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WordPress vs Active Rain – Which Is Best For Your Real Estate Business

 

 

Active Rain VS WordPress

Which One Is Best?

It’s the age old question, not the chicken or the egg,  WordPress vs Active Rain – which is better for your real estate business? I am a former business development manager for a national title insurance company in Phoenix Arizona, I spent 10 years helping real estate professionals [REALTORS and Loan Officers] grow their business. I was around in the days when postcards and flyers actually worked! Today,  everything [and everyone] is shifting online, which begs the question: WordPress vs Active Rain – which is better?

I have been a member of Active Rain [called AR from now on]  for as long as I can remember. Seriously, I really do not remember when I joined AR but I know it was a long time ago, so long ago that I joined for FREE! If I had to guess, I would say it was at least 6 years ago.  I love AR. AR and I have a long history together. I cut my blogging teeth on AR. About 3 years ago, myself and Ted Canto (The Mobile Mortgage PRO) noticed the shift in consumer behavior, we [I was a title rep at the time] had done several large classes together and were looking for another. Ted called AR and next thing I knew, Bob Stewart and Brad Andersohn [the big dogs at AR – Brad has since taken a position with Zillow] were here, in Scottsdale Arizona teaching the merits and benefits of AR to over 600 real estate professionals. I have been told “RainCamp” was born out of that 1st Active Rain seminar here in AZ. I can’t tell you exactly how many agents I have referred to AR but I would bet it’s in the hundreds. In my opinion, Active Rain is a must for real estate professionals. But is it better than WordPress?

Let’s first get “better” out of the conversation. Better is not applicable as WordPress and ActiveRain and just plain different with different value and of course, different drawbacks. First, the benefits. This comparison is AR vs WordPress.ORG, WordPress.COM AKA “the FREE WordPress” is for community, any commercial use is against the terms of service and will result in your account being shut down. FULL DISCLOSURE: I have a self hosted WordPress site and an AR Blog.

Active Rain Benefits

  • Community – as of this post, there are 205,882 members of Active Rain. It;s the largest social network dedicated to real estate [that I’m aware of]
  • Cut your teeth - AR is a great place to learn the principles and techniques of blogging
  • Education – there is a lot to learn on AR. Want to know what to and not to do when working a short sale? Check AR, I guarantee you can learn from someone else’ pain.
  • Classes - AR has all kinds of classes available through Active Rain University
  • Referrals -Members of AR pass referrals between one another. Across the country and the world.
  • Networking – 205,882 members remember! AR is a great place to see and be seen. AR is a must for any industry that supports the RE industry – Title, Lending, Appraisers, Home Warranty etc.
  • Advice – Got a problem you can’t talk to anyone else about? Ask AR. Whether its a problem client or a Sales question, ask the AR community, you are guaranteed an answer.
  • Increased SEO – AR has Google Juice. With over 200,000 members, all writing posts,  with in and outbound links and FRESH content, you better believe Google loves Active Rain! You can rank on the 1st page of Google with AR (something that may take years to do with your own site)
  • Back Link – AR is a fantastic back link. Post come content on AR and link it to your website or blog for increased SEO.

Active Rain CONS

  • You don’t own it. If AR changes their terms of service or pricing you are stuck. Because you don’t own it you are essentially leasing a space on the net. It is a “pay to play model”
  • Eggs - Relying solely on AR is putting all your eggs in one basket. If AR goes down for any reason [like it did last year] you could realize how vulnerable your web property really is.
  • Neighbors – Yes, AR has Google Juice, but anyone you attract to your AR blog could easily be on your neighbors blog in a click of a mouse.
  • Technology – It’s a little old, with significant drawbacks  in the design and HTML arena
  • Cost – AR carries a monthly fee, I recently heard Rain Maker accounts are now $89 per month.

WordPress Benefits

  • Owned – For better or worse, it’s yours, you own it
  • SEO – Google LOVES WordPress, [I hear Matt Cutts, head of Google’s WebSpam team has a WordPress site]
  • Plugins – Plugins are applications that enhance your  WordPress blog’s capabilities. [Tweetmeme, FB Share, Askimet, Add To Any]
  • Thems’s – Change the look and feel of your website
  • Open Source – anyone can and does create for WordPress
  • Easy to use – If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use WordPress
  • Social Media - WordPress is easily compatible with all Social Media channels [all that I have tried any way]
  • Updates – WordPress is constantly being updated to address spam and viruses [keep it updated!]
  • Integration – WordPress can easily be used as an E- Commerce site [cart], contact forms can easily be added as well.
  • Support – There are thousands of sites and chat rooms dedicated to WordPress
  • CMS – WordPress is a great Content Management System. It allows for many people to contribute to it and share data

WordPress Cons

    • Cost – Custom WordPress sites [like the one you are on] can cost you. Custom sites [on average] cost $3,500-$4,000 but can easily get above $8,000 depending on what you want your site to do.

UPDATE: PRO-Found Marketing will create you a WordPress Real Estate Website for as low as $650.00. See “what our WordPress Real Estate Website’s Include”.

  • Crickets - I honesty can’t think of any other cons of WordPress :-(

I mentioned earlier that I was a member of Active Rain and that I have a self hosted WordPress site {which you are on now by the way}. In a perfect world, I would use both WordPress AND Active Rain. I use Active Rain as a back link. I write articles [posts] on my WordPress site and post a paragraph on Active Rain with a link [back link] to my WordPress site. I don’t need to do this so much anymore as my WordPress site has really taken off.

For agents new to blogging, I would suggest you get a self hosted WordPress real estate website right away and use Active Rain. You can take advantage of AR’s considerable Google Juice to help yourself get found online while your WordPress site gains strength in the search engines.

Apples to Apples, WordPress is a FAR better option for me, and any agent serious about building a brand and getting “Found” online.  It’s easy to use, it can’t be taken away, easily customized, Search Engines LOVE IT, AND YOU own it. :-) There is something comforting in knowing, my brand [MyTitleGuy] and content are secure and Google knows exactly who I am, what I do and where to find me. No one can take that away from me. Want to know more?  Stay Tuned…..

What about you? Do you prefer Active Rain or WordPress? If you are a Phoenix REALTOR® that would like help with your real estate marketing, please fill out the form below. I can help.

 

 

 

 

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Stephen

Hi I'm Stephen Garner, I'm just a guy in the title industry {in Phoenix} trying to change how real estate agents market themselves and their services. To that end, I teach my clients HOW TO leverage sales technologies like WordPress, Content, Video, Camtasia, Final Cut X, iMovie and indexable IDX solutions to convey value and help your ideal client find you online when they are most interested in learning about you and your services. I work for escrows. Hire me!

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  • http://activerain.com/blogs/craigda Craig Daniels

    Stephen – a good discussion on this post – I also appreciate all the strengths of AR that you mention. I think a wordpress site that leverages backlinks from AR is a great plan for those that can balance and understand the synergies of the two. AR gives “outside blogs” as a means for a branded single agent presence that doesn’t allow consumers to “click away”. This is a good alternative to those that can’t wrap their head around WP. Also, in fairness, the AR pricing is not as bad as you say. It starts at $59 and AR just announced new incentive on pricing based on active blogging and point milestones. This link explains http://activerain.com/blogsview/2234540/it-s-time-for-us-to-give-back-rainmaker-price-breaks – Good post and discussion and food for thought. -craig-

    • http://mytitleguy.net MyTitleGuy

      Thanks for stopping by Craig. I noticed today that AR introduced a tiered monthly pricing passed up on points. I will modify that post to reflect that. As I said, AR is great for many reasons and not for some (every system has drawbacks) I use them both as well. I am familiar with outside blogs, and you are correct, they can’t be clicked off by consumers that land on them but the main drawback is the fact they they are not “owned” by the agent. Marketing today is about getting found, which AR does a good job of, but it’s also about branding, which (to me) should only be built on something I can control. WordPress is awesome but it requires a lot of work that 90% of agents won’t do, site design, plugins, widgets, keyword research, content, backlinks, pictures and video [for engagement]. In addition, there is a significant cost to get going. We think we came up with a great Program for agents, Check out FoundWithProfound.com. Thanks for stopping by, great points.

  • http://www.VillageConfidential.com Mike Akerly

    Stephen,

    I just started blogging in December, but I’ve hit it pretty hard to get up and running as quickly as possibly. I use both AR and a self-hosted WP site, http://www.VillageConfidential.com. I love the customization available with WP and the polished finish I’ve been able to create using that platform. That being said, I love AR for the community and I’ve never seen it as choice between the two. I write original content for my WP blog, then repost it to my AR outside blog. I will continue to use both. Thanks for the thought out analysis!