SAN FRANCISCO — Ben Martin, director of communications and new media at the Virginia Association of Realtors, has a recipe for blogging.
"I try to spend four times as much time listening and reading than writing because then I can start to cite other people’s stuff," said Martin, who spoke during a Bloggers Connect Workshop on Wednesday at the Real Estate Connect conference. "You can develop the readership that you want by listening and then saying, ‘I want to engage with that type of audience.’ "
Some bloggers choose to write for themselves and attract an audience while others research the audience first. Benn Rosales, founder of the AgentGenius blog, said he focuses on a specific audience first and curtails his content to that fit.
Meanwhile, Mike Simonsen, co-founder and CEO for real estate data company Altos Research, said he begins by writing about his interests and trusts that the audience will follow.
"I write for myself — things that I find compelling — and it’s a coincidence that there are geeks out there who like similar things that I do," said Simonsen, who has been blogging for three years. "It’s fascinating to me, and that’s what gets published."
Blogging commentary is open to personal style. At the session, the panelists discussed their own approaches to their own blogs. Sarah Hromack, editor of Curbed SF, warned the audience to be aware of the information people are dispersing through blogs and social networking sites.
"I suggest people pay attention to how you disperse information through those channels," Hromack said. "I have a Twitter account that I use as an editor. I follow a lot of agents, but I don’t want to hear about your cat. So I think it’s something to be mindful of."
Whether you post information about a household pet or your personal life on the weekends, it’s always important to be aware of what is available about yourself and to whom. Another issue surfaced by panelists is how much personality or personal style should be injected into blogs.
Jeff Corbett, a panelist who writes for The Xbroker blog, said, "Whatever you write about, you got to have a passion for it. If you are laboring through something to write about it’s going to come across that way."
And Martin said, "I think there is a way you can inject a personality into your writing voice. Blogging is not for everybody; the answer is also: ‘it depends.’ "
Corbett said that he was an anonymous blogger at first. "When you have the freedom to write like that — where no one knows who you are — you tend to write different, compellingly. Because I was anonymous, I had a lot of people come out and try to find out who I was, how old I am, what state I was from."
With all the commentary blogs provide, what is a blogger to do when hit with a case of writer’s block?
"You have a whole city to pull from," said Rosales. "Write about what you know and what you love. I like hearing about people’s cats. But your dog is not the point — the point is to have a dialogue so you’ve got more than just a name and a picture to connect with."
In closing, Rosales reminded the room, "Stay away from reading your local competition. The last thing you want to do is end up in a battle with someone down the road. That’s politics. Stay in your world. I want to bring like-minded people to build relationships and get along with."
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