“Maybe we should talk? “- by Cain Maven
This weeks guest-blogger, in our new series, is house-builder and Second Life architect Cain Maven. You will get to know him better in this article he wrote for us. Food for thought, thank you Cain for taking the time in your busy schedule to give us your insights!
I have a confession to make: I haven’t been particularly good at using blogs to promote my Second Life business. In fact, I have sucked at it. Mostly, this is because I have been lazy or inept, but to a certain extent it’s also due to the nature of the beast. Let me explain. I design, build, and sell houses for a living. For historical and business reasons, I maintain two brands: Maven Homes and Quantum Luxury Homes. Most of the Maven Homes models are small to mid-sized, whereas the latter range from medium to Insanely Big. Now, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort you spend making stuff if you can’t convince anyone to buy it, and that obviously requires marketing. Anyone who’s tried to run a business in Second Life has likely soon discovered that marketing isn’t easy, and it’s certainly different from marketing in the physical world.
Commute-time radio ads? Nope. TV commercials? Not really. Magazine ads? Yes, but it’s very hard to track readership numbers and effectiveness. Billboards may work for some, but they never did anything for me, and the same is true of classifieds. All of which pretty much leaves group notices as the one in-world channel that may have reasonable reach, immediacy and appeal. But how many of us actually read all 99+ notices that await us when we return to our screens? I know I don’t, although maybe I should.
If Second Life itself doesn’t provide effective, built-in marketing channels, the logical answer is to look to the web, and (with a couple of exceptions) that means blogs. Bloggers are not a monolithic entity, though—some focus on fashion, some on furniture and décor, and others again will be all about the finer points of technology. Finding that subset of blogs that cater to and care about your type of products isn’t necessarily as easy as it may sound, especially if some of the items in question are Insanely Big houses that require half a region and a thousand prims.
‘However, while I’m sure everyone who’s reading this has heard the complaint that “bloggers are just in it for the freebies,” that’s not my experience.’
Then there’s the obvious question of quality. Not all blogs are born alike, and while there is some truly stunning work out there, the blogosphere also includes its share of less impressive offerings—just like everything else in life. However, while I’m sure everyone who’s reading this has heard the complaint that “bloggers are just in it for the freebies,” that’s not my experience. It only happened to me once, and that person no longer blogs. I believe unethical bloggers fall by the wayside sooner or later.
Let me not forget events. I suppose they’ve always been there, but over time they have become increasingly popular—to the point where the event schedule is busier than Donald Trump’s twitter feed. I realize that they are great opportunities for many creators, and I know that they provide a steady stream of product news for bloggers, but they’re not for everyone. Events typically require exclusivity and a monthly turnaround, and neither of those criteria works well for me. Being limited to a single outlet for the first weeks or months of a product’s lifetime is a gamble I’m not generally comfortable with, and I’m way too much of a slowpoke to be able to churn out something newish every month. (Even if I could, I would quickly run out of space to display stuff, and products like houses need longer life cycles in order to be profitable.) I have participated in one monthly event, and while that went well, I simply won’t be able to keep up with the rapidly beating pulse of most events. I’m of course well aware that the issues that I face are not typical of most creators in Second Life. Photographing houses takes a lot more time and space than, say, shoes or sofas, and the lower release frequency that inevitably comes with time-consuming products like houses doesn’t help, either. Add to that the fact that bloggers who have a passion for architecture solely on its own merits are understandably few and far between, and the field narrows quite a bit.
‘I’m sure there are many builders out there who would like to find new ways of increasing brand exposure and promoting products.‘
Despite the challenges, I’ve had some really good experiences. Every now and then, someone will take incredible pictures and write truly clever copy—as a creator, that is tremendously rewarding, and not just because it has the potential of boosting sales; it’s an incentive to pull out the grid paper and get to work on the next one.
Back to my original confession: I have not made full use of the marketing opportunities that blogs offer. I’m probably not alone in this; I’m sure there are many builders out there who would like to find new ways of increasing brand exposure and promoting products.
I’m equally convinced that there are scores of bloggers who would be interested in early and consistent access to new releases, and who are truly focused on architecture in all its diverse forms.
Maybe we should talk?
Maven Homes on Flickr
Maven Homes on MP
Yes! I think when you are truly astounded by the beauty of a building, you make a much better post. Then the descriptive prose flows much easier because you are carried away by how such things make you feel. That’s from the point of view of an immersive blogger *laughs* It also helps if you have lots of primmage free thanks to a kindly landlord and a platform in the sky that you can endlessly fiddle with… but still – a good picture and description is something that lasts in the minds of the readers and promotes sales.
Hey there. Very nice article and while I didn’t learn much — knowing your point of view already — I enjoyed it. As you say it IS problematic for home builders. I make tiny niche buildings, nothing fancy like your homes, but still marketing is an issue.
Each blogger has their own methods of course. Some may like to show the houses empty (Chic waves hands as a real life housing remodeler who REALLY wanted to see the actual house before purchasing and not just enjoy the smell of cookies baking in the oven) and those that prefer to dress their photos.
Others tend to — well, let’s say overdecorate IMHO so that viewers don’t see the house at all :D. Pretty pictures with a cacaphony of items that make my head spin. Perhaps a middleground is the sensable choice.
Marketing will always be more difficult for homebuilders — not everyone has land for a home, needs a new home, has enough lindens for a big purchase — on and on. At the same time, it is just as important from my point of view that you create what you love.
Blogging what you love is a perk!
May you find some perfect bloggers in your future!!!!!!
Actually, I think you may have found the perfect group. This group of bloggers has some amazing photographers and writers in it and if you could leave the build up and ask one of the ladies in charge here to send a notice of your newest builds, leave it set up for a week and invite those who may be in the housing niche of blogging could come and snap photos and blog for you before you pack it up for sale. Just a thought.
*nods and agrees with Colleen* I blog for a builder who does one, possibly two builds a year. He sends out invitations to a group of bloggers to photograph the build on his platform just prior to release. This allows the blogger time to wander the house, take photos and build the hype of the release. It seems to work; while there is a rather small window of time to get in and shoot, it gives the blogger the opportunity to photograph the house without having to worry about having enough prims to set it up. He then gives a copy of the home to the bloggers who have posted the release. It seems to work; it gets the publicity out there and targets the bloggers who are committed to this type of work.
I was going to comment and suggest exactly what Peep has written, as I know the builder in question as I blog for them as well and that process has worked very well in my opinion. I really appreciate the comments made by Chic, as sometimes I switch back and forth in how I show a new home.
Thanks for the feedback, guys! I thought I’d post a couple of randomly chosen links to posts that I like — just to give you an idea of the style I think would work for most builders:
They’re obviously very different, but that they have in common is a focus on the architecture itself, rather than decor or landscaping. That’s not to say that a piece couldn’t or shouldn’t include those things, but what these posts do is put the house front and center.
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Reblogged this on Cait's World and commented:
This week we Cain Maven, from Maven Homes, wrote a piece as guestblogger on SL Blogger Support, telling us about the challenges a house-builder and architect has when it comes to finding bloggers.