At first, I just thought it was an issue with my browser or bandwidth - perhaps I needed a quick cache clear or reboot, but I realized quickly that ALL Advanced Access websites were totally offline today. After doing a quick search, I found news at Active Rain that indeed, AA were having some "power" issues and needed to relocate all of their servers to another location.
Of all the various scenarios I've heard over the years with multiple hosts, both big and small, this is a first for me. I've heard the "denial of service" attack, we're working on it. I've heard the "close your browser and reboot," it's all your own fault excuse. I've heard the "you're using unsupported xyz." IMHO, it just seems a little fishy.
There's an unsubstantiated rumor over at Active Rain that they're moving servers to obtain new IP's due to spam black listing. If all of their IP addresses are black listed from most servers due to spam, few of their subscribers would be able to get any email through to anywhere.
Follow up - May 24th: It's official - on behalf of a client who has an AA website and Comcast as her ISP, we contacted a rep at Comcast because she has had serious email trouble. It seems Comcast blacklisted the entire Advanced Access range of IP's due to spam issues. The rep at Comcast stated that the blacklisting of all AA sites wouldn't be listed unless the management at AA contacted them directly to work out the issues.
So, you can firmly bet that the "power outage" is a cover story for AA moving their entire server base to new IP's - however, it may be a short-term solution if Comcast quickly detects this move and simply blocks the new set of IP's. Be warned!
If you're an Advanced Access customer, what can you do? You're losing 2 - 3 days of potential revenue, especially if you have no other website. It's just one of many reasons I advocate to clients to own their own marketing. Sure, any web host can experience downtime occasionally and they often do. But when your site is down, your competition will get that business.
In addition to the fact that most real estate template sites and real estate blog providers severely limit your ability to customize the look, customize the content easily, add new pages, add widgets, add scripts, add lead generation forms they insist on charging you large monthly fees for all of that limitation.
Sure, it's quick and easy - a no brainer to get a template site up and running to start marketing online, but there is no such thing as a free lunch. What benefit is it if your site looks just like thousands of other sites? Even if you do some customization, the basic structure and functions on the template site are exactly like 1000s of others and you're still on the same IP address as 1000s of other websites.
Would you join RE/MAX or Century 21 if they forced all of their agents to wear the same silly hat every day? It may be great branding and marketing for them, but it just makes you look like all of their other agents. You can't stand out from the crowd unless you differentiate yourself.
The bottom line is simple - anything worth having is worth working hard for - and yes, that means your website, too.
If you absolutely have to use a template provider, I'd recommend Point2Agent because they offer the most comprehensive customization options as well as the Agent Handshake and Virtual Tour features. If you're smart and you want a website that you own outright, you can have it and not lose the benefits of being able to work on it yourself despite no real knowledge of HTML. Content Management Systems are what the Fortune 500 Corporations use to market themselves online. It's a system you install on your own web server and in minutes, you have the framework with which to build a limitlessly fantastic website. The look and feel can be anything you like, you can have 10,000 or more pages should you choose as well as featured listings, link directories, fully custom lead generation forms, gadgets, widgets, a blog and much more.
If you'd like to see some example Content Management Sites (CMS), just take a look at my own and these:
Above are some regular real estate sites and a couple of unique sites we’ve done – Captain Action’s site has been famous for some time for his Military niche – and we designed it – He’s been a client for well over five years now. Michael Russer “Mr. Internet” always references his site.