Then one day you find that, 10 years have got behind you…
~ Time by Pink Floyd
There are moments in time such as when your car is 10-years old, your dog is 10, or your kid turns 10, that you realize time passes quickly.
Today, 10 years ago, I published my first blog post right here on dougfrancis.com .
Short and simple, but a lot of decisions went into getting the site ready for that day.
Thank you, really, for reading today and over the past decade. (Yikes!)
Conversational and informative – Specific, very specific
Looking back, I was lucky to have a good group of local friends to consult with about “web 2.0” and the new generation of websites using WordPress.
What I liked about WordPress was that I could use my own photos, and the editor was similar to using Microsoft Publisher.
The other trend I noticed was that blog posts were written for people to read, were funny, controversial, and were stuffed with information not keywords or flashing sales pitches.
Posts were designed to be smart, educational, and on a specific topic.
Controversial – Going against the grain
The screenshot above shows that this site was a blog from Day 1.
Some of my brain-trust were builders (and sellers) of real estate websites. Many hated this idea because it was just a blog.
What really pissed them off was there wasn’t a way to search for homes. And, the way to “capture leads, Doug” was the home search widget… these guys would criticize me that my site wouldn’t work to attract customers.
The ideas of having a focus on the Vienna real estate market, new construction, and actual client experiences seemed crazy to them. The theme was too specific and didn’t deliver listings.
You see, my clients were using other sites to search for homes already like Zillow. But what they wanted, or really needed, was help with the other 95% of the home sale process.
Searching for homes online is the easy part, I told the “gurus” in 2009.
Real estate tech guys were missing what I could explain. I think that’s why they hated the concept. Meh.
My takeaway… being different is better than just being better.
the Flip Camera
Okay, I’ve always wanted to be on camera… and I found a pioneer in 2009.
Ian is an agent up in Vancouver, British Columbia and he invented the daily real estate video cruising in his VW around town explaining a relevant topic of the day.
Simply put, it was fun at first sight. He was goofy, to the point, and ahead of his time.
When I contacted him, he was great, open to sharing, and gave me specific pointers including using the super-easy Flip Camera and video editing software Microsoft already included on my office PC (I think). And I too created videos for a vlog here.
Honestly, it was a phase for me and I am not doing commentary videos anymore.
and then Clients started contacting me…
When the first emails arrived asking if we could meet, I was actually surprised.
People who were searching for homes stumbled upon my site, read multiple posts or read my About Me page. And then they wrote me lengthy emails outlining their requirements, timeframes, and giving me their schedules to set up a meeting.
These turned into great clients, and new friends. And these sales became the majority of my business.
To this day, more than half of my clients come from this website after reading an article or two. That’s true.
Listening and Learning
All I can say is thank you to many talented people from around the world who have given me insight on writing better, design tips, or crafting my message. Having access to the Internet is amazing because answers to my questions are often a quick Google search away.
Being relevant in search results was a message that Google’s Matt Cutts emphasized seven years ago. And, I took that to heart.
With the newest version of WordPress now loaded, my posts may be a little different. I’m not sure but I’m open to change.
My plan is to continue writing about my experiences selling real estate. Helpful posts that aren’t salesy, but open to any reader who has Googled about real estate in Vienna or who are looking for a Realtor to help. Hey, it’s how I make a living.
I have found that most big real estate sites and apps now use my strategy of blogging or content marketing. They do it to be relevant, interesting, and engaging. Their problem is that the posts are written by writers, and the hand-off to their agent is inconsistent, or off-message since the agents haven’t even read their blog. Ouch!
With markets tightening and rates rising, we should see more start-ups or splashy website based brokerages going out of business. Last year a number of them did because their cool websites offered only deals. The industry truth is that real estate quickly eat up agents and brokerages, spitting them out and moving on.
Shared knowledge, organized and readable information, personal experiences, my own photos…
So, I’ll keep going doing what works for me.
Thanks again for reading.