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What PFRE Blog Improvements Would Readers Like To See In 2017

January 6th, 2017

It’s time to be thinking about goals for 2017. From time to time I get valuable input from readers on what I should be doing to improve the PFRE blog. Here are some things on my list for 2017:

  1. Make the PFRE blog mobile friendly: This is a top priority. Scott and Wayne told me clearly recently that I should be “eating my own dog food” and getting the blog mobile friendly!
  2. Look at alternatives for Flickr to run the monthly contests: Yahoo and Flickr may be in financial peril so I’ve been looking at alternatives for some time. I’ve had more than one reader confused by Flickr. Cristi, my WordPress mechanic has suggested some plugins that could integrate the contests into the blog better.
  3. Do things to engage and attract more experienced real estate photographers: My primary goal for the blog is to help people get started and be successful in real estate photography. This may naturally result in some people drifting away as they become more experienced. At the same time, there are many very experienced people who regularly contribute and provide a great diversity of opinion. While several people have brought this issue up, I’m not sure it’s an issue that I need to focus on. What do you think?

I’d be interested in reader input on what needs to be improved here on the PFRE blog and what things you like. Don’t be shy, I have a thick skin.

 

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21 Responses to “What PFRE Blog Improvements Would Readers Like To See In 2017”

  • I would like to see you create a Real Estate Photography Gear Set (Sets) And Video sets– select a camera, lens, flashes tripod etc… and processing software. Maybe several different sets… a basic cannon set, Nikon set. Sony set. then a more expensive sets. And tutorial videos that use that exact camera, lens, flash and software…and step by step process. You Guys could probably make a commission linking to Amazon. So many of the posts and tutorials jump around between gear software and methods (many tutorials jump from older version then newer version of light room or Photoshop.. get clearcut… buy this stuff… use it like this.. process it like this and deliver it using this file share… then bill using this app… and use this bookkeeping app.

  • Reach out to real estate agents. They need to realize how important professional images are for their listings. In 18 years I have found only 3 agents who take fantastic images. The rest need to call one of us.

  • I’d like the ability to log on to the blog and stay logged on so I don’t have to enter my name, email and website every time I want to add a reply to a thread. Having to do this is a deterrent to my commenting more frequently.

  • I like Brad’s idea of a gear set for the various brands. Please include Fuji in that set list. If you need ideas on which gear is recommended, I’m happy to contribute. I know there are a few of us who are Fuji users.

    I get asked a lot about how to start out in real estate photography. I always send them here as well as the flickr group. I think once we see how you revamp the site, we’ll have a better idea on improvements for the site.

  • I’m fairly new to this site so maybe it’s already like this and I’m just missing it. For the monthly contests, participants could pay a small entry fee (maybe $5 or less) and the monthly winner would get that as prize money, or it could all go to the photographer/videographer of the year.

    Also, maybe there could be an option for commenters to post a photo or two when trying to show examples instead of having to post links.

  • This site is a fabulous resource for budding real estate photographers and for people like me who have photography as only a component of their business.

    What might be useful to experienced photographers is some periodic focus on innovative web-based business models that cement client loyalty, attract new business by adding value to the listing photography, and result in a website and business that’s salable at some point.

    Business models that add value to the photography can also enable a newcomer to gain a competitive, disruptive edge over more accomplished photographers.

    My photography and videography skills are mediocre at best, but I get a lot of business from high-profile clients who value the audience that my website reaches, and I’m able to charge higher prices because of that audience.

    There’s a lot of opportunity out there for people who think about how photography can be leveraged into something more.

  • First, Larry, your blog is fantastic as is; a valuable resource to newbie RE photographers and as a photographer with 45 years of professional photography under his belt but only 6 as a RE photographer, the blog is a gold mine of information to pick and choose from to add to my work approach tool bag.

    I understand the urge to modernize and make the blog diverse device friendly in a technology field that changes constantly and since you have a goal to help new photographers who will be a lot younger myself and often born with a cell phone in their ear I think that is a good thing although I have no problem reading the blog on my iPhone 6 turned horizontally even with my old eyes.

    When it comes to equipment, I think for new comers this is a very valuable knowledge base that every year needs to be updated. But as an old photographer, I think it should be emphasized that it’s not equipment that takes the photograph but the photographer. In other words, as long as you have the basic minimum equipment tool box covered, it is less what you have but how you use what you have as a French aging actress was heard to say. We live in an age where consumer products are driving the corporate world – witness the cell phone. You can take great photographs with a Canon Rebel for example since we live in an era where most of the photographs will appear on line at 72 dpi. So my suggestion would be a set of sets from the most basic package to start in the business and where to buy secondhand equipment on to graded levels for those who are being able to establish a business and want or need to upgrade their tools and/or add to their basic package with flash for example, and the associated stands, umbrellas circa Scott’s videos, wifi triggers, magnifier to see the back of camera screen better, better quality lenses, the variety of software that can be used and those that are industry standard work horses as well as the computers that at minimum can run the software and then the back up and back up HDs to stores current and past digital files on.

    I also think that since there are always many ways to skin a cat, “how to’s” should be presented in such a way that are not “this way is the only way” but rather a selection of approaches should be provided so that photographers have a selection of ways to do things that they can pick from that suits their market, the way they like to shoot, and approaches that fit their business model even helping identify different business models that may apply to their needs. Such as photographers who work in large metropolitan areas as opposed to those who work in smaller, say rural markets; those who work with million plus properties or those whose market will likely be everyday 3BD | 2.5BA tract houses; those who will be able to shoot fewer properties at higher prices vs those who have to shoot larger volume at lower rates. And how these choices will affect how they will need to balance solving problems at the shoot vs post processing.

    This is a big market with large diversity of best practices, or most effective processes. You are doing a great job covering all this already, but I try to put myself in the shoes of someone new to photography or to RE photography and all the very basic information they will need to know from how to file taxes, what they should be taxing in their billing, or not, variations from state to state, basic book keeping and billing methods, self branding, even whether the way their equipment looks brings confidence that adds to their credibility, or not; how to best deal with clients. So many things that need attention quite apart from the tools of photography and the photography itself. And now whether advertising is needed and if so what advertising tools work best in different markets. Do agents actually real FaceBook? Do they ever look at your web site? None of my clients do but then they are all over 50. And I see new, young people coming into the real estate agencies live and breath through their cell phones and social media and are always searching online.

    A whole lot to cover for both people new to the business, and it is a business, and those cruising along on old approaches whose expiration dates have expired and can use new ideas to catch up to technologies and practices of today.

    But again, you have most of this covered already and a searchable data base of past post topics. Again thank you.

  • I love the blog, but if there is someway to ‘follow’ a topic to be notified of additional comments without having to actually make a comment, that would be great. There are boxes to check to be notified of followup comments and new posts, but only if you post something first. Thank you Larry for all you do for this community!!

  • I’m just getting started with all the nice content, so I don’t have much to comment on, except … make the font size bigger!

  • Hi Larry,
    I really applaud your efforts in going mobile friendly, much needed in MHO.
    This website is “the resource” for real estate photography. I believe an improved layout and navigation that is mobile centric would be welcomed and allow the site to continue to grow and expand.
    I used to publish Florida Designer Homes online digital magazine. It was very successful when I started in 2011. However, the final issue I published last January 60% of the emails were opened on mobile devices. Readership was actually going down because reading a magazine on a mobile device, especially a phone is not a good user experience. I know from experience…mobile first!

    What improvement I would like to see is being able to “Like” and direct comment to responses in the comment section of each blog post. I would like to be able to affirm someone’s comment or offer a direct response to the comment without it appearing at the bottom of the comments section. I believe this would improve your engagement and create conversations around topics that are multi-directional instead of random single comments.

    Congratulations, you have done an outstanding job with PFRE over the years! I am looking forward to the improvements.
    The best to you in 2017!
    Ron

  • Foremost, please keep on keepin’ on. I greatly value many aspects of this professional asset gold mine.

    As for ideas to improve, regardless of this site, the best boost I could get as a pro RE photog is to “sell the case” to both agents and especially to the homeowners who hire them. So, if this blog could help in that direction I would value that as much, or more, than any other one of the great features of the current blog.

    Here are some ideas on how I’d like the PFRE site to respond to my suggestion:

    1. PRESS RELEASES:
    Post the periodic monthly/annual winner announcements as a fully edited, colorfully eye-catching Press Release. Then, I could send that to all my area brokerages, and/or post it on their office bulletin boards. I could also use a set of them for material in an annual drop-by presentation to area brokerages’ sales meetings.

    2. GUEST-AGENT SUCCESS STORIES:
    Create a section of PFRE “For Agents Only.” We could recruit a different agent each month to post a success story/case study, from their viewpoint. We PFRE-ers could nominate a case to Larry or a committee, then they would decide which nomination to invite the agent to write it up for the PFRE blog.

    3. WALL OF FAME ALBUM:
    Create a page on PFRE where I/we could send our (potential) clients to see a -visual- array of engaging thumbnails of past winners’ images/videos. I could show it at sales meeting briefings, or blast out a link to monthly updated page to all agents in my area (postured as a ‘free service-fyi’), instead of just a single “latest winner” announcement. I could link to it from my web site, include a link to it in the auto-signature of every email I send, create a QR graphic for my flyers, business cards, ad’s, etc.

    4. HELP AGENTS “SELL THE CASE” TO HOMEOWNER/SELLERS
    A section of PFRE that is a sub-blog of ideas for how agents can “sell the case” for pro photos to their listing clients, and why they should. Disregarding the benefits to agents and their clients, that would be, quite directly, a definite tangible benefit to me. Many agents in our region would also like their homeowner/sellers to do pro photography, but they just don’t know how to sell the case to their homeowner/sellers. I sure could use some help to help them sell the case.

  • Create a PFRE “Bleeding/Leading Edge” section that focuses on ideas, innovations, new devices, new techniques that characterize the ground-breaking leading edge of evolution in what RE photography can be. For example, tutorials, experiences, confessions of fails, negative outcomes, positive innovations. For the recent past this might have included items on topics such as:

    – 3D/360 Video
    – Aerial Photos/Videos
    – Thermography (one of my PFRE clients was a home inspector. I was his “thermographer”!)
    – 360 Panorama Cameras
    – 360 Panorama software, apps and hosting sites

  • A lot of great suggestions – Thanks!

    @Deno – I’ve avoided prizes for the contests because 1. collecting money for entries can get time-consuming quickly and the important aspect of the contests is recognition by your peers and learning from looking at and discussing the entries.

    @Lee – Your press release idea is too much of a violation of entrants photo rights for my taste.

  • Larry this is a great blog.

    About 2 years ago I acquired some decent gear, thought that’s what it took, and quit my job to be a real estate photographer. Shortly after, in the final moments of monumental failure, I ran into your blog. Within days my skills improved exponentially. Instead of an embarrassing life-changing failure I netted almost $80k the next 12 months.

    Thank you.

    Imo it ain’t broken – please don’t change much!

  • Thanks, Larry. I see your point now about that idea being a potential problem, as stated.
    Sorry, I thought your post was more of an open invitation to brainstorm on ideas that could be developed.

  • Keeping a gear list list might be a lot of work. It’s nice to see an announcement when a particularly suitable piece of equipment comes out, but trying to keep track of every brand and model might take a dedicated gear editor. Most appropriate is an outline of the type of functionality an RE photographer should be looking for in a camera body and the most common focal lengths of lenses that get used the most. A short paragraph explaining why those features are important will help newer photographers learn more and give photographers moving into the genre some tips. I’m thinking of the use of manual flash settings over TTL and how most RE pros aren’t using handheld light meters. Gear is really the one of the lower priorities although it’s often talked about the most.

    Perhaps it would be good to open a section on common business practices. The way the real estate market works in Australia is different from how things are done in the US which is different than what is expected of a photographer in the Netherlands. A short essay on topics such as whether it’s a good idea to be exclusive to one office or to sign up with a national company that markets photography services to agents/brokers like an agency.

    Several photographers that are active here and on the Flickr group are putting free tutorials on YouTube, some are independently producing videos for sale and a couple are on Lynda.com and Kelbyone. A list of links to these various resources would be great. A notice widget that let visitors know when new links are posted could keep people up to date. I know of some stuff that has disappeared from YouTube and maybe some of those can be rescued like Simon Maxwell’s postings have been.

    Mobile optimization isn’t a big deal for me. I hate the little screen and don’t do much on my phone if I can help it. It’s when I get home, brew a cup of tea and have the chance to sit down that I peruse the site.

  • Love the site, always of interest. Appreciate perspective of newbies as well as seasoned talents. Best discussions my opinion are on latest composition and staging trends, software and editing practice, online presence, legal and insurance issues. Drones – will we need one to survive in this changing field. And the contests, nice to see the inspiring images. This site a great forum and much appreciated.

  • I’m with Dave Spencer – “Imo it ain’t broken – please don’t change much!”

  • Larry, if you´re looking alternatives for the contest to flickr, why don´t to move the PFRE discussion group in Flickr to the blog? I mean, as a forum part of the blog, with more structure and integration. It would be a great incorporation in my opinion.

  • @David – I’ve looked at moving the discussion group to the blog site but the initial problems I encountered was finding forum software that did a good job of controlling spam comments. It’s a good idea (other blogs manage to do it) I just have to find and implement the right forum software.

  • I would love to see more marketing pieces, examples of drip email campaign templates, brochures, etc. that are really working for photographers to agents.

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