In 1999 (yep) I set up some websites thinking I could generate leads from everyone in the world. I had an estate agency and was a mortgage broker. By 2006, during the thriving mortgage market, we were generating and selling thousands of leads daily to mortgage brokers across the UK.
Simultaneously, our property site, a pre-Rightmove directory of Estate Agents, captured property requirements and connected users with agents. We got loads of traffic from people who wanted to register their buying requirements with agents (there was no Rightmove then) and we were ranked in the top 10 of all property websites by Hitwise.
We also got heaps of traffic from users who wanted to look at the recently released Land Registry data of ‘sold’ house prices. I think, back then we had to pay for it, it’s free now and most sites carry it. We called this, the ‘nosey neighbour effect’. The users’ thirst for looking at what their neighbours paid for the property was insatiable.
Not the time for speculating
Loads of users signed up for the newsletter and a germ of an idea was born in my head. More on that later. Our Mortgage lead business was lucrative as those in the property market for new homes were potential mortgage clients. We sold all the leads we generated to mortgage brokers across the UK.
In 2006-2007, amidst our foothold in the mortgage market, I set up a sideline business called Angels Media and we launched our first website. Introducer Today, a digital news publisher to educate and inform the very market we were targeting–mortgage brokers and IFA’s. I didn’t really know at the time, but I guess nowadays you would call that ‘content marketing’. It just seemed logical to me.
Then, the global financial crisis hit, severely impacting all companies worldwide, especially those in mortgages! So I thought ‘Sh*t! What the hell are we gonna do now?!’
In the back of my mind, I had always pondered the challenge of creating the holy grail for estate agents – vendor leads. However, now was NOT the time for speculating, now was the time to try to get some revenue coming in as we had hardly any inbound mortgage leads coming in any more to sell and I had a future ex-wife to support! So I thought, well Introducer Today has gone ok so let’s copy this blueprint and let’s do one for Estate Agents in the UK.
Launching Estate Agent Today on July 1, 2008, amid the financial downturn, we faced paper-based competitors that couldn’t adapt, ultimately going out of business. This positioned us as the primary news source for UK estate agents. I will always claim that this was by design, but it wasn’t, it was just luck – I claim it anyway!
We also expanded the titles into non-property markets like ‘Recruiter Today’, ‘Green Today’ (yep, we did), and even ‘Gay Today’, but they didn’t work so we eventually refocused on property/home moving.
Just like the overwhelming thirst for knowledge during the COVID times, our readership skyrocketed, and Estate Agent Today became the go-to platform for news and updates in the market. Who knew?
Subsequently, we introduced Letting Agent Today and Landlord Today etc, gradually expanding services for estate agents including social media management, blog writing, public relations, etc.
Now that we had some revenue coming in, my mind started to think about how we could create vendor leads for estate agents. I hadn’t really stopped thinking about it (one of the benefits of ADHD, I guess!).
So, in 2011, I started to think again about the insatiable appetite of UK homeowners and their fascination with their house price (it’s a national pastime, isn’t it?) and how we could harness that into a business.
So, what happened next was……
I’ll tell you next time.
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