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Commercial software — the kind you sell to other people — is a game of inches

Slow and steady...
Slow and steady...

Every day you make a tiny bit if progress. You make one thing just a smidgen better. A tiny improvement that will barely benefit anyone. One inch.

There are thousands of these tiny things.

It takes a mindset of constant criticism to find them. And as you fix more and more of these little details, as you polish and shape and shine and craft the little corners of your product, something magical happens.

The inches add up to feet, the feet add up to yards, and the yards add up to miles. And you have a truly great product. The kind of product that feels great, that works intuitively, that blows people away. The kind of product where that one-in-a-million user doing that one-in-a-million unusual thing finds that not only does it work, but it’s beautiful: even the janitor’s closets of your software have marble floors and solid-core oak doors and polished mahogany wainscoting.

And that’s when you know it’s great software.

Loosely copied from “More Joel on Software”

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Videos from YouTube no longer showing Related Videos

If you have a video of your listing, be sure to include it on your TourVista virtual tour.  Here’s how:

  1. Upgrade your virtual tour to Premium
  2. Upload your video to your YouTube account
  3. Copy the video ID from YouTube
  4. Paste the video ID into the Video section of your virtual tour

Now a Video tab will show on your virtual tour page & widgets that includes your video from YouTube.  

Plus, thanks to the suggestion from Phyllis R., the “Related Videos” from YouTube are no longer showing when your video finished playing on your virtual tour.  Not only is this a better experience for your viewers (no need to show them content that is not specifically about your property) but if your property is in an MLS you don’t have to worry about getting any fines.  Some MLS’s are very strict about what you can and cannot show about a property online.

Craigslist Made My Nice Photos All Blurry, Say What?

This post goes out to all the landlords and property managers out there.  Anyone who has a property for rent.  Hopefully you already know this… You’ve gotta put your ad on Craigslist.  

I don’t know the percentages but I’m guessing that 80%+ of prospective renters will use Craigslist exclusively in there search for a new home.  How do I know this?  Well, I’ve been renting out my condo in West Seattle each year for the past 4 years and every time I post the ad on Craigslist, I get a flood of emails from interested applicants.  I’ve never had to advertise my condo anywhere else.  

Looking Good On Craigslist is Essential

The bad news is that most other landlords & property managers also know about Craigslist.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to post my condo to Craigslist and within 20 minutes, it will already be on page 2 of the results in Seattle!  That’s crazy, I know.  So, your posting needs to look professional if it’s going to stand out.  This also goes for your photos — they’ve gotta look great.  Craigslist even has a search filter to skip ads that don’t include photos and I’m sure that many searchers use this — I mean, what good is an ad for an apartment or house if it doesn’t show any pictures?

You say: “So how come my awesome looking photos are all blurry once I upload them to Craigslist?”

I respond: “Because Craigslist shrinks your photos to fit their template and to load very fast.  This reduces their quality significantly and can often times result in blurry, messy looking photos.”

Check out this example from one of TourVista’s clients:

Original Photo Looks Great Craigslist Photo Looks Blurry
Original Photo Before Craigslist Screwed It Up  Craigslist Blurry Photo

There are the actual photos, no Photoshopping or anything like that.  Craigslist really nukes your original pix.

The good news is that you can still get your photos looking AMAZING on Craigslist! 

Just use TourVista’s Craigslist templates to create your ad and your photos will look so much better.  The trick is that when you use our Craigslist templates, you upload the photos to, not, and we don’t reduce the quality.  Your ads pull the photos from your account at and that’s how your photos maintain their original high quality.

‘Nuff said! Give TourVista a spin and try out our Craigslist templates.  They will save you time, make your ads look so much better, and give prospective tenants a great first impression of your property.  Click the image below to get started.

Setup a Free Tour and Craigslist Template

#21 – When Google Maps Fails… TourVista to the Rescue!

Google Maps is great and most of the time it works as expected.  But every once in a while, for whatever reason, it won’t map your property correctly.  This is annoying and ruins all of the effort you’ve put into creating your virtual tour on TourVista.  

Previously, you had to contact us and we would manually update your mapping.  As you know, TourVista is all about do-it-yourself solutions, so we’ve made some improvements to our tour management interface and now you can easily modify the mapping of your property as it shows on Google Maps!

Here’s a video tutorial from our founder Matt Cassarino explaining the deets:

#19 – Point Users in the Right Direction with Interactive Floor Plans

We’ve heard from some of our users that people may not know to mouseover the interactive floor plans in order to view the arrows and each respective photograph.  Leaving out this instructive text was a deliberate design decision as we wanted to keep the tour player free of unnecessary content.  However, at the same time, if a user doesn’t realize that their is an interactive floor plan and never experiences that aspect of the virtual tour, that’s an even greater loss.

So we’ve updated the TourVista source code to give the best of both worlds.  Now you can choose whether or not to show a message informing the users that they should mouseover the interactive floor plan in order to use it.  And you can even customize the message text for each of your virtual tours with interactive floor plans!

Thanks to Eric from Chicago for this suggestion.  Check out his virtual tour in Chicago’s Garfield Ridge.  As always, let us know what you think and if you have any ideas for improving TourVista, we’re listening.

#18 – Easily Transfer a Virtual Tour Between Accounts

In case you ever need to transfer a virtual tour between accounts, don’t waste your time in recreating it!  Just follow the steps outlined in this tutorial and quickly move a virtual tour from one TourVista account to another.

Note: if you are transferring a Premium virtual tour to a Free account or an account that has already used up all of its Premium virtual tours, the transferred Premium tour will be automatically downgraded to Free.  However, don’t worry about losing any of the data from the tour.  The receiving account can simply upgrade to a larger Premium plan and then upgrade the transferred virtual tour back to its Premium status.

Add a YouTube Video to Your Virtual Tour

Today we launched an update to TourVista’s real estate marketing platform that allows our Premium users to include a YouTube video on their virtual tours.  This is a fantastic enhancement and we encourage everyone to take advantage of using video for marketing their properties online.

What if I don’t have a video of each property?
No problem! Instead of a property video, many real estate agents include a short personal video.  Doing so allows them to add additional personalization to their virtual tours and helps to generate new customers.

Do I have to upload my video to YouTube first?
Yes, you do not upload your property/personal video to TourVista.  Instead, upload your video to your YouTube account, then copy/paste the YouTube video ID on to the Video page of your virtual tour, as the above video tutorial demonstrates.  If you don’t have a YouTube account, set one up — they are free and it only takes a few minutes.

Does it benefit my and/or my property to post the video on YouTube?
Yes! Absolutely!  YouTube is one of the most trafficked websites on the Internet.  Many people use the search tool on YouTube to find videos to watch.  While at this time, YouTube is not what we would consider a “real estate search portal”, it doesn’t hurt to have extra exposure for your properties and your business online.

Plus, YouTube has a world-class hosting platform and converts your videos so they can be seen on mobile browsers, too.  Add to that “video streaming” (which means you can jump to a section of the video that hasn’t downloaded yet) and there’s really no reason to not publish your videos to YouTube.

Remember, the Internet is a tool that you can use to better market your properties and your business. TourVista helps you do both!

Should I Hire a Professional to Take My Real Estate Photos?

Sometimes point & click camera’s don’t cut it.  See the difference for yourself between my hand held point & click and my professional quality Nikon digital SLR camera with wide angle lens.

Click on the photos below to launch the slideshow comparison.  Once the slideshow is launched, click on the right side of the photo to view the next, or the left side to view the previous photo.

The equipment you use can make a big difference to your end results.  A wide angle lens can help your photos stand out.  However, not many (if any) point & click cameras you would carry around have the option for a wide angle lens.  I used the exact same camera angle in all these shots with both cameras zoomed all the way out…see for yourself.  A tripod can also really help, but I’m sure most people don’t carry one around with them, nor do they have one for their point & click camera.  It’s a really useful tool in creating professional quality photos.

Another item setting professionals apart from those who do it themselves is editing software.  At TourVista we use HDR technology (High Dynamic Range) to get a more vivid feel for what the image really looks like in person versus the single exposure setting you would take with a personal point & click camera.  Using editing software such as Photoshop or online editors like can save you when you’re underexposed or shots are tilted.  But learning how to use them is a major time commitment you should be prepared for if you want your shots to turn out great.