For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to free stuff. I spend extra money to get free shipping. I go out of my way to pick up things friends and neighbors are getting rid of for a future DIY project that usually never happens. And it’s basically a fact that free food just tastes better.
That being said, I have all the apps. I’ve joined all the mailing lists. I’ve optimized my chances to get the most bang for my buck. It’s all part of my quest to find alternative revenue streams.
But one thing I never thought I’d be qualified to do was be an influencer.
I cringe typing that word because it’s so tainted by negativity in the social media community. So many influencers feel entitled. I just want to game the system for free stuff. If that means I have to post a picture, I’ll do it. But I don’t go out of my way to seek out opportunities.
The size of my social media following makes me a micro-influencer. But as someone who works the company side of things, a lot of times there’s more value in working with smaller creators.
So if you’ve been wondering where to score products (and sometimes even get paid to post), I’m here to share where I get my free stuff.
Influenster is essentially a social network for products. Their app allows you to take surveys in different categories and leave product reviews. As you do this, you earn different badges and ranks. One thing they offer regularly are VoxBoxes, which are packed full of free products for you to test out, review and post about. I’ve gotten boxes that included products from Lancome, Kat Von D and Laura Mercier. A lot of times I receive products I would’ve never purchased because I’m cheap. But it’s nice to feel like you treated yo’ self to something fancy when all you really needed to do was snap a picture for your Instagram.
Heartbeat is a platform brands come to to create campaigns. While you still get free stuff, some campaigns are even paid. Your pay rate is determined by your followers. So the more Instagram followers you’ve got, the better your Heartbeat revenue will be. While this structure might not be right for everyone influencer, it works for me for the time being. I like the fact that you apply to the campaigns you’re interested in and let the other ones slip by. Although I love free stuff, I don’t want to post about products that I haven’t actually tried out. While I don’t think I have that strong of an influence on my friends and followers, it’s nice to keep my credibility intact. I may be a sellout, but I’m a sellout with integrity.
While I haven’t met the 5,000 follower threshold to be accepted, Famebit is a lucrative way I’ve seen many creators and influencers make a living. Like Heartbeat, companies create campaigns with Famebit and the members apply to said campaigns with pitches. This platform is more involved than just Instagram posts, but it also pays better. If you’re a video content creator, this might be something worth looking into if you meet their requirements to apply. I’m looking forward to the day when I hit the threshold so that I can make money off the things I love doing.
A lot of times you don’t even need a platform to apply for free stuff. Just having an email on your blog, YouTube channel or Instagram opens the doors to many opportunities. You can even seek out companies that make sense for your brand or your audience. If you’re going the independent route, you should check your worth on Social Bluebook. It even gives you the option to send your breakdown via email so that you can back your pay rates up with facts and data.
If you of any tips to get free stuff that I didn’t mention, feel free to share them in the comments!
I never had a pet growing up. At least not one that I actively had to take care of every single day. When I was very young, we had a puppy but when we moved out of my grandparent’s house, we left her there to keep my grandpa company. No matter how much we begged for a pet of our own, my mom never budged.
We’d always threatened that as soon as we moved out my brother and I would each get a dog. And then I realized how much work a dog actually is. A dog doesn’t exactly fit my current lifestyle of sitting around doing nothing. So instead of cashing in on my threat, I lived alone for a year.
I think that’s important to note because I was known as a cat lady long before I had a cat. It probably had to do with my obsession with shirts with cats on them, but maybe I was just putting out the vibes before I realized my own true destiny.
I would peruse Petfinder from time to time to see if any rescues caught my eye. And while my heart ached for all of these homeless pets, I wasn’t ready.
That is until the end of April 2017.
I’m not known for my spontaneity. It took me years of pinning to my “Quarter Life Crisis” Pinterest board before I finally dyed my hair. I build shopping carts that I come back to frequently to see if I really want to make a purchase.
But apparently, when it comes to cats, I can’t help myself.
I headed to my local animal shelter to inquire about this adorable long-haired black cat. The volunteer introduced me to many cats that day before finally bringing me in to meet “Monkey.” She was just as cute in person but the sign of her cage scared me. It warned to not pick her up.
Now I’m not saying I was looking for a cat that I could cart around and handle on the regular. I don’t even like that myself. I’m not sure if the volunteer sensed my hesitation or she genuinely wanted to show me this other long-haired cat because he was pretty.
When we approached his cage, she warned me that he was super shy and he wouldn’t approach me. But guess what. He came right up to my hand. She was shocked. I was sold.
While I was doing my research, I had read the application process takes 24-48 hours but the volunteer was ready to send “Dandy” home with me right then and there.
I panicked. Mainly because my house was a mess and I wanted to get it in order and have supplies for whichever cat I brought home. When I told her this, she informed me that they don’t hold cats. If I didn’t take him right then and there, he might be gone whenever I came back.
I still decided to go home and get my affairs in order. I bought every little thing I could imagine he’d need but I was full of anxiety that he wouldn’t be there when I went the next day.
Luckily, I had a pretty flexible schedule. I told my boss what was up and I was able to cut out early and spend the rest of the day working from home.
I called the shelter to make sure he was still there and got the same warning that he might not be by the time I got there.
“Dandy” was promptly renamed Grigio because he’s grey, I’m Italian and I like wine.
But let me tell you, it wasn’t an easy start. He was so shy and scared that we barely interacted over the next few weeks. Then suddenly we were snuggling all the time and playing fetch.
That also shocked the shelter because I was told after the fact that he acted pretty feral. I had never seen that side of him. Maybe I just understood him on a deeper level because we relate.
We had a blissful eight months together of cuddling and playing. My friends and family like to joke about him because no one has actually seen him in person. He hides the second someone comes over and doesn’t come out until we’re alone again. But I swear he exists.
One night in January, I was scrolling through Facebook and this little face popped up.
There were so many shares and comments but I knew I had to have “King.” I had already named him before I went to bed that night and I was just counting down until the shelter opened the next day.
This time I went in prepared. I knew I’d be able to take him home that same day so I brought my carrier. Since I quit my job and was working from home, I was able to be the first person to request him. And it was a good thing too. Half an hour after I got there and filled out my application, another couple showed up to adopt him. First come first serve. He came home with me.
The drive home was full of mixed emotions. Bacio was so sweet and I was sure I loved him already. But I was so uncertain about how Grigio would react. Would they get along? If they didn’t I’d have to make the tough decision to give the kitten back to the animal shelter to have them find the perfect home. It was only fair to both of them and I’d already built such a strong bond with Grigio. My home was his home and I would do whatever made him most comfortable.
I lucked out again. They got along. The first time they interacted was by accident. I hadn’t realized the bathroom door was open and Bacio came out to explore his new home. They had a small standoff but there was no aggression. There was no hissing. Grigio just walked away.
Fast forward to now, and they’re best friends.
Okay, that’s a lie but they play, they cuddle and they cohabitate just fine. They have their own favorite spots and they don’t mind sharing my lap for some cuddling.
Now, I feel like the family is complete. At least pet-wise. I only have two hands so I really can’t accommodate any others no matter how cute they are.
But it’s funny how curious Grigio gets when I close the bathroom door for any extended period of time. The last time that happened he got a little brother who loves to annoy him so I understand his concern.
My decision to adopt these two rescues was one of my best. I’ve finally solidified my cat lady status and there’s no turning back now. Please consider adopting from a shelter instead of buying from breeders if you’re looking to add a pet to your family!
If you want to see more of these cuties, follow me on Instagram at @bratkneed or follow them on their own account @grigioandbacio.
When I started writing about my monthly favorites, I really didn’t take into account the fact that I was trying to not spend money. While I haven’t conquered the whole not spending thing because #treatyoself, I have significantly cut back.
That’s a lie. I just spend my money on things like food now. Which in my mind is worse because I don’t have a physical object to represent the money I spent. Regretting everything now.
I’m not going to lie. I had a couple of really good months in terms of work. Yes, I have less free time, but having wiggle room in my bank account is a welcomed trade-off.
I really only made one purchase this month that’s worth talking about.
Also, my definition of splurging is skewed. My last splurge happened in July when I bought myself a FitBit. This month, however, was a more business conscious purchase.
Yes, I bought another camera. If you’ve been following along with my YouTube channel, you know I’ve barely been posting. So why do I need another camera? Great question. I didn’t need it. But in my warped little head of mine, I assumed if I spent the money, I’d use it.
I wasn’t wrong. I put out more videos with my new Canon G7X than I have in a while And I plan to use it this month when I head to New York Comic Con. Having a camera that has a flip-out screen that’s still compact is definitely a game changer. That was the downfall of my last “vlogging” camera. I made so many excuses to scrap the footage because I wasn’t in the frame or it wasn’t focusing.
Now when I make excuses, you can come for me. I’m very excited to continue to use this camera to create new content.
If you are following me on YouTube, you know my latest video included a section about my new glasses. I got the email that a lot of people get to try out their glasses. As someone who wears glasses all the time, I like having options. So I took them up on their offer.
I can’t imagine spending so much money on glasses anymore but it was my way of life before I tried out these online retailers. The glasses look great and are a fraction of the cost. That’s a win in my books.
Firmoo sent me my glasses for free and I’m also now an affiliate. If you’re in the market for affordable glasses, you can use this link to purchase. If you use my code d4a2b, you’ll get 50% off.
So those are the only things worth mentioning this month. I foreshadow a lot of purchases incoming as the weather gets colder because I definitely won’t be leaving my house.
I found myself reading less than I used to and I wanted to change that during the summer. I created a summer book bucket list to tackle when I wasn’t working. If you want to see how I did with that list, check out my summer book check-in.
One thing I mentioned in that post is that it was hard to complete the list because I didn’t currently own all of the books on it. With bills to pay and cats to feed, I couldn’t justify spending money on books when I know I have plenty on my shelves.
So for my fall book bucket list, I found books that I’ve been meaning to read that I haven’t gotten to yet. Once I get through the unread books I currently own, I can look to purchase some new ones for a future list. Or I can finally sign up for a library card. Shooting for the latter this winter because I know when it’s snowing I’m not going to leave my house.
Reading has always been a way for me to wind down. I love getting lost in books. But since I quit my job, I found I had less time to read because I was always working. That’s one of the downsides to being a freelancer. In order to strike a better work/life balance, I vowed to get back into reading.
If you’re keeping score I read five out of 10 books. Good not great.
One thing that held me back from reading them all was my budget. I couldn’t justify spending all that money on books when I had bills to pay and cats to feed.
That made me realize that if I made a book bucket list for every season, I’d end up running into the same problem. Unless I decided to read one of the books that I haven’t cracked open already on my shelves.
But there is a solution. I don’t know if it’s taboo to admit that I’ve never had a library card. Sure in high school and college I could check out books from my schools’ libraries with my ID. But the regular old county library is a place I haven’t visited.
Maybe I add getting a library card to the fall book bucket list?