Joel Burslem over at 1000watt has proclaimed July 9, 2010 as the day that the real estate blog died, and given the thoughtfulness and intelligence of the author, it’s difficult to disagree with his conclusion. Given how Joel defines “real estate blog”, the conclusions he draws are somewhat difficult to escape:
For every Phoenix Real Estate Guy, there are likely umpteen dozen soulless me-too real estate blogs in any given metro these days. Many are filled with meaningless “market reports,” meandering “community updates” – and most were last updated many moons ago.
These blogs float like drift nets on the web, hoping to snare the clueless web visitor who stumbles in through some long tail Google search.
I, however, don’t necessarily agree with his premise. In order for something to die, it had to have been alive at some point. Since I don’t believe that the “real estate blog” as defined above was ever graced with the spark of life, I don’t know that I would mourn its death.
Instead, I would like to recommend some tools that are critical to the aspiring real estate blogger in the hopes that we might change the definition of a ‘real estate blog’ from “soulless me-too” Google-farming wanna-be blogs to an actual blog: a weblog, a series of thoughts.
These are not free tools, unfortunately, but for someone interested in blogging — whether in real estate or hyperlocal or something else — these tools are absolutely essential.
Essential Tool #1:
Essential Tool #2:
Essential Tool #3:
There they are.
Together, they’ll run you about $30. But there’s no monthly subscription fee. You pay it, you own a perpetual license (as long as the pages don’t fall apart).
Chances are, you already have #2 — a dictionary of some sort. And if you’d like, you can always go to any number of online dictionaries. Stephen King’s book may surprise you if you’re not a fan. No matter what you might think of his body of work, the man is passionate, driven, obsessed even with the craft of writing. There is no more inspirational work.
And of course, Elements of Style sets a bar that all modern scribes aspire to… even while falling short constantly.
Blogging Is Writing, Not Content Creation
The point, if I have one at all, is that blogging is writing. (And for those about to rise up indignant about photoblogs and videoblogs and the like… please read to the end.) The written word is at the source of blogging as a communication vehicle, as a means of self-expression, and really as a technology platform as well.
The reason why the Jay Thompsons and Kris Bergs of the world have such popular blogs is not, in my view, because they’re such great content creators. It’s because they’re great writers. I asked a number of top-flight real estate bloggers at REBC San Francisco just this past week whether they would continue to blog if they were no longer in real estate, or if blogging lead to no business at all. All of them said they would.
Because they’re passionate about it apart from the ‘business’ of blogging.
Maybe we’re all just frustrated wannabe Hemingways. I know I am. But there is something magical to the act of creation, the act of putting words on paper (or on pixel), whether those words add up to talk about great human issues or how to deal with a short sale. Actually, the two might be related these days….
Mere content creation of the kind described by Joel in his prescient post is not “blogging” in my book, because it isn’t writing. It isn’t creation. It’s just… marketing. Attention-seeking behavior. Not much different from the inflated gorilla balloons you sometimes see at car dealerships.
Those kinds of content creation and marketing are probably better off on the various social networks like Facebook or LinkedIn or Twitter. You don’t much care about power of a properly formed phrase, the structure of a paragraph, or any such thing when you just want to put stuff out there to go, “Hey, look at me!” You just want an audience.
But if you write to please yourself, rather than an audience, if you write because something in your soul makes you want to put words down, and you want to share those words with the world for whatever unknown reason… then the blog is your modern day printing press.
The same creative urge, the same inner-drive to express something, exists in photoblogs and videoblogs. As a writer, I will always consider the word to be superior, but that’s only because I’m not good at taking gorgeous photographs or expressing my thoughts on film. But I know that the same urge to create, to express, to share exists in the real photo/video bloggers as well.
Is that ‘content-creation’? I suppose that if one wished to argue semantics, all blogging is content creation… in the same way that a McDonald’s cheeseburger and the painstaking work of a Tom Colicchio are both “food”. But readers, like diners, know the difference.
The real estate blog is not dead. But it hasn’t ever really been alive either, if by that term one means mass-adoption and effectiveness as a marketing channel. Because the blog, like most of the creative arts, is the province of the enthusiast, the amateur (in the original sense, meaning lover), and those who do it for the love of doing it.
So let me end on a piece of advice for those considering starting a blog for their real estate business: Don’t. Use Facebook instead. Or pithy Twitter messages. Or Yelp or Foursquare or whatever. Use postcards. Use email. Do cold calls. All of those take less time and far far far less effort to do than a blog. Do those.
And then, once you’re doing all those, and you find yourself sitting alone at night, feeling the itch to write something… and that itch doesn’t go away while watching the latest Law & Order rerun… then start a blog. Start writing.
You will be rewarded in surprising ways.