Lost - and gained - thanks to the Internet

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

There are days when I believe what I've lost to computers, thanks to the Internet, is my sanity. Sometimes this machine really drives me wild.

But... what have I really lost?

Privacy, just like everyone else. And for the most part, we did it willingly.

Those of us who have websites - or who belong to Active Rain - post our biographies for any and all to see. People who play on Facebook, etc. fill out profiles that offer up details on everything from hobbies to tastes in music and food. Then some of them post intimate details about their health, their families, and even their finances.

I do have a Facebook account, but have not shared all the details of my life.

In addition to that, anyone willing to pay for the information can learn far more from websites that compile everything about us that's ever been of public record - and some that has not.

All that sharing leads to threats...

Identity theft has become big business for criminals, and those who share too much make it far too easy for them.

We've also lost time...

Who hasn't gotten wrapped up in reading articles or blog posts - going from one to another while an hour or two slips by unnoticed? It's also easy to waste time playing games, listening to favorite songs, or shopping.

How about money?

It sure is easy to spend it on line!

But what have we gained?

The ability to stay in touch with loved ones. I have two sons who would be hard the balance between gains and lossesto reach if I could only phone them during the hours they're at home. Now, as long as there's a cell signal, I can find them anywhere.

The ability to find and reconnect with friends from years ago. We can find high school or college friends, old neighbors, former co-workers, etc.

Speed of communication, for sure. While in many cases, I do prefer the phone, being able to instantly send written words back and forth via email is a blessing.

Information. Remember when we needed to own an encyclopedia or make a trip to a library to learn about people, inventions, historical events, etc.? And then, the information wasn't current.

Well, if you're young, perhaps you don't remember. But that's the way it was not ALL that many years ago.

While we do need to be careful of our sources, we can look up almost anything from the comfort of home. Or - for all you smart phone users - the comfort of anywhere you happen to be. I love it that when I'm curious about something, or when I want to remember the words to an old song, the answers are only minutes away.

What I've gained personally is a career I love...

After 15 or so years as an agent and then an owner/broker, what I had come to love most about my work was marketing. I loved writing letters, ads, and our monthly newsletter. I loved dreaming up ways to put our brokerage in the newspaper (for free) each week.

And then one day I received an email from AWAI - the American Writers and Artists Institute. More messages followed, and I became interested. They said I could learn to be a copywriter, and I decided to agree with them.

I sent away for the home-study course, and every night after work I'd study - and write. Michael Masterson said that to become good at something, you needed to put in 1,000 hours, so I made a chart and marked off the hours I spent writing each day.

To make a long story short, I loved it, and kept at it. Twice I even traveled to Florida to attend copywriting bootcamps.

But if it hadn't been for the Internet, what would I have done with it?

How would I have found clients? I could have placed ads in magazines or somehow gotten addresses and written to people who might need a copywriter.

I have a feeling the career would have fizzled. No one in my small town would have hired a writer. Not when the people at the newspaper would write their ads for free. At that time, no real estate agents did their own marketing. The brokerages placed ads in the local newspaper and in homes magazines, and that was it. The other agencies didn't even have websites. (Yep, we were first, thanks to my son, who insisted.)

Until our agency came along, nobody wrote prospecting letters or monthly newsletters, either. (And they still don't, for the most part.)

Thanks to the Internet, I have clients all over the U.S. and a few in other countries.

Also thanks to the Internet, I have friends I have never met and likely will never meet in person. One of my favorite long-term clients/friends is in Southern Florida - about as far from North Idaho as you can get and still stay in the "Lower 48."

Thanks to those clients turned friends, I now know more about the real estate markets in Florida, California, Texas, etc. than I do about our local market.

The conclusion - I gained a lot more than I lost, thanks to the Internet.

I'm forever grateful to the Internet for making it possible for me to enjoy a career as a real estate copywriter, and to make new friends across the country.


Comments (17)

Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Marte:

I really enjoyed your post! Privacy is certainly a big loss, and as you point out it really has been done willingly through our participation online.

Our available time has certainly been impacted, although again much of that is willingly participating in social media, as one example.

There are, at the same time, plenty of gains, as you noted.

Enjoy your weekend!


Jan 28, 2022 10:23 AM
Marte Cliff

Thanks Jeff. I do appreciate the gains, in spite of the losses.

Jan 29, 2022 07:47 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

I also think we have gained so much.  I have found friends that I had in grammar school and have made new friends across the country that I would never have know if it where not for the internet.  Great post!

Jan 28, 2022 10:50 AM
Marte Cliff

It really is fun to catch up with people we knew years and years ago. And - it is fun to meet people who grew up in places far different from our own homes.

Jan 29, 2022 07:48 AM
Ed (Edward) Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

So much of your post it a reality to so many of us.  The Internet has given us friends and contacts all over the world and many of us appreciate that as well.

Jan 28, 2022 02:10 PM
Marte Cliff

I certainly do, Ed. Now when I see a city mentioned in the news I think "I know someone there. I wonder how this is affecting them." Then sometimes I write just to say "Are you OK?"

Jan 29, 2022 07:50 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


I enjoyed reading your post, and I agree with it.  We try to maximize our privacy with adblock+ and we stay off Social Media other than this one.  Yes, we have gained a lot.  A

Jan 28, 2022 02:28 PM
Marte Cliff

I find it hard to understand why people share what they share on social media.

Jan 29, 2022 07:51 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Marte- Love what you had to say. While the internet can take away some of our privacy, for me the trade-off far outweighs this. and yes it can be a time grabber but it is our choice. 

Jan 28, 2022 07:19 PM
Marte Cliff

Exactly, Kathy. No one forces us to waste hours on line.

Jan 29, 2022 07:52 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Marte, we may be part of the last generation to have any concept of what privacy means - like that ship has sailed!  But I agree that I like the internet more than I hate it!  

Jan 28, 2022 07:45 PM
Marte Cliff

I guess life is a series of trade-offs, and we can control this one to some extent, just by being careful.

Jan 29, 2022 07:52 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

I read and enjoyed every word. Naturally, we learned how to use the tools and the marketing to save time and continue to get repeat clients. Great contest entry and this statement is so true..."What I've gained personally is a career I love...''


Jan 28, 2022 09:59 PM
Marte Cliff

Margaret - I do believe that my career would have been impossible without the Internet.

Jan 29, 2022 07:53 AM
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC
I can't imagine how hard this business would be without a smart phone. I started about the time the first iPhone came out! I am so glad I don't have to deal with all that paper and fax machines!
Jan 29, 2022 12:25 AM
Marte Cliff

Tom - I don't own one because I live and work where there is no cell signal. Writing for agents requires me to be at my desk, with my fingers on the keyboard rather than in the car, running off to meetings.

Jan 29, 2022 07:55 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I enjoyed your post about what has been lost and gained. I also think we've gained more than we have lost.

Enjoy your Saturday!

Jan 29, 2022 05:02 AM
Marte Cliff

Kat - isn't it nice to feel we're on the plus side?

Jan 29, 2022 07:56 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Marte - the introduction, expansion and worldwide acceptance of the Internet has greeted us with both good and not-so-good things.  Just like the real world before its arrival.  It's definitely a balancing act.  

Jan 29, 2022 05:06 AM
Marte Cliff

Michael - you are so right. Our pre-Internet world also had it's pluses and minuses.

Jan 29, 2022 07:57 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

A lot of people were connecting with lost friends and relatives initially. I see realtors have over  3000 FB friends and more on linkedin.  Now they are getting more spam than they know what to do.  Now I am getting more spam, sellers on text msg which is abused ....  What is next? 

Jan 29, 2022 06:13 AM
Marte Cliff

Sam - I'm pretty careful about accepting friend requests, as I imagine you are. But - we all get spam, both on line and off. I recall a time when I donated to a horse rescue - and then my mailbox was flooded with donation requests from other groups across the country. Those darned people sold my address!

Jan 29, 2022 08:00 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Marte Cliff - In my opinion, you represent the best of the best on ActiveRain. I only wish I had read this when I began ActiveRain. Like many, I was drawn into revealing a lot more about myself once I took the challenge about who I am, stories about me, etc. I took the bait. Nobody forced me to write but wrote and now I'm beginning to have regrets. But, it's all ready out there and once it's on the internet it stays. As they say, it's never to late to learn, or is it?

Jan 29, 2022 07:11 AM
Marte Cliff

Thank you Patricia. I appreciate your kind words. And no, I don't think it's ever too late to learn.

Jan 29, 2022 08:01 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Good morning, Marte... I long ago learned that nothing is ever perfect... and I agree with you... on the whole, the internet has provided many positive things to my life, personal and professional... and they far outweigh the disadvantages.

Jan 29, 2022 07:26 AM
Marte Cliff

Nina - there are two sides to everything, so we might as well enjoy the positive things.

Jan 29, 2022 08:02 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good afternoon Marte Cliff ,

Excellent post and glad to see it featured. I couldn't agree more with you..I gained a lot more than I lost thanks to the Internet! 

Jan 29, 2022 11:31 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services

Marte Cliff It boggles my mind what people share online on social media.  I do more online shopping than I ever thought I would do however that was pandemic driven.  We have instant access to everything as long as we have power and a connection. I love writing too however I only love writing for myself. I'm happy that you love what you do. 

Thank you for participating in the January 2022 challenge.



Jan 29, 2022 11:37 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate Services

Marte Cliff Please be sure to post a link to your entry on the challenge post. That is how we track points to be awarded. Thank you. 


Jan 29, 2022 11:39 AM
Roy Kelley
Retired - Gaithersburg, MD

Thank you very much, Marte, for sharing some of your observations.

Have an outstanding week.

Jan 30, 2022 07:52 AM