Content Ownership and other Urban Legends

Real Estate Agent with Fathom Realty West Sound WA State 52404

First, let me preface this article by saying that I’m not choosing sides here. As one who has invested a considerable amount of time and energy in blogging on both the ActiveRain Network and my own Wordpress blogs, I have found value in both platforms. I know some wonderfully successful real estate professionals who have utilitzed ActiveRain, and have derived tremendous value & benefit from their involvement there. Conversely, I know of many other RE bloggers who enjoy significant enhanced business through their ‘stand-alone’ Wordpress or Typepad blog. My point here is not to elevate one over the other, but to simply dispel some misunderstandings or misconceptions as they relate to the ownership of content.

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There are those who purport the belief that publishing blog content on ActiveRain somehow causes you to ‘lose’ your right of ownership to said content. Evidently, during the wee hours of the morning, the ActiveRain Content Fairies come out and steal your precious literary gems, and sell them to lead generation companies or exchange them for blackmarket Google juice.

Many times, these Wordpress junkie 'purists' make it sound as though any measure of participation in the Rain is a complete waste of time, and should only be reserved for the technology-challenged or simple-minded. It should also be mentioned that these same critics usually have had little or no experience as an actual vested member of ActiveRain.

One of the most common criticisms levied towards ActiveRain is conveyed in this recent comment by a popular RE blogger:

"To me, the main reason you wouldn’t blog on ActiveRain– you don’t own the content. When you don’t own the content, bad things can happen."

'Bad' things happen? Sounds like one of those ghost stories you told as a kid to scare all your friends.

These same folks go on to tell you that if you want to be a ‘real’ RE blogger, that you owe to yourself to have your own domain, your own host, and your own blog platform, so you can ‘own’ all of your own content. Typically, they recommend that you create your own blog using Wordpress.

Well, let's face it, not everyone has the time or the skillset necessary to venture off onto their own WordPress blog. It requires a significant investment of time and patience to create and maintain an effective site that ranks well.

And the last time I checked, the content you publish on ActiveRain is yours. If you ever want to leave the Network, and wish to migrate your content over to some other location, they will compile your blog archive in whatever format you wish, and you take it with you. It's yours.

There is, however, some rather heated debates going on in various blogging circles, with regards to employee content. As an employee with a blog, does your content belong to you, or to your employer? Who has final say and control? Would that apply to real estate agents, even though we are technically sub-contractors, and not true employees?

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Now some will say, "But what if ActiveRain goes out of business? Or their servers blow up? What happens to your content then?"

Well, the same could be said of, Typepad, or whatever host server you're using. What would happen if suddenly disappeared?

My advice? Back up everything you write. Create a folder on an external hard drive, and place a copy there of every post you write.

There are inherent risks associated with whatever platform you elect to use. Each has their own unique advantages and disadvantages. In the end, it's simply a matter of personal preference, what best supports/achieves your specific business/marketing goals, and provides the best search engine traction.

There is no right or wrong, better or worse. Use what works best for you, and results in greater searchability and success!

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Rich Jacobson is a licensed real estate professional providing empowerment and relentless representation for his clients of residential properties and vacant land throughout all of Kitsap County WA and portions of Pierce, Mason, and Jefferson Counties. You can also find him at, SOUNDBITEBLOG, and Crabbing in the Hood.

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Rich Jacobson is a District Director for Fathom Realty and a licensed REALTOR®; an avid Crab Hunter, Clam Digger, and Oyster Shucker, He is the Social Media Evangelist for Life on the Kitsap Peninsula & The Western Puget Sound in scenic WA State.


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Dan and Amy Schuman
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Solon, OH
Luxury Home Specialists

Rich, very timely post. Another agent in my office noticed I started a blog ( she saw one of my blogs on line ) and asked me if I'm ready to step up and do a "real" blog on wordpress, like the one she does. I didn't realize that people looked down on AR, but perhaps it is out of ignorance. Now backing up my work, that is really a great suggestion and I appreciate you bringing it up. Thanks so much for your post.

Mar 21, 2009 12:21 PM #50
Jessica Horton Jessica Horton Realty
Jessica Horton - Jessica Horton & Associates - Griffin, GA
Jessica Horton: I'm not #1... You Are!

If you're a licensee (agent) that blogs, you very well may NOT own certain content, but that has nothing to do with A|R. How do you like them apples? :) My WP blog rocks and ranks higher than Active Rain and I will do my best to keep it that way because I own it. It's not like its difficult to set one up. You can do it 15 or so easy steps.

BTW thanks for inspiring a post (it has nothing to do with content ownership - I don't care to split hairs or argue semantics). Seriously though, what company do you work at???? I'm seeing several different brokerages that you're associated to - here and over there on your WP or typepad. I'm kind of confused. Your consumers might be too. Just a thought.

You know I'm just giving you a hard time, Rich. Old habits die hard. :P

Best of luck to you and your very beautiful family (love the photos).

Mar 21, 2009 12:40 PM #51
Rich Jacobson
Fathom Realty West Sound - Poulsbo, WA
Your Kitsap County WA Real Estate Broker

Hi Jessica!  I am in the process of transferring my license back over to Windermere here in Silverdale. As you well know, one of the HUGE drawbacks of having such an extensive Internet presence is getting all your information changed over! I hope things are going well for you and your family!

Mar 21, 2009 01:25 PM #52
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Backing up blogs?  What a novel concept!  Then I'd have to back them up on whatever I backed them up on.  I'm just going to hope the server doesn't blow up!

Mar 21, 2009 01:37 PM #53
Marilyn Katz
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - Westport, CT
ABR, e-PRO -

Rich- A while ago, I sat in on a blogging class that was presented in my office.  Everone was told to bring their computers and the presenter led them through the steps of setting up their own blogs.  I mentioned that it might be easier to get their feet wet (so to speak) by starting out with an AR blog.  The response was pretty much what Paul (Slaybaugh) referred to, a few dozen comments back.  To date, I don't think any of those new blogs have had any content added to them.

It may sound very "professional" to have your own blog.  For me, I'm happier being the "amateur"  and letting AR provide the platform and the google juice, not to mention everyone else's great content that I get to read. 

Mar 21, 2009 01:57 PM #54
John Cannata
214-728-0449 - Frisco, TX
Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance

Rich - Looks like this post picked up a little conversation along the way.  As for the post itself, I have heard that.  Cant recall where, but I did.  To me, it did not make a difference.  I do not think I'll ever write a book, but I would like to continue to reference the material later on.  If someone really thought my information was good, I suppose they could have it.  I've only received 2 features thus far, so it cant be that good.  LOL  I appreciate the information though.  At least you have stopped some AR members from misunderstanding.

Mar 21, 2009 03:00 PM #55
Roland Woodworth
Q Realty - Clarksville, TN
Q Realty - Power In Real Estate

Rich: Great topic and interesting debate on the different blog types.

Mar 21, 2009 03:51 PM #56
Larry Estabrooks
Independent Real Estate Agent - Moncton, NB
100% representation means NEVER DUAL AGENCY !

Rich - sub-contractor and independent contractor has nothing to do with real estate licensing law. It has to do with income tax law. In most real estate licensing jurisdictions a salesperson is a licensed representative of the Agency or Brokerage. Another "urban legend" explained.

Mar 21, 2009 04:30 PM #57
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Active Rain has done some wonderful things for me SEO wise.  I'm not sure I have the knowledge yet to do it on another platform. I do need to back it all up.  Thank you for the reminder.

Mar 21, 2009 06:09 PM #58
Christopher Johnston
The Johnston Team - Metairie, LA

I love ActiveRain because you get more Google Juice than I ever could on my own with a WordPress blog or something similar. Just the other day someone searched for my real estate company and the town I live in and I came up higher than the company's website in Google. I was number one and two and the company wass number 3. Both of my results were from ActiveRain.

Mar 21, 2009 11:30 PM #59
Colleen Fischesser Northwest Property Shop
RE/MAX Advantage | Managing Broker - Chelan, WA
A Tradition of Trust in the Pacific NW since 1990!

Ok, so I've been away from AR for a while....are you no longer "Active Rich"? or have you just resumed your old identity?

Mar 22, 2009 04:38 AM #60
Elaine Hanson
Partners Trust Real Estate - Topanga, CA
REALTOR - Topanga, CA Real Estate Agent

Hi Rich - just checking in on you and I see you are fine and dandy :)

I'm changing over my brokerage stuff, too and it seems endless on the web! AR was the easy part.  AR is always the easiest part of the web to work with, newbie or veteran.

Mar 22, 2009 04:57 AM #61
Susie Blackmon
Ocala, FL
Ocala, Horses, Western Wear, Horse Farms, Marketing

Hi Rich, I LOVE Active Rain and am most appreciative of the things I have learned, the people I have met, and the opportunities that have arisen because of the time and effort I have extended and expended here on AR, as well as has been extended by others on AR to me.The big difference to me is merely rules and boundaries that must be enforced on AR which don't apply when you have your own blog; but then again you don't have near the Google juice starting out on your brand new blog!

Those of us who travel to the beat of a different drum, and who don't care to fit between the boring, circus elephant follower parameters (and I don't mean here on AR... just in life in general), are very used to traveling on our own, but in the long run we are appreciated and noticed because we do stay outside of the box, and are true to ourselves. Sometimes that is difficult to do here on AR... big girl panties and all! XXOO

Also, worrying about ownership of content is a waste of time IMHO. If you are going to put anything on the internet, it's out there regardless of how many laws are imposed, and there is no way to control what happens in the long run, unless you have mega-bucks and are so convinced that what you post is that valuable. Geez.


Mar 22, 2009 07:18 AM #62
Emelyn Morris-Sayre

Hi Rich, great tips and good points for conversation. I will now start backing up my posts....This is what I love about ActiveRain...people sharing good ideas and helpful information to assist us all in better managing our business and communication efforts.  Thank you and everyone else who has commented on your post.

Mar 22, 2009 12:41 PM #63
Lisa Hill
Florida Property Experts - Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach Real Estate

Got crying out loud! Are those stupid rumors still circulating? I blog on both Word Press and Active Rain. I get good SEO from both. And I put the little Copyscape button at the bottom of everything. But that's just to ward off the cheaters. Geez. Some people need to get lives. BUT, I will admit, I was VERY angry the other morning when AR decided to do server maintenance and lost about 30 minutes of changes I had made to a blog I had saved in Draft mode the day before. And I'll be darned if the same thing didn't happen again the very next day! Has anyone ever heard of alerting the members that the system will be taken down for server maintenance at a certain time? The MMORPG I play starts sending messages across the middle of the screen about 2 hours before the down time. Then the start a 30 minute countdown. Then they give a 10 minute warning... then a 5 minute warning... then in the last 30 seconds we get a message questioning our sanity for still being there. OK so I'm spoiled. But I'm just asking for an e-mail, or a message across the top of the screen. Even YouTube places on screen messages to let us know when the site is going down for maintenance... OK. I'm done ranting on your post. *skulks away quietly*

Mar 22, 2009 03:16 PM #64
Robert Hammerstein
Keller Williams Valley Realty - Hillsdale, NJ
Bergen County NJ Real Estate

Rich - Being newer to this than Lisa is I am still getting used to blogging. Great idea of backing up though. Not that I'll ever get Lisa to do that but maybe I will. Thanks to alerting me to this concept. Must get another HD now. Thanks.

Mar 23, 2009 11:28 AM #65
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®,CRS,
RE/MAX Professionals. - Tacoma, WA
Tacoma Washington Agent/Broker & Market Authority!

Rich, I believe we all hear these horror stories, in fact, I had a so called expert attack me twice for being afraid to leave the rain...


Mar 23, 2009 03:01 PM #66
Craig Schiller
Trempealeau, WI

Rich I have never worried about this... until now. Now I gotta back up my content? This blogging thing could be a full time job... easy.

Anyone want to hire a slightly used blogger?


Mar 24, 2009 09:14 AM #67
Gail Robinson
William Raveis Real Estate - Southport, CT
CRS, GRI, e-PRO Fairfield County, CT

I have an outside blog which was being hosted by a respectable company, but they lost all 200 of my posts when they switched to a new platform.  It was a hard lesson to learn, but I've found that it pays to post as many posts as I can on both AR and my outside blog.  Between the two blogs, I'm on Page 1 of Google for my market area.  In fact, I'm the ONLY real estate agent on Page 1 of Google for my market area.  Love it!

Mar 24, 2009 01:43 PM #68


In your post you mentioned that, if I wanted to move my content to another blog,  ActiveRain would compile all the data in whatever format I prefer and i could take it with me.

Can you elaborate?  Who would I contact?  What format is my current data in now?  Would they create a file that I could export to Wordpress?

This is something I would like to do, but I did not know where to start.


May 25, 2009 01:30 PM #69
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