Why Should We Invest Our Time and Money in ActiveRain?

Industry Observer

I was talking with a very busy, successful Realtor in Lane County, Oregon recently and suggested that she should become an ActiveRain member.  Her response was to essentially ask why it was worth her time and money.  This is a question that all good businesses should ask themselves constantly, not just at a year-end review when planning for a new year.


So I ask my fellow ActiveRain members, “Why should I invest my time and money in ActiveRain?”  The question is not a rhetorical one.  Businesses that provide goods and services like ActiveRain must always strive to provide a high perceived value for its customers in exchange for their investment.  Does ActiveRain do this, whether as a free member or a Rainmaker?


I am not an ActiveRain newbie.  I'm not on the level of Russel Ray, Todd Clark, or Lenn Harley, but I'm not a novice either.  I’ve been an ActiveRain member since 2009 and a Rainmaker for almost a year.  I’ve posted almost 700 times to my blog, although those have been mostly listings for my clients.  I’ve made almost 1400 comments and received over 1000 in return.  I’ve invited 29 new members and most of these have accepted my invitation.  The 370,000+ points I’ve earned currently rank me 2nd in Lane County, 5th in Oregon, and in the top 350 amongst ActiveRain’s 218,000+ members.  Is all this time and money invested worth it?




That depends in part on what an active member wants to get out of it.  After sifting through many posts, I’ve gleaned a lot of good information and ideas that I could apply to my business and my clients’ businesses.  I don’t have to be a Rainmaker to obtain this.


A real estate virtual assistant’s two main target markets are Realtors and loan officers.  These are the primary users  of ActiveRain.  I rank 1st in points among all virtual assistants on ActiveRain and am one of a relative few virtual assistants active on the Rain.  Yet I’ve only been contacted once in a vague way by a Realtor on ActiveRain inquiring about my services.


My business has a waiting list of prospective clients and my workload is too heavy as it is.  But what of those people who are hoping that ActiveRain will provide a good source of leads?  Not one of the Realtors who I invited has received a client referral or lead through ActiveRain and I’ve seen less than five buyer or seller leads come through this year for Lane or Linn County, Oregon.


Is it because ActiveRain has a network of 218,000+ members?  Or does it?  AR has been around since 2007 and grown rapidly.  But how many of these “members” are really members actively contributing to the community?  Points are a good indicator of member activity.  Over 216,000 of our members have 100,000 points or fewer.  Nearly 200,000 of our members have fewer than 8700 points.


Is it because members can interact with other top real estate professionals across the U.S. and Canada?  I’m well aware of who the top Realtors are in my area.  Only one local Realtor in the top 150 for sales volume in 2011 is active on AR.  The very few other active local AR members have less than $400,000 in closed transactions for 2011.


Local members that were once very active bloggers, participating in blogging challenges and regularly commenting on posts, are now nowhere to be seen on AR.  Their point totals may give them a high ranking, but the number remains unchanged as the months creep by.


AR is a social media blogging platform for real estate professionals.  It must be the Google juice that makes AR such a good investment of time and money.   An AR post of mine was featured recently (http://activerain.com/blogsview/2647519/what-do-realtors-really-want-from-their-lender-when-they-refer-a-client-).  It has generated almost 4100 views, over 2700 clicks, and 115 comments to date.  My profile has over 4500 views to date.  Yet I can’t point to even one lukewarm lead for possible business from all this activity.


Blogging requires a significant investment of time.  Our time has a much greater overall value than the monthly or annual cost of a Rainmaker account.  I have been unable to convince even one of the top Realtors that I work with that this investment in blogging is better than spending their time and money on their sphere or other lead generating activities.  Blogging is a long-term strategy that few are willing to commit to for more than a few months without seeing solid results.


These issues aren’t new, and I’m sure that the AR brain trust is always looking for ways to create value, energize and retain current members, and entice new members to join, become active, and upgrade to a paid membership.  Building a solid real estate business foundation requires generating a steady pipeline of good leads, converting them to clients, and resulting in closed transactions.


For many AR members, learning SEO and becoming a proficient blogger is part of a long-term strategy to fill their pipeline with leads.  Meanwhile, top producers are closing transactions and collecting commission checks.  Are these top producers in your community using AR as a component in their success or are they successful because of other things that they are doing?


I have invested quite a bit of time each day in ActiveRain for my clients and me.  Every day I strive to demonstrate to my clients why my service is worth their investment.   They trust my judgment and recommendations on how we can help to build their business.  I'd like ActiveRain to be a part of that.


Can you help to convince me:


Why should we invest our time and money in ActiveRain rather than spending it elsewhere?

Posted by

Rick Obst is an Arizona native who moved to Eugene, Oregon in 2005 and fell in love with the verdant Pacific Northwest.  He enjoys photography and discovering the many people, places, and events that make this part of the world so special.

To learn more about Eugene, Lane County, and western Oregon, visit 365 and More Things to do in Lane County, Oregon on Facebook.  You'll see hundreds of pictures and links to discover the beauty and attractions of this special area.



Re-Blogged 3 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Paula Hathaway, REALTOR, LBA 12/26/2011 09:25 AM
  2. Lenn Harley 12/26/2011 10:08 AM
  3. Dorie Dillard 12/30/2011 02:53 PM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Oregon Lane County Eugene
Rainmaking - Internet Marketing Strategies
Internet Lead Generation-How Best To Capture Your Audience
Free Online Marketing Ideas!
Addicted to Active Rain
ActiveRain Guerrilla Marketing Station
activerain benefits
why join activerain
is blogging worthhile

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Lorraine or Loretta Kratz
Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions. - San Marcos, CA
Certified Negotiation Consultants

Life in the fast lane. AR is interesting @ times, and can be very boring other times-when the feature post is about the same old same old, I have a tenancy to yawn.

Dec 30, 2011 09:54 PM #96
Jamie R. Bell
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Glastonbury, CT
GRI Your Central CT Realtor

Rick~what a thought provoking post. I had to bookmark so I can come back and read the rest of the comments to see others opinions. For me I will admit to being the on again off again blogger but it was really because I didn't see the value of what others had to offer me and how that could help me expand on my business. I believe there are certain resources that will give you an actually $$ return on an investment. And other things that will enhance my offerings as a Realtor to my clients and thus that will bring me the $$. I do trust that as I make a presence on the site (now that I have found a confidence in my own writing and what I have to say is getting comments) that others will see me as an expert in my area and that will help me too.

I see blogging and AR as a spinning plate, it will help just like my SOI, advertising (print & online) and my face-to-face networking.

With the continued challenges in the market I see others that will add this to their pipeline as well, we will just be ahead of them. I would also love to see AR offer more incentives for as well.

I love all the comments. Great post!!!

Here's to a great 2012!

Dec 31, 2011 12:49 AM #97
Lisa Wetzel
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates - Carson City, NV
CDPE, SFR carsonvalleyland.com

I have learned so much from AR members! So Many tips and suggestions!  I can't imagine what I would have done these past few years without their input!

Dec 31, 2011 03:50 AM #98
Susan Miller
Ravinia Realty & Management LLC - Orland Park, IL

This has been a great topic.  I've been lurking on AR for awhile, instead of blogging.  It's been a time issue more than anything.  But my goal for the New Year is to be more active on AR and learn from the great agents across the country.  I need to find out more about this "juice" thing you speak of.  Happy New Year to everyone.


Dec 31, 2011 09:18 AM #99
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

I consider Active Rain to be a valuable resource for real estate information. A multitude of ideas and opinions can be found with a few keystrokes.  I have given and received referrals from great agents discovered on AR over the last two years. AR provides us with an opportunity to get to know the personalities of agents around the county.  That is an advantage in finding an agent for a client who is moving out of the Dallas area.

Dec 31, 2011 06:23 PM #100
Edward Gilmartin
CRE - Boston, MA

Active Rain is a great information resource. If you need infromation on lead paint, mold, and other things you may come across in your daily work with the sale and renovation of homes.

Jan 01, 2012 02:07 AM #101
Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group
Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001 - Gaithersburg, MD
301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA

I supposes this is a personal question to each of us. .what I consider a benefit may not be a benefit for others. .as a lone Broker with team of 3 agents I need the interaction between my peers. . and that is a huge benefit for me.. .

Jan 01, 2012 03:38 AM #102
John F Muscarella
Broker/Owner, Venice, FL, Florida's Suncoast

I'm a newbie since end of Nov. with 15,500 pts and 11 blogs.  I agree I'm still out on whether AR provides and leads but I have seen movement in my page rankings and that may just be worth the effort I have put in.

Jan 01, 2012 04:02 AM #103
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

More than 85% of real estate licenses leave the business in 12 months ! Why- they completely misjudged the real estate business ! Nobody told them that they needed to hit the ground running in Lead Generation !

On the other hand I have taught Prospecting to thousands(no exageration) of agents over the last 30 years sometimes in 7 hour sessions. Most in attendence take notes and participate in class discussions. But upon leaving class almost no one will prospect in a sustained way to build a successful real estate practice !

Blogging is LEAD GENERATION and a longterm way to brand yourself locally. It will take over 1,000 LOCALISM blog articles before you start to penetrate a specific market(lead-wise) on a consistant basis. Plain and simple most agents want to get rich quick and WILL NOT pay the price to build a successful business worth owning ! AR is no different than the need to Prospect !

Jan 02, 2012 01:12 AM #104
Julia Maher
Nestings: Connecticut Home Staging and Model Homes - Fairfield, CT
Connecticut Home Stager

60% of my business is from leads generated by my presence here on ActiveRain!!!  This platform is not a directory; you have to work it by blogging about things you care about.  Although I'm grandfathered, I'd sign up again in a minute!

Jan 02, 2012 02:58 AM #105
Timothy Mattingly
Louisville Homes Team Louisville KY louisvillehomesreport.com - Louisville, KY
Louisville Homes for Sale

It is simple for me- I come here to learn. No more complicated than that. I became a rainmaker recently to help some with Google and the like- but for me those are by products of membership. Learning from others and sharing occasionally is my reason for logging in 

Jan 02, 2012 04:06 AM #106
Edward Gilmartin
CRE - Boston, MA

Active Rain is a great place to network and learn new trends in real estate industry. There are always changes in laws and changes in financing that everyone needs to keep up on.

Jan 02, 2012 04:44 AM #107
Wayne Goss
Keller Williams - Punta Gorda, FL

Realtor.org (NAR) Source...the top 10 methods home sellers use to find an agent in 2011

1.   39 percent – referred by (or is) a friend, neighbor, or relative
2.   22 percent – used agent previously to buy or sell a home
3.     5 percent – referred through employer or relocation company
4.     4 percent – personal contact by agent (telephone, email, etc.)
5.     4 percent – saw contact information on for sale / open house sign
6.     4 percent – visited an open house and met agent
7.     4 percent – referred by another real estate agent or broker
8.     3 percent – internet web site
9.     2 percent – direct mail (newsletter, flyer, postcard, etc.)
10.   1 percent – walked into or called office and agent was on duty

The Internet results in only 3% ??? So why bother with the Internet let alone ActiveRain. There must be something more that the statistics do not reveal. Some people use ActiveRain as a part of their lead generation, while others do not. The latter gain many things besides just lead generation. Per your statement "For those of you reading and on the fence about AR, it is a tremendous resource and social media platform for real estate professionals. It has rich content and a free flow of ideas, knowledge, and opinions that can be well worth the investment of time and money."

Those people who are generating leads most likely have successfully found avenues that drive traffic to their blog. Those avenues include SEO, a loyal following, word of mouth, interesting content and many other things that you can think of to drive traffic to their blog. Just having an ActiveRain account is not enough. If you want lead generation from it then you must nurture all avenues to it by whatever means possible.

Top Producers don't need ActiveRain to produce lead generation. They already have everything in place to be successful. If a Top Producer did use ActiveRain it would be as a compliment to their already established business plan. The rewards of which would depend upon that individual and what they wanted to gain from it.

I believe that as time goes on that the 3% statistic will grow and become a bigger part of the pie regarding lead generation. ActiveRain will play a part in that, depending upon how a person decides to use it. No one has to use ActiveRain for lead generation, nor does it have to be used for that purpose. It can be used as a testimonial to ones competence and expertise in their field.

So in conclusion, ActiveRain serves a community in many different ways. Depending upon each individuals desires within the community, different results and expectations are unique to each person. All ways and methods are worthwhile and rewarding no matter what level of effort is put into it. For those people who only have a hundred points and drop by the wayside, or lurk in the background they gain from the experience too. Using a yard stick you would think that those with a lot of points would stand to gain more. Like anything else it is a tool that can be used with a huge amount of potential. So it is not a matter of who uses it or to what extent it is used. It is a matter of intent and desired results one expects from ActiveRain.

Jan 02, 2012 04:54 AM #108
Tom Stynes
StynesGroup Inc a Keller Williams team - Sunnyvale, CA
Silicon Valley Real Estate Simplified

To all commenters above, great conversation! Thank you Rick for writing your post and making us think. Too often we follow the pack without questioning why. It's always great, especially as we start a new year, to evaluate how we are spending our time and dollars to improve our business. It's clear from the above comments many AR members love the community and are now reaping the benefits of the many hours they investing in reading and writing posts. You can also see analytical data that shows investing your time and money in other lead generation efforts might be more effective. It doesn't matter who is right in this argument, it’s great to see passion expressed in the defense of one’s beliefs.

Jan 02, 2012 08:07 AM #109
Rick Obst
Eugene, OR

Wayne & Tom, Thank you for your thoughtful comments.  It is my intention in this post to get people to think about how they spend their time relative to how they benefit.  These benefits don't have to be monetary either.  AR inspires great loyalty in some real estate professionals, which means that they receive high perceived value.  Does it generate new business?  Not immediately.  But the professional knowledge gained definitely makes us better at our craft.  Thank you to everyone here who shares their expertise, knowledge, and opinions!

Jan 02, 2012 01:48 PM #110
Wendy Hayden
Photographer, Home Stager, ePRO - Richmond, VA
Chesterfield, Richmond & Powahatan

I started reading this blog a couple of days ago and was following the comments because I really wanted to see what the consensus was on lead generation from blogging on Activerain. This morning I get a call from a prospective buyer who found me online because I listed a house on her street and blogged about it.  I guess I answered my own question about lead generation!  I had another potential buyer who found me through a listing I had blogged about last Summer.  I guess you never know what will appeal to a lead and make them call you!

Jan 03, 2012 08:59 AM #111
Kathy Dowd
RE/MAX Realty Team, 239 220 4133 - Punta Gorda, FL
Consider it SOLD

AR has a lot of ideas and information for Realtor!

Jan 22, 2012 01:07 AM #112
Rick Obst
Eugene, OR

A few weeks after I wrote this post, I had an unusual series of events happen as a result of another post I wrote for ActiveRain.  The string of successes that stemmed from a single featured post helped to answer my own question about whether spending time on ActiveRain is worthwhile.

Jan 22, 2012 01:55 AM #113
Matt Robinson
Professional Investors Guild - Pensacola, FL

I love how ActiveRain features posts like this so you get absolutely pummelled by the active members about how great ActiveRain is.  I had the same thing happen a couple years ago.  However, I have received a few leads recently from the Rain, and I do think it's a viable lead generation strategy if done consistently and effectively, neither of which I am all that good at.

Jul 30, 2012 02:57 AM #114
Rick Obst
Eugene, OR

Matt, I wrote the post originally to give voice to the doubts of many AR newbies wondering whether their investment of time here was worth it.  Plus I was curious to see what comments would be left by the more experienced members.  My goal was to obtain solid anecdotal evidence that showed how to use ActiveRain to get tangible results.

Jul 30, 2012 11:41 PM #115
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