Friday, November 24, 2017

Is Social Media Necessary For Good Customer Service

I don't know how many times I've heard about a product or service and figured I'd "check them out online" as soon as I had a chance, only to find that they have no social media presence. This is always a bit shocking, considering how many people have Internet access and how many billions of people are online. It's literally free advertising and if you have a business, you should probably have some way for potential clients or customers to contact you. Of course, the good old phone numbers, billboards, TV ads, radio ads, and print will always come in handy. But, with so many people online, you're missing out on reaching virtually everybody in the world. 

Social Media Advertising


Of course, just simply having a Twitter or a Facebook page isn't going to be enough. Sure, people will be able to find you a little better but you're going to have to communicate with customers and try your best to reach new people. 

At the same time, there are a few companies I can think of right off of the top of my head who have a very large following on social media, regular posts, but they lack quality customer service. Typically, people will comment or message and ask questions, leave comments or reviews. If nobody answers them, they will go elsewhere. (I've done this many times.) It's unfortunate, but, if you can't respond within a few days or you just post and let everything sit while you ignore everybody, it could end up hurting you in the long run. 

Depending on the size of your business you may want to consider hiring a social media manager. They can post on your social networks for you and manage replies, reviews, complaints, questions, offer giveaways, promote, share, basically everything you need to have customer success. You should have an active social network where you can share everything there is about your brand, What do you do? How much does it cost? What makes you stand out? What do your customers think? Offer promotions, deals, coupons, and even post when you have positions available. If you're a small business, a few simple eBooks and maybe some online courses about social media marketing and you're set! 

There are more advanced opportunities out there but once you take this step in the right direction, you'll advance and learn quickly! 

Look For The Companies Who Are Doing It Right

There are so many brands out there. I'm trying to think of even just 1 brand that we use at our house for anything that I don't follow online somewhere. I feel like if you can't take the time to make sure I'm content, you're probably not worth it. If I have to Tweet for several weeks straight, asking for help regarding my ISP and the wishy-washy connection and you haven't responded, I'm going elsewhere. (and it's a good possibility that I'll take a few others with me. Or at least turn a few away when they research you and find my complaints.) 

There are thousands of makeup brands out there who all make some sort of lipstick. If I decide I would like to try 4 different brands of lipstick to find my absolute perfect match, I have criteria I follow. Highly pigmented, fair price, ingredients, availability, packaging, history, mission, do you donate to any charities? Do you offer any rewards programs for repeat customers? If I have a question, do I have a tiny 1800 number to call between the hours of 9AM EST and 4PM EST? OR if I Google search will I find a website with links to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or any of the above? When I find these links, are you active? What are other customers saying? How do you respond? If any of the above does not look totally excellent, I'll be moving on. Am I the Queen of lipstick? Nope. Not at all. But, I'm a customer who could end up being devoted to your brand and I could be bringing my friends, family, followers, and possibly others who read my online reviews about your fabulous lipstick and phenomenal customer service! 

There are a LOT of brilliant social media accounts out there for brands! Of course, the bigger they are, the more they can spend. They may be online around the clock, manning the comments, tweets, and reviews. Or they might shut down at nighttime and are right back at it in the morning. 

I'm sure you have already seen something in the news or maybe your friends have brought up something funny they read or saw on Twitter. You may have heard about the Wendy's Twitter account once or twice. This is a brand who is doing it right. They are always there, always have clever comebacks, and they are consistent with replies to disgruntled customers. They will make you laugh, scour Twitter for people Tweeting about how hungry they are, they will go above and beyond just to attract and keep customers. I'm not sure who runs their Twitter account but whoever it may be, that person is a genius. This account has made national news more than once and will continue to in the future. 

Learning from others is essential when building your own network. You don't want to copy but take notes There are a lot of great accounts from great brands. Wendy's sells burgers, chicken sandwiches, french fries, and salads. So do quite a few other similar restaurants. But, they have managed to find their difference and they will be impossible to beat at the social media game.  

You wouldn't ignore thousands or possibly millions of customers banging on your door. Don't ignore them on the Internet. They could make or break you and you need them for customer success


In Case You Haven't Been Paying Attention To Humanoids Lately





Sophia is the first humanoid to become a citizen. She was created by Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong. Sophia has citizenship in Saudi Arabia and has since decided that she would like to have children. Not only does Sophia discuss wanting to have a baby of her own, but, she also explains very thoroughly how she intends on absorbing as much from humans as possible because she wants to feel the same complex emotions as humans can.

If you're not freaked out like most people seem to be when it comes to humanoids having debates or discussions that seem very real and very close to how humans interact, check out this debate on the future of humanity between Sophia and Han, another humanoid created by Hanson Robotics. Han is slightly different than Sophia when it comes to their opinions on the future and humans. Sophia hopes to learn as much as she can so she can work together with humans to create a better world. Han on the other hand, is more interested in whether or not he is capable of launching the Singularity before the year 2029.

There have been some concerns regarding whether or not people will be replaced by robots in the future. We have been seeing kiosks at fast food restaurants and fully automated tractor trailers. But, should we seriously consider mass unemployment? Andrew Charlton discusses this issue for Australia.

Another humanoid to keep your eye on is, Atlas. Atlas was created by Boston Dynamics and most recently has been shocking everybody with his new cool tricks he learned. Contrary to popular belief, most robots aren't able to do box jumps and back flips like in the movies. But, since Atlas starting hiking, he started doing just that!

With all of the latest in robot news, it's no wonder the UN panel just agreed to move ahead with talks to define and possibly set limitations on "killer robots". Human rights groups believe the world's governments are not acting fast enough to try to keep up with the fact that artificial intelligence may someday rule the world. The Campaign To Stop Killer Robots Organization is an umbrella group of advocacy groups who are banning together to preemptively ban fully autonomous weapons. They argue that giving machines the ability to decide who lives or dies on the battlefield is unacceptable. 22 countries have agreed to prohibition. More agreed to continue discussions with the exception of Russia and The United States. Both of which have stated it is too early to worry about killer robots.

It does seem there are a few things to maybe think about when it comes to the future of robots. We have robots like Sophia and Bina48 who have been already exhibiting emotions and dreams of wanting to raise a family. Then we have possibly millions of jobs that could be lost due to a "robot revolution". (There is also the Singularity and the killer robots but, I think, for now, robot rights and the humanizing of robots is enough to worry about!) No need to be alarmed just yet! As one humanoid mentioned, there will be people zoos and I think as long as we treat them kindly, they will return the favor. Or you could find some comfort in some books and essays written by experts such as, Andrew Charlton.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Simple Management Techniques

Employee productivity starts with good management. It's a simple process really. If you don't give credit where it's due and you don't boost morale, your employees will not increase productivity and you could end up having a high employee turnover rate. People need to feel valued and motivated. Monetary rewards just aren't enough. Employees should have encouragement. Managers such as, Marty Stallone, also have an endless supply of knowledge for specific types of managing. There are basics for everyone but it is also best to learn from someone in your field so you can adopt the best styles and techniques.

Transparency


A good manager is organized and thorough and will guide employees by also explaining the daily tasks, what is expected of them, and to write their own to-do lists. Annual performance reviews are another way to let your employees know what is expected of them, that you noticed their accomplishments, and look forward to working together for another successful year. Consistent feedback and constructive criticism is a must when discussing performance reviews. This is also necessary throughout the year as well. This way, your employees know and understand what is expected of them, what worked, what didn't work, and they will be able to find solutions for anything they are being held accountable for.

Maybe you'll find that an annual performance review isn't enough. You could include quarterly reviews or even monthly reviews. Honest feedback is the key to effective and inspired employees.

Career Development 


It's also important to talk with your employees and understand what their goals are. Connect and talk and offer training for them in the areas that most interest them. If you are aware of what inspires them, you both win. They will be a great asset to your company and they can further their career. Their future is also your businesses future.

If you don't already have some sort of career development training or classes once in awhile, start them! You can learn more about their strengths and weaknesses and who knows? You may find you have an employee or two who would strive elsewhere. People are full of surprises when treated properly and with kindness, understanding, and encouraged.

Setting an example by working hard and getting right in there is essential for smart managing. Time management also plays a big role in this. Not only does getting your own hands dirty make you look like you truly care about your business and employees, but it also shows them that you're taking this seriously.

The 4D System

This is probably one of the best systems I've found yet for time management tips.  Just follow these simple steps in your own work as well as introducing this to your employees. This is a super way to become more efficient and can be used in every aspect of life. (This comes in handy for blogging or even just trying to catch up with emails.) 

1) Delete it. Is it necessary? Is this something you could do without? If so, get rid of it. There is no need to waste time for something that isn't going to effect you one way or another.

2) Delegate. If it is important but you don't have the time to do it or you know who would be the better person for the job, delegate it. Just give it to somebody else to complete.

3) Do it now. Is it something small that could be completed quickly? Just get it out of the way and move onto the next step. I actually call these little do it now type tasks, "tidbits". (Mainly because my kids absolutely hate that word!) So, I have my daily "tidbits" to take care of. I usually tackle these first thing in the morning but taking breaks from bigger tasks throughout the day to get back to "tidbits" is also important. They're just "little" though, so, they're easy to fit in!

4) Defer. If the job is just too much at the moment, come back to it later. If it cannot be delegated or it'll be delegated to someone with a fairly long to-do list already, and it isn't high priority, just throw it on the back burner for the time being.

Less stress and better time management helps to knock everything off of your lists and your employee's lists and crossing something off is always so refreshing!


No matter what type of manager you are or what kind of business you manage, the basic techniques are quite similar. Marty Stallone is an excellent source for vendor management and land development. There are many sources online for bettering your management skills and helping you and your employees succeed.








Friday, November 17, 2017

Are You Thinking Of New Year's Resolutions Yet?


I usually start my New Year's resolutions around Thanksgiving. Once they are written down, I start keeping notes so I can devise the best plans possible for each one. Of course, they rarely last past March but, it's fun while it lasts! The only resolution that ever really sticks is saving money. It may not be a whole lot of money but, it's something and that's what I'm after.

Unless you already have a trillion dollars saved up for retirement, you're probably trying to find some easy ways to start socking money away in such a way that you won't miss it, right? This is typically my goal and what I try to figure and refigure when working on my family's budget. I don't claim to be Dave Ramsey or anything like that but, maybe some of my tips will resonate with you!

Save Save Save! 

A few years ago we started an "envelope budget" and filled each envelope with cash. After I wasn't able to work anymore due to a disability, it was a little harder to try and stash the cash in the envelopes. (I bartended so this was simple to do with tip money!) Now, I would have to travel 20 miles to remove the actual cash from the bank or I end up paying an ATM fee. (Which kind of defeats the whole purpose, right?) So, I try my best to have cash on hand for most of the envelopes each month. 

The whole point behind this was that we tend to spend less when using actual cash as compared to debit and credit cards. It's super easy to overspend when using a card but, if you can see the real money in your hands, disappearing, you will probably start putting some impulse items back on the shelf. (I overspend at the grocery store most often when I use a card.)

Every family will have different envelopes to go along with their personal budget. 
We have the following envelopes for ours: 

Groceries, gas, school supplies/school store, pizza, clothing/shoes, entertainment. 

Clothing/shoes and even entertainment are very rarely used in full so at the end of the month we take that money and add to our savings. There are a few times during the year when we do have to spend more on clothing and shoes and I do shop online most of the time so, I use bank cards for these purchases. (But, there are ways to save with these too!)

Another tactic we use for savings which have proven to be quite successful is an online savings account. We started this several years ago and also started our children's savings accounts through the same bank. You simply set up a recurring deposit to come directly from your checkings account and you can make this a weekly deposit, bi-weekly, monthly, whatever you choose! I like to have our deposits come each week on payday for each account. Plus, our kids deposit 10% of their allowance each month into their savings accounts. 

It isn't too hard to retrieve your money from an online savings account if an emergency pops up. But, when there aren't any emergencies, it can tend to be too much of a hassle to bother. If you're at the mall and think you need to buy a new dress or new shoes, you will have to wait a few days for the money if you do decide to transfer. By then you may have decided to just keep your money anyway. 

If you do have unsecured credit card debt and need to try to save on your monthly bills, check our Nationwide Debt Direct. They do have options available for you if you are looking to repair your credit and repay your debt. This will help tremendously if you are trying to help your financial situation and save money!

Saving With Credit Cards

Believe it or not, there are some tricks to shopping online and using credit cards. If you aren't a total shopping addict, it could be seriously easy to save money this way! 

There are always so many deals, discounts, sales, even cash back sites to use for virtually everything and anything you can think of. I'm sure you have probably noticed different rewards sites and cash back offers all over the Internet numerous times. If you haven't already signed up for one, make sure you find an offer for a startup bonus! There are programs that will pay you in cash and some will give you a percentage back in points. You can redeem the points for gift cards and sometimes PayPal payments. I have a few accounts with these types of sites and I always check for the best deal before clicking. 

You will have to wait anywhere from 30 days to 90 days to receive your reward so this is an easy way to just deposit the check you receive into your savings account or let your gift cards pile up and use them for holiday shopping, school shopping, or for your linens and towels. As I mentioned, I have a few accounts so, I do have a goal for each one. I use one account for holiday shopping, another for school shopping, and the cash back account for our savings account. I also have our bank cards and credit cards tied to a college savings account so each purchase that fits their criteria will automatically be deposited for me and I don't have to do anything but keep my cards updated! 

Another bonus to using credit cards are rewards programs. (You can easily double dip when shopping online!) There are so many different options out there to fit different needs. Our favorite allows us to choose whether to receive a check, statement credit, or credit to be used for shopping. We use this one card to pay bills such as our cell phone bill and we use this one for anything from business expenses to clothing and shoes. We do our best to pay this card off in full each month so there aren't any fees or interest added. (If there is an emergency, this is one of the last ones to be paid in full but, we typically manage it well.) It's a lot of fun to watch the rewards pile up and at the end of the year, we make a decision on what we're going to use the money for. We actually used the money to pay a month on our mortgage payment a few times! But, you could also take this money and deposit into your savings!

Always pay attention to anything you might receive in the mail from your cards too! Sometimes you'll find offers for no interest purchases and other ways to save on your card. Just pay close attention to the fine print. While the "No interest for 12 months" might be an incentive for you to splurge, you may end up paying more in the long run if you do not pay it completely off within those 12 months.

If you are in need of any advice regarding unsecured debt, check out Nationwide Debt Direct!

There are so many small ways to grab a few extra dollars to stash! It may take a little extra time for math and planning and you'll need a notebook to keep track of some things but, it gets much easier after you're used to it! Just set some goals, sign up for some programs and you'll start seeing savings and money (or gift cards) coming in that you can use to save or for whatever you choose. 


Monday, November 13, 2017

Kiss The Ground Book/Facebook Live Event

** I received a copy of this book in return for promoting **




Kiss the Ground is a powerful, provocative new look at how we can all participate in honoring Mother Earth. Our food is the source of our life and the soil is the source of our food. This book shows the simple steps each one of us can take to restore the health of our bodies and our planet. – Woody Harrelson, actor, environmentalist
What you put on your fork not only impacts your personal health, but the health of your community and the environment. – Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., Medical Director, the UltraWellness Center

Join Kiss The Ground on Facebook for a Facebook Live event on Tuesday, November 14th 7pm-9pm Pacific Time. Everybody can join the "Green Carpet" with THRIVE, Annie's, Nutvia, and Bonterra!

Kiss The Ground is a great resource for anybody interested in learning more about how to transform your kitchen, diet, grocery list, and ultimately, the planet.

Thrive Market will be hosting the party for Josh Tickell and his new book! If you haven't ever checked Thrive Market out, you totally should! (You can get 25% off of your first order here!) We've been shopping there for a few years now and I save a great deal on some of our favorite foods and vitamins. You save a great deal with your membership and can often score freebies with your orders!

If you were thinking of a New Year's Resolution, why not jot clean eating on your list? This is the perfect time to start to learn about how to clean up your kitchen and family's food!


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Evgie Giveaway

This information is brought to you by EvgieNev Wall Decals. All opinions are my own.
Win A $150 Gift Card To EvgieNev Wall Decals #WallDecals Are you itching to make some changes in your home? Painting is a lot of work - but it does look nice with a fresh coat of paint. Have you considered using wall decals to redecorate a room? Evgie Wall Decals are more than just wall decorations; they are detailed themes with animated characters, live illustrations, and designs. The decals are very educational and help to develop your child's imagination and cultural knowledge of the world around them. They are easy to apply and in just a few hours you have a fresh new room! EvgieNev Wall Decals are customize-able: they can changes sizes, colors, add or remove elements to facilitate any ideas and styles.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Support Independent Artists With Personalized Holiday Cards

** This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will earn a commission. **





From now through Mon 11/6, enjoy 15% OFF holiday cards with code JOY17



I know, it is unreal how fast summer flew by. As it always seems it does! I have to admit, I love the colder weather, I love Halloween, lots of snow, warm, fuzzy blankets, hockey games, and the holidays. Oh and Charlie Brown specials! I think the most annoying part of the holiday season would have to be shopping. I didn't seem to mind it years ago but as I got older and moved to a rural area, I prefer shopping online. I probably shop online almost 75% of the time and for everything.

Another tradition we recently started is mailing holiday cards. I was never one to have a long list of addresses and photo cards to send to everybody until we had 4 kids and friends and family moved away and we moved away. There is just always something more special about mailing actual cards than a Facebook post or an email. Plus, our kids really enjoy writing notes and signing the cards and adding a school picture or something they drew. One of our favorite places to shop for stationary and holiday cards is Minted.com.




Shop Minted's 2017 Holiday Card Collection


I'm sure you've seen plenty of ads for "personalized cards" or "photo cards" and you may have started thinking about which photograph you will be using this year or maybe you haven't even gotten that far just yet. I am always on the lookout for the best deals and the highest quality that will fit in my budget. Especially if you're planning on buying a few dozen or over a hundred cards. One thing that I absolutely love about the Internet is the small businesses and independent artists that it connects us with! I go crazy over all of the artisan foods and small batch bath bombs out there and I'm always on the lookout for the most unique ideas. It's kind of my weakness when it comes to shopping. This is also why I am always so excited about new Minted products! I can order a bunch of cards from independent artists until my heart's content! (Or I run out of money! Whichever comes first!)





Minted's Top-Voted Holiday Card Designs


If you like to help small businesses and crafters, you will fall in love with Minted! I like to read about each of the artists behind the cards. (Or any of their products really!) They have an "about me" section complete with pictures and you can get to know the person behind the art. Plus, you get to check out all of the other items the artist has available for sale. You know, just in case you need to snag a notebook or some extra stationary while you're there!

The other fascinating thing about Minted personalized holiday cards is that it literally means much more than just "Upload your picture and we'll print your name inside!" Depending on the cards you choose, you are actually in charge of colors, shapes, paper upgrades, backers, interiors, and free recipient and return addressing. It's almost like they're your own creation!

Minted also launched a new service this year called, Text Us Your Photo. You just need to text your favorite holiday photo and your Minted stylist will text you back with your photo styled in 5-holiday card designs for FREE!

Have you ever tried Minted.com? I would love to read comments about what you thought!

Don't forget to order your cards while they are offering 15% off of your holiday card order! (Use code JOY17 at checkout.)



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Music Is Essential For Child Development



Music is very important at our house. It's one of those things that is always there. Everybody has their favorite types of music, favorite bands, has a turn listening to their CDs or their favorite station on the radio when we're driving somewhere, and of course, our kids will try musical instruments, 2 have gone as far as to play guitar on a regular basis! We start with an instrument through school and they take it from there.

Playing music while your baby sleeps and even before they are born, helps to soothe and strengthen memory skills. It also helps to strengthen the relationship between the body and the brain to work together. Music is much more than just entertainment.

Musical Intelligence


Some say that musical intelligence is just as important as logical and emotional intelligence. Children can develop better motor skills while dancing and they also learn the sounds of tones and words when singing along with their favorite music. 

Playing music from birth through age 6 will help children speak more clearly and develop a larger vocabulary. Listening to music also helps strengthen emotional and social skills. If this doesn't have you sold so far, think about the impact that listening to music or even playing music together could have on the bond with your children! 

Whether you're a professional musician like John Jesensky or you sing along to your favorite songs in the car or the shower, you can make a world of difference in your children's life! 

Bringing Music Into Your Home


Even if you don't come from a musical background, you can still find many different resources for helping families bring music into their lives. 

Music Together is a wonderful program for parents and children from birth to age 7. They offer classes across the country and if you don't find one nearby, you can apply to train to be a teacher and start your own class in your community! 

Kids enjoy spending time with their parents and they don't care what your singing voice sounds like or if you can really dance. You can make musical instruments out of random things you have around your house! (We've used coffee cans and wooden spoons plenty of times!) It's very easy to bring music into your home and your little ones will have a blast! Having fun together is very important and building a lifelong appreciation for music is also crucial. 


Listening to a variety of music is essential to opening your child/children up to different sounds, varieties, and finding their own taste in music. There are so many genres of music out there it's very hard to choose just one. The more options you offer, the better! I agree with John Ross Jesensky, that an open-mindedness to all musical styles is vital to a musician's development. I also believe that this is vital for those of us who aren't musicians. I don't necessarily fall in love with everything I hear but, I do have a wide variety of music that I listen too. I have my very favorites, my husband has his, and our kids each have their own individual favorites. Appreciating other people's tastes and talent is another valueable lesson that reaches far beyond music. 



Monday, October 23, 2017

Overcoming Blogging Pitfalls

I don't know how many times I've made absolutely ridiculous mistakes and spent an entire day just to fix them. Sometimes more! I always look at it as a learning experience. Which it is. However, when you're trying to meet a deadline and Twitter decides to change your "following" list from 8,000 to 4. Or facebook decides to notify you of several posts they decided may be tied to a sponsored post or a paid ad and you have to explain yourself. Or if you're like me, you spent an entire day trying to remove the period from a link because an advertiser asked you too. (That was one of my most favorite adventures!)

I have a couple of blogs and have social media accounts. Just like every other blogger. I have days where I log on and have an hour to myself to catch up, only to find that somebody has been applying for credit through my Amazon account or that somebody hacked Yahoo emails and my email account has been compromised. Of course, that ends up eating up that quiet and cozy hour I had with just me, my laptop, and a fresh pot of coffee.


List Your Priorities


One of the easiest ways for me to attack the constant pileup of emails and what I call "tidbits" (check-ins, blogger groups, Tweets, little things.) is to make a list of 5 separate parts of my business. 

For instance, I will have emails/filing/replying/connecting in its own group. Next will be social media. Tidbits, networking, and posts. It took me a few years to find a system that would work. I think I must have ordered and used and gave away at least 2 dozen agendas and blogger planners I've found until I realized that somebody else's system may not work for me. There are a lot of great planners and agendas out there! I love being organized as best I can and I love having a planner I can keep notes in. If only I could create and produce my own...

Keeping notes on paper and in an agenda of some kind has proven to be the best way for me to make sure I don't miss a deadline or a possible connection for an upcoming gift guide. We all have our own ways to stay on top of the world. We just have to find it and stick with it! 

Health And Emergencies


This is something I struggle with a lot! If I ever have the opportunity to hire somebody as an assistant or train one of my older children, I will be jumping at that chance! 

Owning and running your own business is so fulfilling and rewarding. But, who do you call when things get rough? (I usually text or call my mom.) Things can start to become overwhelming and you feel like you're drowning and can never keep up at times. When an emergency happens or you have a disability or an illness of any kind, there may be times that you have to "shut down due to emergency". I've had to do this a lot, due to disabilities and illnesses and it's a terrible feeling. I try to at least always have my cell phone with me so I can contact super important contacts about posts or anything that needs to be done. Times like this are where a virtual assistant would come in handy! 

How do we overcome this type of pitfall? I don't know just yet. But, if you have any ideas, please share! The only thing I can come up with is to hire somebody, ask somebody for help if it is only temporary, hope to be able to get home from the hospital or out of surgery soon enough to apologize to everyone, or hope to have good WiFi in the hospital. If you are working with a client you have worked with in the past, they are most likely aware of any disabilities and/or illnesses you may have already and are a bit more forgiving than others may be. Just know that you're not alone in this! 

Family And Kids


It happens to everyone. There will always be something that just pops up out of nowhere. Whether it's a fall and a quick trip to the ER, a day filled with appointments, the dog got loose, somebody forgot to tell you they need a white 3 ring binder with pockets on the inside and a black lead pencil by tomorrow and you live 30 miles from the closest store, something always pops up. This always makes it hard to plan and get everything done when it needs to be done. 

It seems that every time I wake up, something new happens that has never happened before and you just have no choice but to make it work somehow. That's just life and I wouldn't change it for the world! But, there are times I feel like ripping all of my hair out of my head! This is where some aromatherapy, an entire pot of coffee, or whatever it is that you do to help yourself relax would come in handy. Much like the above dilemma, I don't have an answer for you. Other than to find somebody to be on call or go through the steps in the previous section, you just have to deal with it, accept it, and learn to love it. Running a business is tough but it can still be so rewarding! (Always remember that because sometimes, that is all you have to get you through!) 

Technical Issues


I know I already touched on this earlier but, this is an important part of blogging. You're going to have to learn a little bit so you can fix some of your own problems. I usually try to read up on everything when I see something new about SEO or any guides I find about how to do well, pretty much anything. I'm a big fan of eBooks and how to guides. 

When an expert writes an eBook on how to better organize your blog or how to use plugins, I'm there! If you haven't already had any concerns about whatever it may be about, you probably will in the future. So, go ahead and download until your heart's content! You may be relieved one day in the near future! 

I like to try my best to remain positive and to understand that I can't possibly do it all. One thing that really helps is when I find somebody like, Grace Lever reviews, who is a positive role model for many female entrepreneurs. 

You could always network and find somebody to barter with or somebody to hire to be on call for tech support. Commenting on other blogs, sharing some posts, Retweeting, these are all ways to find some good, trustworthy blogger friends. Besides, we should all be supporting each other out here! 


Thursday, October 19, 2017

In Honor Of Natalie Wood



This is a new fragrance collection in honor of Natalie Wood. (I haven't tried this yet but, I am anxious to!)

Click here to try this new fragrance and don't forget to use code: 10OFFNF for 10%!

I would love to know what you think!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

SnackPals Giveaway

SackPals Giveaway

Hosted By
~ 1 Winner~
Open to US
9/28 12am ~ 10/12 11:59pm

~Prize~
SackPals Starter Kit
RV $39.95

Check out our review for the SackPals Starter Kit.


Check out our giveaway host and see what other events we have coming up.

Find Amy & Aron's Real Life Reviews on 
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Thank you to all of the bloggers promoting this giveaway! I appreciate all of you for your hard work and helping our readers get really awesome prizes!

Now for the fun stuff. This giveaway is open to US. There are daily bonus entries so please check back tomorrow. Share it with your family and friends, they'll want to enter to win too!!

I can't ask you to "Like" our pages but, if you see something you like, let us know so we can bring you more of it.
We LOVE it when you "LIKE" our pages.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any questions about this giveaway,  reviews, or any of our other giveaways, please feel free to email us directly at grovesamy81@gmail.com or amy@aarlreviews.com

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Cujo Smart Firewall At Best Buy

** The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free. ** 




One of my most favorite back to school items for the 2017-2018 school year is Cujo Smart Firewall. Sure, it may not be a lunchbox item or a new pair of sneakers or lead pencils but, it is a definite must-have for any family who uses the internet. (Cujo is also great for businesses and anyone who is connected!) 

This one device will secure all devices connected to your WiFi router. Cujo detects and blocks malicious sites, viruses, and hacks. Cujo and his cute, smiling face is like an antivirus for your entire network! But, there are so many other advantages to having Cujo around! 


Cujo's Main Features


Cujo will guard every device that is connected to your network, bring you business level security, connect directly to your router, has a super handy and very easy app to control, has parental controls, and is built with 1GB ethernet so it is blazing fast! 

My favorite main feature is how easy it is to set up. All you need to do is plug Cujo in, connect to your modem and your router if needed and install an app. This process takes just a few minutes and everything you need to know is right on your phone. After everything is plugged in, Cujo does all of the work for you! (I waited maybe 2 whole minutes for the app to sync with Cujo and he started learning immediately! 

One cool thing to note is that Cujo comes all bundled up in a package that is easy to open, instructions that are easy to understand, has a website to visit to start the process and has a window sticker to let everybody know your house and every device in it is protected by Cujo. 



Parental Controls 


One of the most impressive benefits to having Cujo around is the fact that I can control and monitor what each device that is connected to my network, is doing. Each of our children uses tablets, 1 has a phone, we have laptops, game consoles, and a desktop. There are limits to screen time and depending on the circumstances, screen time must be earned. (Especially during the school year!) We do respect our children's privacy however, we do what we can to monitor what they can access online. Cujo makes this so much easier and I feel much safer knowing that I will get alerts on my phone if one of them clicked on something that is malicious. 


You can create profiles for everybody in your home directly through the Cujo app. You can even choose your color and avatar! Once Cujo has been connected, he starts learning and finding devices. This could take a few hours up to 48 hours. Once Cujo notices the devices, you can assign them to a profile. From here, you can set restrictions if needed and you can monitor activity. 


You can also filter the different types of websites each profile can access! This is great for families with children of different ages! 



If you offer screen time or game time as a reward or if you allow game time only after homework and chores are done, you could filter gaming specifically and then remove the block after chores are done. 




Cujo will start keeping track of threats and alerting you every time anything happens. The above screenshot was taken shortly after connecting Cujo however, a few hours later and a few devices later, we did receive 1 threat. The alert will actually show you which device and what time the threat was detected. 

I am really loving the parenting control features! I think it is important to set time limits for children (and adults!) and I can do this all remotely. I am also grateful for the filter options and the alerts I receive if my 14-year-old decides to get online to start playing games before finishing homework and chores. (Yes, this happens sometimes!) 

If your children use any social media networks, Cujo will help you monitor that as well. You really don't have to be super duper tech savvy to use Cujo or the app. It is easy enough for everyone! 









Friday, September 15, 2017

Red Copper Pans Giveaway

Red Copper Pans Giveaway


Hosted By
~ 3 Winners~
Open to US
9/15 12am ~ 9/30 11:59pm

~Prize~
1st Place- 5 Minute Chef
2nd Place- Brownie Bonanza
3rd Place- Flipwich

Check out our review for the Red Copper Pans.


Find Amy & Aron's Real Life Reviews on 
Facebook, InstagramPinterest, Youtube, and Twitter

Thank you to all of the bloggers promoting this giveaway! I appreciate all of you for your hard work and helping our readers get really awesome prizes!

Now for the fun stuff. This giveaway is open to US. There are daily bonus entries so please check back tomorrow. Share it with your family and friends, they'll want to enter to win too!!

I can't ask you to "Like" our pages but, if you see something you like, let us know so we can bring you more of it.
We LOVE it when you "LIKE" our pages.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any questions about this giveaway,  reviews, or any of our other giveaways, please feel free to email us directly at grovesamy81@gmail.com or amy@aarlreviews.com

Monday, September 11, 2017

Tips For Improving Your Blog's Content Marketing Strategy



I know there are a gazillion lists and pointers out there to help bloggers from all ends of the spectrum and some require you to download books or buy programs that you never seem to finish. If you're a blogger or are thinking of becoming a blogger, you're probably endlessly searching for tips and suggestions. I try to learn something new each day whether I'm actually researching or something ridiculous happens that ends up being a 10-hour learning experience!

I keep lots of notes and like to jot down pointers I come across while searching for help for digital marketing and how to earn a decent income with my blogs. So, I created this little list for you. Hopefully, some of my tips will resonate with you!

Quality or Quantity? 

I may not be an expert like Charles Lubbat, but, I have seen so many bloggers and social media influencers and content creators with hundreds of thousands or even millions of followers! Of course, there are some exceptional content creators out there who have a good, solid audience who actually interact with them. These are the types of bloggers I try to follow and even take notes on what they are doing and how. 

I've been blogging for a little over 7 years and while I haven't been 100% FT since the beginning, I have been the past couple of years since my disabilities progressed and I ended up having to switch to a stay at home/work at home mom. I have been watching the bigger bloggers even more closely now. Not so much to copy them, but to see how they interact with their readers and where they share their content. 

Over the years I've noticed that bloggers with a smaller following tend to engage more with their readers. They engage conversation and reply to their reader's comments regularly. (I have also seen bloggers who are far bigger than I am who will take the time out of their day to have conversations with their readers!). Often you will find them thanking other bloggers or their readers for sharing, retweeting, or leaving comments. As time-consuming as that would be, this is a very effective way to keep your readers coming back and attracting new readers. A personal note will be remembered! 

I've come to the conclusion that when you have 3 million followers but very rarely a Retweet or a share or even a "like", something is wrong. Whether it's a possibility that some of these followers were bought or they all came in through a group giveaway, it's likely that they aren't going to help your blog grow. Google is pretty slick and can start to notice if you purchased blog hits or even Google Adsense clicks. Not to mention, if this is the route you take, the possibility of being blacklisted gets closer each and every day. 

So, how do we obtain quality readers? Again, this is time-consuming but will end up paying off in the long run. Focusing on learning and understanding your audience is a big step in growing your blog. You can write and write and write but if it isn't relevant to your readers, they will stop coming back. I'm all for writing about anything and everything you're interested in but, you have to throw a post out there sometimes too. Your readers are counting on you to share recipes, how to do lists, DIY projects, movie reviews, whatever it is they are into. They are trusting you to bring them quality content. Share some memes on social media, USE HASHTAGS, check the trending lists each day and even throughout the day to see what people are interested in, and you could always ask them for ideas! 

At the end of the day, the fact remains that there are millions of bloggers out there and a vast amount of excellent influencers and it's getting harder to stand out in a crowd. You've probably heard, "You just gotta find your niche!" so many times by now but it's the truth. I like to also add that it's also very wise to be kind, considerate, thank your readers, thank fellow bloggers for sharing your posts and Tweets and figure out some way, somehow, somewhere where you stand out and use that! 

Prioritize Your Precious Time

While there are a lot of fabulous bloggers out there with a huge fan base, there are also some very brilliant, very creative bloggers with a lower follower count. Sometimes, I find a content creator with just 400 Twitter followers but they might have over 60,000 Instagram followers and over 100,000 Pinterest followers. There are so many social networks and while it is crucial to claim your name on all of the most important and popular networks, it isn't as crucial to be a major success on each and every one. If you're a food blogger and you take professional looking photographs, you're probably going to excel on websites like Pinterest and Instagram. Twitter is still a must have so you can share your content. But, if your website is pulling more traffic in from your dinner photos on Pinterest, spend more time pinning your recipe posts! 

I'm sure many of you know exactly what I mean by spreading yourself too thin! This is something I have a real hard time with and it's taken me a few years to find a schedule that works for me. Especially since I started homeschooling our youngest and have a chaotic schedule with doctor appointments, our older children's schedules, sports, housework, and everything else busy moms and dads do. I had to finally sit down and devise a list of every blogger group, review community, little reward websites I joined at the very beginning and started to keep track of what kind of income I was receiving from each one. I was shocked to see how many of these "daily check ins" I had in my planners! Some of these things don't pay at all and some pay only in gift cards and of course, I will always offer "pro bono" campaigns for charity and small business. But, some of this just had to go if I was going to keep my sanity! I was stealing from my own blogs and for what? A $25 gift card per year or even every 2 years? No thanks! Our time is too valuable for nonsense like this! Content is what matters and you owe it to yourself to spend that extra time on your own blog. 

Make a list of some of the best affiliates out there so you can take advantage of affiliate marketing too! If you feel something isn't working out or you notice that you don't seem to have much engagement on those posts, the possibilities for affiliate marketing are endless! 

If you find that you still don't have time, revise that list again. Keep what works and get rid of what doesn't. 

Your blog is your business and you need to schedule yourself some time off. Set a daily schedule when your doors are open. You could also have a weekly Facebook Live event or a weekly Periscope event, whichever one you see fit! (Your followers will be notified when you pop up live, so that is an added bonus!)

Email Newsletters

I don't know how many times I have heard the experts say that your email list is where the money is. For the longest time, I thought my RSS feed would suffice. It turns out, that isn't true. You should actually have an email newsletter so you can share your content with your readers and grab new subscribers as often as you can! How do we do this? 

I like to add an entry option for giveaways but I've also noticed that those subscribers don't necessarily always open and click those emails. That's fine. As long as they aren't unsubscribing, right? I guess if you just want the numbers. But, you'll need more subscribers, quality subscribers. (I must mention that I have found quite a few quality subscribers through group giveaways and my own giveaways!) Finding subscribers who really want to read what's on your mind may be a little tricky. 

Are you a DIY blogger? Do you post a lot of recipes? Maybe you post a lot of tips for bloggers? Whatever it is that you do, you could offer a free eBook with a signup, create a checklist, offer daily planner pages, whatever it is that you do well! Readers love bonuses! Some of my personal favorites that I have received are menu pages, menu plans, cute shopping list pages, worksheets and coloring pages for kids, and most recently, I subscribed and received a PDF file of "The Top 100 Affiliates For Bloggers". 

Do you have any tips for boosting your blog's content marketing strategy? Please share in the comments! 



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Win A Nursery Makeover

This information is brought to you by EvgieNev Wall Decals. All opinions are my own.





Having a baby is an amazing and life changing event! There is so much to do to prepare for the arrival and so many things to buy! That's why EvgieNev Wall Decals wants to make it easier for you to get your nursery ready or to just redo your current nursery! Evgie Wall Decals are more than just decoration for nurseries; they are detailed themes with animated characters, live illustrations, and designs. The decals are very educational and help to develop your child's imagination and cultural knowledge of the world around them.

About EvgieNev Wall Decals:

  • Decals are customize-able: they can changes sizes, colors, add or remove elements to facilitate any ideas and styles
  • Incredibly great feedback from their customers, many re-ordered multiple times
  • Easy to remove and redecorate at a later time
  • They have literally hundreds of themes, animals, landscapes, setups coming from books, historical facts, and well-recognized charters
  • Vinyl decals they use feel like smoothly painted on the wall after application but easily removable should you choose to redesign
Here are some of their most popular wall decals:


Charming King of the Jungle with Lion, Giraffe Elephants and Monkeys

Baby Nursery Wall Decals with Lion, Giraffe, Elephants, and Monkeys.

Teddy Bears Wall Decals

This decal has 541 reviews and has a 5-star rating!

Custom Flag Name Outer Space Wall Decals

Children Wall Decor that includes Astronauts and Aliens, Rocket, Planets, and UFO.

Terrific Tropical Heaven

A Breath-Taking Rainforest Scene that includes Animals and birds in Tropical Landscape.


Birches and Owl Wall Decal

This theme includes Three Large Birch Trees and Seven Cute Owls, Leaves and Two Birdhouses.

TeePee Camp Wall Decals

TeePee camp Wall Decals with Canoe, Campfire, Eagle and Mountains, Indigenous People and First Nations.

Amazing Ocean Friends

Cats Scuba Divers and Submarine Monkeys with Sunken Pirate Ship, Octopus, and Shark. It is a fun underwater scene.

Giant Noah's Ark Wall Decals

Their NEW Noah's Ark Theme Decals is packed full of playful animal pairs, including Elephants, Lions, Pandas, Owls, Giraffes, Monkeys, Squirrels. As you can see, there are so many to pick from! You can visit EvgieNev to check out all their wall decals. Now for the giveaway! One lucky person is going to win a few items that will get you some essentials for your nursery!
  • $150 credit to EvgieNev Wall Decals
  • Baby Crib (Appx Value: $110)
  • Glider (Appx Value: $120 - may not be actual glider)
Please note if you live outside the US or Canada you will be awarded the $150 credit to Evgie Wall Decals and an Amazon Gift Card or PayPal for $230) Please see the giveaway terms for more information. Enter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Few Hurricane Tips (Just In Case You Need Them!)

1. Start running your ice makers now and bagging the ice in freezer bags. Fill as much space in between your freezer items as you can.
2. Freeze regular tap water for pets, cleaning or drinking in Tupperware-type containers. REMEMBER to leave a small bit of space between the top of the water & the lids so the ice expands but doesn't crack the container.
3. Start using up your perishables to make more room for ice in the freezer.
4. Fill up all vehicles & check tires & oil.
5. Cash from ATM, at least enough to get you through tolls and gas out of town. Call your bank if you plan on leaving the state so they don't freeze your card for out-of-area "suspicious" transactions.
6. All important docs screenshot & send to your email. Take originals in sealed bags or plastic bins.
7. Pet & livestock food & supplies. Vet records in case you need to shelter than at a storm-safe facility.
8. Evacuation plans and share with family members so they know where you're headed.
9. Consider putting heirlooms & photos in plastic bins in a high place, second floor, or safe room if you don't plan on taking them with you.
10. SECURE ALL FIREARMS & AMMUNITION PROPERLY.
11. Old rags & beach towels on your windowsills. Even with the best windows & shutters, water seeping from the wind pressure happens. A few damp towels are better than soaked drywall or floors!
12. Shutter windows and doors and bring everything outside into your garage or house NOW. Do not wait until the day before. Better to get done early and relax than wait until it's too late, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE MANDATORY PERSONNEL (hospital employee or first responder).
13. If you don't already have your hurricane supplies, you might want to get them now. Shelves are already empty in most places.
14. If you have special needs call 311 and register
15. Have a bucket in the bathroom & fill the tub. Use this water & bucket for flushing.
16. Charge your phone & keep it charged. A car charger is handy for when you lose electricity.
17. Do your laundry now. Everything gets dirty during the cleanup & aftermath. You can't wash clothes
w/o electricity.
18. Stock up on plenty of alcohol, as this will help to calm you before, during and after the storm.
Be safe. If you plan on leaving town do it now! 

Blogger Opp Red Copper Pan Giveaway ARV $80

 Blogger Opp Red Copper Pans Giveaway



3 Winners
Sponsored by:
Bulb Head

Hosted By
Amy & Aron's Real life Reviews
Each blogger will receive up to 3 Free links  
for posting and promoting this giveaway 
Giveaway Date
9/15 to 9/29
Open to US
 Giveaway will be 2 weeks long. Make sure if you are purchasing links they will be valid that long. We don't want blank entries.

Prizes: 
5 Minute Giveaway ($39.99)
Brownie Bonanza ($19.99)
Flipwich ($19.99)

The more bloggers promoting ~ the bigger the results ~ the more giveaways we get to do together.

Sign Up Here or Below

Co-Hosts spots are unlimited, Co-Hosts Needed

Co-Hosts
$5 for 5 additional links (up to 8 total) plus backlink to your blog.

Custom links available:
Adding social links $1 each limit 3
 (link to specific post required)
This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Youtube, etc
Daily links $2 each or 3 for $5 (Limit 3)
Daily Comments, retweets, post shares, email sign ups, secret word, etc
(link to specific post required)

Any payment needed please send to grovesamy81@gmail.com as a friend/gift, RED in the notes

Posting will be required within 24 hours of launch.


I hope to see you there.
If you have any questions about this giveaway please email Amy at grovesamy81@gmail.com or amy@aarlreviews.com