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Archive for March, 2007

My short list of real estate carnival candidates

I am continually amazed at the people who write for BloodhoundBlog. Day after day they knock me out, but it’s always late Saturday or early Sunday when I am most impressed. Why? That’s when I have to make my short-list of candidate posts for the week’s real estate carnivals. Cathleen normally makes the final choices, thank goodness, but all of the contributors have a chance to nominate their favorites. Here are my picks for the week:

That’s nine, and there are more I might have included. If you missed some of these, give them a look. Only one will be entered in each carnival, and there’s no telling if we’ll win. But win, lose or draw, we are good and ever better. Go see for yourself…

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  • 1 comment

    Ask the Broker says: Ask the audience: Is now the time to jump into the housing market?

    This came in as an “Ask the Broker” question, but it’s really a wide open pitch for any informed observer. (That would be you.)

    So should second-home buyers buy now, or wait? Will lending rates go lower soon? Or is this the time to strike?

    Have at it, if you like, but back it up with a reasoned argument. I have no idea where our interlocutor is located, so respond for your own market.

    My own take: If you’re willing to buy aggressively and hold for at least three years — five would be better — this might be the ideal time to buy a turn-key home in the Phoenix area. Values could continue to slip over the short-run, but interest rates are unlikely to stay this low in the long-run. Waiting out the bottom on price could result in a worse buy overall, where hammering hard now on price while rates are still very low could put you in an excellent position to prosper when values start to rise again. Nota bene: Never invest money you can’t afford to lose.

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  • 9 comments

    Want to make sure you can defend yourself from internet bad guys? Aim for the body, not the head . . .

    This is Tim O’Reilly on the Kathy Sierra persecution:

    There’s an attitude among many bloggers that deleting inflammatory comments is censorship. I think that needs to change. I’m not suggesting that every blog will want to delete such comments, but I am suggesting that blogs that do want to keep the level of dialog at a higher level not be censured for doing so.

    I’m not crazy about some kind of quasi-official clean comments pledge, presumably accompanied by a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The more webloggers look like Babbitts, the less I like them.

    However: Policing comments in your own weblog is not censorship.

    With the bogus legal standard, “Shouting fire in a crowded theater,” Oliver Wendell Holmes did incredible violence to two fundamental American liberties — the right of free speech and the right to private property.

    You have every right to free speech at your own expense on your own property or on public property. Holmes invented his specious standard to outlaw activities that should have been — and since have been — upheld as constitutionally protected speech. Not surprisingly, the perverse standard he proposed is used ubiquitously by thoughtless people to justify all manner of suppression of private property rights.

    The owner of a theater has every right to shout, “Fire!” on his own property. He has every right to host a “Shout Fire!” party on his own property. If someone is injured in consequence, he’s subject to lawsuit — but none of this has anything to do with free speech. It would make no difference if the exhortation had been, “Excelsior!”

    But: You do not have the right to free speech at someone else’s expense or on someone else’s property. The issue in that circumstance is not the speaker’s right to self-expression but the property owner’s right to condition his hospitality on the behavior of his guests. You do not have the right to shout, “Fire!” in the theater because you are a guest of the owner, not because your right to free speech is being suppressed.

    In other words, if someone is acting like a jackass in your living room — or in your theater — you have every right to throw the bum off your property. Does he have the lawful right to be a jackass. Absolutely — on his own property, on public property, or on the private property of someone else who does not object to the behavior. But he has no right to abuse your hospitality against your will. Your property is yours to do with — and to make available to others — as you choose.

    The exact same principles apply to a weblog or internet forum. Excluding bad behavior is not censorship of that behavior, it is the proper and perfectly just expression of the property owner’s right to extend or withhold his hospitality as he chooses.

    This particular case is exacerbated because the hostile and threatening comments were originating on another weblog. I can police my own comments, and a coalition of Babbitts can agree to some arbitrary standard of comment policing. But none of us can rightfully impose a standard of comment policing upon third parties. That would be censorship, the use of force or the threat of force to prevent people from behaving as they choose, either on public property or on private property where the owner does not object.

    Kathy Sierra’s particular complaints are probably civil torts and possibly even criminal offenses. The problem is that the offenders are anonymous posters, so she doesn’t know who to bring lawsuits or charges against. The owners of the weblogs hosting the comments are morally if not legally culpable, but you can bet they will fall back to the idiot rationale that inhibiting their jackass guests is “censorship.”

    The Babbitts will do what they do, and as long as it doesn’t turn into legislation, I don’t care. Freedom — liberty — means freedom from other people. While it were well to be free from particular bad guys with particular bad designs, it is almost always better to be free from the whole gang of everybody — in the form of the Nanny State — bearing down on all of us with all of its merciful firepower. Crime is bad. Government is almost always worse.

    I do feel for Kathy Sierra, and I wish her peace and solace. My own experience is that anonymous internet snipers are cowards to a man in the real world. But if she and the Babbitts really want to do something to find peace of mind, they would probably better off investing their time in martial arts, self-defense and firearms training. I doubt anything will happen, but if a war of words does turn into a war of weapons, it’s good to know where to aim…
     


    Our story so far: If you’re studying Real Estate Weblogging 101 from home, be sure to peruse these mission-critical posts:

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  • 6 comments

    Soundtrack for my Project Bloodhound life

    This isn’t real estate related, but since I’m only here as a blogging experiment anyway…

    A stunninngly gorgeous and pretty damn smart teenager has found a soundtrack for my Project Bloodhound life. It might be old to the technogeeks here, but it’s new to me, and as there is no accounting for taste, I think it’s fun. Just the thing for tapping your toes during blogsomnia (just close your eyes and listen, the video sucks).

    Happy Friday!

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    Success is contagious: Russell Shaw and the StarPower experience

    Mega-producing Realtor and BloodhoundBlog contributor Russell Shaw insists that “success is contagious.” He backed up that argument at yesterday’s StarPower seminar in Phoenix. Russell spent much of his day surrounded by Realtors eager to infect themselves with his 400-transaction-a-year mojo. As we have good cause to know, Russell is boundlessly generous with good advice, so it could be a few dozen new millionaires came down with an incurable case of success yesterday.

    Russell was one of the seminar speakers, and he did a killer 25 minute presentation on how to price listings — or how to price listings that will sell — or how not to take listings that will never sell. His overarching thesis is that successful people think differently, and his presentation stood as good evidence of that argument: He told the audience nothing they did not already know, but he forced them to look at it from such a different frame of reference that he had the rolling in the aisles.

    StarPower CEO and Ringmaster Howard Brinton has agreed to share the audio recording of Russell’s talk with us, so we’ll make it available as a podcast when we get the file.

    Cathy and I were both hugely impressed with the intellectual content of the event. Despite my first name, I am not a terribly gregarious specimen, so I am much more likely to catch success from a book. But every one of the eight presenters was bursting with good ideas. Cathy was particularly impressed with Tami Spaulding from The Group in Denver. So many good ideas seem to come out of The Group that I may want to devote some concentrated attention to what they’re doing.

    Cathy fell in love with Spaulding’s ideas for a pre-listing package, and I immediately saw how such a thing could be done on-line as well as in print. There were a lot of other ideas like that, things that we think we can adapt to our way of going at things.

    This year’s StarPower Annual Conference is in Phoenix. If you come to town, we’ll buy you a beer. And there’s an excellent chance you’ll catch some of Russell Shaw’s success.

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    Independence Day – It’s Your Business

    It finally dawned on me. I have been grappling with the idea of single-property websites for some time. Should I? Shouldn’t I? Would a single-property website for a listing enhance the exposure of the home and therefore hasten a sale or would it simply serve to impress the seller? Would a single-property URL be detrimental in that it would cause brand confusion with our widely-promoted and established website which already provides all of the property information in what I consider a very comprehensive and compelling format? I could create a distinct site or blog for the home, but wouldn’t that drive traffic from my site? Conversely, I could create a domain forward and point the URL to the existing page in my site, but wouldn’t that in fact be redundant?

    Yahoo! Today I’m on board with the concept of the single-property site, and I have Yahoo! and my real estate company to thank for my sudden clarity of thought.

    Let’s Call Them “Prudential”

    I happen to be affiliated with a company (who shall remain nameless) who negotiated an exclusive agreement with Yahoo! Real Estate. Without going into specifics, I will be the first to admit that there is great benefit to the agents of this partnership, but it comes with a cost. Agents pay to be included in the program but, more importantly, I fear that as many leads are being driven from me as they are to me.

    We Want to Help You (Help Us)

    Participating agents can assign a unique Yahoo! Search ID to their listings which, when entered in the Yahoo! search bar, will bring up the full property page. This page is branded with the agent’s information which, at first blush, sounds like a hell of a deal. Further, if a consumer happens upon the property during a search, they will be directed to this same branded page.

    Let’s start with the obvious. This is a company branding effort in agent-branding sheep’s clothing. As an example, a client of ours who was relocating back to San Diego was using the Yahoo! site to search for homes. She innocently saved her search and within 24-hours received a phone call from another agent in my office asking how they might help her meet her real estate goals. If I may use a technical term, she was pissed off, not because this other agent wasn’t her agent, but because she had been contacted at all. It seems that “leads” are forwarded under referral fee agreements in which the company (and maybe Yahoo!) profit – at the expense of the agent.

    Harnessing the Power (E Pluribus Unum)

    Sorry, Greg. That is the sum-total of my Latin. In the case of Yahoo!, if a visitor hones in on a home which is not a “company” listing, any request for more information will be forwarded to a “company” agent under a referral agreement. And this affects me how? Well, by driving traffic to Yahoo!, I am driving traffic away from my site and myself.

    We are encouraged to drive traffic to Yahoo! through the use of the sign rider bearing the unique Yahoo! Search ID. Until recently, I was happily on the bandwagon. The sales pitch initially had merit. A picture was painted of the drive-by shopper punching this ID number into their PDA, car idling, and immediately pulling up the property information. We are also encouraged to promote the unique ID in all advertising. It made sense until I realized that we aren’t quite there yet (the PDA scenario) and until I remembered where I am sending them (away).

    You Can Find Us On the Web

    I am “given” a web page within my company’s site, but it is forbidden to have this page link to my real site, the one I want people to visit. Now, enter Trulia. My company (and yours too, I bet) is feeding all of my listings to Trulia. This is great (I can’t argue with additional exposure), but any Trulia shopper who requests more information on my listing is directed to a nondescript page on the company website. If I am lucky enough to have them click the email button (trulia@prusd.com), the lead will come to me. If they dare to pick up the phone, however, off to a toll free number they go. Poof! Now you see them, now you don’t.

    It’s 9:00, Do You Know Where Your Listings Are?

    Just in case my Broker of Record is reading this, don’t get me wrong. I truly believe the tools you are providing your agents are superior. I just wish more agents would take responsibility for their marketing efforts. It is incumbent on each of us to fully understand where and how our listings are being advertised. I would confidently venture a guess that 95% of the agents in my office (I am being generous here) have absolutely no clue.

    My company’s branding benefits me, but not when it comes at the expense of my own. So I am, for the moment at least, embracing the single-property URL. My sign rider promoting the site is now being placed where the Yahoo! rider previously resided. It is my one, small act of defiance to protect what I have worked so hard to build – My business.

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    Surprise and Delight Us

    “Surprise and Delight” is a mantra that has been engrained in my consciousness from my pre-mortgage education in the world homebuilder marketing and customer experience modeling. “Surprise and Delight” is a very straightforward concept; however, the astounding lack of implementation in the marketplace (especially the mortgage and real estate market) makes this strategy an untapped powerhouse waiting to be used to your advantage. “Surprise and Delight” strategy is just what it sounds like — surprise your customer with a small delight when they least expect it; taking their experience with you from acceptable to exceptional. Propelling past acceptable to exceptional gives you the ultimate power in marketing — the power of remarkable service.

    Surprise and delight can be traced from concepts well outlined in Seth Godin’s Free Prize Inside, and Harry Beckwith’s Selling the Invisible (both must reads). The basic tenet is excellent service is no longer enough, superior knowledge is not enough, a “great deal” is certainly not enough. None are enough to make your service remarkable. There has to be something more – something worth remarking on. It’s important to define remarkable service as service that is so extraordinary it makes your customer share the experience with people they know. And not just share, advocate on your behalf because of it. Anything less than their advocacy means you’ve failed to render a service to the degree of remarkability.

    An example. There is a little flower shop in Laguna Beach, California named The Black Iris. They are not just another flower shop – they are flower artists that create imaginative works of art with flowers and other flora. The first time I saw one of their bouquets I was blown away. I inquired about it from the person who had purchased it and they raved about this little shop. I had to order one for my wife’s birthday. $150 later, my wife had an exquisite arrangement that actually made her weep with happiness. $150 is a lot for flowers; it’s a piddling price to be a hero to your loved one. I immediately told my brother-in-law about them and many other people as well. My wife and I were both surprised and delighted with the craftsmanship and care with which these arrangements were constructed. It was remarkable.

    I am not the type to spend $150 on flowers very often, but just today my phone rang. It was The Black Iris. Their opener was “Mr. Brown, we were calling to see if you’d like to order Summer (my wife) an arrangement for her birthday again. (its about a week away) Last year you ordered a cheery spring bouquet; would you like to do something similar this year?” I was floored — better — I was surprised and delighted. They went on to confirm my credit card number from the file, scheduled delivery on her birthday — beore noon, no less – and asked if I’d like to change my same card. I will be a hero again this year, and it took less than 3 minutes.

    The Black Iris gets a new sale, an ecstatic customer (I told everyone in the office about the call and am regaling you all) and a remarkable story that compelled their customer enough to talk about it. A+ to The Black Iris.

    After the excitement died down I began to think, “How many of our customers feel that way after working with us?” We have a high referral rate and plenty of repeat business, which is great; but how many of our customers feel as passionate about us as I feel about The Black Iris? I had a sinking feeling that the number is not that high. Why? Because we do a great job at delivering honest service, expert advice and a good deal. Those elements are no longer enough! They are merely tickets to the game of business, they guarantee you nothing else. If you can’t deliver on those, you’re dead on arrival. Customers are smart, and the good customers won’t even give you the time of day with out those core elements, let alone give you their business. You must deliver more. You must deliver remarkable service.

    If being great at what you do is not enough, what are you supposed to do? First, stop the thought that says “it’s not fair” that you do a better job than 99% of your competition, that you’re honest, expert and dependable, and its not enough to guarantee success. Success requires remarkability. It requires you to add surprises and delights to the process — on top of the core qualities that got you in to the game. Little something extras that take the process from adequate (or even good, exceptional, etc.) to the rarefied air of remarkability.

    Here are a few examples of surprises and delights that we built in to our system to try to be more remarkable to our customers. Hopefully these can springboard you to think of ways that you can add remarkable elements to your venture. We’ve heard great feedback on all of the examples below from customers who chose us over the competition — and more importantly, from referrals who called us at the recommendation of their friends.

    • Each mortgage application we send comes complete with the following items: a welcome letter from our CEO, 10-point service pledge, FAQ, illustrated view of the major milestones in the mortgage process.
    • Each new customer is assigned a “Client Concierge,” (not the loan originator) who reports directly to the CEO. During an introductory call the concierge provides the borrower with their contact information in case the borrower is not receiving exceptional service from their originator. The concierge also provides the contact information for their originator, their processor, the operations manager, AND the CEO (email address, business phone, cell phone for all) in a welcome email.
    • Our CEO speaks personally with about 80% of our customers, thanks them for their business and answers any questions they may have. Our goal is 100%.
    • At the conclusion of the loan we deliver to the borrower’s place of business a thank you package that includes a nice, healthy plant, a postage-paid survey to return and a thank you card personalized from the loan originator.

    We think it’s a good start. We know there is a lot more that we can be doing.

    There are opportunities everywhere in your business right now, easy ones, which can elevate you from good, to great, to remarkable. In 5-minutes you’ll be able to think of 3 or 4 surprise and delights that can elevate your customer experience. The hard part is implementing them in to your process in a way that is repeatable, consistent with your service offering, and most importantly powerful enough to get people talking about you.

    I challenge everyone here to share with us your best surprise and delights in the comments. I am sure that with this amazing group there are some phenomenal surprises and delights out there that we can all learn from to better our businesses and most important, create customer experiences that are worth talking about.

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    Skilled Realtor bargain of lifetime

    This is me in today’s Arizona Republic (permanent link):

     
    Skilled Realtor bargain of lifetime

    We own 65 Internet domains so far. Of those, 29 are actually hosted on the Internet, sites you can visit with your Web browser. The others are “pointed” at the hosted sites.

    If you forget that I work for BloodhoundRealty.com but remember my name, GregSwann.com will take you to our main Web site.

    We build custom sites for our higher-priced listings, which accounts for many of the hosted sites. We also have sites for our Weblogs and a site we use to test new versions of our software to make sure it’s ready to deploy.

    We are a high-tech real estate brokerage trying to stay ahead of the curve in a high-tech era.

    Looking over one shoulder, we compete against traditional Realtors. But looking over the other, the Realty.bots — venture-capital-funded Internet real estate start-ups — make the traditional real estate marketing message harder and harder to deliver.

    Is Zillow.com, or another automated valuation method, a useful tool for pricing homes? No, but I have to be prepared to show why, perhaps first overcoming my client’s skepticism.

    Is a $199 Internet listing as effective as the full-service marketing package we bring to the table?

    My view is that a skilled, experienced Realtor is the bargain of a lifetime. Under one hat, you get pricing and sales expertise, advice about staging and repairs, an expertly executed marketing campaign, a professional negotiator, thoughtful and knowledgeable hand-holding through the escrow process — and more.

    Unlike a Realty.bot, your Realtor has actually bought and sold houses — dozens or hundreds of times. With expertise that stretches from little things, like hiring a landscaper, to topics as big as the Internet itself, the professional advice you will get from a good Realtor cannot be matched by canned Realty.bots, no matter how much fun they are to play with.

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    Predatory Coaching For Realtors and Loan Originators

    Are you a victim of predatory coaching?
    There are many advice gurus available to Realtors and loan originators. I watch our industry grow and am amazed at the cottage industries that have hatched from that growth. It reminds me that the only people really making money in multi-level marketing sell the books and tapes on how to succeed in MLM. I can think of three or four gurus who offer real content and provide “how-to-do-the-business” knowledge that comes from personal experience…

    …but…….THERE ARE PREDATORY COACHES

    There is a vacuum in the real estate and mortgage brokerage industry when it comes to training. A new licensee signs up with a brokerage and the broker says “Get to work!” Many have figured out how to make an above-average income doing just that. Hustlers love vacuums, though. They “prey” upon the weak and their booty is an annuity of fees extracted from an unsuspecting and well-meaning Realtor or originator.

    Let me give you a real life example. In 1999, a good friend of mine opted for a career in real estate brokerage over her corporate recruiting career. She approached me to secure a line of credit for her so she would have ample reserves to meet expenses in an irregular income environment. The predators started circling like hungry buzzards on a hot desert day.

    1-She was encouraged by her broker to “invest” in training. (What the hell does the broker do?).

    2-She was encouraged to take out full-color ads borrowing other people’s listings. (Good for the brokerage; free advertising.)

    3-She enrolled in coaching programs at $500/month.

    The best marketing advice she received was from SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives). The cost was $79.00 for the six-week consultation.

    We have a new vacuum and that vacuum is in marketing. Realtors and loan originators are having increasing difficulty learning how to market themselves. The new buzzards are circling. They come disguised as “online marketing experts”. They sell and resell “online leads” to us. They hold seminars and follow-up with pushy sales people who try to make you feel inferior by suggesting that you “might not be ready to become an evolved agent” when you question their price. You know them because they call you weekly.

    Here are four signs of predatory coaching:

    1- We only take a select group of clients so you have to act quickly (That’s crap, they’ll take anyone’s money)
    2- Our guru, XXX XXXX, has made so much money in real estate that he has retired and just enjoys sharing it with everyone. ( My idea of sharing is not $2995 for a 3 day weekend in Palm Springs)
    3- You really can’t afford NOT to buy this program. WHAT???
    4- These leads are exclusive and pre-screened. Verify, verify, verify.

    Real estate brokerage is one of the last bastions of true capitalism. I have never seen so many rags-to-riches stories that have resulted from hard work as I have in this industry.

    Don’t be a victim of predatory coaching.

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    Nine months on the trail: Whither BloodhoundBlog?

    I don’t like mission statements, but I’ll give you one for BloodhoundBlog:

    Everything you wish were in Realtor magazine but isn’t.

    That’s pithy but inadequate, because there’s more here already than Realtor magazine — or the Specialist — would ever take on. We have three lenders to take us inside the mortgage industry. We have two investment experts to brings us hard-core, hands-on advice. We have some of the best writers in the RE.net — who produce some of the best reading in real estate writing, period, weblogged or printed.

    And we are nine months old today.

    Our traffic grows month-by-month. In addition to the folks who see our work by RSS feed, we are routinely attracting more than 1,000 unique visitors a day on weekdays. We’re slower on weekends, but we’re right on the verge of hitting 30,000 visitors a month. Our readers take in just short of two pages each, on average, so a lot of what we write is getting read. We throw off at least 500 outbound clicks every day, which means that the sites we link to are seeing quite a few Bloodhounds in their kennels.

    This is all great, but I want more. We’re building the Russell Shaw Sales Success curriculum, and, by the time we’re done with it, we should have something that will provide tremendous value to Realtors and other sales professionals for a long time to come. I have no expectation that Teri Lussier and I will win the Project Blogger contest, but I plan to make the course material I’m developing available via ebook to any Realtors who hope to join the burgeoning RE.net. Our contributors are becoming steadily better known, and this cannot but produce interesting opportunities for them in the long run.

    Even so, I want more. I am very proud of everything we have done so far — and a week’s worth of BloodhoundBlog content is an over-scale pound of meaty reading — but I want to come to the place where a day’s work is of that weighty scale. I know we can do this. There are days when we do it already. There will come a time when we will do it every day.

    We are sometimes the first word in a debate, and that can be fun. We are very often the last word. But what I want, now and always, is for BloodhoundBlog to be the best words in the conversation, the most thorough, the most informative, the most cogent, the most persuasive. At our best we are not writers but rhetors, eloquent docents on the path of reasoned discourse.

    At our absolute best we are Bloodhounds — unabashedly proud, fiercely independent, tirelessly hardworking — indefatigable hounds on the trail of truth.

    Three fingers of Old Bushmills on the rocks: Happy nine-month’s birthday, BloodhoundBlog. The best is yet to come…

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    Second Russell Shaw Sales Success Seminar scheduled for Tuesday, April 17

    Mega-producing Realtor and BloodhoundBlog contributor Russell Shaw is is hosting the second in his series of Sales Success symposia for striving Realtors. The first event was a huge success.

    The purpose of the seminars is to establish the most vitally-important points to be covered in a sales training curriculum, to be produced in the coming months in audio and video podcasts. Russell will address larger meta-topics and then entertain questions from the audience to unearth smaller but still important sub-topics to be addressed in the podcasts.

    The second of these events will be held on Tuesday, April 17, 2007, at the offices of North American Title, 3200 East Camelback Road, Suite #150, Phoenix, AZ 85018. The event will run from 6:30 PM to approximately 9:30 PM, and refreshments will be served. There is no charge to attend. Russell will handle two meta-topics, followed by question and answer sessions, with a short break between. North American Title and Worldwide Credit Corporation are sponsoring the event and will make short presentations.

    Who should come? A striving Realtor is one who has learned how to stay afloat in this business but wants to learn how to build a bigger, more profitable business. In other words, if you’re a brand new agent or if you’re happy with your current level of production or if you’re already a top-producer, these symposia are not for you. Because Russell is building the curriculum for a full-blown Sales Success training course, his goal is to hear from the Realtors who want most to learn the lessons he has mastered in his career.

    Click here for a poster you can hang up in your office to let other agents know about the seminar. All the details plus driving directions.

    If you want to attend, we’d love to have you, but space is limited. This is an opportunity to learn a whole lot even as you help other Realtors learn a whole lot — for years to come. Plus which, it should be a lot of fun…

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    Late-night random notes . . .

    I finished moving the last of our 29 hosted web sites today, and, so far, I am 98% delighted with the choice me made. The pages just snap, including BloodhoundBlog — which is one fat, data-sodden dog. We have some kind of DNS problem that is intermittently affecting some of our PHP programming. Until now, I have been prepared to write this off to slow or flaky DNS servers out in the world. As of today, I’m thinking we have a problem in-house. By Friday, I’ll have it worked out, and then I expect to be 100% happy.

    I’ve had poor Cameron working for two days to solve a problem that may not even be his problem. It is biologically ordained, I think, that fathers and manling sons must quarrel, but Cameron and I spar not about cars or curfews but about software — right now about Unix environment variables. Tonight’s South Park was aimed right at both of us — family togetherness in the form of rude comedy peppered with net.references.

    Todd Tarson’s MOCO Real News celebrated its first anniversary yesterday. Todd deserves accolades every which way. The depth of responsibility he feels for other Realtors is without parallel. Because he’s in Arizona, Cathy and I will get to watch him as he becomes one of the Grand Old Men of the Arizona Association of Realtors.

    We’re at StarPower tomorrow, so I have a couple of entries set up in advance, to be posted by the scrupulously punctual WordPress bot. Because of all the work I did to keep the foul-mouthed flamers out, quite a few comments are being captured by the moderation bot, or even the spam bot. I won’t be around to deal with those until late in the day. My apologies.

    I have many more thoughts on the subject of local real estate weblogging for dollars. Now that I have this hosting issue (mostly) off my plate, I can begin to implement some of them, as well as talk about them.

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    The repeatedly redundantly reiterated claims about short attentions spans among internet users are untrue

    C 4 yrslf.

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    Resource recourse: For the budding real estate weblogger, opportunities for self-improvement are everywhere — and every where is right here

    Seth says to write an ebook, and I think this is a fine idea. When we start to look like we’re done with the Weblogging 101 curriculum, I’ll go back and whip together something that can work on dead-tree media. This would not be the ideal way to work with it, though, since an ebook can be rich in links — including a “check for the latest edition link.”

    One thing I would want to do with something like this is make it link out to richer resources. I can gloss topics, but there’s a lot of deep-think stuff that is much better handled by other people. At the ante-penultimate stage of revision, I’ll put it out for link suggestions. Real Estate Weblogging 101 could end up being an iterative resource, the half-way point between a legacy-style book and a piece of software: Work through the big print first, then pursue the links, then work through the arcane but massively edifying sidebar links. That could be very cool.

    On the subject of resources, or perhaps the unexpected serendipity ensuing from web-based resources: Two nights ago before bedtime, I wrote How to make Google your weblog’s best friend. It was a small idea that I had been wanting to hit. I had the time to take care of it, and I wanted for there to be something new on the weblog. I don’t ever do anything half-way, but if ever there was a just-knock-it-out post, that was it. I knew exactly what I wanted to say, and it took me no time to to compose and post it.

    Serendipity came in the form of Mike Levin of HitTail.com. HitTail is a web site/weblog stats service that will monitor your incoming traffic and tell you what keywords are bringing people in. You can use this information to SEO optimize your site, to plan AdWords campaigns, etc. Anyway, Mike Levin coming here was cool, but what was even cooler was that he cited my post and its comments thread on StumbleUpon, a social bookmarking site similar to Digg or Del.icio.us.

    Hundreds of people came to read that post. On average, they read at least one other page while they were here, which might mean that we added a few new regular readers or RSS subscribers yesterday.

    Dozens more people have come in from StumbleUpon already today. How do I know? I subscribe to the statistics package from MyBlogLog.com. I also use HitTail.com, and I will be subscribing to the upgraded version of HitTail. There are finite limits to the utility of this kind of information. As always, the long-tail keywords that matter to you are not the ones that bring visitors to your site, but the ones that bring paychecks to your bank account.

    But here’s a huge caveat: I’m bad at this stuff. I don’t use social bookmarking sites, so I tend not to attach too much value to them. There are massive, outrageously arcane SEO-optimization websites that I care nothing about. I actively despise paint-by-the-numbers writing advice. Even so, there is value to be derived, from a little to a lot to so-much-you-can-never-absorb-it-all, in web-based weblogging resources. I’m going to go through some stuff, in no particular order, with the understanding that I will not come even close to scratching the surface on what’s out there.

    RSSPieces has an excellent article on how to avoid committing copyright theft with images. Both RSSPieces and The Real Estate Tomato are fully of tasty (sorry!) real estate weblogging advice, but remember to keep a balanced diet. What makes a weblog work is not web mechanics, but rich, detailed, authentic, organic, community-building content.

    (One of the reasons I’m not very good at the resources end of this subject is that BloodhoundBlog grew without my having to do very much resource stuff. Content is King? That’s for you to decide, but it’s all we’ve ever done.)

    At a more hands-on level Dave Smith’s Real Estate Blog Lab is like Tim Taylor’s Tool Time for real estate weblogs.

    Todd Carpenter at lenderama is advising lenders on how to build weblogs, and much of his advice should apply to our purposes as well. Todd is also father of REMBEX, the uncontested best search engine for the RE.net. How well do I like it? It sits just below the WordPress search in our sidebar — and for all but the most obvious searches, it works much better than the WordPress search.

    Jay Thompson, The Phoenix Real Estate Guy, publishes a very powerful locally-oriented real estate weblog. He’s not doing some of the things we have been talking about here, but his results — at the long-tail and at the short-head — are excellent beyond contest.

    More: ProBlogger and Blogging Pro. I read these sites for posting topics, and for tools and techniques. Lorelle on WordPress, on the other hand, I follow pretty closely.

    In the neighborhood: Staska.net has just published a list of the thirty most popular WordPress plug-ins. Big Red Warning Signs: Plug-ins can conflict with each other. Not everything is WordPress 2.1.x-compatible, even if it say it is. And a little goes a long, long way. How much salt is too much salt might be a matter of opinion — until there is way to much salt.

    Got a question? Google is god — omniscient, omnipresent, omnibenevolent. Wikipedia is the Archangel Michael. You’re never more than a link away from the link you knew must exist. Every where is always right here, so “to persevere in obstinate condolment is a course of impious stubbornness.” So there!

    There is lots, lots more, and if you apply yourself assiduously to pursuing the links you’ll find on the sites I’ve linked to — you will never, ever absorb it all. So what? Learn what seems most vitally important right now, and pile on more tomorrow. You are perfection personified — potentially. It is by iterative self-improvement that your potential is realized — made real.

    Homework: Improve yourself — but don’t get so swept up in this stuff that you forget what you do for a living.
     


    Our story so far: If you’re studying Real Estate Weblogging 101 from home, be sure to peruse these mission-critical posts:

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    Review movies? Review restaurants? Heck, no! Review the street you live on!

    Via Search Engine Land, trooly stoopid social networking hits the bricks.

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