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No audience

The Guardian Unlimited published a strong article about blogging not meeting expectations. This line said it all: “there are still 120,000 new [blogs] every day around the world, notwithstanding the slowdown in the rate of growth — making it much more difficult to gain an audience.”

Building audience on the Web is not easy. I remember when we were managing 600,000 Google keywords at HomeGain and a real estate broker angry at our success said, “… and you get all of your traffic free and they are my customers.”

I wish: if it had been free, my margin would have been much higher.

The root of Inman.com traffic came from us covering a scandal at NAR in 1996 and publishing what we discovered on the Web, an early version of a blog. Realtors were thirsty for the inside scoop, since traditional trade pubs would never consider turning back the veil on the powerful trade group. Suddenly, we had readers for a new trade publication. As a consumer writer, it was not my plan to go in that direction — it was a lucky break, which does not come often.

I also remember when agents suddenly scrambled to build Web pages, much like they are publishing blogs today. Then, one morning they all woke up and realized no one was visiting their sites, which is what companies like Realtor.com and HomeGain capitalized on.

This will happen to real estate bloggers (it is already happening). The question then: is an audience of one enough of a thrill? No, it is too much work, which is why you will begin to see blogs with no posts. Cream rises to the top as bloggers with writing skills and keen insight build audience. But even that audience will be small and conversion rates to business or ad dollars will be even smaller.

Blogging is publishing, which is driven by some business fundamentals.

One of my favorite quotes is from Ted Turner: “Early to bed, early to rise, work all day and advertise.”

I also think we will see more and more agents convert their Web pages to blogs. Blogs are a better way to emotionally connect to their customers, more like meeting someone in person. Then, you will see agents paying for ways to get traffic to their Blog sites, as they do their Web pages. They will also begin to spend more time thinking about conversion as they did with their Web pages, etc., etc. You see the cycle.

If I was an agent, I would convert my static Web page to a blog today or at least tonight before I went to bed. Great example here.

–Bradley Inman

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