“Don’t blog your listings”

I say it at every presentation on blogging and I’ll continue to say it at every presentation…

However, there would be no point in making a rule unless there was an exception.   If you can tell a story with your listing (and not just any story, but a good story), then I say go for it.

Published by

Dustin Luther

Current lead up the team managing Brand and Influencer Engagement programs for Dun & Bradstreet. You can find me on Twitter (@tyr) or LinkedIn (DustinLuther)

34 thoughts on ““Don’t blog your listings””

  1. I guess I need this Thursday’s seminar more than I thought. I always blog my listings and not always in a neat little story like that one. I will be taking lots of notes for sure!!

  2. I blog listings. Not mine, but I would if I were an agent. Mine aren’t even particularly well written.

    You know what? It’s why many people subscribe to my blog. They tell me in their email. I even set up a listings only RSS feed and a couple people sign up to it every week. This is despite the fact that I never promoted the feed.

    I changed my mind on this some time ago. It would be one thing if you just copy and pasted the MLS description into a post. And another if that was all you ever posted. But a naturally written post about a new listing for sale seems not only appropriate, but expected.

  3. Todd, I have not meant to ignore your comment, just been completely, completely swamped with preparing for Thursday’s seminar.

    The quick version of my argument is that real estate professionals SHOULD provide really easy ways to get the most up-to-date listings… For example, with my wife’s site, we provide an RSS feed directly into the NWMLS database, so that when a new home is posted or the information on an existing home is changed, users can QUICKLY be notified.

    AND while most home searchers are looking for listings, for an agent to publish their listings within a blog post is almost always a sure way to kill community momentum and cause people to tune out their blog. It simply looks like a big ad. A mortgage broker like yourself might build up a lot of goodwill with the local agents community by blogging their listings, so it might make a hell-of-a-lot of sense for you.

    And where there are some good examples of interesting posts based on listings, most agents don’t do this well as it takes a tremendous amount of finesse.

  4. I agree that a copy and paste of what is typically placed into an MLS listing is not what you want to do. But building good will with other agents only works if the blog itself works. My readers have to come first.

    Putting those listings on my blog is not hurting momentum. In fact, it’s a big reason why the blog is growing. Here’s a recent email I received;

    I found this listing and thought that you might be interested. Lots of potential for the right buyer.

    >>>>>edited address<<<<

    Thank you so much for your blog. You helped me find my first home in Harvey Park. We are extremely excited to move into our Cliff May ranch – and your blog was pivotal in my research process.

    So, thank you. 🙂

    Obviously the reader was not offended by the listings. He even recommended one of his own. This is not a unique email either. It’s also very easy to see by simply tracking my traffic.

    I won’t dispute that asking for a sale turns your blog into an add. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. The trick in sales is to make your add interesting enough that people want to see it.

  5. Todd,

    Interestingly, as I’m reading your comment I’m in the middle of thinking through a slide in my presentation that I’ve labeled “interesting vs interested”.

    The idea behind the slide (and I’m still working out how I’m going to articulate the point) is that there are a lot of great bloggers who focus on being “interesting”… but the best bloggers are inevitably “interested” in their audience. Scoble comes to mind as someone who is “interesting” as a writer, but his real authority comes because he is genuinely “interested” in the community that he writes about.

    Like all good things, this is a point that I learned from my mom…

    At one point a while back, I was explaining what it took to be a great blogger and I told her it was all about being “interesting”. She (with all of two blog posts to her name), wouldn’t buy it… She was convinced that it was more important to be “interested.”

    I fought her on the point at the time, but after about two years of letting my mother’s advice sink in, I’ve definitely come around to her way of thinking…

    Great bloggers are “interested” in their community.

    Anyway, I’ll stretch my argument a bit to fit this comment thread. If an agent is focused on being “interested” in their community, then it will only rarely be appropriate for an agent to plug their own listing (See Tracy’s post above).

    However, if they’re blogging about their listing for blog filler or because they think it will be impressive to their seller, I think they are much better off putting down $40 for a property website. 😉

  6. I agree with most all of your points…in other posts.

    With this one I just can’t agree. I think that listings should definitely belong in a blog. Not just MLS sheets/stats but something more. Maybe a video. Maybe a bunch of interior shots.

    How does an agent justify to his sellers that by not placing their home listings in his/her blog that they are helping them?

    If you have built your blog up to be very visible in your local area…like Madison, WI real estate…then to me it just makes sense to help your marketing of your sellers home along.

  7. I think that the listings belong in a blog only when there is a relevant story about the listing. Posting “Hey, look – I have a new listing!!!” detracts from the credibility of the blog, IMHO.

    However, when there is a story about the house that is relevant beyond the simple fact that it’s been listed, then I can see that as being viable and credible.

    Heck, I’d love to pick a house a week, write a story about it and then say -I’ll bet it’ll sell for X price. But … I’d likely run into tremendous negative feedback and possible repercussions, despite the fact that I think my readers would love that series.

  8. I have to disagree here …

    I put together single-property WP pages for each of my listings. I also occasionally use the same information for a post (though this usually happens when I fail to switch on the WP dashboard from “posts” to “pages”.)

    To date I’ve written 887 posts in 14 months’ time. I tend to think the half-dozen I’ve used to promote a new listing have done very little to interrupt the daily continuum, any more so than any post that doesn’t strike a chord will do so.

    Buyers want to see homes. Sellers want to see marketing. A post about a new listing does both, so long as it’s not the only thing about which you’re writing.

  9. Todd, John and Jonathan,

    You all make valid points about how it *can* work to blog your listings, and the point of this post is that there are exceptions to the “rule.”

    However, having seen first-hand how many agents blog their listings AND do a REALLY BAD job of it on the REALTOR.com Blog Platform with hundreds (probably thousands) of blogs rarely updated unless the blogger (agent) gets a new listing. My experience says that the real estate agent community would be best off if they followed a rule of never blogging their listings…

    Once they get a following and figure out the rhythm of blogging and community building, they can figure out when it is appropriate to break the rule… just as you guys have.

  10. I think it is a great idea to blog about a listing. The potential for creative marketing using the blog is tremendous.

    From now on all my listings will have their own blog.

  11. I’m really glad I didn’t come across this post a year ago, when I decided to try to start blogging. I don’t know that I would have ever started!

    My first few AR posts were listings and they were not copy and paste or postlets. Ines Garcia, Gena Riede and Laurie Manny taught me how to blog listings (whether they know it or not) and it was a way to develop a habit and relearn to write. It wasn’t long until I discovered I prefered writing other kinds of post and my listings appear much less frequently.

    The first listing I received directly because of my blog outside the Rain, was placed with me because of a post on another historic home I had listed and blogged about.

    Dustin, you are revered by many and considered an authority but I wish you would say “if you are going to blog about you listings make them special and relevant” instead of “don’t blog your listings”.

  12. Dustin,

    With all due respect I completely disagree with you. A strong blog can take a listing to page one of the engines, giving the listing tremendous exposure. In Long Beach, most listings are getting very few showings. The listings that I blog are getting A LOT of showings. Buyers see the listings and call their agents to see the property. Buyers see the listings and call us to see the property. Either way, it is exposure to the seller. I currently have multiple offers on 3 of my listings due to the exposure I am able to provide; few other local agents can say the same thing.

    Disturbing the momentum of the blog? Are you serious? We are Realtors, selling real estate, this is what we do. Consumers go to real estate blogs and web sites to see listings first and read real estate related material second. It is that way, it has always been that way. Any real estate blog without full access to the local MLS is wasting their time and energy. Blogging listings is further exposure for our product. The sellers want it and so do the buyers.

    Real Estate Blogs are not blogs in the sense that blogs were before they were used for marketing purposes. Do we blog to our local areas, yes. But blogs have evolved from the traditional purist forms of blogging to hybrid marketing tools. You above all understand this. Everything moves on despite the efforts of many to keep them remaining the same.

    The real question here is do you want to be a professional blogger or a successful Realtor who happens to blog about real estate.

    My little hyper-local blog is now getting over 4000 hits a day and 100’s of contacts a week. Many of these translate to showings for our sellers. Sorry babe you can’t argue with that.

    Real Estate is a results oriented business. The kind of blogging you suggest is cagey and will never produce the results the real estate industry is in desperate need of. We need and want real estate web and blog sites that produce business. Blogging is very time consuming. Any project that consumes that amount of time must produce or hit the shelf.

    Dustin, if your blogging efforts didn’t produce substantial results, would you continue? If doing something that was unpopular to some of the blogging community produced incredible results in your business, would you stop doing it because your friends in the blogging world disagreed with it? Or would you move forward and try to explain that it is just good business? After all we are all in business here, aren’t we?

  13. Dustin,

    As a reader I don’t much care to read about listings if they are in a blog. If they come with some snappy pics and don’t look like every other house I’ve seen, then I might browse.
    With that said, I’m not in the market for a home.

    If I were, I would be reading everything to do about houses and homes for sale within the market I was considering.

    That’s what buyers do.

    What I am reading from your instructions is not to be boring. MLS data info is boring.

    Creating a story about the home, what the seller’s loved about it and why it, would be very appealing to a buyer, who most likely will be just like the future buyers…

    What is boring to you may not be boring to a buyer who is researching the market.

    I still believe there are no hard set rules in blogging. Suggestions are good, but to say “no never” well that is wrong.

    Different strokes for different folks… makes life interesting.

    BTW wish I could participate in your class. Do you ever plan to come to the Mile High?

  14. I read your other piece and I have started telling a story with my listings.

    I think it is important to blog our listings, then when our sellers type in their address in google or where ever, the blog post on their homes (among other syndications sites come up) and they see all the places it is on the web. backlinks are good.

    Now I agree if that is all your blogging, then it isn’t really a blog, but as a Realtor, I want as much exposure as possible out there for their homes.

  15. We use RSS feeds from the MLS to get Google to index the listing info – and those work much better- no Realtor time wasted, content updates itself every day and search engines love those pages. Greg Nueman’s San Diego Condo blog had over 100 leads come through those pages last month, so my vote is for using an RSS feed with the agent remarks. That’s the way to “blog” a listing if you are blogging for leads.

    example of an rss feed page:
    http://www.sandiegodowntown.com/treo-condos-for-sale

    Nothing pretty, but that’s not the point. This guys shows up on P1 of Google for every condo complex he sells in.

  16. Here’s my take on this – do what works for you and if you are getting results, why not?

    As for me – I do listing blogs in Active Rain and like Michelle said above, a lot of people took off blogging because of those listings – writing a story, with a great format, a lot of photos and information.

    Putting that aside, because of my architectural background, I will write about architecturally relevant properties in miamism. (whether my listing or not). I’ll point out features and materials and hopefully will know the architect and write something about them.

    I think Blogging has matured and developed into something that cannot be limited by the thoughts of a handful of people. The point is to define your goals and intent and go for it and also……..realize that what may work now, may not work in 6 months (and viseversa).

  17. Dustin – Like Kristal, I think you are saying don’t be boring. Be interesting … and make people interested. Right?

    I add MLS RSS feeds, like Mary mentioned above. Does great things for my rankings, and per request of several of my buyers, I also add my Real Estate Shows to my blog under a category called “virtual tours” … Buyers love watching those videos/slideshows.

    Finally, I also have a separate WP blog that offers pictures, and comprehensive descriptions (and additional home searches) for each of my listings. Sellers LOVE that, and, like Laurie mentioned, my job is to expose my listings to as many eyeballs as possible.

    As far as being interesting, I agree. No blog should be just a regurgitation of MLS data. Be creative.

  18. Many good comments already – First I agree with Ines, whatever you are blogging about, if it’s working for you, keep it up. Kristal and Mariana both talked about the interesting factor being key. I am not looking to buy a house either, but if I was I am sure I would not be browsing a blog unless it was interesting.

    I have trouble reading blogs that are just like MLS print outs. But, someone might want a house in a specific neighborhood and they might find a ‘cut and paste’ blog that deals solely with that neighborhood more useful than having to sign in and search on a larger IDX site. Dunno.

  19. I agree to a degree. A listing sheet just copy and pasted is boring but a listing along with town information or community information and pictures and virtual tour is not. I blog my listings and I think as a REALTOR I should be blogging my listings. I do try and tell a story and engage the reader. It works for me and I think we need to do whatever we can to expose our listings and blogging a listing is an added benefit.

  20. personally, I couldnt be more disgusted with using blogs for marketing purposes. I always found the greatest business aspect of US law was the ‘honesty’ factor

    No false advertising. No fake claims. No lies.

    When people type in..oh, say Boracay blogs. They are looking for blogs, not travel deals. Blogs, Web Logs. travelogues. et…

    But go ahead and google it. Much like the poster above, it is a huge mass of lies. I mean that word in every sense of hatred I can express…..lies.

    Thousands of businesses advertise in the blog form…and in Boracays case, thousands more that are completely fake to pose as real blogs from individuals but are actually made by The Fil DOT and business owners.

    Blogs were, at one time, a good source of online journals and personal opinions. When it came to travels blogs, it was an honest interpretation of one persons experiences. Now businesses who are ripping people off and providing crappy service have managed to steal that medium in the never ending pursuit of lying to potential customers about the services they can expect.

    And once upon a time, it was simply a matter of placing the camera high in the far corner of a hotel room for the brochure pix…..

  21. Thanks to everyone who has jumped into this thread… If I haven’t been particularly responsive, my only excuse is that yesterday was my first seminar, and I simply needed to focus on that over the past few days. 🙁

    Anyway, Ardell is hoping that I’ll expound a bit and I only wish I could have something very valuable to add… but at the end of the day, we’re seriously lacking valuable data in this discussion. However, I’ll give it a shot.

    When I put on my consumer hat on and look at the sites (from people in this thread) who are blogging their listings, I’m often immediately turned off because they’ve made the blogs about “them” instead of the community they are trying to attract. I don’t think it is a surprise that the people who are claiming to have found “success” in blogging have almost no comments from any consumers on recent threads (i.e. the only comments are from industry professionals, and even those are far-and-few between).

    With that said, if the people on this thread are convinced that it is bringing them more business and I wouldn’t want to stop them from their positive attitude. It reminds me of my years playing baseball where every kid has rituals that don’t do a darn thing to help performance, but I never heard a coach try to stop kids from doing the oddest of these rituals, because believing that something works is often the key ingredient to making it work. If these bloggers are convinced that their business success is because they are blogging their listings, then I say go for it… regardless if it is working or not. Confidence is one of the keys to business success, even if the cause of the confidence is misplaced.

    However, I started this thread by saying that their is a real lack of data. Despite some people’s claims that their open houses get more people because of their blog posts, I have my doubts (but no data to back it up). I just don’t think that any blogger in the real estate space has figured out how to get a large enough market share of the local home buyer community to think listing a home on their blog is going to attract additional buyers who wouldn’t see the home through the MLS… and the typical listing is most likely to be irrelevant to almost EVERY buyer who reads the post. (i.e. the listing is too big, too small, too expensive, too cheap, too close to downtown, too far, too old, too new, etc.).

    There’s a reason that despite thousands of listings in any given market, there are often only a handful that would actually work for a given family. Finding relevant homes for people is something agents tend to be good at… Pushing irrelevant homes on thousands of people in the hope of finding one relevant client is a sure-fire way to turn off many people to your blog.

  22. Dustin,

    It all comes back to the question; do you want to be a professional blogger or a successful Realtor who happens to blog about real estate?

    It seems to me we are blogging for contact with the consumer, we seem to agree with that. While comments on our blogs by consumers are nice, few consumers are comfortable with engaging on blogs.

    When the contact comes in the form of the use of the contact link on the blog, a phone call or and email, as a Realtor selling homes, it is far more valuable.

  23. I’m right with you Laurie…

    And in our presentation yesterday, Jim had a great example… He talked about how all marketing is to get someone in the car. Once they are on a car ride with you, it is about customer service, sales, negotiation, etc… but initial car ride is really the goal of any and all of your marketing. Along those lines, phone calls are much better than emails, and emails are clearly better than comments.

    However, my experience has been that comments by consumers do three things. (1) They add credibility to other consumers that you are a valuable resources. (2) They represent the easiest way for a consumer to begin the conversation that may turn into an email or a phone call (and eventually a car ride). (3) Comments provide frequently updated content on otherwise “old” posts, which is something that Google LOVES.

    The post I wrote about moving to Seattle two years ago is a great example. (just noticed that today is the post’s 2nd birthday!!!).

    1) It’s fair to say that consumers consider the post is very credible with a recent commenter (#491) saying “This has been the best source for a CITIZENS P.O.V. of life in Seattle.

    2) With over 500 comments and literally hundreds of them from consumers, it has proven to be a very easy way for consumers to start a real estate conversation with rain city guide contributors… most of whom would not have made contact otherwise.

    3) The post does very well in Google and while I don’t know exactly (or even close to exactly) how Google’s algorithms work, I’m pretty sure that the frequent updates from commenters plays a large role in driving organic search traffic to the site.

    I write this not to say that blogs without community activity are bad or wrong or somehow valuable… but to say that the benefits of engaging your consumers in a way the encourages them to contribute to your site can have HUGE benefits.

  24. Pingback: I am not a blogger

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