December 29th, 2006
Carson Coots, a real estate photographer in the Houston area just pointed out a nifty new free service www.vflyer.com that creates “virtual flyers”. That is, if you supply the photos and words and it will create a flyer that can be used either in HTML form to e-mail around to people or in PDF form to print or e-mail. www.vflyer.com hosts the HTML flyer for you and gives you a simple, uncomplicated URL to use any way you want. The greatest feature is that it generates HTML code that can be pasted directly in to a craigslist.org ad.
To check out how vflyer.com works I made a flyer for a listing that my wife Levi and I have in Sammamish. It took me literally less than 10 minutes to create the flyer at: http://lohrman.vflyer.com/1/index.html. I just used all the MLS photos and ad copy that I already had. Notice the simple, logical URL you get. The rollover enlargement feature is very nicely implemented… very fast with large photos as you rollover the thumb nails.
Then I took the code vflyer.com generated and created an ad on craigslist.org. Here’s what the craigslist ad looks like: http://seattle.craigslist.org/est/rfs/255219826.html. (Of coarse this craigslist link will only work for the next 7 days) Not your typical crude looking craigslist ad. I’m impressed with how good this ad looks for the amount of time I spent on it. Another interesting feature of vflyer.com flyer’s is that you get stats that show how many people are viewing you flyer. For example, I put this flyer on craigslist about an hour ago and I know that 90 total people have viewed it, 55 were from craigslist, 4 were from wordpress.com, 6 were from the vflyer.com site and 25 were from some where from a unidentified source.
As some background I should point out that craigslist is becoming a huge factor in classified advertising. So big, that many newspapers are having difficulties economically because craigslist is sucking away all their classified revenue. That’s the loud sucking sound you’ve probably heard. Classified ads are what keeps newspaper’s going. For rentals, craigslist is already hugely effective. If you have rentals craigslist is the only place you need to advertise to find potential tenents immediately. And it’s free! Except in New York city. Craig has to make some change some where. In real estate listings it is also becoming a factor. We put all our listings on craigslist as as well as most of the real estate sites. We also put on open house notices. For some background on how vflyers fits in with classified sites Here is a NYtimes background article on vflyer.com
So if you are a Realtor vflyer.com has alot of uses: craigslist posting, e-mail flyers and even printed flyers. But if you are a real estate photographer you should use vflyer.com to provide services to Realtors. Why? Won’t Realtors just use it themselves? I’m here to tell real estate photographers that 60% or over of my Realtor friends probably will never use vflyer.com. The younger web savy agents will but that’s a minority of agents. I’ve been telling RE photographers they should sell Realtors flyer’s with the photos for a long time. Now here’s a way to do it without even learning graphic skills. Just create a vflyer and send it to your Realtor clients and have them add some add copy or since you’ve already taken a good look at the home when you photographed it, do some ad copy yourself and let the client refine it if they want. Realtors don’t like to do flyer’s and would gladly pay someone to do them. Flyers are definitely a potential profit stream for RE photographers.