You’re Not Doing It Wrong, I’m Just Doing It Different

I’ve stopped counting the number of times I’ve been told that social media is a waste of my time, or the number of times someone has referred to it as a “young person’s tool”, or the number of times someone has rolled their eyes when I’ve mentioned that I Tweet.  But, sometimes I do feel like I need to explain myself.        


I entered the real estate business in 2004.  I was trained at a very well-respected company by well-respected agents.  I was told to learn from their experiences.  My first month on the job consisted of reading real estate books, waiting on my license to come in.  I read about keeping in contact with my clients via newsletters and postcards.  I read about the power of numbers.  I read about print advertising and attracting buyers and sellers through print media.  I read until I figured out that even blind squirrels stumble across a nut or two.  I had a desk in the “bull-pen” and the advantage of watching some of the company’s top producers in action.  I never observed people coming in to the office to work with the elite agents because they had received an insightful newsletter.  I never heard their clients mention the fantastic recipe they had received from their agent either.  What I did see was the need for the client to be guided by this agent.  Their clients needed to have access to their knowledge and their professional sphere.  They worked with these top producers because they believed they did a good job.  I also noticed that the top producing REALTORS had taken time to cultivate their audience.  They didn’t start out in the business as the elite.  They worked their way up systematically and developed a following.  As a young agent, age-wise and experience level, this was a very important phenomenon to behold.


But, ever diligent, I remembered my early training and the advice that so many had bestowed on me and plugged away at the newsletters, postcards, and stagnant website.  I followed the lead my company was offering and questioned very little.  However, nothing ever felt right.  I applied for and received the production awards.  I touted my production from the roof tops.  I looked the part, dressed in my REALTOR-wear – slacks, button-up shirt, and heels, but I didn’t believe in the part.  I didn’t feel comfortable in the skin I was told to live and work in.  I was truly acting my way through real estate. 


I was bored and it was only my third year in the business.  My numbers were good, but there was no joy in my career.  So, I began exploring the blogging world.  And everything finally made sense.  I realized I didn’t want to talk at my clients; I want to talk with my clients.  I want my clients to take advantage of my knowledge.  I want them to have the ability to respond to what I tell them and question what I tell them.  I wanted my clients to be able to interact with me.  I want to engage those in my community and in my profession.  I want to build a following, not because of an end product, but because of the possibility of continued growth.  I want to BLOG. 


Social media has been a natural progression for me.  I am always amazed at how many people I touch every day and how many people touch me.  I am also always amazed at the feedback I get via comments or personal emails about my blog posts.  Social media has allowed me to grow in ways I didn’t think possible.  It’s not about the number of hits a blog site gets, or the number of readers.  Social media isn’t a numbers game.  Having the most “friends” or “followers” doesn’t mean much if what you are promoting lacks substance.  Social media is about the relationships that develop and the trust that follows.  Social media is about the big picture.         


I’m not saying that blogging is for everyone.  And, I’m not saying that if you’re not blogging you’re doing it wrong.  What I am saying is that blogging feels right for me.  Blogging feels right for my clients and it feels right for my business.  You’re not doing it wrong; I’m just doing it different. 

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29 Responses to You’re Not Doing It Wrong, I’m Just Doing It Different

  1. Robin Taylor Roth says:

    This is one of the best SM lifepath stories I’ve read, Sarah. Very well explained, indeed!

    With your permission, I plan to post links to this one in a couple of places.

    … Robin

  2. Donna Patton says:

    Thank you for writing this. We just had a company meeting on social media and it is still taking a while for some people, that have been in the business a while, to get their mind around it. Thanks again for your insight.

  3. Sarah: An excellant, well-thought out explanation. You are right, it is all about relationships and how they are developed. Without the relationship there will be no trust and without trust no one will do business with you/us. How relationships are developed is unique to each of us. Glad you found the method that works for you!

  4. Amazing eloquence and valuable insight. Will be one of my permanent delicious bookmarks.

  5. Awesome post Sarah! Everyone has their own unique style and way of doing things, its when you find your style that you truly begin to succeed in life. Cookie cutter agents are a dime a dozen, but an agent that wants more, that wants to know their client and that wants their clients business is an agent that any client would want!

    Very uplifting, thank you!

  6. Robert Eskiw says:

    Social media is quickly becoming the best way to market yourself, and best of all more often then not it’s free (just your time is needed). I got 2 deals off of Facebook last year, and have recently started a blog.

    I’m hoping 2009 will be better than 2 deals.

    Robert Eskiw – Edmonton Alberta Homes

  7. Very well said and I’m right there with you!

    Don’t bow down to or change for anyone and keep on doing what works best for you…and more importantly, what works best for your clients and their needs.

  8. Clint Miller says:

    Sarah — Thank you so much for the honor of previewing this post…and for allowing me to put it on both the RECR blog and my ActiveRain profile!! I love this post!!! And I applaude you for being true to you! You go girl!! :-)

  9. Jim Duncan says:

    Social media is the new postcard, the new conversation starter, the new way to engage our clients.

    Blogging brings with it a transparency and an honesty that is frightening and threatening to many – corporate CEOs, PR departments, news organizations, and Realtors.

    Those of us who are successful at blogging are because we recognize that it’s work – real, honest work – researching, editing, proofreading, spell checking – that’s the brilliance of the Realtor world – the good ones take it seriously.

    Sure, I scoff occasionally at those who always say, “but do you get any business from it?” I find that these are often the same “Realtors” who think that the MLS is their core competency, and who are afraid of giving consumers the power.

    Here’s a thought – consumers want us to blog. They want to be able to learn about us before they meet us. They want to be able to discern for themselves if we seem honest, credible, personable … If I were searching for a home in a foreign market, I would first look for those Realtors who were blogging.

    And it’s not just the “under 35” crowd who are embracing blogging – just the ones who recognize the present and the future.

    Fear of something you don’t understand is demeaning – to the one who is so fearful.

  10. Sarah Stelmok says:

    Jim – So very true that bloggng does not belong to the young. I spent a great deal of my time last week explaining blogging and social media, as well as insisting that some of the most respected bloggers in the industry are over 50. I also spent alot of time explaining that just because I use technology in my business model, it does not mean I can build a computer! Fear can either be a powerful inhibitor or a powerful motivator. Only you can choose the path fear takes you.

  11. Angela Dougherty says:

    Now now Jim,I don’t think you can make the quantum leap to “only” or “all” bloggers being transparent and honest. People are people with traits that track through their personal code. I would stick with Sarah’s premise that you need to do what works for you and your client.

  12. Jim Duncan says:

    Angela – Realtors who blog are more Google-able. If you’re Google-able, it is easier for consumers to discern for themselves whether you might be a good fit for them. All bloggers aren’t transparent and honest, but in my experience, the ones I know tend to be more transparent than not. For those who don’t blog (or comment on blogs), finding out their intentions, qualities, strengths and weaknesses if far, far more difficult.

    What is true (and it’s not quantum) is this statement – if you blog consistently for a reasonable amount of time, and embrace transparency, your level of honesty will have a tendency to make its way to the surface.

  13. Angela Dougherty says:

    We could have a great debate going here if only I enjoyed writing. A verbal joust is more my style; however, one last volley–your parentetical comment on transparency is the key.

  14. I’m going to second Jim’s response and add to it in my own words…

    Putting it down on paper (in this case, the internet) means that your words will be available for everyone to see forever so you’d better be honest and as accurate as you can. You have to hold yourself to a higher standard when you say something online rather than in person.

    If you don’t and/or you aren’t honest, you’re reputation will be destroyed in a matter of days, if not minutes (literally).

    There’s no “I never said that” or “he said, she said” guessing games when it comes to blogging or social media. That’s one of the great things about it…

  15. (excuse the spelling/grammatical errors – long day)

  16. Jeremy Hart says:

    I don’t know how I add anything of real value to what you’ve said, Jim. SM is the room in which to have the conversation … I heard/read that somewhere one time, and I firmly believe it.

    To those who ask “have you gotten any business form it?” Yes – and a good deal of it. But even more than that, I’ve become a better agent because I’ve had to think about and research and analyze and, at times, defend what I’ve posted. That only helps my clients.

  17. You just doing it different and yopu are doing it right.
    Goog luck and greetings from Spain.

  18. Sarah Stelmok says:

    I think that Danilo, Jeremy, and Jim hit on an important point; blogging makes you more accountable for your opinions and beliefs. It also makes you more vulnerable. People are going to agree with you and others won’t agree with you. A good blogger knows this and welcomes both. What I consider my best posts turned into such because someone disagreed with me in the “Comments” section. I was challenged. These challenges makes me smarter and stronger. (And sometimes, they’ve actually helped develop a new ideaology).

  19. Pingback: The blog of diminishing returns | VARbuzz

  20. You have to mix it up. I have been noticing that the clients that come off the web are not as loyal no matter how much time you spend trying to build that up. I sure have a easier time generating leads that way though.

  21. Sarah Stelmok says:

    Morristown NJ Real Estate Guy – Getting a potential client off of your personal blog and getting a potential client off of the internet are two seperate ways to get a potential client; both happen to involve the use of the internet. Blogging does automatically equate client loyalty. You still have to cultivate a relationship and engage the consumer after they have made contact with you. You still need to set and meet expectations and continue to add value to your relationship. Blogging is the first step of many steps. And, I think many real estate professionals miss this important point; it’s the first step… not the last. You earn loyalty, nothing entitles you to it. Have you ever asked why they weren’t loyal to you? Just a thought.

  22. Sarah Stelmok says:

    Sorry, that should read “does not automatically equate to client loyalty.”

  23. Candy Lynn says:

    Jeremy’s quote “SM is the room in which to have the conversation” is a good one that I like to change to
    “Social Media is A room in which to start/have a conversation.”

    I am one of those over 50 bloggers – Social Media advocates that embraces the technology tools for my business model. I had the ahhaaa moment when I realized it is all about conversation and that not all conversations were verbal.

    It works for me & many of my clients by providing a non-intrusive way to start a conversation that may then continue online or often verbal then face to face conversation. The key there I think is the NON-intrusive part. In this age of google & most clients starting there search on line it gives them the opportunity to “get to know you” in there own time & space.

    Angela Dougherty wrote:
    “We could have a great debate going here if only I enjoyed writing…”
    Angela – then I’d say blogging may not be the right tool for your business. I think the key is not age but the fact that you just don’t enjoy writing. Which BTW is perfectly fine!

    We all have to use the tools that work best for us.

  24. Ava Rose says:

    Blogging is just part of a mosaic. I don’t think social media, blogging, going to Rotary, or doing mailings are in any way mutually exclusive of each other. Blogging ads credibility and exposure opportunity and while most internet clients are not as loyal as a local referral, it is a great source for the out of stater or someone on the fence.

  25. I keep hearing phrases such as, “internet clients aren’t as loyal as ____” and I wanted to chime in…

    Perhaps people are bundling “internet LEADS” off of their IDX search site or some paid “lead generation” service in with what I consider totally different – “internet CLIENTS”.

    Internet LEADS are a roll of the dice. They have no loyalty to you because they’re probably just using your “home search” feature and/or have clicked through to your site from a listing they saw online on some random listing site.

    Internet CLIENTS are those that have been reading my blog for months; read my twitter updates on twitter, facebook, my blogs, etc; have checked out my credentials, references and testimonials various places on the internet (eg LinkedIn, Naymz); etc.

    Those that do this and then contact me to formally interview me in person or just contact me to say “I want you to sell my house” or “I want you as my Buyer’s Agent” are the MOST loyal clients I have ever had in 6 years in the business. In fact, they’re the most loyal clients I’ve had in 13 years of being in a sales position of any kind.

    Ineternet CLIENTS are also the most like me and we “click” the best. They have a sense of my personality through what/how I write and my comments and they choose to use my services because we have similar interests, personalities, etc – not just because of my credibility. This makes working with them just that much more enjoyable and easier.

  26. Candy Lynn says:

    Excellent defination of Internet Leads vs Internet Clients. The comments about internet clients not being loyal did not ring true with me either. Blogging and other forms of Social Media have enhanced my client trust & loyality.

    It’s more than the “postcard” as Jim refered to it; it’s a conversation.

  27. I could not agree with you more! I applaud your courage to be yourself and not just follow the actions of the “old guard” but to search for the true value – and find a way that works for you to provide it to the masses! Blogging Rules!

  28. Scott Allan says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Blogging is the best. It’s a better way to get more intimate with your audience as well. I have started incorporating videos and bought my domain with .tv as the suffix. My goal is to do 1 video every other week of my area. YOu can’t beat a good blogger though and it’s going to be key in our business. I do it your way!

  29. Myron says:

    I’ve been getting calls from headhunters and gotten to know some great people via a combination of blogging, twitter and LinkedIn.

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