As 2008 was drawing to a close, and with the dawn of a new year upon us, I was inspired to write a post about my own successful year at ActiveRain. Thankfully, Brian Block also announced a contest that seemed to dovetail nicely with my idea.
This is probably not your typical “success” post, since I am not going to focus on the amount of commission I received, or the number of leads that my blog brought me. Instead, I have a few other areas that I would like to cover, all of which stem directly from my involvement right here on AR.
I am still amazed sometimes when I think about the number of friends that I have made during my 17 months or so as a member of this network. I have acquaintances who talk about their online friends, but they have never met them. In my case, I am happy to realize that many of my closest “virtual” friends have become “real life” friends, too. Perhaps we’ve spoken on the phone or even met in person.
Back in August, I had about 70 people show up for my birthday party, the majority of whom knew me exclusively from ActiveRain. My local friends were stunned by this, and I am not ashamed to admit that my ego grew two sizes that day, much like the Grinch’s heart, I suppose.
Along with these friendships came….
Last spring, as one of my best friends in the world lay dying of throat cancer, my ActiveRain friends reached out to him and his wife, donating $5000 to help them keep their home since they had no medical insurance and no source of income at the time.
This was an incredible display of generosity, and it shows the power of social networking, which is people who get to know and care about others. I am eternally thankful to those of you who helped to spread the word, and also to those of you who sacrificed to help my friend.
Additionally, I have found a camaraderie and people to laugh and commiserate with that I simply wouldn’t have thought possible by way of a forum such as this. The specialized industry-specific nature of ActiveRain seems to draw people closer, and that’s what keeps them here.
I have learned so much here that it would be difficult to sum it up within the confines of a single post, but suffice it to say that my ActiveRain education includes these areas (and probably some that I can’t remember at the moment):
- Writing (what makes for a compelling blog post)
- Social media (more about this below)
- Teaching (I have learned how much I enjoy teaching other members)
- Technology tools
- The ins and outs of other markets around the country
- Local spots of interest (via Localism-type posts)
- Niche areas of real estate and financing that I knew little about before
In trying to explain the value of this community to those who aren’t yet members, I have often said that ActiveRain is like having a stack of real estate and mortgage textbooks (and the other ancillary industries) at your fingertips 24/7.
It was right here that I first learned about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and pretty much every other social media site that I have seen and experienced. In fact, I was invited to each of the aforementioned sites by different members of ActiveRain. Facebook and Twitter have both brought me business, and I hope that 2009 will bring even more.
As a result of my involvement on Twitter, in November I struck up a conversation with Ken Cook (whom I already knew from AR). Now, I am co-hosting a weekly BlogTalkRadio show with Ken every Tuesday morning for an hour! If you had told me in 2007 that this would happen, I’m not positive that I would have believed you. Clearly, this is just one more way to “get known”, and I have enjoyed this immensely so far.
Additionally, I have begun a series of webinars every couple of weeks on the topic of social media and blogging specifically. I have a few “students”, and I eagerly anticipate developing this further.
It may or may not surprise you to learn that ActiveRain has had a direct impact on my confidence. The fact that I can entertain and inspire others with my writing gives me a centeredness that I don’t think I had before. I can communicate more effectively than I used to before I started blogging regularly. I am able to distill ideas much more efficiently.
Frankly, having over 1200 subscribers now and being something of an AR “celebrity” hasn’t hurt, either. As someone who has weathered several bouts of depression over the years, I can sincerely state that AR has actually been medicinal in that regard. I didn’t really intend to mention that here, but it seemed fitting to include it. Social media is about transparency at its core, right?
I have had many newer members ask me to provide a concrete idea of how much money I’ve made from blogging. The quick answer: I don’t know, but it’s a good amount, even more than the amount picture below. Truthfully, the reason that it’s a little tricky to track this is that AR has helped the SEO for my other real estate site. Also, there are now people who refer business to me that I know across several different online networks.
Was it AR alone that worked, or was it the fact that they saw me in multiple places and thought my web presence made me a valid expert in my field? Hard to say. Either way, I can safely say that my business was far better (and the tough times more tolerable) because I was here.
I am thankful to everyone who has referred clients to me! Your faith in my abilities is inspiring.
As I said once in a recent post, I think blogging is a long-term strategy with the potential for short-term results. With that in mind, I expect 2009 to bring even more success than the past year has.
I have come to realize that I REALLY enjoy writing, and if I could figure out a way to make a living doing this, I would probably jump at the chance. Thank you to all of my friends, subscribers, regular readers, and yes, even the “lurkers” who read my posts but never say anything.
Also, I would like to offer a big thanks to the ActiveRain guys for your continued support!
Thanks for taking the time to read this somewhat long-winded post of mine. Take care and I hope this year brings many blessings for you, your family, and your business. God bless you.
Photos above are all courtesy of www.stockvault.net, with the exception of the first picture, which actually was taken at my birthday party last summer. 🙂