ActiveRain Tutorials: Never Rent What You Should Truly Own

Never Rent What You Should Truly Own

I recently finished building a Custom WordPress Blog for a client that had quite the sad story. For the past 2 years he has poured his heart and soul into creating an awesome blog. He worked diligently on making his content rank well in the search engines. He was starting to see results and his business was starting to grow. 

But, there was one small problem. He had created his blog on a platform that he didn't own. The blog was built on Blogger. Granted, he had no issues with setup, that only took 5 minutes to do. Another few minutes and he had a pretty nice looking theme chosen. He was now ready to start his blogging career. And best of all, it was FREE!

Then, one day when he woke and went to log into his blog to write his daily post, he had a slight problem. The login was not working. Also, when he tried to pull up the blog, it appeared everything had vanished into thin air! He tried feverishly to contact Blogger and get things reinstated. But, they felt that something he was doing on his real estate blog was against their terms of service and shut him down. Now, what he could have done in writing about a listing or a neighborhood that breaks their TOS, I have no clue.

Two years of work down the drain. Lost forever into the thin air of cyberspace. After several months of fighting to get his blog reinstated, he finally realized that it was time to move on and start on a platform that he had control over and owned. He contacted me & we began the construction of his own Custom WordPress Site. We began the work and now he has his own site that he never has to worry again having a terms of service violation.

As unique as this story sounds, this is something that is a regular occurrence across many of the social media platforms that are out there. Remember the Facebook Page that was shut down for a trademark violation? This same sad story I have seen happen numerous times on places like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and many other playgrounds within the social space. The problem comes when you are using other networks other than one that you own as your primary business builder.

Instead, you need to use those areas to push traffic to your home base. Here's a graphic from a recent presentation I created for speaking at a few Inman News Agent Reboot events:

Social Media Strategy

If you own your space and use all of these other rental networks to drive people back to you, then you will not be as devastated if something happens to one of the small outer pieces. Here's the way I feel you should set up your entire social media strategy. Have your domain that you are in complete control of and use all the other platforms to drive everything back to where you can convert it into business. Besides, can you actually sell something alone on Twitter? I suppose it could be done just through a conversation, but more times than not, you are going to come to a point in the discussion that you will share a link with the person you are communicating with. That link is going to drive that person away from Twitter and more times than not, directly to your own personal website where they can go from being just a potential lead into a converted customer/client/member. If you drive them to a space you aren't in complete control of, it taeks only a moment for them to misclick and buy from a competitor.

On blogger for example, there's the next blog link at the top. I just clicked on it 3 times in a row. The first place was an accupuncture, followed by a consumer advocate site with Google Ads down the sidebar, and finished with a mortgage site. You can't control where they go, and what they might see next. I'd hate to work so hard on my stuff ranking well in the search engines and spend all that time creating great content to lose the consumer to one accidental click.

So, would you rather own your space, or rent somewhere else that you cannot control?

photo by: joeltelling creative commons 2.0

Originally Posted at: 210 Consulting- Social Media Advisors

I'm a full time Myrtle Beach Real Estate Agent that focuses on homes for sale in Myrtle Beach and Carolina Forest Real Estate.


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Comment balloon 20 commentsJeremy Blanton • June 13 2011 09:04AM


OMG Jeremy....Think Active Rain is a problem?

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) over 7 years ago

Thanks for making me aware of something I would never have thought of on mu own. I want to know what Sheila asked above>> AR a potential problem??

Posted by Robert Bob Gilbert, Your Katy TX ( West of Houston) Real Estate Expert (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties) over 7 years ago

Interesting post, Jeremy. Can you relate your message to our use of ActiveRain? I'm not so worried about losing everything, since I can export my blogs (I think - haven't tried it yet, but will soon), but would using a different central platform cost me the SEO strength the ActiveRain website gives to my postings?

Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) over 7 years ago

Jeremy, thanks for this insight. I, too, use blogger as part of my online presence and did not realize this inherent problem. Thanks so much for sharing.


Posted by Cal Yoder, Homes For Sale in Lancaster PA - 717.413.0744 (Keller Williams Elite) over 7 years ago

JB, nice way to compare it with our own 'rent vs. buy' philosophy. And yes, I remember that facebook page shutdown...

That's where we should think of 'ownership' as compared to 'renting' - btw...what do you think about AR blogging?

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 7 years ago

It is always better to own than rent even in social media.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) over 7 years ago

Could active rain do this to us? I trust it won't but it would be really painful if it did.

Posted by Chuck Carstensen, Minnesota Real Estate Expert (RE/MAX Results) over 7 years ago

Could Active rain do this? Yes, they could. Would they? Who knowsa, it's their decision.

Anything that a person posts on another entity's web-space is subject to their interpretation of the TOS.

We've all seen comments from AR members where they say that their post was taken down, and usually without notice or an explanation given.

Jeremy is absolutely correct in saying that if you don't own the domain and the space where you are posting your material, you are at the whim of an unknown 3rd party.

It's their bat, ball and playground, and they may decide to take their toys and go home at any moment.

However, if you post your material to your site, and then post it on AR, should the worst-case scenario happen, you still have your material on your site.

P.S. When posting to your own blog, server issues happen, so be sure to back-up your blog on a regular basis.


Posted by Warren Veach (State Continuing Education (StateCE)) over 7 years ago

For those of you who are asking if ActiveRain could do this to you.  Technically they could turn you off if you violate their terms of service/community guidelines.  It doesn't happen often, but from time to time it does.  In the year that I worked with ActiveRain I believe that between myself, Bob, & Brad we might have closed down 3 accounts and it was for obvious reasons (abusive to another member, repeat offender, etc). 

Normally when someone violates a rule here it is on accident because they either were unaware of a guideline.  Unlike the two examples I shared above on Facebook/Blogger, those 2 were shut down without reason given to the creators of the page.  Before AR takes action, they normally give you a warning and also explain what is being done wrong.  What makes AR unique is that they actually care about the members.  Those other sites have hundreds of millions on them & it's just a number to a potential customer.  Here, you are part of the family.

On AR, you technically own your content and can export it out at any time.  But, you do have rules to follow and a heavier reliance on someone else as to what features are made available, etc.  On your own site, the sky is the limit, you can add any feature you can think of.  Some may cost you some good money to have made by a smart developer, but if it is something realistic, and not something wild like teleportation, you should be able to have it created.  On a site like AR, Blogger, FB, you must rely on the developers of that platform to enable those things.

For example, if you wanted to add a super cool widget here on AR to your sidebar, if that widget runs on a <script> code that is not approved, you cannot install it.  While some look at that at a disadvantage, it can also be an advantage to the person who doesn't know what they are doing.  Why?  Because some of the <scripts> you may try installing can open you and your site up to some really nasty things.  For people don't know what they are doing it can be a good thing to have a big brother type figure watching out for your best interest.

But, for those who read this post and started freaking out, please calm down, AR is not going to shut you off randomly.  I wrote this over on my other blog without even AR as part of the equation. I wanted to share the post here for these 2 reasons:

1. Don't build your entire business on sites like Facebook or Blogger that you have zero control over.  Here you at least have some control and also a very powerful community backing you up.

2. Don't build an online business plan focused on sites where you are directly competing with the accidental click of a mouse.  How bad would it be if I had my business built on Blogger and someone accidentally clicked the next blog button to end up at a competitors site?  One they click next it can be hard to find their way back to you.

Posted by Jeremy Blanton, Myrtle Beach REALTOR®- (Myrtle Beach Homes Blog) over 7 years ago

Fantastic points for all of us to be reminded of.  Another good version of this would be the people who build their website with their companies template, when they leave the company they now have to start all over. Not that you ever plan on leaving but....


Thank you Jeremy for sharing your information 

Posted by Kim Boekholder Utah Real Estate, Broker, Results Real Estate (Results Real Estate 801.580.5624) over 7 years ago

Jeremy, now that's food for thought.

It's amazing the things we don't think about until it happens to us or is brought into the light.

Enjoy the day

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA (Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) over 7 years ago

So what your saying is that Activerain is going to shut down and we are about to lose all our content? I'm so telling everyone of your news. ;)

Suggested for feature.



Posted by Greg Nino, Houston, Texas (RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP) over 7 years ago

Nino- You trying to get me in trouble?  Thanks for suggesting though.

Posted by Jeremy Blanton, Myrtle Beach REALTOR®- (Myrtle Beach Homes Blog) over 7 years ago


I get you and thanks for all the hard work you are doing on my new site.  As for Greg you know he has to stir the pot a little. 

Posted by Larry Story, Total Care Realty, LLC, Greensboro, NC Real Estate (Total Care Realty) over 7 years ago

Jeremy: like all things in life, we need balance. 

One of the problems with social media is the kid in the candy store syndrome. There is so much to choose from, and all of it must have some benefit or we the advocate wouldn't have achieved at least some results.

That said, I'm trying to get my priorities in line. What we have discussed is definitely in the top 3. This week may improve some.

Outstanding work on Larry site, btw. If he got James, can I have a Hubert?



Posted by Leslie Ebersole, I help brokers build businesses they love. (Swanepoel T3 Group) over 7 years ago

I read a blog similar to this recently, and am taking the advice seriously.

Posted by Eric Michael, Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519 (Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI) over 7 years ago

Goes to show you, read the terms of service!

Posted by Marjorie Taylor, New Homes in St. Augustine Florida (Riverside Homes) over 7 years ago

Jeremy - I know one active ActiveRain member who had a Blogger blog shut down about six months ago for unknown reasons and has never been able to resurrect it.  This person only writes original content.

Posted by FN LN over 7 years ago

What if Active Rain sold the company to someone else?  I think it's pretty obvious that is a real possibility.  If or some other entity offered them several million dollars, I find it hard to believe they would turn it down.  At that point, this new company could charge anything they want or do anything they want (like no-following links) to all the blogs.

I deeply value my Active Rain blog.  I also deeply value my Blogger blog, which I've had as long as I've had my website...about 10 years.  I would be devastated to lose either one, but it could certainly happen. I have to trust that it doesn't. I don't violate copyrights, curse, use hate language, or anything that violates the TOS.  Even all these link schemes can backfire if you link to a site that eventually becomes a porn site or gets hacked.

As an example, during the Monkees reunion in 98, their manager made a website for the reunion tour.  There were links going to that website from hundreds of Monkees fan sites and even news articles.  When the tour was over, they dropped the domain name and it got picked up by the worst porn/hack/virus thing you've ever seen.  If your blog linked to that, and someone complained, that would be a TOS violation.

You can remove that top bar on a Blogger blog.  It's your own choice whether to leave it (and have your own blog in that "I feel lucky" feature.) I removed it from mine, in fact.

What I like about Blogger, Active Rain, or any other branded blog that I do NOT like about Wordpress is having to constantly update it and add prevent it from being hacked.  I think Wordpress may be a little better for SEO, but only for Blogger.  AR is definitely the best for that.  And Blogger does well too.

I think Wordpress blogs are great for programmers and those who have a very good knowledge of the product.  For a Realtor, I would not recommend one, no how, no way.  Unless of course they have someone managing the blog for them - eternally.  I don't know what the cost of that would be, however. Do you offer this permanent maintenance service, Jeremy?  If so, I might be more inclined to recommend one.


Posted by Jan over 7 years ago
Just cause it's silmpe doesn't mean it's not super helpful.
Posted by Kindsey over 7 years ago