Gluten Free Goodie Box Giveaway + 5 Ways Blogging Has Made My Life 1000% More Awesome

You can research the best blogging platform, experiment with tons of blogging apps and read all the blogging for beginners books you can find. However, some blogging lessons can only be discovered from personal experience...and that's exactly what I'm talking about today!

To celebrate four years since I started blogging at Casey the College Celiac (and four years since my celiac disease diagnosis), I'm hosting a gluten free giveaway (featuring 20+ products). This post isn't sponsored and there is no purchase necessary to enter this giveaway; I'm just going to mail one lucky winner a box loaded with gluten free treats. A blogging celebration wouldn't be complete with a toast, though - so I'm also sharing five ways blogging has made my life 1000% more awesome.

Gluten Free Goodie Box Giveaway + 5 Ways Blogging Has Made My Life 1000% More Awesome

What is blogging to me? What do I think of making money blogging? And how can you win a delicious gluten free goodie box? Keep reading to find out!

1. Blogging has taught me that, sometimes, you just need to plan less and start ASAP. 

If you're anything like me, you may want to spend months researching how to start a blog before you officially join the blogosphere. However, sometimes you just need to take the plunge and dive in!

That's exactly how I started blogging four years ago. I had no idea what I was doing, what the best blogging platform was or what to even call this new website of mine. (Fun fact: this blog started as "Casey the Celiac Sealion" in an ode to my college's mascot. Thankfully, that name didn't last long). So, in a process full of trial and error, I just started publishing my thoughts on the internet.

Gluten Free Goodie Box Giveaway + 5 Ways Blogging Has Made My Life 1000% More Awesome
My first photo on the blog...

Do I recommend you do a little more research than I did before launching your blog? Yes. I wish I'd started on WordPress, and I wish I'd known even a little about social media marketing and SEO. Yet, my blog has still done pretty dang well (in my modest opinion), and my blogging experience reminds me that, sometimes in life, you need to plan less and act more. (A motto I'm taking to heart as I begin my grad school adventure this month!)

2. Blogging has helped me connect with people all over the world. 

One of the most rewarding parts of blogging has honestly been the connections I've made with others. When I was hospitalized, people from all over the globe - ranging from London to Canada to Brazil - sent their love, prayers and healing thoughts. And, ever since I announced that I'm moving to Mankato, Minnesota for grad school, bloggers from that area have messaged me with restaurant recommendations, winter weather advice and invitations for a local tour. 

I won't deny that I've met my share of creepy people over the Internet, which is why you should be careful about how much personal information you share and whom you exchange messages with. However, blogging has continually prevented me from feeling alone with celiac disease. Anytime I want to cry over being glutened or vent about an ignorant comment, I have someone to reach out to who completely understands. If that's not an awesome blogging benefit, I don't know what is.

Gluten Free Goodie Box Giveaway + 5 Ways Blogging Has Made My Life 1000% More Awesome

3. I've learned how to make money while doing what I love. 

I didn't start Casey the College Celiac with the goal to make money blogging. In fact, I think anyone who has purely financial motivations for blogging will have a hard time. Why? To put it plainly, blogging is a LOT of work if you want to do it well. You need to research, write and edit blog posts. You also need to get people to actually read what you write. Not to mention that, in my experience, most bloggers can't monetize their site from day one.

However, the more I blogged about gluten free recipes, living with celiac disease and college tips, the more companies reached out to me. And, in my mind, that is how you want your sponsored partnerships to start. Instead of trying to contact as many companies as possible, just do your thang and, eventually, brands will start to notice that you do it well.

Gluten Free Goodie Box Giveaway + 5 Ways Blogging Has Made My Life 1000% More Awesome
My college roomie when it rained Foster Farms corn dogs and chicken tenders...

Nowadays, I turn down more product review and sponsored post offers than I accept, and I try to only partner with brands who I honestly support and believe will benefit my readers. Sometimes it still blows me away when I get a package in the mail full of gluten free products. I mean, what college student - or celiac on a budget - doesn't feel blessed when the mailman drops off an edible gift? What I always remember, though, is how lucky I am to have a semi-professional hobby that lets me taste and promote the gluten free products and companies I love!

4. I've discovered that I'm so much more capable than I ever thought.

The truth is, blogging is more complicated - but also more rewarding - than most people realize. Like I've hinted at above, when I clicked "publish" on my first blog post, I knew nothing about SEO or coding or even social media. The more I connected with readers, though, the more dedicated I became to learning how to improve my blog. At first, it was just publishing more regularly. Then I started to experiment with blog marketing. Just a few weeks ago, I finally got brave enough to give Casey the College Celiac a major facelift.

I still wouldn't ever classify myself as "techy." But I now know how to use social media to my advantage, how to make blog posts go semi-viral (like this one and this one did), and even how to tweak some coding here and there. Not only that, but blogging jobs - and jobs that utilize blogging skills - really are out there. One of the reasons Entity Magazine hired me was because I had an online following and was familiar with online publishing.

Gluten Free Goodie Box Giveaway + 5 Ways Blogging Has Made My Life 1000% More Awesome
Me from teaching my class to other Entity interns...

So what am I trying to say? Basically, if anyone ever tells you that blogging is a waste of time, don't believe them. Sure, not every blogger might land a job related to their website. However, all bloggers can gain valuable skills - from learning how to keep readers' attention to designing a killer quote card - that can help them grow as writers...and people! 

5. Blogging has proven that my dream - making a difference in people's lives through writing - can really become a reality. 

When you're a college student or a recent college graduate, it's pretty common to be asked, "So, what do you want to do?"

My answer has never been one particular job title. Instead, I've always said something like, "I want to make a difference." Maybe that's by working for a company with a mission I believe in. Or maybe that's by being a college writing professor (my most recent dream). Either way, blogging has proven to me that I can make a difference using my writing skills and degree. 

I'm not the most popular or well known blogger in the gluten free community - not by a long shot. However, all of my hard work is worth it when I read even one comment thanking me for raising awareness or one comment about a reader's own similar struggles. Readers have said that some of my posts made them cry, but, the truth is, so have some of their comments.

Gluten Free Goodie Box Giveaway + 5 Ways Blogging Has Made My Life 1000% More Awesome

I don't know where my writing will take me during or after grad school at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I don't know where this blog will be in another four years, either. Yet, I know that I will keep writing - on and off the blog - the words I and others need to hear. 

The Gluten Free Giveaway!

Now, I'd say that was enough food for thought...so how about we talk about the gluten free food one lucky person will win in my blog anniversary giveaway? As a Love with Food ambassador and gluten free product reviewer, I often end up with a bunch of extra gluten free goodies throughout the year. Sometimes they have other allergens that don't agree with me (like dairy or soy); other times, I've already eaten my fill. So, to celebrate four years of blogging, I want to spread the gluten free love to one randomly-picked winner!

Gluten Free Goodie Box Giveaway + 5 Ways Blogging Has Made My Life 1000% More Awesome

What exactly will this winner receive? A box LOADED with 20+ products (around a $40 retail value), ranging from meal accompaniments to healthy snacks to baking ingredients (the gluten free baker in your life would love this 12-ounce bag of almond flour!) to desserts.

Some giveaway highlights:

- Delallo Gluten Free Lasagna Sheets
- Annie Chun's Seaweed Crisps 
- Pereg Natural Foods Almond Meal Flour
- A bunch of nut/nut free butter sample packs, including Peanut Butter and Company Powdered Vanilla Peanut Butter, Wowbutter and more
- Savi Gluten Free Dessert Protein Bar
- Buff Bake Protein Cookie, Snickerdoodle flavor
- And much more...

Whether you've recently been diagnosed with celiac disease, follow a gluten free diet or just want some new treats to try, this goodie bag would be a delicious surprise. It is important to note that these gluten free goodies do contain other allergens, like dairy, egg and soy. However, I'm sure the foodies in your life wouldn't mind receiving the products you can't eat yourself!

Gluten Free Goodie Box Giveaway + 5 Ways Blogging Has Made My Life 1000% More Awesome

Ready to win this gluten free goodie bag? Read the giveaway rules and then enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below!

Giveaway Rules

The giveaway ends on July 14 (technically July 13 at midnight), and the winner will be announced here before July 16. This giveaway is only open to US residents over age 18, and whoever is randomly selected as the winner will have 24 hours to respond to my email and claim their prize. There is no purchase necessary, the number of eligible entries received will determine the odds of winning, and this giveaway is void where prohibited by law. Best of luck to everyone who enters!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


It's been a crazy surprising and exciting four years of celiac disease and blogging, and I can't wait to see where the next year takes me...and what blogging lessons I learn along the way. Until then, I'll keep writing, eating some delicious gluten free food and, of course, blogging about my adventures.

*Also found at BlogGiveawayDirectory.comInspire Me Monday, What'd You Do This Weekend, RunningwithSpoons, Share Fest*

What gluten free product from this goodie box would you like to try most? What blogging lessons have you learned? Tell me in the comments!



Comments

  1. I look forward to the trying the peanut products. I don't have a blog, I just enjoy reading others. (jozywails@gmail.com)

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  2. I love to get to try new gluten free products both for my clients and my nephew. He would probably love the butter toffee peanuts. :) The biggest blogging lesson is to always remain true to yourself. The rest will follow.

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    1. I LOVE that lesson! So true and so important!

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  3. I am most interested in trying the vanilla flavored peanut butter.

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    1. I thought it sounded absolutely scrumptious too!

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  4. Blogging really has enriched my life. I have met so many incredible people because of blogging that I never would have had the opportunity to meet.

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    1. That's awesome! Glad you can relate! :)

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  5. This would be amazing! It's hard finding GF stuff for me.

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    1. I hope there is lots of yummy GF goodies in your future!

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  6. I love what you said about planning less and DIVING IN. I spend a lot of time doing the former in many aspects of life, and I think your advice is right. Sometimes it's just better to start. Also, I grew up in MN and lived in Mankato for a short while. Congrats on gradschool, and enjoy!!

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    1. How cool! I'm loving meeting other Minnesota/Mankato peeps since I'm moving there soon :)

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  7. I would love to try the savi bar

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  8. I love how blogging can connect you to people around the world. It feels good to be able to touch and inspire others using your blog.

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    1. So true! Connecting is one of my favorite parts!

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  9. I am so happy blogging has brought you so many wonderful things. It is amazing how much blogging can change a life.

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  10. This box looks like it has a ton of good stuff in it! What an awesome giveaway chance.

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  11. Hey!
    I nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award. You deserve it :) I linked your blog to my post: http://www.stayathomecatmom.com/blogger-recognition-award/

    Thanks for being amazing! And Giving such valuable content!
    Meow for now!
    Alicia & Rose from Stay at Home Cat Mom

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    1. Thank you so much for the honor, Alicia. Look out for a thank you and link to your blog later this week :)

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  12. I really want to try the Pereg Natural Foods Almond Meal Flour so I can do some of my own baking.

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    1. Almond flour is in a lot of tasty gluten free recipes, for sure!

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  13. Savi bar sounds yumm. Blogging can definitely turn ur world around

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  14. I would most like to try the seaweed crisps.

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  15. The Ginger candy sounds like it would be yummy!

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  16. I want to try the peanut butter sample packs!

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  17. I love PB so I would say I am most excited about trying the PB.

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  18. I am a huge fan of anything nut-butter related so I would be most excited about trying the samples! I do not blog, but love reading them. :)

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  19. The peanut butter!! I eat nut butter on everything :)

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  20. I'd love to try the lasagna noodles! This is one of the hardest items to find GF that tastes yummy and holds up in a recipe.

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  21. Would Love to try the vanilla peanut butter! I LOVE peanut butter!

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  22. Would love to try the buff bake cookies!

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  23. Blogging indeed has opened a lot of friendship doors for me as well. Everything on this giveaway looks amazing.

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  24. I think the Almond Meal Flour would be great swap out in recipes. I like that blogging helped you meet people around the world that could relate and encourage you during your hospital stay.

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  25. mmmmm Butter Toffee Peanuts!

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  26. I would want to try the butter toffee peanuts

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  27. I would like to try the Savi Gluten Free Dessert Protein Bar. I have learned about products and made friends through blogging.

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  28. I love this. You truly are an inspiration!! I hope anyone with celiac can find your blog and resources to stay healthy. One thing I learned about blogging is that it's about sharing information to help people. It's not about making money or the most likes :) those are always positive though! I like to try gluten free goodies I believe that more people have gluten sensitivity than are aware.

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    1. You are too sweet, Mindy. Thank you so much for the kind words <3

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  29. I would like to try the Peanut Butter and Company Powdered Vanilla Peanut Butter.

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  30. Nut butters!!! I don't go a day without them!

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  31. The lasagna sheets call out to me, however, I'm equally intrigues by the powdered peanut butter. I love your blog. I was diagnosed a year ago and I'm struggling to find my way. Factor in the doubting Thomas' of my family and coworkers and it can be quite depressing.

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