The Martian | A Book Review

The Martian | A Book Review | theprimarilyinspired.com |

This book was provided by Blogging For Books, but my review and opinions expressed are 100% my own.

You may have heard of this little title if not for the film starring Matt Damon but perhaps the novel written by Andy Weir. I read this book in preparation for the film (of which I was also a huge fan of) and was amazed at how well the director was able to capture the feeling of isolation and a desperate need for survival that I personally felt while reading. From beginning to end I was completely engaged with the story, rooting for Mark, meanwhile learning a little more about space in the process.

For those not familiar with the plot, Mark Watney is an astronaut that is part of a research team to Mars. During one of their EVAs (Extra-Vehicular Activity, which is pretty much any excursion on the surface of Mars) the team is caught in a strong dust storm which forces their evacuation. During the chaos of trying to evacuate during this storm, Mark is picked up and thrown and his crew, thinking him dead, evacuates without him; leaving him stranded on Mars’ surface alone and with limited resources. OMG, right?! The Martian chronicles his inventive attempts at survival and it’s in his humor that both the reader and the character finds strength to keep going.

I don’t know about you, but space is something that is equally fascinating yet terrifying at the same time. To know how deep, dark, and desolate space is, but yet here I sit in awe and wonder about it’s beauty and creation. Something so vast is still so terrifying and I feel as though Andy Weir captured that for me as a reader. And yes this book is filled with quite a bit of NASA/engineering jargon, but what made it digestible for me was Andy Weir’s choice to make this story a first person narrative. I really enjoyed the aspect of experiencing and thinking everything Mark was as things were happening to him during his mission to Mars. The best kind of storytelling, in my opinion, is one to which I feel transplanted right in the middle of the action and The Martian did that for me. Plus the humor Mark found in many of his harrowing circumstances kept him down-to-earth (no pun intended) and highly relatable.

“If a hiker gets lost in the mountains, people will coordinate a search. If a train crashes, people will line up to give blood. If an earthquake levels a city, people all over the world will send emergency supplies. This is so fundamentally human that it’s found in every culture without exception. Yes, there are assholes who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side” (pg. 369).

Reading this story is also a reminder of the tremendous work people do every day to help those in need – even if it is a fictional story. Here was a guy who, drifting between literal life and death situations, found many nations, space organizations, as well as the public around the world, working together in an effort to bring this man back to Earth. I would like to believe these efforts occur all the time; and in a climate like today I personally wouldn’t mind if a little fiction became reality.

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How To Succeed As A Linqia Newbie

 How To Succeed As A Linqia Newbie | theprimarilyinspired.com |
Referral links are included in this post. I will earn a small commission for any blogger who is accepted to Linqia that goes towards funding this blog. So, thank you!

As a relatively new blogger, I’ve only been at it for almost three years in October, I am always looking for new ways to take my blog farther. I know it all starts with authenticity and an inspiration to bring quality content to my readers. With that said, it’s sometimes more daunting to think about all that goes in to running a successful blog and eventually reaching a point where I can begin to make a few dollars in the process.

In the beginning…

When I first began blogging, much like everyone, it blossomed from loneliness and a need to connect. I had just moved with my newly minted husband to a far away land called California from Virginia and I knew absolutely no one. As a teacher, and moving in September, there were no teaching positions open considering the school year had just begun. (Not to mention the whole process of switching my VA teaching license to a CA credential, but that’s a story for another day). So there I was jobless, too.

A lifestyle blog is born…

After a month or so going by and being a stay-at-home-wife, I began reading various blogs (and running my teacher blog) and made the decision to branch out and start a lifestyle blog. I had the inspiration almost instantly and began writing various posts that I found fun to share. I was all over the place! From sharing DIYs to my mere attempts at style posts and keeping up with those weekly What I Wore linkups (OMG, dressing and documenting your outfits takes a lot more effort than it seems). I didn’t have a clear vision for my new blog, but I can say that over the course of the last few years I’ve been able to learn from those early missteps and really make Primarily Inspired my own and more successful.

Disclaimer: I am no Linqia expert – I’m a newbie myself. However, I love sharing my own experiences in hopes that it reaches a fellow newbie and reassures them to never give up on attaining sponsored posts and making their blog successful.

Becoming an influencer with Linqia

I am still in my early journey of lifestyle blogging, as there’s always something new to learn, and the moment I was accepted into Linqia’s network of influencers it was a major milestone for me. Linqia is an influencer platform in which to gain membership your blog must reach a certain amount of readers per day, followers on social media, as well as quality photos and content on a weekly basis. However, finally being accepted took time and rejection.

I had applied once before and received one of those dreaded, “we’ll keep your blog on file, but we cannot accept you at this time” emails and my heart sank. However, I didn’t let that get me down. I really focused on taking quality photos, upped my engagement, and became more of a presence on social media and on a whim I found that old email and contacted them again; crossing my fingers that I had enough followers to be accepted. It was about a day or two later that I received a welcome email. Yes! I did it!

But this is when the real work began for me as a blogger. I was on the cusp of monetizing my blog, pocket change really, but it’s meaningful nonetheless. I knew that one day I would be contacted to join a campaign and I would have my first experience with sponsored posts. After having now completed three campaigns with Linqia, here are a few tips on how you can find success even as a Linqia newbie.

A Newbie

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into Linqia’s network of influencers and now you have a newfound opportunity to work with top brands to share with your readers! It’s such a thrill, isn’t it?!

Fortunately for you, this is a time where you get to sit and wait for a campaign to come your way which can be an upwards of 30 days, but use this precious time wisely. This is a time for you to spruce up your blog, get it cohesive with your social media, update your cover photos, and continue working on your brand and original content. Eventually you’ll receive an email for a campaign that you might want to be a part of. This is the exciting part!

Like with anything, before you hit the accept button there are a few things you should consider first…

 

“This is a time for you to spruce up your blog, get it cohesive with your social media, update your cover photos, and continue working on your brand and original content.”

Accepting a campaign…or not

Not all Linqia campaigns may resonate with you or your readers, so it’s important to understand that declining a campaign is just as important as accepting one. Keep your published content authentic to your life, which includes these sponsored posts. People aren’t dumb and can spot an inauthentic sponsored post a mile away and may actually drive followers and readers away. I know I’ve stopped following blogs because of that same reason. I personally joined the campaign for Gerber twice because it’s a product I already use and my motherhood posts are amongst the most popular on my blog. Working with Libman on this most recent campaign was an easy choice for me because I’m all about keeping a clean and organized home so I was happy to share with my readers the benefits of the Wonder Mop.

On the flip side, I was just contacted by Linqia  last week to offer a campaign with a paint company. Unfortunately I had to decline because the timing of the post conflicted with when I could authentically use the product. With moving in a few months I know I’ll be doing a lot of painting in our new home, but I also knew that I couldn’t complete the post within the time frame they needed. So, it’s okay to decline a campaign and share with them the reason why you couldn’t accept.

Another tip is to read through the entire email that details what the campaign expects of you. There’s a lot of helpful information included so it’s important to become knowledgable about the timing, sharing, and work required of the post. You’ll even be partnered with a Brand Success Manager to whom you can contact about any questions you may have! Most often you have to purchase the product yourself, then as a part of your payout you’ll be reimbursed. It’s vital to evaluate if you’ll be able to give 100% for the campaign before accepting; otherwise it could really hurt your standing with Linqia to cancel a campaign after you’ve already accepted it.

“[…] it’s important to understand that declining a campaign is just as important as accepting one.”

Creating and sharing your post…

Luckily Linqia does an amazing job at giving you all the information, and some inspiration, for your post. They outline what exactly it is they are looking for in your post (i.e. high quality personal photos using the product, not to show or mention competitors, etc.) and the social hashtags and handles for the company to use when promoting it. This makes drafting and publishing your post a breeze.

But like any blog post, it will take time and effort to pull it all together. It was working on my first sponsored post that I realized that those who blog for a profession truly work hard at it just like any other job. I personally like to break up my writing and polishing across a few days, spending a few hours a day on it. That way I don’t feel overwhelmed and I can edit and re-edit my post before publishing it. Then, scheduling out the marketing piece frees up my non-blogging time and ensures my post continues to be shared without me needing to be on my phone all day.

“But like any blog post, it will take time and effort to pull it all together.”

Seeing and learning with a goal…

As you can see with each campaign I’ve managed to increase my clicks by using the estimate as a guide and goal. Having a goal throughout the active dates of any one campaign helps me see where I am gaining the most reach and by which medium: my blog? Instagram? Facebook? Using video or photos? Getting familiar with my dashboard and reporting pages is crucial for my success with that brand. As you complete campaigns your estimated clicks will grow. For now, it’s estimated that I can reach 50 clicks with a $40 total payout. And as you can see, I’m still working hard to meet that goal!

I really enjoyed working on the Libman Company campaign and had a goal to reach the $40. Although I’m about $10 short of making that goal, the takeaways are that I spread out my marketing, I incorporate the Boomerang feature on Instagram vs photos, and tweet periodically to keep my post fresh on people’s feeds. Using the proper hashtags also help out a lot. In the end, I’ve learned to do the very things I should be doing as a blogger on everyday content.

How To Succeed As A Linqia Newbie | theprimarilyinspired.com |

So, how are the numbers looking?

In reflection, I can see that my very first campaign with Gerber Lil’ Beanies I made more of an effort to promote that post. This also considers how new I was to sponsored posts and the effort that went into it. Then I take a peek and notice that my Gerber Cereals campaign didn’t perform as well. What caused me to only make $8? Well, I had accepted the campaign during the active dates of my first campaign with the Lil’ Beanies. Although I am very happy for the experience, I have learned that I wasn’t prepared to take on two live campaigns at the same time (even though they were the same brand)! I’ve taken this with me and use it to guide me in my next sponsored posts!

“I’ve managed to increase my clicks by using the estimate as a guide and goal.”

Making those dolla-dolla bills…

As a newbie, Linqia limits your total potential earnings based on your blog’s reach and viewership…at first. Once you participate in a few different campaigns and perform higher, they’ll increase how much you can make for each campaign. Some have reported being able to make a few hundred dollars! The one downside people have mentioned about working with Linqia is this very platform. What if I earned more than my potential earnings dollar amount? Sorry, you’re cut off despite the number of clicks you’ve earned for that campaign.

But, as a newbie this won’t be an issue for you just yet. My potential earnings right now is $40. But I personally find that to be a great goal, especially for someone like me who is new to sponsored posts.

Breathe and just have fun…

At the end of the day blogging and promoting the brands and products you use and love should be fun for both you as the storyteller and for your readers. Yes, blogging can become a business, but don’t lose sight of what inspired you to blog in the first place. Enjoy sharing your life, don’t take it too seriously, pray on it, and connect with your audience in meaningful ways. Start small, create ideal goals, accomplish them, then repeat.

If you can make a few bucks per sponsored post – awesome! I personally felt pretty great making that $8 commission because it meant I learned something that in turn helped me earn $30 on the next campaign. My hope is that I can turn $30 into meeting my estimate of $40 and beyond! Your blog will grow regardless because you will have learned a few new things in the process! Enjoy those wins!

“[…] blogging and promoting the brands and products you use and love should be fun for both you as the storyteller and for your readers.”

It’s easy to succeed as a new influencer with Linqia. Here’s how as a newbie, much like me, you can take your blog to new heights with these easy steps! | theprimarilyinspired.com |

Are you an influencer with Linqia? Is there another influencer network you love? What advice would you give me and other newbie influencers out there?

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The Minimalist Spring Cleaner with Libman

The Minimalist Spring Cleaner with Libman | theprimarilyinspired.com |
Now that we’re a household of three and a half (of course including our Murphy) it’s important that throughout the week I make regular attempts to vacuum, clean our laminate wood floors, wipe up our countertops, and dust my way throughout each room. Living by the beach, we are fortunate enough to always keep our windows open, but the downside to this is the dirt and dust that gets blown in on a daily basis. To stay on top of these bi-weekly chores, and to keep our home fresh and clean, I’ve enlisted the help of many products, but one in particular has helped me maintain beautiful floors without the hassle or mess. My Libman Wonder Mop. Yes, you read that correctly…a mop.

Our WONDERful Mop

See what a did there?

Being a self-described minimalist, it’s important for us to find quality products that help us be more efficient in our every day tasks. From creating a capsule wardrobe, traveling minimally, and cutting down on the material clutter in our home, we’ve been able to focus more on what’s important.

Keeping our home clean is another area in which it’s easy to stock up on products that don’t serve any particular purpose. With our Libman Wonder Mop I’ve been able to invest in one item that will keep our home fresh time and again. And best yet, the mop heads are durable and are machine washable up to 50 times before needing to replace! The Libman line of cleaning products are quality made and have a guarantee to last me through toddlerhood and those pesky pet messes.

The Minimalist Spring Cleaner with Libman | theprimarilyinspired.com |

The Minimalist Spring Cleaner with Libman | theprimarilyinspired.com |

The wringing mop head pushes the water out so my floors stay clean and dry quickly!

Tackling Those Floors

Floors are obviously the most used part of any home and our laminate flooring takes a beating from all the dirt, spills, crumbs, and dog hair that occur daily. Also, our laminate flooring makes up 90% of our home with tile in the kitchen and bathroom. I love our Wonder Mop because it’s Microfiber GRIPSTRIPS are specifically designed to clean up to 20% more dirt and works on a variety of surfaces! The wringer also allows me to drain more water so my floors dry faster, which for any mom, time is a super important factor. I can clean these floors quickly while Greyson naps and they’re dry by the time he wakes up.

The Minimalist Spring Cleaner with Libman | theprimarilyinspired.com |

Grab your $3 coupon to try it for yourself!

However, don’t just take my word for it. Try it out for yourself from your local Walmart and better yet, sign up for their newsletter to receive a $3.00 off coupon towards your own purchase (because who likes paying full price?)!

A Libman Sweepstakes!

Also, the Libman Company is hosting a Pinterest Sweepstakes where there are all kinds of goodies a lucky winner can receive which includes an exclusive Spring Cleaning Toolkit or even a toolkit plus and additional grand prize of $1,000! How awesome is that?!

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A Season Of Purpose & Stepping Away

Dear valued readers, followers, family, friends, fellow bloggers, and everyone in between,

I have loved writing for this blog over the last 2.5 years and I know I’ll continue for many years to come. My skills as a writer, manager, social media marketer, and life balancer have improved so much ever since that simple decision I made to blog as a new California resident so many years ago. I found a community to connect with that extends beyond my own front door, and especially as a SAHM I value the relationships I’ve been able to gain because of this blog and social media. Everything I’ve put into writing for Primarily Inspired has been authentic and that is why I’ve made the decision to temporarily step away.

This isn’t a goodbye, but rather a time-out for me as a blogger. I am living in such a transitional time in my life, and in Greyson’s life, that I simply cannot maintain both with the same level of purpose and excitement. I want to be able to dedicate myself to my son, the traveling we’ll be doing coming up in March, his first birthday, family visits here to California, and our big move this spring. I will, for sure, be documenting all of this through my regular social media channels so I hope you’ll still connect with me there! And most likely, I’ll be popping on the blog from time to time – like sharing Greyson’s monthly updates or a little home tour of our new place once we get settled.

This is also a time for me to focus more on my teacher shop at Teachers Pay Teachers, which helps me bring in some income each month. It’s like an Etsy shop, but for educators. Teaching is my passion and I am eager to get back to creating and growing my small business meanwhile providing high quality educational resources to classrooms across the country. I am grateful for this time to be home with Greyson and I want to maximize this time I have and focus my creative energy on making these resources that will also be a benefit to me once I return to the classroom one day. I’m proud of the growth I’ve seen even within this last year and I hope to take it further. So, thank you to every teacher who has purchased one of my resources!

In that same breath I find myself to be more politically involved – for the first time in my entire life! I find myself spending hours educating myself on the laws, keeping up with Trump’s executive orders, and calling my Congressmen and women. I have many ideas, opinions, and beliefs, but realize that I don’t want my blog to be consumed with these ramblings. Although a great platform to use and connect with others, I never want to cloud the vision of my blog.

Nonetheless, because of Primarily Inspired I’ve had the honor to meet and connect with some pretty amazing and influential women. I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know each and every one of you; standing by you as a reader of your blogs as you’ve navigated through extreme highs, celebrations, and exciting times to those low, uncertain, anxious times. I thank you all for standing by me, sharing in my life and what fills it with inspiration, love, and honest discussion. I’m excited for what this next chapter has in store for our family and I know I’ll pop on from time to time, but for now it’s about being in the moment.

This is my season of purpose and I want to be able to give 100% of myself to the things that are important to me and my family. I read The Best Yes a couple of years ago (if you haven’t, it’s a must!) and this quote has inspired me in a lot of ways since:

This season of life I want to make sure that I am present for those bits of joy I can experience within my family and relationships with our friends. I don’t want to overcrowd my mind with matters that pale in comparison to what God has in store for us. It’s a time for me to say “no” and to take that necessary step back in the many facets of my life. I’m excited about this next chapter and look even more forward to the time when I can return to this space more authentically.

So, thank you again! Please keep in touch on Instagram, Facebook (feel free to add me personally here), and Twitter.

With love,

Kelly

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