mom blogger

Dear Mom Blogger, Be You

mom blogger

It has been forty-eight hours since I first read a blog post called ” Dear Mom Blogger.” It was very critical to the industry I call home. You see when it comes to being a mom blogger I am a dinosaur.

I qualify as a mom blogger because I am a mom, and about half the posts I write can be called lifestyle posts. I also write about money, so I get lumped with the personal finance bloggers as well. I have always written about both but enough about me and definitions.

This mom, this writer, this community has become home to thousands of readers over the last eight years. The woman who wrote the post that has gone viral started a mere three years ago (which in the blogging circles is like forever).

Now, dear mom bloggers here is why Josie is wrong.

People do read you just like they read me.

For me, my comment section tells me that, tweets and replies on social media tell me that. I have a community that turns to me, so do you. If you are starting out you will build if you follow my one piece of advice, be you.

Josie touched on grammar and spelling. I am not perfect there. I am dyslexic, something my community and employers know, they read still.

I also have been named a blog to read, by more than one serious publication here in Canda over the last eight years. Readers come when you give them consistent content that helps them. Communities grow when there is a reason to grow.

Josie, said mom bloggers are not happy. She is right. We are not happy every day but who loves to share their dirty laundry online, no one.  We all filter what we put online, and that doesn’t apply just to mom bloggers. We all have filters and filters are ok, lies are not.

I am happy most of the time and my friends know when I am having a hard day and yes, I have written about some dark days online I have written on this blog about mental health.  Sometimes, you have to write about the dark. It is then you get to know your community. They are the ones who rally around you. My suggestion again for other mom bloggers, be you. Be happy if you are happy, be sad if you are sad, whatever you do just be you.

As for goals as a mom blogger, we all have goals. Income is a huge one for many of us and we know as our audience grows so does our paycheck. I knew my goal when I started CommonCentsMom. My goal was to help women by sharing what I was learning as I struggled to get off welfare and create a life for myself and my daughter. I wanted no Canadian ever to have to accept welfare or declare bankruptcy like I did. I have accomplished that goal, day after day year after year. My goal at the time was not to earn a living off this blog. I now do, however.

I know I have achieved that goal because I am told so by my readers. I am thankful for that community. We gather to chat every Tuesday for the #cdnmoney chat. It is the longest running non-sponsored chat in Canada.  In 6 years it produced over 1 Billion media impressions all designed to help Canadians live better lives, know more about money, credit and how to save. I am proud of that hour on Twitter each week.  So yes, dear mom blogger have goals but in your goals be you.

I have been to all those big name conferences that Josie attended. At them, I  found my tribe. I learned lots, I met brands that became clients,  I found I was doing ok. I didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars for a blog redesign, a friend I met at one of those conferences, did it for free.  Whenever issues of a tech sort have come here on this blog, I have had friends who I know that can fix it at a price I can afford. No big spends needed. My belief here is until you are bringing in over $50,000 a year from your blog, spend little but that is my advice. You be you.

Back to those conferences, I have been able to speak at a few over the years. Each time I have, it was to give bloggers skills and tips that would help them meet their goals. You will find your tribe often when you attend events and conferences. They are people who will have your back and lift you on those dark days.

As for saying you are PR friendly, be you. After years of not mentioning I was open for business, I developed my first Media Kit. Brands had been contacting me and well I needed to figure out how much my time was worth. You do too, because if you have an engaged authentic audience brands are watching and do want to work with you. I do turn down brand work and you should too if it doesn’t suit your blog or your life but whatever you do be you.

When it comes to reviews, I have seen real negative reviews on blogs and yes, brands still come. They like honesty.  Now, I have posted the truth when something breaks, or I have had a bad experience, but I also write about what the brand did to fix it or what they tried to.  This is how I ended up on a train, with the CEO of VIA Rail and twenty east coast mayors on a dream trip because I was truthful about an earlier trip. On that trip, I got to tell him about the issue with communication. He listened and on several train trips since I have been more than happy with the service even if the trains are showing some wear and tear.

Now, when it comes to giveaway entries, they are fans and readers, I know mine are.  You see, they keep coming back, they find things they love and find a reason to support you. The contesting community is like that.  For the brands that do giveaways, they know it brings buzz, conversation, and growth or they would not do it. I love my contestors, and they love me. Want to do a giveaway on your blog, go ahead and be you.

If you want to write, write, if you want to dance, dance, if you want to figure out a way to earn a living online do it. Simply be you.

What have I found in eight years?

I have found I can be me and get paid to help others.

I have found a tribe I call friends.

I have found friends online and off. I met my best friend through our blogs.

I have found work that got me off welfare.

I have found brands that love me and keep coming back year after year because of the community I have built. ( I am in the third year of being a brand ambassador for a few of the brands I work with). I also have Twitter clients who come back year after year.

I have my voice, it helps others.

I have found I can be me.

Now as for you, dear mommy blogger, be you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CaddleLaunch-Twitter

Caddle is the Newest Cash Back App for Canadians

A couple of months back one of my girlfriends who knows my love of apps that save Canadians money shared with me a new app that was in development. I met with the man behind the app and fell in love. I was also told I couldn’t share my new love with anyone. Don’t you hate when you can’t share that new great find with your friends? For me, it is hard to sit still and not share, especially when Canada would be getting a new cash back app. Today, I get to share it with you; Caddle is now available for download for iOS customers. Caddle is the newest way for Canadians to engage with the brands they love and earn from literally anywhere. We now have a cash back app that is different than all the rest.

As a savvy consumer, I love that Caddle puts me in the drivers seat and gives me some of the companies marketing dollar to put in my wallet. I call it a win for savvy, smart shoppers all across Canada.

caddle app

 

How does Caddle work?

Caddle pays you for your engagement, feedback, and purchases, oh and they pay you when you share the app with your friends. Win! Win! Win! Companies get an engaged audience (something they love), and we get to choose when we are going to engage and to what extent. We get rewarded with CASH when we do!

Here is what you need to do:

1. Download the app (right now it is available for iOS, and you can sign up on your desktop as well, a version is coming for Android users).

2. Select an offer.

3. Watch the AD.

After the ad is finished, answer the questionnaire and get paid. It all takes about a minute. Think you can earn at the rate of about $20 an hour.

You earn even more if you go and purchase an item on Caddle. You can upload your receipts and receive cash backs. As well, you can earn when you share Caddle with your friends. All they have to do is download the app and use it. It’s is that easy!

Think of all the empty time you can use the app, waiting in line, on the bus, waiting for your kids after school; the list is endless, and you are the one in control.

 

There was a twitter party held to help launch the app, but if you missed it that is okay you can still get in on the fun. There are a few ways you can earn cash back during the launch from giving to your favorite charity to hugging a tree I am sure you will find an offer you love. So go check out Caddle today and let me know what you think of Canada’s newest cash back app.

 

 

CaddleLaunch-Twitter

Twitter Party Details:

Hashtag: #CaddleLaunch

Host: That’s Me, @CommonCentsMom. Follow me for questions and prizing

Special Guest: @CaddleCanada

Moderators @cammipham @gingermommy and @oldermommystill @canadianmomeh

Prizing: 3 $100 Visa Gift Cards 1- $200 Visa Gift Card

RSVP here:

 

 

 

 

Holiday Apps

The Best Apps for the Holiday Season

Holiday Apps

It truly is holiday season. The hustle and bustle has begun. We are all flocking to the malls and stores looking for just the right gifts for those who have made the nice list. Well at least I am and there are a number of apps that are helping this tired mom get it all done. What are my favorite apps of this holiday season? Which ones help relieve the stress:

1. Stocard

stocardscreengrab

Have a stack of loyalty cards. Most of us do these days. Think you load all your rewards cards onto one simple app. At the store you simply show your Stocard. It even has a quick and easy setup. It is a free app and you can choose to load from over 400 different reward cards or even add your favorite reward card even if it is not on their list with the other option. No more lost reward points. Great for collecting points as you shop. You can download it for both ios and Android phones.

2. No More Socks

NoMoreSocks screencap

 

Have trouble budgeting and making a list and tracking what gifts are bought? No more socks is the best christmas gift app. You can make a list, check it twice, set a budget for each person and even set up reminders. You can even use it for other events through out the year. It costs $2.29 and is available for iOS.

3. Waze

Waze-iPhone-App

Ever get stuck in traffic trying to find your way to the mall or that one store? Waze is the largest community based traffic and navigation app. Think of it like having the inside scoop on the very best routes in real time. Definitely a time saver for when you have to head to the mall. Waze is a free download for  iOS, Android  and  Windows

4. Flipp

Flipp shopping list

Want to comparison shop and check your local flyers for the best deals as you hunt for just the right gift, then Flipp is your answer. Flipp is a shoppers best friend. It is the only app that matches hundreds of coupons with local weekly ads to save you the most money at over 800 retailers. It also has great features like a search function that lets you comparison shop right in store and discount slider that lets you find those great deals.  It is a free download available for both iOS and Android.

5. ToiletFinder

toiletfinder

Ever need to find a toilet while you are out shopping for the day? I know I have. Toilet finder allows you to locate the closest toilets. They have over 70,000 toilets on the map. It will even guide you towards the location you choose. It is a free download on both iOS and Android.

Join me on Twitter with my co-host @TahnyaKristina on Tuesday December 1st at 7pm. EST as we talk about apps that can help us this holiday season in this week’s #cdnmoney chat. 

 

 

twitter_birds

To tweet or Not to Tweet That is the Question

twitter_birds

Last night as the news was rolling in about the tragic events in Paris last night, again the question for those of us who live and breathe in the online world and act on behalf of brands was,” Do I Tweet or don’t I”?

It becomes a question, do I stop doing business for half a day, a full day, based on events that are happening around the globe. Too often I seen some people saying stop advertising, stop tweeting, stop sharing online. My question is this. Who wins if we do?

Yes, it’s very important to know what is going on. Even to acknowledge it. I know for me last night when I first heard the news about Paris, I stopped and said a prayer. That is something I can do. I can also acknowledge the tragedy but no I need to stop earning a living? No.

The only time I can remember businesses closing in another city after an attack anywhere in the globe was on 911. Otherwise, locally things are closed and others show support with prayers, love, concern and financial donations.

Business across the globe do not need to close, ads don’t need to stop but we can share support, love and acknowledge but then we need to get back to work. Why? By going on with our day, the terrorist does not win. There is a certain strength by going on with our day.

As well how do we stop, or how do we decide which events we will stop for? Do we stop for something that hits our city, our province, our country, or when a major event happens anywhere? If we were to stop for one should we stop for them all? It seems at least once a week an attack happens somewhere. A tragedy somewhere. A cause that can be taken up.

My choice these days is to tweet. I acknowledge and then I get back to work.I know I can still show my support, love, prayers even while I am sharing brand messaging. I can still care about what is going on in the world without needing to stop earning a living. I can still give a voice to the voiceless among the array of tweets.

Let us  always to be kind and generous online, to show mercy and love. To tweet or not to tweet is a personal choice, a brand choice. In my opinion I say tweet, acknowledge and learn along the way and whatever a brand or person decides to do that is okay. We are all here together so lets be kind, we can express our support in so many little and big ways without giving up doing business where were are.

Let me know your opinion, I would really like to know. Do you tweet or not tweet.

 

flipp shopping list

The Flipp App Gets Better with Flipp 2.0 #Flipp4Life

For those of you who know of my love for Flipp, the app has just gotten better. Hard to believe I know. Flipp 2.0, is the leading digital shopping flyer app, and it’s now available on iPhone and iPad. The Android version will be out later this month.  You will love the new unique Shopping List feature that just makes sense of you weekly shopping experience.

 You will love the convenient way to use the lists to find corresponding sale items from the flyers of your favorite stores, right on your mobile device. You can find the update on iOS today.

flipp shopping list

With Flipp‘s new Shopping List feature, you can begin planning your shopping trips at home or on-the-go by adding items to the in-app list.  If you start it at home over wifi, remember the list and clippings do not need wifi in store. Save your data and start at home.

The new feature also has a new enhanced search functionality, which allows you to quickly find the best deals for everything you need. Once you are in the store you can easily check off items from your list to make sure you have everything. No more forgetting things at the store! Got to love that functionality!

Remember, Flipp is a free app that literally helps you save by putting over 400 different retail flyers from across North America on your app. By putting your postal code on the app you will see the flyers that are local to you.

With Flipp you can use the following features:

  • Flip – Browse through all of your weekly local flyers quickly and intuitively
  • Shopping List – Plan ahead and stay organized while shopping by adding items to the digital list, discovering matching offers from your local flyers, and checking them off in-store
  • Search – Easily find a specific store, item or brand
  • Clippings – Tap an item in a flyer to clip it for easy access while shopping and price-matching
  • Item Details – Tap and hold on an item for additional product information and reviews
  • Discount Slider – Highlights the best savings in the flyer to find them at-a-glance
  • Notifications – Reminders about expiring clippings and nearby offers ensure you never miss a deal

Have an item you want to add to the list, type it in. Hit enter and it’s there.

Want to know more about an item you are thinking about buying, press down on the item and all the product information is there.

The latest version of Flipp is available for free download now from the App Store on iPhone and iPad or at www.AppStore.com. The new version will be available on Android later this month.month.

ShoppingList-TwitterParty-FB

On February 25th, 2015, at 9pm. Flipp is celebrating the new Flipp 2.0 with the #Flipp for Life Twitter Party, shopping blogger @MrsLoulou will be the special guest and I am sure she will have a shopping tip or two.

For demo videos or more information, check out www.flipp.com.

budget friendly alcaltel tech

Budget Friendly Smartphones and Tablets From Alcatel #Giveaway

budget friendly alcaltel tech

When you have a teen in the house, you really have to stay up to date on tech. Even as a blogger I find myself following lots of the great tech blogs to stay up to date on the latest innovations and what tech is perfect for the budget minded shopper. So I was super excited when I was asked to try out both Alcatel One Touch Idol 2S smartphone and the Alcaltel One Touch Pop 7 tablet to review and giveaway on my blog. Sweet, right? Alcaltel has just arrived in Canada ans one of the top ten mobile manufacturers I was eager to give it a try with my teen daughter’s assistance.

What’s the best way in on house to test out tech? Hand it to my teen. Last May, my teen lost her iPhone while aiding a woman who was hurt. The last call she made on that phone was to 911 for an ambulance. Even though she lost her phone while doing something good, it wasn’t in my budget to replace it right away. She really missed having a cell in the city. So I got her a very basic non smart cell phone when she went back to school in September, so she was super excited to play with a smartphone once again and as exams hit the tablet was great to have. In fact the tablet goes to school with her now every day. She loves it.

We have been both Android and iOS users for a long time now with us now really preferring the Android. Both of these devices are built on the Jelly Bean operating system which is to be expected for a budget friendly device. My teen quickly added her favorite widgets and apps in record time.

Budget Friendly Smartphones and Tablets From Alcatel #Giveaway

We were loving features on the Alcaltel one touch IDOL 2S  like a great camera on the smartphone, my teen noted she wished it had a bit better audio as she loves to listen to her music on the way to school (which was easy to add to the phone with a small SD card). She said the audio was good not great. The phone as an 8MP camera and a large 5 inch screen. When I measured it beside my Samsung 5 I could hardly tell the difference. With Bell you also get the Bell TV app. My teen thought the motion detection technology was great as you could turn over the phone to turn off an alarm. She also found moving between apps and widgets a breeze.

Now the tablet does not have a great camera coming in at only 2 MP camera but my teen loves the vibrant HD display to play her games. She also downloaded the Microsoft Office apps which made grabbing school assignments easy at exam time. She also prefers the tablet for watching movies, and just because she could she even tried out the Bell TV app. She only wished she had a larger screen, but said it was good for on the streetcar. My teen loved how ultra slim and light it was which is why she chose it as her go to tablet.

Now as a mom on a budget getting a smartphone and tablet for under $500 seems like a great value for me. You can purchase the Idol S2 for $300 or you can get it for $30 down on a 2 year contract with Bell. Now the tablet it at a great price as well, an easy $180 for a 3G tablet, that’s a good value in my eyes. You can check these both out at your local Bell Canada location. The good thing about Bell Canada it has a huge LTE network so staying connected is no issue.

Now some great news I can give away both on my blog! So enter by leaving a comment and letting me know what do you look for when you are shopping for new tech?

*open to Canadian residents only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

2014-09-28 12.35.30-2

Choosing the Right Camera For You

2014-10-07 10.48.21When was the last time you updated your camera? It’s ok to admit you’re still using a film camera or relying on an ancient point and shoot. I was for the longest time. I then bought a low end point and shot 2 Christmases ago, thinking it might be enough but then last summer I really discovered I needed and wanted more. I wanted a DSLR. I wanted to get back into photography like I was doing it when I was younger.

I had gotten away from something I loved to do, and I was so tired of having not so great photos to remember my life by. I needed better. For me there where several things to think about:

DSLR or Point and Shoot?

There are two major distinctions when it comes to buying a digital camera; DSLR and point and shoot. DSLR models offer many more options to users from settings to shutter speed, interchangeable lenses, and on screen functionality. Point and shoot cameras work best when shooting in fully automatic mode. With a DSLR you find yourself over time becoming more comfortable changing your setting and playing with your camera. I know I did especially after taking a photo workshop while at Blissdom Canada.

2014-09-28 12.35.30-2

Before You Go to the Store, Know what You Need:

Before buying here are some questions you should ask yourself;

  • What will I primarily be using the camera for?
  • What is my budget?
  • How long do I expect to use this camera?
  • What functions are important to me?
  • Will I use my images mostly digitally or do I plan to print them out as well?
  • Will I be using the camera around home or will I be using it while traveling?
  • Am I willing to spend additional money on maintenance costs?

If your primary use for a new camera is to shoot pictures of your family that will be added to your scrapbook or shared on Facebook then purchasing a point and shoot camera may be all you need.  They’re very easy to use straight out of the box. The resolution quality and speed won’t be as good as with a DSLR. Many point and shoots also rely on a viewfinder screen to take the image instead of a traditional eye viewfinder. However, they are lighter, take up less space, and may be a better option if you plan to travel and take pictures. I thought my point and shoot did a good job but I needed and wanted more.

If however you plan to take images that you may want to print or use in a more professional capacity then a DSLR is worth the investment. You’ll be able to capture pictures with a better resolution and you can control more aspects of how the picture appears. This is especially important if you want to print pictures. In some cases images from point and shoots are too low to render a high quality image. If you really love photography it also may make sense to save up and buy a DSLR along with a few lessons on how to make it work for you. You can also find lots of tutorials online and YouTube videos that will take you from a novice photographer to a skilled photog in no time! Whichever you choose, don’t forget to buy an additional memory cards to store pictures and case to keep your camera safe.

Know what works best for you and your family. I know for me I now love having my Nikon DSLR. It is my new best friend and I am enjoying getting to know it and that old love of photograpy is definitely coming back.

 

 

 

2014-12-10 17.07.20

Things to Remember When Shopping for a New Phone

Sansung Galaxy S5Last week was a pretty jammed packed week, I had a lot on my plate, same with this week. When you work in the social media worlds this truly is the busiest time of the year. But there is one thing I needed to do. Get to Target Mobile to get my new phone. As a Community Manager and blogger I needed a great one and well the Samsung Galaxy S5 fit the bill for me. So far I am loving the new phone. Just a side note here did you know even when you are shopping at Target Mobile your Target Red Card works to save you more.

I really loved this shopping experience at Target as I wasn’t just picking up a phone, I had to switch my phone number from my old iPhone to my new phone, and on the other phone get a new phone number for it, and shop for cases for both.

If you are shopping for a phone this holiday season, here are some things to remember

Target Mobile

Who is the phone for?

For me, my new phone was for me, someone who uses it for work and play. If I was shopping for my teen I would of picked something different, at Target Mobile there where plenty to choose from.

Prepaid vs Plan

For a number of years my teen daughter has had a pay as you go (prepaid) phone. This was great for when she was younger but as she matured it was time to get her a phone with a plan. It also saved me 10% for adding a plan with same company I am with and we saved another 10% by bringing a device. If you buy a phone outright this works too. Research what deal or plan works best for who you are getting the phone for–remember this weeks promo might not be the best plan for you.

phone cases

Protect the Phone.

When I was at Target I could not leave the store without cases for the phones. Target Mobile had a great selection and now clumsy me doesn’t need to worry if I accidently drop my phone, which I have been known to do on occasion. I really love my whilte case that matches my white phone right now.

2014-12-10 17.07.20

One of the things I love about my new phone is the fingerprint scanner. No one is getting to the information stored on my phone unless its me. Having a passcode on your phone or your child’s phone is important, set it up as soon as you get the phone. My teen and I do know the passcodes on each others phones in case of something urgent.

Bina, from my local Target Mobile made my experience wonderful and easy, without a wait, which I found incredible this time of the year. If you are out phone hunting this weekend or in the days before Christmas you might want to check them out. For me more and more this year our house has become a Samsung house. TV, tablet and phone are all Samsung and I heard from Santa there might even be a Samsung Blue Ray player under the tree.

Tell me are you shopping for a new phone this holiday season?

Holiday Prep 201

Holiday Prep 201-Tech that can Help Your Holidays

Holiday Prep 201Tis the season and last week for the #cdnmoney chat on Twitter we were talking Holiday prep. Whther it is Christmas, Hannukah, or some other major holiday with it always comes lots of prep, from the budgeting, to the list making, to the shopping, to the travel there is always lots to do.

So how do we get it all done today? I know for me my tech gadgets and gizmos and apps keep me sane? I work off both Android and iOS operating devices. We have an ipad mini, a Samsung tablet, and a Samsung phone and an iphone in the house so I think that leaves us open to having the gadgets we need to help make this the most organized cost efficient holiday season.

So how do I use my gadgets and gizmos to help me this season?

I load them with apps that serve a purpose.

For list making and receipt keeping I use Evernote. Evernote I find to be a wonderful organizational app.

To keep me on budget I use Mint to track my budgeting, and spending.

To price check and find the deals that save me time and money at the grocery store of course I use my Flipp app. I have shared it here on my blog several times.

To find my car, there is Find my Car. Who hasn’t forgotten where there car is in an overcrowded parking lot.

Making a Road trip to visit family at this time of the year, Gas Buddy is definitely a friend telling you where you can get the best prices.

Have kids? Then you will also want to have a great Santa Tracker on your device as well, after all we have to keep track of Santa, don’t we.

Best thing about all these apps, they are free.

Do you have favorite apps that are making your holiday season easier? Join my friend Christa and me for the #cdnmoney chat on Tuesday, December 09th to talk the tech that makes the holidays easier this season. We will be on Twitter with the hashtag #cdnmoney. This is our last chat of 2014.

web design

Thinking About Becoming A Web Designer

A well designed website is an important part of many business plans. A website might help a company make a strong first impression with potential customers, allow customers to shop online, ask questions, or find information about your company. Web designers are relied on to help create websites that are functional and attractive to help businesses and individuals achieve their goals. This is a career that will keep you interested by constantly challenging your creativity, your problem-solving skills, and your technical skills.

A diploma in web design is a path you should consider if you’re interested in a career that relies heavily on both technology and creativity. Web designers need to feel comfortable with technology, since they’ll be spending their days working on a computer. Programs such as Photoshop and WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors are commonly used by web designers, and HTML and CSS are also common technical skills. These are just some of the tools which web designers use to create pages that both look great and are highly usable.

Successful web designers also tend to have some artistic or creative ability. They might be skilled in several art techniques, such as graphic design or drawing. They also need to be skilled communicators and have strong problem solving skills. If you’re communicating with the client or discussing a project with teammates, being a good listener and able to get your meaning across are important skills.

Web designers can find work in a variety of settings. They may work as part of a team in a large corporation, join a small business, or decide to work freelance. Web designers often work collaboratively as part of a team that might include web developers, programmers, content creators, and graphic designers. Web designers can find employment in the huge variety of industries that use websites, in many cities across Canada, which makes this career a great option for people who don’t necessarily want to be tied to one place.

Web design standards and aesthetics are constantly evolving. What was considered cutting edge just a few years ago is painfully out of date today- and that is not the impression any business wants to make. Each project will require a different perspective and will challenge you in new ways. There will also always be new programs and tools to learn about in order to keep your skills up to date. Additional training, webinars and volunteer work are all great ways to update your skills and make your resume even more competitive. A career in web design will mean a lifetime of learning and trying new things, so your days will never feel stale!

Web design is a growing field, with opportunities in many industries and locations. If you love the internet and enjoy making things beautiful and functional, you might want to consider taking a college course to learn web design!