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"The best technology is the one you will use"

By Tracey C. Velt
Featuring Cheryl Knowlton, PMN

As a real estate educator, Cheryl Knowlton, PMN, CEO of Dynamite Productions, knows the value of technology. She has her proprietary software. But, what Knowlton does best is to encourage agents to take control of their lives by being more efficient. "Real estate professionals are overwhelmed. They are encouraged to do podcasts, post to social media, write a blog, all while building relationships with buyers and sellers," she says. "Ultimately, with any technology, the best tool is the one you will use." Here are a few she uses.

1. Record and Transcribe with Rev.com.

When Knowlton wanted to write her book, she was hard-pressed to find time to sit down and write. However, she was frequently speaking about the very subjects she wanted to feature in the book. "I discovered an app called Rev (Rev.com). For $1 a minute, you can talk into this marvelous little app, and the service will transcribe it and send it back to you,” says Knowlton. So, she started recording her speeches. "I used the app to transcribe all of my notes." For real estate professionals, the app can be used to create content for podcasts, blog articles, make notes about a property, and more. "You can strip the audio, and that's your podcast. You can have it transcribed and turn it into a blog post. You can record notes while driving," says Knowlton. “A similar one is called Otter (Otter.ai).”

“I feel like I'm a decent writer, but I don't have the discipline to sit down at my desk and say, ‘Here we go, I'm going to write a book now.’ When people have asked me, ‘I've got this amazing story to tell, how do I start my book?’ I said, ‘Find an audience, a rotary club meeting, a WCR meeting, anywhere,” says Knowlton. “Share your story as it pertains to real estate, lessons learned from that, how others could apply it, and record it. Even if it's just audio, record it and then send it off to Rev, have it transcribed. That's how you start writing a book."

2. Create with Canva.

“I barely passed my 7th-grade art class. That's why I love technology that makes it easy for me to be creative. Canva (Canva.com) helps me create beautiful, creative, wonderful works of art for those who have a little talent. You can add your logo to social media pieces or build listing presentations," she says. Knowlton uses Canva to create memorable memes (pictures with words shared via social media). "I can slap my logo on a funny meme and share it through social media," she says. "Be very careful about intellectual property. I have a subscription to iStock photos, so I have the right to use the photos," says Knowlton. She also uses Canva to create PowerPoint slides that are branded and unique. "I don't like to use the same slide twice even for the same presentation, so this allows me to mix it up."

3. Inexpensive marketing materials and branding.

Fiverr (fiverr.com), connects businesses with freelancers, with some smaller projects costing only $5 to complete. “I've recently started using Fiverr to complement the work my graphic designer does. I'm working on so many projects simultaneously that my designer is overwhelmed,” she says.  She says that Fiverr can be a great way to create a brand. “The idea of creating a logo is so foreign and scary to many real estate professionals. Using Fiverr, they can delegate and outsource it to someone good at that thing, and they can get it cheaper than hiring a designer,” says Knowlton. 

“There's an agent and in Utah, named Beverly Whipple. She’s been recognized in the news for her innovative branding strategies. She is the Tattooed Realtor,” says Knowlton. She’s been able to differentiate herself with her branding. “She took a photo of herself and sent it to Fiverr. They turned it into a cartoon character. It cost her $5. Then, she sent that cartoon character to Sticker Mule (stickermule.com), a custom sticker company. She had stickers and temporary tattoos made,” says Knowlton. She uses the stickers on every piece of mail she sends. “She’s turned them into coasters and leaves them at bars, and she did it on the cheap,” she says.

These are just a few of the ways Knowlton uses technology. "These strategies are very inexpensive, but you get a lot of bang for your buck." She adds, "Use these services to distinguish yourself and be memorable.”

About the Contributor

Tracey C. Velt is an Orlando-based freelance writer.