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There’s always something to howl about

HomeGain.com adds a weblogging platform for its clients

I’ve spent quite a few brain cycles tweaking HomeGain General Manager Louis Cammarosano. The head of what is very obviously a Web 1.0 chokepoint-style company, Cammarosano has himself very obviously been on an agitprop mission in the Web 2.0 world.

His goals:

  1. To minimize the Web 2.0 difference in the marketplace
  2. To claim that HomeGain has been a Web 2.0 company all along
  3. All the while, to figure out how to transform HomeGain.com to something like a Web 2.0 business model

That much was funny to me, because Cammarosano is a hale-fellow-well-met, rather more the opposite of a spy.

In any case, his efforts are bearing fruit now: A few months ago Cammarosano started a group weblog to figure out if HomeGain should have a weblog. Starting later tonight, HomeGain’s customers will be abel to start their own client-seeking weblogs on the lead-generating site.

Both Brian Brady and Mike Farmer write on the HomeGain blog, so I hope they’ll keep us informed about how the new blogging platform is working out. Free blogging platforms are not always a slam-dunk success, but I think HomeGain’s offering makes more sense than does ActiveRain, for instance. I have felt that free weblogs would be a better solution than discussion fora on Zillow.com: Weblogging creates a middle-management structure, providing a cadre of volunteers to keep bad behavior from oscillating out of control.

In any case, since I’ve been so churlish to Cammarosano, I want to congratulate him for taking a step in the right direction. Anything that induces consumers to shop harder for better values is a net win in my ledger.

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  • 34 comments

    34 Comments so far

    1. Todd Carpenter April 29th, 2008 11:12 pm

      That’s a great idea for HomeGain, but sounds like an epically bad idea for real estate agents.

      It’s one thing to pay HomeGain to market for you, it’s quite another to market FOR HomeGain.

      FREE IS NOT FREE. I’ll reserve final judgment when I see how these free blogs are structured. But I would have a real hard time contributing to the content of a domain that’s business model is to compete directly against me, then sell me the leads they beat me out on.

      Meanwhile, WordPress.com offers free blogs that are portable to a private blog, later, or are extremely affordable to upgrade. Plus, WordPress is not out there, trying to compete with me for my business.

    2. louis cammarosano April 30th, 2008 3:25 am

      Todd

      the difference between a free world press blog and a HomeGain blog is world press does not bring you a built in audience.

      With a HomeGain blog you get the benefits of the visits that already go to homegain because of our natural traffic, our search engine marker campaigns, our seo and the efforts of hundreds of partners that drive traffic to HomeGain.

      With a world press blog you have to start from scratch.

      As you know it takes a lot of time to build up a web based following for your blog. And time is money.

      While that independence may appeal to the average bloodhound who enjoy spending their time “writing for google” in a constant battle to get noticed by the search engines, that indomitable spirit and effort require to crack the google code may I would argue be better spent blogging to a built in consumer audience like the one on HomeGain.

      The argument that you are helping HomeGain compete against you ia an old and tired one.

      Using that argument one should not blog on active rain because it is partially owned by housevalues,one should not send their listings to zillow and trulia because they use that content
      to pass you in search engine placement and then try to sell ads or featured listings back to you.

      HomeGain, like any aggregator of eyeballs, can be a useful cost effective marketing partner for real estate professionals that have neither the time, money, or inclination to spend inordinate amounts of time marketing themselves.

      Thousands of HomeGain agents prefer to leave their marketing up to us.

      You may view HomeGain less a competitor but rather like a coop for realtors, where they can tap into the collective marketing power of HomeGain for their benefit for a small fee.

      The fee homegain agents pay is made consciously and voluntarily.

      The decision to use homegain is based on whether the agent would rather spend money with homegain to get results or time on his own trying to generate them by himself.

      Obviously if you enjoy building your own seo prowess, developing your own blog, selecting key words etc and are successful at it,then HomeGain,perhaps is not for you.

      If want a marketing partner that gets results and is cost effective, then checkout HomeGain.

      Greg a quick read of you post had me mistakenly believe you had written that you had acted “childish” towards me instead of “churlish”
      ;-).
      Thanks for the mention.

    3. Mike Farmer April 30th, 2008 5:32 am

      The way I see Homegain is that they provide a starter package for agents who don’t want to set up the whole online marketing deal.

      There are many agents who will prefer to have it all set up for them and all they have to do is pay a monthly fee and try to convert leads.

      Being somone who prefers to set it all up myself and compete for online leads through my efforts, I’m in competition for placement, but competition is competition — they have a business model and it seems to be working — I applaud Louis for his efforts, but in Savannah I’ll be trying to knock his butt off the first page of Google. It’s just business, nothing personal.

      As to the free blogs, we’ll see, but looking at objectively, it appears to be a good tool for homegain users to market to their consumers. Agents using Homegain most likely won’t look at it as helping their competition, they most likely will look at it as strengthening Homegain which is their choice for marketing themselves.

    4. Louis Cammarosano April 30th, 2008 6:49 am

      Thanks Mike

      Even if you do knock Homegain off the first page of Google, we need to remember that SEO traffic is only a small portion of HomeGain’s traffic, while for many bloggers its their only source.

      Homegain does what most individual realtors can’t do themselves; i.e. garner thousands of visits a day based on brand name alone, aggregated hundreds of partner to send traffic, manage millions of key words on Google, MSN and Yahoo to send visitors and build solid SEO based on years of site history and content.

    5. Barry Cunningham April 30th, 2008 8:58 am

      Louis,

      Todd is a blogging professional with a well visited presence on the Web.

      Todd, I think you would agree…that your success and stature is not representative of the “average” realtor.

      The “average” realtor would have and is having a hard time replicate your success and others like you on their own.

      That’s where I see homegain coming in.

      Louis wrote: “Homegain does what most individual realtors can’t do themselves; i.e. garner thousands of visits a day based on brand name alone, aggregated hundreds of partner to send traffic, manage millions of key words on Google, MSN and Yahoo to send visitors and build solid SEO based on years of site history and content.”

      That’s not everyday Realtor work. Homegain can assist them in that endeavor.

    6. Todd Carpenter April 30th, 2008 9:50 am

      >>>”The argument that you are helping HomeGain compete against you ia an old and tired one.”

      And accurate! BTW, I don’t think you’ll find any past comments from me on why you should contribute to Zillow, Trulia, or Active Rain either. Quite the opposite.

      Meanwhile, I’ve never written a blog with SEO, or Keywords on my mind. I started lenderama to keep in touch with 54 clients. Thousands came. I’m no rocket surgeon either, and can hardly spell. If I can do this, anyone can.

    7. Louis Cammarosano April 30th, 2008 9:58 am

      Todd
      I admire your spirit! You give yourself less credit than you deserve.

      What you have accomplished on your own is significant.

      As you pointed out in a comment on my post The Failed promise of RE 2.0 http://blog.homegain.com/failed-promise-Real-Estate-2-0
      individuals are empowered perhaps to the exclusion of
      ALL companies whether they are web 2.0 or web 1.0.

      I think, however, its a tad ambitious to suggest that one day we will have a nation of individual realtors all acting as sole proprietors handling every aspect of their businesses with no third party help.

      You are correct, however, with the new tools today if one wants to give it a try, they can do it.

      If they want a little help, HomeGain is there!

    8. Mike Farmer April 30th, 2008 12:05 pm

      Actually, search engine placement is not the only way I get leads but it is becoming an important part of my overall strategy.

      I’m getting a lot of referrals through other online efforts (plus offline efforts).

    9. Louis Cammarosano April 30th, 2008 12:08 pm

      Mike given that as Brian Brady says there is more than one way to skin a cat, it makes sense to open as many avenues as possible to connect with consumers.

      That is why we added blogging capabilities for our customers, to supplement or supplant their marketing activities.

      We’ve got one more feature coming up to help further.

    10. Sean Purcell April 30th, 2008 3:23 pm

      Congrats Louis,

      Based on my recent experience with real estate agents, your launch will be a big hit. Blogging is a tremendous way for agents to build their perceived level of expertise and if you can help them with that: bravo.

    11. James Boyer May 1st, 2008 1:36 pm

      Why would REALTORS want to blog at homegain.com, they pay homegain, now they need to work for the success of homegain as well??

      why not just start their own blogs, generate leads they don’t have to pay homegain for? Same blogging effort, better results.

    12. Louis Cammarosano May 1st, 2008 1:46 pm

      James

      Maybe they have better uses of their time and would prefer a built in system that allows them more time to engage in the selling of real estate. That is why we have thousands of agents using our products

      I’ve been in this debate awhile. I’ve concluded that you do what you think/know works best. HomeGain agents have made the same determination.

      Blogging to convince people NOT to use HomeGain is not a profitable endeavor.

      It may win you Active Rain Points,it may make you friends among other agents, but it won’t make you any money.

    13. James Boyer May 1st, 2008 2:51 pm

      Oh, hi Louis,

      I don’t think I will worry about Homegain users blogging, as from what I have seen of homegain users, they won’t have time for it in the long run anyway.

      I know a few homegain REALTORS around here, and they are the older agent type, who has been successful in the past, and has money to through around but do not really know how much if any business is coming from the different places they through money, and they sure do not have the time or will to blog. They might consider paying someone else to blog for them I guess, but how will they look when someone calls on a blog post written by someone else and asks them about it.

      An oh yah you have probably read a few of my posts.

    14. Louis Cammarosano May 1st, 2008 2:59 pm

      James

      It is interesting that you seem to know my customer base better than I do!

      You make assumptions that my customers don’t see an return on investment.

      You know a “few”, We have THOUSANDS.

      Indeed, HomeGain customers make more money than the average agent and our customer satisfaction is high.

      And HomeGain makes money too and has done for five straight years.

      Not what you want to believe, or assume, but what I know.

      Happy blogging!

    15. Todd Carpenter May 1st, 2008 3:01 pm

      >>”Maybe they have better uses of their time and would prefer a built in system that allows them more time to engage in the selling of real estate. That is why we have thousands of agents using our products”

      Louis, that’s a great argument for why agents should consider paying you for leads. An excellent one. Not everyone has the time or will to do their own marketing.

      But, if they don’t have any time to do other web or traditional marketing, they certainly won’t have time to Blog. Not a problem for HomeGain, as they will have hndreds or thousands of pages of relevant content published to their domain from agents who post once or twice, then abandon their blog. Meanwhile, HomeGain will also benefit from all those little real estate websites with “visit my blog” links targeted to HomeGain.

      It’s a great move on your part Louis, but I still think it’s still a bad idea for any agent who wants to start blogging.

    16. Louis Cammarosano May 1st, 2008 3:06 pm

      Todd
      Let’s follow up on the argument.

      Let’s say the agent wants to blog but doesn’t have the time to research which blogging provider to use, how to write for google and can’t/doesn’t want to wait six months to build up some page rank and Search engine placement AND wants to use the blog to supplement his/her marketing efforts not supplant them, then HomeGain’s blogging platform is perfect for them.

      I am not sure why certain agent have a vested interest and spend a lot of time blogging in an effort to make sure that other agents don’t use HomeGain.

      If HomeGain works for them why spend hours writing posts convincing other not to use our services?

    17. Todd Carpenter May 1st, 2008 3:38 pm

      Louis,

      There’s nothing to research. Go to wordpress.com and sign up for a free blog. It takes five minutes and you can start blogging. I doubt you can start a blog any faster at HomeGain. I got a free WordPress blog to go to a PR 4 in three weeks so I don’t see why anyone would think search engine traction is really that big of a deal.

      Here’s and example of one of your new blogs. Besides the fact that it is predominantly branded with HomeGain’s logo, the Google PR rank is non existent, less than Zero. N/A. How is that any better than a free WordPress Blog?

      The only traffic that these blogs will see is from consumers who are already on Homegain, or are directed there by the agent’s static website.

      Further more, the traffic they’ll see from HomeGain is haphazard at best. This page is unreadable to the average consumer (but certainly not Google). The traffic that comes through the valuation tool has already been harvested as a lead that HomeGain can sell to the blogger’s competition.

      Louis, you have a lot of great products for RE agents at HomeGain. This is not one of them. I realize that I will not convince you otherwise, my comments are for the agents reading this. It might “work” for some agents. But those agents probably don’t read Bloodhound Blog. What works, and what works best are often two very different products.

    18. Louis Cammarosano May 1st, 2008 3:46 pm

      Todd

      I am glad that you have already determined the fate of a product two days old.

      BTW the page you are looking at for now is temporary, you will see a fair number of changes in the coming months as we redesign our home page, add another tab, add search capabilities etc.

      I am still not sure why you feel compelled to convince me or agents that our blogging system won’t work.

      Todd
      If you’d like and are truly interested I can take you through the product by phone and let you know how it is meant to work, where the monetization, traffic etc come from.

      Perhaps then you can speak from some knowledge rather than hopeful speculation of our failure.

    19. Todd Carpenter May 1st, 2008 3:55 pm

      Louis,

      I don’t think I’ve determined it’s fate. I won’t be surprised if it’s a big hit. I’m not saying it won’t work either. Only that it’s not the best tool for the job. Not by a long shot.

      Here’s some advice on the way web 2.0 works Louis. If there’s some sort of monetization opportunity, or business model that I’ve missed, the best place to show me is right here. This post will survive for eternity, and those who come along later may want to know as well.

    20. Todd Carpenter May 1st, 2008 3:59 pm

      I was just Twittered that one of the above links does not work. Here it is. That should be an easy URL to put on a business card. ;)

    21. Louis Cammarosano May 1st, 2008 4:09 pm

      Todd

      Its still premature of you to determine that our product won’t be the best out there just because you think it isn’t right now.

      Also please don’t think that I am violating a sacred transparent tenet of web 2.0 by inviting you to speak with me personally to walk through our product, something that along with the demonstration and taking questions from you, might take 45 minutes to an hour.

      This blog is not the place for me to set up a powerpoint demonstration on how our blogging system works. Indeed, Greg has cautioned me about “selling HomeGain” here and will honor that admonition.

    22. James Boyer May 1st, 2008 4:09 pm

      So why would these same REALTORS who don’t have the 5 minutes to do the research not just go as was said above to any of the following:

      http://www.wordpress.com
      http://www.activerain.com
      http://www.realestatewebmasters.com/blogs/
      https://www.blogger.com/start

      That is if any of these REALTORS is actually going to put the effort into actually blogging, which I would guess is going to be hard to convince them in the long run.

    23. Louis Cammarosano May 1st, 2008 4:13 pm

      Todd

      I am glad that you are now a HomeGain watcher and hope you will be posting your inevitable criticisms from which we shall learn.

      Do you have specifics on what exactly did not work the link above? Was their an error message?

      I checked the link you referenced above, it works fine.

      But please continue to do Q/A for us. For as those of you in software know, you can never have enough testers.

    24. Todd Carpenter May 1st, 2008 4:24 pm

      Louis, the above link in my comments that says “example”. Doesn’t work. It’s not a HomeGain issue. I’m sure I just coded it wrong in that post.

      I always pretty much know when my argument is on solid ground when the other side starts to get personal. There’s no reason to believe my future criticisms are inevitable. It’s not premature for me to evaluate what you’ve offered TODAY, and I don’t need a 45 minute PowerPoint presentation to understand what you’re offering.

    25. Louis Cammarosano May 1st, 2008 4:28 pm

      Ok Todd

      I am willing to drop it. Let’s see how it goes and revisit in a while.

      We can engage in other topics here as well.

      I do enjoy your commentary so don’t think I am making personal digs but please don’t interpret that I think you are right!

      Email and blog posts are notorious in that people read into them what they wish, they read real and imagined slights, innuendo etc.

      Although you can always be misinterpreted a phone call eliminates some of the uncertainty and a face to face even more so in most cases.

      If you are going to Unchained I hope to met you then.

    26. Barry Cunningham May 1st, 2008 5:04 pm

      Enjoyed the Louis and Todd show immensely! :)

    27. Louis Cammarosano May 1st, 2008 5:17 pm

      James
      I think the thing to do is to set up shop as a consultant to explain to realtors how they be successful with out homegain.

      I am sure there is a market for that as only a few thousand agents of the 1.5 million real estate agents use HomeGain.

      We can compete for the remaining 1,492,978 agents.
      Deal?

    28. Brian Brady May 1st, 2008 5:44 pm

      You guys are killing each other. It’s the same old argument. Todd’s right and so is Louis.

      Not everyone need be an online marketing purist, Todd. There are some benefits for a HG user to use their blog. They’re building up their identity on HG. Is that “dependent”? Yes, it is. Some agents don’t want to spend the money or time to build an independent online identity. They want to focus their efforts on what they do best which is connecting with customers and negotiating property transactions.

      Now…Louis. HG blogs are a great idea but they ain’t revolutionary. Todd’s correct when he says it can be duplicated for less money, with greater efficacy, independently. My advice to an agent would be TO develop (or pay to have developed) independent technology…BUT…

      Web marketing requires a HUGE time commitment. If you’re going to develop your web presence, you need to be committed for the long haul.

      I’m not a GREAT database marketer but I realize the importance of it. I send canned content and I know it’s annoying to some of the “purist” receivers. It is clearly not authentic. For me, it was a time decision. I paid to get a “good enough” offering performed for me.

      Sometimes, “good enough” is good enough. I think that’s what HG offers agents in its web marketing suite.

    29. Louis Cammarosano May 1st, 2008 6:13 pm

      Thanks Brian.

      I like your “good enough” comment.

      Our blog is of value because its tied into the HomeGain marketing system which includes for the price of the subscription built in traffic, leads, free client services, email widget on your page, and some new features coming up. In short it is a marketing package WITH a blog. Its not just a blog.

      Certainly there are blogs with better functionality that the HomeGain blogs but they don’t tie in with a complete marketing package (our next feature will make the package even more valuable)

      As to your just good enough comment you only have to take a look at three best selling products
      Microsoft operating systems
      Budweiser beer
      Coca Cola

      Are they the best software, beer and soft drinks out there?

      While all companies should strive to continuously improve their products sometimes they don’t need.

      At HomeGain we need to and we will. Stay tuned.

    30. Todd Carpenter May 1st, 2008 6:19 pm

      Not everyone need be an online marketing purist, Todd.

      I’m not saying that Brian. I have no problem with agents wanting to you services like HomeGain. But the point of paying for marketing is that you don’t have to do it yourself. Blogging is different. Blogging takes time, and if you’re going to invest your own time, you better be doing it for yourself first.

    31. Brian Brady May 1st, 2008 8:42 pm

      “Blogging is different. Blogging takes time, and if you’re going to invest your own time, you better be doing it for yourself first”

      Oh, I won’t disagree with that, Todd. That’s the challenge HG will discover. I think “good enough” is good enough but “good enough” won’t be superior.

      HG will drive traffic to those blogs. One of the challenges of pre-written content is that you had better read it (and understand it) because a consumer will call you about it.

      eg- (Louis, listen up). I use the Loan Toolbox You magazine as a post, monthly. It’s a “video mag”. I received a call about the video interview from Kiplinger’s and I hadn’t watched it- bad move on my part. The caller had to “explain” the video to me.

      I didn’t get the loan.

    32. Louis Cammarosano May 1st, 2008 8:52 pm

      Thanks for the heads up Brian
      I am going to hand select and commission the entire library of syndicated content. I am not going to hire a service to build it.

      We won’t have our library ready for a few months as I want our agents to get used to producing their own content and not relying on syndicated content.

    33. James Boyer May 4th, 2008 8:17 pm

      Hey, Louis don’t really need to do that, Now that I think about it, I would rather they spend there marketing $$$ in areas that don’t impact me. Buying leads from you IMO waisting their marketing dollars, after all they are the competition.

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