Thursday, September 26, 2019

Photos for online real estate listings

How to take attractive photos for your online real estate listings

When people are looking to buy a new home, a leading factor in helping them decide whether or not a home is worth further inquiry is the photos used in the online listing. The number of attractive photos provided can be the difference between a buyer jotting down an address for a second look or that buyer simply moving on to the next listing without so much as a second thought. Here are four tips for making the photos in your online real estate listings attractive to your potential buyers.

1. Consider camera orientation when taking and displaying photos.

There's nothing more annoying when looking at a photo than finding it to be all out of proportion and distorted. To keep your photos looking their best, always take note of your camera's orientation before taking any shots. Never take a portrait-oriented photo and later try to stretch it to fit a landscape-oriented frame on your site. Distorted images in an online real estate listing will do little to accurately represent the property and can leave potential buyers struggling to visualize the home's layout.

2. If warranted, make lighting adjustments prior to shooting.

There are many ways to light an area when it comes to real estate photography. This has left many photographers in a disagreement about which method is best. Regardless of any disagreements, however, there is one thing that most photographers tend to agree on - that the lighting should be neither too dark nor too light. Well-lit photos will make a property look more attractive to potential buyers, whereas poorly-lit photos can prevent buyers from seeing a property's best features.

3. Try a slight change in perspective when capturing images.

Applying a slight change in perspective while taking a photo can completely change the look of the finished piece. Instead of taking your real estate photos from a standard vantage point, consider capturing the rooms from a slightly different perspective. Though perspective photography obviously shouldn’t be used to misrepresent the overall look or dimensions of the home and its surrounding yard, it can be an easy way to showcase a property in a more unique light than your competitors.

4. If needed, make color adjustments before putting the images online.

It's important to consider each image's color profile when adding photos to your online real estate listings. Obviously a home's colors should be accurately represented within any displayed images, so in times where the color profile is incorrect, use photo editing software to make the necessary color adjustments before uploading the images to the Internet. Real estate photos with accurately represented colors will be far more attractive and helpful to potential buyers than ones containing skewed color profiles.

With photography being such an important component of today's online real estate marketing strategy, it is vitally important that all your listings include a number of attractive photos to draw in potential buyers. By always using a consistent orientation, plus considering the lighting, perspective, and color profiles of the home and its features when capturing and displaying the images, it will be much easier for buyers to see the true potential of each of the properties in your online real estate listings - a factor that can persuade more buyers to request a viewing, instead of simply scanning past the listing without a second thought.

Home staging tips for realtors

Take your real estate game to the next level with seasonal staging

When it comes to home selling strategies, one of today's most commonly used tactics is staging. So, how can you stage a home, yet still have it stand out from all the other staged houses for sale in the neighborhood? Well, to help a staged home stand out from the rest, try adding some seasonal staging props. By including some subtle seasonal additions in your staging displays, you can take your home staging game to the next level. Continue reading for staging tips unique to each season.

Spring staging tips:

If you'll be staging a home in the spring, try using some fresh cut flowers to add a little life and color to an otherwise generic area. Mildly scented flowers are often best for staging purposes, as stronger scents may be off-putting to potential buyers. Stronger scents could also cause buyers to prematurely leave an area of the home without fully exploring all it has to offer. Other scents that work well during a spring staging include citrus scents like lemon and orange.

Summer staging tips:

Summer staging often benefits with the addition of outdoor elements. An inviting patio setup accented with bright summer colors, overlooking lush, green grass and a well-maintained garden can add a great deal of appeal to any home. Indoors, be sure to showcase the home's natural light by avoiding heavy drapes and opening blinds. As with spring staging, mild floral or citrus aromas often make for great summer scents.

Fall staging tips:

When staging a home in the fall, consider displaying a few vases with brightly colored leaves or a festive gourd centerpiece. Even the addition of a few throw pillows accented with fall colors can often be enough to liven up an otherwise uninspiring living room or bedroom. When considering fall staging scents, aim for a gentle smell of apple or cranberry, as either scent can promote a nice inviting atmosphere.

Winter staging tips:

For winter staging, subtle touches like a holiday-themed centerpiece can spark inspiration in the minds of potential buyers. A small, yet tasteful light display outside can also help a home stand out from any others in the area that are currently on the market. When staging during the winter months, a soft aroma of cinnamon can help make a home smell more inviting to buyers, as can a gentle smell of cedar or pine.

Regardless of the season in which you will be staging a home, always remember that less is more when it comes to seasonal home staging. Subtle additions to your staging props will cast any home in a much more salable light than an over-the-top display of seasonal cheer. Also, be sure to avoid overtly religious displays when staging a home, as such displays may be off-putting to some potential buyers. By considering the season and adding some appropriately-themed items to your staging displays, you should have little trouble taking your home staging game to the next level.

Exploring careers in web development and online marketing

I'm pleased to announce that I'm streamlining and expanding on a career category for you to explore on the subjects of web development and online marketing. On the right-hand side of the blog, a little further down, you'll see a section called "Labels" - look for, and click on, the label called "Careers in web development and online marketing" to access the various content I'm assembling about this fun and exciting business over time. We'll be covering many facets of the industry, including programming and coding, search engine optimization (SEO), blogging, writing copy, social media, and money-making advertising platforms like Google's Adsense program. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Exploring careers in real estate

I'm excited to announce that I'm creating a new career category for you to explore here at the Mr. Robertson's Corner blog devoted to the real estate industry. If you take a look at the right-hand side of the blog, a little further down, you'll see a section called "Labels" - simply look for, and click on, the label called "Careers in real estate" to access the various content I'm assembling about the real estate business. I'm working to put together, over time, a nice collection covering various aspects of the business, including sales, marketing, home staging, finding leads, and networking, among others. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Career readiness resources

Following is a collection of links to previous posts from this blog, as well as links to other Web sites, on various job and career topics. It's my sincere hope that high school students and college undergraduate students will find this collection of career readiness resources helpful as they reflect on and continue to explore what they'd like to do for work after school. The links are in no particular order.

From this blog:

What is networking?

The benefits of networking

Creating a resume and applying for work 

Creating a cover letter for a job application 

The many benefits of volunteer work 

What is professional development?

What is marketing?

Exploring careers in the trades

Computer programming and coding 

Partnerships between school districts and chambers of commerce

Advice for high school and college students 

Building a general foundation first 

The importance of learning outside the classroom 

Cultivating many options

Why you need to understand the basics of government and politics

Pros and cons of entrepreneurship  

Exploring engineering as a career

Career options with writing skills

What is Career and Technical Education, or CTE?

Wisconsin Apprenticeship System

Learning over winter break 

Creating a professional development plan 

From other Web sites:

Student Job Shadowing: Benefits for Your Future Career (from

Career Exploration: How to Get the Inside Scoop (from

Career Exploration & Skill Development (from

College and career planning for high school students (from

The Concept of Career Clusters (from

How to Help High School Students with Career Research (from Concordia University - Portland, Oregon)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The importance of reflection

In the education world today, the word reflection is often used. It's become, it seems, one of the latest buzzwords, one of the latest stylish fads, in education. There appears to be a lot of those, as I suggest in a recent post on the concept of individualized learning. But make no mistake about it - reflection is critical for success in life and career. There's a lot of substance and power behind that word. Let's explore further.

When you truly reflect on something (an event, an experience, a situation, something you read or listened to, a movie you've seen, etc.), you're thinking about it on a deeper level. You're thinking about what happened, and/or maybe what could have happened. You're thinking about any lessons you can take away from what had occurred. Essentially, we're adding, or applying, meaning to what had taken place. And it's through this process of reflection that we truly learn and better ourselves.

Now, the event, experience, situation, words on paper, movie, etc., alone, don't necessarily mean much of anything at all. They're simply happenings that occurred in time and space. They're impartial, meaning they have no particular feelings toward you either way.

Here's a concrete, and a bit of an extreme example, and I hope this never happens to you. Well, I should say that I hope the outcome happens to you, but not the circumstances that caused it. Let's say you're involved in a car accident. Thankfully, you survived. You got a little banged up. Maybe a broken arm and some big bruises. Mentally and psychologically, you're a little shaken up, and that's certainly understandable. Now, the accident, alone, itself, was just an occurrence in time and space. Unfortunately, you were at the wrong place at the wrong time. The stars just happened to align, and all the conditions just happened to be right. The accident, itself, doesn't hate you or want to harm you. The other driver, or the tree, or the slick road, doesn't hate you or want to harm you. It just is what it is. It happened.

Now, after a little time goes by, after you've taken care of your immediate physical health needs and had a chance to calm down a little following the accident, you begin to reflect on it. And during that reflection process, you realize how grateful you are just to be alive. You realize it could have been a lot worse. And that realization has given you a new perspective - a new lease - on life. Before the accident, maybe you always worried about the little things that you have no real control over. You let daily life stress you out. Now, though, you focus on the more important things in life - family, meaningful work that you truly enjoy, meaningful relationships of all kinds, etc. That reflection on that accident has dramatically changed your life for the better.

Let's discuss one more example, out of literally countless examples that we could go on and on with, both dramatic and extreme and not so much.

Let's say you suddenly find yourself in a very difficult financial situation. Maybe you lost your job or had your hours at work significantly cut. As a result, you're having trouble paying your bills, and maybe you start seeing your friends a little less because you don't have any money to go out and have a fun time with. Maybe you start seeking help from charitable organizations - the local food pantry, church groups, and so on. In short, you're going through a pretty tough time.

Through reflecting on the situation you find yourself in, perhaps you become a more caring, empathetic person because you can now relate to and understand what others are similarly going through. And when you overcome your situation and get back on your feet, you know how to better pay it forward. And through it all, maybe you also learn more about your own finances so that you're better prepared should this ever happen again. Perhaps you realize you haven't saved enough money. Maybe you discover that you've been spending too much money on things that you don't necessarily need. In short, through all the bad, you learned some valuable lessons about yourself - and about others.

Key questions you can ask yourself while reflecting on something:

What did I learn from what had occurred (the event, experience, situation, etc.)?

How can these newfound insights better prepare me for the future?

Can I utilize these newfound insights for the benefit of others in any way?

Have I become a better person by what I have learned here? 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Individualized learning

In the K-12 education field today, there's a real push to emphasize individualized learning, or, to use another term that may be thrown out there from time to time interchangeably, personalized learning - this notion that teachers should find more ways to encourage each student to learn on their own terms. To have students learn what they want or need and through the styles that they want or need - visual, audio, hands-on, projects, papers, etc. - is really the goal of this thing we're calling individualized, or personalized, learning.

But in the end, isn't all learning already individualized, whether we're talking structured environments or unstructured activities? And if so, is this movement nothing really more than just one of the latest fads, one of the latest buzzwords, in K-12 education? Now, full disclosure here - I've worked in private sector business all my life so far, and have only been dabbling in K-12 education for less than 1.5 years as a substitute teacher and instructional / special education aide. By no means am I a psychologist, career-long educator, or expert on learning and brain development. I'm merely raising the question based simply on my own observations and experiences over the years as a non-expert lay person and student myself, for whatever they're worth. Let's explore further. We're about to get a little philosophical here.

As I tried to make the case in a previous post, The double-edged sword of technology, each mind is truly unique, and that's what makes every individual truly unique. With that said, if that's the case, then each mind is going to learn, retain knowledge, and make connections in a truly unique, individualized way.

If you and me are in the same class on whatever - it could be business, math, English, history, any kind of elective, etc. - sure, we're both being exposed to the exact same lectures by our teachers, the exact same assignments, the exact same textbooks and materials, and so on. But, I ask, are they really the exact same? You and me are truly unique, so we're not going to learn, retain knowledge, and make connections in the same ways.

Some examples of where I'm trying to go with this:

You may find one of the course's lessons to be very fascinating. I don't know, maybe this lesson, you feel, is somehow really pertinent to a career you're exploring. Or you just simply find it interesting. Whatever. Meanwhile, I'm bored by that very same lesson and simply dismiss it. No offense to the teacher. I just find that the lesson doesn't mean anything for me. It happens.

I may find one strategy to problem solve that really works well for me, while you may find another strategy that really works well for you. Both strategies get us to the same answer or general conclusion, but we find the other's preferred strategy confusing.

Another, more concrete example here - writing a research paper. We're both given the exact same assignment - the rubric is the same, the general guidelines and overall topic or research questions are the same, and so on. But what I actually research (the sources I consult and cite, the search words I enter into Google or an article database, etc.) and how I write and assemble my paper in the end is going to look very different from yours. It's not the same assignment for us because we're not the same.

What you take away from an assigned reading could be very different from what I get out of the exact same reading. What I find meaningful and relevant from the reading, you downplay and forget about, and perhaps vice-versa.

Finally, high school diplomas and college degrees - we earned the same high school diploma from the same high school in the same year. We then earned the same college degree in the same major at the same university. We both have the same exact sheets of paper, the diplomas, to prove it. Only difference is our names on these sheets of paper. But in the end, we each received very different educations to get there because of all the previous examples discussed - and then some. You may have gotten far more out of your education than I did because you completed more of the assigned readings than I did. You also greatly enhanced your education by learning outside of the classroom, and you took networking far more seriously than I did, so your career prospects are looking a lot better than mine at the moment.

What are your own thoughts and observations here? Can you come up with any examples of your own to add to the discussion? Are there any teachers that want to weigh in? What am I missing? What am I not considering or factoring in?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Letter to a former student

Thank you for the kind words, bud. Really means a lot to me. I'll never forget my time there with all of you. So many happy memories. It was a truly wonderful experience, and I'm a better person because of it. You used the crying emoji. Well, I'm going to admit that I really did cry. And I cried hard for a while, both privately and in front of quite a few good friends.

Like I always say, don't waste this precious time that you have right now, like I did when I was in high school. Learn all you can, in and out of class. Learn about history, business, government, finance, investing, ethics. Learn about leadership and what it means to truly be of service to others. Learn about your rights and responsibilities as a citizen. Learn some valuable skills that no one can ever take away from you. Master writing and communication.

I can tell you're the entrepreneurial type, with your lawn mowing business and all. I can also tell that you're the leader, or one of the leaders, among your close circle of friends. Keep it up, and you're not going to believe how far you're going to go. I'm excited for your future - for all of your futures. Give everyone my best. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

An introduction to Scott Joplin

Sometime in high school, I believe, I first came across the music of Scott Joplin (1867 or 68 - 1917), and he's the focus in this latest installment of my occasional series here on this blog, "Exploring the world of music." Famous for a style of music known as ragtime, and even nicknamed, "The King of Ragtime," Joplin, like many ragtime composers and artists, was a pianist.

Following are just three of the many "rags" that Scott Joplin wrote. Just the tip of the iceberg for the vast body of brilliant work he left for us to enjoy and cherish.

The first one here is called "Maple Leaf Rag" (1899), while the second is "The Entertainer" (1902). You may find that you are already somewhat familiar with these tunes when you listen to them here, as they are pretty famous. This is especially true of "The Entertainer." Both have been used in movies, ringtones, and elsewhere all throughout pop culture.

The third one, "Wall Street Rag" (1909), is also fairly well-known but, I would suspect, not at quite the level of fame and familiarity as the other two.

An interesting note here about "Wall Street Rag" - Joplin, who truly had a brilliant mind, wrote each of the song's parts and transitions in such a way as to mimic the different cycles and moods of the stock market, specifically during the Panic of 1907. You can read more about the background of "Wall Street Rag" by clicking here.

What do you think of this music? What's your reaction? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

How to save without really realizing it

Recently, during a meeting of a business networking group I belong to that meets over breakfast a couple times per month, one of the group's members shared this really neat tip for saving up money for, well, whatever - some sort of goal, a rainy day, a trip, etc. At the end of each day, she goes through her purse/wallet and any other place where change is left over from the day, and she'll put any $5 bills she finds away. Some days, obviously, she won't have any to tuck away, but many days she'll easily find at least one. What a cool idea, I immediately thought when I heard it. What a clever way to save for something without making it a big burden and dramatically impacting your lifestyle. Thought it was a tip certainly worth sharing here.

If $5 bills are too big for you to start with, how about trying $1 bills? Or even Quarters? I think that getting into a consistent habit is what's important here. Before you know it, you'll have a nice little savings built up.

Cavalleria Rusticana

I'm pleased to revive my occasional series on this blog, "Exploring the world of music," after a hiatus over the summer. In this installment, I'd like to reflect on a classical/opera piece by Italian composer Pietro Mascagni. It's called, "Cavalleria Rusticana (Intermezzo)," and it was prominently featured in the films Raging Bull and The Godfather Part III. Listen to it in the video below, and then let's discuss it.

I don't know about you, but this piece can be highly emotional and reflective in nature for me, mostly in a tragic sense. I don't know if it's because of the scenes where it plays in The Godfather Part III, and, to a little bit of a lesser extent, Raging Bull, but this piece often paints a picture for me of an old man near the end of his life, thinking back on his life - all the triumphs, joy, sorrow, memories, regrets. Thinking back on all the people and moments that touched his life in a meaningful, profound way; all the people that hurt him and all the people he hurt. Thinking about all the unfinished business he's about to leave behind. All the unfinished words that should have been said. But also, hopefully, thinking, "Man, what an incredible journey it all was."

Sometimes, the piece makes me think of someone experiencing deep loss. The loss of a loved one, and the immense agony that comes with never being able to see that loved one ever again in this world. Thanks, Godfather Part III.

But for all the tragedy and the heartache, if there's any good that can come out of thinking about this piece in that light, it's that we should attempt to simply treat others, along with ourselves, better in the limited time we each have.

When you listen to this piece - and I'd suggest listening to it at least a couple of times - what does it make you imagine, or think about? How does the music move you, and speak to you? Share in the comments below. 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

PBS video clip on George Custer

Per my recent post on Captain Myles Keogh and the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, here's a PBS video clip on General George Custer I recently came across on YouTube. It focuses on Custer's time in the Civil War (1861-65) and on his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth. Very interesting. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Welcome back students!

Hello! I hope this message finds you well, and I hope you enjoyed your summer break! I sure kept busy over the summer with several projects that were a lot of fun for me. Well, it's time to get back to work in the classroom for all of us. For me, that means a long-term substitute assignment as a special education aide at the high school level that I recently accepted.

While it's back to learning in the classroom, hopefully, you didn't stop learning over the summer. As I always explain to students, learning takes on an enormous variety of forms and situations. With that said, learning - and the opportunity to learn - never ends. You don't have to be in a classroom or school setting to learn, grow, and develop. And actually, I would contend, many of the greatest, most meaningful life and career lessons we'll ever learn take place outside of school. But school and the "real world" do certainly go hand-in-hand. While there are plenty of social commentators and political pundits out there ready to attack and instantly dismiss just about all avenues of formal education as being a complete waste of time and money and not having much to do with reality at all, it's clear, at least to me, that there are certainly deep strands connecting the two "worlds." You're not going to be very successful out there in much of anything if you can't read, write, reason, perform basic math functions, conduct research, and understand and subscribe to some sort of ethical and moral framework. Likewise, skills and experiences like networking, learning how to effectively communicate and collaborate with others to perform work or accomplish a goal, customer service, general business processes, mastering software programs and different types of equipment, building or repairing things, working with tools, salesmanship and marketing, computer programming and coding, entrepreneurship, etc., etc., can only come by constant exposure in real settings. You have to just get out there and do it, as they say, and that requires plenty of practice, mistakes, patience, fine-tuning, reflection - and drawing from the skills and experiences you're picking up in class.

Anyways, I think I may be getting off topic just a tad. This was supposed to be a simple "welcome back" post, not a philosophical debate about the merits and shortcomings of formal education, or the current state of the modern-day school system, or how the mind grows and develops. There will be plenty of future opportunities for "those" posts.

Here's to a successful 2019-2020 school year and to your continued growth as a leader! Wishing you all the best. Take advantage of this time that you have to learn all that you can. Don't squander this precious opportunity you have right now, like I did when I was in high school.

Mr. Robertson