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How to Build Credit as a Single Mom- 5 Easy Steps to Take

Thank you Lexington Law Firm for sponsoring this post. A high service partner and consumer advocate that will help you fight for the credit you deserve!

How to Build Credit as a Single Mom- 5 Easy Steps to Take

Today I’m discussing a topic that many people find taboo- personal finances and credit score. As a single mother, I am the sole provider for my family as well as the sole caretaker for my young sons (ages four years old and nine months). I know there are many single mothers in my position. Even the ones who receive child support often struggle financially. According to Census Bureau Reports, the average child support payment is $430 a month. Given the high cost of childcare, lack of support, and the pay wage gap, single mothers seem destined to struggle financially.

It doesn’t have to be that way though. One way for single moms to get ahead financially is to have a good credit score. When I was younger, I never gave any thought to my credit score. I never even had a credit card. I saw countless people get into credit card debt (including a few acquaintances who had 6 figure shopping debt!). I figured the best way to stay out of debt was to never get a credit card. Good idea, right? Not really…

No credit history meant I had no credit score. As the sole provider in my family, I’m responsible for everything, including all kinds of unforeseen expenses. If I ever had to take out a loan, I’d run into major problems with my lack of a credit score. A good credit score shows lenders that you can responsibly borrow money and pay it back in a timely manner. My credit score told lenders that I’m a risk.

Several months ago, I decided to get my finances in order and to build credit.

How to Build Credit as a Single Mom- 5 Easy Steps to Take
How to Build Credit as a Single Mom

Get Real About Your Finances
Credit repair is life-changing, even more so if you’re the sole financial support for your family. One of the great things about your credit score is that no matter how bad it is, you can take steps to improve it – it’s never set in stone. The first thing you should do is call Lexington Law Firm. They’ll give you a free personalized credit consultation. They’ll provide you with access to your TransUnion report summary as well as a credit report review. Finally, Lexington Law Firm will give you a free score evaluation and make recommendations to improve your score.

Watch Out For Errors on Your Credit Report
Errors on your credit report can affect your score- sometimes by many points. Errors on your credit report can prevent you from taking out a loan for a home or a car. On average, these errors can take four months to correct. Errors can and need to be fixed, but repairing credit errors on your own can be confusing and time-consuming.
The credit repair industry has surged in recent years. It’s hard to know what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to credit repair. The team of lawyers at Lexington Law spearheaded the creation of a reputable, legal-based solution for the credit repair industry. Their credit repair legal knowledge can help the everyday consumer fix errors on their report.

How to Build Credit as a Single Mom- 5 Easy Steps to Take
Get a Secured Credit Card
Several months ago, I got a secured credit card. A secured credit card requires a cash security deposit (usually a few hundred dollars). Secured credit cards are a great option for people with no or bad credit.

Pay Your Credit Card Bills on Time
If may not seem like a big deal to make a payment a few days after the due date, but late payments can have a big, negative impact on your credit (in some cases the bad mark can stay on your credit report for seven years)!
Each month I make a small purchase on my credit card (less than $50) and then pay it off when the bill is due. I also mark the date the bill is due every month on my calendar, so I won’t forget. In a handful of months, I’ve watched my credit score jump from nothing to the “good” (690-719) range. My goal is to get into the “excellent” range (720-850).

Develop a Budget

I always avoided making a budget every month. Once I got into the habit, though, it became part of my daily routine and a huge help! Making a budget is simple- You have money coming in, so chose where you want it to go. List all of your expenses in a current column, then adjust them in a proposed column. You aim to make sure you have enough cash to go around for all necessary bills, plus at least a little extra for savings and emergencies.

Thanks for sharing my journey to build credit as a single mom. Improving your credit score may take time, but it can be done! My improved credit score (which raises a little more each month!) has given me peace of mind for my family’s future.

How to Build Credit as a Single Mom- 5 Easy Steps to Take Lexington Law is a CROA (Consumer Credit Protection Act) compliant business. They are regulated extensively with auditors and regulators. Just as one would hire a CPA or MD to manage their taxes or health, consumers should demand nothing less from their credit repair company.

If you want to take charge of your finances and your future, call Lexington Law Firm for your free personalized credit consultation!

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Get Your Side Hustle Started in One Hour with GoDaddy

Thank you GoDaddy for sponsoring this post. Get started on building your own website with GoCentral today!
Get Your Side Hustle Started in One Hour with GoDaddy
Side hustles are all the rage! It seems like everyone has one or has dreams of starting one. After all, what could be better than turning your passion into a career? This blog was my original side hustle. It started as an outlet to share my ideas and projects and it grew into a full time job. I love to keep busy and to work on different types of projects, so I figured it was time for a new side hustle! Today I teamed up with GoCentral by GoDaddy to show you how easy it is to create a website for your side hustle. 
As you guys know, I love to knit and I frequently feature my free, original knitting patterns on the blog. I’ve gotten many requests from readers to buy my finished knitting accessories so I figured it was time to set up an online shop!
Get Your Side Hustle Started in One Hour with GoDaddy
I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical when I heard you could create a GoCentral website in under an hour. I’ve created close to a dozen websites over the years, using all the major platforms, and the process was always time consuming. Imagine my surprise when I had my GoCentral website up and running in under an hour!
With GoCentral you can create both online stores and informational websites. Best of all you don’t need years of experience or a tech background to do it! Before you create your website, GoCentral takes you to the screen below.
Get Your Side Hustle Started in One Hour with GoDaddy

GoCentral asks what your site is about (you can choose from dozens and dozens of options) and then it creates a template that  can easily be customized. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they even included a “Yarn and Knitting” themed template!

Get Your Side Hustle Started in One Hour with GoDaddy
After I customized the theme, I began adding products. GoCentral has the easiest product upload I’ve come across. Seriously, it’s foolproof and so fast! 
GoDaddy not only helps you build your website, they help you share it with the world! GoCentral offers everything from built-in email marketing to SEO tools. 
Here’s my new website:
Get Your Side Hustle Started in One Hour with GoDaddy
GoCentral makes it so easy to turn your passion into a side hustle. Best of all? They’re offering a Free 30 Day Trial! 1 hour is all it takes to get your new website up and running! 
Get Your Side Hustle Started in One Hour with GoDaddy
Get Your Side Hustle Started in One Hour with GoDaddy
Do you have a hobby or a passion that you’d like to start making money from? I’d love to hear! 
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LoveYourPC #CollectiveBias
Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever
I use my laptop constantly…for blogging, for my side hustle (ShopGinaMichele.com) and for entertainment (online shopping and watching movies). I’m pretty far from a tech nerd and honestly, I never really paid attention to the speed of my computer’s processor. My previous laptops have always run slow. If I had a few different software programs running at once, the computer would frequently freeze or crash. I assumed my internet provider was to blame for the slow speed. I wasn’t until I tried the HP Spectra x360 with the 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor that I realized- it’s not the internet connection that’s slow, it’s my old laptop!
Today I want to show you how I upgraded not only my laptop but my whole business with 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor. This lightning fast processor has been a huge time saver and it’s allowed me to multitask by efficiently running different software at once. 
It’s also allowed me to improve my blog and online shop photography.

Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever

Every the DIY-er, I take all the pictures for my blog and I’ve been doing it for years. I don’t have any friends or family with an open schedule to play photographer and professionals in my area are very expensive.

I hear so many people say that they’d love to start a blog but they can’t afford a photographer. I always give the same advice, “Get a tripod and a remote and take your own pictures!” There’s definitely a learning curve but with time and the right tools, you can get professional quality pictures all by yourself!

Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever
I upgraded my old laptop to the HP Spectra x360 with the 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor and the difference was night and day! Honestly, I could write a whole series about how this super-fast laptop has increased my productivity and made things easier for me, but today I’ll focus on the photography side =)
Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever
Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever
Shoot in Raw 
If you’re unfamiliar with Raw files, Raw is a file format that captures all image data recorded by the sensor when you take a picture. When you shoot in JPEG, the data is compressed and lost to make the file smaller. Shooting in Raw gives you the freedom to easily make changes without sacrificing image quality. 
When you photograph in Jpeg, you have one chance to take a good picture. When you photograph in Raw you have a second chance to make your picture look fantastic.
 I actually starting shooting in RAW after I got my HP Spectra 360 with the 
8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor. My old laptop was so slow that it would take about 15 minutes just to open my Jpeg photos for editing! Since Raw files aren’t compressed, they’re larger than Jpegs. The 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor opens all my photos in rapid fire succession. There’s no lagging while I edit and there’s no long delays when I save my file or when I switch back and forth between pictures. This has been a huge time saver! I take a lot of pictures for this blog and I never realized how much time I was wasting waiting for my computer to catch up. 

Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever

Start Large and Crop

Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever
I like the freedom of shooting wide and then cropping the picture. It gives me the option of moving the cropping square around until I find the most attractive picture. It also allows me to “zoom in” on the picture and get close ups without being limited to a close up picture. As you can see the cropped picture on the right looks more visually interesting and it makes the bowl the main focus…which is perfect since this is for an upcoming recipe post! 
Bump Up the Color

Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever

Playing around with the Saturation is a great way to make your pictures pop. The picture above is from an upcoming beauty post. Since the colors in the photo are neutral, I wanted the hairdryer to be the center of attention. I selected “Magentas” and then dragged the slider to the right. 

Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever

Here’s one of my favorite, easy tricks- ever take a picture that has a blue cast to it? This happens to me sometimes with photographs that I take against white foam board, like these baby booties. The background has a blueish tint and I wanted it to be neutral. I just slid the Cyan color to the left and the blue tint vanishes! 

Save your image the right way
Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever
Most cameras use the Adobe RGB color profile, but the best color profile for the web is the sRGB. In order for your photos to look their best on the web, you need to convert your photos’ color profile from RGB to sRGB. To convert, simply click on “Save for Web” instead of “Save as”.

The 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor makes these edits (and any others I choose to do) effortless! The speed of this processor is easily saving me several hours each week! There’s a 40% performance jump between the 7th Generation and 8th Generation Intel® Core™ and 2 times better performance computer to a 5 year old PC. 
Need more reasons to upgrade your old computer? 
Additional benefits of the the 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor
Instant wake experience
Built in security
No stuttering, buffering or lags when watching shows/movies
Extra long battery life
Easily share 4K UHD videos
Offers a seamless gaming experience
Easier to use (Cortana voice command & touch screen)

Tips to Help you Get Your Best Blog Photos Ever
Is your old laptop frustratingly slow? It might be time for an upgrade! Next time you’re in Best Buy, be sure to check out the HP Spectre x360 with the 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor. 
HP Spectre x360 with the 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processor
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    How To Take your Side Hustle to the Next Level with MailChimp

    This post has been sponsored by MailChimp. All opinions are my own.
    How To Take your Side Hustle to the Next Level with MailChimp

    Tracking Pixel

    It seems like everyone is talking about either side hustles or start-ups these days. We’re living in a “follow your dreams” era and I absolutely love it! Technology is allowing us to pursue our passions in a way previous generations never could have imagined. Just as important as ideas are the business tools that bring them to fruition. Today I’m going to show you how to take your side hustle (or full time small business) to the next level with MailChimp. MailChimp’s email automation and order notifications streamline your shop, help you communicate with your customers better and enables you to build a stronger brand.


    As you guys know, my side hustle is designing and selling my original knitting patterns. I already use MailChimp for my blog’s newsletter and I’ve been pleased with all the features and insights it offers. Naturally, I wanted to utilize MailChimp for my shop. The holidays are coming up, bringing with them the biggest shopping days of the year (Black Friday/Cyber Monday). I’m going to show you how I’m preparing for the holiday rush (and freeing up some much-needed time!) with MailChimp.

    My online store: www.ShopGinaMichele.com

    Email automation and order notifications with MailChimp

    I use Shopify for my store which seamlessly integrates with MailChimp. Shopify has an app store which allows you to connect your shop to MailChimp by simply pressing a button.


    Why use MailChimp?
    MailChimp is an excellent resource for all small business owners. They’ve been around since 2001 and are used by more than 16 million people and businesses. In addition to email lists and automation, you can create Facebook and Instagram ads through MailChimp. The dashboard displays analytics that show you how much income your ads and automation generate.


    What is email automation & why is it so important?

    Email automation allows you to communicate with your customers without creating and sending manual emails. You can tailor the automatic emails to fit your brand and your voice.  Think of email automation as an extra pair of hands that focus on administrative tasks which frees up time for you to create and grow your business.
    What are the types of email notifications? 
    Abandoned Cart Email– Abandoned Cart Email- Abandoned carts occur when potential buyer put a product in their shopping cart and don’t finish checkout. MailChimp offers a personalized email template that encourages customers to complete their purchase.

    For my abandoned cart emails I made sure my contact info was clearly listed. If a question is preventing a customer from completing checkout, I want them to know that I’m available (and happy!) to help.  

    Product Retargeting Email– These are emails that are sent to customers 24 hours after they’ve viewed one of you best selling products and didn’t make a purchase. These emails serve as a gentle reminder for customers to come back and take a second look.
    Order Notifications– allows you to send receipts and invoices. They also inform your customers of shipping, returns and cancellations.

    Email automation and order notifications with MailChimp

    Increase sales & strengthen your brand with Order notifications

    After connecting your Shopify store, MailChimp gives you the option to create personalized Order Notifications. Instead of sending out a plain, generic “Thanks for your order email”, MailChimp allows you to create one with your logo and aesthetic. This allows the Order Notifications to be an extension of your brand.  
    Best of all, the Order Notifications include product recommendations like these:
    Email automation and order notifications with MailChimp
    These product recommendations can be included at the end of Order Confirmations, Shipping Confirmations and Order Invoices. Product recommendations are a great way to gain repeat business! They’re also helpful to customers because they show them products they may have overlooked when visiting your store.


    How to set up Order Notifications

    Setting up Order Notifications through MailChimp is fast and straightforward. On the dashboard you will find the following page after click on the “Add” button in page shown above.
    Email automation and order notifications with MailChimp

    From here, you can choose each email, choose the recipients and edit the design to fit your brand’s aesthetic. You also have the option of choosing which Order Notifications to send (you don’t have to send every type) 

    Below is an example of an abandoned cart email created using MailChimp. The design and messages are customizable and you can choose to send the email 1 hour, 6 hours, or 24 hours after customers abandon their cart. 

    Email automation and order notifications with MailChimp

    FYI- MailChimp also offers a short tutorial that shows you how to disable Shopify’s generic, automatic messages so your customers are not receiving duplicate emails.
    What does Email Automation with MailChimp cost?
    I saved the best for last…Email Automation with MailChimp is FREE! This is a biggie because most other companies charge for Automation.
    I can’t recommend Email Automation enough! It’s an invaluable resource that frees up time and allows us to serve our customers better.  
    Try Email Automation with MailChimp out for yourself Here!

    Email automation and order notifications with MailChimp

    This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of MailChimp.
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    All About Sponsor Networks (updated) & Turning Your Blog into a Career

    All About Sponsor Networks (updated) & Turning Your Blog into a Career

         My goal with this Blogging Tips series is to pull the veil back on the blogging world. I feel that there’s a lot of secrecy surrounding sponsored posts, affiliate links and monetization in general. This secrecy isn’t helpful to new bloggers or established bloggers looking to grow. I’ve received so many questions asking how to find sponsors for posts. When you’re new to the monetization game, it can be hard to find out where to start- trust me, I’ve been there! I wrote a post briefly covering sponsor networks months ago, but I wanted to update it and make it more expansive (and hopefully a lot more helpful).
         This post covers sponsor networks- what they are, how they work, and specific ones that I use. A lot of networks will only accept you if you have a relatively large following (Massive Sway, Pollinate Media, Clever) but there are a few (BrandBacker) that will accept influencers with a smaller following.

    Sponsor Networks I use and Love

    Social Fabric by Collective Bias– Lots of food/household product campaigns- Collective Bias offer the most campaigns out of all the networks I listed. They also offer Instagram campaigns (including video campaigns). They’re a great network for lifestyle and food-focused bloggers. Many of their campaign ask or DIYs/tutorials which I love! Here’s an example of a campaign I did with Collective Bias: Foldable Wood Laundry Hamper DIY 

    How it works: Once you’re accepted to Collective Bias, you can log into their dashboard where they have all their current campaigns posted. You apply to the ones you’re interested in by filling out a questionnaire and pitching your idea for the post.  

    Massive SwayMy favorite campaign ever was through Massive Sway! They have everything from home improvement to motherhood-focused campaigns. They have a mix of blogging and Instagram campaigns as well as paid social boosts on Twitter and Facebook. Plus, their sister site- The Sits Girls is a goldmine of social media, blogging and photography education. 
    How it works: There’s a dashboard with current campaigns. You choose the ones you think are a good fit and then apply by filling out a questionnaire.

    Clever Girls Collective They don’t offer a ton of campaigns but the ones they do have are great. I just did this Dove Intensive Care campaign through Clever. Also, their staff is very nice and helpful.
    How it works: Same as Social Fabric and Massive Sway- dashboard style. 

    Activate by Bloglovin’ A good mix of campaigns, including some fashion ones. They paid well, but there’s a lot of competition for campaigns. In addition to blogs, they have campaigns for Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Here’s an example of a campaign I did with Activate for Zone Perfect Revitalize.
    How it works: Once you’re you’re logged in, you can view the campaigns that are available to you. (based on the number of followers you have) To apply to a campaign you type a short message explaining why you’re a good fit and what your idea for the post is. On most campaigns you name your rate so it’s important to know the right amount to charge.

    Everywhere Agency They have a variety of campaigns including some fun ones for kids. I recently did this OshKosh campaign through Everywhere Agency.
    How it works: Everywhere Agency sends out weekly emails with available campaigns. You click a link and fill out a questionnaire to apply to the ones that interest you. 

    Fresh Press Media– This is the latest sponsor network I’ve joined. I joined a few weeks ago and I’ve already been accepted to a campaign, so it seems promising! They have a really varied offering of campaigns from food, kids and health & wellness companies.
    How it works: Once you’re accepted you gain access to their “marketplace” where all available campaigns are posted. 

    RevfluenceI do a lot of sponsored Instagram posts through Revfluence (like this one). They have a lot of great Instagram-friendly products from food to clothing to skin care. Most brands offer product plus payment, but a few offer just product (perfect for Instagrammers with a smaller following) 
    How it works: There’s a dashboard with the available campaigns. You can message the company and let them know you’re like to collaborate. If they accept, you can converse directly through Revfluence and work out terms. 

    Blog Meets Brand They have a small offering of campaigns for both Instagram and blogs, but it’s still worth it to join. My most recent post with Blog Meets Brand was for Jolly Llama.
    How it works- They send you emails inviting you to apply for campaigns. 

    TapInfluence I’ve been a member of TapInfluence for about 3 months and I only just scored my first campaign (for Conair Curl Secret).  From what I’ve heard, they regularly worth really big bloggers in the fashion arena. 
    How it works: You fill out a profile, link your blog and social accounts and they’ll contact you when they’ve match you with an interested sponsor.

    Pollinate Media They send out emails a few times a month with available Instagram and blogging campaigns. I’ve only done one campaign with them so far (this fun one for Botanics Ion Clay Face Mask) so I don’t have too much experience with them. They paid very fast and the staff is super nice. 

    BrandBacker If you’re just starting out with sponsored posts or if you have a small following, BrandBacker is perfect! It mainly focuses on beauty campaigns and you can get free product in exchange for a post. The products are high quality and it’s a great introduction to the world of sponsored posts. 

    Any questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’m happy to answer! 
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    DIY/ Tips

    Overhead Camera Mount DIY for $15

    Overhead Camera Mount DIY for $15

          Lately I’ve been more and more interested in creating video content. I have plans for knitting, small scale DIY and food videos. However, I’ve encountered a big problem- filming overhead is hard!!! Filming your hands, while trying to make something with a tripod angled oddly above you is next to impossible! After a few disastrous attempts I decided to look into overhead camera rigs. Most of the ones I saw were in the $150 price range so I decided to see if there was a cheaper alternative. Spoiler alert- there is….my Overhead Camera Mount DIY!
    This overhead camera mount DIY is a must for craft, knitting and food bloggers/YouTubers!It’s made with pvc pipe which is inexpensive, sturdy and lightweight. This took me about 20 minutes to make and costs less than $15! I just filmed my first video with this mount and it worked so well! I hope you guys find this as useful as I do and expect to see more videos from me in the future!

    Supplies for Overhead Camera Mount DIY

    PVC pipe (2, 5 foot lengths)
    PVC connectors (5 elbow, 2 “T”)
    Flat head screw
    Drill
    Super glue

    Overhead Camera Mount DIY for $15

    Cut the pipe into the following length:

    3- 14 inch sections

    2- 12 inch sections

    1- 23 inch section

    (some of the big home improvement stores will cut the pipe for you, otherwise you can use a hand saw or miter saw)

    Overhead Camera Mount DIY for $15

    Join the pipes together, using the connectors as pictured. I super glued the corners of the stand so they would be extra secure.

    Overhead Camera Mount DIY for $15

    To attach the camera: Drill a pilot hole through the “T” connector. Using your fingers, twist the screw through the hole from inside the connector.

    Overhead Camera Mount DIY for $15

    This camera mount can easily accommodate a cell phone camera as well! All you need is a mini tripod (I bought this one from Amazon). It comes with a hole that you can screw to the camera mount.

    Overhead Camera Mount DIY for $15

    You’re going to want to angle the “T” connector at the base of the stand slightly back so the camera is positioned directly overhead.