I’m a big fan of Formula One racing. As a kid, my grandfather worked for Mobil Oil and one of my proudest possession was a scale model of “King Nigel” Nigel Mansell‘s Williams race car that he’d given me. It still sits proudly on my desk today.

So ActiveRain and Inman News‘ Project Blogger competion kicks off today – and I thought the F1 analogy was kind of appropriate. The green flag has just been waved and each team’s drivers have just set off on the big race.



Just to refresh your memories; my apprentice (or driver, as it were) is Kelly Kilpatrick, a REALTOR® with Gold Coast Realty in Ranch Santa Margarita (for more see Go Team Orca).

Her personality and enthusiam for the project was what made me pick her out of the field and I’m confident she’ll do extremely well; but the key to any winning F1 team is not just having the best driver or car, but also having the best team there to support them. I’m happy to say I’ve pulled together an incredible team to support Kelly.

Loren Nason, of the Future of Real Estate Technology blog and Your Local Tech Consulting, stepped up to be my Crew Chief and has been Kelly’s goto guy for all questions relating to email, hosting, WordPress etc. As per the Project Blogger rules, the participant must be responsible for all costs; but Loren was very kind and provided the hosting space to Team Orca for free.

Between the two of us, we’ve spent the last few weeks getting Kelly up to speed on blogging; familiarizing her with the WordPress platform, helping her out with any technical questions and just letting her concentrate on honing her writing skills while we took care of the all the preparations.

To that end, we set her up with a test car to take out before giving her the keys to the race car. She put together a hosted blog at WordPress.com where she could spin her tires a little – Rancho Santa Margarita – Key to the City.

But now that we’re ready to roll, please check out Kelly’s new blog – Rancho Santa Margarita Lifestyles.

The Strategy

Our Race Day strategy likely echoes many of the other teams – that is, we are pursuing a “hyper local” approach and focusing specifically on Rancho Santa Margarita (known as RSM to residents).

We’ve specifically downplayed a hard sell real estate angle and decided to focus on building the site as a valuable community resource. This will ultimately allow Kelly to broaden the scope of what she can write about in her blog and position herself as a resident, mother, citizen as well a respected neighborhood expert.

The Sponsors

Of course, the end goal is ultimately to drive business so I also broadened the scope of this project a bit. To me blogging is only one component of a successful online marketing strategy and is really just the front door to your business. And so, just like an F1 team, I found some sponsors that could help bring ALL of Kelly’s Internet marketing efforts to a whole new level.

We wanted readers to be able to search for homes in the RSM area so we built an IDX search into the blog itself as a way to build some stickyness to the site and keep readers around and keep them interested.


Diverse Solutions gave Kelly a free subscription to their dsSearchAgent product (for more see New Real Estate Search Mashups), an IDX search interface ‘mashup’ which we have placed on a separate page on the blog.

The result is the Real Estate Search at Rancho Santa Margarita Lifestyles. Read Loren’s post on how he implemented this.

Of course, if we’ve got interested clients, we need to send them somewhere and Kelly asked me early on about upgrading her existing web site.

Ubertor kindly gave Kelly a free 1-year subscription to their real estate website software (for more see Get on the Net: Ubertor) which you can see at www.kellykilpatrick.myubertor.com – our goal will be to push clients to Kelly’s site from the RSM blog.

Net cost – less than $20 for a few domain names from GoDaddy.


Getting to the starting line doesn’t mean much unless people know you’re competing – so a couple of things I did right out the gates was create a Real Estate Blog entry on the InmanWiki Real Estate Blog Directory and add it to Zillow’s Directory of Local Real Estate Blogs.

There are many more ideas we have for promoting the blog which I will be sharing in upcoming posts.

Race Day

So now that the day is finally here and the flag has dropped, I’m reasonably comfortable that Kelly stands as good a chance as any for a podium finish once the checkered flag is waved this summer.

I’ll see you all at Blogger’s Connect, August 1st in San Francisco, when the winners are announced.

[This post was cross posted on the ActiveRain Project Blogger group]

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