Blog - News
Please help us welcome the compulsively readable Candy’s Dirt, SecondShelters, and Red Brick Town to our continually expanding publisher network. With the addition of Candy’s Dirt and SecondShelters we jump headlong into the Dallas/Fort Worth real estate scene while Red Brick Town cements our dedication to everything that’s great about the Washington D.C. metroplex.
Candy’s Dirt and SecondShelters are the creations of Candy Evans, one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. Candy was a longtime contributing editor to Dallas’ D Magazine and its sister publications, and in 2007 founded the wildly successful Dallas real estate blog, DallasDirt, where she broke the news on the location of President George W. Bush’s Dallas home. She also blogs for Realtor.com and Haute Living.
Candy’s Dirt focuses on general Dallas/Fort Worth real estate news while SecondShelters casts its eye on second homes. Her apt description of Candy’s Dirt easily applies to both sites:
CandysDirt.com offers readers house porn, celebrity real estate, neighborhood profiles, what’s hot (and what’s not), sales insight, REALTOR profiles, new developments, the “f” word (um, foreclosures, what were you thinking?), builder talk, real estate news, and consumer Q&A’s. We showcase great listings, helping them to break away from the noise. We cover those neighborhood homeowner association meetings that make everyone’s blood pressure rise. Come tax appraisal time, we have The Tax Doctor right here. We even have a real estate attorney on staff for the really tough questions. We do it all from our base in Dallas/Fort Worth, where we love to report the Dallas and Fort Worth Dirt.
Red Brick Town is the brainchild of Lee Hernly, a dedicated enthusiast of the D.C. suburb of Alexandria, Virginia. As Lee explains:
The Red Brick Town blog is a news, information, and community affairs site focused on living in Alexandria, Virginia, working in the D.C. area, and enjoying all that our Washington, D.C. offers. The blog was born out of a desire to keep my fellow residents informed on the happenings in and around our neighborhood and to promote a safe, interesting and fun community. Topics to be covered include: quality of life, real estate, things to do, business, retail, architecture, pets, transportation, crime and more!
Upon joining the BlankSlate publisher network, all three sites received a makeover using BlankSlate’s design templates and were added to our advertising networks. We’re looking forward to helping the latest members of the BlankSlate family continue to flourish and bring you everything you’ve always expected from them…and more!
BlankSlate Real Estate now includes real time local market trends for sale and rental listings. Market trends can help buyers and sellers and owners and renters make informed pricing decisions by seeing how prices are changing over time (e.g. ‘where are we in a seasonal or macro-economic cycle?’) and also by comparing prices in one place versus another place (e.g. ‘how does pricing here compare to there?’). BlankSlate Real Estate Market Trends is also a valuable tool for real estate brokers, who can gain greater insight into the communities they serve and share them with their customers.
Here’s how BlankSlate Real Estate Market Trends works:
We receive feeds from listings sources throughout the day. Listings are checked to ensure they have complete and valid addresses and can be placed on a map. If they don’t have complete information, we try to complete it using various web services.
We analyze the location data and pass the listings thru map boundaries to aggregate listings by geography. The map boundaries are developed in conjunction with BlankSlate’s publisher partners, to really define the neighborhoods in the way locals understand them. For example, here is the neighborhood map of DC that listings for Popville are passed thru.
Next, we generate statistics — like average and median price, and price per square foot — based on the compiled location data.
For urban environments, the outcome is detailed pricing information by neighborhood.
Here is Washington DC’s sale pricing by neighborhood for today.
If you really want to give voice to your business and tell your story, you should consider sponsored content. A sponsored post is one that is written and created specifically for an advertiser. It is displayed right in the main editorial column of a publisher’s site. The posts are treated like any other post you’d see on a website: they are uploaded, published, and tracked through a site’s analytics. Since they take the shape of a regular post and can fit seamlessly into a blog, they are a great choice for delivering the exact message that an advertiser wants in long form, supported by text, photos, video, or other forms of media.
Traditional advertising can certainly be effective – for example, take a look at the celebrity endorsements for Pepsi and Coke shown here. But these advertisements explicitly “sell” a product, and that’s not what our team is after when we create a sponsored post.
When they are done well, sponsored posts do not sell or even have an advertorial sound (unlike the celebrity endorsements above). After all, readers are smart and can sense when content isn’t genuine; people prefer to read posts that are interesting and hopefully entertaining — but most of all, people prefer posts that are not directly selling something to them. By writing quality sponsored posts, an advertiser has the opportunity to leverage the voice and trust of the site to its maximum benefit. If an audience already trusts the blog, the sponsored post will fit right in. Sites that serve a community and often feature what to do in the neighborhood – such as Brooklyn Based for Brooklyn or PoPville for Washington DC – are natural fits for these kinds of posts.
Sponsored posts are unique in content, but have a particular form: they contain a native ad unit under the lead image for the advertiser’s logo, link and byline, as well as multiple target links in the body of the post itself. The posts contain social media buttons that are built in, which enable readers to easily share the content. The posts are optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. It is of utmost importance that it can reach an audience, regardless of where the content is viewed.
Swamplot is the newest site to join the BlankSlate network, leveraging BlankSlate’s inContext WordPress Theme and ad sales capabilities.
Swamplot, founded by Gus Allen, is an uncompromising blog about Houston real estate.
From the site’s about page:
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in Houston real estate, buy Houston real estate, sell Houston real estate, invest in Houston real estate, dream about Houston real estate, or simply live in Houston real estate, . . . well, here you go. You’ll find informative and entertaining stories about Houston real estate here at Swamplot.
Swamplot dredges up and spills out news, leads, and information about Houston homes and commercial property for sale, home design, home renovation, architecture, landscape, and Houston neighborhoods. The site covers the entire Houston real-estate pyramid, from the con men who founded this city to the newcomers you’re hoping will buy your home for far more than it’s worth.
Swamplot uses BlankSlate’s inContext WordPress theme. One of the advantages of using inContext is the ability to customize and style everything from the header to the colors to the fonts in the WordPress admin without coding — and when we say ‘everything’ we mean a site gets automatically formatted for desktop, tablet, and mobile. That being said, if custom features are needed, inContext can be easily modified. Swamplot had some features that it wanted to carry over from its previous site, and a Wordpress developer was able to make these features in a couple of days work.
PoPville named DC’s Best Blog in the Washington Post, which says “PoPville may have discovered the magic formula”by blankslate / Featured, News / October 18, 2013
We’ve written this post before and we’ll probably be writing it again in the future. PoPville, founded and run by Dan Silverman, was named the best neighborhood blog by the Washington Post. Earlier this year it was named best local blog/blogger for 2013 by the Washington City Paper for the second year in a row.
The Post notes, “Dan Silverman may have discovered the magic formula for writing a great neighborhood blog: several posts a day on real estate, restaurants and development … with cute animal pictures thrown in.”
We don’t want to give away any trade secrets… But if you’re looking for some tips, write about the things people care about, such as…
An in-blog ad is a large, graphic ad that is displayed right in the main editorial column of a site. Unlike a traditional display ad, an in-blog is not delivered thru an ad server. Instead, it is uploaded and published like a regular blog post and tracked through the site’s outgoing link analytics.
In-blogs have a large format (ie. 600 x 500 pixels) and give space for more detailed messaging and calls to action than standard display (ie. 728×90/300×250 pixels). Additionally, the placement brings the advertiser to the most premium area of the site–the editorial column. Compared to traditional display ads, in-blogs can draw higher click totals and click through rates over a short period of time.
For example, the in-blog ad below was published on Brownstoner for a commercial real estate listing and received a very high click through rate in the initial 24 hour period after it launched. That said, the rate diminished quickly after day one. Display banners, on the other hand, will give more or less consistent click-through rates during the duration of the campaign over a longer period of time, i.e. 30 days, 90 days, etc.
The reason for the high initial numbers are the size and placement of the ad. The reason for the quick decline is that like any content in the editorial column, the ad will move down quickly, and then drop off of the first page.
Given this shorter shelf-life in comparison to traditional display ads, in-blogs are best used to market events, like open houses, classes, sales and other time-sensitive items. Here the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce used in-blogs on Brownstoner and Brooklyn Based 2 days in advance of the event’s launch to create awareness and drive interest during a period of time when readers made their weekend plans.
We are pleased to report that last week we launched a newly designed Untapped Cities. In addition to handling the techy stuff, Untapped is also joining the BlankSlate Network, so we’ll also be handling the ad sales too.
Untapped Cities is a blog that focuses on urban life in cities around the globe. Untapped’s “writers and photographers are in the streets, unearthing quirky places, stories and events. We’re interested in what’s unseen – whether hidden, unnoticed or lost in the past – and how it informs city life now and in the future.” Its similar in a way to sites like Atlantic Cities. Its approach to creating editorial, though, is quite different: content is crowdsourced from a community of over 200 contributors from around the globe. A small dedicated staff manages the contributors and helps foster community among them. There are weekly Google Hangouts, live events/tours, workshops and contributor get-togethers in New York City.
BlankSlate worked with Untapped to fine tune the site’s concept, the site’s design, and then rebuilt the site. We used our new inContext WordPress theme to redesign the site.
The redesigned site offers a number of improvements over Untapped’s previous setup. Untapped used to have three separate WordPress installations. This approach, which made sense as the geographical coverage area of the site grew, created extra management effort for the editors and more clicks for the readers. BlankSlate consolidated the sites into a single site. Now, the editors are more efficient and readers can more easily navigate the site.
Using the inContext theme made building this custom site incredibly simple. Our designer worked independently with the publisher, without the need for a developer to be involved. After installing the theme, you can immediately see a preview of the site. He then customized the theme through the familiar WordPress admin, previewing changes on the fly. Typically these kinds of interfaces sacrifice features for ease of use or vice versa. Not with inContext. Everything can be modified, from the header size to the font to the layout, without complication. It’s an all-in-one package for any level of customization. Since our designer knows how to do some coding, he also used the advanced customization feature to make some custom modifications.
inContext also uses a responsive design, allowing Untapped to adjust dynamically depending on the device accessing it. It looks equally great on desktops, tablets, and mobile phones, all without the editors having to create more than one layout. That goes for any site using the inContext theme.
For more information about BlankSlate, the BlankSlate Network or the inContext theme, you can contact us here.
Big things are happening here at BlankSlate! On May 1st we sold our QueensNYC blog to our partner Brownstoner. They’re going to transition the site and rename it Brownstoner Queens. Over the next few weeks, the site will take on Brownstoner’s voice and unique perspective on real estate.
Queens is changing quickly — there are tons of new residential properties being developed and a huge influx of young professionals are moving in to avoid Brooklyn-sized rents. Plus, Manhattan is just 10 minutes away by train. And of course there’s Queens’ long history of diversity and, who could forget, the food!
We started QueensNYC a year ago and its success reflects Queens’ own. As Queens grows, so must the site to keep up with this dynamic borough. Who better to take it over than Brownstoner? Brownstoner started in 2004 and rode the wave of change that hit Brooklyn, documenting it the whole way.
Just like with the original Brownstoner, BlankSlate will provide the technology side of everything and run the ad network that involves the other sites in our growing portfolio. So check out QueensNYC as it makes the transition to Brownstoner Queens. We hope you’re as excited as we are!
Brownstoner founder Jonathan Butler’s venture-ing into Queens [NY Daily News]
Brownstoner Queens to Launch Later This Month [Brownstoner]
Our sales manager Brad Einhorn will represent BlankSlate at the Street Fight Summit West in San Francisco on June 5th. If you are interested in learning more about BlankSlate, please track Brad down! Also, check out this recent Street Fight post which featured BlankSlate.