The Farmer family in Dallas has made coupon blogging a family affair.
Fifty-year-old mom Dian’s blog, groceryshopforfree.com, has become so successful that two other members of her family are now running spinoffs. Her husband was able to quit his job as manager of a camera shop to run a blog about saving money at Wal-Mart (groceryshopforfreeatthemart.com), while her 29-year-old daughter is in charge of a site focused on deals at Target, (groceryshopforfreeattarget.com).
Dian, a mother of four and grandmother of two, became a coupon blogger about four years ago after noticing that a family friend had a stockpile of frozen pizza and ready-to-eat cereal, most of which she got for free — thanks to coupons.
Farmer was eager to reap the same rewards, but didn’t have a clue how to do it. So she started researching how to obtain and use coupons. A huge source of help came from a New York blogger who runs couponsdealsandmore.com.
She quickly learned how to slash her supermarket bill by up to 70%. Her trick is to stockpile, buying lots of one item on sale. She’ll then use up her stockpile, buying more of the product only when another coupon comes around.
Farmer (left) was so thrilled with the savings that she decided to help others do the same. The result was groceryshopforfree.com, a blog packed with information on the latest deals in food, dollar, drug and mass-market stores.
What’s more, shoppers get her help for free. Farmer does not charge for access to the coupon database or anything else. She makes money from selling ad space to companies ranging from e-coupon providers like savingstar.com to manufacturers like Kellogg and Gevalia.
To be sure, her site is not for extreme couponers. Rather, she teaches people how to realistically slash their store bills.
One of the first lessons learned is that the Sunday newspaper is a goldmine, thanks to its coupon inserts.
“There’s $200 worth of free money in newspaper every week,” she stressed.
People who use her site get access to a database of coupons from food retailers around the country, along with those from newspaper inserts, Internet coupons and savings mailed to the home.
She also shows couponers how to get the most savings by using a coupon “match up,” or when a manufacturer’s coupon is used on top of a retailer’s in-store discount.
Over the last few years, she’s built a huge following. Her website gets up to 200,000 page views a month. And she has about 20,000 Facebook fans and 10,000 Twitter followers.
Consumers aren’t the only ones who are interested. Retailers have approached her about promotional partnerships.
Kroger, Tom Thumb and Wal-Mart have sent her gift cards to give away to her readers and/or invited her to attend and speak at in-store events.
The H.E. Butt Grocery Co., San Antonio, even asked her to become one of its beauty bloggers. Each month, H-E-B sends her a cosmetic, hair care or other beauty care item for free. In return, she’s asked to review the item on her blog.
While she’s previewed national brands like Garnier Pure Clean shampoo and L’Oreal Youth Code facial cream, she’s also been asked to test Orchid, H-E-B’s new private-label premium line of hand soaps, facial care and nail polish.
Her reviews of Orchid have been nothing but positive.
“Orchid matches the quality of any other brand,” she said. “It’s not inferior in any way.”
Orchid hand soaps are her favorite.
“They’re better than any others on the market,” she said.
H-E-B rewards two of Farmer’s followers with the beauty product of the month. A monthly giveaway is open to all those who provide their email on Farmer’s site. Followers can get additional entries by Tweeting their entry and posting it on their Facebook status.
“I have to say I love H-E-B,” Farmer wrote in a recent blog. “They have treated me and my readers so well over 2011, and I am sure 2012 will be even better.”