I am begging you, when it comes to Content – please Don’t JUST DO IT!

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with ha media group
http://actvra.in/csZ

No matter how many gurus, coaches, fellow bloggers or real estate agents tell you that you must. The recent featured post by Jermey Blanton prompted this post (and one of only two dissenting comments), so for those of you who missed it – go read it.  The gist, if I may, amounts to advice to just jump in and start outputting content, the more crap you write, the better you’ll get, and someone human or bot is bound to find you eventually.  The only bad content is content that doesn’t get written, and so forth.  Yes, I am over-simplifying, hence, read the original which is linked.

 

The thing is, every time I see a half-assed effort at communicating, whether it’s via a blog, an email or a status update or comment on AR, FB and a multitude of other places on the net – I cringe.  I cringe both, as a consumer and a marketer.  When stuff that is written is simply mediocre, once I am done cringing, I forget about it, but if something is so undeniably bad that I retain any bit of information associated with the post or comment, I file that name or brand as one to deliberately and actively stay away from.  So ALL future posts and comments from that author will be ignored, actively.  Should a question of a recommendation or a referral come up, my brain will analyze the file of who NOT to refer business to, which in this day and age of virtual relationships will largely be comprised of people  I’ve never met, and the only thing they could have done to influence how I view them was by their writing.

 

There is far too much crap written daily, hourly, minutely.  To think that by writing larger and larger quantities of crap you are going to get better at writing is pretty naïve. You would do better for yourself by reading great stuff and learning from it then by writing mediocre content.  And should your goal be to only be found by Google, unless google’s bots at the end of the day will be purchasing your product or service, I can’t imagine that strategy being successful either.

 

I have been blogging for a few years.  I’ve built a few virtual relationships with people I feel I know enough and trust enough to refer business to.  My trust has nothing or little to do with their abilities and talents in their respective fields.  Truth be told, I never asked for their resume.  I go by what and how they say online.  I go by how passionate and thoughtful they are in their responses, comments, status updates.  The bland, the boring, the careless just doesn’t cut it for me, and I don’t think any of these can be overcome or compensated for by sheer quantity.

 

Should a consumer actually stumble upon something you wrote somewhere – will they actually connect with you, on any level, or will they simply move on?  In my experience, if you write crap, they’ll move on, and justifiably so.  You might be growing a number of Twitter followers and FB fans or AR subscribers based on the quantity of your output, but I’d much rather have a few hundred people in my social and blogging circles who honestly and truly give a shit about what I have to say than thousands who click the like or suggest button as just one of the things on their to do list for social engagements for the day...  And above all, I'd much rather discover new people I like via thoughtful commentary on any subject than trolling the net for who outputs the most content on any given day.  Last I checked, relationships were NOT a numbers game, althought it appears it's treated as such much too often.  Do you build relationships by throwing crap against the wall and hoping it sticks?  

 

Your thoughts?

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Ambassador
1,903,140
Nestor & Katerina Gasset
International Properties and Investments LLC - Wellington, FL
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale

I get calls from agents on AR quite often saying that they are blogging away and wonder why they don't have any clients, no calls, no closed sales. Well, when i go and check out their blog, I ask, are you ready for honesty? Your blog is crap. That is not going to make the phone ring. YOu must add value and you must have a plan. You must know who your audience is. That is the first homework assignment in one of my courses. Know your buyers persona. This is the most critical step. If you can not speak on their level, then learn or don't go there. Choose another method or another audience. Katerina 

Jun 15, 2011 11:54 PM #16
Rainer
84,708
Andrew J. Lenza
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Holmdel, NJ

Amen. Good for you, Inna.

There are five seminal books on writing everyone should read first before publishing one blog so the basic tenets of communication are established. There are over thirty texts one should read to improve as a writer.

If writing is an art, then blogging is sealcoating the garage floor. Sure. It serves a purpose but no one is going to pay to see it.

Jun 15, 2011 11:59 PM #17
Rainmaker
139,416
Jon Zolsky
FunCoast Realty 386-405-4408 - Ponce Inlet, FL
your Daytona Condo Agent

I am reading comments here, and I do not quite agree with the whole "Know your audience" thing. Blogging is the most egoistical (and can be narcisistic) activity out there.

When I blog, I do not know who my audience is. I do not target anybody, meaning that I do not even have to bend myself.

It is the opposite. I open myself through what I right, and my audience finds me. I might have a very small one, but it is because they have chosen to follow me (or just to read this blog). Not that I have some kind of imaginary target

Jun 16, 2011 12:12 AM #18
Ambassador
896,585
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Writing is a skill, my first posts were horrible, not focused, too many topics, no linking....nada zip etc..

You improve with time.

No, blogging isn't for everyone but if you "have the desire to" you will GET better with time.

If people who have that desire to blog or write waited and analyzed they would never get started, so at some point you just have to jump in and see if it is a fit for you.

Way before blogging, I always journaled, wrote articles for my church newsletter etc. So it is very satisfying to me, when I write from the heart.

I really hate to write when I have to do a ton of research, which must be done on neighborhoods etc.

 

Jun 16, 2011 09:01 AM #19
Rainmaker
365,649
Bruce Walter
Keller Williams Realty Lafayette/West Lafayette, Indiana - West Lafayette, IN

Now that's the Inna I remember!  ^_~

Jun 16, 2011 09:21 AM #20
Rainmaker
199,616
Jennifer Monroe
Savvy + Company Real Estate - Charlotte, NC
Real Estate REALTOR®/Broker in Beautiful Charlotte

I agree with you 100% BECAUSE, like Mimi said so well - if you're boring then it will certainly come through your writing. You may have other wonderful qualities to impart into your blog though: a beautifully presented market report, listing, etc. THAT makes the 'just do it' relevant to those not as gifted in writing style as you are :)

Perhaps the middle road might be to blog Members Only in order to practice and refine your writing style first and leave the rest for public view if it's merely useful data. I do believe that practicing can enable the dreary agent to improve their style and find their voice. But don't sully the ether with it UNTIL you have something that reflects well on you. Otherwise, you're blowing it with everyone who reads the blah blah blah that you're putting out there. Doing that doesn't show great judgement - something I'm looking for in subtle ways whenever I seeka professional to assist me in any undertaking.

Mwa!

Jun 16, 2011 02:47 PM #21
Rainmaker
331,047
Paul Slaybaugh
Realty Executives - Scottsdale, AZ
Scottsdale, AZ Real Estate

I launched my blog because I was compelled to do so. Nothing like being handed a virtual pen and told "Go!" when it appeals to a pre-existing inclination. Blogging itself is little more than marketing and/or a public diary. I encourage those who enjoy writing and the desire to improve to give it a try, but it does not supercede other forms of marketing. Blogging is not the replacement for traditional methods that we wish it would be. It's simply another avenue. I suck at content production. Market reports, etc give me acid reflux. So I largely went the other way. Online diary/confessional/repository for stories without another home. It works for me because it was never really about the business. Ergo my results, while surprisingly stronger than originally anticipated, largely mirror that fact. In my opinion, there are better ways to attract new business, and there are better ways to improve one's literary skills, but it remains the one venue that allows the practitioner the illusion of both. And we all need our illusions.

To the question at hand, one must really ask him/herself whether social media in general satisfies a specific hole, be it in business or in their soul. If so, exploit the medium accordingly, but take the time to hone your craft. There are plenty of things I would not attempt in front of the world without ample practice, and authoring a blog without a solid grasp on the fundamentals of writing and/or marketing tenets falls somewhere between singing the national anthem at a sporting event and competing in an electric bugaloo competition on national television.

There is enough "just do it" in this world. Not enough "just do it right."

Jun 16, 2011 09:44 PM #22
Rainmaker
201,617
Inna Hardison
ha media group - Orlando, FL
Wordpress for Real Estate & Design, Print HaMedia Group

Hey Erik:-)  But we do like our cheerleaders and motivational speakers/preachers/et al.  Just do it approach to marketing wouldn't be quite so welcome in other circles.  Can't imaging too many cars being sold by bloggers or diy marketers, but for some reason with real estate, it's all the rage.  Good to see you!

Jon the hubby - of course your opinion here matters... and I won't hold your non-bloggin-ess against you:-)  xoxo

Dave - good point on Google noticing, eventually, but eventually ought to be the operative word.  I think those who write crap just to please Google know all too well that it'll take SEs a while to catch on and when they do, there is always another blog/site where one could be posting to within minutes of being kicked off the serps.  

Ruthmarie - writing, if one works at improving it, will improve, just like anything else.  working at it though is not what's being advocated here via the just do it sentiments.  It's simply reducing the craft and honing one's skills to a numbers game.  I don't buy it.

Jun 16, 2011 10:20 PM #23
Rainmaker
241,412
Dick & Sandy Beals
Wilmington Real Estate 4U Wilmington, NC - Wilmington, NC

Hi Inna,

As usual a very thoughtful article...along with some great comments, and that's what myself and I presume others like about you.  You are REAL!  You are a proficient writer...I'm not!  I'm a two finger typist, so commenting serves me better, and like your hubby said blogging is not for everyone!  I do know blogging will get you searched on, as my web site has hundreds of property blogs (that I of course did not write) yet throwing crap on a wall is not the best route to take....my crap property blog does exactly what I had hoped it would do. 

While I'm learning to type better, and create quality content, some of my crap is actually bringing me clients (good clients!)

Dick Beals

Jun 17, 2011 10:34 AM #24
Rainmaker
185,134
Tanya Nouwens
RE/MAX Royal (Jordan)/Ready, Set...Sold! www.readysetsold.ca - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Real Estate Broker & Stager

I wish we didn't feel we needed to be everything to everyone, and nothing to ourselves.  I wish Wal-Mart did not sell eggs next to panties.  I wish good writers didn't self-flagellate with cold calling.  I wish people with the ability to strike up a conversation with a stone didn't feel compelled to write blogs with tidbits of crap that don't represent their true strengths and abilities.  I wish my local art supply store could remain a family-run business without competing with huge, mass-market institutions who don't give a hoot what frame I put around my kids' bright, shiny faces as long as it's expensive.  I wish we didn't buy so much STUFF in our search for meaning and, perhaps more poignantly, comfort.  I wish our good friends didn't cite "good shopping" as one of the reasons they like living in Atlanta and away from us.  I wish we all felt comfortable exploring different parts of ourselves, but perhaps not always in cyberspace for all the world to see 'til the end of time.  I wish for quality over quantity, always, in friends and in business.

Jun 17, 2011 02:28 PM #25
Rainmaker
201,617
Inna Hardison
ha media group - Orlando, FL
Wordpress for Real Estate & Design, Print HaMedia Group

sorry all once again for my terrible lateness to my party...

Katerina - well stated.  I do think there are far too many cheeleaders dishing out advice to the tune of Just Do It when it comes to blogging, social networking, WordPress, or designing and printing your own just solds and just listeds.  While it would be acceptable advice for someone whose professional reputation didn't hinge on these actions, for anyone who is actually in business of some kind it's silly in the extreme, and potentially dangerous.  If we blog for business, it should stand to reason that we blog to communicate with our potential customers, period. So whatever impressions they leave with are it - no different from any other marketing endeavors, but because it's easy to jump in and costs virtually nothing to spew stuff into the universe nowadays - it feels safe, and rather inconsequential to so many agents. ..

Lenza - i can point to three current NYTimes bestsellers that came out of blogs, but that's neither here nor there.  The operative number should probably be (3).  As for the baics - that sounds like work, doesn't it.  I wonder how many of the so eager to jump on the blogging bandwagon and just do it would be as careless with the stuff they write if it were still old-school, i.e. where every word cost some 20cents to publish.  

Papa Jon - if you are trying to sell a particular listing it would, indeed, behoove you to do a bit of research and find the best way of titling your posts, the pesky keywords and all that so that those most likely to be searching for something that matches your listing had a chance of stumbling upon it.  The rest of it - you are making friends, and for that a level of transparency and vulnerability is indeed necessary, whether or not you are a narcissist:-)

Missy - I disagree.  I think writing is actually an art, much like one's ability to play a musical instrument or paint.  You can certainly grasp the basics of reading music, but lacking god given talent for the thing, you'll never be great at it, no matter how much you practice.  Now writing for business can be reduced to formulae - and succeeding at that would require the constant honing of the skills.  I just don't see why the very customers you are trying to reach ought to be the ones watching your learning curve.

Bruce - ;-)

 

 

Jun 18, 2011 02:50 PM #26
Rainmaker
201,617
Inna Hardison
ha media group - Orlando, FL
Wordpress for Real Estate & Design, Print HaMedia Group

Jennifer - been forever since I've seen your pretty smiley face popup:-)  Well stated, as if I could have expected any less from you.  Hope you've been well!  xoxo

Jun 18, 2011 10:40 PM #27
Rainmaker
201,617
Inna Hardison
ha media group - Orlando, FL
Wordpress for Real Estate & Design, Print HaMedia Group

Paul - funny or maybe sad, but I had no idea this would be even percieved as controvesial, but alas.  It has, and I might be a snob of sorts - but by golly if you can't put two sentences together but chose to bare your soul cause some schmuck with the big Guru attached to their name told you that you must - I assure you as a consumer I will NOT trust you to represent me, in any business.  The less half-baked amateur stuff you throw out there where potential customers can find it the better.  Heck - get a decent IDX and let them search for homes and all that normal stuff.  Feed in rss from locan news sources and be helpful in that way, but to throw crap out there cause well - you are learning to blog, sorry, I won't be reading, nor would I be hiring you.

Of course you, my dear Paul, I'd hire in a heartbeat.  I think you did exactly what you were meant to do with your creative stuff.  Selling out is all too tempting and sometimes, unavoidabel if times are tough enough, but there are indeed a million ways to stay in business, if it's the business you care about. Egos - that's a whole other story and rather high maintenace.

Jun 18, 2011 10:46 PM #28
Ambassador
730,682
Christopher and Stephanie Somers - Realtors - Philadelphia Real Estate
Realtor / Owner - RE/MAX Access - Philadelphia, PA

Well I saw some interesting banter on Twittter which brought me here - first to Jeremy's blog and here to Inna's blog.  I just have to say what a great discussion !  Many of the blogs comments do not go into the detail or the depth or can be more cheer-leading and not have the back and forth in varied opinions.  

So where do I stand, I am not exactly sure... LOL.  I do know that our blogging has brought us A LOT of business over the years.  Are we great writers and bloggers ?  I really do not know.  I know we are consistent.  

In regards to Jermey's point, I would fall into his camp as I "just did it" when I started and jumped in several years ago.  And of course we got better over the years... sometimes more refined, sometimes more edgy.   I do know that if I did not "just do it" I potentially would have left A LOT of money on the table as the blogging really helped with our branding strategy as part of our marketing, not to mention all the business and leads that came with it over the years. 

I do see Inna's point too in that if your blog sucks, folks will just gloss over it too and it will be a waste of time and your energy might as well be spent elsewhere.   Or perhaps fine-tuning your blogging or maybe hiring a consultant along the way ??  Like anything else, blogging is a skill that can be harnessed and can be improved.

So long story short, am neutral on this conversation for now.  I think it depends on the individual and would be more on a case-by-case basis.  Great discussion.  ~ Chris

Jun 19, 2011 07:31 AM #29
Ambassador
730,682
Christopher and Stephanie Somers - Realtors - Philadelphia Real Estate
Realtor / Owner - RE/MAX Access - Philadelphia, PA

With all the interesting discussion here, I wonder why this did not get featured as well ?

Jun 19, 2011 09:20 AM #30
Rainmaker
201,617
Inna Hardison
ha media group - Orlando, FL
Wordpress for Real Estate & Design, Print HaMedia Group

Dick - in my book, you don't have to be a blogger to communicate, as is evidenced by the fact that I met you (and liked you) through nothing more than a few comments you left on certain posts ages ago.  They were thoughtful.  Your, Sir, are thoughtful, and that's what counts.  Not the number of words, just the care people take to share them:-)

So with that said - I highly doubt what is bringing you clients is actually crap...

 

Jun 19, 2011 12:09 PM #31
Rainmaker
201,617
Inna Hardison
ha media group - Orlando, FL
Wordpress for Real Estate & Design, Print HaMedia Group

My dear Tanya - I've been wishing for all those things you wish for and more for the longest time as well. All symptoms of a larger problem that sadly appear to find their way into what we insist on calling civilized countries.  But if nothing else, I would have never moved away from my friends because of "good shopping", to Atlanta or elsewhere.  I hate shopping, and I very much like my friends.

The rest you know.  MWA-

 

Jun 19, 2011 12:13 PM #32
Rainmaker
201,617
Inna Hardison
ha media group - Orlando, FL
Wordpress for Real Estate & Design, Print HaMedia Group

Chris - I don't tweet much, so I tend to miss most of those nifty conversations in 140 charcters or less. I find it hard to follow, just the way my brain is wired, I guess.

As for all this - I suppose my rather adamant rebuttal could be interpreted as me advising people not to blog or to sub it out to a professional or somethign along those predictable lines.  It wasn't meant to be taken as such.  I don't believe in subcontracting this sort of writing out - unless its brochureware, ad copy sort of thing.  And then by all means.  I just think that throwing advice of Just DO It at a large number of eager newbies is a very careless thing to do.  I might give the same advice to someone struggling with some insecurity (hopefully an unwarranted one) about their ability to write well, but I would do it over a cup of coffee with a person I already know.  I find citing personal achievements with regards to blogging as proof that it works just as silly and dangerous, btw.  Unless we are all wired in exactly the same way and are born with the same basic skill set.  I don't think we are.  I believe some people are boring thinkers and boring writers and they won't be read.  Some, few, are great.  There are three of those who commented on this post - not a one is currently using their phenomenal writing gifts for writing hyper local real estate posts...

As for potentially leaving money on the table - I can point to quite a few people who definitely left money on the table by actively throwing crap into the virtual universe.  We never know how many people are walking away from us because we did or said something to inspire them to seek elsewhere.  We only count and know of the ones that do connect with us.  In terms of this particular industry, most people (some 80%, i think that number was) hire the very first agent they come across.  They are not by and large digging through your blogging portfolio - they are still looking for a home.  Great writing can help make them fall in love with a specific neighborhood or town - but lousy writing will most likely have them seeking a different agent.  Mediocre but grammatically correct writing will simply be ignored, hence it's unnecessary:-)

PS: The gold star doesn't like my style, methinks.  Just as well - I hate getting those rosy one-liner comments that tend to follow the gold.

Thanks for the thoughtful commentary, Chris.

Jun 19, 2011 12:30 PM #33
Rainer
148,540
Virginia Gardner
Roy Wheeler Realty Co. - Charlottesville, VA
Realtor, Charlottesville, Serving Central Virginia

I think one reason people don't blog is that they can't "just do it".  I have a very hard time "just doing it".  I blog daily, mind you, but it takes me hours.  I am incredibly enamored with the few real estate bloggers here on AR who manage two paragraphs and receive hundreds of comments.  I just talk too much, need to be thorough, whatever.  I'm the poster child for "just do it".  It takes forever, but I do it.

Jul 06, 2011 11:12 AM #34
Rainer
125,696
Stephanie Greenberg
London Properties - Fresno, CA
Fresno Homes For Sale

WoW!  What a great conversation.  I am one of the ones who finds it truly hard to blog.  I do so every so often but am not comfortable with it.  I can talk to just about anyone but writing is different.  I am a parent of a child with special needs and just taught a session today to other parents on how to tell their stories to the community.  This was my seventh year being part of this group and always find it easy to tell my story and show others how to tell theirs, however when it comes to writing it does not come as natural.

Sep 16, 2011 08:54 PM #35
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Inna Hardison

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