Getting Free Products To Review On Your Blog: The Basics 

Unless you’re a celebrity or a huge influencer, whether it be on Instagram, YouTube or other social media channels, to get free products to be sent to you by companies, you have to send them a cold email. For a lot of bloggers, doing this can be a little bit intimidating as most of them do not know how to get started, and not everyone has a background in sales, marketing, and corporate industry. Don’t worry though! Here are some tips to help you get started:

Do Some Research Before Sending Out That Email

For new bloggers, check and do some research first suggest VelSEOity. See if the company does send out free products even to new bloggers. You may also want to check for other blogs found within your niche – bloggers that cover the same topics as you do and try to look for patterns. Have you noticed a company or two that is found in most of those blogs? If so, they’re more likely to be receptive to sending out free products to bloggers. Check that company and look for products that are not getting a lot of reviews or are not represented well online. This is a great way to get started and even increase your chances of getting positive answers on your first try.

Contact Them Via Email

There’s no better way than to send your proposal but through the company’s email address. Based on your research, contact the company e-mail and the authorized person. When writing a proposal, make sure that you go straight to the point and cut out the fluff. When you’re contacting companies looking for products to review, make sure that you’re completely honest about your social media followings, traffic, engagement percentage as well as explain how you can help them. Never lie about these statistics as a simple search will be able to reveal if you’re telling the truth or if you’re making the numbers up. If you’re a small blog or a startup, there are still chances to get numerous partnerships as long as you’re true to your reviews and you’ve shown credibility to your audience.

Don’t Stop With E-Mails

If the company you’re eyeing for doesn’t have any e-mail address posted on their website, go for the extra mile and send them snail mail or fax. Not too many bloggers do this, and it will show your dedication as a blogger and would most likely be noticed by your target companies.

Keep The Companies Updated

As soon as you have closed with an agreement, do not stop there. Stay in contact with them and let them know about updates such as when you’ve received the product. Let them know once you’re reviewing the product, once it has been posted, and finally, with some results. It is your responsibility as a blogger to make sure that you keep the company informed – do not skip this part and make sure to take this seriously.

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My Blog Website is Now 10 Years Old: Getting Published as a Daddy Blogger, Making My National TV Debut, and Becoming an SEO Side Hustler

It was exactly a decade ago today that I published my very first blog post here on this website. It was called, “Snail Trails: Your Memory May Be the Only Proof an Event Ever Happened.”

For the first year of my blog, I was just writing about random thoughts that went through my head; much like the kind of topics I cover on my YouTube channels now.

But about a year into blogging, my wife and I found out we were going to be having our first child. I decided to start writing a letter to our child at least every week.

Just a few months into my new series, I was featured in American Baby magazine. And a few months after that, I was chosen by Parents Magazine to be their official daddy blogger for the next 4 years.

This led to me being given dozens of opportunities to feature brand-new vehicles on my blog, as companies like Lexus and Chevy often sent me cars for a week at a time; even sending me and family on trips as well.

After my time at Parents.com ended, the next venture was been hand-selected by one of the scouts for Lifetime’s upcoming TV show, This Time Next Year. My national TV debut took place in February 2018.

Since then, I have been using my blogging experience and SEO knowledge to operate a few different side hustles to generate passive income, like placing Amazon links in my most popular posts and regularly selling guest blog posts to companies.

True story: I just bought a brand-new stereo for my Jeep based on my most recent Amazon payment I received.

It’s true I love writing and I love documenting my life on my blog, as it’s my way of keeping up with my own journey of life.

But I also don’t mind the fact that this blog has provided me opportunities that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Thank you to all my readers for being a part of my blog- and my life!

5 Reasons Why Men Born in 1981 are Unapologetically Obsessed with Making Money, Saving Money, and Investing Money: The Firstborns of the Millennial Generation are Financially Woke!

Exactly 20 years ago, just a couple weeks away from my high school graduation, my plan for a career was quite humble:

To become a school teacher, to marry a school teacher, and to live in a small house in my small hometown.

That’s all I wanted. I specifically didn’t care about money. For those of us born in 1981, the firstborns of the Millennial Generation, we were led to believe that “money isn’t everything” and that “all you need is love”.

But by the time I began my career, I saw the world in a different light. And I imagine many other men who were born in 1981 also experienced the same culture shock, and therefore, a rewiring of how we perceive money.

What makes us this way? I have compiled 5 reasons why men born in 1981 are so much more woke when it comes to personal finances. Consider this to be my comic book villain origin story:

1.      The average American man gets married at age 27; which for those of us born in 1981, coincided with the Financial Crisis of 2008. Needless to say, I got married just a few months before the recession hit.

2.      Most of us attended college compared to previous generations, which meant more competition in the work force in addition to starting out our careers with heavy student loans.

3.      We were told we would be the first generation to actually make less money than our own parents; who themselves didn’t necessarily need to graduate college like we did in order to be successful in our careers.

4.      It is common knowledge that there should be no expectations for my generation to actually get social security when we retire.

5.      Thanks to the Internet, we have so many opportunities to have multiple online side hustles; to add passive income in addition to our salaries from our full time jobs.

Both at my office as well as my online persona as a YouTuber, I am referred to as Slick Nick.

If you know me at all, you know I am a person who is unapologetically fixated on making money, saving money, and investing money:

In addition to my full time job at a Fortune 500 Company, I also handle my 5 online side hustles: running two YouTube channels, managing the SEO for a majority university here in Nashville, plus selling guest blog spots and planting Amazon links here on my website.

As opposed to the excess culture of the 1980s and 1990s as people went in debt to impress people they didn’t care about by buying McMansions and brand-new luxury cars, I am from a generation where the goal is to impress people by how much money we save and invest; not how much we spend.

I feel like men from my generation will be like those who survived the Great Depression. We will spend our lives finding ways to independently fund our own retirements; assuming there will be no social security left for us.

If we’re lucky, we’re wrong. But if we’re wrong, we just might be rich.

After 13 Years of Driving of My 2004 Honda Element, I Paid Cash for a 2010 Jeep Wrangler for My 38th Birthday: This is the Top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid for Me

Exactly one year ago today, I began my job as a recruiter at a Fortune 500 company; after a 6 month stint of being thrown into the role of stay at home dad, when the company I had recruited for and managed retention for 12 years closed down their branch at my location.

For half a year, I applied for over 100 jobs; while also focusing on my 5 online side hustles: running two YouTube channels, managing the SEO for a majority university here in Nashville, plus selling guest blog spots and planting Amazon links here on my website.

When I started my new job a year ago, it undeniably pushed me to my limits and challenged me in ways I had not been before. There were moments I had serious doubts I could survive it. But the position did come with a more than 62% pay increase compared to my former employer; so I did what it took to not only survive at my new job, but to excel.

By March 2019, I was the #2 recruiter out of 31 nationwide for my company for that month.

My wife and I had become debt free (other than our mortgage) 6 years ago, thanks to following the strategy and teachings of Dave Ramsey. (That includes tithing 10% to our church.) By the end of 2018, we had the recommended amount in our savings, according to Ramsey Solutions.

That’s when we were able to start investing money at Charles Schwab, in a serious effort to have at least $2 million by the time we retire; assuming there will be no social security left for us Millennials.

After 13 Years of Driving of My 2004 Honda Element, I Paid Cash for a 2010 Jeep Wrangler for My 38th Birthday: This is the Top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid for Me

So in January of this year, my wife and I were finally able to start planning the replacement of my 2004 Honda Element; which I bought the same month I started my recruiting career, in January 2006; before I even met my wife!

I was considering a Hyundai Veloster, as some sort of a consolation to my dream vehicle:

A Jeep Wrangler.

The first time I announced my goal on this blog of eventually owning a Jeep Wrangler was back in December 2012, in a letter I wrote to my son:

“If we can find a way to be content with what we already have, then happiness becomes a by-product of the integrity of that lifestyle.

Yet at the same time I recognize my personal need for a materialistic goal to inspire me to work harder. Strangely, mine is a Jeep Wrangler.

Actually, you and I both have a bizarre infatuation with Jeep Wranglers.

It all started several months back when Jeep Wranglers became one of the first vehicles you could identify by name. Despite being completely content with my Honda Element that I drive you around in, I had never really noticed how, at least here in Nashville, it appears that for every 10 vehicles on the road, one of of them is a Jeep Wrangler.”

Then, after 7 and a half years, the dream began to come true when my mom showed me where on her Facebook feed, her dentist’s sister was selling a 2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Sport 6 Speed for much less than market value.

I was the first person to call. It was mine as long as I could be the first person to show up with money to pay the asking price.

The problem was that I live 5 hours away from where the seller was in Georgia.

Good thing I have amazing parents. On April 1st, they drove over 3 hours to go pick up the Jeep, on a Monday night; in order to beat another would-be buyer who would be there to buy the Jeep the following morning.

My parents didn’t get back to their house in Alabama until after 1 AM; my dad was able to sleep about 3 hours before he had to go back to work the next morning.

Not to mention, they decided to buy my Honda Element as a spare vehicle, or as my mom calls it, their “farm truck”.

On April 29th, thanks to several divine interventions (as buying a vehicle outside of a dealership means a much more complicated process!), I was able to get the title signed over to me and get my very own license plate for the Jeep.

My entire month of April was consumed with me finally obtaining my dream vehicle, while coincidentally, my 38th birthday was on April 20th.

I am extremely grateful for all I have been given and all I have worked hard for in my life. Now that I finally own the vehicle I have been aspiring toward for 7 and a half years, and my goal is met, I am able to realize this:

At age 38, I have now officially made it to the top of my own Maslow’s Hierarcy of Needs Pyramid.

That means not only does a person obtain a comfortable state of financial means, but they also reach a great understanding of emotional intelligence.

For example, I no longer live under the delusion that I am a “good person”. As long as a person perceives they are “good” (comparing themselves to others who they believe are “bad”), they are in danger of believing they deserve goods thing to happen to them, but that they also don’t deserve bad things to happen (like the “bad people” do).

In reality, it is often the “bad things” that happen to us which are actually crucial life lessons we need to learn in order to mature in life. Believe me, I personally have experienced many of these. (See the 1st paragraph of this article, for an example.)

By age 35, I had learned the importance of not allowing other people to control my emotions: to hurt my feelings, to disrespect me, or to offend me. Because just like with forgiveness, it’s always a choice.

It’s a personal decision that we all get to make on a daily basis; to control our own emotions in relation to other people.

Similarly, making it to the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid also means a person independently and internally understands who they are; no longer depending on society to confirm their identity, purpose, or value.

In an age where people are constantly posting on social media, subconsciously seeking confirmation and/or secretly judging others in a sense of “at least my life is better than theirs” voyeurism, the concept of not basing one’s self-esteem on the perceptions of others is somewhat revolutionary.

If I am fortunate to live as long as the average lifespan of an American man, then my journey of life is halfway complete.

No, it doesn’t make me feel old knowing that my 20th high school reunion is coming up in a few months. Because I’ve never had more focus and life experience than I have now, for Life: Part 2.

If the American Dream is a real thing, I am aware that I am currently living it. This is what the American Dream looks like. I am able to process that these are the good ole days.

But unlike the man who slaves away his life for his career and loses his family in the process, or the lottery winner who still isn’t happy when he instantly becomes millionaire (only to be broke a few years later due to poor money management), I am able to recognize, in real time a very important truth:

I have been blessed by God, and I know that every good thing I have comes from God. I believe it is no coincidence that as I strive to lead my family in God’s teachings (including the Biblical model of wisely managing money and talents), God has honored my efforts; though I fall short on a daily basis.

At age 38, I have come to the same conclusion as King Solomon:

“A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God; for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Photo above by Mohamad Alaw.

Our 24 Hour Parent Staycation in Franklin, Tennessee at the Hilton Franklin Cool Springs Hotel

Two months ago for Christmas 2018, the only gift my wife and I gave one another was the promise of an upcoming 24 hour window of existence that we would share together, in which we would have zero parenting responsibilities; including uninterrupted meals out, a stay at a nice hotel, and the ability to be lazy.

We both work full-time jobs, plus I manage 5 SEO side hustles, and we have two adventurous kids. So for us, the thought of a break from reality is the greatest gift we can receive at this point in our 37 year-old lives.

Last May when I started my new full-time job as a recruiter at a Fortune 500 Company in Franklin, Tennessee, I couldn’t help but notice that an 8 story building was being built right next to my office.

A few months later, a giant Hilton sign went up on the side of the building facing the interstate (I-65). Once the hotel opened last fall, my co-workers and I started going there for lunch, and were very pleased.

So by the time my wife and I came up with the idea of the perfect mutual Christmas gift for each other, I suggested we make our stay at the Hilton Franklin Cool Springs hotel right next to where I work; which is the halfway point between where we live in Spring Hill and where my wife works in downtown Nashville.

Sometimes in your mind, you build up an idea to the point it becomes an unattainable fantasy. But no, that was not the case for our 24 Hour Parent Staycation. In fact, everything went perfectly according to plan:

My parents drove up 2 and a half hours from my hometown in Fort Payne, Alabama, to watch the kids while we were out. As my son’s Saturday morning karate lessons began, to be followed by one of his classmate’s birthday parties our daughter would end up successfully crashing, my wife and I made our way over to H&R Block to file our income taxes and were so relieved we didn’t owe any money; despite my 5 SEO side hustles unexpectedly doing much better than I planned for last year.

We officially started out our responsibility-free adventure with lunch at Sopapilla’s New Mexican (like the state) restaurant en route to the Hilton. This was a big deal to us for more than one reason.

Not only was it the first time in… (years?)… that we have been able to enjoy a delicious meal out with no children putting a damper on the conversation or the cuisine or our peace of mind, but it was our first official meal out as a now non-vegetarian, non-vegan couple.

I would go as far as to say I am now obsessed with eating at Sopapilla’s, but I don’t know the next time we’ll be able to make it back there without kids.

As for the Hilton, it was every bit as glorious as I knew it would be. My wife and I realized this is the newest hotel we have ever stayed in; throughout our decade of marriage.

And our wish came true- we got to be lazy for our entire day. In fact, we never left the hotel until the next day when we checked out. We got to watch a few movies on TV, in between heading downstairs for dinner in the hotel restaurant, The Harth Restaurant and Lounge.

Not to mention, we got to sleep in! We naturally woke up, on our own, at 8:00 AM. That is unthinkable back at our house, thanks to our children’s internal biological alarm clocks, which are annoyingly set an a default of 5:55 AM.

Life is good. I admit, I’m enjoying the view from where I’m sitting on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid. Our 24 Hour Parent Staycation taught me that the motivational carrot in my life at this point will be getting to experience our next 24 Hour Parent Staycation. That is the rarest commodity I know right now: a break.

And when that time comes, my wife and I plan to do everything exactly the same way again. It’s a formula that works for us.

This is 37.

Otter Pops and Libertarian Porcupine Mascot Logo: My New T-Shirts from FavorMerch.com

Last week, the owner of FavorMerch.com reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to help boost his SEO by putting a link to his website in one of my pre-existing posts.

When it was all said and done, I posted the link to his site, and I got to choose two shirts from the thousands of options on his site.

After much deliberation, I found that the two shirts which best defined my identity were Otter Pops and the Libertarian porcupine mascot logo.

So in case you’ve ever heard of FavorMerch, now you know someone who now owns two shirts from that site.

You can also check out the video below, where I tried on the shirts the day I received them in the mail.

If you happen to be either a fan of the Otter Pops or a fellow Libertarian, be sure to let me know in the comments section.

Where my people at?

Yes, I Accept Guest Blog Posts, If You Can Afford My $35 Fee to Help Boost Your SEO (3 Steps to Getting Published in 3 Days or Less)

If you are a fellow blogger, or you manage your own small business and would like to boost the SEO for your company or brand online by linking it to a website has healthy as mine, here’s your opportunity.

After constantly receiving inquiries all last year, and having to go through the arbitrary process of negotiating my fee with each potential client, I’ve now looked back on what ultimately was the going rate in 2018: It was $35.

So in 2019, I want to make this simple for both of us and save us a bunch of time. Here’s how to get your guest blog post published here on my site:

1. Write an informative article like this one with links back to your website, as well as links to larger websites. Ideally, you will want to have a number in your title. (For example, “5 Ways to…”) This is ultimately a parenting blog, so your content should be somewhat relevant to a family lifestyle.

2. Email me your article to nickshell1983@hotmail.com, with a relevant copyright-free photo attached, with this as the subject line: “$35 Guest Blog Post”. Also let me know the name of the person, blog, or company you would like to see credited as the author.

3. Pay me the $35 fee within 7 days. Once you complete the previous step, I will review and publish your article, sending you the link for your review along with an invoice through PayPal for $35. If payment is not received within 7 days, I will delete the blog post.

So it’s that simple. There is no need to send me an initial email to start the process or to try to negotiate the rate.

Just complete all 3 steps and within 3 business days, your guest blog post will be up live on my website, and shared through my website’s Facebook fan page, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

I look forward to working with you.

And if you can’t afford my $35 right now, I have a free SEO starter kit for you right here.