On Monday, I opened up my email and found this message:
"I recently Google searched 'Real Estate Agent in Piedmont' and noticed that your team didn't appear on the first few pages of the results. In order to change that, I'd like to recommend that your team consider posting weekly blog posts to improve your website's SEO, drive traffic, build client loyalty, and attract nearby Buyers and Sellers who need a hardworking and trustworthy real estate advisor. We have a team of writers . . ."
Gosh, you'd think with nearly 600 posts, I had done just that!
"Thanks very much," I responded, but had you actually viewed my web page, you'd have discovered that I blog weekly on the topic of real estate and have a fairly strong following. In fact, it's very likely that I could teach your 'team of writers' a thing or two." (I've earned my stripes one newsletter at a time.)
As a Realtor who has been penning a column for more than 15 years - week in and week out - ABOUT the Real Estate Marketplace in Piedmont and the broader East Bay, I've covered nearly every topic there is to cover, and often more than once. And I while I certainly agree that a blog is an excellent way to "build client loyalty," I guess I'd prefer that these my readers understand that it's my voice that is being broadcast to the world, and not some stranger who hasn't walked in my shoes, but whom I am paying to act as if.
I clicked on to the generic sample article he'd sent which now sits on a "very successful" Agent's website and read the first few paragraphs about setting up a ZOOM room in your house. Very topical, right?
It wasn't bad, it just wasn't me. Not that such tips for a Zoom room aren't useful and maybe one day, I'll write something along those same lines (as in: Who doesn't benefit from better back lighting and a chin lift?), but I take pride in the fact that every week I sit down for a few hours and share with all of you what's honestly and openly going on in my life and how that relates to what may be going on in yours. (It's been my own brand of therapy.)
Through the years, I've shared about my kids (now grown) my husband (my best material) my sister (still by my side), my parents (married for almost 67 years), Cliff's mother (the Ever-Ready Bunny at age 94), our dogs (my boyfriends), and my many lovely clients (who shall remain nameless although they know who they are). They've all appeared in print, or at least some amalgamated version of them, to walk us through their stories. Clearly, I'm a gal who likes a good narrative; our homes hold the stories of our lives.
I've shared my thoughts, my concerns, and my aspirations. I've shared about love, and disappointment, and perseverance, and hope, and fear. I've made predictions and guesses - some of which were right and some of which were wrong - but all of which were relevant and represented my point of view (not someone else's). I've shared about my new partnership with Sarah Abel (she makes me better), our business together (growing dramatically), and our motto: "Real Life, Real Solutions, Real Results! Through it all, many of you have continued to follow along. (Thank you, thank you, thank you!)
What I haven't shared are graphs, pie charts, or loads of statistics. (Let the economists do that.) If nothing else, you've got to give me points for consistency.
This week, I had a bout with vertigo and while lying in bed struggling to keep the room from spinning, I received a phone call from a gentleman who Jill and I had met with a few years back. He and his son weren't ready to sell at that time but he's been reading my blog for the last two years and now, the time has come. Like many, he believes that home values will correct in 2021.
"What do you think your place is worth?" I asked. (If someone has an unrealistic sales price in mind, I need to know that before wasting everyone's time and dollars.)
"Your the professional," he said, "we'll be following your advice; you clearly know what you're doing."
If that's not "client loyalty," I don't know what is. (The walls suddenly came into focus.)
More to the point, it's also what faith and trust look like, which is what I believe 13 years of writing my own columns has engendered. You know who I am, how I walk through the world, and what I bring to the process. If I'm not your cup of tea, so be it; there are many other qualified Agents out there to help you and I wish you well. I'll even happily refer you to one of them when we're not the right "fit," as I did just last week for a potential Buyer looking for a mixed-use opportunity in Alameda.
On the other hand, if what you require is a "trustworthy and hardworking" Realtor, I can certainly guarantee you that. If what you need is an Agent who isn't afraid to speak the truth and be accountable, it's all on the page; every gnarly, gut-wrenching, head-shaking, heart-pounding moment; the successes, the defeats, and the glorious homecomings throughout the years . . . and every single word of it, has been mine (proofreading provided by Jill, of course).
If we're missing out on "SEO" and "Buyer leads," or not "driving traffic," that's the trade off for authenticity and the chance I'm willing to take, but ghost writing? Thanks, but no thanks. At the end of the day, after all the escrows have closed, after the kids have moved out and moved on, after we're old and gray and counting our days, all any of us really have is our word, and our word should be impeccable, but it should also be ours, don't you think?
Let's keep it real.
How can we help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.