Blogging: The Why is Easy, the What Much Harder

avatar.jpgEarlier this week, Teresa Boardman on her St. Paul Real Estate blog said she was looking for 10 good men. Inspired by sellsius’ earlier article naming the top women bloggers, Teresa set out in search of the top male bloggers. Among her requirements was a strong local focus – a fact emphasized in a comment she made urging one such blogger to avoid “the dark side” of real estate blogging and focus on industry or national issues.

It was the dark side comment that got me thinking, once again, about this blog … well, in my case both this blog and my original. Should I focus more specifically on the Phoenix real estate market or should I continue to write about a mix of local and national issues.

Personally I don’t believe there is any one answer. I view my blog as an open conversation with my readers and an opportunity for education in both directions. While I’d like to think I’m well versed on a number of real estate topics, I don’t proclaim to know all about all.

At the same time, this blog will need to become a continuing source of business to justify the time spent here versus other traditional farming methods. Writing about the silliness of the bubble blogs or the latest in an endless supply of Internet home searches is all well and good, but those posts alone aren’t going to pay for Tobey’s T-bones, not to mention my wife’s trips to Sephora once the Arrowhead store opens this spring.

For that to occur, I need to establish my credibility and my authority in the real-estate realm. While much of the public unfortunately views real estate agents as interchangeable (my cousin just got their license and is gonna sell my house for less!) with little regard for the service provide or knowledge imparted, knowing how to react in different situations is not a luxury but a necessity.

My best writing comes on the topics I am most interested and most passionate about. No question, in a metropolitan area as large as Phoenix, there always is something that can be discussed. Some of it interests me greatly. Some of it interests me far less. The same can be said for the wide range of real estate industry topics. I’m passionate about some and less passionate about others. The former receive the most coverage.

At the end of the day, I’m writing for myself first and foremost. But I also am writing for those with similar interests and similar passions. I don’t believe the general public is uninterested in national or industry issues, at least not everyone. I believe in many cases, knowing what’s happening elsewhere can give hints as to what will happen here. And I also believe knowing what’s happening in real estate can help buyers and sellers see who can best suit their needs as they pursue their real-estate goals.

During last week’s local blogging roundtable discussion, I mentioned Tobey. It should not be a surprise – I always mention Tobey. In this case, I was discussing Tobey’s merits as the core of my marketing campaign.

It may be possible someone doesn’t like the beagle. It may be possible they would prefer to see an agent in a suit. It may be possible they wish I were holding one of our cats in place of the dog. All of those may be possible. But at the end of the day they’re more or less irrelevant.

Those interested in how knowledgeable their agent truly is easily can make that type of determination by reading their blog (assuming the agent has evolved technologically to the point of having a blog.) For the rest, those vast masses unsure of where to turn and of whom to trust, real estate becomes a glorified popularity concept. I’ve heard this name, let’s spin the wheel and hope for evens.

For those folks, the beagle will serve as the great colander. Those who pass through have found sufficient mutual interests to investigate further. Those who don’t … I most likely would have been a poor match in the first place.

The same can be said for any real estate blog. Perhaps it should be all local or all industry and maybe the readerships for each are compartmentalized and never intersect. But if they do, as I believe they do, I know I’ll be waiting at that intersection, beagle in tow.

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Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at


  • jf.sellsius 11 years ago

    This is a great thought provoking post. I think a real estate broker/agent blogger has to make a decision on the goal of the blog and the audience that one wants to reach. Is the goal to get leads? Then maybe one should write predominantly about the local market. Go into the community and involve them in the blog. Interview people. Promote local events, charities. Maybe you have to promote the blog outside the web. See what results that brings.

    If the blog is solely for personal expression, then no limits.

    Is the audience the consumer or the blogging community?

    Since you are such a talented writer, Jonathan, you could be successful doing either. Just have to pick you path.

  • Jonathan Dalton 11 years ago

    Thanks for the compliment.

    My question is does there have to be one path only? Is it an absolute that the general public will not want to read about real estate trends outside their own backyard? Might they not use this as a yardstick of knowledge, especially in an industry where licensing standards are minimal?

    If forced to choose, I’d opt on the side of the industry/local mix. Maybe I will not attract as many local leads but I believe what leads do come to me from the blog/website combo will be of higher quality – if not absolutely, at least in terms of a personality fit.

  • jf.sellsius 11 years ago

    I agree. You may take several paths, by way of mixing up the content, and still get quality leads. In any case, you can’t write as well on topics that don’t interest you. I was trained as a lawyer and could write legal posts all day but that is not as interesting to me as mixing it up. I guess in the end you have to follow your own voice. But, as a good writer (certainly better than me), you have that edge.

    What’s great about the genre is you have the opportunity to try different things to see what works. You get immediate feedback. We are now experimenting with video, having met Phil of Wellcome Mat at Inman. He opened our eyes to the potential. We are totally raw at it but what the heck, we’re willing to take the risk & see what happens. I can’t begin to tell you how excited people get to be interviewed. I suck at interviewing but gave it a shot anyway.

    How about this, JD—go out into your community and do a podcast of the newspaper editor and ask about real estate print vs. online ads & get his take on it. It might be more compelling than just reading the interview on the blog. Or maybe interview a house hunting couple—follow them around town and ask them questions & then put it on the blog. You know they’ll tell all their friends they were made a celebrity by YOU. It’s like that cable show but you’d be in your own market and it would be edgy. Look at me, Im starting to sound like an ad for video. Better stop now.

  • Jonathan Dalton 11 years ago

    Those sound like great ideas … I’ve got to look into video. I’m still a bit of a luddite in that realm.

  • john harper 11 years ago

    J – same issues here in the East Bay. I was using the Active Rain community for most of my material that was not local, but have started using our local blog for more of everything as I think/feel it gives readers better insight into me/us.

  • Jonathan Dalton 11 years ago

    I’ve drifted away from Active Rain in time. Nothing wrong with the platform, but rather a shift toward my own SEO work here and for my main site.

    Given everyone seems to have an opinion about real estate, I’d like to think most people also would like to read about the bigger issues.

  • Terry Smith 11 years ago


    By your writing you will qualify your future clients, thats pretty darn good!
    and I agree with the local thing it just takes time. I love Tobey, just like I love my kitties, only do the things of interest, that is real. Will visit again soon.

  • Jonathan Dalton 11 years ago

    Thanks for the feedback, Terry … we have three cats ourselves, but they are not nearly as photogenic.