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Where Have All the Real Estate Bloggers Gone?

SAD DAY today when I was looking for one of my favorite real estate blogs (FOREM), and it was nowhere to be found.

Where have the bloggers gone?

I suspect  two things: mother companies like Inman or Zillow want to go in a different direction.  Or blogger cannot be sustained by the current business model.  My hunch is it’s usually the second one.  Bless you Drew, for trudging forward (and successfully.)

I have been blogging for five years and I’ve stopped twice, for a combined 1 year.  It cost me a lot in lost opportunities but I had to go back to the profound vision when I first started in ’07 — I need to blog or I will go hungry.

I’m still not in the Teresa Boardman or Jay Thompson league, (no offense to the author, but I just don’t think I have “it”.) They’re the best to emulate because of their market-reinforcing popularity and, in effect, a continual trickle of links.  What’s popular becomes more popular.  They deserve it.

But I’m doing alright myself.  My site has generated 35% of my business last year.  It’ll be a few points higher this year. And frankly as much as I love to blog, those numbers are the only real reason why I can still blog after five years.  It’s my business model.  It’s built-in me now.  And yes, I’ve grown to liking it as well.

How do we build our blog to support us? The answer is easy.  The question is, are you willing to follow-through? I hope you do. Because we need you to continue; out-of-state home buyers need local real estate bloggers for the juiciest information. You do make a difference even if your site traffic is on heart-breakingly double digits day in, day out.  Who cares? That’s ten people a week who is getting golden information on the biggest investment of their lives.

So, how to support it:

  • If you are licensed agent, you get leads. Commission based business model.
  • If you are licensed but don’t have the appetite for sales.  Refer it to an agent or broker for a 35% commission.  Lead-gen business model.
  • If you want a consistent cash flow…do an ad-based model. Now, don’t be scared.  It’s not hard as you may think.  The best advise I can give is copy another industry blog who has an ad-based business.  I suggest copying domain bloggers.  If they can make it, you sure can.  My buddy Domain Shane makes high five figures a year!  Pick up the phone and call local businesses/real estate specifically.  Call 100 people.  If you get 10, you’re in business.  While waiting to fill the spots, put ads there for free, so you look successful and you look “legit”

(*Many will say you cannot have advertisers or leads with puny traffic.  Baloney. Pick up the phone.)

I really want you to make it, PM me if you need any more information.

About Joe Salcedo

Joe is fascinated with business models more than super models. The last two years he has been focused with his LakeTahoeRealEstate.org site and stalking the Reno Real Estate market since 2007. He works hard for his beautiful wife Anna, and two wonderful kids, Alonzo and Jiana. Add him on his Twitter account

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  • http://www.drewmeyersinsights.com/ Drew Meyers

    You’re welcome Joe

    I’m with you..there’s not much industry blogging anymore, and it’s kinda sad. But I think PART of that is good — agents have realized that blogging about the industry doesn’t do much to drive business (but it does help with links). Overall, you’re right…it’s not a very sustainable model as it stands now. I’m barely making any money from this site.

    If anyone wants to make a donation out of the goodness of your heart to help keeps the words flowing…feel free. meyers dot drew at gmail :)

    • http://SparksRealEstate.org Joe Salcedo

      That’s why I appreciate so much what you do, Drew. Yes….I might hit you up for some opportunities I need some help with…=) Would love to start a project with you soon.

  • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

    Joe – I’m also with you on this one. As you demonstrated by linking back to that top 35 blogs post of ours from several years ago, blogging is something that most people and businesses simply can’t sustain. As those of us who have been at this for a long time all know, it is tough to keep at it, and for many there is little reward. As social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others have grown in importance, I believe that people have transitioned their efforts away from their blogs. It is simply much easier to participate on SM….

    That said, I can’t think of another unpaid (not free — time is money, of course) online activity that has the potential to drive more traffic. Because of their participation on our blog, contributors to the BiggerPockets Blog have gotten press opportunities, have gained clients, and have done deals. Blogging can build credibility, and the benefits of that are often many.

    Personally, blogging has helped me in several situations where I was wronged and wrote about it. I’ve also gotten quite a few interviews, and of course, have had the opportunity to speak to my peers at conferences and events, helping to build my brand. The most obvious benefit – traffic – is certainly there as well. I’ve seen traffic to our blog double year over year from last year to this one, and believe that those of us who continue to produce consistent, quality content will continue to thrive.

    While most of the real estate bloggers are disappearing, those of us who stick it out will continue to see the benefits, regardless of our sub-niche.

    I still extoll the virtues of blogging to everyone who asks, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

    • http://SparksRealEstate.org Joe Salcedo

      I’ve had the pleasure of seeing BP from infancy to stud (2007ish). Few people work as damn hard as you, Josh. Gosh, I remember you commenting EVERY SINGLE new member on Y! Blog social network (what’s that called?).

      • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

        Thanks Joe. It has been a fun ride and I certainly work my backside off . . . if I didn’t have the work ethic, I know there is little chance we’d be as successful as we are. Of course, the same applies to most successful people, including you and the others you mentioned in your post.

        As for the Y! network — are you talking about Mybloglog? That was an AWESOME driver of traffic. I was really sad after they made a few bone-headed moves, and ultimately had to kill the site off.

  • Elizabeth Newlin

    1. Real estate blogs have become ghost towns because they’re inherently boring. Jay and Teresa are successful because they have a specific, consistent voice people find interesting. People come back to read about Jay’s take on life (and death) and see Teresa’s awesome photography, not for market updates. Blogging isn’t the easy key to success any more than anything else in this biz. You do it well (with voice and perspective and honesty), and work it hard and you can eek out some traffic and hopefully some business.

    2. I think ads on a real estate website is an interesting idea, but I’m not sure I agree it’s a productive one. If our blogs are meant as an advertising tool to promote us and our services, why would we sell off prime ‘real estate’ to other (possibly competing) services and chance tarnishing our own brand and above all, our relationship with our readers? I get why professional bloggers sell ads and do sponsored posts, it’s how they get paid. But we get paid by closing deals and it’s the leads that come from our writing that’s the real gold ring here. It seems like putting that in jeopardy for the relatively small amount (I’m assuming) of ad revenue you could generate would be a bad plan. But maybe I’m wrong?

    • http://SparksRealEstate.org Joe Salcedo

      Elizabeth, I really like your well-thought out comment…

      I just have a couple of things to challenge:

      While I do agree that those reasons are EXACTLY why people come back to
      Jay and Teresa (honesty, consistency and pictures), I’d argue that
      business models doesn’t have to rely on ‘blog fans’ , what I mean by
      that is commenters and consistent readers are great & Indispensable,
      but they are minority of your actual business.

      They are great to breathe life to your blog, and a few of them will
      eventually convert (because relationships are built). But the real
      power of blog I feel, should have a balance of both humanity and first
      class knowledge (market stuff). And when people stumble upon that,
      whether through SEO, or FB, you will have the best conversion rates.
      Even at a single digit per day traffic (usually for lesser known
      cities).

      No doubt that is a controversial statement, but I only stress that point
      because some people might feel inferior to the natural talent,
      consistency and charisma of the Teresa’s and Jay’s — but the truth is
      the reason why they are successful is because they use their own
      personalty’s quirks AND smart online marketing to succeed online.

      You’re right..”Blogging isn’t the easy key to success any more than
      anything else in this biz.” But like what Josh said (see: comment below)
      In my opinion it is the best “unpaid online activity” if you couple it
      with your hosting your own site and smart online marketing.

      2.) Regarding ad rates. I don’t know, I used to think like that, too.
      And I still would not put ads on my site. BUT, I think that thinking is
      ready to be challenged. Would it really hurt if your blog has an ad of
      Lowe’s or Subaru (or a local respected builder)? I’d argue that it
      actually might add credibility to your blog ESPECIALLY if you’re in your
      first year. But yes, choose your ads carefully. People are attracted
      to first class products. People like the branding of success whether
      implied or true.

      I can afford to say no to ads because I make enough money through leads,
      but many real estate bloggers probably need ad revenue to sustain their
      passion in blogging. And yes, even Realtors should at least think
      about it. There is a proper way of doing it and in my estimation you
      can make high five figures a year in a year or two. If you pick up the
      phone.

    • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

      Elizabeth – I don’t believe that real estate blogs are boring by nature; I just think that people don’t really understand the ART (and there is an art to it) of blogging. That said, due to the popularity and ease of use of social networks, people have moved their online social efforts away from blogs and towards these networks — to their detriment, I believe.

      As for ads on real estate blogs, I’m actually with you on this. If you’re an agent, investor, or other professional that is blogging to promote yourself and your business, I see little reason to place ads on your blog, and do believe that they are a distraction from your message.

      The relatively minuscule incremental income that comes from the ads certainly isn’t worth the loss of potential clients. That said, sites like this one and other informational blog sites should certainly monetize as they can.

      • http://SparksRealEstate.org Joe Salcedo

        ” and do believe that they are a distraction from your message…”

        …I don’t know, just thinking that some of our paradigms might be due for reconsideration. Because I really used to believe this too. It’s almost like I’m beginning to question the use of personal domain in emails…the conventional business thought is use your own…e.g., “Joe@laketahoeshortsaleexpert.com” because it sure looks professional than joe@gmail.com…but now that people are so used to professional domain emails, I’d love to test this theory out…because my domain makes them think! 26 Letters! a totally foreign group of words that I’m telling them to type in their busy hour.

        In any case, I do respect you and Elizabeth’s opinion. Mine needs to be proven first.

      • http://bigrockinvestments.com/ Michael Borger

        Some are boring. The problem with the internet and free blog platforms is the barrier to entry is basically nil. Anyone, no matter their RE knowledge or writing ability, can start a RE blog. While it can make it easier for the cream to rise to the top, it does make being found in a sea of blogs inherently more difficult.

        • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

          I agree with you 100%. That said, as the “fad” of blogging has died down and the shiny object focused marketers have moved to places like Pinterest (don’t get me started), it has become much easier for good bloggers to rise up.

          • http://bigrockinvestments.com/ Michael Borger

            True, good content will always find its way at or near the top. With Panda, Penguin and all the other SEO games out there, being a solid, effective and consistent on-topic writer is the greatest play of all.

          • http://www.biggerpockets.com Joshua Dorkin

            Absolutely. If you’re doing just that, all the updates are relatively meaningless unless you’re trying to game the system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/petertoner Peter Toner

    Future of Real Estate
    Marketing (FOREM) blog was founded by Joel Burlem and taken over by
    Katie Lance (Inman News) when Joel started with 1000watt Consulting. FORUM was folded into Inman Next (http://next.inman.com/) last year – so it didn’t really go away … it just evolved :-)

  • http://www.1000wattconsulting.com Joel Burslem

    I was pretty sad to see FOREM go too – for obvious reasons. Lots of fond memories there.

    We still blog over at 1000watt, but the grind of creating content day in and day out is definitely wearing. I think that’s largely the reason activity has tailed off. As others have pointed out, other soc.nets have siphoned off people’s attention too.

    That said, I think that there’s definitely still a hunger for good information out there, so I guess its up to those of us who are left standing to keep sharing. Keep it up GEB!

  • http://twitter.com/AaronHoos Aaron Hoos

    Thanks for the blog post, Joe. Here’s my observation about real estate blogs: Since blogs are marathons, not sprints, there isn’t an immediate link that ties blogging effort to a busier real estate practice. In a performance-driven profession like real estate, it takes courage and persistence to continue blogging even though the numbers don’t *appear* to support the investment of time. But as you and your commenters have noted, blogging isn’t ONLY about building a business. Successful blogging is also about passion — it’s passion for your topic that will sustain you through the periods where it feels like there’s no point.

    • http://SparksRealEstate.org Joe Salcedo

      Aaron,

      The go-to word being “immediate”. You’re right. There’s no immediate link between “blogging effort to a busier real estate practice” and it takes courage and persistence to continue when the numbers don’t immediate support the investment of time.

      That’s where passion, like what you said, comes to gas the blogger. And if you study smart online marketing, and be consistent, it’s going to be hard to fail.

  • Jeff Brown

    Speaking only for myself, blogging begins and ends with content quality. Length of posts don’t matter. Pictures don’t matter. Videos don’t matter.

    Content that folks want, matters. Don’t deliver that consistently, and the blog goes away.

  • http://www.realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

    Blogging is work. Hard work at times.

    Here’s the thing I tell anyone who asks about how/why I’ve been blogging for so long -

    I blog because doing so makes me a better real estate agent. Researching posts – growth, land use, development, market trends, what’s happening in my market – is my education on the market. I’m better able to represent my clients because I study the market and often write about it.

    The ability to send an email to a new potential client with links to stories that are 3. 5, 7 years old is incalculably valuable – not only does it save me time, it builds my credibility in their eyes.

    Sure, the blogging landscape has changed since its inception – fewer industry blogs, fewer posters, a complete and total lack of understanding of the value of the link back (both SEO and relationship-wise), as well as the focus on the social networks you don’t own (facebook, twitter, g+, pinterest, etc. etc).

    The value of my real estate blog is that it’s *mine* – it’s my home on the web, the terms of service are set by me.

    Real estate blogging is more that traffic and leads; sure, I get a significant percentage of business from my blog, but that wasn’t the reason I started writing and isn’t the reason I continue …. and I think that’s a big reason for my success.

    Plus, I enjoy it.

  • http://twitter.com/katielance Katie Lance

    Hi Joe – Thanks for your post. Just FYI – all of the FOREM articles can be found on InmanNext and InmanNext is a real estate blog. It is the “sister” site to Inman.com but it is definitely a blog filled with opinions about real estate tech and social media. It was a sad day for me to – to see FOREM “go away” but at the same time I am so excited to see what it evolved to with InmanNext. We now have a dozen or so regular contributing authors and a really wide variety of opinions and articles.

    Katie

  • http://www.barnettassociates.net/ Toby Barnett

    I agree with you Joe that many agent’s business model just didn’t support the time commitment, or give the immediate rate of return, that many bloggers thought it would. Like you, I’ve been blogging for some time and it generates a substantial part of my annual business as well as provide a unique selling proposing to sellers looking for a more comprehensive advertising campaigns. Well done and good to see you’re holding true.

  • http://realestatetomato.com/ Jim Cronin

    Joe,

    From our perspective, real estate blogging is stronger than ever. We have a thriving network of real estate agents that blog very regularly (a few times a week). I don’t have the exact number that blog that regularly, but it is easy over 300. The rest of the active network is more like the 3-4 times a month crowd and makes up another 200-300 clients.

    I think that the difference is that they are not engaged in industry network as much as the early adopters were. They keep a focus on their sites, and the content they create is just geared for their niche audiences.

    Blogging really works for them, much like it does for you, Joe – gaining noticeable portions of their income from the effort.

    We just keep plugging along, adding new bloggers to the network everyday – I sure hope I don’t have to ask “where have all the real estate bloggers gone?”

    • http://SparksRealEstate.org Joe Salcedo

      Jim,

      Yes I know your site very much. I think realestatetomato was one of the case studies when I read Realtyblogging back in 2006. You guys do a good job because of the consistency and vision that you’ve placed, and, more importantly have followed through.

      Congratulations. I don’t think you’ll have any problems with where your bloggers will be going….

      -Joe

  • http://retechulous.com Ryan Hartman

    Traffic to a squeeze page, then email follow up is just plain quicker, and easier. Blogging’s like IDX. It’s still viable for traffic getting, and incubation… but really all you need to do is tease, squeeze, and please — if you want to make money.

  • Sunil K. Agarwal, Esq.

    I am a real estate attorney in New York and have maintained a blog for about 5 years now. It is entitled simply enough “New York Real Estate Law” and the site is
    http://www.skalaw.blogspot.com/. Traffic has slowly increased since I started, but has almost doubled as of two months ago. The blog will consistently appear from various Google searches and on many will appear on the first page, if not the first entry. (ie. “NY Seller closing costs” and “Seller closing costs”). I think the best way to garner more traffic is to write consistently, write informatively and downplay the self-promotion.

  • Anthony Van Campen

    Is anyone aware of blogs covering the European market?

    • http://ohheyworld.com/ Drew Meyers

      you mean the real estate technology market in Europe?

  • Darren

    Yes I have to agree with some of the comments here…blogging is hard work but it will make you better at what you…I recently had to fill in a questionnaire re some sales copy for my biz and it really gets you to think about what your doing in a way I had never experienced before…and blogging can be the same…especially if some real effort has been put in..good luck guys

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