Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Mastering the Art of Simplicity in 2016

How to simplify your life in four steps | Sarah Smirks:  The Marketing Mama Blog

My husband and I have been working for quite some time toward finding ways to simplify our lives.  Simplicity is the name of the game.  We have very complicated lives.  We have two rental units, soon to be two kids, two careers, and the drive to maintain a social life while providing balance to not only our lives, but the lives of our children.  That last one is how this blog was born - my drive to find balance in a life that takes a lot of work to balance.  We have been forming a plan for months to find ways to simplify every aspect of our lives.  Whenever a decision comes up,  we ask each other three questions:   Does this simplify our lives?  Does this make financial sense?  Does this improve the quality of our lives?  We first started with finances.

A big goal for 2016 is to pay off a credit card we used for overages on our home renovation (credit cards are the devil).  We have a payment plan in place which we (mostly) have stuck to, but, with our goal being to pay it off before baby #2 is born, I am really praying my bonus comes through (fingers crossed!) to knock it out completely.

Next was wardrobe/shopping, something new I tried in November (when I started to not fit in my normal clothes anymore) is building a capsule wardrobe.  It's the concept of a 37 piece wardrobe (that includes shoes!) that is all mix and match.  Since I implemented the capsule, I have not had one outfit repeat and my maternity outfits have been on point!  Plus, it's cheaper.  I don't go shopping for unnecessary things anymore.  I work with what's in my capsule and make it work.  You can learn more about capsule collections at   I loved the capsule so much that I decided to start a french capsule as soon as I'm back in pre-baby condition.  That's the concept of having 10-15 basics that go with everything and adding 5 seasonal, trendy items each new season.  It seems even easier than the standard capsule.  Hello, simplicity!

Another goal is to stop being landlords.  It adds just one extra job to our already full plates.  One of our units is worth loads of money, but that also happens to be a unit connected to our house - so that's staying.  The other unit is in a building across town and isn't quite worth what we need it to be worth selling yet.  Our goal is to sell it within the next three years when we can make a bigger profit.  Our goal for most things is 3-4 years out because we won't be spending unGodly amounts of money on childcare.

Last item to simplify is the way we eat!  I (we) overindulged quite a bit over the holidays and decided to do a food detox in January.  So far, so good!  I am almost 6 months pregnant, so I thought the way to be the healthiest for my baby is to do the Whole 30.  There are no calorie restrictions and the nutrients I'm missing out on for the 30 days by not eating dairy or wheat can easily be found in other, healthier foods.  So far, Whole 30 has been pretty easy and delicious.  I never feel hungry and I have more fun cooking now.  My breakfasts and lunches were already (mostly) Whole 30 compliant pre-detox, so that was easy.  However, dinners have brought on a fun challenge for me.  I now have to pre-plan and think outside the box.  So far, my outside the box meals have been delicious.  Last night I made flax meal and unsweetened coconut crusted salmon with baked, sliced potatoes for a take on fish and chips.  It was so, so good.  Tonight, I'll be making chicken and veggie fried "rice" with riced cauliflower.  Any sauce suggestions for that one?

What are you doing to improve yourself in 2016?

Sunday, December 27, 2015

5 Favorite Websites for FREE Stock Photos

5 Best of the Best FREE Stock Photo Sites | Sarah Smirks:  The Marketing Mama Blog

When I first started blogging, one thing I struggled with was high quality graphics and photos.  At first, because my blog was more of a journal than anything else, I used my own, personal photos - which looked like shit.  No one wants to see my blurry cell phone pictures of my insane life except my sister in law.  When I narrowed my focus, I decided that the simplest solution to my photo problem was stock photos.  Over the years, free stock photos have been popping up left and right and it is helping bloggers and marketers make their sites look WAY more polished.  So, why not take advantage?  Here are my five favorite free stock photo sites

1)  Pexels - has so many high quality photos that you probably don't need to go anywhere else.  I find 99% of my photos right here.

2)  Kaboompics - Kaboompics has hundreds of royalty free photos to choose from.  They are high quality and come in a variety of subjects.

3)  - Stocka is relatively new, but has a decent number of stock photos to choose from.  They are professional, by professional photographers, and royalty free.

4)  Gratisography - These photos are all taken by the same photography and are beautiful.  They're perfect if you're looking for a cohesive look for your site.

5)  Start-up Stock Photos - This site is great for business bloggers or small businesses.  All of the pictures are work related - chick on a computer, a Macbook, coffee on a desk, the kind of photography you see on this site.

What are your favorite stock photo sites?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Road to 10,000: Monthly Blogging Updates and Strategy, Month 5

Road to 10,000:  Monthly Blogging Updates and Strategy, Month 5 | Sarah Smirks:  The Marketing Mama Blog (

Hello, lovelies!  I am currently typing this with puffy, swollen fingers from being the hot glue queen while crafting with my boy.  I built him a Quiet Book that has rendered my fingers nearly useless.  You're all lucky I love you and will type through the pain!  See some quiet book tutorials here, here, and here.  Trust me when I say, my Quiet Book is not making the blog cut....

Catch up on my last Road to 10k here.


So, I have quite a bit of updating for you!  Let's first check out my website analytics from November 2015.

In November 2015, I had 2,036 sessions and 2,801 page views.  I averaged 509 sessions per week.  I ain't mad at it considering I have scaled back to a post a week for awhile.

Road to 10,000:  Monthly Blogging Updates and Strategy, Month 5 | Sarah Smirks:  The Marketing Mama Blog (

My bounce rate was 81%, which is EFFIN sad.  There is no reason anyone should have a bounce rate so high.  I'll tell you why mine is looking so pathetic -- no links.  I have been forgetting lately to add links to related, basically, I'm not sending my reader anywhere but out of my blog.  Not so smart.

Where did my traffic come from?  Mostly social.  My biggest driver of traffic was Pinterest (42% of my traffic!).  If you want some tips and tricks on Pinterest check out my post on automating Pinterest and this one on building your Pinterest audience.  The next highest were direct and Twitter.  I haven't been too involved in Facebook groups lately, which is usually a pretty big driver of traffic.  I haven't been focusing on it, not because it isn't a great traffic source, but because I just don't always feel like being social (media), and I just haven't been feeling it lately.

Road to 10,000:  Monthly Blogging Updates and Strategy, Month 5 | Sarah Smirks:  The Marketing Mama Blog (

My top posts were:

5 Articles on Instagram Branding that Helped Me Grow 500 Followers in 2 Weeks

How to Automate Pinning Your Blog Posts to Pinterest

Finding Your Instagram Groove Through Instagram Branding

Website Goals:

  • For December, I'm going to be really realistic and say my goal is to maintain my current number of sessions, but decrease my bounce rate.  December is a slow time for all websites that are not retail related, so, let's be real, I ain't gaining traffic!
  • I plan on adding 3 blog posts this month - 2 blog/marketing related and one working mom related --> look forward to an ALL MOMPRENEUR gift guide next week.

Social Media


On Twitter, I have 2,963 followers - damn close to 3k, but not quite there.  You can see from my profile screenshot below that I have updated my profile to add emoticons.  I also have a standard header and profile picture as well as a call to action on all of my profiles.

Road to 10,000:  Monthly Blogging Updates and Strategy, Month 5 | Sarah Smirks:  The Marketing Mama Blog (

Twitter Goal:  Get to 3,000 followers!


I currently have 518 followers (not bad, considering I haven't physically been on my work account in 2 months), and 2.5k pins.  I automate everything and have pins pinned and a blog campaign running on this account which is working pretty well!  You can find links to my Pinterest strategy above ^^.

Road to 10,000:  Monthly Blogging Updates and Strategy, Month 5 | Sarah Smirks:  The Marketing Mama Blog (

Pinterest Goal:  I'd like to reach 550 followers on Pinterest in December.


Instagram has been unstoppable.  Now, that I understand how to grow my account, it is just a matter of keeping up with it.  I am currently at 1,675 followers on Instagram and usually get between 50-100 likes a picture.  Not bad, considering it's a relatively new account.  You can learn more about my strategy here.

Road to 10,000:  Monthly Blogging Updates and Strategy, Month 5 | Sarah Smirks:  The Marketing Mama Blog (

Instagram Goal:  I would like to keep up with my one picture a day goal (which I haven't been keeping up with lately) and grow to 1,800 followers.

What are your blogging goals for December?

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