WordPress at Real Estate Connect SF?

Are you breaking the rules with WordPress in real estate? I wanna know!

wordpress sticker on laptopThe good folks at Inman News have asked me to moderate the WordPress Summit at Real Estate Connect this summer and I couldn’t be more excited!

While we haven’t tried to confirm any speakers yet (that’s where I want your help), I’m positive the lineup is going to be awesome. We’re going to be covering themes, plugins, strategy, advanced installs, listings, and the future of WordPress!

The idea of a half-day at Real Estate Connect dedicated to WordPress is simply awesome.   I love WordPress and have been using it since the very birth of Rain City Guide (over 5 years ago!).  Over the years I’ve been a part of too many WordPress blogs than I could count… And unlike a lot of software I was using in 2005, WordPress has continued to improve with each iteration!    Especially now that website vendors are building in advanced IDX and CRM tools into the platform, it’s become a no-brainer option for real estate professionals!

By the way, did you know the new conference website for Real Estate Connect was built on WordPress?

I think it’s a pretty slick design and implementation, although I’m probably a bit biased since we designed and built the site!  🙂

Coming full circle… If you know someone in the real estate space doing interesting things with WordPress, send ’em my way!   I want to make this the best half-day on WordPress educational event around!

And finally, a huge hat-tip to Dan Woolley for the idea behind this post when he wrote about his ConnectTech Workshop!

Nothing like an Inman event in NYC!

I’m always get excited before heading out to an Inman event… The team at Inman has always made sure I get some great visibility through speaking and moderating panels, and truth be told, I simply have a blast meeting up with all my real estate friends.

This year is no different, they not only have me speaking about Facebook, but I’m also moderating a technology and media track where I get to host conversations with industry leaders on mobile, wordpress, twitter, and the extendable web (How cool is that???).

But there’s more!

Spinnio Event on InmanThis year, we’re also going to be running Spinnio interviews out of the Inman booth on Wednesday. So far, we’ve got Craig Newmark and Brad Inman confirmed and the Inman team is sure to line up some other great guests over the next few days!

Maybe even cooler, Kris Berg is scheduled to host all the conversations!!! She really is one of my favorite people in the whole world, so I couldn’t be more excited.

What’s up with Spinnio anyway? Why not just live stream the events?

I know I’m a bit biased since Spinnio is my baby, but what excites me (and obviously a few others) about Spinnio events is that they’re meant to get YOU engaged. Using either Facebook chat or Twitter, you get to ask the questions of the guests… You get to banter with them… We’ll be actively monitoring the live streams from both Facebook and Twitter, so getting involved really is simple.

Spinnio really is different. It’s not the usual “live streaming” of interviews or conference sessions. We’re letting you ask the questions of real estate and technology leaders… and all you have to do to take part is to show up at the spinnio event landing page on Inman on Wednesday.

Can’t wait to see you in NYC!

P.S. We’ll be updating this schedule of events as we confirm new guests:

Another Rock’n Inman Conference

As always, the Real Estate Connect Event put on by Inman this year rocked!  The information, the people, the food, the fun…  it’s just way too much fun (honestly too much!).  And I know I’m a bit biased, but I hang with a really great group of people, even if you’all do stay out a bit too late.

125x125_nyc_09Combine a great New York City trip with being able to team up with Jay Thompson for a session on blogging and you know I’m going to have fun.

Follow that up with a great opportunity to moderate a discussion on the future of mobile technology in real estate with Brad Blumbert of SmarterAgent, Mark Ford of Qwasi, Dawn Doherty of StreetEasy and Jamie Glenn of Trulia and I was feeling pretty darn good!   But then give me the opportunity to moderate another panel on web analytics with Gahlord Dewald of Union Street Media, Marty Frame of CyberHomes, Ed Freyfogle of Nestoria and Anita Gandi of Hitwise and I was in online real estate geek heaven!

I learned a ton from so many folks at Inman this year, so thanks again to everyone who connected up over the past few days!

Sadly, I’m going to be missing out on the last day of the event (thanks to the fact that I doubled up my NYC time with a client meeting on Friday), but I did that very reluctantly as I cherish every minute I get to soak up from the great folks in online real estate!

Can’t wait to see you’all in San Francisco!

Because favicon love is so easy to give

If you’re running a website, did you give your favicon any love?  Do you even know what a favicon is?

A favicon is simple a mini-logo (icon?) that shows up next to your URL in most address bars. (Favicons also show up on the tabs of browsers and are often included next to articles you write when being pulled by other news sites, such as this business week page about online real estate that pulled the favicons when linking to articles from Rain City Guide and Inman News). and

Here is the favicon I created for 4realz.net: 

In terms of a icon, I don’t like it as much as the 4realz logo that I generally use on my marketing materials:

but it shows up so much better when displayed at a really small size and kept the site’s color scheme. The idea is that people who know the site will quickly start to relate the favicon to 4realz.net.

Before creating a favicon for a different site (not yet launched), I decided to do a bit of research and look at the favicons for a variety of real estate sites. Here’s a peak at some of the sites I looked at:

There are some really good favicons there in that they are instantly recognizable for the website they represent, but just as many are pretty bad… and without the help of a little text, it’d be hard to know what site they represent.

So what makes for a good favicon?

A good favicon is:

  1. Really simple
  2. Limited to two or three colors
  3. Recognizable in place of your logo

However, as the examples form above show, using your logo is almost never a good idea.

For example, the blue/green “Z” house of the Zillow logo, just doesn’t cut it for me at the small size of a favicon.   Ditto for the landscape scenes used by Altos Research and Real Central Virgina.

Something more likely to work is a cute play on the logo, such as the tomato from the Real Estate Tomato, the owl’s eyes of Roost, the explosion from Blown Mortgage, or (I like to think) the rain drop of Rain City Guide.  At the same time, the “R” of Realtor is so recognizable that the realtor.com team was smart to keep their favicon that simple.

Looking through the list of favicons from above, it’s also obvious that the “home” metaphor is way overdone. Phoenix Real Estate Guy, Redfin, The Real Estate Bloggers, Move, HotPads, Estately, Altos Research, and Zillow all feature homes in their favicons…

Create your own Favicon!

So, you’re inspired to create a nice looking favicon for your site.   Here’s how I created the 4realz favicon in a few minutes using nothing more powerful than Microsoft Word (or in my case, Mac’s Pages app):

Step 1: Using a document processer (Microsoft Word will work), create your image. For the 4realz logo, I create a grey circle and put a blue “4” in the center.   If you feel like you need something more complex than simple graphics and simple text, then you’re probably making your favicon too complicated!

Step 2: Take a screenshot of the image

Step 3: Upload your screenshot to Genfavicon, and follow their simple instructions in order to create an “*.ico” image. (as mentioned in a recent hotlist post!)

Step 4: Rename the file “favicon.ico”and upload it to the root file of your server.

That’s it! Once you’ve created one favicon, I think you’ll see that the entire process can be done in less than 10 minutes.

It’s worth noting that in order to have a personalized favicon, you MUST be using a self-hosted website where you can add files to the server.  Folks using blog platforms like ActiveRain and WordPress.com can’t have their own favicon. 🙁

Of course, if you have photoshop you can get way more advanced and create really killer favicons directly from the app, but if you know what you’re doing in photoshop, then you probably wouldn’t read this far!  😉

Finally, favicons are important because they show just how much effort you put into the details.  They’ll never be a big thing (they’re way too small!) and they’ll never bring success to your website, but with a little effort, it’s not hard to create a fun, recognizable icon that will help you make a better connection with your readers.

On the hunt for new real estate marketing tools!

The great folks at Inman News have asked me to put together a 15 minute presentation at SF Connect this year… and I’m downright excited about it.   The title of my presentation:  50 Technologies To Help You Survive the Downturn.

I’ve got some huge shoes to fill in that both Jamie Glenn of Trulia and Brian Boero of 1000watt have given versions of this presentation at recent Connect Events… and their presentations were top notch.

The Plan?

I’ve been given 15 minutes to talk about 50 technologies… Let’s break down into what that means in terms of the amount of time I have to explain each technology. Fifteen minutes is 900 seconds. Given the fact that I at least have to introduce myself and let my audience know I’m available for speaking gigs, I’ve already blow 30 seconds right there… Combined with the fact that I’ll need at least two 10-second water breaks, I’m down to 850 seconds or 17 seconds per technology!   I’m known for speaking fast, but the pressure is really going to be on!  😉

I Need Your Help!

Real estate agents: Do you have a favorite tool or technology that has become indispensable at making your business operations more efficient?   My preference is online tools, but I’ve have to find 50 of them, so I’m honestly not very picky at the moment!

Real estate tech providers: Do you have a tool you think is worthy of being featured at SF Connect?    Let me know, but make sure I can “sell” it 17 seconds or less!  I make no promises, but again, I’ve got to find 50 tools in less than 50 days, so I’d appreciate any help you can give!

My Bag of Tricks

Here’s an outline of the previous presentation.

Jamie Glenn:

  • Listing Sites (12 sites)
  • Social Media (9 sites)
  • Multimedia (15 sites)
  • Communication (7 sites)
  • Blogging (9)

Total: 52 sites!  Plus, his last slide through in 9 “bonus” resources!

Brian Boero:

  • Things that will help you work smarter and cut costs (10 actions)
  • Things that let you engage customers and prospects in new ways (8 actions)
  • Things that will help you grow your professional network (3 actions)
  • Blogs you should read (and watch) (7 actions)
  • Market smarter – and cheaper (6 actions)
  • New advertising opportunities (5 actions)
  • Technologies that help you leverage your knowledge (3 actions)
  • Things that shrink space and time (3 actions)
  • Technologies that help you meet the neighbors (4 actions)

Total: 49 actions.   Although much to his credit, each-and-every “action” included at least one technology tool and many of them included multiple tools!!!

I have both presentations in front of me, and I can tell you that they both did an excellent job of providing a wealth of information in only 15 minutes!

My Presentation

Lucky for me, I still have over a month!   Unlucky for me, I just typed out all the notes I’ve taken to date and I have only 33 technologies listed that are appropriate for the title: “50 Technologies To Help You Survive the Downturn.”

Here’s an outline of how I grouped the various tools, concepts, websites so far (but note, I’m positive the final outline will be MUCH different):

  • Online Marketing Basics
  • Publishing Tools
  • CRMs
  • Inspiration
  • Analytics
  • Listing Syndication
  • Listing Tools
  • Connecting with Consumers
  • Connecting with Professionals
  • Video Podcasts
  • Communications
  • Identity Management

However, rather than bias you’all by starting with my list of sites I would include (or listing out the websites from the the previous presentations), I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear some of the tools, techniques and technologies that you think would be worthy of being included in this list!

Inman News is on a roll

Congrats to Joel, Glenn, Kris and Teresa!

Social media manager Joel Burslem has been promoted to vice president of content at Inman News and deputy editor Glenn Roberts Jr. has been promoted to managing editor.

Inman News also recently strengthened its editorial team with the addition of two new columnists, Kris Berg and Teresa Boardman, and will soon announce other new columnists.

Been crazy for a few days getting ready for…

…in Realty Quest.

Here are some of the things I wanted to talk about this week, but haven’t had the chance:

  1. 4RealzEd is coming to Pasadena on May 30! The buzz from the first two events has been wonderful and I’m already seeing people sign up without any real marketing on our part! I love it!
  2. Move, Inc lost $4.6M in Q1 and not releasing “transformational” product. About the only positive news is that they are “announcing” a beta site that has been live (with a link from the homepage) since December. I feel bad for my previous colleague in marketing who has to spin this stuff.
  3. Keller Williams gets Zillow fever. Consider the great relationship between Top Producer (owned by Move) and KW, this must have been particularly painful for Errol Samuelson (runs both Top Producer and Realtor.com)
  4. Trulia teams up with the Silicon Valley Ass of REALTORS.  The traditional walls are slowly crumbling.
  5. Seattle times reporter/blogger wonders covers conference with Move, Zillow and Google and wonders who will create the real estate destination portal of the future
  6. Todd announces RE BlogWord… A special real estate track for the popular BlogWorld conference in Vegas. My guess is that there will be a bunch of big names from the world of real estate social media so this should be a lot of fun.
  7. Had a great, GREAT, meetup yesterday (dubbed: Doctor’s Note Gathering) with real estate and tech folks from the valley.   Linda and Ted had nice write ups!
  8. Getting excited about a panel this year at Inman led by Jeff Turner called: Growing Pains: Take Your Blog to the Next Level (more announcments around RE Connect are sure to come!)
  9. Krunching.com launched earlier this week. I like everything about the site (from the perspective of a  first public launch), except the business model.  I think they will either need to be a tech provider (i.e. selling tech to consumers/professionals) OR a brokerage (commissions!), but not both.   Otherwise, the site is great and I look forward to seeing more!
  10. Niki let me know that he launched Homethinking Mortgage earlier this week.   I feel bad that I haven’t had more of a chance to check out the site, but ANYTHING Niki does is worth checking out.   Some of the things, like the heat maps of average loan amount, are interesting, but I just haven’t taken the time to figure out how they will be useful!
  11. BeatYouThere launches (yet) another national real estate search site.  I kinda feel bad for anyone trying to start up in this space at this point, even if they are well funded.   Incremental improvement in the search just aren’t going to be enough at this point.
  12. And speaking of things that will be forgotten about in a few months…   I like Louis a lot and he’s definitely doing a great job reaching out to the online real estate community, but…
  13. CyberHomes redesigns the site.   I can’t help but wonder when will they start seriously marketing to consumers?