For the first point, I’m with Jim wall-to-wall. In every second of my spare time, I am preparing to repurpose all of our content to weblogs or weblog-like pages. Last weekend my son Cameron reformulated our content engines to make them site-independent (and therefore appearance-independent), and I want him to take a second pass at everything to build content that will look like an Ubertor site to people but will search like friendly old HTML 3.0 to Google. There are other weblog-like things we’re doing at the transaction-management level. It would be reasonable to say that in due course weblogging will be the defining metaphor of our internet presence.
For the second point — has weblogging been a productive lead generator? — I don’t know. A fuller answer is more complicated than that, but the whole issue is trumped by an even larger point: I don’t care.
I want to approach business as a vendor in the same way I approach it as a customer. In other words, I don’t want people treating me as a lead, as a link in their food chain. As soon as I start to feel like a salesman’s prey, I get creeped out. I don’t have to feel that way for very long to get gone. On the other hand, if I feel that you are looking out for my interests, offering me the sage counsel I have sought — and perhaps the advice I hadn’t known to ask for — then we have a sound basis for going ahead with a transaction.
There’s a lot of mercenary weblogging advice out there right now, and much of it strikes me as being doubly-dysfunctional. Yes, weblogging has huge SEO advantages, but if you go out of your way to write SEO-attractive copy, you will have created a reader-repellent weblog. You will score high on searches and no one will ever come back without a Googlenudge. If, instead, you write with the reader and not Google in mind, you can build an audience of people who respect what you have to say even if they don’t always agree with you.
How to Generate Leads through your Website
Is the purpose of doing that do generate leads? No. Is the purpose bread cast upon the waters? Even that seems too mercenary to me. Inside my own skin, I think that the purpose of excellence is excellence. Out in the world, I believe that if you do right by people, they’ll do right by you. But the reciprocity of the thing doesn’t matter, what matters is doing the right thing, and doing it as well as I can do it. Everything after that is a secondary consequence, entirely welcome but not fundamentally necessary.
The complicated answer is this: People touch our web pages so many times, over the course of days or weeks, that I can’t say for sure if the weblog has been the procuring cause, as it were, of someone filling out one of our forms or emailing or phoning me directly. I know that many of our long-time clients enjoy the weblog, because they have told me so. It’s plausible to me that some people who have found us through our weblog may become clients — or refer people to us — in the future. Even so, all of that would be nothing more than a secondary consequence, a happy accident.
Real Estate Blog Works!
What I’m saying is this: Real estate weblogging is not about leads, it’s about a conversation that builds relationships. If some of those relationships turn into business — that’s a bonus. But if you approach weblogging as a net for capturing prospects, you will fail. People will see your weblog as just another splog — a spam-blog — even if it is a hand-crafted splog. In the long run, it could be worse for your business than doing nothing.
But if you approach web bloggers as what you can give, what you can share, what you can learn, what you can teach, what you can delight in and what you can aspire to — if you approach it as a customer and not as yet another vendor — you’ll find all the riches money can never buy. If you happen to make a buck or two in the process, so much the better. But if you make yourself a better person, and make the world around you a better place, the money will find its way to you on its own.