My Answers to SKCAR Panel Questions hosted by Claudia Wicks of RE BaseCamp

By
Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams West Sound Realty

On the morning of Wednesday, April 29th, I will be participating in a panel discussion at the Seattle-King County Association of Realtors in Bellevue WA. The event is being put on by Claudia Wicks, the guiding force behind the Real Estate Base Camp.

Claudia had provided me with some questions in preparation for the panel, and I thought I would post the answers here for those of you who won't be able to attend:

What made you decide to blog?

Blogging really wasn't an intentional decision for me. I kind of 'fell' into it actually. My broker at the time was playing around on Blogger.com, and it intrigued me, so I followed his lead. But I quickly became tired of talking to myself and lost interest.

When did you start to blog?

As I recall, my first post was on MySpace, but I don't think that really counts, does it? I created my Blogger.com account back in September 2005, but never really developed it very far. It wasn't until I joined ActiveRain that the blogging bug bit me and hard!

Did you start with ActiveRain? Do you blog anywhere else?

I first heard about ActiveRain through a message that Brian Brady sent me on MySpace. But I officially joined in July 2006 at the constant nagging of Mark Flanders, a local mortgage lender and husband to one of the agents at the Windermere office here in Silverdale. At the time, Mark held the top scoring position here in Washington State. However, the gloves quickly came off and soon we were both trading the title back and forth. Those early days of ActiveRain were an absolute blast!

About a year after joining ActiveRain, Mark and I decided to create SOUNDBITEBLOG, a local real estate blog for our area. It's been a great blogging tag team ever since. Mark is the 'scary good' code monkey genius who created the site, and I provide much of the content. I recently launched another more playful site about one of my favorite pastimes, CrabbingInTheHood. And, for a short time, I was afforded the pleasure of contributing to AgentGenius.

How often do you blog? How do you schedule time to blog?

Well, I guess I'm one of those blogging purists who refuses to impose schedules for fear of adversely affecting the creative juices. I tend to blog better from inspiration, rather than a sense of planning. However, having said that, since consistency is one of the keys to blogging, I think there's value in creating regular repeatable features on your blog - monthly market reports, local business profiles, neighborhood reviews, etc., to keep you on task. You can plug these into your calendar and do them to provide 'filler' around your more personally inspired writing.

What do you blog about? Tell us about Localism?

One thing to remember is that 'One Size doesn't Fit All.' Each of us is completely unique and different. Each of us has our own distinct voice to add. One of the wonderful things about conversational blogging is that it allows us to convey our own individual personalities, perspectives, and passions. Personally, I try to balance the content of what I publish to my blog(s). Foremost in my mind is sharing stuff that I think my readers will find interesting, informative, engaging, and practical. Most of the time, I'm writing for consumers - potential real estate clients. Other times, I'm sharing something specifically for my fellow business colleagues. And then, once in a while, it's simply a 'romp' in the proverbial blog hay for the joy of writing and self-expression.

Ah yes, Localism. I still think one of the best definitions of 'What is Localism?' is one that I wrote for the 'About' section of the Localism Home page. Localism was another brilliant stroke of genius for the guys at ActiveRain. It's vision was to become a hyper-local consumer-oriented destination where people in very specific niche geographical areas could interact and share information about where they live, work, and play. For most ActiveRain members, much of the consumer content we generate gets pushed over to Localism, where it shows up on the various State, County, City, and Community pages. At some point in time (notice the intentional vagueness), Localism is supposed to be launched out of private BETA form, and made accessible to the general public. Once that occurs, then anyone with a computer will have the ability to join the platform and contribute content. Creating Localism has been a HUGE undertaking, more than I think anyone had imagined. And unfortunately, it's launch has been delayed on several occasions for various reasons. If and when it is finally finished, Localism has some truly amazing potential for people to connect in very specific geo-targeted locations.

How has blogging helped you to grow your business?

Blogging, and my involvement on ActiveRain in particular, has had a significant impact in my life and professional career. It has revolutionized the way I do business. Social media can be used very effectively to expand your SOI (Sphere of Influence) digitally, allowing you to connect with more people much more quickly. It also helps to enhance/increase your web presence.

Do you receive referral business from ActiveRain?

One of the primary benefits of participating on ActiveRain are the valuable networking relationships that develop over time. For agents like myself, who are affiliated with regional brokerages, we don't have the national referral networks like some of the national chains. But even then, most times you're referring in the blind. You typically don't know much about the agent on the other end except from what you find in a corporate referral directory or on their website. With ActiveRain I have developed deep meaningful relationships with literally hundreds of agents across the US and Canada. These are fellow professionals that I know personally and can entrust my valued clients to.

Have you linked your blog to Facebook, Twitter, etc.?

One of the great things about social media is the way that so many platforms are easily connected and interact effectively with each other. It makes the distribution of content quick and seamless, and allows you to connect with more people over multiple sites.

What % of your business comes from blogging?

The first thing I normally tell people is that blogging and social media are not the purple pill that will solve all your income-generation woes. It's not something that should replace the traditional marketing methods you've been using, although it could be argued that SMO (Social Media Optimization) is more effective and time/cost effective than many types of traditional marketing efforts. Utilizing the tools of social media should augment your current strategies. They should simply provide one more weapon in your marketing arsenal, and a very powerful one at that. My goal early on in my business model was to achieve as close to 100% referral-based business as possible. I think one year I actually achieved about 90%. As more and more consumers are accessing the Internet for their home buying and selling needs (over 85% of Buyers start their home search process on-line), it has become increasingly critical for real estate professionals to dominate the Internet and rank well with the search engines for key relevant search terms in their respective target markets. A greater percentage of my business is coming now as a result of my on-line marketing efforts, and I fully anticipate that segment to grow even more significantly in the next couple of years. Given our current economic conditions, we must diversify and expand the ways that we generate new business.

What is your role as a Community Builder for ActiveRain?

Well, unfortunately, we'll have to speak in the 'past' tense as it relates to my tenure with ActiveRain. For just over a year, I was afforded the amazing opportunity of being a Community Builder with ActiveRain and worked alongside some of the smartest and most creative people in our industry. It was a wonderfully wild ride and one that I will never forget. I especially enjoyed the interaction I had with members of the ActiveRain community, many who have become like extended family to me. However, back in March, it was determined that my efforts and contributions were lacking, and that my performance didn't warrant my continued employment, so I was let go. I want to go on record as saying that I am especially grateful to Jonathan Washburn for extending me every possible kindness and consideration along the way. I have returned to full-time real estate sales with Windermere in Silverdale, and face the future with renewed energy and excitement!

How has online marketing changed your business?

Blogging allows you to engage potential clients much earlier into the process. It offers them the opportunity of becoming better acquainted with you - understanding how you operate, the way you think, the knowledge and expertise you possess. Then, as a result, a rapport or connection is established. A comfort level is achieved. You become their agent of choice. And you've never even met them yet!

What advice do you have for agents new to blogging?

First, don't abandon the basics or what works for you now. Whatever marketing methods you employ now, do them well and do them consistently. Blogging isn't for everyone, but there's no excuse for you not to take advantage of the many social media tools at your disposal today. Find someone you know who has been successful at implementing social media or blogging into their business, and start having coffee with them once a week. Find out what they're doing and what works for them. Take small steps, biting off little pieces at a time. Be disciplined in your use of time for social media/networking. Remember that it's just one more additional method f0r generating potential business.

~    o    ~    o    ~    o    ~    o    ~    o    ~    o    ~

Rich Jacobson is a licensed real estate professional providing knowledgeable empowerment and relentless representation for his clients of residential properties and vacant land throughout all of Kitsap County WA and portions of Pierce, Mason, and Jefferson Counties. You can also find him at KitsapLife.com, SOUNDBITEBLOG, and Crabbing in the Hood.

 
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Show All Comments
Rainmaker
473,670
René Fabre
First American Title - Seattle, WA
New Media Marketing

Rich... Thanks for sharing this very insightful post. We have much in common. I started a blog on MySpace back in 2006 and felt pretty lonely. I love to write. My job keeps me extremely busy and it has been a super challenge to make time for a couple of books I've been working on for far too long. Blogging for me was a way to integrate writing into my daily routine. It's kind of like learning to play the guitar. I taught for several years. I'd tell my young students to practice a 1/2 hour every day. Blogging as it turns out, is a way for me to keep the writers mind alive, curious, and relentlessly searching.

I found Active Rain a little over a year ago and followed from the sidelines quietly until last fall. I'm not sure how it hit me. I work a lot with realtors and their marketing, especially internet marketing, which is a real passion of mine. Anyway, I jumped in and started blogging here not knowing where, or how it would go. I'm still looking for my zone. Yet, something within me woke up here and came to life. 

Meeting you and others at the Seattle Bar Camp a few months ago and getting to know the AR community here on the site has had a major impact on me. It's opened me up to a larger world view and although I don't sell real estate, I've been very engaged with those that do for several years. Blogging and social media has added a dimension to my work and life that I never could have imagined.  

Thanks again...

Rene'

April 18, 2009 11:40 AM #17
Ambassador
528,112
Rich Jacobson
Keller Williams West Sound Realty - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Steve:   Your friendship and support have been a HUGE encouragement to me, so thanks!

Susie:   It was so much fun getting to finally meet you at NAR Orlando. You've done an amazing job of embracing social media and using it to grow your business there. Thanks for contributing so faithfully here on AR!

Bruce & Mary:   Thank you for your kind comments!

Bill:   You are one of the best examples of consistent, balanced, high-quality writing here on AR. Keep up the great efforts!

Jeanette:   Thank you for all of your kind support and friendship! You rocked Makeove2Takeover!

Maureen:   Back in the early days I think was much more fun and intimate. It was the relationships that got me hooked back then.

Missy:  Yeah, I keep trying to maintain a disciplined routine, but life keeps getting in the way! Love you!

Jason:  Your constant encouragement and accountability have meant more to me than you could ever know. Thanks for making faith relevant to this community, even though you're still a Point w---e!

Nima:   It's about time you got your butt back in the AR saddle. You've been sorely missed!

Chris:   The problem is that all too many times the basics are simply overlooked or neglected. Success in this business isn't rocket science. Show up on time and stay in constant contact.

Jeff:   No one does hyper-local blogging better than you, hands down. Thanks for providing our community with such an excellent role model!...

Don:   Thanks, man! Stay the course, blog often, blog well...

Greg:   You would've fit in very well with that early crowd. Keep contributing your unique voice and perspective. The Rain could use a few more 'forthright' writers like you!...

Harrison:  Many people simply don't have the time, energy, or skillset necessary to venture off on their own and create/maintain a WP blog. I do both and both are working for me. You cannot ignore the power that ActiveRain offers in getting your content excellent ranking and exposure. In addition, the referral relationships that develop, and the knowledge that is being shared. You can't get that anywhere else!

Sally:   You are such a valued and special friend to me. I will never ever forget your kindness. Your contributions to ActiveRain have been nothing short of amazing! Keep up the shining example!

Jo:   It's great having someone else here in our local market who 'gets' it and does it so well, so consistently. I have used you many times as an example of how it should be done. Stop by Global Bean on Thursday mornings, usually around 8am. We would love to have you!

Rene:   Yeah, it's like that movie with Robin Williams, "Awakenings"...participating here on AR is like waking up from a coma of mundane old school marketing.

April 18, 2009 12:00 PM #18
Rainmaker
631,997
Brian Block
RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President - McLean, VA
Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate

Rich, great post and good answers to these questions.  I had an inkling that you were no longer "ActiveRich" but wasn't 100% sure.  The only hint was the color of the comment response backgrounds...  I am sure that AR is ever appreciative of everything that you added during your tenure and that you continue to contribute to the community.  Hopefully, with your full concentration on sales, you're rocking your market these days!

April 18, 2009 12:26 PM #19
Ambassador
726,616
Christopher and Stephanie Somers - Realtors - Philadelphia Real Estate
Realtor / Owner - RE/MAX Access - Philadelphia, PA

Rich - agree with Brian ! Great post and great answers.  Congrats on your transition - that is awesome.  Change is good... and now you know it all !  I also had the opportunity to be on a panel on Friday of top producers...was a little nervous !  I was the only one who was talking about blogging... LOL   ~ Chris

 

April 18, 2009 02:23 PM #20
Ambassador
416,615
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

This was a post that lasted a lunchtime. It did make me eat slower because I was interested in your answers. Inman News got me going last year. Got a lot of catch up to do. Thanks for being helpful.

April 18, 2009 04:18 PM #21
Ambassador
1,279,897
William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - San Diego, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

Hi Rich, This post is fabulous. It is like a full tutorial for blogging in general and your answers are terrific. Well done and one for long term saving and sharing. This should and will go out to anyone  I know that expresses an interest in blogging. No reason to re-create the wheel when the expert in you does so much better.

April 18, 2009 04:47 PM #22
Rainmaker
325,145
Esko Kiuru
Bethesda, MD

Rich,

Solid reading. Blogging, especially on AR, can transform anyone's real estate, mortgage or related business in a major way. The requirement, though, is that the blogger needs to work at it. Doing a profile alone won't do a thing.

April 18, 2009 06:34 PM #23
Rainmaker
114,168
Sheila Kennedy
J29 Project - Rochester, NY

I just want to thank you for this peek into how you started and why you kept coming back.  This is great information and I really appreciate all that you share with us.  Good luck in your new endeavor! 

April 18, 2009 08:49 PM #24
Ambassador
883,319
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

So are you going to be famous now? 

But seriously, it looks like you have a pretty good set of answers.  It should be fun to see how the panel goes.

April 18, 2009 09:04 PM #25
Rainmaker
1,180,173
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Rich,

That was a great post. I am going to read it a second time.

April 18, 2009 10:37 PM #26
Ambassador
966,647
Jason Crouch
Austin Texas Homes, LLC - Austin, TX
Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653)

Rich - Your response made me laugh out loud.  I hope we can talk again sometime soon.  Have a blessed Sunday, my friend.

April 19, 2009 10:26 AM #27
Rainmaker
1,393,435
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Coldwell Banker Stuart & Watts Real Estate - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV Real Estate, Greenbrier County

Rich, thanks for posting this very interesting interview.

April 19, 2009 12:51 PM #28
Rainmaker
390,932
Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

Rich,  Very well written. (of course:)  For people that haven't started a blog, this is a PERFECT explanation as to why they should.  I love your Soundbiteblog by the way.  Your frog is SO cute, lol...really, it is.

I'm still hitting and missing with my blog.  I'm just SO busy right now with Real Estate...12 hours a day.  Too busy, truly.  Today is the first time I've had to poke around AR in a couple of weeks. I am finally "getting" what having a blog is all about and now I don't have time.  How's that for a kick in the pants?  I'm hoping to find a happy medium soon, before I pull my hair out!  Ooops, I think I pulled my husbands out instead.  ROTFL.  Did I say that?  I didn't say that!

Anyway, I miss you Rich.  I have SO much respect for you and always will.  You are my AR idol, period.  You were always my favorite AR God.  I appreciate all that you have done for so many of us here.  You know what they say:  When a door closes, look for a window.  I'm sure you have and will soon find the reason for the job shift.  Bigger things must be headed your way.  Of that I would bet my last dollar on!   You are the best Rich. :)

April 19, 2009 06:28 PM #29
Ambassador
1,028,614
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Century 21 Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
RA, CRS, Hawaii Mililani Oahu Real Estate

Thank you Rich....you are man of few email responses lol ....but this comment alone....makes up for it. :) :)

April 19, 2009 10:23 PM #30
Rainmaker
106,523
Debbie White
Prudential Southeast Alaska Real Estate - Juneau, AK

Rich - Thank you for the reminder about Claudia.  She was recommended by someone in our association to provide some training, and I'd totally spaced out sending her an email.  I've done that now, and added her as an associate here in the rain.

April 20, 2009 12:44 AM #31
Rainer
99,686
Ed Rybczynski
Havre de Grace, MD

Rich

I wish you the success that you deserve in your newest endeavor.  I simply refuse to accept any allegation that your efforts and contributions, in regards to this community, were lacking in any way.

You need to understand the great pleasure I receive when seeing my name on the "SoundBiteBlog" as a contributor.  It really is the crowing glory of my social media efforts to be listed along with the likes of you and Mark.

Your friend

Ed Ryb

April 20, 2009 04:21 PM #32
Rainmaker
327,863
Dinah Lee Griffey
Windermere Peninsula Properties - Allyn, WA
Managing Broker Windermere Peninsula Properties

I never thought much about blogging. I had heard of it, but my goal was to always be found quickly by google. As I was googling real estate terms I found a very consistent one always at the top. You can probably guess that it was Active Rain. It was free to sign up so I did.

As I explored the site I discovered what blogging was. So I threw one out there..."The grass is always greener."And I got instant responses. Cool...

Not only did I like the comments I was getting I found that I liked the people when I started reading their posts. Then I experimented with titles and subjects until I could guess what post would get what response. I then used this in my marketing. It helped me develop adds that worked.

That was just the begining I have found advice here from Agents who have been through similar scenereos. I have been able to help also. There is nothing more rewarding in business than success and helping others attain it as well. I see Active Rain as a family.And it dosn't hurt that Google and Yahoo like me a lot more now too!

April 20, 2009 04:53 PM #33
Ambassador
528,112
Rich Jacobson
Keller Williams West Sound Realty - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Ed:    I still consider your writing to be some of the most finely crafted that I've read. You're always welcome at SBB!....

April 20, 2009 05:06 PM #34
Ambassador
1,028,614
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Century 21 Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
RA, CRS, Hawaii Mililani Oahu Real Estate

I didn't see that part ed mentioned. I have my own opinon on that...You expounded on the guidelines that's for sure.  I appreciate you then and now ...so there.

April 21, 2009 02:33 PM #35
Rainmaker
996,038
Karen Anne Stone
New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County - Fort Worth, TX
Fort Worth Real Estate

Rich:  What a great post.  I need to share this with quite a few people who really think that blogging is a waste of time.  Perhaps it will open up the minds of at least a few of them.  Thanks so much for sharing...

April 27, 2009 12:21 AM #36
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