Jumped The Shark? [Active Rain]

fonze Jumped The Shark? [Active Rain]


Active Rain came at the wrong time

Active Rain came into my life at precisely the wrong time. I already had committed to writing my own blog, at that time on the RealTown platform, and couldn’t find a way to keep two blogs active simultaneously. (Times have changed a bit, given how thin I’ve become stretched the past year.)

Some have called Active Rain the real estate professionals’ water cooler. Maybe it still is to some degree. But as AR has grown over time, there seemed to be too many voices yelling over each other for attention. There were minor spats involving the points system – how the points were earned, how bonus points were distributed, who was on the front page – all of the kinds of things you normally move past in high school if not earlier.

As AR broached the 40,000-member mark, I came to believe it had jumped the shark.

Throw in the adoption of Google Reader and RSS feeds, and Active Rain eventually fell by the wayside in my own daily routine. Even it’s offspring, Localism, held little sway.

Active Rain’s SEO power

Here’s one of the many dilemmas I’ve had over time – many use Active Rain as more of an industry blog and keep their local content on their own blog. But one of AR’s primary lures is its SEO power. Consumers can find these blogs fairly easily (not necessarily more easily than our own blogs, but I digress) and are they going to be attracted by the industry discussion? What happens when the public sees your Members Only post because they too have signed up?



Advertise at AG

Who owns the content?

There also was the flap when Move nearly purchased AR. The content on our own blogs was our own, we were told, but if so then what exactly was Move buying? If they were purchasing content we owned, when were our checks going to be cut? To my mind, anything I write there becomes the property of AR in reality if not in theory.

Yet here’s the thing … I’ve never completely written off the AR concept. I don’t log in more than once a month or so, but I still log in. I still debate whether to jump back in and write some Members Only posts, dispense some advice to the multitudes who don’t seem to know there’s a larger blogging world outside Active Rain’s borders.

And yeah, I’ll take some points. I’ll never get to the top of the ranks in Arizona – wiser folks than I figured out how to game the system to a degree I never can match. But still, there’s no harm in points, right?

Not yet convinced

I’m convinced of Active Rain’s decreased utility yet open to persuasion. Tell me why you still are there, what keeps you going there that you can’t find in a 100 other places. Tell me why you remained after the Move fiasco and if you believe the advice being dispensed is as good as it once was.

Maybe you’ll manage to bring me back into the Rain.

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.



Weigh in...

  • http://www.clientcentricrealestate.com/ Matthew Rathbun

    Jonathan,

    I’m with you on a lot of these points. I think AR is great for a lot of folks, I simply have trouble finding time to write to it. I write for five other blogs in addition to my own and most of those want weekly (and meaningful) posts. I’ve just ran out of time or new topics for AR, however I do go in and read articles from friends.

    My issue is that because a lot of folks who writer in there use it for a soapbox, but have little education in their chosen topics, it become a liability for them. Lots of fair housing violations and unlawful practices come of there – having said that, I think it’s just a window to what is really occurring in the market place.

    I typically gravitate to those bloggers who maintain their own (out of AR) blogs. Generally speaking those folks aren’t as mean spirited as some of the others and the external bloggers seem to be taking a bit more time to research their posts.

    AR is a great outlet for some emerging writers, however. I’ve never been really interested in the point system and I’ve gotten involved just to be involved. Now…it’s a matter of no time to contribute.

  • http://www.blogcda.com Christina Ethridge

    Jonathan – From my mind to your words . . . I visited AR yesterday again after being away about a month . . . Aside from my favorite writers, I’m not willing to take the time to plow through the junk to find the gold. Now, I was very active on there up until I started writing my own blog in October. That blog is now my focus.

    But, I still get long tail leads constantly with AR – so I’ve recently decided to put something up at least once a week there, even if it is just summarizing and pointing to various posts on my outside blog. I subscribe to a couple of writers in my feed reader – but, I don’t subscribe (through my feed reader) to anyone on AR who consistently has members only posts – I just don’t have the time to go to another website and log in and read.

    This is about building a business (for me anyway), not about ‘community’ – community is just a benefit, not the purpose (for me).

  • http://www.bonzai.squarespace.com/blog Mike Farmer

    I think AR is missing its opportunity to leverage its traffic into something more meaningful and useful. I once said it’s like writing graffiti on a busy subway wall.

    With that much traffic they ought to be coming out with smaller, focused value added additions monthly. By doing some different things on a regular basis it could stay fresh and interesting. Just one idea is they could have weekly state profiles/contests where bloggers from that state blog about the real estate market there, with the winnning blogger getting profiled and recognized — it would be useful for the consumer, encourage participation about focused topics and good for the agent/blogger.

    That’s just an idea, and they might have done something like that. There are many innovations they could make to keep it interesting and useful.

    To be honest, though, I haven’t participated in a long time, so I will go check it out to see what they’ve done. (I checked it out) I think they are going in the right direction with the referral function, although I’d do it much differently.

  • http://www.reesespiecesofrealestate.com Elaine Reese

    I agree. AR has lost most of its value. They opted for quantity rather than quality, and don’t delete or banish the “graffiti” as Mike mentions. A lot of the good bloggers have gone to focus on their personal blogs.

    After the Move issue, I deleted all my photos on Localism, and all my posts except those that were generating Google Juice. Now I only post listings there.

    My concern became that I was afraid that eventually Google would smack them for allowing the plagiarized posts, the junk posts done only for points, and the illegal issues both in posts as well as their Q&A’s. I didn’t want to lose my SEO efforts, so now only work on my personal blog which does much better for me than AR did.

  • http://www.c21ag.com Bill Lublin

    Matthew- With so your extensive experience in this world, I was pleased with myself when I read your posts – and found that I wasn’t missing something at AR when I looked around – :-)
    I agree that when people blog because they have passion and a belief the results are so much more interesting then when they add words just for points – the dialogues that result are more interesting and provide so much more information to the community -

  • http://www.daltonsazhomes.com Jonathan Dalton

    Matthew – I think I have two AR blogs in my feed reader these days. That’s about it.

    Christina – that’s actually what caused the post. I may end up with a listing that came to me through AR. I still get a lead every month or two. Sometimes makes me wonder if there’s be more if I were active again, though I’m still amazed anything comes through the miasma.

    Mike – they run a ton of contests there but I don’t remember something like this

    Elaine – Deleting the photos makes sense to me. I think Teresa was one of the early ones who had urged against posting pics and building their content when you could do it yourself.

    Bill – depends on the dialogue. There’s still a ton of “great post” comments out there just to collect the 25 points and run.

  • http://rerevealed.com Lani Anglin-Rosales

    [I don't use Active Rain]

    *Like JD said, people battle to be featured on the front page. How? By earning points for posting articles, updating profile data, commenting, or any other action taken on AR.

    *Point racking is done by people writing endless fluff pieces (ooh- if I write four times today, I’ll get points and get featured, hooray!).

    *Point racking is done by commenting on every article seen (ever wonder why you see so many “nice article” comments on AR? It’s not because you’re popular but because someone just peed on your article for points).

    [I wish it was different]

    *I truly believe that the entire environment would be different should the points system disappear overnight. Less fluff pieces, less faux comments and more quality content provided for the reasons non-AR writers write (to be informative, to be a part of an intellectual community, to learn from others, etc).

    *Like JD said, the Google juice is incredible. Articles on AR usually come up before an identical article on a non-AR blog! It’s like Active Rain and Google are flirting under the bleachers while we’re not looking- c’mon Google, flirt with Word Press, please!

    If AR removes the point system and (as Mike Farmer suggested) creates an alternative that encourages quality content, they will instantly have a praise-worthy product that Google loves. But until then, the frequent watercooler gossip and “nice article” comments just aren’t for me.

  • http://www.neerpat.com Jeannette

    I have used AR for alot of reasons.

    First I have learned so much from everyone there. I am still fairly new to real estate and have lots to learn. Everyone there gives so freely of there knowledge.

    Second I found AR first. And it was the only thing I had known for so long. Once I started learning of all these different blogs I could use I started outward. I still use AR, I have seen My google rank go up from them and will contiune to use them.

    Yes I have seen lots of arguements go through, I generally stay out of them. Do I look for a feature, NO. My concern is to reach the public. Yes I have had to features, was extremely suprised by it. I am not a writer and was taken aback by it.

    I see your concerns and understand. But I will contiue to use AR for all my reasons I listed above!

  • http://www.c21ag.com Bill Lublin

    Hey Lani – If they flirt under the bleachers what do you think the kids will look like? :-)

  • http://www.yourguidetolivingingreaterbirmingham.com stephen wolfe

    I can understand the mixed feelings about AR since it is not always used properly, however because of AR I grew as a blogger, learned tons about social networking and web 2.0, and have lots of new “friends” and mentors who continue to teach me a lot and further my growth as a professional. For this… I appreciate AR!

  • http://ThePutnamScoop.com Sarah Cooper

    Why am I still in AR? Rich Jacobson. That’s pretty much it, and I’m not kidding.

    I have seen to much abuse in there (and yeah, got hit with a little) and in spite of the fact that I have had an overwhelmingly positive experience there, I just don’t like the slams. I write a little, always members only, and I rarely venture off my own blog there. Seems to ruin the whole point, so I’m just not there so much.

    I worry about who owns what and how it could be used. As my stuff is generally off topic I don’t think whoever buys AR would want it, but still. I like having control of my own stuff. I just do.

  • http://ThePutnamScoop.com Sarah Cooper

    Pssst, Mr. Wolfe!! Friends. Not “friends”. :).

  • http://www.kristalsellsdenver.com/denverdwellings/ Kristal Kraft

    Active Rain came into my life on an usual rainy weekend in Denver. It was early on, when there were only a couple hundred members and those didn’t post much. The place was so empty that when you blogged there was an echo.

    I was fascinated by the system, learning how it worked and continued to “play”. My friendly Denver competitor Bonnie Cox and I competed for the top spot in Denver and finally in Colorado. Initially it was all about points and positioning. Very little did it have to do with blogging good content. We made friends (and some enemies) but mostly we played. It was a game.

    As the network grew, friendships grew. All of a sudden a couple months into it, the place developed a personality. No longer were the things we did to get points in the beginning right anymore. What was once a hollow empty place now was filled with life and it began to have purpose.

    It was at that point I started blogging about how to do things. Not that I’m a Genius :0, but the needy on AR simply needed to know how to perform certain functions. The AR boys never got around to writing the “how to manual”. They having cut their teeth on Nintendo assumed that everyone knew how to use the system.

    Not.

    My simple “how to’s” grew into a nearly full time job. I became the “unofficial tech support”. Members emailed and called me for help at all hours of the day and night. At first it was fun, then it became a drag.

    Eventually life got in the way ( I lost my Dad to a long illness ). During that time AR ceased to have a purpose in my life. Stepping back I gained a perspective that was lacking during the initial exciting days. I discovered so many other things matter more.

    Duh.

    AR has some terrific posters who share all sorts of great knowledge. It is certainly the virtual water cooler where one can gather for a pick me up or to hear the latest buzz. It also is a huge time waster for many, myself included.

    Funny, I remember back when we first had pc’s in our offices. The agents didn’t really know much about them, but they knew how to play Solitaire. Walking down the hallway you could tell who was busy and who was not. The un-busy ones had no business because they spent their time playing Solitaire.

    It’s easy to fall into the Solitaire trap. AR is Web 2.0 Solitaire played in groups.

    Yes, I know we meet people, socialize and get business, but that should only be a portion of the pie agents draw from. If it’s the entire biz plan, they are in for a rude awakening.

    (I’m on the floor to avoid incoming…)

  • http://ColumbusBestBlog.com Maureen McCabe

    … but the points are redeemable for shoes right?

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    I was one of the first to join AR — before they even had a blogging platform. I watched a tight-knit community of people sharing ideas grow into….. well, I’m not sure what it’s grown in to. I haven’t been there in months.

    In the beginning, the points idea was probably a good one — it helped build the network. Now it’s just stupid.

    My glaring example of what goes on for points is this:

    When Lani’s brother died, I posted on AR about it. Why? Simple, I wanted to reach as many people as possible for donations to Aaron’s family. Call it selfish, I don’t care.

    You know what happened? That post got a few “how awful, I’m donating right now” comments (interestingly, none ever did – at least not through the PayPal link in the post), but soon the point whores joined in with comments like “Great post!” one even said, and I kid you not, “Awesome story!!”. WTF?!?

    I deleted that post because those kind of comments made me want to vomit.

    I think AR might be a decent “training ground”. You’ve got a captive audience. But it also pollutes people and their expectations. I get calls and emails all the time from people asking what they need to do with their “outside blog” to get comments like they did on AR, or asking how they can get people to “read their posts like they do on AR”.

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure they guy that thought the Aaron Anglin tragedy was an “awesome story” really read that post.

  • http://monikamcgillicuddy.com/wordpress/ monika

    I still use AR but it is not my only blog. My wordpress.org blog does real well and that combined with AR has really brought me way up in the search ranking. The consumers find me on net and that is what is important for me. AR has helped me a lot and I have gotten to know many great people there so for me it is still viable and a place I still like to hang out. But it is not the end all I once (many-many months ago) thought it was.

  • http://www.therockson.com rockson

    Jay Thompson, I was speculating last night with Lani that stuff like that would happen where people would post with out reading it. As a matter of fact I have a post floating in my head to test that theory, however you just proved it.

    Monika, I think a responsible agent will find a happy medium between using AR to tweek yoru makret and establish street cred.

    I have noticed AR has a delete and spam function. It appears that gives the poster some control and authority over those looking to “goal tend” for lack of a better term.

    I am wondering if a few post from responsible users on AR about the problem and solutions would help, or has it already happened and brushed aside?

  • http://www.kristalsellsdenver.com/denverdwellings/ Kristal Kraft

    @MaureenMcCabe LOL the shoes were back in the “good old days.” I loved the fact you bit, if only for a few minutes. :)

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    “I am wondering if a few post from responsible users on AR about the problem and solutions would help, or has it already happened and brushed aside?”

    I know it was tried many times in the past. These types of posts were usually met with comments like, “you’re right, we should all try harder” (as well as “Great post!”). Didn’t seem to have any lasting effect.

    AR should lose the points completely. Yes, there will be a tragic outcry, and some will leave. But many, those who use it for what it’s worth, will stick around.

  • http://www.homesalessandiego.com/blog/ Bob

    AR is a tool to be used. For me it’s like a screwdriver. While the inventor may have had a specific use in mind, I use it for a multiple of things, but rarely for it’s intended purpose. It is akin to my craftsman screwdriver that has been used as a chisel, to open paint cans, and of course, a hammer. I rarely use it to drive or loosen screws though. For that job, I break out the cordless.

    As a blogging platform, it works, but has far less power and overall use than a standalone blog. The authority the domain has in Google is undisputed, but mostly misunderstood. Relying onAR for business is beyond foolish, since at the end of the day you are nothing more than a guest blogger on someone else’s site with no control.

    For most, AR is no different than renting the same property for years. The same time and effort (equity) put into your own property would yield far more ROI, but alas, at AR, all they have done is help the landlord payoff his rental property.

  • http://www.activerain.com/blogs/bandersohn Brad Andersohn

    ActiveRain. Why am I still there? Because everything in life is a choice. I was a blogging Virgin when I started at AR a year ago. (didn’t even know what the word meant) I was introduced to AR by Dustin Luther. I also started an outside blog at the same time. Coming from the Title and Escrow side of the business, I had to be very careful of the content I contributed. Big brother was always watching and governing.

    Blogging Nights and weekends only, never during the corporate business work day!! Even with the limited amount of time that I was able to invest into both my AR Blog and my outside Blog, I started seeing results from my minimal efforts.

    My outside Blog got very lonely as I had not established any readership yet, but felt that my content was “Feature Worthy” stuff. (humbly speaking LOL~) Then, when I posted in AR, some of my articles did get featured, and I was given both the moral and emotional support from other members and staff, to continue blogging and better my skills and knowledge. I would have otherwise quit doing it. I Guess that’s why I’m hooked. Even with all the issues you have mentioned here, I just had to ask myself this question? Did Blogging on AR increase my business, bring me other value, or do anything for me personally? My answer was YES!

    * 8 New Listings to direct to clients in respective areas due to connections made through AR
    * 4 Buyers to refer to other agents in my area from calls that came from my profile page and Blog

    * 2 Investors (Out Of State) for purchasing REO properties in CA. from a single post they found
    * Members and Friends at AR helped me and my family through the toughest times in our life
    * Best of all, My brother found me on ActiveRain after being separated over 41 years ago.
    (he never saw or knew about my outside Blog, but his Google name search found me on AR)

    All this in about a year! Maybe I’m just naive, but I have met some of the greatest people on the planet at the ActiveRain Network. :-) The relationships I have built there, and the personal rewards and successes mean far more to me than anything else. I still have my outside Blog, but don’t spend as much time there as I probably should.

    With all that I have learned and experienced at ActiveRain, It has changed my life in so many ways. More than I can list in this comment. The only reason I started Blogging, was so that I could tell my clients in the Real Estate Business if it was worth their time and efforts. Today, I am sold! Blogging is a valuable marketing tool for ANY business. (Inside AR, Outside AR, or Both) YOU have to choose where that Blog should be. I have chosen to hang my hat at AR with the other 80,000, and I don’t mind saying so. I know Jon, that every rose has it’s thorn, but looking at it from my perspective, it’s always been about people in any business or network. I’d love to see you come back, and work and play with us in the “Rain”, but I’m just not sure if my testimony would be enough to make that happen after reviewing your post! Life is short and time is precious these days, so It is your choice, it’s one only YOU can make.

  • http://activerain.com/blogs/princetonrealestate Faina Sechzer

    I am here because of AR -through a long chain of people and sites. I learned about blogging from AR, and met great people -that’s big in my book. But something happened along the way… The most blog-appropriate way to describe it -the excitement is gone (speaking for myself only).

  • http://www.daltonsazhomes.com Jonathan Dalton

    I’m a huge fan of losing the points but it’s the points that get people going. There’s some good info to be had there … the expired letters I send too infrequently are based on Broker Bryant’s template.

    This could just be an old-timers lament, but it seems the quality folks I first met there weren’t looking for the points or the Google juice. I know I liked AR because it seemed like a calmer version of RealTalk, which continues to arrive unread in my Inbox all the time. Good info there, too, but I don’t have as much time for it.

    I think the strength of the real estate blogosphere is our willingness to share. But that doesn’t seem like the best place for it anymore because the helpful info’s drowning amidst the dreck.

  • http://www.clientcentricrealestate.com/ Matthew Rathbun

    I did want to make one other point… I don’t think the venue is the issue here, are there some flaws? Maybe a few in the point system, but the inhabitants of the village need to create their own culture. I think that the issues we see with AR are reflective of the Real Estate industry. Much like Jay Thompson, there are agents that are a bit egocentric and will make meaninglessly contributions, just to further their own careers. I will also make the point that there are some non-AR blogs that will do things that have no real value, but try to further their own career with their posts. Maybe AR is just a glimpse into the bigger issue.

  • http://www.daltonsazhomes.com Jonathan Dalton

    Matthew – great post!

    Seriously, I think you hit that facet of this on the head.

  • http://AnnArborRealEstateTalk.com Missy Caulk

    I won’t even begin to tell you how much I learned when I started blogging on Active Rain. It would have taken me years to go out and find all the blogs, and meet all the people I have from being there.

    I started my own blog in November, when I heard they were going to sell to Move and it took me awhile to decide which platform I would choose.

    I have nothing but positive comments to say about AR. I have got business from it, referrals as well as consumers in Ann Arbor finding my blog. It has helped my own web site go from page 49 when I first looked to pages 1-3 for any possible search term. I have friends over there I can call at the drop of a hat to ask a question about. I get calls every week from people there asking for help ( too much sometimes)

    I have suggested many times, they need a module that people must read before they post. It would help stop the plagerism. But, in the end it takes time to learn to blog and it is a wonderful learning environment and Google loves it.

    Finally, I’m not a controversial person so when I see those posts come up, I move on. But, the reality is blog wars are all over, that’s why I don’t comment on BHB.

    With hundreds of people joining all the time, guidelines must constantly be brought up: ….leaving your contact information in a comment, copying and pasteing, and “nice post”, but mostly it is just new bloggers who need to learn.

    The points could go away to tomorrow and it would be fine and eliminate junk posts for people to get their 10 in a week, which I have never and will never do.

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    “Much like Jay Thompson, there are agents that are a bit egocentric and will make meaninglessly contributions, just to further their own careers.”

    I sure hope that was tainted with some sarcasm Matthew!

  • http://www.suburban-renewal.com Mike Mueller

    Bob – I was writing this in a hotel lobby hours ago. When I finally got Wifi back I refreshed and saw your Tool reference. So instead of rewriting it – I’m going to post it just like I wrote it. (but I’ll still give you credit for being the first tool. : )

    ______________________________

    Let me pop in and say I like AR. I like it for a variety of reasons. It’s not the end all – it’s a tool.
    I’m not a beginning blogger. I’ve been blogging since 2001 so it’s not that I need AR to learn how to blog, but some people do. Whci brings me to around to my first point.

    Point 1: AR allows the newer blogger to post and receive comments. Yes, most of those comments are inane and made only so the commentor can earn points. But to the new blogger – the fact that they wrote a post and someone read it and responded is huge. Nobody likes to work in a vacuum. AR proves to the newbie that they are being read.

    Point 2: AR is a tool. It’s just one of the tools in my tool box. Like all tools, there is a proper and inproper ways to use tools. Yes, a screwdriver can be used as a prybar but it’s not the best use of a screwdriver and a prybar would work so much better.

    Point 3: By posting on AR (and my outside blog) my public posts get more hits than they might otherwise. Call it SEO or SER. I’m using AR as a tool to get more eyeballs to what I write. Yes, I don’t like competing with 80,000 other real estate professionals – but I can handle the competition. Once there the public can easily get a hold of me.

    Point 4: My profile page. http://activerain.com/mikemueller It operates just like my profile on LinkedIn, Zillow, Trulia, or any of the other sites I am on. It drives more eyeballs to my outside page. I split my profile page on AR right down the middle. I’m trying to take best advantage of those eyeballs. Once again I’m using AR as a tool.

    Point 5: I like to help people. There’s something in me that tells me I need to reach out and help people. It’s what I do. As my office staff has dwindled down there isn’t a lot of “Hey Mike, can you help me on this?” going on. This is totally selfish on my part but AR allows me to reach out and help someone anytime I like. There’s always some Noob that needs help.

    Point 6: Networking. I have over 80,000 people at the click of a mouse. Not that I think there really are 80,k actively participating. If I was an agent who had an FHA question, with a couple of clicks I could come up with 10 or so Loan Officers that really knew what they were talking about on FHA. Pick your topic, a geographic area, or any other filter you like. AR dishes up what I want or where I want. My blogs attract a good number of leads from out of state. “Need to list your home in Danville, KY? – I’ve got an Agent I can refer you to.”

    I love BH, AgentGenius, and the other group blogs. They deliver some of the best top notch information. But in most all six of my points above none of them can do what AR does, and that’s ok. It’s just another tool.

  • http://housechick.com Kelley Koehler

    I think of AR like a blogging nursery. I learned a lot there, met some pointless pals, and we were twittier before twitter was cool. I do get calls from my stuff there occasionally, but ultimately stopped posting there for several reasons. Too much inanity, didn’t like the gaming. In the end, I want to live or die by my own efforts, in an environment that I control. Yeah, my AR stuff may have better google juice for some things, but if I focus long enough on my own stuff, in my own platform, I can get it there too.

    I’m glad I found AR, that’s what got me into blogging. For me, it has served its purpose, got me started, and now I’m off doing my own thing in the big bad real world, at least partially because of the things I learned there. But I don’t see myself going back.

  • http://www.bawldguy.com BawldGuy Talking

    As an AR ignoramus, though I think I joined, (not really sure any more) I’m curious as to the motivation for agents writing there.

    If it’s to generate income, are they doing so?

    If they are, does the income exceed the cost of an uneaten Snickers Bar?

    Would someone please explain AR’s basic value to RE agents — other than a place to meet others like them?

    What I’ve learned about them is that mortgage brokers, at least the smart ones, fished it like an overstocked pond. The agents themselves? I literally have no clue, and wonder if more than 1-2% have ever made even a little money by virtue of writing there.

    Help anyone?

    Great stuff, as usual Jonathan.

  • http://realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

    Do we get AG points for commenting here? If so, can we redeem them for stuffed animals and Airheads?

    My two main issues with AR are the content ownership question (I like to know that I own my own content, thank you) and the possibility that I can be lumped in as racist/ignorant/etc with others sharing the same domain. I’ve seen too many (one’s enough) examples of questionable fair housing comments/posts for me to want to share that domain.

    I’ve heard AR is a great forum for some (many?) but it’s not for me. We all make choices as to where/how we manage our online reputations; AR is too much out of my control for me personally to feel comfortable contributing.

    All that being said, I’ve heard of success stories there, and some really thrive in that culture. Again, personally, I find the consistent level of conversation out here in the real estate blog world to be far higher than much of what’s found on AR.

  • http://www.c21ag.com Bill Lublin

    @Jeff – I don’t want to shock you by agreeing with you :-) but I am right with you on the AR confusion – what I’ve learned about the blogging commnity I learned here – partially from you who jumped right in when he thought his friend was being unfairly attacked (and while we tussled pretty strongly- I do want you to know how much I respect the loyalty you showed in that action – and also the additional respect I gained for Sean through that whole process – you are right he’s a bright guy with a lot of experience and deserves respect for his accomplishments ) – I learned that active bloggers have real personal connections that seem to me to far outweigh the more superficial efforts on AR-
    And while I think everyone has some business motives (which are fine) I think the efforts and quality of the products outside AR show the time that people put into them – your website for example was interesting to me as a real estate investor and the points you make there were well written and considered – Lani & Benn’s blogs and websites – fun, easy to read, packed with info -Sean’s blogs interesting and informative, Teresa – obviously sitting at the head of the class as well, Jim Duncan tons of stuff to read about, Jay’s blog and Agent genius – already provided me with great links, tech tips, and new ideas. I could go on and on (without agreeing with everyone’s views, you can see they care, and they are really working to get it right and share the wealth of their experiences – all of these guys (including you!)) They are the real deal and are obviously taking the process to a much higher level – On AR its sort of like blogging with training wheels – but as some in the earlier comments have said, its maybe for people that haven’t yet found what’s going on in that higher plane – and I don’t know if the connection to the outside, higher level discussions are easily made from AR – I didn’t see them there – but there was a lot of “white noise” and it was (for me at least) a little hard to seperate the wheat from the chaff-
    As far as the purpose – Jim’s comment leads me to believe that there might be stuffed animals for getting points, which would please my black lab Cisco no end! :-)

    @Jim: I would agree that the potential problem of being lumped in with others who haven’t taken the time to reach the level of education in the industry that most of the AG bloggers have – and intellectual property is a big hot button of mine too – With as little intellect as I have, I want to keep all of the product I can generate! :-)

  • http://www.Wellington-Luxury-Homes Katerina Gasset

    Why do I love Active Rain and why am I still there?

    I came back online with a website after dumping all of our real estate web presence about 7 years ago. Being off line did not effect our business one bit so when we decided to go back online I wanted to be in control of my SEO and not just pay any SEO expert who knew nothing about real estate to be in control. So I began to study all about internet marketing from online marketing gurus, took webinars, bought ebooks, and read and read and read.

    Then we got our website. I am also a real estate coach so I started a coaching blog. To bring these up in the search engines I started Squidooing and commenting on real estate forums. I found most of these forums nasty and rude but since I was not there to make friends I simply ignored their crap and used the sites to gain the links back to our site and blog.

    We were moving both up by doing this. Then I found Active Rain. My initial goal was just to get a link back to our site and blog to lift them further in Google and other SEs. Well, then I discovered the points and I was hooked. I saw the genius in the points. Sure, there are spammers and those that game the system but so it is with every platform. Squidoo got the Google slap and I made it through that. I was attracted to Squidoo because of their point system too.

    Suddenly in only a period of a few weeks our website had gone to page 1 on Google from page 48.

    I had never received a comment on my outside blog. On Active rain I did get comments right away and was featured right away. This boosted my self confidence. Just to know people were reading was huge to me. I am sure that there are other people in the world like me. This gave me just like it did to Brad Andersohn, the motivation to write better and better.

    BTW- I receive great comments. Sure, some comments are just point grabbers but most are not. Perhaps that is because I have made it a point to comment with purpose on other people’s posts.

    I have been blessed tremendously in our business and in our lives and Active Rain gives me a huge platform to pay it forward.

    I have made wonderful friends who have helped me with all kinds of things in my personal life and I have helped them in their businesses. I can count on any of them to stop what they are doing to say a prayer for me or to call me with a place I can sleep over when I had to go to the State Capitol.

    And the money is great! I can attest to the power of blogging with longtail keywords and how much business I have generated in both our real estate business and our coaching business.

    We are listing agents; sellers call us every week to list their homes with us and every single one of them finds us online on our Active Rain blog. The most important point I want to make is that the people who contact us from our blog on Active Rain are ready to make a decision and have already decided we are their agent. The people who contact us from our website are not ready most of the time and they are mostly buyers which we refer out.

    1. In just the last month we have received 6 signed listings from our AR blog. All of these are short sales and 3 of them already have multiple offers on them.
    2. Since last June 18th when I started blogging on AR we have received over 26 million dollars in listings.
    3. We have totaled over 33 listings since last June directly from our AR blog.
    4. We just wrote an offer that has been accepted for $1.6 million for a buyer that called us while he was reading our AR blog.
    5. I just procurred a listing from a lady who said she chose me to list her home because I help my peers and she was reading my blog and said that tells her volumes about my character (that I would go out of my way to help other agents with their business.)
    6. We have closed sales, lots of those listings sold that I stated in #3.
    7. I have received 5 new real estate agents as coaching clients since January of this year and that in and of itself was well worth the time investment. Each of these clients has become an endorsement for me. I would have a lot more clients but most new agents can not afford my customized coaching. I have sold 6 expired package programs to agents in their markets.

    With all of this business and friendships; I see my glass as more than half full, it is overflowing. And so there is no reason for me to even risk leaving AR to do my own thing. I have a blog within our website but our focus is on our AR blog.

    I think you have to do what is right for you. But I also think that whatever you say it is, it is and whatever I say it is, it is. What you focus on expands. I have a planned blogging schedule that I stick to. I have Localism posts weekly, Active Rain Community support posts that I write weekly, personal posts to add transparency to my blog and seller interest posts about short sales and the market at ground zero. You get out what you put into it. I have over 530 subscribers and many of those are new agents and new bloggers who are learning to blog in a great community.

    The other day I had an issue with my blog. IE users were having to scroll the view my blog. I asked the question to the community if everyone was having a problem with my blog. Brad Andersohn called me and spent well over an hour helping me to decipher the problem and then fix it. I was very impressed.

    Bob Stewart is always there for me if I need him to help with an AR issue. The team at the top is caring and transparent. I have seen them reach out to help people in need at the drop of a hat. I am born in the year of the dog in the Chinese calendar which means I am very loyal.
    Bob and the gang have gained one very loyal blogger with me and I think they appreciate the value I bring to Active Rain and the feeling goes both ways.

  • http://www.SoundBiteBlog.com Sparky

    I hope that my comments here won’t be quickly overlooked or discounted, by virute of the fact that I am now employed by AR. But my interest and involvement started very early on, and continued prior to my hire.

    I think for many of us, there is an inherent restlessness to our nature in regards to the plethora of social networks popping up everyday. Perhaps we’re just afraid of missing out on some exciting marketing opportunity, or we want to be part of whatever is new or edgy. But it’s interesting to observer how people constantly hop around from one platform to the next.

    ActiveRain in it’s early days was absolutely THRILLING! We were all riding on the cutting edge of something gloriously new and exciting! Our numbers were few and there was a very endearing intimacy that we all shared.

    I learned so much in those first few months. It was an education in blogging and Internet marketing that has forever changed/impacted the way I approach business.

    Many members began to venture out into the greater blogosphere and created their own local blogsites. As the membership numbers increased, and the intimacy of those early days began to change, many veteran members became less and less involved in the Rain, and focused more of their attention on the local blogs.

    I was disappointed when I first heard about the Move.com purchase attempt, but I couldn’t fault the Boys in Bellevue for pursuing the opportunity. It was an extremely unfortunate situation, and one that unfortunately distracted/delayed the planned development of the network for a very extended period of time. Since the very beginning, both Matt and Jon have been extremely honest and transparent with us. In my opinion, their only error in this venture was to trust someone who obviously couldn’t be trusted.

    Regardless, the ActiveRain Team worked diligently to rebound. Unfortunately, these guys don’t have boatloads of liquid assets to draw from, so for a while, finances were running pretty thin, and the ability to move forward with further developments was challenging to say the least. All along, it has been their desire to provide this network to its members for NO CHARGE (I’m always amazed at how many people complain about something that’s free?).

    Fortunately, they were able to secure minorty investors (incurring further grief and disdain), and were able to continue the development of additional and significant new features to the platform.

    Has ActiveRain changed since it began? You bet. It will never be what it once was. But it will most certainly become ALL that is has the potential to be.

    I wish you could see things from my vantage. I can’t even begin to express what a positive impact ActiveRain has had on so many lives. There is no doubt that it can offer added exposure and increased business potential. I have seen that. I have experienced it myself personally. So I know it to be true. But more importantly, ActiveRain has dramtically improved the ‘quality’ of my life, and allowed me the privilege of enjoying so many meaningful relationships that never would have occured/developed without it.

    Bottom line – each of us needs to determine what time investments are best for our own business models. For me, ActiveRain is at the very top of my list!

  • http://www.coloradospringsrealestateconnection.com Mariana

    I like Active Rain. It is a good place to start blogging for many people and I still get business from it even though my time in there is shared with other sites. I have made some great friends and business connections in Active Rain – WAY more so than other places.

  • http://www.yourguidetolivingingreaterbirmingham.com stephen wolfe

    Sarah Cooper… OK, OK, friends

  • http://www.bellingham-realestate.net Eric Badgley

    I like ativerain solely for its seo power. I am not a big fan on how much spam is on the site. I like how you can write a post and it will be indexed within 15 minutes thats the greatest part. But it does have its disadvantages.

  • http://www.daltonsazhomes.com Jonathan Dalton

    Did we ever establish if Matthew was being sarcastic about Jay?

    I just recommended AR to someone who can’t seem to bring himself to stick a toe in the water. As has been pointed out, the instant feedback is something that can help a brand new blogger.

    Though I met some good people there, I’ve expanded those friendships on the outside. I can’t hack through the rest easily enough to find new folks like the old ones.

  • http://LiveLakeForest.com Vicki Lloyd

    I started my blogging on AR, and have encouraged other agents to go there as a learning experience. I think it’s a great training ground, and there are a lot of great people who really provide a lot of valuable info. Here, in Southern California, there have been several AR social gatherings where I’ve met some of the local bloggers. Some have become good friends of mine.

    AR replaced RealTalk for me, where I had been active for many years, and many of my old RT friends from across the country are there.

    I still post there about twice a month, but check “my associates” blogs on a regular basis. Many of the “featured” posts shouldn’t be featured, but some of the tech gurus (Brad A, Jeff T) are great resources. I think they should definitely can the points system – too many “great post!” bullshit comments, and stupid posts that get “featured”.

    It’s still worth lurking if you want to find some diamonds in the coal mine!

  • http://www.clientcentricrealestate.com/ Matthew Rathbun

    HOLY SMOKES!!!! What I meant to say was “Much like Jay Thompson, “I agree that”…. Crap, that’s twice today that I’ve screwed up making comments and gotten called on it. Well, at least you peeps are reading my stupidity! SORRY JAY! I am not saying you aren’t egocentric, but I think you handle it better than that (now that’s sarcasm). Seriously, I was trying to agree with your previous comments and not use you as an example. :)

    Boy, someone should write a AG post about being careful before you post, so you don’t look like an idiot….

  • http://www.WestofPhillyBurbs.com Kim Wood

    Simply put, I like to describe AR as my nest. I ‘grew up’ there and learned about blogging and was introduced to some great people.

    I left my nest a couple of months ago to my outside blog, but I return now and again. I hope I always will.

  • http://www.miamism.com ines

    I have to tell you that the comment thread here is priceless.

    Active Rain is where I began blogging and for that I am thankful – when I started it was great people like Kristal Kraft and Rich Jacobsen and Craig Schiller, TLW, Bryant Tutas…..and so many others that reached out and helped me get my feet wet. Then Project Blogger and Paul Chaney. All unbelievable experiences that I would not change for the world.

    Now I recommend it as a training site for anyone that wants to learn about blogging because great information is still being shared. I don’t blog there often anymore because I don’t see the ROI – it was a clear business decision, but I still go and comment and I am thankful that I have met all the people that I know around the country because of AR.

    As for the points – I think that’s how I started getting frustrated – people passing me without blogging…..while I would pump out 3-5 blogs weekly and spend 2 hours daily commenting…..found it absolutely ridiculous.

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    @Matthew – no worries, things like that have happened to all of us.

    Someone once left a comment on my blog in a discussion about how silly some practice was.

    I meant to respond with: “That may be the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

    Somehow my actual response was: “You may be the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.”

    Oops. There’s quite the difference between “That” and “You” in this context!!

    It’s frighteningly easy to make a simple mistake that can completely change the meaning of one’s message…

  • http://www.FocusOnCrofton.com Margaret Woda

    My first ActiveRain post, 8 months after I joined, resulted in a listing that I would not have gotten any other way. That’s all it took to “hook” me, but the relationships with other ActiveRainers are a collateral benefit I truly enjoy – they probably are what keeps me going back. Lessons learned through ActiveRain have improved the way I articulate the market, the SEO for my community blog and website, and many other aspects of my business. Like anything else, it’s not for everybody, but it is one of the bright spots of my day. No need to get into the bickering – as far as I’m concerned, the whiners can whine about ActiveRain and the market, while I keep laughing all the way to the bank.

  • http://brokerbryant.com Broker Bryant

    WOW! Great discussion. I for one LOVE ActiveRain. It has been a tremendous boost for my business. I guess the best thing for me is be able to connect with my peers. I work alone from my house and rarely communicated with my peers prior to AR. I just did my own little thing in my own little world.

    Now I have folks from all over the country that I can count on if I need anything. You just can’t beat that. Not to mention everything I have learned.

    I have consumers contact me almost daily from AR and have closed quite a few deals during my 20 months involvement. So for me it’s all good.

    BUT AR, just like any marketing, takes time. If you use it consistantly for a year or more you will reap the rewards. If you only you use for 6 months it won’t work.

    AR is not for everyone but it is an awesome tool if used properly. And of course make sure you have an additional hyper local blog as well.

  • http://www.FindcapeCoralRealEstate.com Susan Milner

    I have other blogs as well but ActiveRain has been quite successful for me.

  • http://pikewaynepablog.com Karen Rice

    I like ActiveRain becuase I can usually count on getting some comments on my blog. That makes me feel like I didn’t waste my time. My newly launched outside blog didn’t get any comments at all until I went to AR and whined about it. (ha ha). There’s something about a comment that makes me feel appreciated.

    I like ActiveRain because it has a ton of great information all under one domain, so to speak. Sure there’s crap there. There’s crap everywhere. I ignore the crap, like i do in real life, and feast on the gourmet snacks and appetizers, and if it’s Katerina Gassett, Lenn Harley or Broker Bryant, it’s usually a meal. That needs to be saved and re-feasted on later. Good meaty stuff.

    Sure, it can be had on other blog platforms, but I’d have to search a lot harder to find it. It’s all convenient here.

    I think some of the complaints against AR are coming from people who need to get over themselves. Who cares if SOME posters just post for points? Who cares if someone says “nice post, thanks” in the comments? sometimes, that’s about all I can come up with and at least it’s a polite acknowledgment to the author that SOMEONE read his post.

    Yes, there is plagiarized crap on AR. And there is plagiarized crap all over the darn internet.

    Because of AR, my website has gotten great SE ranking, and has gotten me lots of leads and at least two of them have turned into bonafide buyers. I have gotten two listings (one sold and one is pending) from my AR blogs. AR helped me get started, and while i have an outside blog, I still consider AR my “blog.” The other one is “my other blog.”

  • http://www.cook-county-real-estate.net/blog Judy Orr

    I have multiple blogs – two on-site blogs, one standalone WP blog, my REW blog and AR. Blogging is a hobby for me and although I don’t hang out at AR like some do, I visit there about once a week or so. I use it mainly to promote my other sites but I only write if I have something to say. I also only comment on posts that interest me and put effort into my comments.

    A side benefit has been meeting other agents to add to my referral list. I left there for a while because I was sick of the copy & pasted jokes being posted and other time wasting posts. But it is what it is and it actually brought me over here.

  • http://www.clientcentricrealestate.com/ Matthew Rathbun

    Boy, I wish that I could write something that got 47 comments :)

    It’s my opinion that comments on blogs are a good reflection of how important others felt your statement was. To say that posts on your outside blog do not result in comments, but AR does and quality doesn’t matter, makes me wonder what the point is of writing. I really don’t want comments that are disingenuous. This comes from wanting to write and comment for a purpose, other than to just get points.

    To not get comments on a newly deployed blog makes complete sense to me. Anything worth doing, takes time and effort to build. Look at AG (which I love). When Benn and Lani opened this blog, it probably didn’t get immediate comments. (although as awesome as this site is, it may have from the git go) But now, the quality of posts AND comments is far superior to AR. It’s where professionals meet….

    Lack of QUALITY is one of the many things that are influencing the demise of this industry. i am not saying that ActiveRain cannot have quality, as I have found a plethora of good information there.

    The indifference implied by some, regarding plagiarized material is a symptom of a deeper problem or “rightness”. I DON”T WANT TO BE THE VICTIM ANYMORE FOLKS STEALING MY CREATIVITY AND HARD WORK! It is for that reason that I want to form a blogger posse, seek out those who steal from my friends and flood the cattle rustler with scarlet letters. (ok I lost some of you there)

    I care very much if someone just says “nice post, thanks” just to get points. They are once again stepping over me and disrespecting my work to get a few points to build their career. At it’s very core,it’s selfish and egocentric…at someone else’s expense.

    I concur that there are equal levels of benefit for AR and other blogs sites, but some of the points (regardless of which platform you use) are valid in Jonathan’s post. To say otherwise is not accurate.

    AR is a useful platform or more, the system isn’t the problem…. the integrity of some of the users is the greater issue.

  • http://pikewaynepablog.com Karen Rice

    How do you know someone else is doing it ‘just for points’? Do you follow that person around to see what other comments they’re making? And how is a comment for points “at your expense?” I don’t get that. It’s not taking anything away from you. The general public probably has no idea about the points system so it won’t be a flag to them. And you do have the power to just delete the comment – which I have done and will do again if someone spams my blog…

    I fail to see how withdrawing from ActiveRain is going to protect you from plagiarism though. *scratches head* Unless I’m even more obtuse than I think…

    For me it’s a matter of not sweating the small stuff – really, I don’t want to get ulcers over my blog, I don’t feel like someone is defacing my property by posting a terse, and possibly insincere, compliment…as long as they’re not hijacking my blog with a link to something they’re selling…in the grand scheme of things, someone posting a comment for 25 points is really small potatoes, and I’m sorry that others think it’s a horrible offense.

    There are hills worth dying on, and there are hills worth leaving to someone else. If you don’t like Active Rain then fine – ignore it. But why harp on it and pick it apart? Isn’t there something more productive to be doing with a blog? Oh wait…controversy and negativity generates traffic.

    You sly dogs, you…

  • http://www.azmortgageguru.com Shailesh Ghimire

    I’d like to feature this post on AG and give JD a week off from posting. Oh crap, I’m not a moderator…

    :-)

    Seriously – I left AR because I got lynched by agents for daring to ask them if they were giving their buyers serious and impartial analysis when they were asked “is it a good time to buy”. My point was, “do you just say “yeah” because your broker tells you to say “yeah”, or do you actually sit down with the buyer and give an individual analysis – given the opportunity.

    The post got featured and the ranting and raving began. I deleted the post and left – I’m not a name caller, and I certainly am not one to point fingers. I was CURIOUS and wanted HONEST feedback from THOUGHTFUL agents. The response left a bad bad taste in my mouth.

    I still post but only announcements and free advertisements of my blog summary. Heck, even that is now not worth my time.

  • http://www.soundbiteblog.com Sparky

    Shailesh: I’m surprised that you would allow a ‘lynch mob’ to run you out of Dodge. In my experience, the temperature of debate is fairly ‘sedate’ on AR compared to most other social networks. We welcome serious and impartial analysis. The question posed in your post was an excellent one, and certainly worthy of a ‘feature.’ I’m truly sorry that you feel your time investment there is a waste. So, just curious, what ‘other’ networks/blogsites do you now frequent that offer you more value?

  • http://www.daltonsazhomes.com Jonathan Dalton

    Karen – realizing that the comments take on a life of their own, I wasn’t trying to be either controversial or negative. I’m sitting here wondering if there are opportunities being missed by moving on from AR. And after reading all the comments, I’m decidedly undecided.

    I never was a fan of “great post.” It never made me feel better. Hell, I never could be sure that anyone actually ready it. All they had to do was type “great post” once, CTRL-A, CTRL-C, CTRL-V and type the name of a fruit and they’re off and rolling.

    What I found interesting is this … for about a month I would post an excerpt with a link to my main blog. People would come over from AR and read the post, then type their comments back on the excerpt in AR. Why would they do that? Seems to me there’s only one reason. And if that’s their thing, I guess there’s not anything wrong with it. It’s just not mine. And I’m about as competitive as they come, having survived as a manager at Schwab where all we were measured on was metrics.

    I suppose AR is a lot like crooked name tags and door knocking. If you’re getting business from it then I guess that makes it all worthwhile. Still doesn’t mean it’s going to work for everyone, or even for just little old me.

  • http://www.bonzai.squarespace.com/blog Mike Farmer

    Now, look what you’ve done. They ended the points system.

  • http://www.bawldguy.com BawldGuy Talking

    Does any long time AR user know if there was ever a demonstrable correlation between points and income earned by their presence there?

  • http://www.c21ag.com Bill Lublin

    Jeff – I’m not even sure if there was a correlation between points and AR’s pofitability – There might be a correltation between points and their VC though! ;-)

  • http://www.mountainlivingblog.com Joanne Hanson

    Today is April 1st….I am going to have to go and check AR to see if points are still there or not!
    I have a feeling they still are. :)
    I have looked at AR as a great education, and am now spending more time on my outside blog, with the occasional trip back to say hi to friends. It definitely has clout with google, and I have had business from it. Plus Inman news found me there and quoted me in a recent article on second homes. I won’t leave it, but don’t spend as much time there as I used to.

  • http://brokerbryant.com Broker Bryant

    Bawldguy, I’m not sure. I’ve never tracked it but being on the front page of AR for Florida certainly must account for some of the business I get from the site. My intent when I joined AR was not to get business. I rarely work with buyers and in my market sellers are a dime a dozen. So most of the stuff I write is geared towards my peers BUT with a style that gives the consumer a good feel for what I do and how I do it. Do the points matter? Probably not.

    When I ask the consumer how they found me it’s almost always through a Google search that led them to my AR blog or my main off site blog. I’ve never yet had one mention points. Points are just a fun way to compete. I have so many I could quit posting for a year and would still be in the number 1 position for my area.

    Points get folks started but after awhile they become very unimportant. In my opinion, the point system was genius!!! AR was a very unique concept. Others have tried to create the same thing “only better” but from what I’ve seen they have not had much success. AR was the right idea at the right time. It has helped many folks become better at real estate and blogging. It has opened doors and created many opportunities for folks that have used it to it’s fullest and have seen beyond the “rain” and into the relationships that can be built with others of like minds.

    It’s all good.

  • http://www.bawldguy.com BawldGuy Talking

    Bryant — Thanks for some ‘inside’ info. Your take reminds me of my dad having listing contests back in the late ’60′s early 70′s. The agents would work harder for a short paid vacation or a TV than they did for much more valuable commissions.

    Sounds like he had the point system working for him way back then. :)

    I can see too where you’d be right about improving the agents’ blogging skills. Motivated by points no less. Go figure. Thanks again.

  • http://www.BlogbytheBay.com Ginger Wilcox

    When I first started blogging, I set up a wordpress blog. I didn’t really know what to do with it or how to get people to find it, and that is how I stumbled upon Active Rain. I can definitely say that I learned a ton about blogging from Active Rain, and did develop some amazing relationships along the way. I have gone back and forth with playing in the rain and not playing in the rain. Basically it comes down to this for me personally- I just don’t have enough time in my day to up write to multiple blogs, engage in a little twitter action, and actually sell real estate (let alone spend time with my young kids and get a crazy little thing called sleep that Jeff Turner keeps promoting).
    I think Twitter has replaced a lot of the social side of AR for me- it is low commitment.
    I pop in and out to lurk on AR, but haven’t posted in a while. I think there are definitely benefits of AR (even for an experienced blogger), but the timing isn’t right for me either.

    I go back and forth on this question often- to rain, or not to rain? You would think I would have more clarity after 59 comments, but…no.

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  • http://www.soundbiteblog.com Sparky

    Bawldguy: Nothing formal in the way of actual study or stats, but was IS clear, is that obviously, the more involved you are (primarily by posting key search term relevant content), the greater your chances of being discoverd by consumers. Higher point ranking does give you additional exposure, and can increase your chances of being ‘found’ by consumers as well. I have always though of it more as having your picture plastered on the front cover of ‘Homes & Land’…it doesn’t necessarily bring you tons of business, but everyone knows who you are. Does that make sense?

  • http://www.bawldguy.com BawldGuy Talking

    Sparky — it doesn’t necessarily bring you tons of business, but everyone knows who you are. Does that make sense?

    Allow me to take out two birds with one stone on that one. :)

    Everyone knows who Glen Kelman is. How’s that workin’ for him so far?

    Seriously, I can see you point. My outlook is biased toward ignoring AR is generated from the whole points/gaming the system aspect. Who the hell gets to tell one blogger their stuff is superior to most others? Some self appointed group? Who?

    The public is the final arbiter of our content and it’s relevance.

  • http://www.stpaulrealestateblog.com Teresa Boardman

    I found that by writing on my own blog it has the seo power. i would not want to type “st paul real estate” into google and have active rain come up first. I also find that everything I write on my own blog is featured. on Active Rain they decide what content to feature in localism and it isn’t mine. They don’t understand what kind of local content wokrs, I do. I won’t give my local content to anyone which is why my own blog has more SEO than active rain when it comes to keywords for my own market are. No one listens to me yet my blog is proof that Active Rain does not have any more google juice than an individual blog, it may have less becasue the content is not as focused. Active Rain might be a good place to start but bloogers make the mistake of using it for practice for local content and then they have to compete with themselves when they start there own blog. it also gives bloogers the wrong idea about comments. A blog can generate a ton of business even though it seldom gets a comment.

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    I agree *completely* with Teresa. I often here the argument, “But Google indexes my AR posts in 15 minutes”.

    Well, the same thing happens with my own blog. And it is MY blog, not a platform shared with 80,000 other people. The “AR has Google Juice” argument doesn’t fly here.

    “Phoenix Real Estate Guy” is me. activerain.com/blogsview/142446/blah-blah-blah is NOT me, it’s AR.

    I prefer to add content to my domain to brand me to reach my readers and community as opposed to adding content to AR that brands AR and is diluted by what thousands of others are also adding.

  • http://www.bawldguy.com BawldGuy Talking

    Count me in Teresa’s camp also. Amen

  • http://realcentralva.com Jim Duncan

    Hmmm … can I throw some points towards Teresa and Jay’s points. Why spend time and money branding AR?

  • http://www.daltonsazhomes.com/blog Jonathan Dalton

    My favorite post from Jay is when he offered to put his points on eBay.

    One other quirk … Google doesn’t seem to like multiple AR profiles from the same region. When I search, another agent’s profile and blog always comes up high even though it hasn’t been touched in months. Mine? Not so much, even when I was active.

    Today’s one of those days when my blog’s back on Page 1 for Phoenix Arizona real estate. Given the several million matching search terms, I’ll take it. I don’t need the points.

    Speaking of which, doesn’t the reaction to the April Fools’ Day post about eliminating points in itself highlight the need to eliminate the points?

  • http://brokerbryant.com Broker Bryant

    The key to using AR is to remember that just like any other marketing, AR is just a piece of the puzzle. My out side blog brokerbryant.com gets excellent Google juice very quickly. Within about an hour of posting there it’s already ranked on the first page, usually the first position if I use very specific key words in the title.

    But as Laurie Manny pointed out Google will only give me 2 position on the front page for that site. So if I get 2 for my blog, 2 for AR, 2 for my point2agent site and 2 for my homes.com site I can have 80% of the first page. Then if I add in Localism I can have all 10 positions for a Poinciana search. That doesn’t happen that often but it does happen. However I almost always have 4 to 6 positions.

    AR is just one more piece of my master plan. My Google juice is better than Trulia, Homes.com or any of the real estate portals for my area. They are ALL under me. That’s one of the advantages of having a very specific market.

    Why would they eliminate the points? They work.

  • http://brokerbryant.com Broker Bryant

    By the way, I hold the numbers 1 and 2 position on Google for:

    Sexy poinciana realtor

    The power of ActiveRain!!!!

  • http://www.SoundBiteBlog.com Sparky

    Broker Bryant: What are the key search terms for Bertha? How is she ranking these days?

    To each their own. One size doesn’t fit all. If you don’t care for what ActiveRain offers it’s members FREE of Charge, don’t go there. But don’t bash it. Find and apply/use what works for you. Get your Google fix elsewhere. Connect with other like-minded professionals by using some other network. Find your trusted referral partners on some other platform. Gain timely practical expert advice thru other websites.

    Jonathan: The debate about the points has been ongoing since the very beginning. I think you would find more members in favor of points than against them. Most of us move beyond the points, and discover the greater value of involvment. Personally, I think it was a stroke of genius, and is being mirrored in some fashion by many other immerging platforms.

  • http://sellgrandrapidshomes.wordpress.com Lola Audu

    Reading your posts and the comments is cathartic. I for one will always remain grateful for the many extrarordinary people and the material they posted on the Active Rain platform. It has boosted my tech education up several notches. However, the issues that so many have highlighted in their comments and in your post are real. To address them will take tremendous courage as it represents a risk to the integral elements that have made the network a success in the first place. But, them I’m reminded of the genius of Tiger Woods who totally broke down his game after many major wins because he knew that to get to the next level…it was necessary.

  • http://www.neworleanscondotrends.com Eric Bouler

    I enjoyed active rain and kept up with it until I realized that I could get my own blog. I got several referrals from it and learned about blogging. Almost all the bloggers that were there when I joined have left so I visit less and less. The community changes as do the players. Its a great seo tool for local listings and local features. Now to see if I can do that with my own blog.

  • http://tech4repros.com Frank Jewett

    The Move flirtation was understandable. If you haven’t figured out how to monetize your website, the only way to recoup your costs (and possibly get rich) is to sell it. Web 2.0 is starting to look a lot like Web 1.0 in that regard. I suspect Move wanted to buy tens of thousands of eyeballs and backed out when they discovered less than 10,000 members were actually active in the rain. I brought this up on AR a couple of times and no hard numbers were offered in response. Silence is an answer, too.

    Monetizing AR by selling ads to title companies and property inspectors was always going to be an uphill climb, but with the market turning it became Everest. AR recently rolled out a new advertising gimmick via e-mail notifications. That the sponsor was a short sale guru with a hard sell pitch shows the level of interest in advertising via that method. All things considered, AR would have been better off giving Lowe’s a free plug in hopes of making it seem like their audience merited serious sponsors.

    To create a compelling platform for members, AR would have to offer more value than an outside blog, since outside blogs are free and, as Teresa pointed out, the outside blogger is always the star. The only way to do that would be to move from P2P blogging (the water cooler analogy fits) to a model where attracting and interacting with consumers (Trulia voices?) was the focus. The closest AR got was Localism 1.0. Remnants of that failure can still be found under piles of outdated local “news.”

    I don’t want to rain on Rich’s parade. He and Jonathan have always been responsive and I don’t doubt they are working hard, especially this weekend. They have high hopes for Localism 2.0 and I do too because I’d like to see them put the 1-800-DENTIST real estate lead generation sites out of business. Unfortunately many of their top bloggers have graduated while others have picked up bad habits due to ActiveRain’s misguided desire to present itself as a great online social experiment.

    Having said all this, I glance up at the What’s Hot box and see RealSeekr. I hate to bring the party down, but given the difficulties encountered by ActiveRain on their way to 80,000 members (if you count members like “Please Delete”, a (former?) Home Stager from Manhattan Beach), I have to question the wisdom of crossing over from real estate into social network development. Do Gia and Grant have any experience selling internet advertising? Have they managed an online community?

    Managing an online community is difficult, time consuming, and it can be very frustrating. Don’t take my word for it. Ask Rich Jacobson!

  • http://www.SoundBiteBlog.com Rich Jacobson

    Hiya Frank! As always, I enjoy your ongoing debates of concern/criticism for our community, because I know that, in the final analysis, you have our best interests in mind. Unlike many who criticize out of other motivations. Many of the points you continue to promote are truly legitimate. We’ve made a number of mistakes along the way, there’s no doubt. If funding had not been an issue, our developmental processes would have been much farther along by now. And unfortunately, the entire Move.com issue derailed and distracted our energies significantly for an extended period of time.

    Frank, trust me, you’re not raining on anyone’s parade here. We are extremely thrilled and confident about the numerous new features that will be rolled out this summer, especially the new & improved Localism. In my opinion, Localism is the missing link in the equation that so many have been attempting to achieve – the meaningful interaction between consumers and RE professionals in a local online neighborhood environment.

    Frank, it’s people like you who I trust to give us unbiased and intelligent input and constructive criticism. We need your constant encouragement and prodding to analyze/improve what we do. Keep it coming!

  • http://www.SoundBiteBlog.com Rich Jacobson

    Frank: Oh yeah, one more thing…..yes, you’re right, helping to manage an online community like ActiveRain IS difficult, time consuming, and frustrating. But I have to tell you, there are few things I’ve done in my professional career (and I’ve done a lot of different things) that have been as fulfilling, rewarding, and satisfying. Working together with so many amazing members truly enriches my life beyond measure!

  • http://tampafloridarealestateblog.com Dan Nappi

    I think Active Rain is a great platform but I would never or plan on putting all my eggs in their basket. You can have your own hosted blog and rank just as well for the market you are targeting and it is all your content no concerns there.

  • http://www.soldbyjennifer.com/ Jennifer in Louisville

    I find this article to be somewhat of a foreshadow for what came to pass with the whole localism situation – particular the “Who owns the content?”. Clearly Activerain owns the content. Their way of saying thanks for all those that contributed is to now charge them if they want to show at the top for their particular area.

  • http://www.sandiegohomes.org Bob

    Even if they don’t lay claim to ownership of the content, they certainly can control the display of content.

  • http://columbusbestblog.com Maureen McCabe

    I think ActiveRain may have Jumped the Shark on July 9, 2008. In oh so many ways….

  • http://pikewaynepablog.com Karen Rice

    I agree with you Maureen. I agree with you, and am sad. But the new Localism – simply stinks.

    It messes up the blogs that are already written, they are now going to have to manually approve all the postings – I think they are nailing their coffin shut with this. I certainly am not going to post things to localism, and I may very well quietly exit my AR blog all together and focus on my outside blog.

    I know, I know, it’s free, it’s this it’s that, but if all the hard work I’ve put into it over the past year is just going to be gone – the blogs I’ve written – if they’re not going to show up in Localism when someone searches for it via Localism (not just some random google search) and if I can’t put links to my website at the bottom of my post then there is no point in me working for them.