THE BASIS POINT

Julian Hebron’s latest on Zillow – top story again

I’ve been writing for Zillow for a little while now, with 125 pieces under my belt (with and without my byline). Their consumer blog, recently renamed Zillow Porchlight, is one of the most read consumer housing sites on the web. The team running it is comprised of total pros–I’m very thankful to work with Cat, Mel, Jessica, Jackie, Tali, Erin, and the rest of the team.

They’ve taught me a lot about how to really write for the consumer, which I claimed for years to do on this blog before it went on hiatus, but working with Zillow forced me to get serious about simplifying my writing. A fortune cookie phrase long ago became my mantra for how to view financial content for consumers:

“It is a simple task to make things complex, but a complex task to make them simple.”

If you think it’s easy to make things simple, then try meeting the following objectives when writing financial stories:

-Short
-Interesting
-Original
-Your parent or child can understand it

It’s way harder than it looks, especially when you’re covering dry topics that have been done before–which is pretty much every consumer finance and housing topic.

My Zillow team has forced me to truly understand what tone and approach resonates with the consumer. And the scale of the Zillow platform has taught me what succeeds and fails as my pieces rise or don’t rise to “Most Shared Stories” status on Zillow Porchlight. In the past 6 months, more and more of my stories are rising to the top of the Most Shared list, including the last two which I thought were especially dry:

Zillow_Porchlight_Julian_Hebron_2016-06-03_combined

Good evidence for the case that consumers will respond to even the driest of topics if the story meets the four objectives above.

My Zillow stories can be found here. I’d love your feedback so I can continue to adjust and improve.

I also want to shout out a fellow consumer finance writer Ilyce Glink who’s been very supportive of my Zillow content on Twitter, and is a great follow if you’re interested in how to write well.

And finally: yes, the headline of this post is a blatant SEO tactic as The Basis Point slowly reemerges from a three-year hiatus 😉