Mailbag: Why Not Use a Real Estate Blog Network?
A couple weeks ago, reader David W. sent in an email with a couple questions about the hyperlocal blogging strategy that Cari (my wife) and I are doing. They’re good questions, but hit on some issues that I knew would be addressed in last week’s Starting a Hyperlocal Blog series. There was one question I didn’t address last week:
Why not use something like Active Rain and Localism?
Great question, David. Thank you.
For those who don’t know, Active Rain is essentially a social network for real estate professionals. It offers blogs for agents and others that exist on the Active Rain site. Localism is a relatively new sister site that’s geared more toward local consumers. Agents blog there, but the intended audience is the local community, not fellow real estate professionals.
So, why create our own blogs instead of using those? That’s what David is asking. I made up a list of pros and cons to answer him.
PROS OF USING AN EXISTING BLOG NETWORK
1.) Quick access to an audience. Since these are existing sites/networks, it stands to reason that blogging there would get our content seen by human eyes more quickly than starting our own blogs on new domains.
2.) Benefit from building content on a strong domain. It can be a long, arduous task to develop a blog or web site that users and search engines recognize as trusted and authoritative. Active Rain has a lot of equity already, and Localism could be headed that way.
CONS OF USING AN EXISTING BLOG NETWORK
1.) Our target audience probably isn’t on these sites. I don’t believe our target audience knows much about Active Rain and Localism; they’re probably not visitors there. But they do know about Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search, and use those sites to find local information and find real estate for sale. So, it made more sense for us to build blogs that I know can be found where our target audience is searching.
2.) I’m unfamiliar with their blog platform. I know WordPress. I’ve been using it for more than four years. I know I can setup a WordPress blog with a high level of user-friendliness and SEO-friendliness. I don’t know if Active Rain and Localism have that stuff figured out.
3.) What about upgradability? WordPress is open-source software, so there’s constant development of new plugins, themes, etc. Active Rain and Localism — how often will those platforms be upgraded? How much control will I have over the platform? Can I tweak things I don’t like? I can do almost anything I want with WordPress, what about those?
4.) It’s all about digital asset ownership. This is the most important reason, so much so that it trumps the previous three items on this list. I’m a BIG BELIEVER in owning your own digital assets. Our intention was always to build high-quality blogs; why do that on someone else’s domain? What happens if Active Rain shuts its doors someday, or gets sold? Where does all our great content go? I’d much rather own that content myself, on my own domains, that I can move anywhere I want.
In a sentence: It’s better to spend time building up your own assets for long-term success rather than building someone else’s assets.
That’s why we started our own blogs rather than using someone else’s platform and web sites. Thanks for the great question, David.
Your Turn: How would you have answered David’s question? Have you had success on blog platforms/networks in your industry?