Mainly Marta :: A Motherhood + Lifestyle Blog

SLIDER

Welcome

What started as a digital diary to document a newfound journey as a stay at home mom / wife has quickly evolved into my own little corner on the internet where I share all that life brings my way -- the good, the bad, and those "aha!" moments. All with a hint of sarcasm, a dash of truth and bold European wit. Thanks for following along!

NEWSLETTER

9.05.2019

Back To School Guide With A Mama With 3 Under 3


Guys, back to school season is upon us and even though my kids are all under the age of three, I am slowly gearing up for the "school year."  We're starting homeschool early and by that, I mean that I am trying to get the boys to work on their vocabulary and speech. Not many of you know this, but I majored in Speech Pathology for a while in college and then switched to communication. Here are some tools that I am using to gear up.

SUPPLIES FOR THE BOYS

--------------------------------

No. 1 :: Books

I don't know about your kiddos, but my boys love ripping out pages out of books, so this year, we're using board / felt books. They're childproof and that's what I need with three under three. I get books off of Amazon or in-store at Costco and Target dollar section.

No. 2 :: Stickers 

Educational ones in addition to the fun ones. Stickers can be a great teaching tool. I've been using an empty notebook and having my 2.5 year old place stickers on it. He's learned all the planets and continents this way. It's a fun interactive way to get new words in your little's vocabulary without them realizing it's happening.

No. 3 :: Play Doh & Cookie Cutters

My boys love play-doh and even though it's a mess, I am planning on teaching the boys colors, shapes and letters this way. It's another way to make home school lessons fun. I really want the boys to have fun learning at home. My favorite thing is to see them smiling while learning. 

No. 4 :: Washable Kid's Fingerpaint & Watercolor Paints

I love painting for rainy days. It's such a fun activity and it's a great way for the kids to learn colors.

No. 5 :: Crayons & Colored Pencils

Kinda obvious, but I thought I'd list it anyway. I don't do markers at our house because they get it all over the table and their hands which makes clean up time longer. I also have a one year old who puts everything in his mouth, so at least crayons and pencils give me a bit of time to grab it out of his hands before it gets everywhere.

No. 6 :: Wooden Toys: Blocks, Numbers, Letters

Target had a little block set in the dollar section which had letters on them, so I grabbed it. I also got this cute wooden puzzle of numbers from IKEA that the boys are loving. It's such a fun way of learning things together. Wooden toys are also durable and when you have boys, that is a BIG bonus.

No. 7 :: Snacks

We have these in our home regardless, but back to school season is a great time to stock up on healthy snacks with all the sales going on. I am buying our favorite snacks in bulk when I see them because a penny saved is a penny earned, am I right?

No. 8 :: Educational Apps 

We have an iPad dedicated to "education." While some parents are strictly no electronics, but we chose to not be so strict. We opted this to go this route because Felix is an interactive learner and this is another form of interactive learning that works for us. Here are several apps that we're currently loving.



MAMA'S SUPPLIES 

--------------------------------

No 1 :: New Glasses + Contacts 

What better excuse than the new school year to get a new pair of trendy frames or some new contacts?! I am loving these frames from discountglasses.com! Ya'll these frames are only $69.99 -- what a bargain, am I right?! I love that you can get both frames and lenses all for a super affordable price over on the Discount Glasses website AND they're still super stylish. 

They have glasses for mom, dad, and even the kids! It's super quick and simple to order and checkout once you know what pair(s) you like. I also really love that they have a 365 free shipping + return policy, so if you end up not liking your glasses, you can send them right back! 

Don't wear glasses? No problem. discountcontactlenses.com is the place for you! They offer all major contact lens brands like Acuvue, Air Optix, and Dailies. They also have a contact lens subscription service, so long gone are the days where you have to worry about the possibility of running out. 

AND GET THIS -- both sites offer first-time customers 20% off their already affordable pricing. So, at this point, there's nothing stopping you from grabbing a new pair of glasses or frames. 



No. 2 :: Planner 

I am a planner. I love having things organized and so a planner is a must for me. Between projects for my blog, day trips with the boys, appointments and family activities, I need things written down and posted everywhere. I've always been this way and it's not gonna change now that I have 3 boys, a nurse of a husband and my blogging side hustle.

No. 3 :: Coffee

I'm not gonna lie, I am an addict at this point. I have a hot cup in the morning and then an iced one in the afternoon because mom life is wild and I need a mini pick me up. We are always looking for good coffee beans and when our favorites are on sale, we stock up!

No. 4 :: Gym Membership

Decided that I'll be investing in one of these babies because mama needs some me time and that's one way to get it. Let's be real, it's also an investment into my health because having three under three has wrecked my body and the baby weight needs to come off.  


... so there you have it babes! My mini back to school guide even though I am a stay at home mom. I'm technically starting Pre-K homeschool with Felix this year, it's gonna be pretty relaxed, but we are starting! Excited to share that part of my journey through here as well!



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8.29.2019

The Blog Hotline :: Hype Around IG Algorithm & Updates

Don't buy into it -- bloggers panic every time Instagram rolls out another update and I’ve been on the Instagram since 2010 with rumors constantly going every year that IG is “cracking down” on pods & engagement pages. But you guys, it’s not true. They just want you to stay away from 3RD party apps, automated likes, etc. I mean, this is not news to anyone, it’s in their community terms and we're just trying to beat the system because the updates do impact micro-influencers negatively.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing my fellow micro-influencers for trying to be seen in a supersaturated network. I'm right there with everyone and am trying to be seen / compete too, but I am over the freakouts over the updates. I've stopped freaking out and observing what works and what doesn't. I've tried to find practical ways to engage.

Is Telegram Safe?

No. Personally, I would stay away from Telegram all together — Instagram will be able to see that you’re coming in the app and then getting out, coming back in, liking one photo at a time -- they can see this pattern even if you remove the "?igsheild-mumbojumo" part of the link! Especially when you only have 2 hours to complete a drop on telegram nd now the 24-hour groups are not practical either because you should not be liking 300+ posts at a time anyways.

Is There Hope?

Yes. I used Telegram + LikeItAll in the past and would be hit with a ban every other week as soon as IG published their, latest update. so I’m sticking to engagement pages on IG and I’ve been fine since the update with no action block just by trying to mimic actual human behavior. IG is looking for mass liking + commenting and banning people for doing that because that looks suspicious. so if you’re really wanting to be “SAFE” do not use telegram AT ALL. The key with Instagram is mimicking human behavior and not copying the link every day.

SAFE METHODS TO ENGAGE:

◎ don’t copy your link — from the browser, from the app.
◎ find threads that give you at least or more than 24 hours to engage.
complete 20 to 30 likes at a time, take a 10 min break, go back and engage.
don't exceed more than 500 likes / 300 comments a day
find threads where you have to explain what you want boosted.
on FB group threads, instead of copying the link from browser and posting it, type out instagram.com/ighandle — I’ve noticed that they hide / remove comments that are links that are copied from the browser.
TAKE BREAKS FROM LIKING
don’t do anything too fast — liking, comment, liking comments on your own photos, following, direct messaging people, etc.
make sure not all your pictures have the same amount of likes on them because followers typically like some posts more than others and if they all have the same number on them it looks like you’re engaging artificial comments + likes.
if you’re in an IG pod, don’t send the photo to the group, screenshot it
pods should have more talking and interaction throughout the day — talk, connect, don't just send emojis and photos. cultivate relationships and connections because anything else might place a flag on your account.
pods should always stay away from the word new, I’ve heard that’s been flagged — not sure if it’s true but best to be safe than be sorry.

Bottom Line

JUST BE SAFE AND ACT LIKE THE HUMAN THAT YOU ARE ON AN APP THAT HAS STARTED LOOKING MORE INTENTLY AT PATTERNED SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR! oh, and have fun while you’re doing it because beside the side hustle, we really should be making those connections and friends on the app too.
As always, I hope you've found this blog post helpful! I'd love to hear what you're doing to beat the algorithm, what you've observed and any tips you might have in the comments!
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8.12.2019

How To Increase Profile Instagram Views Using Stories


Hey friends, today's post is sponsored by @mainlymamas on Instagram. It's a little community I've set up on the gram & facebook to help out fellow aspiring bloggers + Instagram influencers get a bit of inside information. After a few rebrandings, I finally feel like we're off in the right direction. I'd love to have you join the community, use our resources and interact / engage with us.

Mainly.Co ::  Community + What We Offer


Instagram 

I've set up several spaces on Instagram -- @mainlymamas, @mainlyloops, and @mainlygives. I set up separate spaces because I know that everyone is looking for something different. Some people want to focus on growing their following and others want to give back to their communities. So, I wanted everyone to have a space that is beneficial to them.

I just want to note here real quick that these spaces are completely free -- all I ask is that you follow the admins as we work really hard to brainstorm relevant and new ways for you to grow & boost your numbers.

@mainlymamas

is going to focus on Instagram engagement. we'll have daily threads for users that focus on like + saves, comments and a thread for Instagram story engagement. these will all be separate threads, so you can choose what you engage in.

I know that several of these engagement groups have popped up lately, but I promise we're going to be different. I won't say how in this blog post because I've had several of my ideas stolen from other group admins in the past, but I promise you, our group will have several unique opportunities for our members once we are up and running.


L A U N C H I N G :: September 4th, 2019

Feel free to join now, so you won't miss any updates + news. We're going to have a fun giveaway in honor of our re-launch and I'd love for you to come & take part in it. 

@mainlyloops 

is a place for follow loops + trains. I created this space for people who want to grow their numbers because growing organically is nearly impossible these days. I really love supporting people on the gram, so even though there are a lot of loops on instagram already -- I'm hoping this fresh new loop bring about fresh new faces who aren't playing the follow / unfollow game.

F I R S T L O O P I S L I V E :: T O D A Y @ 1 2 P M | P S T 

come loop with us & join in on the fun. the next loop is on friday [ 8/16 ] and sign-ups to host are live on the feed as well! a few people have asked me about ghost spots and I won't be charging for ghost spots the first two weeks, instead, I'll be giving away two ghost spots each loop -- find out how YOU can get one in the captions of our loops and sign ups!

@mainlygives 

this space used to be @mainly.gifts and I hosted two successful giveaways in 2018! It was so fun, but running them on my own was hard! I had to step back once I got pregnant with baby no. three, but I'm hoping that as soon as @mainly.co & @mainlyloops take off, I will be able to start doing giveaways again. It's another way to grow our numbers, but most importantly, an amazing way to give back to our communities. 

Facebook 

FB is mainly geared towards bloggers & influencers who are wanting to expand & grow their blog and brand as a whole.  Instagram influencers are encouraged to join our FB group because we have information that is valuable to them also -- collaboration information, tips, etc. It's a space with a lot of information that you want access to!

+++ J O I N T H E F B G R O U P :: C L I C K H E R E +++



Okay, Let's Get To The Good Stuff -- Those Profile Views

So, this is a method that will double, if not triple your profile views! It's a simple little hack that works for everyone and it'll boost those numbers that are plummeting with each algorithm update.

What To Do

  share the photo you’ve just posted on your feed to your instagram story.

 then find a gif to your cover the majority of your photo — you’ve heard this one before right? well, here's where the hack part comes in!

now, move your photo & gif to the bottom of the page, & find three hashtags to describe your photo, type them out. 

⥤ next, go to where you find gifs & click on the #HASHTAG sticker, find another tag to describe your photo.

go back & add a geotag / location sticker. 
the trick here is to use major cities and a different one each time for more exposure

shrink all tags & stickers.

⥤ place them in the middle of your screen and use your post to cover them. 

⥤ now use the gif to cover your photo.

type a mini explanation that could spark someone’s interest underneath your post & publish! 

⥤ now watch your numbers & profile visits rise.

... and now watch your numbers grow! It's honestly THAT simple ladies and gentlemen. T H A T S I M P L E.  So yah! I hope this mini hack works out amazing for you, just like it did for me. Still a bit confused? Check out this graphic for a visual of these steps! 


⥥ S H A R E / P I N I T ⥥


... if you end up using this method, let me know how it worked out for you in the comments! I hope to see you over on the @mainly.co spaces and that we can engage + grow our brands together because your success is my success!


1 comment

8.01.2019

Review | Lily Jade's Jennifer Lifestyle Bag


Hi Friends! Today I'm featuring my current diaper bag from Lily Jade because I feel like it's the perfect bag for moms of multiples. It can fit supplies, snacks, bottles, a change of clothes for everyone and a few of my mom things! It's super practical and that makes this my current go-to when I'm out with all three boys.


One feature that I am really loving is the fact that it has a backpack wearing feature in addition to the shoulder straps. Before I received this bag, I really didn't think I'd like the aesthetics of the backpack look, but now that I have it, I am always carrying it on my back. It's so convenient to have both hands free and not worry about your bag when you're wrangling two toddlers and a newborn.

When I am not wearing it as a backpack, I am loving on the shoulder straps. Made from real leather, they are sturdy, strong and sleek looking. In addition to the visual appeal of the straps, one of the most important things is that they are comfortable. Long gone are the days when my shoulders hurt from carrying a bag. They are just wide enough to lay on your shoulder instead of digging into them, so that is a major bonus as well.



Now, let's talk about the inside of the bag + storage ability because this is something extremely important to me as a mom with three under three. I tend to be an over-packer, so if I can fit all the things inside, then this bag is gold.

It has two huge pockets -- one on the front and one on the back which allows me easy access for essentials like keys, phone, wallet, and chapstick. I don't have to dig into the bag for the keys and I really love that aspect of it. I am also loving that the spacious aspect of this bag -- I can fit a change of clothes for all three boys, diapers for two babies, baby wipes, bottles, burp cloths, and extra supplies with room to spare for snacks and toys! You guys.... I can fit alllllll the things! How amazing is that?!



So the final verdict is I love this bag. It's my go-to for shopping trips, park days, and outings with all my boys because I adore its spaciousness. It's the PERFECT bag for moms that have multiples and are looking to use it as a diaper bag.

I have also used this bag as a carry on when I traveled alone and let me tell you -- it was the most perfect experience. So, even if you don't have babies, this bag is super practical and multifunctional enough that you can take it with you on short trips, beach days, or on a staycation.



Lily Jade has a wide selection of bags to choose from and while my bag (the Jennifer) is the very best, I thought it would be fun to show you a few more bags that they offer. I'll be linking them below, so if you see one you like and are curious about their color options, go check it out!



No. 1 :: Packaging Cases

No. 2 :: The Anna  [ large version ◍ they also have a medium ◍ not pictured ]

No. 3 :: The Elizabeth

No. 4 :: The Lorie

No. 5 :: The Rosie

No. 6 :: The Meggan

No. 7 :: The Anne Marie

... so there you have it. A full-on review of the Lily Jade bag I own and a mini look at some of the other bags on their site. All made with full-grain leather, built to last with double-sided leather stitching so you won't have to worry about the edges cracking and peeling. These bags are not only beautiful, but they are worth every penny due to its durability, quality of production and functionality of each bag.

Each time I'm out with mine, people comment on how chic this bag looks and how nice it is that a boy mom like myself can find something to fit all my needs and still look as nice as it does. It's really a win / win for all involved.



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7.25.2019

Review | MockingBird Stroller


So, if I'm going to be honest, I've always wanted a "fancy" stroller, but when it came down to forking over $700+ for a stroller, I could never do it. I felt like that money would be better used on diapers and formula. The fancy strollers on the market cost too much -- until now.

I cannot tell you how excited I was when I stumbled upon the MockingBird stroller which has all the fancy features for half the price. You guys, this stroller has the leather accents, the minimal prints, a spacious basket, and it's such a smooth ride. It really has everything going for it. I showed off this stroller on a few walks at the mall and I got so many compliments regarding how chic and high end it looked.


Not only does the stroller look amazing, but the baby seems extremely comfy in it too. Whenever we go out and place him in the stroller, he is just the happiest of campers. It has a modular system so I love that he can face me now, but have the option to have him face forward as well. I just love this thing.


Some of My Favorite Features

+ Canopy
it keeps baby's eyes and skin protected while the rest of the family is enjoying sunny days outside

+ Basket
it's so big and can hold up to 25 lb.

+ Sturdy Wheels & Braking System
it's so smooth and I love that braking the stroller takes one step.

+ Adjustable Handle
this is probably my favorite thing ever. I love a lower handle and my husband likes it to be a bit higher. I love that this caters to both of us.

+ One Hand Fold
makes it so easy & fast to get the stroller to and from the trunk when I have restless babes in the car.

+ Adjustable Footrest
so neat and the first time I've seen it on a stroller! I love that the footrest has a zipper you can use to get crumbs off instead of having to shake the entire stroller to get them off.

.... guys, you pretty much need this stroller in your life. I mean, in addition to all of these features, it's compact and lightweight. It's gorgeous, it's practical and it's half the price of high-end strollers when it looks just as luxurious. I'm gonna call this a mom win.


+++ TO BUY YOUR OWN MOCKINGBORD STROLLER :: CLICK HERE +++



1 comment

7.16.2019

The Middle Men Of Collaborations :: Influencer Sites


I know that there is a hush hush vibe around social media about collaborations and contacts, but I want to break that stigma and share some of my favorite influencer sites!

When I first started collaborating, I wasn't one to reach out to brands because I felt like I was so inexperienced. What brand would want to work with me when I had a very small following? That thought alone kept me from reaching my full potential -- until I got an email inviting me to join an influencer site.

It sounded fairly interesting, so I thought alright, let's give it a shot. I got online, did some research, signed up for a few sites and then the waiting game began! I got my first collaboration email / invitation which in essence isn't a done deal, but rather an invitation to apply to collaborate with a certain brand. After you apply, the brand reviews your application to see if you're a good fit for them and if you are, you get an acceptance email with further directions.

I was so excited to get to work with brands that probably wouldn't have even looked at me otherwise with my small follower count had I emailed them. I got free stuff and I got to build up my portfolio -- a win / win for a small blogger who is just starting out. So here's a list of some of my favorite influencer sites to get you started if you're wanting to jump into the influencer realm.

No. 1 :: ApexDrop 

I've done over 10 collaborations through ApexDrop and it's been so fun! They've put me in touch with some of my favorite brands some of which include: Bravado Designs, MOD straps, Squeezamals and so many more! 

What I really love about ApexDrop is that you don't have to accept every collaboration that they send your way. As you grow as an influencer, there will be times when you're drowning in work, so it's nice to have the option to not respond to an invitation without the worry that it'll affect future collaboration invitations!

Another aspect that I love about ApexDrop is how efficient and fast their customer service team is! I've had a few things sent to me that I wasn't crazy about or had something I didn't like, and when I emailed them about the problem, they got back to me within 2 business days. We came up with a solution that both the brands and I agreed upon fairly quickly.

It's a great stepping stone for those who want to start collaborating with brands and don't know where to begin. Thanks to ApexDrop, I dipped my toes in the water and gained the confidence to reach out to brands myself.

++++++++++++ To get started with ApexDrop, click here. +++++++++++++


No. 2 :: Influenster

Influenster was one of the first sites I signed up for because it didn't require much effort. You sign up for this platform and then you review products you currently have lying around your own home. The more you review, the more badges you earn and then the more likely it is that you'll get free products in the form of a VoxBox. 

A VoxBox is a little box filled with goodies that Influenster and brands (both well known and ones that are newer on the market) curate to send out to their reviewers. Most of the products in the box are fairly new or are about to hit the market. I've received items from Marc Jacobs, COOLA, Lancome, and Eco Tools and Origins in VoxBoxes and was even invited to an event by Origins through Influenster!

But what I really love about Influenster is that it has a corner for every niche -- beauty, home, foodies, fitness, etc. They really let you speak your truth about any product you can think of. 

If I'm honest, I still use Influenster and rate items all the time because who doesn't like receiving sweet little packages by brands that we all know and love?!

++++++++++ To get started with Influenster, click here. +++++++++++


No. 3 :: Social Native 

Social Native is perfect for the Influencer who wants to earn a little money on the side. You sign up for the site and then wait to be invited to apply to certain campaigns that fit your niche. 

The campaign invites come through email, so you have to be vigilant about checking and making sure that you accept right away because the slots fill up fast! Once invited, you view the guidelines and time frames the brands want you to abide by and if everything sounds doable, then you apply. 

If accepted, make sure you follow all the rules and guidelines because brands often have you post a new photo if they think you've violated the guidelines in some way. I know a few influencers (myself included) who have been told to post new content because something looked off to them. 

However, Social Native is a great place to start getting paid for collaborations and was one of the first sites to pay me straight after a completed campaign. 


No. 4 :: Socialix 


Socialix is another place where you can collaborate and get compensation. However, most of the campaigns on this site are product trade for share type of collaborations. It's another great place to find products that fit your niche because you can search the type of products you want to promote and then read the current campaigns they have running.

If you see something you like, you submit a proposal and then wait on the brand to respond. I love the way they have the site set up because they break down the collaborations, you can see your deadlines when you login and have product tracking on the site while you wait for your product in the mail. 

Another thing I love is that your personal profile tracks your engagement rate and blog stats if you give them permission to access those channels when you first set up your profile. I found this extremely useful when I was talking to other brands and didn't have google analytics set up. You can also see the brand's review of working together and it's all in one place. It's pretty much an organized blogger's dream set up. 


No. 5 :: The MAVRCK Influencer Index


This is one of the places every influencer should sign up for because it's just to get you on the radar. It's an index that allows you to pick 4 niches that your blog or Instagram revolves around. Once signed up, you'll occasionally get an email you asking you to apply for a campaign. If you decide to apply, the brand gets a notification and will accept or decline your application. I've gotten quite a few paid campaigns this way and I'm pretty sure some brands have taken my information from MAVRCK and contacted me on their own for bigger campaigns. You fill out that form and then brands come to you. 

+++++++++++++ To get on the Mavrck Index, click here +++++++++++++


So There You Have It...

I've just shared with you my favorite influencer sites! I am hoping you find this information useful.
Here are a few more sites that I've signed up for that have trickled in a few collaborations for me or that haven't really worked out for me, but might work for you.

+ Heartbeat
+ Influence.co
+ Ambassadher
+ Webfluential
+ IZEA
+ Shopping Links
+ Activate
+ Popular Pays
+ Sway
+ The Blogger Programme
+ Blogger Meets Brand
+ Brand Snob (app for your phone)
+ #PAID
+ Octoly
+ Buzzoole
+ Obviously
+ Markerly
+ GrapeVine
+ Speakr
+ Linqia
+ Social Fabric

SO YAH -- good luck my loves. Get that side hustle going! & for the record, this post isn't sponsored you guys, I genuinely want to help out my blog readers and social media followers because I truly appreciate you following and engaging with my content.

Keep your eyes on the blog because posts on media kits, how to make a rate sheet and what to say when emailing brands are coming soon!

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