Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why do commercial real estate blogs die? And why the heck am I still here?

When I go through my list of blogs I like to read, I often come across a casualty: a blog that has ceased to exist or has stopped actively posting stories.  I'm always sad to see that because I like reading what my fellow bloggers have to say.  And there have been some very smart people doing this.

Maybe these factors are the same in all types of blogging -- I'm not about to do the research -- but I have some ideas as to why and would like to hear from others about why this trend goes on.  And let's talk about why I am still here, too -- what the heck.

  • Most -- but not all -- of the bloggers who have quit are not professional writers, or part of an organization or a company.  As my profile in Real Property Alpha points out, I am not one of those folks.  I am just an individual.    
  • Time.  Yeah, blogging can take up a lot of time.  So many people quit because of the time factor.  I am not a professional blogger so I do not parse every word.  Most of what you read is a first draft, stream of consciousness thing.  Some say I have been blessed with the ability to crank out a few hundred words on most subjects pretty quickly -- I think a good liberal arts education helped here as well as some speaking and writing practice when I was a kid.  So I can perhaps crank out a blog post without having to spend all day on it, which is an advantage. My clients take priority over writing, but I'm usually able to balance that.
  • Money.  I really think some people write because they think they will make money blogging, or attract more clients.  Maybe you will, but my humble opinion is that you have to have a passion for the topic about which you are writing.  If not, it will show and the blog posts will be boring.  I write to educate myself: having to read and think about the business makes me a better lawyer in my opinion. As almost all my clients tell me regularly, I add value or at least try to in every deal.
  • Client development.  Maybe. But some people, when they do not immediately see a huge increase in clients calling, drop the blog. I don't get that. As I said, if I get new clients out of the blog, great. If not, that's okay too. This is about learning and self-improvement for me, believe it or not.
  • Fame.  Not happening, at least not in commercial real estate.  And I don't understand why you'd care.  I get picked up in the media from time to time and enjoy doing interviews, but don't expect any notoriety out of this.  (Heavens, I think I'd quit if that actually happened.)
  • Ennui.  I think this should have been at the top of the list, but hey, stream of consciousness and all that.  It can get tedious to think of new things to write about. Finding topics can also be hard sometimes. You want something new to say, without repeating yourself or others. It has to be fun or you may as well hang it up.
You may ask: why am I writing this? Because I gave very serious thought to ending the blog at the end of 2009. As you can see my posting frequency dropped off significantly. Let's see if I can do better in 2010 and write compelling material that you want to read. (This post may not be among them since it really isn't about CRE.) At the end of the day I realized that I like what I am writing and what I do here, and that I need to try a little harder for more content that will not bore you to death.

Of my readers -- and I know there are regulars thanks to analytic tools -- I ask three things. First, if you have ideas or topic you want me to write about, by all means let me know. It is much easier for me to write when there's a set topic. Second, tell your friends about the DLB. Third, if you have constructive suggestions for the blog, please also let me know.  Should I move to WordPress? Hire professional designers? Look for co-bloggers? Make this "amateur" blog more professional?  Let me know.  And thanks for reading.


Jeff said...

I'm a regular reader only because I trust your take on things, and your credibility, which flows from your vast experience.

Keep blogging.

Doug Cornelius said...

David -

First, speaking as someone who let two blogs die, it's okay. Nothing lasts forever.

Second, blog about subjects that interest you. Think of as a knowledge resource to hold stuff you need: interesting cases, laws, regulations and news. I would bet it's easier to find stuff on your blog than any of your internal systems. There is likely to be lots of new information popping up as all of those vintage 2006 loans start coming due.

Third, host the blog yourself and install WordPress. It's very easy to set up and maintain. I use it on my current blog: ComplianceBuilding.com. It's also really easy to export your stuff from blogspot to WordPress.

David said...

Doug: as always thanks for your thoughts. At some point the blog will end, I'm sure.I'll be continuing to watch for things that catch my eye. This last year was, perhaps, comparatively dull because of the way the market has been.

I will also take WordPress into consideration, and perhaps move the blog to my firm's website. Blogger does whatever I have needed at this point (which is admittedly limited), but WordPress does look nice and you are not the first person to extol its virtues.

jstampone said...

David, I appreciate the candid post. As a new reader and first time commenter, I highly recommend you stick with it. I've been enjoying catching up on your older posts. However, if you're going to do it, I suggest you go all out. Host the site yourself and tweak the design and layout to make it more user-friendly. It terms of posts, there's no need to force them. Just be consistent, whether it's a post every other day or once week. What's most important is to build the trust of your readers and honest posts like this do just that.

As far as why people often quit blogging, I think it's because people expect to see immediate results. Blogging is hard, it takes a ton of time, yet time doesn't guarantee success. I just celebrated the 1 year anniversary of my blog, http://www.astudentoftherealestategame.com/. Like you, I use it as a way to learn and a way to teach others. As long as I'm learning from my blog, I'm going to stick with it and I think yo should too.


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