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Real Estate Blogging For Cash

I am noticing a troubling trend.

Many real estate blogs are using text link ads and Google ads – and now some bloggers are even getting paid to post. Does anybody else feel like this is a fundamental mistake for most real estate professionals?

Don’t get me wrong – those bloggers whose blogs ARE their business need to be compensated for their time… I have no problem whatsoever with those guys.

It’s the Realtors that I question.

First of all, I think it’s fairly stupid to allow ads from competing Realtors to be shown on your website. I was on an agent’s site this morning and before you knew it – BAM – I’m on the competitor’s site. Needless to say, I forgot all about the original site I was on – and closed my browser window before returning to it.

Now there are a few companies out there that are paying bloggers to post about advertisers products or services. Although this practice is supposedly done with transparency, I can’t help but wonder…

“What business are you in? Real estate or blogging?”

I can’t believe that the public views it any differently.

Maybe I’m wrong. I’ve been wrong before. Many times, in fact. Maybe I’m just an overly critical type of person.

I will be very interested to hearing YOUR thoughts on this phenomenon.

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  • 31 comments

    31 Comments so far

    1. Jeff Brown December 31st, 2006 12:53 pm

      I view it as simply one of the indications blogging in real estate is going through it’s infancy. It’ll work or it won’t – it’ll be accepted or it won’t. I wouldn’t do it because it’s not worth the time it takes to mess with it.

      It’s an interesting subject though.

    2. Dave Barnes December 31st, 2006 12:55 pm

      Doug,

      You are so right.
      Way too many people get caught up in “I can make money from ads on my website” and forget what business they are in.
      It is not just real estate agents who are retarded about this. I see it all the time on many different websites.
      To me, the whole purpose of your business website is to get people to buy your product/service. When you lose focus, you lose revenue.

    3. Jay Thompson December 31st, 2006 1:13 pm

      Doug – I’m inclined to agree with you. I find Google AdWords mildly irritating at best, distracting at worst. I don’t see the point of it. I sell real estate, not ad space.

      The one form of “monetization” that doesn’t bother me is the Amazon associate list of books type thing (that’s found here and on a few other blogs). I like seeing what reading other bloggers recommend. And I suspect the checks from Amazon that Greg gets don’t buy a whole lot of Ramen.

    4. Doug Quance December 31st, 2006 1:14 pm

      Jeff – I agree… it doesn’t seem like it would be worth the time. Unless, of course, it paid really well. :lol:

      Dave – Yes, I’ve noticed it on some other business-related blogs, too. Thanks for your comments.

    5. Doug Quance December 31st, 2006 1:16 pm

      Jay – Yeah, the Amazon list isn’t so bad… at least the blogger has some control over that. :)

    6. Greg Swann December 31st, 2006 2:18 pm

      > And I suspect the checks from Amazon that Greg gets don’t buy a whole lot of Ramen.

      204.5 packages so far. I used the gft certificate to buy a copy of “The Power Broker” (a excellent book about the destructiveness government intrusion in real estate) for a young friend of the family.

      Here’s a slippery slope, though: This week Microsoft gave Acer Ferraris loaded with Vista to a number of tech bloggers. Is this an opportunity to review Vista or a $2,000 bribe? Closer to home, if you want to peruse the latest real estate tome, tell the publisher you’ll review it on your weblog. You’ll get it gratis, probably by next-day FedEx delivery.

      This is the kind of thing we’re all going to have to watch out for as this medium takes hold.

    7. Doug Quance December 31st, 2006 3:14 pm

      I would certainly hope that the recent FTC rulings which require disclosure would be enough to at least “tip off” the consumer as to the possibility of a potential conflict of interest.

      Anyway, I don’t mind your Amazon ads, Greg… and I certainly don’t think your opinion is bought.

    8. Dan Green December 31st, 2006 4:31 pm

      My favorite post on this topic is from Copyblogger (http://www.copyblogger.com). The author talks about adding ads to the site because people couldn’t believe he was blogging out of the goodness of his heart. Funny stuff (but damned if I can find it on the site).

      If done tastefully, blogging ads are non-intrusive and welcome. Major media Web sites use them and nobody complains about *that*.

      Me, I use Feedburner’s ad system and have been pleased with the results. I can approve who is placing ads and decline the ads that I feel are not a good fit for my readers.

    9. Russell Shaw December 31st, 2006 5:17 pm

      There are also those who use Google Ad Words on their site to help mask who the owner of the site really is – they have what is called a “blind site”. They are Realtors pretending not to be Realtors, thinking people will be more likely to fill out a form, with their name and phone number, if there is no agent on the other end.

      The idea being that no agent in their right mind would allow a competitor to advertise on their site.

    10. Doug Quance January 1st, 2007 7:38 am

      Dan – that is pretty funny… but most blogging (at least in the past) has been for gratis. I expect any visitor on a business blog believes the writing is there to attract and enhance the business.

      Russell – yeah I’m starting to see a lot of those “blind” sites, too. I thought our laws were written to outlaw them… but I guess not.

      The reverse psychology angle is good, though.

    11. Brian Brady January 1st, 2007 10:01 am

      On one hand, the point you made in the article about business we are in is prolific. On the other hand, so is the follow up comment to Jeff Brown about it paying really well.

      Are bloggers the next wave of self-help speakers for Realtors?

    12. Greg Swann January 1st, 2007 10:03 am

      > Are bloggers the next wave of self-help speakers for Realtors?

      So glad you could join us…

    13. Doug Quance January 1st, 2007 10:06 am

      Brian – If blogging paid well enough, I wouldn’t need to list another home. :lol:

      I never thought about the self-help angle… I’ll need to get back to you on that…

    14. UrbanDigs January 1st, 2007 10:36 am

      Interesting point. I actually dont find Google Adwords annoying or distracting if place properly, and use the $300 or so of monthly income to help with the site’s maintenence costs and to build a little, separate pool of money to be invested back into the weblog for future tools/pages/etc..

      Most ads I see are for new developments, lenders, and brokerages but I do not see that as losing a potential client. Maybe Im wrong though as I ave no data to back this up.

      I still feel CONTENT IS KING when it comes to blogging and any blogger will get rewarded for providing insightful, educational, interesting, content that meets the eyes of readers. Being paid to post for a particular product/service I do not believe in even though I must have been asked over 7 times in 2006 to write a review on such a service; not naming names.

      In the end, I can speak for myself and say that blogging allows an inside look at how I think, work, view the markets. That way, readers can decide for themselves whether they want to ask me a question, advice, or to help them in a transaction.

    15. Doug Quance January 1st, 2007 10:43 am

      UrbanDigs – you might want to take another look. Almost every one of those ads is taking a potential customer away from you.

      Sure, the $3-4K a year is cool… but if you lose just ONE client – what did THAT cost you?

      Just a thought….

    16. Doug Quance January 1st, 2007 10:51 am

      Let me add that if you can get $300 a month – while somehow keeping your competition off your pages – then that looks very good on paper.

    17. teresa boardman January 1st, 2007 12:37 pm

      You crack me up! I would never write a post and charge for it but I do give some away to my friends for their blogs. They are usually about the real estate business because my blog is more for consumers.

      I have text ads on my blog and get a big kick out of it. I have set it up so I can ban ads if I feel that they compete with me. In general the ads are too competitors but they go to the lamest worst web sites that you can imagine where there are pictures of some agents that are truely frightening.

      I get a big kick out of it! I wouldn’t think you would care anyway, didn’t i see a post of yours explaining that blogs don’t generate leads?

    18. Doug Quance January 1st, 2007 12:44 pm

      Teresa – A pleasure to crack you up, my dear!

      I am glad to see that you are controlling the ad content… that is comforting… especially if you only allow competitors with scary portraits! :lol:

      I don’t think that was me explaining that blogs don’t generate leads. I’m too much of a newb to put forth such a notion. :)

    19. Brian Brady January 1st, 2007 12:51 pm

      Here is a question:

      Is it possible to solicit advertisers that would benefit from new homeowners to the bloggers’ market. I’m not talking about the traditional ancillary real estate service providers (mortgage, title, home warranty, etc); that’s on old-fashioned shake down with little value to the consumer.

      What about local businesses that would benefit from initial eyeballs? Pizza parlors, auto mechanics, the electric compnay, cable providers, movie theaters, barbers, etc. ??? It gives the consumer a “feel” for the neighborhood and some useful information

    20. Doug Quance January 1st, 2007 12:54 pm

      Now that’s an idea that could grow legs, Brian.

      Then they are no longer advertisers… they become SPONSORS.

      It’s just got a better ring to it…

    21. Brian Brady January 1st, 2007 1:09 pm

      Now we’re sounding like 1950′s type marketers. “Sponsors” and the social value of advertising. That really isn’t a bad thing. Responsible sponsorship really served as an information medium.

      I do think we should shy away from the dancing Philip Morris cigarette boxes, though.

    22. Doug Quance January 1st, 2007 1:28 pm

      >I do think we should shy away from the dancing Philip Morris cigarette boxes, though.

      NOW your age is showing… :lol:

    23. teresa boardman January 1st, 2007 1:35 pm

      Doug – I thought it was Greg, I didn’t see your name right away. Operator error. :( Honest check out the ads, there is one on their now where a person has to sign up for, get this, this really cracks me up (ROTFLOL)free listings emailed to them. Sorry I have to stop I am laughing so hard tears are rolling down my cheeks and I am afraid I’ll short out my keyboard.

    24. Doug Quance January 1st, 2007 2:10 pm

      You must be talking about that e-agent guy… yeah, I clicked on him. Hope you get a buck or two. :)

      There was another one that is a distressed home guy here in Atlanta – those guys always crack me up. One of those guys bought a foreclosure I had listed for $90K, and immediately had it on their website as being valued at $170K. Now that’s a ROFLMAOPIMP situation.

      I clicked on him, too. Have a Happy New Year, T!

    25. Doug Quance January 1st, 2007 2:43 pm

      Alright, Teresa… I clicked on more of the ads – just so I could get to the frightening pictures.

      Yes. I was scared. But I’m okay, now. :)

    26. UrbanDigs January 1st, 2007 2:52 pm

      Thanks Doug for the reply..Actually in process of adding new pages to the site to convert new clients, that hasn’t been there for first 17 months of blogging.

      Thing is, I like the non-aggressive approach that blogging provides. That is, I am not going after new clients proactively, rather I would like them to come to me because they want to work with me. Got enough buyers right now to keep me busy for next 3-4 months. I feel like buyers who approach me are more loyal and more serious in their need for my services; two things that increase the quality of the lead greatly. If someone goes directly to a new development ad via my blog, chances are that person really wasn’t looking for outside help anyway.

      Im very curious to see if the new pages I will be adding will actually generate leads or negatively affect the site because it looks like I am seeking more business for myself, rather than being an unbiased reporter so to speak of nyc real estate right now.

      Thoughts?

    27. Jim Fava January 1st, 2007 5:36 pm

      Hi Doug,

      You make some great points, but lets be honest, what is wrong with making a little extra cash if you are a realtor or anyone for that matter. Granted, for 98% of blogs out there, the only ones that read them are the blogger themselves or a competitor. Were you on that agents site for the great content?

      From a recent article by businessweek, looks like many realtors may need to find ways to make some extra cash. From their numbers about 18% of all realtors make less than 10K a year.

      http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/hotproperty/archives/2006/12/too_many_realto.html?campaign_id=rss_blog_blogspotting

      I know this is not your blog but do you find relevant books just as disturbing as relavant ads?

      I see many amazon books that the owners of this blog get paid on when someone buys the book.

      Keep up the great writing, I do love all of the articles on this site.

      BTW: You can block competitor ads from showing on your site when using google adsense.

    28. Doug Quance January 1st, 2007 6:28 pm

      Noah – One thing I have learned about people is that if done tactfully… no one is going to fault you for asking for the sale. Just don’t ham it up like some of these guys. I’ve been to some blogs that every post ends with “be sure to call me when you need to buy or sell a home”… what drivel.

      Jim – I’m not begrudging these guys a chance to make a few bucks… I am just questioning the overall efficacy of the decision to do so. One can be penny wise and pound foolish. Obviously, if you can keep the competition off of your site – that would be the right move.

      Regarding the books… I don’t know if I would put the books on my site, but at least they don’t represent competition. :)

    29. Thomas Johnson June 5th, 2007 10:56 am

      As for me, and I am showing my age, here, I would love to have the Tiparillo girl show up on a blog.

      Cigars, Cigarettes, Tiparillos?

    30. Bob in San Diego December 12th, 2007 4:20 pm

      Doug,

      Interesting comments you make here. This is the way that I look at having google adsense on a site.

      First – The fact is that 100% of the visitors will eventually leave every site and visit 5.6 similar sites that user session. If they like your site they will come back, if they don’t like the content they won’t.

      The key is getting a lot of traffic, and a lot of return traffic then converting those repeat visitors once they decide to buy, not keeping a handfull of visitors from leaving a site.

      Second – Nothing you do will increase your sites conversion of visitors to buyers above 10% (for sites that get a lot of visitors the conversion numbers from visitors to buyers or sellers will be WAY less then 10%). We are talking about real estate sales not books or some cheap impulse buy. Lets say your real estate website gets 10000 visitors per month (I’m sure many reading this get more then that), that’s 120,000 visitors per year. 1% conversion is 1200. 0.1% is 120.

      Third – You can control which competitors you want displayed on your site. Just make sure those competitors with better tools or competitors you don’t want to direct traffic to are in the list you want to exclude.

      As someone else said, consumers are used to seeing advertisments everywhere. The newspaper is a prime example. If the ads are not disruptive and too in their face they will come back to your site if the information they are looking for is on it.

    31. Chris Eliopoulos April 24th, 2008 7:46 am

      I think this is great.
      If one can make money blogging about the same subjects that all of you are writing about, (including the “industry journals” that by the way are saying the same useless junk over and over), all the more power to him/her.

      I’ve yet to see something worth reading the last six months in any of the blogs and journals.
      Most of them are simply frustration vending platforms.
      If one can vent frustrations and get money doing it, I am all for it.