HomeGain announces personal blogging network for real estate agents:
Early this morning we launched a free consumer-facing blogging service for our hundreds of Source4Sellers customers.
HomeGain Source4Sellers Agents Profiles and Blogs are featured exclusively in an ad-free environment.
I'm not surprised to read this. I was asked by HomeGain general manager, Louis Cammarasano to be the first "guest real estate blogger" on HomeGain blog. While that weblog was geared towards his HomeGain customers (real estate agents), I've received two online loan applications (from consumers) as a result of my participation there. When Louis asked me to contribute, I accepted because of the chance to elevate the discussion of blogging versus paid search (HomeGain's popular PPC product is BuyerLink). What I realized after I started was that I was writing and linking from a Google Page Rank 7 website. I took a page from the Dustin Luther blogging playbook (linkation, linkation, linkation), and used my position there as an opportunity to:
a) talk to real estate agents
b) further syndicate my Mortgage Rates Report
c) build some quality backlinks for my 8-month old weblog
“Since the success of our agent customers is HomeGain’s mission, we wish to provide them with blogs of their own to supplement the visitors, phone calls, emails and leads that we send them,” Louis continued. “The Agent Blogs offer Source4Sellers real estate agents yet another contact point with potential home buyers and sellers and further lessens the reliance on the lead form as a way of attracting potential prospects.
Louis' quote doesn't surprise me at all. When he approached me to start this group weblog, I insisted that he not treat it as the afterthought he considered it at the time. When I explained that it was important for me to associate my "brand" with excellence, he took it to heart and built a group site filled with some prominent real estate bloggers.
I also got a chance to watch Louis develop this product. While I didn't KNOW he was headed here (until yesterday), my gut told me he would. I encouraged him to offer such an option for his agent clients from the beginning and Louis said he would "when he realized it could add value for them". I'm guessing he found that value this Spring.
Greg Swann broke the news first about the HomeGain release:
Both Brian Brady and Mike Farmer write on the HomeGain blog, so I hope they’ll keep us informed about how the new blogging platform is working out. Free blogging platforms are not always a slam-dunk success, but I think HomeGain’s offering makes more sense than does ActiveRain, for instance. I have felt that free weblogs would be a better solution than discussion fora on Zillow.com: Weblogging creates a middle-management structure, providing a cadre of volunteers to keep bad behavior from oscillating out of control.
Not a bad compliment for someone who categorizes Web 1.0 as "Chokepoint Charlie".
Here's where Greg is wrong. Activerain.com will yield far superior results for the "industry talking to industry players" than Homegain weblog will. The connections agents and originators will make on ActiveRain come from the voluntary participation on an advertising-supported site. The stickiness of the points system will continue to drive Active Rain as the ultimate real estate industry destination for real estate professionals. The "virtual water cooler", to which Jon Washburn likens Active Rain, will be hard to duplicate.
Here's where Greg is correct. HomeGain agent blogs could very well be the piece of the puzzle they missed at HomeGain. My initial criticism of HomeGain was that they were a CD operating in a MP3 world; effective but fast becoming a dinosaur. To continue with that analogy, my opinion about CDs and HomeGain have changed. We still need a tangible back up device for digital audio and HomeGain offers that equivalent in online real estate marketing. HomeGain's performance for delivering focused buyer clients to agent's web suites is unparalleled.
Moreover, agents have an opportunity to "plug-in" to a Googlicious platform with "baked in" SEO . The result? Higher rankings in the crowded GoogleSearch. Long-tail searches from a PR7 platform should yield superior results to any other real estate blogging platform available. The offering will be consumer focused so I believe the results will supercede any consumer-facing real estate blog platform available.
What originally started as a "predatory" Web 1.0 company, positioning itself between the agent and internet client, has fast become a useful paid online marketing compliment for the tech-savvy REALTOR.
The interesting feature of the HomeGain agent blogs is the library of content they'll offer.
In the coming months we will be adding syndicated content to supplement our real estate agents’ blogging efforts.
While I expect commenters here to criticize HomeGain for being a "predator", I further expect those commenters to criticize the ability to use "pre-written content" on their blogs. We've been through that argument here before. You'll say ghost-written content won't work because it's not authentic and I'll show proof that it does.
I'll ask you to not try to draw me into a debate about either of those issues. I recognize the evolution of HomeGain and I've seen proof that paid-blogging can work. Notwithstanding, the news here is that an effective online real estate marketer just offered a powerful tool for real estate professionals; let's see if we can keep the discussion to that topic.