A Look Back + My Favorite Things Giveaway

Two years ago tonight, this blog was simply a thought in my head. 
My evenings were spent sans computer. 
Laundry was most likely not thrown all over my bedroom floor.
I had no clue what Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest were. 
Self portrait sessions were something to be laughed at. 
Stress levels were minimal. 
Buttons were something that you sew on a shirt, not something that goes on a sidebar. 
Less wine was most likely consumed. 
Heck, I remember even feeling bored on occasion. 

Two years ago tonight, I didn't fathom how hitting publish on my very first post the next day would forever change my life. I didn't have a grasp on how much of a creative outlet this would turn out to be. 
I wasn't aware that I would soon start developing very real friendships in other states and countries. 
I had no clue I would find myself laughing, crying, and praying for people I may never meet face to face.
It never occurred me to that this blog right here would spark a passion in me to live a fuller life, to laugh more often, to look for the beauty in the everyday things that I so often passed by before, and to embrace the awkward moments that I so often find myself in. I certainly didn't think two years later I would have over 600 posts under my belt, over 24,000 comments left, and one million + page views. I never anticipated coming together with hundreds of others to raise over $2700 for a family in need. I never knew that blogging would make me push my limits, think outside the box, and teach me something I had not yet learned..
self discipline.

Two years ago tonight was the eve of one of the best decisions I would ever make. 

I am in love with blogging.
I am in love with connecting to you all. 
I am in love with evolving, growing, and documenting it all along the way. 

I hope you know how much I appreciate each and every one of you who open up your computer screen to this space on a regular basis. I appreciate the smiles you bring my way, the questions you make me ponder, the laughs you give me, the tears you allow me to feel, I appreciate it all. 

Without you, these past two years would not be what they have been. 
And for that I say thank you. 

I love you. 

Two years down, a lifetime to go. 

To celebrate this milestone, I only find it fitting to shower you with gifts. Sounds fun right? 
I present to you....
Banana Republic Trina Turk Leather Handbag
Red Vines//Mac & Cheese//Air Heads//Whales Crackers//Two Stemless Wine Glasses 
$15 iTunes Gift Card//Daily Planner//$50 Target Gift Card 
Two Niki Bikis//Arrow Ring//Earrings//Love Wrap Bracelet//Scarf
 Peppermint Foot Lotion//Happiness Candle//Lip Gloss//Two Elle Nail Polishes//Hand Soap
Bubble Bath//Burberry Brit Perfume

Above are some of the things that bring a little bit of happiness into each of my days. 
And because you make me happy, I want to share that happy with you. 
Entries are easy..one winner takes all. 

Thank you once again for being apart of this whole experience. 
I can't wait to see what the future holds. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway




Can You Actually Make Money Blogging?

It’s a question I hear time and time again.
Or maybe it’s just a question that I expect people are asking secretly in their own brains time and time again. Regardless, I assume it’s either being asked or it’s being thought about..
Can you actually make an earnest income from blogging?
Today, I’d love to dive into this topic.

Before we begin I want to make one thing very clear… you do not need to make a dime off of your blog to be a successful bloggerSome of the most admired bloggers are the ones who have zero sidebar ads, they aren't constantly having “guest posts”, and they are never seen wearing a product for a certain shop.
Making money from your blog is not what will make you a successful blogger.

Now that we have that understood, let’s look at the reverse side of things.
It may be a goal of yours to someday make money off of your blog, you may already be making money off your blog, or you may be in limbo asking yourself “is it even okay for me to make money off my blog?!” 
I think that’s a question only women ask ourselves. I mean seriously, do guys ever sit around and ask themselves "Is it actually okay to treat this thing like a business and be paid for the time we are investing?!"
We girls have to justify EVERYTHING, amen?
I have been in all three stages over the past two years.

I will always remember when I first heard about blogs.
It was Little Miss Momma and my sister was telling me about her…aside from our adoration for the girl in general, we noticed that she was generating revenue from her hobby.
We both were a little intrigued. Being the bearer of all potential income producing ideas I went to my husband and I said “So this is crazy. People are like writing these blogs about ANYTHING and then they are making money off of them. Isn’t that nuts?!!” This was my husband’s response:
“Yeah but those bloggers actually have people reading them. That could be a problem for you.”
And so it began.
I started a blog the next day. Not to make money…but just to prove to my husband that I could get people to actually read it danggit. About six months in (and a few hundred readers later) I started to ask myself those questions about making money off this new time consuming hobby of mine. You know the ones “Is it wrong to make money from a blog?” “Will that make my readers think it’s just about money?” "I mean how do you actually make money from blogging?"

This is where the exciting part comes in.
There are really an unlimited number of ways you can earn money through blogging.
It’s a lot more than sidebar ads people.
The following are ways that I am currently generating income from my blog, but please keep in mind there are SEVERAL other ways to generate income that I have yet to dive into. 
Also, keep in my mind that no two bloggers are the same—some will make less, some will make more, some will make it one way, while others will make it another way. You just have to find what works best for you.

Sidebar ads/featured posts: $800-$1200/month
Google Adsense: $100-$150/month
Product reviews through Pollinate Media: $100-$200/month
Blog Consultation: $50-$200/month
Product received to wear: $50-$150/month 

Other minimal sources of income I receive come from using Affiliate Links through rewardStyle and Amazon
For a complete list of ways bloggers can earn an income, see here. 
E-books, Conferences, Niche Blogs..the possibilities are endless (isn't that beyond exciting?! I freak out over this stuff). While you are on ProBlogger, spend time there. The wealth of knowledge on there is plentiful. 

It is very important to keep four things in mind when it comes to making money off your blog. 

1. It doesn't happen over night. I started slow. I was thrilled to make $50 for a few months. It took over a year to make at least $500 a month, and almost two years to start generating $1,000+ monthly.
The more time you spend focusing on your content, engaging readers, building your readership, developing genuine relationships...the more likely your income will increase. Have patience. 

2. Measure the time you are investing vs the income you are receiving. Because I work a 40 hour job, I don't expect to make a 40 hour/week income from my blog. I personally spend around 20 hours a week on blogging (give or take some weeks). I do put in full 8, 10, 12 hour days occasionally on the weekends for blogging. I want to make sure that my income is comparable to my time. Hopefully this makes sense. 

3. It takes money to make money. You better believe I put a portion of my income back into blogging (this is done through sponsoring other blogs, participating in giveaways, paying for a virtual assistant, etc). You also better believe that I invested money into my blog/sponsorship before I started making money myself. At the beginning, every dollar that I made I invested right back into my blog. Sponsorship is not "buying readers" in my opinion. It is marketing wisely. Without advertising your growth rate will probably be more stagnant compared to somebody who is continually getting their blog out in front of new audiences. 
If you want to make money, you are most likely going to have to spend money. 

4. With anything, I say experiment with things. Try out sidebar ads, sign up with BlogHer, reposition your Google AdSense ads, sign up with an affiliate program. If you are interested..try it. But then make sure once you try it, you gauge it's success. It's okay to admit something isn't working for you. And maybe it will be wildly successful for you. You never know til' you try. 

I would love to make this post an "open forum" through the comments section with questions, pieces of advice for what's worked for you, what hasn't worked for you, etc. So please feel free to use it to your advantage, others advantage...The best part of blogging in my book? Learning from one another. 
I do not know much but I promise to share with you what I have learned. It's just more fun that way. 

Also, I know several of you have asked questions about how to deal with taxes and blogging. Heather over at JustLove.ly has written a beneficial post on this topic. I would encourage you to check that out! 

excuse the profanity. not my first choice of words, however i think the point is pretty dead on. 



Life According To My Husband

I've been in a big game mode recently. 
When life is boring, play a game. 
That's what I like to say.
Or maybe I like to say "when cooking dinner seems like a chore and you are brainstorming blogging topics for the next day's post, make up a game to play with your husband that can then be blogged about!"
That's more like it. 

So yes, tonight as dinner was being prepared I told Shawn I was going to just start listing off topics and he had to tell me the first thing that came to his mind. This is his first "attempt" at having any type of appearance on the blog, so let's open this post with open arms.
Just don't open them too much like you did with my dad
He still reminds me (weekly) how much more my readers love him than they do me. 

Let the games begin. 

So Shawn, let me ask...what do you think of when you hear the word:

Me (as in me, Erin): "Nutty"

Your style: "Bad" (I disagree)

Blogging: "You"

Music: "Jimmy Buffett"

Food: "Dip" (as he inhales another pita chip and heaping pile of 7 layer Greek Dip...)

Drink: "The Captain can make it happen..." (make what happen Shawn? please explain....)

Stomach Infections: "No comment"

Work: "For the birds"

Money: "Not enough"

Jimmy Buffett: "Awesome" (I think he meant to use the word amazeballs and just forgot..)

Ideal Day: "That's tough" (what? spending the day staring lovingly into my eyes doesn't come top of mind?)

Chores: "No"

Sex: "You are not putting that on there!" (typical)

Movies: "Don't watch"

Keith Urban: "That one caught me off guard.." (that's weird. I could've come up with several words all involving sexy..)

Maggie: "Dog?"

Kids: "No Thanks"

Cooking: "Nope" (said while cooking...)

30: "I'd rather get there than not"

People Tripping: "Brotha, you trippin'.."

Instagram: "Your Distraction" (what? I have not posted 1245 pictures...in less than a year.)

Twitter: "Time suck" (and yes, he meant for him this time..)

Rental Properties: "Babysitting"

Person You Want To Be: "Me" (that would be about him, not me. he most definitely doesn't want to be me...)

Vlogging: "Absolutely Not" (but I'm so graceful with it...)

Apple (as in the products): "Slick"

Working Out: "Whoa, whoa, whoa...I've got fire in the hole over here" (said while pouring the spaghetti in the boiling water..)

Mac and Cheese: "Too much" (at this point I signed the divorce papers...)

Manti T'eo: "Sucker"

Vacations: "Expensive"

The Bachelor: "Terrible. Oh wait. I wish" (to which I probably replied something like "go right ahead". we are the romantic type like that)

Him: "That's enough, I mean how much do these people want to hear?!"

The end. 

Job well done Shawn, job well done. 
Now if we could just work on that vlogging business with you....
Today's featured sponsor is Katie from For Lauren and Lauren
As sweet as can be. That's how I think of this little one. Katie (which I always mistakenly in my mind call Lauren) is hands down one of the nicest fashion bloggers around. Not that most fashion bloggers aren't nice, she is just extra nice, you know what I mean? I mean, if I had to actually put good looking outfits together daily, I'd probably get a little grumpy so that is why this is a big deal to me. You know what, never mind. Katie has some pet peeves just like the rest of us. You know else she has? A baby in her belly
Isn't she fabulous? I think so. Katie isn't afraid to share life's struggles while keeping a positive spin on it all. 
I love genuine people. She is one of them. Her outfits, her words, and her stories will not disappoint. 
Go say hello now. 



Weekend Snippets In A Very Long Snip

I'm under a time crunch to pump this baby out. 
I've got a hot bath to tend to and every minute I spend here is one minute not being spent in the bath.
Now that you understand the importance of the time crunch, lets begin. 

This weekend was a fun one of sorts so let's discuss her shall we?

Friday night I got all gussied up my best paint infested sweatshirt and sweatpants and had friends over.
I like to impress. 
We celebrated life with champagne..which reminds me I should probably go pick up the cork that is laying in the middle of the yard still. It was a good pop as you can tell. 
Saturday we attended our first ever euchre tournament.

I'm not sure if any of you who are not from the Midwest know what euchre is, but you should probably YouTube it and then play for an hour online. Not that I did that on Saturday or anything but just hypothetically speaking, it could probably land you in third place in your tournament later that night
Maybe fourth. I don't remember details. 

 i was the only one who got the "stop playing cards and pose for the camera instead" memo
Earlier in the day on Saturday I placed a call out on Twitter for good appetizer type thingys that I could take Saturday night. As always, you twit heads did not disappoint. I settled on this 7 layer Greek dip that Casey recommended. A few of you requested the recipe so here we go. All you need to know really is that it is as equally delicious as it is addicting. Even the husband can't get enough of the goodness. 
Oh yeah, he liked the dip too. Insert laughter here. 

Seven Layer Greek Dip
(or six layer if you hate olives like me)

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 tsp. ranch seasoning
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 cup hummus
1 cup diced cucumbers
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  minced parsley

-Mix cream cheese, ranch seasoning, lemon juice, and garlic together. Spread in a shallow pan. 
I used this Rachel Ray dish (love). 
-Spread hummus over cream cheese layer
-Layer the remaining dish in this order: cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, green onions, feta cheese
-Sprinkle parsley over top
-Refrigerate two hours before serving 
-Serve with pita chips, flat bread, or vegetables 
-Eat your heart out. You'll want to.

Sunday I dressed up in sweatpants again and headed down to the lake to do exciting things like install a sink!

Well, I headed down to watch a sink be installed. The Mr. actually installed it. 
I did learn something during this process.
Men don't like when they are doing physical labor and you just stand half watching them, half being connected to all things social media. They get all huffy puffy and say things like "ISN'T THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU COULD BE DOING RIGHT NOW?!"
At that time I went and sat on the chair. 
At least that was something different I figured.
Turns out he meant something work related.
So then I decorated the bathroom. 
Forget paint. Decorating is fun. 

Just because I want to, I am going to show you a before and a "half after" of the living room.
I say half after because it really isn't decorated yet, nothing is really in it's place (hence the random chair and piece of wood hanging out in the corner), light switch plates are nonexistent, and there is yet to be a thing hung on the wall. But you'll get a small glimpse. 
any guesses on how long that big window took to paint white? hint: forever
So there we have it. 
My weekend in a long nutshell. 
Congratulations to making it to this point.
Go eat a cookie.
Actually, forget that cookie. 
I have a sweet enough treat for you right now. 
Today's featured sponsor is Maddie from Thriftary.
Also known as one of the coolest chicks + blogs + designers. Ever. Seriously, do you all have those people that you think "I would totally love to be them for a day"?! Maddie is that person for me.
I mean she raises chickens for crying out loud. I could tell you their names but that would be awkward. Okay fine. Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Whitey, Bull, Webster, and Piccata. 
that would not be a chicken but her husband

And then when she is done playing with her chickens, she sings like a freaking rockstar. After that she eats pickles while drinking coffee for lunch. Once she is done with that, she goes and makes like the cutest lace boot socks you've ever seen. And that's just before noon. You now know why I want to be her. 
Seriously though. You have to pay Maddie a visit. You will love the freak out of her. I know I do. 
I'm off to go dye my hair red, buy a chicken, and learn out to design the design outta stuff. 




What Do 30 Items and $600 Have In Common?

I'll tell you what they have in common. 
They can all be won by YOU. 
That's right..30 prizes, over $600 in value...all given to one of you.
Why just one?
Because making it any other way would be too much work.

You know the drill--ooooh and ahhhh over all of the prizes, enter your little hearts out, and then pray your brains out to the blog giveaway Gods that the fortune will be in your favor. 
Good luck.

Pssssst-if you would like to be apart of the February group giveaway, email me at livinginyellow@gmail.com.
Whatever floats your boat.

Speaking of boats and floating, I'm outta here. 
Have fun. 
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