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Archive for July, 2010

You Still Here? Good. Now Get Out!

I was talking to a pretty large group of agents yesterday and during the break I asked my standard questions: “So, how’s business?”  ”Are you keeping busy?”  Over and over I heard the same two answers.  One agent would say, “No, it’s been slow and it’s killin’ me.”  The next agent would say ”Yeah, I’m real busy, but every transaction takes three times as much work and pays half what it did.  It’s killin’ me.”  Kind of reminded me of a classic Woody Allen joke about two old ladies sitting at a resort in the Catskills.  The first one complains, “The food here is terrible.” The second one replies, “Yes, and such small portions.”

I know, I know - this space is normally reserved for big-brain posts and how-to tutorials all written to help you find your bigger, better, more passionate place in this bowl of cold porridge we call real estate.  Heck, just for writing this I might get drummed out of the “challenge them till they drop” school of bootcamp real esate training that cost me $19.99 and four cereal box tops.  But listen, if you’re making it right now – despite the poor food and small portions – then you are a success and when the tides eventually rise, you’re going to reap ever increasing rewards. (Unless, of course, those tides drown you, in which case your reward is in the mail… please don’t contact me.)  So give yourself a pat on the back.  Better still, take yourself out to dinner this weekend and make damn sure to show this post to your wife or husband.  They should spend the better part of that dinner telling you how impressed they are that you’re still making it.  (Wouldn’t hurt if they commented on your tremendous bouyancy either.)  Oh, and make sure you order dessert too – something decadent and fattening.  Just tell the waiter that no matter how bad the dessert is, you want a large portion.  It’ll be okay, I promise.  Besides, you deserve it.

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    An Offer of Thanks and Some Encouragement – Fillin’ Barns

    As is likely true for most readers, though hard work, a constant learning curve, and a little luck have combined well for me, it was mentors selflessly adding new possibilities to my menu who made so many positive outcomes even possible. They showed me where the pockets of light were in the dark times — and, more importantly, where the light switches were. How to leverage new skill sets and knowledge into useful and productive results for clients. But most of all, to become a mentor whenever possible. I’ve done this, if only to honor the frequent detours of their valuable time on my behalf.

    All of them are gone now.

    When thinking of them, which is often and fondly, a feeling of tremendous gratitude and a bit of frustration wash over me. Though I routinely thanked them for their priceless gifts, there’s always that nagging frustration — somehow I could’ve shown more gratitude. The lessons imparted weren’t limited to the nuts ‘n bolts of being a real estate investment broker. One thing they shared was the core belief that regardless of the times, those who kept plowin’ the fields, day in, day out, would always have their barn filled with enough, if not a surplus, come harvest time.

    That one nugget of wisdom has kept me talkin’ to the mule, while plowin’ the field far past sundown more times than I can remember. I’ve not once been let down when it came time to bring in the harvest. That surely doesn’t mean there weren’t years when hamburger helper wasn’t a staple. It meant that I was still standing — ready to compete when the excrement stopped hittin’ the whirling blades. I learned as a young man that sometimes winning/success = survival. For many these days that’s surely the reality.

    None of us are immune, most of us have been there, done that. But to those who’re experiencing their first go-round in this kinda rodeo, I offer heartfelt encouragement.

    Grandma was right when she told you to keep your head down, and keep workin’ hard ‘n smart one day at a time. My grandma had a heart to heart with me late one afternoon towards the end of 1980. I’d just become a father, it was between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and was dramatically lamenting my plight in the recession handicapped real estate world. She would have none of it.

    Her words were not burdened with buffers designed to protect my fragile ego from the plain truth.

    (Paraphrasing) “You’re a married man with a son now. Feeling sorry for yourself is no longer an option. You know exactly what must be done, day to day, to produce maximum results in your business. Look me in the eye and tell me you’re doing those things day in and day out, and in the order of their importance. You need to always be doing the things that need doing. A farmer has no choice in the matter, and frankly, neither do you.” Her ‘talk’ took about 15 seconds or so. It’s affect on me was profound if not life changing.

    Gulp. No choice.

    When we’re having those conversations with ourselves, the ones in which we’re questioning whether or not we have what it takes to prevail, one of two thoughts occur. A) We don’t have what it takes, and should change our career choice…OR…B) We know in our hearts we have what it takes, but we’ve been kiddin’ ourselves about doin’ what it takes to accomplish the results for which we’re striving.

    If you decide ‘A’ is your reality, God Bless you and good luck. Contrary to some views, real estate ain’t for everyone. However, if ‘B’ hit the target, you probably know what you need to change.

    I empathize with you in the most personal sense. Much as the farmer must wonder if fate is out to get him with horrible weather, diseased animals, equipment breakdowns and the like, the real estate agent can easily become morose and defeatist after months, sometimes years of seriously crappy economic conditions. Speakin’ from experience, I know about that, cuz I’ve seen me do it.

    What’s gonna get you through these times is winning the battle one day at a time — sometimes one task at a time. Were you’re paintin’ the fence in the south 40 when you knew you shoulda been doin’ the much more productive, but much harder grunt work of repairing and replacing the fence in the north 40?

    Warning: Metaphor pileup ahead.

    Wanna know the difference over a full season between a .250 hitter and one who bats .300?

    One measly hit a week! The average everyday player gets about 20ish official at-bats weekly. One guy gets 4 hits, the other guy gets 5. Simple as that. That extra hit a week means the .300 hitter will make 2-10 times the salary of the .250 hitter.

    Here’s the difference though between hittin’ a baseball comin’ at ya 95 mph, and being a successful real estate agent:

    Allowing for exceptions that prove the rule, the best batting coach ever simply cannot make a .250 hitter into a .300 hitter. But you can be a more successful agent than you are now, by soberly making a decision to make it so.

    Come to work each day knowing you’re gonna take the bull by the horns and do exactly what you know in your heart needs doing — and in the priority it merits. Do that for 90 consecutive days and be delighted in what you’ve wrought. No rationalizing allowed — ever. We all have tasks that are repugnant to us, regardless of how much we may like the business in general. Go ahead, tell me how much you enjoy dealin’ with an appraiser who couldn’t find their ass with a guide, a map, and a GPS. :)

    I know you can do it — and more importantly, you know you can. The only things that remains is the doing. Step up to the plate and beg for a 95 mph fastball you can knock outa da park. I know that many say they love their job and don’t consider what they do to be work. OK, fair enough. Call it whatever floats your boat. Just do what needs doing, do it well, and give everything you do it’s proper priority.

    The rest will take care of itself. You’re 90 days away from a fuller barn.

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    Get them [not] to sign on the line that is dotted…

    Here are a few questions.

    We all know that there are clients who will cost us – either in the short or long runs – more than they’re worth in terms of value to us. What steps do you take to account for potentially needy/troublesome clients? Do you factor that into a price you charge? Do you refuse to take them? Do you take them on a contingency basis, meaning that they must do XYZ before you will be hired by them?

    I’ve recently turned away several clients who I knew could pay me, but who I suspected would be too much trouble in the long run. I think one of the benefits of running your own business is that you get to decide who you want to interact with.

    I’m trying to develop a graceful way to reject clients, since I don’t want to damage my reputation. And the sometimes the kind of people I reject are the kind of people who, if they had a mind to do it, could damage my reputation.

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    An apology to Redfin.com CEO Glenn Kelman: “I bought my house on FreePhoenixMLSSearch.com!”

    I owe Glenn Kelman an apology. When Redfin.com was young — which is to say four long years ago — I swore that Glenn’s assertion that people would buy homes like books on Amazon.com was simply absurd. I have moved people into rental properties sight unseen, and quite a few of my investors let me pick out rental home investments for them. But I could not foresee a day when people would commit huge sums of money to purchase a residence they had seen only on the internet.

    Today I am obliged to eat my words — and I’m damn glad I don’t wear a hat!

    I had email this afternoon from a vistor to our Phoenix MLS search site, FreePhoenixMLSSearch.com. Writing to me from Florida, he had found a property on our site that he wanted to purchase. To his credit, the home is very aggressively priced to its competition, as well as being listed for several thousand dollars less than the lowest recent comparable sale. In other words, very far from being wrong about this offer, he is right on the money. Plus which, he’s an investor, so he’s not going to have to explain to his spouse that he bought her a mail-order homestead.

    But still…

    But: Still: Thanks to DocuSign, we had everything done 53 minutes later. I had Phoenix handyman Mark Deermer meet me at the property so we could take a look at it — this after the contracts were already executed — but there was no key in the lockbox so we weren’t able to go inside. But we have ten days from acceptance to look for red flags, so there’s no risk in the work we’ve done so far.

    But still…

    Took me by surprise, but it’s been utterly painless till now. We may end up killing the deal yet, but, if not, we’ll close in 30 days or fewer.

    So: Glenn Kelman: My hat — the one I don’t wear and won’t have to eat — is off to you. It’s a whole new world of real estate.

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  • 13 comments

    On a Scale of 1 to 10…

    USC is cleaning house after the Reggie Bush debacle.  (For those of you with real lives, Reggies Bush is a running back for the Saints who, while attending USC, was lucky enough to receive – no strings attached - a big, beautiful new home for his family here in San Diego…  It reportedly had nothing to do with his prowess on the football field.)  According to a recent AP story reported in the San Diego Union Tribune, USC will be sending Mr. Bush’s Heisman Trophy back to the Heisman Committee as an expression of their shame.  Apparently, they are no longer proud to display it along side the trophies of Mike Garrett, Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Charles White, Marcus Allen and … OJ Simpson.
     
    I’m guessing the closed-door strategy session ended with something like this: “Yes, yes, he nearly severed two people’s heads… I mean he alledgedly nearly severed two people’s heads!  But Reggie cost us scholarships and bowl games.  Gentleman, I believe our course of action is clear.”
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    A David Gibbons send off dance

    Dear David Gibbons: Around here we dance on bridges.
    I rejoice that you are seeking splendor!
    Someday, please teach us all to Diski Dance on a bridge!

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  • 2 comments

    Gettin’ Listings Sold – Playin’ Hide the Pea

    I’ve never really cared much about the infinite number of sites ‘marketing’ listings for real estate agents. It’s always struck me as oversold at best, and a con at worst. I’ll let you gentle readers gimme your experience in the comments section. I have done a kinda sorta poll in the last 10 days or so. The question was — How many sold listings do you attribute to any of the various sites that do that sorta thing? Mostly I was greeted with a whole buncha silence, though some immediately admitted not knowing.

    This question began to bug me about 18 months ago as I was headin’ towards the return of my firm to our local San Diego market. I’m gonna be a lister for the most part — can’t help it, it’s in my DNA. My dad always said it was one of the ways to keep my ManCard. :) Actually, those who know me assume I won’t be showing houses, as my son will be representing buyers who can’t get started in investment property, but can own as cheaply as they can rent — another post altogether. I’m more than happy for him to be on the road. :)

    As I was sayin’, in January of 2009 I was wondering how effective these sites really are when the Firestones kissed the pavement. The answers most agents finally gave me were exactly what I’d expected — they use them to get listings. Potential sellers are impressed like Little Leaguers at their first big league game when they see that Larry Lister from TopProducer Real Estate will be putting their home on 3,058 different sites — and by Saturday to boot. Boy, does that guy know how to market, or what?!

    Um, I opt for ‘what’. This declaration of implied marketing savvy, also implies the agent is a techie of the first degree. Geez, does he leap tall buildings in a single bound too?

    Wanting to find out for myself, I did a little experiment with the first local listing I’d taken in about six years. No sign — no fancy stand-alone websites — no Craig’s List ads — nothin’ except the good old MLS.

    Oh, and doin’ things right in the first place.

    Doin’ things right? I shameless copy Greg’s listing to-do list and claim it as my own. Clients think I’m innovative when in reality I’m BawldJapan. I have added an original twist, at least original for me. We bring in an interior designer who has the kind of experience most any 10 designers out there won’t have between ‘em.

    Here’s what she ordered done on the property in question.

    Best curb appeal in the neighborhood — check — already true when we got there. Quick redesign/remodel of both bathrooms. Shorten an interior wall here, modify a patio cover there, drywall the garage, and for kicks ‘n giggles, re-floored and/or re-carpeted the whole place. Oh, and painted everything not moving inside. Staged it pretty well, but not like we will in the future.

    Results? Hit the MLS late Friday afternoon, opened escrow Wednesday morning. Took awhile since there was some give ‘n take between offer and acceptance. Again, no sign, nothin’ online, just MLS.

    Back to my massively unscientific, Amateur Night at the Bijou, poll.

    When pressed, every single agent, without exception, admitted that using all the various zombie-like listing sites was a marketing move used to convince sellers to list. And the congregation responds with a resounding — DUH! Having your listing on 1,001 sites is what may be gettin’ you traction during your listing presentation, but I’ve yet to find anyone who honestly believes they’ve produced (meaningful) squat in the sales of their listings.

    It’s the 21st century version of the Open House — poster child for agents playin’ Hide the Pea with their sellers. It’s even in many of their presentations. “Yes Mr. and Mrs. Seller, we’ll put your listing on special websites all over the world. And…and…we’ll, um…we’ll hold really bitchen Open Houses too — Yeah, that’s the ticket. (Apologies to Greg & the rest who love them. To each his own.)

    Meanwhile, their neighbors are impressed within an inch of their lives by how hard that nice real estate agent has been working. They hold Open Houses, and they have all sorts of stuff they do online. Aren’t they just the best of all 27 worlds?!!

    NOTE: I’m not talkin’ about the stand-alone websites for listings. I’d just like the time to get one of ‘em up before the damn property goes into escrow. :)

    Look, will I have open houses for the vacant rental homes/condos/townhomes I list in San Diego? Yeah, probably. I’ll recruit some starving agent who’ll be grateful for the opportunity to snag a buyer or three. I’ll tell my sellers exactly what I’m doin’ — showin’ other income property owners in the area how hard we work for them. Usually, when I’ve confessed this to a seller/client they laugh their butts off. I tell ‘em it’s intra-industry charity work. (That was bad, right?) Then they always ask the question.

    “How many listings have you sold using open houses?”

    “I’m positive of one, though there may have been one other.”

    The TakeAway

    When was the last time you shopped for a used car? Why did you buy that one? It was priced right. It looked fantastic — easily better than the others. It performed as advertised. All things considered, it was the best one you’d seen, hands down — so you bought it. Betcha you didn’t hafta be sold much if at all. Right?

    The local MLS or some agent’s site with an IDX is all ya need out there. OK, Realtor.com comes with the MLS, right? Cool.

    You’re a professional. List properties to sell, and stop listing properties to market.

    Been around for awhile? Here’s your 60 second ‘listing presentation’ — “Mr. & Mrs. Seller, here’s a list of properties we’ve sold in the last six months. Here are the seller’s contact info.” I’ve often done that by phone, then immediately emailed them the contact info, promising to call them the next day. Just as often they’d call me first.

    Do I have this whole 1,001 listing websites thing wrong? Am I the one who can’t find the pea?

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    Reasons to be cheerful, Part 3.1.3: Praising Cain: Change the world forever by learning to love your life the way you actually live it.

    Imagine this: You are the High Priest of a nomadic tribe following a herd of foraging sheep. When the tribe needs food, a beast is slain and the meat is shared equally. The political structure is hierarchical, but even the Chieftain is governed by the unchanging traditions of the tribe.

    One year the herd wanders toward the seacoast. You encamp a short walk away from a trading post built by a sea-faring civilization.

    For the first time in their lives, your tribesmen discover a way of life different from their own. The traders live indoors, sleeping on beds! Their diet consists of more than meat and foraged nuts. They eat grain, fruit and fish, flavoring their water with delectable nectars.

    Wealth is not shared. Villagers trade with each other to get what they need — and each family owns its own land! Disputes are resolved by reasoned conciliation, not by fiat. Even so, each family seems to own more weapons than your whole tribe combined.

    Anyone can introduce a new tool, technique or idea at any time — upending the whole civilization if it comes to that — and not only is this not forbidden, it is avidly sought!

    This is horrifying to you as High Priest, but your horror is nothing compared to the apoplexy of the Chieftain. As he watches tribesmen disappearing into the village one by one, he turns to you for a solution.

    Now you understand the story of Cain and Abel.

    Cain made a sacrifice of grain, Abel of meat, and the meat — the wealth of the herders — was pleasing to the god of the tribe. Why does Cain slay Abel in the story? To scare the tribesmen back into the herd.

    The Greeks found a better way to live, spreading it with capitalistic abandon. Those who abhorred the Greek way of life crafted their mythologies to portray Hellenism as evil.

    Would you like to change the world, forever, for the good, one mind at a time? Here’s how:

    If you live in Cain’s world, stop pretending to live in Abel’s.

    If your life depends on capitalism, private property and free trade, stop pretending to admire collectivism. If you thrive by continuous innovation, stop enshrining tradition. If you govern your behavior by reason and conciliation, stop praising vengeance and retribution. If you want to live free from coercion by other people, stop pushing other people around by force.

    You know your way of life is better. Dare to share that secret with the victims of Abel. You are wrong to let Abel’s High Priests make you feel guilty about your wealth, but you are also wrong to hoard this civilization — this incomparable gift from Cain — to yourself. Innocents the world over are starving — in terror, in squalor — because you don’t have the courage to say that Abel was evil and Cain was good.

    Make that one small change in your life, and the rest will come of its own…

    December 6, 2006


    Reasons to be cheerful: Defying the specter of ugly fates.

    Manifest your own destiny: You say you want a revolution? Yeah, well anyone can piss and moan about how bad everything is. If you want things to change, I’m making a stout effort to show you how to achieve revolutionary change — from the inside out. But your own efforts at self-improvement will bear sweeter fruit sooner if you share what you’re learning with other people who love to live. You’ve never heard anything like this before. Why would you hoard it to yourself?

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  • 4 comments

    Where Would David Gibbons Go?

    Home, of course.

    Anybody who followed his World Cup trip to South Africa saw the glow on his face, in his Facebook pictures, and the longing in his heart, on his Facebook status updates.  Social media are interesting platforms.  They have the power to bring you much closer to people you’ve met or allow you to learn more about those you’ve yet to meet.   I “met” David on Active Rain, was drawn to the Zillow brand because of him (and Drew Meyers), and am grateful to him for supporting  the inaugural real estate social media marketing conference.

    I’ve battled with, yelled at, drank beer with, collaborated with, and tried to support David Gibbons for a number of reasons but, in the end, it’s all about mentschkeit.  David G from Zillow is the type of guy you want on your team….and you want to play on his team, too.

    I”m not going to cry about his departure because between  Skype and Facebook, Seattle is not much farther than Jo-Berg.  My goal today is to remind you of the single most important lesson we learned, from David G:  What Would David Gibbons Do?

    The WWDGD lesson is to represent yourself  positively online and always sell your brand.  The trick is in the delivery.  David G. never skulked and pounced, like a sleazy corporate pitchman.  David G. was always part of the conversation, offering ideas, debating, and developing best practices.  If there was ever a spokesman for the ” RE.net“, Davig G would be that guy.  Why?  He lives in our world.

    So I’ll just say “Hamba Kahle” to David G.  I’d say I’ll miss him but I doubt I’ll notice he’s moved.

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    GreenErections.Com

    I’ve been having a lot of fun with WordPress 3.0. One of the cool things large brokers can probably be doing with the platform is offering their agents super simple to set up lead generating landing pages.

    By taking advantage of the multi user capability and tweaking a themes template files to allow for very little customization, you can build, test, deliver, (and tweak for improvement) sites that do a nice job of converting visitors to incubatable leads.

    Some early Retechulous stabs at this wp 3.0 mulitsite squeeze page concept include:

    • PropertyBuzzer.Com
    • 247Property.Info
    • FixerUpperLoan.Info
    • and… the site I’ve been wanting to build for years (I even bought the domain once, let it expire, then waited for it to come back available)…..

      GreenErections.Com!

      …An eco friendly squeeze page for real estate pros that sure to delight, offend, and most importantly differentiate!

      Anyway, full disclosure. I’m letting folks fire these sites up for free as a bit of a retechulous lead generation ploy… so if you’re interested in grabbing one for yourself, there’s a form that’ll let you start the process within the eco friendly real estate squeeze page (anchor text) blog post I just fired up on the subject.

      Very interested to hear whether Anyone else out there is having similar fun with WP 3.0?



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  • 6 comments

    Reasons to be cheerful, Part 3.0.3: When you resolve never to let other people dominate you, you come to be indomitable.

    That’s a lot to take in, so indulge me as we summarize what we’ve talked about so far:

    • You are a sovereign soul. Your purposive behavior is exclusively controlled by your self.

    • You cannot be governed. Other people cannot control your behavior, nor you theirs.
    • To the extent that other people — your religion, the government, your family or friends — might seem to control you, this is a consequence of your own freely-tendered consent, your own explicit, freely-chosen, on-going cooperation.
    • Because other people’s seeming control over you originates in your own sovereignty, you can recover your freedom at any time you want, simply by withdrawing your consent.
    • If you have surrendered any of your sovereignty in the past, your life will be better — for you — once you have regained full control over yourself.

    If you have made the mental effort to recover your sovereignty in full, your life will already be better. This is a profoundly important reason to be cheerful, wouldn’t you say?

    In other essays, I take up the mental, physical and moral benefits of a full commitment to self-adoration, but this is simple enough to see in summary: If you devote your life to doing everything you can think of to make your life better, more perfect — more perfectly, more abundantly rich in every kind splendor — your life will be immeasurably improved.

    Now reflect that we’re talking about what might happen if the shit really does hit the fan. If the government of the United States does not collapse under its own vast weight, so much the better. But even if it does, your own unique life will still be better than it might have been had you not made this change, won’t it?

    There is no downside to self-love. You’ve been poisoned on the idea, for your whole life, by people who know they cannot rule free minds. But just by daring to let your mind run free, by daring to be the uniquely beautiful specimen of humanity you have been all along, your life will be everything you’ve always known it could be.

    Yes, the world outside your mind can be better or worse — perhaps truly awful. But once you have broken all those chains that bind you, your own life can be everything you can make of it, and you will be better-equipped to deal with any challenges you might face from thugs, priests, politicians, pushy relatives and snoopy neighbors. I am not minimizing how bad things might get, but once you resolve to maximize your own in-born and cultivated capabilities, your own life will come to be progressively better, even if your external circumstance get progressively worse.

    There’s more. If you learn to live the way I am talking about, you will be impossible to push around. Thugs of all flavors live and die by your fear of what they might do to you. If you learn to love your self more than anything else on earth, you will be indomitable — as a matter of practical reality, not as some comic book fantasy.

    Do you see why? When the thug says, “Do it or die!” he doesn’t want you dead. He wants you to do his bidding. If you respond, “Go ahead and kill me, asshole!” you’ve taken away his — imaginary — power over you. He might kill you, anyway, but he will not have achieved his objective. And you will not have soiled your self by groveling before a brute.

    That might seem like a poor strategy, when the game is being played one-on-one. But suppose everyone around you shares our ideas about the supreme value of self-adoration? Now you have an entire community of people who would rather die than be slaves, and, in consequence none of them can be enslaved — and all of them are constantly on watch for opportunities to kill the thug. This is how free people stay free — by understanding that human sovereignty should never be traded for any other value.

    [To be continued in Part 3.0.4.]


    Reasons to be cheerful: Defying the specter of ugly fates.

    Manifest your own destiny: You say you want a revolution? Yeah, well anyone can piss and moan about how bad everything is. If you want things to change, I’m making a stout effort to show you how to achieve revolutionary change — from the inside out. But your own efforts at self-improvement will bear sweeter fruit sooner if you share what you’re learning with other people who love to live. You’ve never heard anything like this before. Why would you hoard it to yourself?

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  • 1 comment

    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. :)

    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. :) What a buncha hooey. Does SEO work to generate more ‘traffic’? No doubt. When driving, don’t we avoid traffic? :) 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? :) ‘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=mc², 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.) :) 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. :)

    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. :)

    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. :)

    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.

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  • 10 comments

    In league with the Greeks: The Unchained Epiphany.

    I mentioned this in a comment last night, so I thought I’d post it. The video linked below is me delivering the opening presentation at BloodhoundBlog Unchained in Phoenix in May of 2008. The meta-topic is Web 2.0 as the best-yet realization of Greek ideals in the marketplace and in the marketplace of ideas.

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  • 1 comment

    Reasons to be (less than) cheerful, Part 3.0.2: What has it cost us to have been so wrong for so long about selflessness and self-adoration?

    You’ve been told your whole life that all the troubles of the world owe to selfishness, and that the only true path to happiness is to renounce the self and to damn the only life you have ever known. Who told you this? Amazingly enough, it was thugs, priests and politicians — and their many, many minions. If you’ve read this far, you must know by now that every bit of this is a lie, the Big Lie that has been used in infinite variations over the course of all of human history to con decent, honest, innocent people like you into giving up everything you have for the benefit of the worst sorts of people.

    This is a premise I believe can be defended in reason to infinite precision: Everything squalid on the face of the earth, for all of human history, is the consequence of selflessness, of the deliberate, conscious, completely voluntary renunciation of the self by a person who has self-induced the belief that some objective he seeks can only be attained by an act of self-destruction.

    But that argument is just the corollary of this one: Everything we know of splendor, within our own minds and in the world around us, is an artifact not just of selfishness but of the most profound and most profoundly-beautiful self-love. If there is any normal state for human beings — normal as a matter of ontology, not statistics — this is it: To be so much in love with the things you make with the time of your life and the effort of your mind and your body that you cannot bear for those things to be less than perfect.

    Think of that: Whether you’re looking at a skyscraper or listening to a symphony or simply teaching a child to read, the source of the splendor you experience is self-adoration and nothing else — not just your own delight at being alive, or the child’s, but also the architect’s, the composer’s, the author’s and all of the people who worked on those creations. And then consider that it is self-love — the self-love that leads you to seek the best values you can obtain for yourself and for your family — that every dogma you have ever heard of, religious or political, denounces to the depths of every imaginary hell.

    This is not a conspiracy theory. It’s all too real. The people in this world who would dominate and enslave you have only one way of achieving that objective: By conning you into cheating yourself not just of your self and of your sovereignty, but of everything you might have known of splendor in your life. It might seem poetic to say that they rob you of everything and leave you with nothing, but this is false. In fact, they rob you of everything you might have been in your life, and every splendor you might have known, and then deliver to you a life of infinite squalor instead.

    How rich might you be, if you had devoted your life to making everything you could of your time, instead of feeling guilty about every self-loving thought you have ever had?

    How deep might your love for your spouse be — how enthralling might your love-life together be — if you had concentrated on making your marriage perfect, instead of worrying that seeking your own happiness might be a betrayal of your beliefs?

    How much more completely could you be a parent to your children and a worthy companion to your friends, if you had been willing, for all the years of your life, to put your own values first in your life, not the goals dictated to you by your doctrine?

    How much more might you have achieved, had you been willing, for all your life, to live up to your self, to be that hero of your own life that you imagined in such loving detail when first you abstracted the idea your self?

    I’m not trying to take anything from you. But I am trying to point out how much has already been taken from you by other people’s attempts to dominate you — and by your own attempts to dominate them.

    I like to talk about the cost of government this way: If we say that the first great betrayal of American freedom came about with the 1789 Constitution, then we can make an effort to calculate the cost-to-date of this hellhound we have unleashed on ourselves.

    So we start with the idea that every action of government occasions some loss of wealth. Taxes, obviously, take wealth from the productive, deploying it toward unproductive ends. Regulation increases costs without increasing the economic value of the regulated good. Tariffs, duties and fees all raise prices. Labor laws increase costs and decrease productivity. Deficit spending impairs the credit markets. In short, there is nothing that government does that does not result in a drag on the economy.

    Now consider that each one of those costs carries with it a corresponding opportunity cost in the marketplace: If my money has been stolen by taxation, I cannot invest it in pursuit of profit. So the drag occasioned by government is actually doubled: Introducing force into the market not only destroys wealth at first-hand, it also destroys the opportunity the producer of that that wealth had to put it to further use, and thus to produce even more wealth.

    It gets worse. Each one of those opportunity costs has an interest value, going forward. And since we can expect successive profits to be reinvested, the fact is that each one of those opportunity costs has a compound interest value.

    So here is an interesting question: What is the compound interest value of all of the government we have afflicted ourselves with in the United States since 1789? What might we have achieved with that wealth, had we not wasted it on the vain pretense that people’s behavior can be governed from the outside?

    Now let’s take that all one giant step further: If we acknowledge that every human being who has ever lived has inhibited his or her self to greater and lesser degrees in response to attempts by other people to govern our behavior — how much have we lost?

    What is the compound interest value of all of that lost human potential? How much incredible wealth are we still throwing away, every day? How much richer could we all be, if some of us were to decide to stop pretending that other people can be governed from the outside?

    How much better could your own life be, if you stopped worrying about what other people have the power to do to you, and what you have the power to do to them, and instead devoted your whole mind to making your own life better in every way you can think of?

    [To be continued in Part 3.0.3.]


    Reasons to be cheerful: Defying the specter of ugly fates.

    Manifest your own destiny: You say you want a revolution? Yeah, well anyone can piss and moan about how bad everything is. If you want things to change, I’m making a stout effort to show you how to achieve revolutionary change — from the inside out. But your own efforts at self-improvement will bear sweeter fruit sooner if you share what you’re learning with other people who love to live. You’ve never heard anything like this before. Why would you hoard it to yourself?

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  • Reasons to be cheerful, Part 2.9: Marksmanship is a perfectible praxis.
  • Reasons to be cheerful, Part 3.0.3: When you resolve never to let other people dominate you, you come to be indomitable.
  • Reasons to be cheerful, part 0.5: Sleeping giants can’t sleep forever.

  • 2 comments

    Reasons to be cheerful, Part 3.0.1: You are ungovernable: Other people have power over you only because you have surrendered your own sovereign authority to them — and they can’t stop you from taking it back.

    Let’s start with this idea: You are a sovereign soul. I have a lot more to say about the nature of the self, within this series of posts and throughout my writing, but, in a political context, this is the most important fact of your life: You cannot be governed.

    All of human history, ultimately, is an attempt to contravene and negate and obviate this simple fact, and it is for this reason that every human civilization — so far — must be rated a failure. Some have been better than others, of course, and I sing the praises of the Greeks not just for what they did in the Hellas of old, but for what they are still doing all over the world. The Greek idea — each man has the right and power to own and control his own life and property — undergirds the best approaches we have seen — so far — to truly human civilizations.

    And the United States — for a while — was the best-ever expression of that Greek ideal, the freest civilization ever yet seen on the earth. But like the polities of the Greeks before us, American society carried within it the seeds of its own destruction and the horrors visited upon you every day in the news are those seeds bearing their full fruit at last.

    Here is the problem, for the government of the United States and for any would-be governor of human behavior: There is nothing I can do to cause or prevent your purposive actions. I can threaten you or beat you or tax you or imprison you or kill you, but I cannot cause you to do anything I want you to do, nor can I prevent you from doing anything I want for you not to do. You are a moral free agent as a manifestation of your nature as a human being, and there is nothing I can do to contravene or negate or obviate your sovereign freedom.

    But wait. Isn’t it true, as Rousseau had it, that “man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains”? Indeed it is. So how do we resolve the conundrum? Humans cannot be enslaved, and yet everywhere we look, humans are slaves — most of them bound by terms much worse than those we suffer under.

    Emerson gives us the answer: “We forge the chains that bind us.” Human beings cannot be enslaved against their will. In the case of bondage slavery, your choice might come down to work or die, but you still have a choice. In modern America, your self-initiated betrayal of your own inviolable sovereignty is much easier to take: Just pay your taxes and affect to obey thousands upon thousands of idiotic laws, and you won’t be sent to prison. Doesn’t seem like much of a price to pay, does it?

    I can’t speak for you, but that price is much too high for me. And the course of recent events argues that more and more people are waking up to the idea that they don’t want government, at least, controlling so much of their lives.

    But the war on your sovereignty did not start with government. Dig into any religion and you’ll find a profound hatred for your life, for your self and for its autonomy. As with governments, some religions are worse, in this respect, than others, but what every religion seeks is your voluntary submission of your own inviolable sovereignty — your free will — to the object of worship. You are called upon to deny your own mind and to accept apocrypha, divination and received doctrine as substitutes for reason. And you are called upon to denounce and renounce your life as you actually live it in praise and reverence for attested virtues that would result in your immediate demise, should you try to live as you are commanded by your faith to live. This is the political power religions have held over innocent people forever: If you accept the doctrine, you must condemn your own life. To stay alive, you must commit sins by your own standards, and yet the only life you yourself regard as being worthy of your love, honor, devotion, adoration — the only life you can worship unashamedly — is the one that allegedly commences after you are dead.

    Governments have always envied the near-perfect power religions have over faithful people, but they came up with their own secret sauce in the form of altruism. People use that word to mean behaving kindly or charitably, but, at the same time, everyone understands its true meaning: Selflessness. In this respect, altruism is the exact opposite of egoism. Considered as ontology, selflessness is impossible, of course. To be alive as a human being is to be a self, this before anything else. It is not possible to remain alive while behaving — even as a matter of pretense — as if you have no self. And that’s the source of altruism’s power: You cannot live a life of virtue, by the moral standard you have set for yourself, and so you come to be self-imprisoned by your own failure to live up to your ideals.

    In either of these cases — and in thousands of other variations on this theme — it is your own mind you must renounce, denounce and enslave, this as the price of your own on-going survival. An ordinary thug threatens only your body and your property. You might comply, for now, but there is always the chance that you will rebel. But the high priests of religion and of the welfare state have nothing to fear from the truly faithful. Once you’ve adopted a doctrine that insists that you yourself are fundamentally evil — this for committing the crime of remaining alive, even though, by your own moral convictions, you can only be truly good by engaging in behavior that would result in your death — once the price of your on-going life is your own damnation of that life — then you are well and truly enslaved, and by your own hand.

    Here’s the good news about every cult of self-annihilation: There’s always an escape hatch. Only the very pious feel themselves obliged to ruin their lives in pursuit of a self-induced religious ecstasy. Normal people can toss some cash into the offering plate and express a ritualized regret for their latest sins. And only the very guilt-ridden actually give up the lives they might have had in pursuit of a life in the service of others. Normal people manage to get along by writing checks and expressing politically-correct sentiments at politically-correct moments.

    But here’s the bad news about every cult of self-annihilation: The more you fail to live up to the doctrine you profess to believe in, the more do the purveyors of that doctrine have power over you. You forged the chains that bind you, and however loosely you think you might bear those chains, you are still enslaved.

    But here’s the best news of all about every victim of every cult of self-annihilation: The chains you bear are yours to break, whenever you want to. Not easily, I will avow, and I am not entreating you to abandon any belief you cherish. But if you want to be free, all you have to do is say “No” and your chains will be broken. Other people have power over you only to the extent that you yourself have conceded that power to them. Withdraw your consent and other people will be forevermore powerless over you.

    A thug can push your body in the same way he can push a barrel or a mannequin. If he is strong enough, or if he has confederates, he can bind your limbs or gag or blindfold you. He can tie you to a tree or lock you in a cage. But without your consent, without your explicit, freely-chosen, on-going cooperation, no thug, no priest, no politician can ever cause you to take any purposive action.

    Anything a thug can do to you without your cooperation, he could do just as easily and just as productively with your corpse or with a mannequin. The only thing that thug actually wants — the only thing your church and your government actually want — is the one thing than none of them can ever have: To control your behavior.

    Only you control your behavior, only your self controls your behavior, only within the silence and solitude of your mind, which no other person can ever enter or even experience at first hand, and which no other person can ever take control of by any sort of direct manipulation. You are a sovereign soul, completely ungovernable by anyone or anything but your self.

    This is why the thugs and the priests and the politicians have to hustle you into surrendering your sovereignty to them — because that’s the only way they can have it, as a gift from you. A gift, very probably, that you didn’t even know you were extending to them, and which you might have an urge to snatch back.

    [To be continued in Part 3.0.2.]


    Reasons to be cheerful: Defying the specter of ugly fates.

    Manifest your own destiny: You say you want a revolution? Yeah, well anyone can piss and moan about how bad everything is. If you want things to change, I’m making a stout effort to show you how to achieve revolutionary change — from the inside out. But your own efforts at self-improvement will bear sweeter fruit sooner if you share what you’re learning with other people who love to live. You’ve never heard anything like this before. Why would you hoard it to yourself?

    Related posts:
  • Reasons to be cheerful, Part 2.9: Marksmanship is a perfectible praxis.
  • Reasons to be cheerful, Part 3.0.3: When you resolve never to let other people dominate you, you come to be indomitable.
  • Reasons to be cheerful, Part 2.5: It’s raining soup and all you can do is piss and moan that Big Mother hasn’t given you a free bowl.

  • 14 comments

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