SayingThank You and Saying Goodnight

Eleven years I ago, I started a journey. I wanted no other Canadian woman to live my life. I wanted them to know about money. I wanted them to know life on a small budget was manageable. Tonight, a new path begins and I say thank you and goodnight.

Last week I got an offer to sell Common Cents Mom. The offer is more than fair. I will no longer be the owner of Common Cents Mom as of this time tomorrow night.

How do I say goodbye to 11 years years of work?

This blog has been good to me and for me. We built a community. A community I hope sticks around for what is ahead for the blog.  You will see more here, and it will help those who want a financial path forward.

thank you
Man holding thank you word in palm

Saying Thank You

Thank you to Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker who first recognized me as a blogger when this little blog was in its infancy. Thank you to Preet Banerjee who gave me my first paid writing gig! Thank you to Gayle Vaz Oxlade who was an early mentor. Thank you to Donna Marie Antoniadias who recognized my talents early on as a community builder and helped me thrive and succeed.

Thank you to every person who gathered on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings to talk money long before there were bank Twitter chats and parties, Facebook Lives and Instastories. I enjoyed every hour very much. Can you believe those Twitter chats produced over 5 billion social media impressions? It is a legacy of how important money conversations are. Financial literacy is important. It always will be for Canadian families.

Thank you to every brand I worked with. I was blessed to have multiple year relationships with many brands over the years. I still remember my first sponsor on this blog though was Dove Chocolate. I couldn’t turn down chocolate.  But the reality is I loved talking taxes with Turbo Tax, loved my partnership with Church and Dwight, loved talking movies and tv shows with Netflix, and then got to celebrate my dad and his work in a factory many years ago when I partnered with Hallmark Canada.

This blog has also helped several Canadian owned and created apps and sites launch.

Flipp, is still my go-to best friend when it comes to shopping.  Have you downloaded and saved on your grocery bill yet?

Caddle, when it comes to favourite cash back apps, this one still ranks high for me.

uCarenet, will definitely change the face of homecare in Canada.

Quber, is a great little app if you need help with your savings goals.

Notice a theme with these? They all help us every day.  I loved finding apps, technology and ways of doing things and then sharing them with my readers.

good night

Looking Forward and Saying Good Night

Now looking forward, I turn 55 this year. It’s time to forge a new path forward. It’s time to say goodnight to this blog and start a new adventure. It’s time for a new writer here.

Wish me luck on this adventure and again thank you all, it has been quite the ride.

 

 

Ten Years of Common Sense Blogging

It’s hard to believe Common Cents Mom is ten!

I started this blog ten years ago. I wanted it to be an inspiration and a way for me to share the knowledge I was gaining.  It has been quite a rollercoaster ride and my community has shared it all with me!

 

So what are some of the highlights:

  • Over 1000 posts written ( that averages to 2 posts a week)
  • Started the first Personal Finance Chat in Canada even before the banks were talking about money online!
  • Wrote a tweet to Oprah that ended up in New York Times
  • Having this blog and one post featured on every news site in Toronto leading to the raising of thousands of dollars for fire victims.
  • Having Common Cents Mom featured on multiple lists as a blog to follow and read. I have been on the top lists more than 20 times.
  • Speaking at multiple Blogging Conferences and the University of Toronto as a Guest Speaker twice.
  • Being one of 4 bloggers invited by VIA Rail to take the Ocean train as part of its 110 birthday.
  • Having met many of my current friends via this blog.
  • Helping  2 apps that were created here in Ontario launch. One now has millions of downloads and the other was wanted by 4 Dragons on Dragons Den.
  • Over 5 billion social media impressions for brands that have partnered with Common Cents Mom
  • Over 200 Twitter Parties or Chats hosted or moderated for brands.

What surprises me every month is that new people visit and become followers and for each and every one of them I am grateful and blessed. I am floored that so many are now friends. I am thankful for conversations and how this community has grown together. I am thankful for the mentors who stepped in and taught me so much about personal finance and blogging. In the area of personal finance, I am thankful for Preet Banerjee who gave me my first paid writing gig. I wrote about my bankruptcy for his blog. I am thankful for Gail Vaz Oxlade who is the original Common Sense personal finance writer. These two I learned much from. In the area of authentic connection, I am thankful for names we who work in the world of Social Media know well.  I am grateful or Liz Strauss and Chris Brogan who along with Scott Stratten taught me much that I use every day. It is all about connecting in ways that matter, ways that help and make you think.

Eight years ago, my life changed when I became unemployed and ended up six days later being employed by Connected Multi-Media. Little did I know, all my paid work since has been in the world of social media. From blogging to a freelancer working alongside some great brands and agencies I have had so many great experiences. Dove Chocolates was my very first partner some 8 years ago and I have worked alongside over 100 brands and companies since.

As I look to the next 10 years, I look forward to Common Cents Mom being a resource for those that want to learn about money in ways that make sense, ways that save you time and money. I promise I will always be looking for ways and tools that will help my readers.

Here is living frugally so we can live well!

THANK YOU all for reading and visiting my blog. I appreciate every click and every moment you spend here.

 

Mode Media

What Bloggers Should Do After the Bankruptcy of Mode Media

It is the morning after. This time yesterday I had an Ad Network. Today I don’t. Mode Media filed for bankruptcy yesterday. For many bloggers we have lost a major source of our  monthly income. For me, my ad network generated about 25% of my monthly income from ads on the sidebar to creating and sharing original content here on my blog.  Per our creator contracts we were paid 120 after we did the work.  Bloggers did not and will not get paid for work done since April.

I shed a few tears last night and ranted but today is a day for action. Many bloggers need to be taking action today.

Mode Media

So what should bloggers who were with Mode  do today? 

  1. Screen cap your losses. You can still log into Insider. I did so just before writing this. Screen grab your dashboard and financial reports. You will need these in the days ahead.
  2. Remove the ad network from your blog. This was easy enough for me to do.
  3. Start shopping for a new ad network. There are several out there that are good.
  4. Keep all documents and email trains you had with Mode. You can file a claim in the bankruptcy case with the trustee. They will send you the workout document. You may get 20 cents on the dollar and you will wait for it for months if not over a year. As well, you will be able to take the loss as a loss on your tax return. This means this year you will pay less in taxes. This is why proof of monies owed is so important right now.

What should all bloggers do? 

  1. Remember blogging is a business. In business there are losses. Things happen. Sometimes you don’t get paid. It is the unfortunate cost of doing business. This is the second time this will hit me hard. The first was when Target left Canada.
  2. Diversify. Never have all your creative eggs in one basket.
  3. Treat your creative sites like businesses and sources of income, because they are.
  4. Build direct relationships with brands. This means have business cards at the ready when you are at any event, Talk to the company reps and forge relationships directly. Here in Canada, I have had conversations with CEO’s, Vice Presidents, and CMOs at leading brands simply by doing my homework. These relationships did lead to paid work. Have your media kit and business cards at the ready. Don’t have yours ready? Get them done.

For us who worked with Mode Media, it has a huge impact. I can see the losses hurting many. For some, blogging is their only source of income for an entire family. Take out the revenue from the ad network and the quality of life is affected. We will get through this though as I have realized us bloggers and creative types are resilient. We band together and make things happen, that is a good thing. This morning it is about taking the deep breaths and taking action.

 

 

 

blogging

How to Earn Money Blogging

How to Earn Money Blogging

Ever wonder if you could make it as a full-time blogger, and earn a pay cheque that supports you and your family? When I started blogging over ten years ago, it was never about making money. It was about sharing with family and friends who were far away. At the time I started blogging was not a big thing. If you want to earn money today blogging, you can easily but let me warn you it does take time and effort.  Are you looking to supplement your current income? Grow your MLM business? Share a passion of yours?

You can do all of those and more. I did.

How can you earn money blogging?

Here is my Story:

When I started CommonCentsMom, I was dirt poor for Canadian standards making less than the poverty level. I was forced to be frugal. I was also facing bankruptcy. I started this blog to tell my story.  I shared with others how you do not have to spend much to have a great life. I have helped Canadians learn more about money and the great things happening around Toronto mostly.

For the first two years of this blog, there was no monetization whatsoever. I simply wanted to help Canadian moms get money smart. The first offer of a review came about a year into my blog. It was for Dove Chocolates. You always remember your first. Just like you remember who paid you first. My first paid gig as a blogger was from a fellow blogger, Prett Banerjee, who asked me to write a series for his blog.

It wasn’t until after I had attended my first blogging conference I saw the real potential in the blogging space. Six years ago I saw my social media sites as an extension of my blog. I started the #CDNmoney chat on Twitter ( it is now the longest-running Canadian Twitter chat, as well as being the first personal finance chat in Canada).

I learned that I needed to have several revenue sources. I learned the more I made it about the content I was offering, the more I could earn. I was helping Canadian moms save and learn more about money. For me, that was not only good for my soul, but it was also good for my pocketbook.

Three years ago while working at a print shop here in Toronto, I was laid off. After applying for about 400 jobs and not getting a single interview, I knew I had to do something online. There was no turning back. At the same time, I had learned enough social media skills via trial and error and being mentored by some of the best in the world, that I created a revenue source as both a blogger and freelancer.

Remember I said to have several revenue sources, freelancing is one of mine.

I also monetized my social media feeds. I grew on Twitter quickly curating and creating great content, and my #CDNmoney chat has become a Tuesday night power hour. Brands started sponsoring chats about three years ago, and I do on average  20-25 sponsored chats per year. Last year the CommonCentsMom brand and the CDNmoney chat brought just over one billion social media impressions to brands who wanted to reach my audience.

blogging

What have been my biggest lessons?

Be Persistent 

For me, persistence has paid off. Not earning a living your first 90 days? That’s ok. Stay in the game. Learn and grow along the way.

Learn

Take advantage of workshops, lessons, and small groups where you can learn to hone your blogging skills.

Have multiple revenue streams

I learned that from my blog I needed to branch out and create revenue from several sources.

Get a tribe

I learned to look at my fellow bloggers and those in my social circles as friends first. Having that network of friends has helped me flourish.

How Can You Do It?

Content is King

Always remember that content drives traffic. Give your audience what they desire and that is not review post after review post or sponsored content after sponsored content.  Ask your readers questions and answer theirs.

Create an Email List

Have an email list. I did not do this one until several years in and it is one of my biggest regrets when it comes to blogging.

Self Host if You Can

Many bloggers start on sites like Blogger or WordPress.com. Don’t. That is my biggest piece of advice. You want to own your domain and your site. Hosting costs are something you can write off and it gives you a more professional image.

Know Your Streams of Income

You can get blog income and what I call brand income from a variety of sources:

  • Display Advertising. Adsense, being a part of an Ad Network or even have private ads like several of my friends. I use Mode as my Ad Network of choice.
  • Affiliate Programs. Do you know you can earn money for referring people to products and services and other sites.?
  • Amazon Affiliates.
  • Sponsored Posts. Always make sure a post is a great fit for your blog.
  • Creating Products. You can create an e-book, or a tee or even a physical product that goes along with your blog.
  • Monetizing your social feeds: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest all have ways you can monetize them with your content.

A few of the blogs I follow to learn, this is where I learned the best tips and tricks on my journey:

Let me know have you started your blog? If you have, I would love to visit. Leave me a comment with a link and I will be sure to stop by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CommonCentsMom Turns 8 with a Giveaway

birthday_candles

I did something scary 8 years ago yesterday. I bought my own domain. I became CommonCentsMom that day. I have been blogging already for about 4 years on MSN Spaces and Xanga ( Who remembers them?) I decided I wanted to share more about how I was saving money. What greeted me? A huge amazing life that I had no idea was about evolve.

When I started CommonCentsMom in 2008, I was living in rural Nova Scotia and working in a call center. I simply wanted to share with my family and friends how I was saving.  I was part of several money saving forums and regularly sharing deals and frugal tips but having been a mom on welfare I wanted that for no other woman. I wanted to share my story with others.

Along the way, things changed. I found this world called Social Media. In 2009, I joined Twitter, before it was a big thing. I found Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Periscope and Blab along the way as well. All of a sudden I had a voice. A voice that was being listened too.

Along the way I have helped raise thousands of dollars for those displaced in the Wesley Street fire. I promoted several charitable events, I attended event after event and even spoke at a few. I was called a blogger to read more then once people and publications that make a difference like the Financial Post.

For the first few years, CommonCentsMom was in existence ( ie the first 2 years), I never made a dime off my blog. Yes, I received a few things free but more times that naught when I talked about a brand, sale, or event it was often because I bought it and was using it and loved it or attended the event.

By the time 2010 rolled around, I was working in the Social Media industry full-time. I started the first personal finance chat in Canada long before any of the banks or any financial services companies knew it was a thing. The hashtag #CDNmoney has been on twitter for almost 6 years now.

By 2010, I started to earn money ( just a little from my blog). I can still remember the first brand to pay me money to talk about them. I still RT and share them even though they stopped paying me a long time ago. My blog has given me so many opportunities like traveling with all the mayors on the Via Rail’s Ocean trains route when the Ocean celebrated its 110th year. The blog has allowed me to meet some of my idols. Now, I even call a few of them friends!

What is best of all after 8 years, the amazing relationships I have built with thousands of readers over the years. The real friendships made because of my blog. I think of where and how I met people like my friend Marcy Berg, Shannon Mischuk, Donna Marie ( who hired me), Liz Strauss, Cate, Diane, Lisa and the list goes on. Really all I have to do is look at my friend list on any of my social channels and I know I am blessed.

To say thank you, I am doing something different. It’s a surprise. Hope you all are okay with that.

envelopes

I will be sending out 8 envelopes to 8 of my readers. In each will be a gift from me to you. Each will have a value of at least $25.00. My way of thanking you for reading, for being apart of my life. I thank you for joining me on this ride.

No rafflecopter for this one, simply in the comments let me know how long you have been a reader and if you have a favourite post that I wrote. Let me know do you follow me on any of my social platforms, if yes which ones? What do you enjoy about CommonCentsMom.

Thank you for reading, thank you for being part of my community.

If you want to give me a gift, share one of your favourite posts of mine on your favourite social media channel.

*Giveaway ends March 10th at 11:59 pm  ( Open to Canada and the US)

* For an extra entry share the giveaway and leave me a link where you shared it.

 

500 Posts on Common Cents Mom and 12 years.

500 posts! That is some pile of writing. This post is my 500th on Common Cents Mom. What a blogging journey this has been so far.

My blogging journey began with a journal on MSN  many years ago and then moved to Zanga where I started my first real blog , then to Blogger to Cheaper then Cheap and Simply Hollie and then I created Common Cents Mom almost 5 years ago. So that averages out to just over 2 posts a week, for 5 years and that is just on this blog. My first blog post ever was written some 12 years ago on December the 5th, 2000. Rachel was 2, and we were living in Hamilton and I had just gotten a computer for my new apartment there.

What a journey it has been.

Blogging has seen me parenting in the open, with everyone having a view to my life.

In my blog posts I have written about leaving Mormonism, life as a christian and then embracing Islam, parenting, family, and even tragic events like a deadly fire that took us from our home, moving across the country, my daughter’s diagnosis with special needs, and the direct effects of bullying.

I have also tried to share some tips that have helped me over the years. I was a mom on welfare when this journey all began, trying to raise my daughter. Who knew that 10 years later I would have a full time job in a field known as Social Media. Not me.

Blogging has blessed me with so many opportunities and has brought so many people into my life that I am blessed to call friends. I wish I could express my gratitude properly in words but they are lacking tonight as I write because what a journey it has been!

I have been blessed with great mentors to learn from, blessed with friendships that will last forever, great relationships with so many and I have had the chance to partner and work with some amazing people on this journey. To each I say Thank you!

For each of you who read my posts, comment and share in our lives, thank you.

To say say thank you for stopping by and reading I am hosting a special giveaway on this post!

It is my way of saying Thanks.

Leave me a comment on this post and tell me what would you like to read here going forward.

What can you win?

A $100 Visa Gift Card

I will draw a winner on my real birthday Christmas Day

Help Wanted

Help Wanted.

I am asking my readers to help me out.

As I look to the future of Common Cents Mom I want your input, your honest to God, opinions.

Be brutal, be honest.

How can I improve?

How can I make this blog better?

What would you love to be reading here?

Why am I asking? Because I want to give you my readers a place you love to come, to read, to have a conversation.

So can you help me out? Leave me a comment and let me know, how can I help you my reader?

Happy Blogoversary to Me and Giveaway

Four years ago today I registered the domain name Common Cents Mom.

I took on the name Common Cents Mom because I had become a frugal, deal hunting mom, while getting a full-time job and raising my daughter solo style.

As I think of the last 4 years and how much I have grown I know I am more then blessed.I am thankful for my community of readers and friends.So I wanted to do a very special giveway.

Since today is my 4th Blogoversary I have decided with the help of She’s Connected to give away 4 $25 gift cards. One for each year of my blog. I decided to go with Gift Cards from brands I know and love every day. So I got one from Old Navy, one from The Gap, one from Joe Fresh and one from Indigo Books.

Please do enter and I want you thank each of you who has come and read here over the years.

As well if you are reading before the 12th do pop over to my other giveaway where I am giving away 2 signed copies of Gail Vazoxlade’s newest book.

 

 

 

 

 
Read More

Monetizing Mommyhood and a Soundbite from Me

Back in October, some of you will remember I went to Blissdom Canada, thanks to Annie Urban offering me her ticket after she was asked to speak. I had the chance while I was there, to speak with CBC’s Ira Basen about my blog, sponsorships, and working with brands. It was a cool conversation that happened as I was with Mom Central Canada applying to be on the expanded Fisher Price Mom Panel. He even got my pitch to Fisher Price on tape. I did not get selected to be a Fisher Price Mom, after all I am not the mom of a small one, but I am a ECE of many years, and many young moms do ask me what brands I use.

Well to sum it up you can tune in this Sunday to CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition to see how it all turned out. Here’s the aperçue from the Sunday Edition web site:

There are four million mommy bloggers in North America, women sharing with other women the trials and tribulations of bringing up babies and making more and more money at the same time.

In the past decade, social media for mommies has gone from a nurturing, supportive, chat-across-the-back-fence virtual village to a massive marketing vehicle for everyone from toy companies to the makers of minivans.

On the CBC site there is even a brief promo. Thanks to Judy Gombita on Google+, here’s a list of some of the others featured in the documentary:

Postcards from the Mothership – Danielle Donders http://danigirl.ca/blog/
PhD In Parenting – Annie Urban http://www.phdinparenting.com/
5 Minutes for Mom – Janice Croze http://www.5minutesformom.com/
Common Cents Mom – Hollie Pollard https://commoncentsmom.com/
Crib Chronicles – Bonnie Stewart http://cribchronicles.com/
Mom Central Canada – Cora Brady http://www.momcentralcanada.com/
Fisher Price play panel http://www.fisherpriceplay.ca/moms/
Child’s Play Communications –Stephanie Azzarone http://childsplaypr.com/
Blissdom Canada http://blissdomcanada.com/

 

When I saw the list of bloggers that were interviewed I am the small blog in the mix, these other women are among the goddesses of blogging Canada and if you want a new blog to read I recommend any of them and all of them.

Now the show is scheduled to start at 9:13 all depending on what is going on in the news world. So tune in and see what is said about mom and blogging and advertising. You can even stream it online.