Inman Real Estate Connect 07 – Finding your voice

My mother has been sending me a few emails recently. I haven’t read them because I’m sure she is lambasting me for not calling home. What kind of a son doesn’t call home!? I think the answer is a son who is in over his head in activities.

Right now I’m at Inman Real Estate Connect 07 in San Francisco and just spoke on a panel on blogging titled, “Finding your voice”, that was moderated by Lockhart Steele and the other panelists were Erik, Greg and Jim.

You probably think that is odd since I never blog here any more. Once summer winds down that will change. In the mean time I find a little time to write at Urbnlivn and my real estate blog. I also found it odd since I don’t consider myself an expert on blogging but then I thought about it and I guess I have been doing this for seven years, have three active blogs and consult on the Redfin corporate and Sweet Digs blog strategy.

So hopefully someone else will post about the session because I can’t even remember what I spoke about. I think I touched on some of these points (I’ll edit the post as it comes back to me):

Content first. If I have 30 minutes to spend on Urbnlivn I’ll spend it on content. I won’t spend it on making it look better in Internet Explorer 7 (even though it looks bad) and I won’t spend it on search engine optimization (if the content is half decent Google will find it) what I’ll spend it on is trying to find some articles, encouraging others to contribute or crawling the MLS for a neat listing to write about.

Passion. I don’t blog for the $5 a day I make in Google ads. I don’t blog for preferred treatment at condo projects (I think my blogging works against me!). I started Urbnlivn because I wanted a list of Seattle condos and I wanted to catalog the information I was collecting while I was looking for a place for myself. Hell, I even chose a domain name that is incredibly hard to share! It’s like I didn’t even want readers and now a year later the blog gets 500-1000 ‘uniques’ a day and is read by passionate condo folks like consumers, activists, interior designers, agents and architects. And now that I’ve found a condo I don’t really need the blog any more because I found my dream condo but I feel guilty if I don’t blog since it has attracted a loyal cult following. I even confessed at the session that I don’t read all the comments anymore.

Photos. I hadn’t thought about it until I was up there but photos are important. When I blog about a listing I steal them from the MLS and when a new sales center I go take my own photos because even though I am not a photographer my lame photos are better than the marketers ones.

Build your brand and not your brokerages or your companies. You’ll change companies and you’ll want your audience to stay with you.

Kick starting your blog. I don’t really have any best practices around this. My advice is to blog about something your passionate about and that fills a void, with time you’ll build an audience.

Something I wanted to say but didn’t have the opportunity was that I think a lot of real estate bloggers get sucked into blogging about the business of real estate and get sucked into this echo chamber of blogging about other real estate agents and companies when they should be focused on blogging about the issues that are most important to their customers and clients.

I’ll post more about the conference later. First I have to write some slides for a focus group tonight at Redfin SF and get the office re-arranged.

But Mom, I’ll call you between arranging the office and waiting for the participants, I am still alive.

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6 Responses to Inman Real Estate Connect 07 – Finding your voice

  1. I have been hearing a lot about Inman Real Estate Connect, I look forward to hearing more about your experience!

  2. love mom says:

    Glad to hear! just remember we will all be at the lake this coming week slogging away at all the various maintenance projects….
    Love always

  3. kristi says:

    i’m sure you were enlightening with all your passionate blogging tales :) glad you’ll be in seattle for seafair this weekend!

  4. love mom says:

    Matthew who?

  5. Trish says:

    I saw your panel and I think you’re pretty spot on in terms of what you talked about. Something I wanted to add at the time regarding using pictures you gaffled from the MLS… I don’t know if you sat in on Wednesday for the Bloggers Connect but someone on the Top 10 Tips panel suggested going to flickr and asking people via comments there if you can use their photos.

    Personally I’ve been asked before by another blogger to use one of my photos and it turned out great in their blog and got a few hits back to my images on flickr. And.. free! Good luck.

  6. brad says:

    The photo thing bugs me. Our local rules says per MLS, something like “you cannot use other agents photos without the permission of the listing agent”. I feel burned when another agent “steals” my photo, which I paid to have taken, for their benefit. At least show a little love with a link or credit.

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