I am at a conference in Seattle for About.com. Every year About.com hosts a "guide event" for its writers. I don't know how many people write for About.com at the moment, but I imagine it's more than 700 or so. Everybody has their own little domain. Mine is Home Buying. I've been writing for About.com for a little over four years.
About.com is owned by The New York Times. We are a profit center for the NYT, which is good news because as we all know, newspapers are hurting financially, and I'd hate to see a great paper like the NYT go under. It's a sad time for print journalists everywhere in the country, and my heart goes out to them. My husband is a veteran newspaper journalist, and he's been looking for a job for the past 2 years without success.
People ask me how I can write articles and blogs for my About.com site and still sell as much real estate -- especially those Sacramento short sales -- as I do. I've probably sold around $10 million so far this year. It's because I am crazy. That's the only explanation I can come up with. The men and women who write for About.com are passionate about their topics and churn out content without getting bored or burned out. That's a special kind of craziness. Not everybody has it.
One of the things that I like about getting together with other About.comers is we all share a common trait, which means we can immediately relate to one another. Some of our readers treat us like royalty, which I think is pretty funny because we're just like anybody else in the world. We're not all that different than our readers except that we are considered to be an authority on our topics and are seriously dedicated to sharing our knowledge. So, if I ever have a question about anything, if I can't find the answer on About.com, I can ask my question directly to another guide who is happy to answer it because now the guide has another piece of content to write about.
Which leads me to the purpose of this blog today. We have new tools available to us at About.com that let readers interact, share experiences and review products. It can be used even if I don't have a product. I can just add it to the end of an article and let readers submit their reviews for me to moderate. I've been thinking about asking readers to review their real estate agents. But that can be a huge can o' worms.
Some readers, I suspect, don't have much of an opinion one way or the other. They bought or sold a home and got on with their lives. Others might have formed close bonds with their agent and were thrilled with the superior service they received. Then, there are those who are very unhappy. The kind who actually considered stabbing the tires on their agent's vehicles with steak knives. Part of their unhappiness is probably due to confusion and not understanding how the real estate business works. Part of the discontent is probably justified.
Real estate is complicated, and I know that clients don't really know what real estate agents do or why they do it. I'm a bit concerned that the readers who may feel inspired to respond will be ONLY those who are dissatisfied. Think about it -- how many letters do you write to corporations telling those businesses how great they are? Many people write only letters of complaint if, for no other reason, but to get an annoying irritation off their minds through a rant. That's why many polls are skewed. You get answers from people who hate or love something, extreme swings -- not from very many middle-of-the-roaders.
I'd hate to readers to come away with a worse opinion of real estate agents than many already possess. I can see it now, agents writing and demanding that I remove reviews, which I probably would not do. It would not be fair to remove a comment based on content. However, I am still intrigued by the idea. About.com is a powerful website. Among readers of this blog who are real estate agents, what do you think? Should I do it? If I do, would your clients have something nice to say about you?
Well, now we are off to the International District in search of a place my husband believes is the best Dim Sum in Seattle.