March 2021: New Healthy Freebies From Social Nature!

 If you are into Organic/Natural/Healthy products, then Social Nature is up your alley. Sign up and apply to sample products that you are interested in. I get probably 1-2 products to sample each month. And most of the time it’s full-size products, not just a tiny sample.

There are a lot of really awesome products available to sample right now. From Broth to snacks, protein powder, meat alternatives- There is something for everyone to try.

And one of the things I love about Social Nature is that they don’t leave our friends with food allergies out. There are sampling offers for Gluten-free, nut-free, meat-free foods frequently.

Canadian Friends- You are in luck, there are sampling opportunities for you too!

So if you love trying new products, check out Social Nature!

Making Money as a Blogger or Influencer

**Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you click on links or make purchases. However, I only post about stuff that I like and use for my family.

As part of my New Years Resolution, I have joined a lot more blogger/influencer groups online to expand the number of blogs I read and also try to increase my engagement (that’s people reading and interacting with my blog and social media accounts). One question I see over and over is from new bloggers, and more and more, new influencers (those who microblog or vlog on Instagram or TikTok but don’t have a written blog like this one): HOW DO I MAKE MONEY??

That’s a valid and important question. I wanted to share some of the ways I make money or get free products. For those of you who aren’t bloggers, vloggers, or influencers this may be an interesting read to see how bloggers actually make money.

I don’t make a ton of money blogging, but it’s enough to pay for any promotions or contests I run, buy crafts supplies for the events I host (in pre-covid times), and my website hosting fees. I don’t blog to make tons of money, I blog to share my journey through parenthood and my frugal skills with others. That being said, it is nice to make a little extra money sometimes.

Most of these links are referral links, so I will either receive a bounty/commission if you sign up through my links.

Affiliate Networks:

  • ShopHer– Formerly MySavings. They have campaigns (pay per click, sign up) that change frequently, in addition to printable coupons and free sample offers.  Sometimes they have sponsored posts available too. Minimum pay out $50.
  • Shareasale– They partner with hundreds (maybe thousands) of companies and brands. Search for a company, apply, and once approved, start posting their deals and you’ll earn a percentage of what you sell.  I post deals from Mabel’s Labels, Craftsy, and Cents of Style. Minimum pay out $50.
  • Massive Sway- A completely different type of network. Massive Sway works with brands and PR companies to bring you campaigns to share on your blog and across social media platforms. Each campaign has it’s own set of posting rules and pay out amount. You apply for campaigns that interest you. Each campaign has either a set price or they let you pitch what you feel the campaign is worth to you.

PR Companies: I work with a handful of local (So Cal/West Coast) Public Relation groups to help local businesses, media ventures, movie premieres spread the word. I also review or share products. It’s a lot like Massive Sway above. Sometimes with PR companies it’s in-kind work, so free movie tickets and concessions, swag, or items to review and some to use as a giveaway.

Amazon: When you are writing about products that you use or like, you can link to the items on Amazon and when people click the link and buy the item, you receive a commission. Sometimes there are also bonus programs where you will receive a flat “bounty” (aka commission) if someone signs up for Prime- It’s usually $5.00

Tomoson: This is a company that works with brands to find influencers to share products (sometimes services too). Mostly social media sharing, but also blogging opportunities. Sometimes you can get free stuff, sometimes it’s discounted (and we’ll talk about this in a minute), sometimes you’ll get paid just to distribute content. BUT- Watch out, there are still companies and brands that want you to buy their product on Amazon with a coupon code and review the item (positively, of course) on Amazon. This is against Amazon’s TOS, and you can get your account wiped. That’s a nice way of saying the remove most or all of your reviews and revoke your ability to leave reviews on anything in the future. NOT WORTH IT!!

HeartBeat: This is a great one- It’s all on Instagram! I’ve done a few campaigns for them, and I have received free products in addition to payment. It’s quick work too. Anyone with an Instagram account can join! They tend to be more focused on influencers in the 18-30 age range.

If you are looking for just free stuff in exchange for social media shout-outs, check out this post on Word of Mouth Marketing. Word of Mouth Marketing is a perfect way to start out when you are dipping your toe in the Influencer world.

Instagram: If you have an Instagram account, no doubt companies have “slid” into your DM’s offering you a discount (usually 10-30%) for one of their products in exchange for free promotion/mentions on your Instagram account. Personally, unless it’s something that I need or have had my eye on for a while a 10-30% discount isn’t enough of a deal to persuade me.

Discounts vs. Free items (also called in-kind) vs. getting paid cash

A lot of people getting started in the blogging world want to make a go of it as their full time job, and I think that is awesome. It’s a lot of work.

If that is you then it is my opinion that you should go to as many gigs that pay cash as possible. Cash pays your bills, keeps your light on, a roof over your head, puts food in your belly.

A 20% discount on a pair of $200 earrings from some company that pitched you on Instagram through your DM’s does not.

I like partnering with brands that can help me stretch my budget. I love talking about cooking and food on the blog and my socials. I’ll work with food companies any day of the week if they can meet what I need. I need to make X amount of money, or receive X amount in their product to compensate. That helps me stretch my grocery budget, gives me content, and helps spread the word about their awesome nummy noms (whatever they sell).

Maybe food isn’t your thing. Maybe beauty products, or clothing. Whatever your niche is, know your price. Know your worth. In the beginning, when you first start out, don’t feel bad taking smaller contracts, smaller promotions. It’s all about getting established and finding your voice. That’s why I like ShopHer and ShareaSale. There are always things I can post or write about and earn money.

And don’t feel like you need to be posting monetized content 24/7. Most of what I post isn’t. It’s recipes, opportunities for my readers to make money, save money, tricks/tips.

If blogging/vlogging/infuencing isn’t going to be your sole source of income, or you just want to have fun and score free/discounted stuff- That’s cool too. Do what makes you happy!

Talk Back: If you have questions about blogging or making money, or if want to share a success, please leave a comment! I love helping and celebrating in the success of other Bloggers/vloggers/influencers!

 

 

 

New Healthy Freebies From Social Nature!

 If you are into Organic/Natural/Healthy products, then Social Nature is up your alley. Sign up and apply to sample products that you are interested in. I get probably 1-2 products to sample each month. And most of the time it’s full-size products, not just a tiny sample.

Most of the time, Social Nature will mail me a coupon for a free product and I go to my local Target, Sprouts, or other retailer and pick up the item. I’ve gotten products valued at $20+ too. I recently sampled and reviewed skincare products, kombucha, frozen entrees, and veggie burgers to name a few.

Right now there about a dozen new products that you can apply to try from Social Nature!

And one of the things I love about Social nature is that they don’t leave our friends with food allergies out. There are sampling offers for Gluten-free, nut-free, meat-free foods frequently.

Canadian Friends- You are in luck, there are sampling opportunities for you too!

 

Leaning Into My Side Hustles: How I made $200 in two weeks!

Disclaimer: This article is FULL of links for affiliate programs, survey companies, and the like. Some of which I may receive a bonus or commission on if you sign up. Think of it as buying me a cup of coffee (that you don’t directly pay for). For the record, I like Iced Lattes, no sweetener.

Like so many other people, I haven’t been able to work as much over the past six months as I am used to. And this includes my side hustles, which sadly, have fallen to the side. A couple of weeks ago I decided to dive headfirst back into my side hustles and see if I couldn’t make a little bit of money. School will be starting next week (although for us it is distance-learning, so I will be teaching both kindergarten and special ed fourth grade- I don’t know if I’m up for it, but I’m gonna give it my best).

Usually, the beginning of school is the time where I get back into my side hustles and moneymaking endeavors, and I’m able to spend more time working because the kids are… Back in school.

A woman in one of my mom’s group post it on Facebook the other day asking about research studies, and that led me to realize that this post needed to be written. There are other people in similar positions as myself, and we need to make money.

The past two weeks I have spent a lot of time working my side hustles, mostly early in the morning or late at night. Or while I am sitting on the patio watching the kids splash in the kiddie pool. By the way, said kiddie pool was paid for using Amazon gift cards that I earned doing a side hustle.

Here are the side hustles I’ve been working the past two weeks and approximately how much money I’ve made.

Paid Viewpoint: I have done about 10 surveys for them over the past two weeks. Their surveys take usually less than 10 minutes to do, and you’re prequalified for them, so you’re not gonna waste a bunch of time only to be told that you’re not earning any money. They will email you when you have a survey, but you can also just log onto your account and see if you have any surveys to do.

Sometimes if they have something that is time-sensitive, they’ll email you right away and there is usually a small bonus ($.50 or less) to do the survey right away. Their payout is $15, and I cashed out this afternoon with $16.10. 

Pinecone Research: I don’t know if they are currently looking for new members, but you can always go to their website and take the survey and if they’re not looking for your demographic, they add you to the waiting list and when they need you they will email you. This is another survey company that only send you service that you were prequalified for. Most of the time it is for products that may be coming to marketplace soon and the Company has questions about packaging pricing structures and they just want opinions. Most of the time Pinecone Research surveys pay $3 each. You can either save it up and cash it out or just cash it out as you make it. I get my money via PayPal but they also have gift cards and other stuff too. I made $9 this week.

Field Agent: This is one hustle that you can’t do at home. Field Agent is a secret shopping/audit app. Right now they have a lot of “Buy and Try” for alcohol. I have only been doing Field Agent tasks when I am already going to go to a location where they have an available audit/secret shop. I’m not going out a lot of other places. Usually, you get a reimbursement for purchase plus a bounty for the survey. It’s quick, it’s easy, and you get to try new products. It’s pretty fun.  I haven’t been able to go to the gym in a while, I’ve pretty much stopped drinking. So I’m trying to avoid audits and secret shops that involve alcohol.  I’ve made $20 over the past two weeks.

Digsite: I don’t remember how I discovered DigSite (I think it was a targeted Facebook Ad). I have done surveys and research studies with them for about a year, and they generally pay between $25 and $200. over the past two weeks, I have done two research studies with them, it’s about 5 to 10 minutes each day for three or four days. They ask your opinions about a specific topic, sometimes you have to take a picture, or do a little bit of homework, but, overall it’s fun. Dig site pays in Amazon gift cards. Over the past two weeks, I have made $90 in Amazon gift cards.

Q-insights: Q-insights is a research study firm that’s based in Orange County, California. Once you get on their email list, they will send you emails when they have open studies. A lot of them are done online, but a few of them are done in person in Orange County in various locations. Cute insights surveys tend to pay in excess of $75, but, they can be a lot more work. They pay via check sent through the mail. I signed up for 2 of their upcoming studies, fingers crossed I get into them!

UpVoice: It’s a pretty passive way to earn money. As long as you’re active on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and you shop on Amazon, UpVoice is a pretty simple way to earn some spending cash. It is a chrome extension, I cashed out for $20 last week. In theory, if you are a regular social media user and have the upper voice chrome installation extension, you will be making $10 every 6 weeks or so for no extra effort.

Fetch Rewards: I use a bunch of different cashback apps in conjunction with my couponing to save money on groceries, but my favorite is Fetch Rewards. I’ve been putting receipts in like a madwoman, and I cashed out my points for $15 In Amazon Gift Cards.

Ibotta: When I got a new phone recently, I hadn’t transferred over all of my apps to my new phone. I realized this week that I needed to add Ibotta. When I did, I noticed I was almost to the $20 payout minimum, so right before I sat down to write this article, I scanned in my Food4Less receipt from earlier today, and that bumped me to $21.00! I cashed out lickity-split! (For some apps that I use to save and earn money, check out my post here).

Achievement: This is a super passive hustle, but it’s super fun. Here is the article I wrote last month with all the information about how it works. I cashed out for $10 on Monday. 

That’s a total of $201.10! I also sold a few things on Facebook Marketplace that we were getting rid of during our recent household purge. I didn’t include those above, since I can’t do that frequently (But it was $65 cash in my pocket!).

Talk Back: I would love to hear about some of your side hustles. How do you make extra cash?

Free Plant- Based Burritos from Social Nature!

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This offer was in my inbox yesterday, so I thought I’d share it, because, really, who doesn’t love free food?

I signed up to receive a FREE plant-based burrito from Alpha Foods and Social Nature. They have lots of burrito love to share! These bad boys are VEGAN! Woo Hoo!

Just click here to ‘Want It’ and see if you’re a match!

This offer is only valid in the US.

TalkBack- Did you sign up? Which variety are you excited to try?

5 Ways to Maximize Your Routine!

991d001cb11fbb9af4e45d3b104865ea.jpgParents know that kids need a routine- It gives them stability and a sense of security. But, adults need a routine too. Working from home, routine is absolutely needed to keep me productive. I was talking to a lady at the gym today after yoga. She said it must be nice to work from home- all the free time! But really, today was my busiest day this week. After the gym, we had errands, then home to start dinner, school pick up, and prep for tomorrows tie-dye session while Bitty is at preschool.

Here are my 5 Tips for Maximizing your Routine:

Update your calendar: I sit down on Saturday night and go over my calendar for the next week. I take my paper calendars (Yes, I have one next to my bathroom vanity, and one on my desk), and make sure they match with the calendar on my phone. That way I’m not dependant on my phone all the time and everyone in the house can be on the same page.

Take Notes: I keep a spiral-bound notebook and pens in my purse at all times. I make notes about all kinds of stuff: Ideas for blog posts, appointments (Which I later put into my phone), shopping lists, etc. I sometimes use my phones note feature for this too, but there is something about putting pen to paper and writing.

Lay it out: Before bed, I lay out my clothes and the kids clothes for the next day. I also grind the coffee and set up the coffee maker. I put the kid’s lunch bags out of their backpacks and set them on the kitchen counter. It makes the next morning so much easier.

Look Ahead: Before you go to bed, take a look at your next day.  What kinds of activities do you have? Work, school, gym, meetings? I feel more at ease knowing what is on deck for the next day.

Give yourself Grace: You are only human. If you can’t get everything done in one day, it’s cool. Tomorrow is another day (literally). There are so few things in this world that positively need to be done on a specific day (bills and doctor’s appointments are a few things that come to mind). Push your tasks forward to the next day, and make a conscious decision to work on those items or tasks the next day as priority items.  No one is perfect (or insta-perfect).

 

Talk Back: How do you get the most out of your daily routine?

Is Summer Snacking Wrecking your Grocery Budget?

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Chatting with a friend via Insta yesterday, we were lamenting the “OMG DO THEY EVER STOP EATING!!” of summer vacation.

I’ve never begrudged my kids snackies when they are hungry, but seriously, on days when we are at home, building Legos and watching movies- THEY EAT ALL DAY.  I can’t let them rummage through the cupboard and eat whatever, so I started the snack box (for the pantry) and snack drawer (in the fridge).

We’ve had “The snack box” and the “snack drawer” in our kitchen for about 2 years now.

In the cupboard, I’ve got a basket like this one. It’s full of various types of treats and snacks. Instead of buying individually bagged treats, I often buy a box of whatever (in the photo below it’s animal crackers) and divide the large box into snack-sized Ziploc bags).  It just depends on what is available at Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only on my weekly shopping trip. Those are my go-to snack stores.

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The Snack Drawer in the Fridge
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Pantry Snack Box- Refilled weekly

The Pantry Snack Box contains shelf-stable stuff: Juice boxes, crackers, chips, dried fruit, fruit snacks, individual Peanut/nut butter cups. I usually tuck a couple bags of microwave popcorn too. Sadly, we have none left. I was informed that I *must* rectify that matter tomorrow.

The Fridge Snack Drawer contains some of the following: Cheese sticks, yogurt, Ziploc bags of fruit or veggies (watermelon wedges, strawberries, grapes, carrots, celery, and jicama are just a few favorites), little cups of hummus, guac, ranch dip (homemade with greek yogurt and ranch dip mix).

The snacks vary by week, and I took these pics today- It’s midweek and they are pretty picked over- I did refill the Pantry Snack Box with stuff from the cupboard. That’s my secret- don’t put it all out at once. I stash the extras in the back of the pantry, where tiny arms can’t reach.

For those who read my blog regularly, you know that my weekly family grocery budget is $80. I spend about $25 of my weekly budget on stuff for the snack box/drawer. Sometimes more, sometimes less. During the school year, the function of these becomes for packing lunches in the morning. The Big Kid doesn’t really like sandwiches, and as he’s a vegetarian he gets most of his protein from nuts/seed butter and dairy sources.

I also keep Go-gurt style tube yogurts in the freezer- Those are mostly for Bitty, Big Kid doesn’t care for yogurt too often.

For the grown-ups, there is a basket in the pantry full of protein and fiber snack bars (Along with other more “grownup” snacks- which are sometimes new snacks that the kids veto after sampling). I get those at Grocery Outlet or 99 Cents Only. Grocery Outlet locations in my area always have a great variety of protein bars, snack bars, and protein cookie (Like these, which are also a hit with the Big Kid, so I have to dole them out) for a lot less than grocery or club stores.

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Close-up of the Pantry Snack Box. There is a little bit of something for everyone!

This is how my family keeps everyone fed at home and on budget. I’d love to hear about your family’s ideas to solve this issue.

First Week of College, and Beyond!

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I survived the first week of college! After ::cough 17 years cough:: a long time, it’s quite an adjustment getting back into the swing of studying, doing homework, and all of the other things that go into being a mom, wife, blogger/Influencer, and special needs advocate for my big kiddo.

I wanted to share with you some things that have helped me, and the family adjust to the change.  It’s just two classes, but that’s 10-12 hours a week of studying, reading, and homework outside the classroom, and that time comes out of the time I previously spent with the kids, working on the blog/social media, petting the cat, ya know, mom stuff.

Bitty is now going to preschool two days a week. Our city’s Parks and Rec department has a drop off preschool two days a week. It’s approximately $150 for 8 weeks, which is a great price, and she is in a class with 13 other kiddos her age, several of them she knows from her daily visits to the local YMCA Child Watch. While she is at preschool, I have three hours to work on school work. It’s amazing to be able to read and work on my homework in peace. If you need a few hours to get work done, check your local Parks and Rec department for this type of preschool.

Family: As someone who has family nearby, having my family able to help out with school pick ups and therapy drop offs, it is a Godsend. My parents, brother and sister-in-law have really stepped in and helped us with the kids and house. Last week Miss Sally (my car) needed new front and rear brakes, and two new tires. Thanks to my Sister-in-law, niece, and my parents I didn’t have to walk home with Bitty (5 miles with a 3 year old- No thanks) or call an Uber.

Schedule: As a family, we have a shared calendar on iCal, in which I put all of the kids appointments, weekly commitments, birthdays, deadlines. In addition, I also have a calendar (this one) in the master bathroom on my cork board. Yes, I have a cork board in the master bathroom next to the vanity, so we can see whats on the schedule for each day.  Having everything in the palm of my hand (on my phone), and in a place that is visible to us (calendar) has really helped keep us focused and on task.

Remembering my Skill-Set: I’m not reinventing the wheel here. To maximize my productive time, I make sure to use my previously honed skills: Meal Planning, Meal Prep, setting out everyone’s clothes the night before, making lunches the night before, organizing areas of the house to help us get out of the house in the morning on time.

So while you may see less blog posts until I get in the full swing of it all, but I’m still posting on Social Media like a madwoman.

I want you all to know that it doesn’t matter what your age, if there is something you want: College, new job, more time with your family, vacation.. Do it! Change can be scary, but believe in yourself and have a plan! It might be rough at first, but stick with it.

Enough motivational speaking from me, I have homework to do!

Talk Back: What have you done recently that moved you out of your comfort zone?

Making Money Online with Social Media!

spilled-money.jpgI’m sure you’ve seen some of the Work at Home scams floating around the internet, in fact, I talk about a few of them in this post.

This post is all about making money (and/or scoring free cool stuff) via social media.

What’s your brand? Crunchy mom, Working mom, Millenial, Xennial, Stay at home mom, DINK, LGTBQA+, Latinx, Green living, a combination of the above, non of the above? Did you know that you are your own brand, and what you post about online is of interest to larger brands and PR companies.

These companies are looking for unique voices and viewpoints to promote their products and services. Sometimes it’s for free products, sometimes money, sometimes both! This is known as Micro-Influnced marketing. What is a Micro-Influencer? Mavrck says, “Micro-influencers are everyday consumers who have 500 – 5,000 highly engaged followers around relevant topics.” Most of you reading this fit this description and didn’t even know it.

That’s awesome, you are thinking, but how do I seek out opportunities?

Here are a few companies that I use:

Tomoson: This is a company that works with brands to find influencers to share products (sometimes services too). Mostly social media sharing, but also blogging opportunities. Sometimes you can get free stuff, sometimes it’s discounted, sometimes you’ll get paid just to distribute content, sometimes you’ll get paid. BUT- Watch out, there are still companies and brands that want you to buy their product on Amazon with a coupon code and review the item (positively, of course) on Amazon. This is against Amazon’s TOS, and you can get your account wiped. That’s a nice way of saying the remove most or all of your reviews, and revoke your ability to leave reviews on anything in the future. NOT WORTH IT!!

HeartBeat: This is a great one- It’s all on Instagram! I’ve done two campaigns so far, and I have received free product in addition to payment. It’s quick work too. Anyone with an Instagram account can join!

If you are looking for just free stuff in exchange for social media shout outs, check out this post on Word of Mouth Marketing. Word of Mouth Marketing is a perfect way to start out when you are dipping your toe in the Influencer world.

**Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you click on links or make purchases. However, I only post about stuff that I like and use for my family.