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In the Name of All That is Holy, You Should Stop Blogging

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The inimitable and simply delightful Teri Lussier recently posted her observations of RE BlogWorld ’08 in Las Vegas. In it, she mentioned a “reverse Black Pearl” by yours truly:

And finally, I’ll leave you with this brutally honest reverse Black Pearl from Notorious R.O.B., who, during Jeff’s session, shared his opinion about the quality of writing on some real estate blogs: “In the name of all that’s holy, you should stop blogging!” Ouch, Rob.

As Teri mentioned, I need not explain that statement, but I wanted to. It’s one of the topics that’s been swirling around in my head for a while. And judging by the knowing laughter that greeted that statement during REBlogWorld, I’m thinking that I am not alone.

So… I stand by my statement fully. 🙂

The Context as Pretext

The context of the plea was when Jeff Turner had gone over a number of new, innovative tools that might help real estate agents with their online efforts. Jeff kept describing one tool after another, all of which had to do with audio or video as content for a blog.

The question that naturally arose, of course, which I asked him, was whether he thought these were great tools for realtor blogs because something inherent in audio or video, or because the quality of written content on these websites is low.

Hence, I asked, “I know there are some realtor blogs out there that are so badly written that they make us all go, ‘In the name of all that’s holy, you should stop blogging’. Is that one of the reasons why you’re recommending so many audio/video solutions here, because agents are somehow able to talk better than they can write?”

Bad Writing is Not Good Branding

Thing is, this is a somewhat serious point. A bad blog is not an asset — it’s a liability. Someone who may have been your ideal client might look at your utterly crappy website or horrid blog and conclude that you are a major league idiot, even if you happen to be the most knowledgeable real estate professional in history. They don’t know you; if all they get to see of you is a terrible blog, then as far as they’re concerned, you’re a terrible agent. Period. End of story.

It would be a major step forward for such an agent to suspend blogging. Indefinitely. And try to scrub the Interwebs of all clues as to the existence of such a blog once upon a time.

So if you’re a bad writer, then you would be doing yourself a favor (as well as the rest of the industry) by stopping your blogging activities and doing something else that would show off your scintillating personality. Maybe that’s audio. Maybe that’s video. But if you can’t write, please, please do not blog.

For your own good.

And mine.

Bad Writing Usually Means Bad Content

The tragic correlation, of course, is that people who can’t write rarely produce amazing non-written content. Unless there are unusual extenuating circumstances (e.g., you are blind, or can’t read/write English though you can speak it some with a nice accent, etc.), bad writers are typically bad content producers, period.

Because good writing requires a few things. For example:

  • logic
  • coherent thought
  • imagination
  • narrative ability
  • understanding of the audience

All of these things also come into play when creating any sort of content. Think about all the truly horrible movies you’ve seen. Most lacked one or more of the above. Most bad sci-fi movies lack logic for example (e.g., Star Wars has giant lasers that can destroy planets but can’t figure out fully automatic weapons?), while most bad romance movies lack coherent thought (see, e.g., What Happens in Vegas).

So the thought that a realtor who can’t write worth a damn is going to create a fascinating video blog, or vlog, is too optimistic by half. Unless the realtor in question looks like Gisele, in which case I suppose some folks would watch that vlog if she were explaining the ins and outs of the home inspection process in a dry monotone. But if she does look like that, she probably should think about a different career. One that involves meeting Leonardo Dicaprio for lunch on a regular basis.

So What Do I Do If I Sux?

There are two choices, as I see it, if you take a good long look in the mirror and realize that you don’t look like Gisele Bundchen, and that you can’t write.

Choice #1: Become a better writer

Let’s be honest — none of us are in the running for the Nobel Prize in Literature. We’re bloggers, who write about real estate. It isn’t that difficult to become a better blogger. Reading good writers — both bloggers and dead-tree authors — really helps improve one’s own writing. The rest is just practice. Then practice. And even more practice.

Choice #2: Stop blogging, start working

The other choice is to stop blogging. Fact is, the web-centric real estate model may be the future, but it isn’t necessarily the be-all, end-all right now, today. Russell Shaw had a great post up recently where he touched on this.  While that post was about the power of being the listing agent, the subtext woven throughout goes something like this: “The tried and true still works”.

So… honestly, if you’re no good at the whole content-creation thing… why bother?  Just work on increasing your sphere of influence, going on more lunches, networking via offline methods, and all of the other things that have helped realtors be successful for decades — long before Sergey Brin was even out of diapers.

Final Words

I was recently at a speech where the keynote told the following story (which I am completely paraphrasing from memory):

I saw Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, at a education conference tell a room full of teachers that he believed teachers are underpaid.  In fact, Larry thought teachers should make over $1m a year.  The crowd went wild with applause.  The catch was, Larry continued, with the power of the Internet, he only needed 100 of them in the entire United States.  Dead silence in the room.

Think about it.  How many real estate bloggers does the country really need?

-rsh

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Rob Hahn
Managing Partner of 7DS Associates, and the grand poobah of this here blog. Once called "a revolutionary in a really nice suit", people often wonder what I do for a living because I have the temerity to not talk about my clients and my work for clients. Suffice to say that I do strategy work for some of the largest organizations and companies in real estate, as well as some of the smallest startups and agent teams, but usually only on projects that interest me with big implications for reforming this wonderful, crazy, lovable yet frustrating real estate industry of ours.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Amen?

    When agents ask me if they should blog I say “No”- if you have to ask, you prolly don’t get it.

    >A bad blog is not an asset — it’s a liability.

    To the industry as well, I might add. I do worry about the reflexive groan of the collective world- “Ugh. *Another* RE blog? No thanks.”

    >inimitable and simply delightful

    You La Costra Blogstra boys are pretty sch-weet yourselves. 🙂

  2. Amen?

    When agents ask me if they should blog I say “No”- if you have to ask, you prolly don’t get it.

    >A bad blog is not an asset — it’s a liability.

    To the industry as well, I might add. I do worry about the reflexive groan of the collective world- “Ugh. *Another* RE blog? No thanks.”

    >inimitable and simply delightful

    You La Costra Blogstra boys are pretty sch-weet yourselves. 🙂

  3. Louis – that there is a classic post. 🙂 Highly recommended!

    Teri – La Blogstra Nostra welcomes the dame from Ohio. 🙂

    So what do we think? How many bloggers does the real estate industry really need? How many bloggers can we actually absorb?

    -rsh

  4. Louis – that there is a classic post. 🙂 Highly recommended!

    Teri – La Blogstra Nostra welcomes the dame from Ohio. 🙂

    So what do we think? How many bloggers does the real estate industry really need? How many bloggers can we actually absorb?

    -rsh

  5. >La Blogstra Nostra

    I stand corrected, my apologies. You are still sch-weet. 🙂

    I think it’s more of a quality issue as opposed to a quantity issue. Except in Dayton. We are full up in Dayton, thanks. 😉

    The industry needs as many excellent, thoughtful, well-written blogs as we can get. We don’t need more blog-as-free-billboard-advertising blogs, to borrow a phrase from you.

    But the same goes for the blogiverse in general. Good blogs are a joy to find. Bad blogs are everywhere.

  6. >La Blogstra Nostra

    I stand corrected, my apologies. You are still sch-weet. 🙂

    I think it’s more of a quality issue as opposed to a quantity issue. Except in Dayton. We are full up in Dayton, thanks. 😉

    The industry needs as many excellent, thoughtful, well-written blogs as we can get. We don’t need more blog-as-free-billboard-advertising blogs, to borrow a phrase from you.

    But the same goes for the blogiverse in general. Good blogs are a joy to find. Bad blogs are everywhere.

  7. @Stacey –

    It seems there’s a bit of a zeitgeist going on. 🙂 More I think about it, more I feel like the web is like any other communication channel. Some are simply better at it than others, but each realtor can leverage his/her own assets and liabilities.

    For example, if you look like Brad Pitt, you probably should leverage video and TV more. If you sound like Joe Buck, maybe podcasting and radio are worth investigating. If you can write like William F. Buckley, then blogging might be a good idea. Each person has his or her particular gifts — no need to do blogging or social media just because it’s the hot thing to do right now.

    @JF –

    I simply love that idea. You’re absolutely right. Imagine a bunch of posts on how an agent helped a client deal with a difficult situation, or helped a new family find an affordable house in a tough market, or whatever. I know every agent I’ve met has war stories — tell them. They make you sound good, and showcases your expertise. (Assuming you have one.)

    @Teri –

    You don’t think Dayton, OH could use another fifteen or so realtor blogs? 😀

    -rsh

  8. @Stacey –

    It seems there’s a bit of a zeitgeist going on. 🙂 More I think about it, more I feel like the web is like any other communication channel. Some are simply better at it than others, but each realtor can leverage his/her own assets and liabilities.

    For example, if you look like Brad Pitt, you probably should leverage video and TV more. If you sound like Joe Buck, maybe podcasting and radio are worth investigating. If you can write like William F. Buckley, then blogging might be a good idea. Each person has his or her particular gifts — no need to do blogging or social media just because it’s the hot thing to do right now.

    @JF –

    I simply love that idea. You’re absolutely right. Imagine a bunch of posts on how an agent helped a client deal with a difficult situation, or helped a new family find an affordable house in a tough market, or whatever. I know every agent I’ve met has war stories — tell them. They make you sound good, and showcases your expertise. (Assuming you have one.)

    @Teri –

    You don’t think Dayton, OH could use another fifteen or so realtor blogs? 😀

    -rsh

  9. But I’d argue that social media isn’t just the hot thing to do right now…I think it actually may change the way that Realtors farm and do business. I agree that there is still opportunity in the old way, but ignoring what is happening with social media may be a mistake for the Realtor of the future. They may not have to blog to be successful, but to your point, they should find the social media vehicles that work for them and leverage their assets.

  10. But I’d argue that social media isn’t just the hot thing to do right now…I think it actually may change the way that Realtors farm and do business. I agree that there is still opportunity in the old way, but ignoring what is happening with social media may be a mistake for the Realtor of the future. They may not have to blog to be successful, but to your point, they should find the social media vehicles that work for them and leverage their assets.

  11. As it happens, Stacey, I agree with you on a larger sense re: social media. I’m a cluetrain freak, which means that I believe that the mass-comm marketing that we inherited from the 50’s and the 60’s with the introduction of the TV is fundamentally outdated.

    At the same time, I don’t even know what “social media” means anymore. It has achieved the same status as “Web 2.0” which could mean just about anything. People just use that phrase like a magic talisman, like abracadabra. No matter what the issue, people just throw “social media” at it and expect results.

    I would rather reason out why something would change the way that Realtors farm and do business. What exactly does the ability to put up a webpage do that it changes the game fundamentally?

    I’d rather figure out what “leverage their assets” means with some specificity, y’know?

    -rsh

  12. As it happens, Stacey, I agree with you on a larger sense re: social media. I’m a cluetrain freak, which means that I believe that the mass-comm marketing that we inherited from the 50’s and the 60’s with the introduction of the TV is fundamentally outdated.

    At the same time, I don’t even know what “social media” means anymore. It has achieved the same status as “Web 2.0” which could mean just about anything. People just use that phrase like a magic talisman, like abracadabra. No matter what the issue, people just throw “social media” at it and expect results.

    I would rather reason out why something would change the way that Realtors farm and do business. What exactly does the ability to put up a webpage do that it changes the game fundamentally?

    I’d rather figure out what “leverage their assets” means with some specificity, y’know?

    -rsh

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