Hi, my name is Chelsea Rustrum. I love to travel. Deals are second nature and freebies are my life.
Free Mania was born in 1997. When I was 14 years old, my dad bought a Gateway 2000 and force fed my brother and I the future of the mysterious interweb. It was summer and I was bored. The internet immediately made sense to me. Being the frugal kid I was, I clipped coupons of the Sunday paper while other kids were playing transformers. I’d even tell my mom what brand of juice was cheaper by the ounce at the grocery store. Naturally, the first thing I typed into Yahoo! (Yahoo! was cool back then, I swear) was “free stuff.” The search results? Dismal. I thought… I can do better!
At that point, I didn’t really care what I created, I just knew I wanted to be a part of the world wide webness I’d just tripped upon. My brother was already knee deep into coding websites. So, I requested his help, which was met with “I learned on my own and so will you.” Damn skippy? Really?!?! At first I resented him. Now, I worship those words. Part of me was so stoked on the possibility interconnected communication and another part wanted to show him what was up. I researched all day, every day… I was online, learning 12+ hours a day. I relished every moment and taught myself.
Within 24 hours of setting my mind to it, I had the first rendition of the new freebie site uploaded to the web. The first page may not have been much, but it gave me enough steam to keep trucking. After a bunch of thesaurus research, I settled on the name Free Mania (you know, cuz people get maniac about freebies & deals).
In high school, I met a strapping gentleman by the name of Dan Vance in speech class. After finding out about my little web project, he urged me (read: bugged the heck out of me) daily to purchase freemania.net/.com (at the time, I was located on a free server on my ISP’s site). Urgh, thank goodness. Without the Free Mania domains, this bio may never have been written.
As the first year of Free Mania led on, advertisers were knocking on my door, filling my email box and phoning our family land line. In retrospect, it’s kind of funny. No one knew I was only 14. I started making money, which was exciting. And the emails of encouragement I got from visitors were even more motivating. Traffic started spiraling. Whatever I was doing, it was working.
By 1999, Free Mania was featured in magazines and newspapers across the country. It was unreal to open my favorite magazine and find Free Mania listed in an article about free stuff. In January of 1999, Free Mania was featured as Netscape’s “What’s Cool” site of the day (that was a big deal back then). In March of 2000, there was an article about the success of Free Mania in Horizon Airlines in-flight magazine that featured three other young entrepreneurs from across the nation.
Since then, the site has been featured in many well known publications from PC World to All You Magazine and ShopSmart Magazine by Consumer reports as well as the Wall Street Journal. News stations from across the country: NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN have mentioned Free Mania and continue to. If you want to interview someone about free stuff, coupons or deals online, I can help.
Now, we have 170,000 email subscribers, 26,000 Facebook fans and over 1 million pageviews per month. We have 2 bloggers and as we build out new columns, we’ll be looking for more.
If you have a free product or service you’d like to advertise to our audience of moms who are couponing-deal-seekers, please contact us. We’re also looking for partners that want to give away free stuff to our audience (valued at $200 or more) in exchange for some killer exposure to our visitors.
So, what’s next?
For many years, Free Mania served as a portal for free stuff & coupons. As the web has become more social, Free Mania has grown into a community with needs beyond a Facebook page and Twitter integration. With that, I unveil the 2011, grown up version of Free Mania that will have many more iterations to come. Register now to become a Freebie Maniac and get access to the coupon database, free stuff forum, other members and vip product samples, deals and promotional offers.
Stay tuned… we’re growing.
How do I get in touch with you?
Email from visitors is read by me personally. If you have comments, feedback, questions, want to partner or just want to reach out, email chelsea (at) freemania.net or fill out this contact form.
KEEP YOUR CHEAP ON!