


  3. Jeff Brown July 22nd, 2010 2:01 pm

    Hey Ken — It’s be illuminating to learn what choice the owners would make here: A guaranteed $10 a lead OR their current conversion rate. πŸ™‚

    My team leader in the other state is like a duck on a June bug when people leave their email addresses and/or phone numbers. He’s lightning fast, and his agents too, or they’re shown the door.

    I’m with you when it comes to magic. I’ve found Dad was right when he said the more folks he talked with directly or met belly2belly, the smarter he appeared to be about marketing/prospecting. Thanks for the confidence, I can’t wait for the local wheel to start turning.

  4. steve dunham July 22nd, 2010 2:11 pm

    You actually have a Google page rank of 4, with tens of thousands of backlinks… pretty good! πŸ™‚ Hope all is well Jeff!!!

  5. Jeff Brown July 22nd, 2010 2:29 pm

    Hey Steve, thanks for the update. My calendar, btw, shows we’re due for a conversation sometime next week. Good hearin’ from you over here.

  6. Mitchell July 22nd, 2010 3:30 pm

    Interesting you say you don’t care about PR and that you add keywords to be readable… I read a site the other day saying that you should write for people, not engines. I think there is a lot of truth to that and very much proved by your results.

  7. Alex Cortez July 22nd, 2010 4:33 pm

    LOL, conversion rates (from visitor to lead) is considerably lower than I would like to admit, but would gladly discuss it offline. Embracing new technologies while maintaining a strong ‘old school’ foundation is the way to do it. In my market there is a particular agent who has a few top-ranking sites, yet doesn’t have a single transaction this year. Meanwhile, I can point to countless top producers with minimal online presence. Coincidence?

  8. Jim Klein July 22nd, 2010 10:03 pm

    Great, great post Jeff. Very moving and insightful, and I don’t even understand half of it!

    What’s a letterhead?

  9. Jeff Brown July 23rd, 2010 8:00 am

    When you receive a letter in the mail from a business, it (the actual paper on which the letter is printed) has the company’s name, logo, address, phone number, and any other info they put on it. We call that their letterhead.

  10. Jim Klein July 23rd, 2010 11:15 am

    Thanks, Jeff. I read something about letters and mail in a history book, but I guess I forgot!