There’s always something to howl about

Archive for June, 2008

Understanding the difference between and plus a little bit about custom domain names

Here’s a point of confusion I often notice when people begin their search for a blogging platform:

There are two different flavors of WordPress. is a hosted platform. You go there and sign up for account, pick a pre-designed theme, and start blogging.   It’s free, it’s very easy.  Software updates and security are handled for you.  However, You don’t have an option of custom designing your own theme, your choice of plugins andwidgets is limited. You cannot FTP into your blog.

 It’s not a bad idea to go ahead and set up a blog on, even if you don’t intend it as your primary business blog.  Make it a “cat blog”. It will give you a chance to test drive the post editor interface, practice adding images or videos with the “Add Media” tool, and get a feel for the concept of changing themes. is a web site from which you can download the WordPress software. You then install the WordPress software on your own host. Same concept as installing a new program on your own computer, except that you are installing a new program on a remote “host” computer.   You can install any plugins or themes you like, and customize them to your heart’s content.  You can run affiliate advertising, and edit the database. You can write your own PHP code and use it in the blog’s design. 

Although the software is free, you will need a hosting account somewhere. That’s not free.  Average hosting fees run about $10 per month.   My WordPress blogs are hosted on GoDaddy. BHB with much higher bandwidth requirements, is not.  Where is BHB hosted now, Greg? 

I have heard good comments about BlueHost.  Maybe some other contributors will jump in with info on their choice of hosts.

You can register your own custom domain name and use it with either flavor of WordPress, so don’t let anyone mistakenly tell you that you can’t map a domain name to a site.  You can. 

Here is a how-to  I wrote several months ago on mapping a custom domain name to a blog.

And as a FYI, you can register and use a custom domain name with TypePad and Blogger, too.

Here’s the how-to I wrote on how to map a domain on TypePad.

I didn’t write one for Blogger, so here is Blogger’s own how-to map a custom domain name page.


The just-exactly-how-dumb-are-you Realtor-spam of the day: Inman’s non-ad ad might be extortion, but at least you’re invited to help them betray their own advertisers — for a fee, of course

This is what you will see if you click on a link to an Inman News article:

First: What ad? There isn’t any ad there, just a ransom note.

Who’s the hostage? That would be you. Inman is deliberately interposing itself between you and what you want, demanding payment to get out of your way. That much is extortion, and it’s extortion of the Chokepoint Charlie variety, since the chokepoint is entirely an artifice manufactured by Inman in order either to extort your funds or to punish you by delay for refusing to be extorted.

Nice behavior, huh?

There’s more. The non-ad ad actually attempts to insinuate that it is a matter of prestige to have been extorted in this fashion. “Club members,” the concierge in the pro shop will inform you, “have first claim on available tee times.” If you cough up the dough demanded by this chokepoint, you’re not a schmoo who got rolled in exchange for faster access to regurgitated press releases. To the contrary. You’re a member, one of the privileged elite. In essence, it’s like a line pass in Las Vegas: You’re not some ordinary sucker. No, sir! You’re a very special sucker!

We’re not done. Consider the advertisers, even though I can’t ever remember seeing an ad in this non-ad ad’s place. The “social contract” between Inman and the advertiser runs like this: “We know that our readers don’t want to be delayed. We know they just want access to whatever it is they clicked through to find. So, in exchange for your money, were going to frustrate and betray them — with your ad being the instrument of that betrayal.”

I cannot imagine an advertiser stupid enough to want to try to engage the people it just pissed off, but this is literally the expectation governing that particular advertising space.

But now we’re back to the non-ad ad. What does it really say? It says that Inman will take money from advertisers to frustrate and betray its own readers. Unless those readers are willing to pay the extortion money, in which case Inman will frustrate and betray its own advertisers, from whom it has already accepted payment.

What a tangled web!

I happen to think that Inman News is a den of vendorshills, just like Realtor magazine. But, as ugly as these practices might seem when you see them for what they actually are, in fact they are of a piece with other economics-of-scarcity business models. For the past ten centuries, vendors have cashed in by frustrating and betraying their own clients, then collecting a fee for getting out of the way. This is precisely the old school model of real estate representation, for just one example.

But looked at from the perspective of the economics-of-abundance, these kinds of practices are sleazy, ugly — repugnant. We personally should not take money for betraying — or forebearing to betray — our own clients, and we should be very careful in our dealings with people who do behave that way.

How do we know that Inman News is not to be trusted? Because they say so, very baldly, in that big blue non-ad ad.

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Mortgage Market Week in Review – the Fed Translated….

Hi all,

I want to thank Greg and Teri and Brian and….everyone for the honor of being invited to hang out with such an esteemed bunch.  I’m really excited about it and looking forward to working, talking and “raising the bar.”

I’ll do up a post next week telling a little more about “my story,” but for now I wanted to put up the post that I write every week for my blog.  I call it “Mortgage Market Week in Review” and it’s my overview of what’s been happening in the market and how it impacts the real estate world.  I hope you enjoy it.

For this week’s “Mortgage Market Week in Review,” I’m going to translate the Fed’s announcement that came out on Wednesday at 2:15 PM. It will, I believe, help give us a better view of what’s happening in the financial markets. The actual statement by the Fed will be in italics, my comments will be in bold.
The Federal Open Market Committee decided today to keep its target for the federal funds rate at 2 percent.

That, in and off itself, says that the Fed sees things as having changed since the last time they met. The last time they met, they felt that the economic weakness issue was more important than the risk of inflation. Now they are saying that it’s pretty much a tie as to which risk is bigger.

Recent information indicates that overall economic activity continues to expand, Remember, they are looking at the big picture and are looking at things nationally. partly reflecting some firming in household spending Household spending has firmed some, but a closer look at the charts (which I won’t bore you with here) shows that consumer spending is either 1) Spent on essentials like food and gas or 2) drifting slowly downward. So, I don’t see the household spending holding up, especially as people have to cut back in spending in other areas because of the cost of food and gas for their cars.

However, labor markets have softened further As the labor markets soften (a nice way for saying job cuts) more people are going to pull back on their spending and that’s going to be an economic drag. and financial markets remain under considerable stress That would be the understatement of the day. I was talking to someone the other day and used the analogy of the eye of the hurricane. The first three months of the year were very volatile in the credit markets, then things calmed down for the months of April and May. Now, things are starting to stir again. Citibank, us, Goldman Sachs said the entire financial broker business should be downgraded. Tight credit conditions, the ongoing housing contraction, and the rise in energy prices are likely to weigh on economic growth over the next few quarters. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that.

The committee expects inflation to moderate later this year and next year. Merely my opinion, but I think they are right and I think that inflation is going to moderate because, due to high oil prices, demand for other goods is going to drop because consumers just don’t have the ability to pay for it. Here’s an example of how I see that playing out. If gas were at $2.50 a gallon, I’d probably take my entire family out to Colorado in October when I have to go there for an orphanage board meeting. However, due to the increase in gas costs, it’s too expensive so just I’m going to fly out. That means that a lot of restaurants, souvenir shops and others are going to miss out on a share of my wallet. Now multiply that by how many millions of households? However, in light of the continued increases in the prices of energy and some other commodities and the elevated state of some indicators of inflation expectations, uncertainty about the inflation outlook remains high. Gee, there’s a lot of people who just don’t know what’s going to happen.

The substantial easing of monetary policy to date, combined with ongoing measures to foster market liquidity, should help to promote moderate growth over time. We think we’ve done all we can and need to at this point. Although downside risks to growth remain, they appear to have diminished somewhat, or is it just a lull in the storm? and the upside risks to inflation and inflation expectations have increased. Like I said before, the mood has shifted from leaning toward the inflation risk. The Committee will continue to monitor economic and financial developments and will act as needed to promote sustainable economic growth and price stability. Don’t worry, the Fed is here and we’re on the job ready to do what we can to help.

Well, there you have it. I hope it helps explain a bit more of what the Fed did, why they didn’t lower rates (fear of inflation), why they didn’t raise rates (they believe that inflation will moderate this year) and where things stand (in a constant state of vigilance and change).

Have a good day!



Friday Haiku

tangled commitments

and juggled obligations

clatter on the floor

1 comment

Casual Friday: Caption this photo

My entry: “Because I happen to like Argyle socks, that’s why!”


Project Bloodhound: How to make Google your weblog’s best friend

[This is one of the all-time most popular posts on BloodhoundBlog. I’m reprising it for Project Bloodhound, first because it’s a nice leveraged SEO solution, and second because it’s a painless introduction to customizing the PHP in WordPress. –GSS]

Who can probe all the mysteries of Google? Not me, and I don’t even do referrals on the subject. But I can give you a 93% solution to the problem, and you can worry about the other 7% when you’re not too busy handling incoming traffic.

What’s the secret? Like this: Relevance equals Title plus Headline plus Body Copy. If those three elements are in close correspondence, to Google the article is what it says it is. If that sounds like a Zestimate of a burned down house, it’s because it is. Software cannot evaluate objectively, it can only draw inferences from trusted indicators. If you leave a trail of indicators that Google associates with highly-relevant content, then it is highly-relevant content.

I’ve talked about writing headlines and body copy that are long-tail keyword rich. If you have a WordPress weblog, here’s a way to get your post’s title to correspond to its headline:

<?php wp_title(" "); ?>
<?php if(wp_title(" ", false)) { echo " | "; } ?>
YourBlogName | 
Your blog's tagline...

Here is what that code says:

If there is a headline, show it as the title of the page. On your main page, there is no title. On archive or category pages, the archive or the category will be the title.

If we did show a title, lay down a vertical bar as punctuation.

Then show the weblog’s name and tag line, separated by a vertical bar.

Altogether, the code means that when your post is shown as a standalone weblog entry, the title of that page will be the headline of the post. This is the way Google will see it for indexing purposes. And what that means is that Google will regard your post as being highly relevant.

You can snag a copy of the code you see above by clicking here. The file you need to edit is named “header.php”. You’ll find it in the folder for your active theme inside the “themes” folder of the “wp-content” folder of the WordPress installation on your file server. You want to replace the existing title tag with your edited version of the code shown here. If you don’t know exactly what I just said, take this problem to someone who does.

The cool thing is, once you made this change, Google will index all your old pages with their new titles, as well. In the long run, all of your long-tail keywords should benefit.
< ?php include ("REWL101.php"); ?>

Getting in touch with your inner geek:

Want more? Real Estate Weblogging 101 will speak to your inner geek.

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Project Bloodhound: How to write headlines for your real estate weblog posts that deliver the goods — and deliver Google results

A headline on a weblog post is a differentiator — this entry is different from all the others — but that’s not a very useful lens for understanding headlines. A serial number — A37592x — is a differentiator, too.

A headline can serve the same purpose as a headline in the newspaper, as a brief summary of the succeeding content — “Man kills wife, kids, self.”

That’s a useful function, but it’s not really doing the job we want a headline on a blog post to do.

Here’s a better way of understanding the communicative purpose of a weblog entry’s headline:

A headline is a testament from the writer to the reader than the content described in the headline is accurately reflected by that headline and that reading that content will repay the effort it entails.

But that’s still not enough. A headline on a weblog post, and on any persuasive copy, has to ensnare and entice the reader. The headline has to promise a substantive benefit that the reader will realize by pursuing the copy. Writing an effective headline is very much a Direct Marketing problem.

And we’re not done even yet. In addition to all the jobs it must undertake in the reader’s behalf, a well-written weblog headline should also engage horizontal search engines in meaningful ways.

So a properly-crafted weblog headline will:

  • Summarize the content in an interesting way
  • Promise the reader a practical benefit for reading that content
  • Search well on the most-significant keywords in that content

That’s a big load to carry, but a good headline can make a post, where a bad one can break it.

I don’t want to represent myself as a good example, because I will frequently opt for clever rather than good, but the headline of this post is a nice example of a good headline: It tells you what I’m going to talk about, it tells you how you will gain by reading this post, and it is strong on keywords that are likely to be searched by people who may have an interest in BloodhoundBlog’s ongoing content.

The latter point is important. It’s easy to score well on long-tail search terms, but if they don’t bring you the people you want to recruit as readers and convert as clients, you’re spinning your wheels.

Relevance, to Google, is the title tag plus the headline plus the body copy. If your title tag reflects you headline (about which more soon), and if your body copy corresponds to your headline, then Google will regard your page as being highly relevant. If it happens to be highly relevant to your mission in real estate, then you’ve done the job right.

Let’s pick on some Bloodhounds to illustrate what we’re talking about.

Yesterday Doug Quance gave us:

Elections Really DO Have Consequences

What might work better? How about:

Recent Supreme Court decisions demonstrate the importance of picking the right President: Elections really do have consequences

A better summary, an implied promise of benefit and better search terms. The search keywords are off-topic for real estate, but we have a wider latitude than a purely-commercial real estate weblog. Nothing human is alien to BloodhoundBlog.

Teri Lussier graced us with:

Project Bloodhound: And they called it puppy love

I like it better this way:

They call it puppy love: Six frisky young pups join the dog-pound for Project Bloodhound — a chance for all of us to learn and grow

Summary? Yes. Promise? Yes. Searchable? Kinda-sorta. Let’s try it again.

They call it puppy love: Six frisky young pups join BloodhoundBlog for Project Bloodhound — a colloquium on Social Media Marketing for hounds of all pedigrees

That will search on Social Media Marketing, one of our choice keywords.

Sean posted an entry called:

Custom Signs and Brake Lights

This is really opaque, but perhaps it’s so opaque that people had to click through to find out what it was about.

Here’s another approach to the same post:

Do you want to see cars slow down when they catch sight of your real estate listings? Nothing stops traffic like a custom yard sign

Summary, benefit and search keywords, all in one headline.

Eric Blackwell wrote a gracious and beautiful post about Charles Richey’s illness, but I want to put Eric in the hospital for this headline:

As a personal favor…

No summary, no benefit, no search. What would work better?

How about this?

When you needed his help, Charles Richey was always there for you. Now he needs you to be there for him. Join me in helping Charles and his family as he recovers from a devastating illness.

The summary is there. The benefit is group cohesion. And this headline will search strong on Charles Richey.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m also writing for length. One line of a headline on BloodhoundBlog is about 68 characters, so I’m trying to fill out the lines as I write.

You will note that I am not taking any special pains to be brief. If I can say what I want to say in one line, I will, but I don’t hesitate to take three lines if that’s what’s needed. There is no benefit to anyone in doing less than the whole job.

And here’s another conundrum: Which comes first, the headline or the body text? I will often write the headline first, so I have a clear idea on the promise I plan to deliver on. But it can happen that I will end up writing something different than I had planned — in which case I simply rewrite the headline.

Everything is hard when it’s unfamiliar, and it might seem especially cruel of me to ask you to spend even more time on your headlines when you’re already obsessing over your text. But a few moments of extra time thinking about how to write an accurate, engaging and searchable headline will pay huge dividends in readership, comments and — it is to be hoped — commerce.

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How to Use Twitter to Dominate Local Real Estate

What is the best way to use Twitter to put you on the path to dominate your hyper local area? I am convinced I live in one of the least techie places in the Western Hemisphere. The suburbs I wish, pray, and hope to one day dominate only have 38 people on Twitter. I am not complaining, I want to learn how to market to those 38 people as if I was marketing to 10,000.

A comment on this post yesterday got me thinking. I use Twitter. Do I use it to its fullest?

I have seen several of the contributors on here as well as a good number of the people I know who read this blog use it, and use it well. Often, when Brian Brady says to “Lock all loans” via a tweet, I call the mortgage brokers working on my deals and scream “LOCK!”. That right there proves that Twitter works. Across the United States the words of Brian are making a young real estate agent make his clients lock their loans. Why? Because he is trusted. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend Bloodhound Blog Unchained in Phoenix, where I understand Twitter was discussed a great deal, but I will see all of you in Orlando.

Currently, it seems as if I am marketing to solely other Real Estate Agents. I have gotten a referral that ended in a closed sell, yes. However, I want to be able to dominate my local market, once they get on Twitter. Of course, I have followed each and every person that comes to Twitter from my target areas, even if they are outside their target demographics. I do not only write about my blog posts, real estate, etc…I share funny pictures of my cats, dogs, and just general updates on life.

So, yall…what did you old Tweeters do on Twitter before your town, city, neighborhood etc came to be fellow Tweets?

Should I just follow the masses as they come here, search out for new faces for referrals in other markets, write about different things, or just leave it alone?

I know people have been at this point before, when Twitter, and other Social Media Platforms like it, were not widely used in your area. What did you do to build a relationship based network of followers in your area to increase and build your business?


Cloaking is Against Google’s TOS, Trulia. (And other SE’s as well)


Here is Wikipedia’s Definition.

Simply put, it is the practice of showing one thing to a user and another thing to the search engine spiders. It violates the BASIC trust that MUST exist IMO between the search engines and webmasters in order for there to be umm…order. They need to know that you are not doing a sleight of hand.

In Search Engine Optimization, there are few things that almost all of the search engines treat alike. Even things like no follow links are handled differently (at this point in time) depending on which search engine is involved. But they all cry “foul” when it comes to purposely sending their spiders one thing and users another.

Why do I bring this up? Because Eric Bramlett just dropped a video bombshell on Trulia. (Fair warning, the video takes a while to load and may not explain easily to the typical viewer what is happening, so I will do some play by play…).

UPDATE: Bramlett has now added a post with STILL photos as well to explain.

Scene 1: Trulia has “partners” at the Seattle Weekly and Parade Magazine. Bramlett visits them as a normal viewer online would. The link takes him to a subdomain shared between the “partners” (just using the Seattle Weekly example here).

Scene 2: Bramlett then switches over to a tool we SEO types use to look at the same link AS IF WE WERE A GOOGLE SPIDER. When he does this and clicks the same link…

Scene 3: He goes to a completely DIFFERENT page, one that gives links DIRECTLY to Trulia and NOT to their “partners”. Yes, folks that IS the page that they are promoting to the TOP of Google for the keyword Seattle Real Estate! (My guess is that they are doing this to THESE partners the same way they do it to their REALTOR partners? That is the only explanation that I can come up with….)

Eric Bramlett’s video evidence has what they are doing. They are caught red-handed. Plain and simple in my opinion.

A word of advice to Trulia:

1) As you rise to try and compete with REALTORS nationwide on the search engines, your “less than white hat” practices will see increased exposure from talented REALTORS that understand SEO thoroughly (Like Eric Bramlett). Don’t expect those dogs not to bark.

2) Cloaking, whether to stuff keywords or to hide from your partners the fact that you are taking links from them is considered a practice that is against the TOS of all of the major search engines.

3) IMO, how you are treating your “partners”, whether REALTORS or Newspapers, is becoming increasingly clear. Is there a pattern here? Nevermind, it is a rhetorical question….

To the Real Estate Community at large…Why again do we support these MORONS with our listings and links? Nevermind…that is another of my rhetorical questions…

Great work, Bramlett! Way to howl.


Listing real estate the Bloodhound way: The marketing power of a custom yard sign is not the color, not the photography, not even that it is custom-made — it’s the text on the sign that stops traffic

We’ve been making custom yard signs for two years now, but that represents the third generation of our sign philosophy. The second generation featured a huge picture of Odysseus the TV Spokesmodel Bloodhound, and that was a real traffic stopper when it was new. The first generation sported a huge rendition of our corporate logo, which we moved, in smaller form, to the riser on top of the post for the second and third generation signs.

What signs have always had in common, going back to 2003, is that paragraph of small text in the middle of the sign. With our custom signs, we can rhapsodize each house, but we knew from the very beginning that that paragraph of text would stop traffic, and that this would win attention for our homes that we could not achieve with an ordinary real estate sign.

We knew back then that we wanted custom signs, we just couldn’t do it then. (Richard Riccelli suggested that we mount a metal frame on our signs so that we could swap in other text.) We knew then, as we we know now, that good marketing sells houses — but that exceptional marketing would set us apart from the Realtors we compete against with our sellers and with their neighbors.

Here’s how to understand the Bloodhound marketing strategy: Everything we do goes into selling the house — into inducing the behaviors necessary for the home to be sold. And selling houses the way we do accomplishes the objective of selling everything we do to those homeowners who are paying attention. In that respect, all of our marketing is integrated — all one thing.

This is adapted from a comment I posted earlier today.

What matters most about custom yard signs is not the color, not the photography, not even that they are custom-made for the house. What makes them sell is that paragraph of text in the middle of the sign. As you could easily predict, there is a philosophy behind everything we do, including our custom signs:

Forever and always, Realtors have treated their yard signs like billboards. After all, the traffic is driving by, so all you can hope to do is let people know this home is for sale, right? Well, maybe. Writing a billboard that sells is a monstrous job precisely because your prospect is inherently isolated from any possible point of sale. Is that true of a potential home buyer? More significantly, isn’t the information on a Realtor’s sign at war with the billboard idea? Who takes down a phone number from a billboard? And who can read all those riders without stopping?

And why would you want to encourage people not to stop?

The purpose of a Realtor’s sign should be to get people to stop and look at and buy the house. If the entire point of the exercise is to promote a fleeting visual awareness that some particular house is for sale, with no action sought or expected, then the effort is entirely wasted. On the other hand, if a Realtor’s yard sign is not really a billboard, but is instead, in fact, an advertisement — then what?

Our signs are our answer. Those custom photographs will attract attention. On the rider, we’re advertising the price in no uncertain terms. Real Estate has always been a business of secrets — “I have access to information that you can’t have without paying me first” — but our practice is to be completely transparent. And yet, if you ignore that paragraph of text on the middle sign, we’re not hugely different from a normal Realtor’s sign: Who we are and how to contact us.

But it is that paragraph of advertising that makes all the difference. No one can read that while driving by — and that’s the point. That paragraph is there to get people to stop. To read the sign. To read the flyer. To write down the address of the web site. Most especially to look at the home. And, ultimately, to call us to buy the home.

The purpose of Bloodhound’s yard signs is to get people to stop, to look at and to buy the home. The purpose is advertising, not announcement. We think ordinary Realtor’s signs are a form of Sales Call Reluctance — passively absolving customers from buying the product. Our signs, by contrast, are very aggressive: If you want to know what we have to say, you’re going to have to stop. When you do, we’re going to keep presenting until you either relent or run away. We’re going to call for your action in every way we can, and we’re going to call for you to act with us. All of this is done by passive devices — the sign, the flyers and the house itself — but the objective is always action, and now, not later.

For the folks paying attention to our marketing ideas, I entreat you to pay attention to everything I’m talking about. Marketing isn’t a matter of tools or techniques, it’s a matter of aims and intentions — and results. If you miss out of what we’re trying to do with a particular marketing idea, you’re missing out on the value of that idea.

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Project Bloodhound: The question I should have asked a year ago

As a new blogger, with little experience, how do you choose a weblog platform?  My current blog runs on Quick Blogcast from Go Daddy and it’s beginning to feel limited.  The number one reason I chose it, when I started blogging a little over a year ago, was that it looked easy to implement and was affordable.  Frankly I’m very frugal, especially while I’m proving to myself whether or not something work for me.  The good news was I was up and running  in no time and my blog has brought me business.

Ironically, two of us new puppies are currently using Quick Blogcast.  I’ve found some tricks and gotten some great lessons  in CSS and rigging things to make them work the way I want from the tech support, who are patient and helpful, BUT they have to put me on hold and scratch their heads to make it happen almost every time.

I really want a more functional platform that allows me more creativity and control, but I’m intimidated by setups and every time there is an update, it seems that I see a few really frustrated real estate pros over on Twitter.  Now the time has come for me to shut up or put up and this seems like the perfect opportunity to make a platform move, but I’m still not sure I have the technical skills to take on a more complex platform.  

Now that I have a functional blog that makes me money, with a growing Page Rank, should I risk the change? 

  • Will I spend days frustrated to no end, during my really busy season?  Is it worth it to have a pretty blog?
  •  Should I just pay someone who does have the technical skills and pay them forever?
  •  I know there are great bloggers out there who have made these hard choices and I really need to know what you think about choosing platforms, which one you recommend, and anything else you can suggest to help.  If you were going to start a new blog today, what would you do?  Thanks for taking the time to share the pros and cons and I’m really looking forward some help with this decision!


    Project Bloodhound: How to write a question post that gets answers

    Our new contributors are true Bloodhounds, equal to all the others. We don’t have rules, we don’t play status games and we don’t want for anyone to feel less than perfectly welcome here.

    But: We do recognize that the new Bloodhounds are going to have questions. We want for them to have questions, since their questions will kick off great discussions of how to manage the world of Social Media Marketing.

    However: The question post can be the death of weblogging. You set something up and then you say, “Does that makes sense?” or “What say you?” or “Am I wrong?” Sounds harmless enough, but, for some reason, posts like that tend to die a commentless death. It’s plausible to me that you see them so often on weblogs where the host is desperate for comments that that trailing question comes to seem like desperation in the flesh — like a blind date who turns out to be a sweaty Trekkie with Asperger’s Syndrome.

    Here’s a way to put together a question post that will spark a conversation rather than languish in perpetuity, unremarked on and unloved.

    First, instead of ending with the question, start with it: Just exactly how do you establish a following on Twitter without looking like another pushy Realtor?

    Second, take some responsibility for yourself: Here’s what I was thinking. I thought I might just go in and start talking about the things that fascinate me in the neighborhoods I work in.

    Third, give your readers the respect they deserve: I know there are a lot of people out there who have been successfully tweeting real estate for quite a while, so I was hoping someone could give me some direction.

    Fourth, get right back to the questions: Am I all messed up in my thinking? Is there something I’m missing? Is there a better way of going at things?

    Fifth, go one down, graciously: I know you guys know so much more about this than I do. Thanks for taking the time to hold my hand.

    Like this:

    Just exactly how do you establish a following on Twitter without looking like another pushy Realtor?

    Here’s what I was thinking. I thought I might just go in and start talking about the things that fascinate me in the neighborhoods I work in.

    I know there are a lot of people out there who have been successfully tweeting real estate for quite a while, so I was hoping someone could give me some direction.

    Am I all messed up in my thinking? Is there something I’m missing? Is there a better way of going at things?

    I know you guys know so much more about this than I do. Thanks for taking the time to hold my hand.

    That’s a formula, and posts that are too-obviously formulaic have their own problems. But your point in asking a question is not to goose a few comments, thus to stroke your ego. Your objective is to get good answers. And, as with all weblogging, to make things work, you have to engage with the audience.

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    Elections Really DO Have Consequences

    When All Else Fails – Pay Attention To The High Court

    In a 5-4 decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court today, the court has struck down the 32 year-old ban on handguns in Washington D. C. – and elsewhere, for that matter.

    I find it less interesting that the court ruled against the gun ban. After all, the ban was an obvious encroachment on a citizen’s constitutional rights. What is interesting to me is that four of the Justices Supreme reasoned that the ban was constitutional.

    How is it that these four dissenting Justices fail to understand the Founding Fathers? Were the Founders unclear about their belief that the citizens should not only have the right to bear arms – they should take up arms against a tyrannical government?

    Bill of Rights – First Amendment – free speech – check.

    Second Amendment – right to bear arms – check.

    I’m no legal scholar, but it seems that gun rights were high on their list of priorities.

    A 5-4 decision is no slam dunk. Yes, it’s a ruling… but without the kind of consensus I would like to see. Look at some of the recent rulings, like bestowing habeus corpus rights upon enemy combatants captured on the battlefield. Wow… so now the terrorists can make a mockery of our legal system.

    A recent decision (Kelo vs City of New London) regarding eminent domain – another 5-4 decision – further eroded property rights by allowing governments to seize property to be conveyed to a developer for private redevelopment.

    You might be coming to the conclusion that – once again – we have been given another election cycle of less-than-perfect choices. Seriously flawed candidates on all sides. Yep – suck it up. We’re hosed.

    May I ask that you consider the high court in your decision this year?

    Our rights and freedoms are constantly under attack, and since the Supreme Court is the ultimate ‘check and balance’ in our system of governance – it is increasingly important that you consider the kind of jurists that a President will nominate.


    Project Bloodhound: And they called it puppy love

    The Bloodhound Blog has puppies!

    This is a frisky and fearless litter of pure-bred Bloodhounds, each with their own unique goals, skills, voice, and talents. They are being added to the contributor’s panel to blend their own howling to the symphony that makes Bloodhound the remarkable place it is. I prefer to let them tell you their own stories in their own words, but I’ll give you a little glimpse into the breadth and wisdom of this amazing group that we’ve assembled.

    What I think you will find so intriguing about this group is that the focus of their blogs varies quite a bit. During Project Blogger, we were all real estate bloggers with a local focus. That is so-o-o 2007. This is 2008, and this is Project Bloodhound. This is a lender, and a true hyperlocal blog, and a green multi-user blog, and this a few city-wide real estate blogs of different price points and markets.

    Project Blogger was mentors and newbies. Not Project Bloodhound. We have a true pup, just starting to cut her teeth in the Web 2.0 world; we have experienced bloggers who are hunting for a more engaging writing style; a long time blogger who is on the scent of the SEO secrets for dominating his market. There are a few pups who are gnawing on the dashboard of their WordPress platforms, and bloggers who are happily chewing Blogger and RSSpieces blogs, thank you very much.

    Who are these pups?

    Christine Beaur-Mortezaie: VoilaLongBeach

    Brad Coy: SanFranciscoRealEstateServices

    Michelle DeRepentingy: AllAboutAthensGA

    Stephanie Edwards-Musa: TurningHoustonGreen

    Hunter Jackson: ColumbiaSCRealEstateHomes

    Tom Vanderwell: StraightTalkAboutMortgages

    How is Project Bloodhound going to work? Briefly, the pups are going to post here, and we- we being anyone- are going to take those posts as a starting point and continue the conversation in comment threads, on our own blogs, and here on BHB posts. This is your opportunity to share your knowledge, but also your chance to ask your own questions and pick the brains of the best bloggers out there.

    One short year later, it is a real joy to pay my own experience forward and I hope you will welcome this new litter of Bloodhounds with the same boundless enthusiam with which we welcome everything unchained.

    Photo credit: Christine Keller of


    Unchained melodies: You don’t own me

    Teri suggested this, but it’s one I’ve always loved, too. Leslie Gore looking all of 19 years old, taking down You don’t own me in less than two minutes:

    Here’s a Don Dilego cover of The Kinks’ I’m not like everybody else. This was the B side to Sunny Afternoon and I wore the grooves right off that 45.

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