Dealspotr’s network of influencers includes notable bloggers and social media personalities across a wide range of topics and interests, but all with a focus on frugal living and saving money. In our weekly Influencer Spotlight, we invite one influencer to share their experiences and success stories with the rest of our community. If you’d like to be featured, send me a message via Dealspotr.
Ashley Drewes started blogging almost 10 years ago, as a hobby. At the time, it was mainly to keep track of the internet freebies she was receiving. Since then, her blog Closet of Free Samples has grown to include product reviews, DIY projects, and many more topics for parents and money savers alike. Now, Ashley is here to share her blogging story -- with all its ups and downs -- to the Dealspotr community.
INTRODUCE YOURSELF! FIRST NAME, WHERE YOU'RE FROM, YOUR "DAY JOB," AND ANY OTHER FUN FACTS YOU'D LIKE US TO KNOW.
My name is Ashley. I’m 29, married and have two wonderful children. I’m blessed with being able to stay home and homeschool my children. In my spare time (What’s that?!) I also volunteer with a local rescue called Spaymart; whose main focus is rescuing cats.
DESCRIBE YOUR BLOG. WHAT IS IT'S MAIN FOCUS?
It’s a little bit of everything when it comes to saving money – free samples, deals, coupons, frugal living tips, DIY, work at home jobs – things of that nature. Having children and having to watch what we spend; saving money is a big thing in our life; as well as many others that we know. I also share product reviews. I know there are many reviewers these days and not all are honest. I have been reviewing products since before it was a “thing” and pride myself on being honest. If something is great; you will know. If there were issues I had while using something you will know. Part of saving money is knowing when it is worth spending it on something.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO BLOGGING? WHEN DID YOU START?
I started Closet of Free Samples back in 2008 as a hobby. I always grew up being told “Nothing in life is free.” Being a smart-aleck, I had to prove my mom wrong. So starting back to the dial up internet, Windows 95 days, I started searching the internet for “free stuff.” I saw quite a few freebies and started being the average user. As time went on, I sort of wanted to ‘keep track’ of everything I got. So I made a blogger account just to post the freebies and the link. Then I realized blogging was a ‘thing;’ which encouraged me to start sharing freebies with others. As time went on, and I needed to pay my own bills, I realized how important deals were as well. So I started sharing deals as well as free samples. I’ve also started adding in ‘money saving tips,' ‘DIY’ and things of that nature – And that’s where we are today!
What was your best-performing blog post in the past year? What do you think made it successful?
I had a few good ones, but I think it would have to be my DIY Lavender Soap post. I think it did well because I notice a lot of my readers are fans of DIY type projects; especially easy ones. They're also a fan of essential oils and I believe that tied into it.
What’s the one way your blog is unique or distinct from other blogs in your niche?
My blog is a bit of everything – not just all free samples or all deals. I like to keep the doors open for anything when it comes to saving money. I feel that several things factor together when saving money; which is what I’m all about. So sharing online jobs will help others bring in some extra cash; sharing free samples, coupons, and deals – they help you get the most out of your money; sharing DIY items is a way to sort of make those dollars stretch. So it all ties in together when it comes to saving money.
WHAT'S ONE THING YOU LOVE ABOUT DEALSPOTR? HAS DEALSPOTR HELPED YOUR BLOG OUT IN ANY WAY?
Dealspotr is awesome! At first I thought it would be another one of “those” sites, but as I started to use it and learn about it I found it to be helpful. I love how easy it is to use and how easy it is to earn gift cards (or in influencer's cases, cash). I actually love that Influencers can syndicate a blog post from the Dealspotr blog every 7 days. This has definitely helped bring some great content to my blog!
IF YOU COULD IDENTIFY THE ONE THING (OKAY, OR MULTIPLE THINGS) RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR BLOG'S SUCCESS, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
The absolute number one thing would be the readers. Without them supporting my site through all its ups & downs, I would have nothing. They are who make my site successful; as cliché as it is. Also, I have to put my husband out there on this one. While all this mess and overhaul of fixing my site (we’re working on getting it rebuilt for Joomla to move off WordPress since we grew so much!) – he got the ball rolling and helped me find and hire a wonderful site repair company who has been awesome through this experience!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO START A BLOG?
DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME!! I wish I had someone to guide me from the beginning. I know I started as a hobby, but if someone was there to guide me when I went to move from blogger to my own web hosting and WordPress, I would be in a much better place now. I probably wouldn’t be experiencing all the issues I do have with my site functioning-wise and it would have saved a lot of money. So don’t skip or try to rush – do it right!
IS THERE A USEFUL TOOL OR RESOURCE YOU'VE USED THAT YOU'D RECOMMEND TO OTHER BLOGGERS? MAYBE SOMETHING OTHER BLOGGERS MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT?
A professional web tech. I learned the hard way that Google is not your best friend when it comes to fixing issues on websites. Maybe if you already have good knowledge and need clarification on something – but if you honestly do not know… hire someone. It’s the best thing I could have done. I use 911WebSiteRepair (Let them know Ashley from Closet of Free Samples sent you) and have been happy with their service. Also, I actually don’t use post scheduler apps. If you want to schedule a post; do so from it’s home location. For instance, I schedule blog posts through WordPress and if something needs to be scheduled for Facebook, I will schedule it through there. According to a social media class I took, this is the best option. I wouldn’t be able to explain the “why” or the reasoning behind it, but it’s what I was taught roughly 2 years ago.
Tell us about the most exhilarating moment you've experienced as a blogger.
When I discovered companies actually wanted to work with me for reviews. It made me feel amazing – like I was doing something right. I’ve been doing reviews on my site since late 2009/early 2010 and I still get that same excitement; especially if it’s from a popular brand. Other moments are when my readers comment or send a message just to tell me how my site has helped them. Hearing that I was able to help someone out is beyond an amazing feeling.
Which major blogger or influencer do you most admire and why?
There are a ton of wonderful bloggers but I think if I had to choose one it would be the Krazy Koupon Lady. I just love the work she does and how well her site functions.
What's been your most successful blog post, and what do you think made it most successful?
I had a few good ones, but the top post remains My Free Baby Stuff List . Being a mom myself, I know when I was pregnant I was always looking for free baby samples. Children are expensive and to be honest, expecting a new child always just seems to drive moms and parents to see what goodies are out there for them to celebrate!
Have you ever experienced a moment when you wanted to quit blogging? How did you overcome it?
Yes! Not because I don’t love to blog, but because of all the technical issues and expenses that come with fixing them. I had a complete break down because I spent years working on my site for it to sort of fall apart on me. That’s when my husband came in, found a website repair company and told me “Happy Birthday” – that got the ball rolling to fix my issues (which are currently being worked on) and has me motivated to get things fixed right to get things functioning as they should.
What's your favorite TV show?
Oh I have a few! I can’t pick just one, but here’s my TV show lineups: Supernatural, NCIS, Bull, NCIS New Orleans, Once Upon A Time, and The Bachelor/Bachelorette. Like I said, I can’t pick just one. Of course, if you’re going to make me, out of all of those, I think Supernatural would win this.
What's your favorite snack?
Anything with chocolate, peanut butter and/or caramel will work for me! When it comes to junk food, I love quite a bit. This is definitely something I cannot just choose one of. Here’s some top choices: Twix, Chocolate covered bacon candy bar, Chocolate covered honeycomb, Chocolate orange peel, wedding cake, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream with whipped cream, chocolate, caramel and cherries. I think we could go on all day about all my favorite junk foods, but those are what top my list.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Aw man; when you say anyone that makes it tough! Can’t you make it more specific? I have a list: Jensen Ackles, Jared Padelecki, Misha Collins, Mark Harmon – I really could go on. If we want to with dead, I’d love to bring back my PawPaw and Grandpa for dinner.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I think that about sums me up. I’m an open book. I like a lot of things.
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