blog

Marketing Monday: Pregnant Chicken

There’s nothing quite as unifying as humor when it comes to shared experience. Last year, when I was pregnant and dutifully reading pretty much everything I could to prepare for the new baby (little did I know, all that reading doesn’t necessarily prepare you for reality, but at the time it made me feel like I was accomplishing something). Along the way, I found a LOT of blogs that were helpful, but probably the number one find in terms of both helpfulness and hilarity was Pregnant Chicken.

Pregnant Chicken has multiple contributing writers, but there’s definitely a uniform “style” of writing that’s equal parts funny and helpful. For instance, they have a collection of articles on “Scary Stuff” that you may encounter while pregnant or while your baby is still young. Being able to access a sense of humor while still being serious/acknowledging the scariness isn’t easy, but the writers of Pregnant Chicken are able to navigate this balance (and add a bit of levity to things that are typically tough to talk about).

Other articles you may encounter on their blog include “20 One Handed Snack Ideas” and, one of my favorites, “10 Things Never to Say to a Pregnant Woman.” In other words, topics vary from real life tips to just for fun. Another classic is the “No Really, How Big is Your Baby?” Growth Chart, using such comparisons as “Regretful Smurf” and “Chicken Nugget.”

10 Things to Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

They also have different giveaways throughout the year, typically the entrance “fee” is your email address, and for “extra” entries, you have to do things like share the giveaway on Facebook, tagging three people on the giveaway on Instagram, and other things that grow either their followers or the followers of the giveaway affiliates.

What really got me hooked on Pregnant Chicken was their social media presence, namely Facebook and Instagram. In other words…it was the memes.

As I mentioned in a post this fall about the loneliness of life with a newborn baby, it feels nice to know that other people are going through/have gone through the same thing you’re going through (it’s also a bit of a sanity check). It was a bit of a relief to see memes that were so relatable, and funny/self-deprecating- it made me think, “Okay, maybe I’m not totally terrible at this after all.” Topics include all things parenting: sleep deprivation, tantrums, phoning in household chores, diaper blowouts-the less glamorous side of things (because we love our babies, but it’s okay to have a laugh or two at the expense of a child…or yourself).

Any business can benefit with the mindset of having a sense of humor and not being afraid to say what everyone is thinking…. then again, we may be a little biased about that.

How One of Our Old Blog Posts Still Gets a Ton of Views

One of our most popular blog posts of all time is “Pros and Cons of Snapchat for Business.” This was written back in 2014, when Snapchat was still fairly new for social media, and businesses were just beginning to figure out how to get in on the action. Of course, now Snapchat has evolved into a more complex beast that’s easier for businesses and brands to access…but this old post is still getting more views than most of our other blog posts, which is pretty fascinating.

In the graphic above, you can see the post has had almost 10,000 views in the course of it’s lifetime. It generates about 7% of our website’s traffic overall.

So how did we do this? We have some theories.

Write what no one is writing.

Back when the post was written, there wasn’t a lot of information about how businesses could use Snapchat, or even any real life examples of bigger brands doing it yet (if my memory serves me right, there were about 2-3). Part of my theory why the post was so popular is the scarcity of material on the subject. In other words, we hit a jackpot with finding a blog topic as it was just about to start trending. Sometimes this is a swing and a miss (for examples, check out this post), but the timing combined with the popularity of the topic worked in our favor.

Search engines are the ticket.

Google Analytics has this handy thing where you can see what source is driving traffic and as you can see, search engines are primarily it. We have read things like Google tends to like ‘longer’ blog posts (ex: not one paragraph), things like unique page titles/descriptions, and more. Somehow this post seems to have hit some search engine sweet spots.

Being conversational helps.

With new technology, it can be easy for people to feel intimidated. The blog post, if you go read it, is very conversational and I think making the topic more approachable made the blog post much more readable.

The funny thing is, if you told me this would be the case back when I wrote the post, I wouldn’t have believed you. This was back in my early days of blogging, I was only a couple months in at that point. Meaning, I’ve since found a groove that comes with a bit of confidence and a few more years under my belt.

Think about images.

The image I made for the post was responsible for at least some of the traffic (I’m pretty sure someone linked back to it about a month after the post was first written). (In case you haven’t seen the Snapchat logo, the tie is the part I added in).

If you look on Google images for “Snapchat for business” you’ll see we are on the second row (and I dare say were copied for our cool necktie idea).

If you are going to share a blog on Pinterest, or even want it to stand out more on Facebook, an image just make things work better, which is why we try to add one to each blog post.

Do I think this is the most fabulous thing we’ve ever written? Not really.
Does it just go to show you that one blog post can generate a lot of goodwill, even over years? Absolutely.

Thoughts on Google AdSense

After starting up my own personal blog, I started thinking about ways to make it a bit of a side hustle (oh, and Side Hustle School was inspiring as well). One of the ideas that kept coming up was Google AdSense, a way to display ads on your website.

The whole moral dilemma of whether or not to place ads on my blog is something I’ve grappled with and is ultimately a personal choice. Maybe someday I’ll decide to go back to being ad-free, but for now, I’m intrigued to see how lucrative this might be (for a fairly small website, I’m not anticipating a full paycheck but some rainy day funds would be cool).

The thing about AdSense — as with a lot of things pertaining to Google — is that a) it changes every so often, and b) you don’t necessarily have a lot of control over it.



To get started, you need a website, a Google account, and to visit Google AdSense. Fill out some preliminary information (name, website, etc), and Google will give you a code to copy and paste in your website’s header (don’t worry — they have some tutorials to help). Then, Google will ask you to confirm that the code is ready so they can “review your site.” Although Google tells you the review process can take up to 3 days, I heard back within day 1.

After that, you get taken to this lovely-looking dashboard.



So Google AdSense offers a few different displaying options for the ads. The relatively easy ones to add are Text & Display ads, In-Feed, and In-Article.

In-Feed and In-Article Ads are the ones you’ll see in between a list (feeds) or paragraphs (article). Arguably these are less distracting to your readers, but I have been confused by them before.

My first ad was a Text & Display Ad. This type of ad is probably the easiest with which to get started since all you have to do is copy and paste the code and add it … wherever! I chose to put my first one in my site’s sidebar, but I can play around with it or add more ads later. Sure, you could shove an ad in your footer, but the point is for people to see/click on it, so placement is important. It’s a fine line between putting it somewhere that isn’t completely annoying but remains somewhat attention grabbing.

This is what it looked like on the front end of my site. Yay Birchbox!

Other types of ads are Page Level ads. Anchor ads appear at the very bottom of a mobile screen, while vignette ads will appear while pages are still loading on your website. Quickstart ads are for both desktop and mobile. This cluster of ads will only appear on your website or a page on your website a) once you have added the code in the right spot and b) whenever Google thinks it’s a good time to show them. Meaning, Page Level Ads appear entirely at Google’s discretion.

Some things to keep in mind if you’re considering using AdSense:

  • If you’re a control-freak, this might not be a good option. While you can limit where the ads appear, you don’t necessarily get to control what’s being advertised (you can set up some restrictions, but this is another “Google decides” thing).
  • You may have to deal with code. Getting page-level ads to display on my website was a bit of a hassle because I had no idea where I was supposed to add the code. Fortunately, there are plenty of people who have decided to share their wisdom with the internet, so I figured it out with some research.
  • Once it’s set up, it seems fairly easy. Like anything, I’m sure I could do more, crazier things to optimize my Google AdSense. If you’re just looking to set something up and “coast” for a bit, that’s totally an option as well. (Keep in mind, Google likes to change things up every now and then so you may have to revisit every so often).



The Weirdest Places We’ve Worked From

One of the cool aspects of our work is that it can be done remotely (I’ve talked about this a bit before).

While 90% of the time you can find Nicole or I in the office, occasionally we are working from…elsewhere. And with John and Alilia on board, we have an eclectic combined work history. You’ve seen our posts about working effectively on the road or from home, but today, we’re going to share the weirdest places we’ve worked from (so far).

In compiling this list, I feel like I’ve learned some interesting things about my coworkers here at Breaking Even… maybe you will too

Weird Places Where We’ve Worked

Nicole worked on a houseboat in Amsterdam. Let's say the house across the way was much nicer than the one she was in but hey, still cozy with coffee and WiFi.

Nicole worked on a houseboat in Amsterdam. Let’s say the house across the way was much nicer than the one she was in but hey, still cozy with coffee and WiFi.



Nicole

When I was in Europe two years ago for ten days. Because it was in July (our busiest time), the two hours daily of checking email wasn’t cutting it so I decided to have one work day while I was there to get a chunk of work done. My travel friend Sarah and I had rented this houseboat in Amsterdam on AirBnB. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the houseboat but it had better internet than any cafe… so I parked it at the kitchen table and left the screen door open while I watched the boats go by. There were also some very friendly ducks and a coffee maker that was relatively large for the size kitchen it was in, so I was pretty content.

On a different European trip, I actually went to Bosnia to visit a friend who started a web development company there. I worked from his company’s office and had a great time. When I work I need it 1) quiet and 2) some place where I can really settle in (get snacks freely, leave my stuff set up for a few hours)… maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to the idea of coworking spaces?

Alilia

I once was in California visiting my grandparents’ house where my mom and sisters also live, and I was in the middle of a software conversion project, so for one of the status call meetings, I was prancing around on my sister’s trampoline while on the project call. That was my best working remotely experience.

My worse  working remotely experience was on the same California trip. I had set my desk phone in Colorado to forward to my cell phone, and I had asked the front desk to please not transfer any customers to me without letting me know first. They clearly disregarded my request as evidenced by the customer call I received while shopping at Costco with my relatives. I had to take the customer’s name and number and get back to them when I could get in front of my work laptop back at my grandparents’ house.



John
I once tried working remotely from a hospital waiting room while my son was in surgery. This isn’t as callous as it sounds—-I was desperate to keep my mind off what was happening in the operating room, and working was as good a way as any to do that. It was either that or watch the Fox News program that was blaring in the waiting room. Everything turned out well in the end and the operation was a success, and I took a few days off to be with my son and watch our daughter at home.
Kassie
This past fall, I experienced a lot of unfortunate car problems. During one such incident, I worked from a VIP Auto while waiting for cylinders in my car to be replaced. It was actually awesome- no one else was there, so I got a lot done, until a lady came in with her dog who clearly didn’t want to be there.
One of the coolest places I’ve gotten to work was Gillette Stadium (also this fall). I was trying to write a blog post before a Monday night football game in a hotel room with my parents, brother, and brother’s girlfriend. The lobby downstairs was packed with fellow Pats fans, so I was stuck writing on a cot in the hotel room while The Godfather was playing in the background (which John will appreciate, I am sure). It wasn’t a great writing experience- fortunately I’m highly skilled when it comes to tuning out my family- but then again, I was getting ready to watch a Pat’s Game. You win some, you lose some (also…the Pat’s lost that game).
gillette
The internet lets us work weird places… and if you work online, I’m sure you have some fun stories too.
Out of curiosity, do you have any weird/interesting remote working experiences? Let us know!



We All Can’t Be Seth Godin

5 Long Form Bloggers And Why It Works For Them

When I hear about people aspiring to blog, people usually mention Seth Godin. Seth Godin’s blog posts are often short and sweet (and if you don’t believe me or want to see first hand, here is a link to his blog).

Because people aspire to be Seth Godin, they aspire to be brief and profound.

For most people, being brief is harder to get right than it is to take a little longer to get to your point. It requires editing, drafts, and a lot of thought.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do things because they are hard. I’m just saying people should stop trying to be like someone else and do what works for them, and in most cases, it means writing a blog that is more than two paragraphs.



I wanted some examples pointing out that long blogs don’t mean readers have short attention spans. So we have the same working definition of long form, I’ll say long form is anything you have to scroll when on a typical computer screen to see the entire blog post.

Here is a short form Seth Godin blog post:

sethgodin-shortformpost

Here is a longer form Medium blog post (screen made 50% size to screenshot and this isn’t even 20% of the whole thing):

mediumblog-longform




Here are our five bloggers in question:

Ramit Sethi, I Will Teach You To Be Rich
These meaty blog posts give you scripts, workflows, and other specific ways to execute concepts. It would hard to be brief while also being so instructional. (Also this makes you think, if this is what he gives away for free, how awesome can his programs be?)
Takeaway: If you are instructional and interesting, the right people will stick around (ie those who want to learn)

Darren Rowse, Problogger
A blog about blogging seems so meta but these longer form posts are more helpful than the average ‘write and share on social media’ articles about how to get started on blogging. The guy literally wrote the book on blogging. (Honestly, it continues to blow my mind to this day.)
Takeaway: If you have specific, niche knowledge in a field, people will take the time to read what either you or authors you have vetted have to say. 

Human Parts on Medium
Described as a group of storytellers who have since disbanded, many blogs on Medium are longer form pieces that get tons of readers. (Note: Nicole clicked through tons of Medium authors for this post and found most of them had written less than 5 total posts on the site – though most were long form. For this example, I wanted to give a Medium page with a deeper history but there are lots of Medium bloggers who seem quite successful at longer form writing.)
Takeaway: Medium writes at the top of every story how long they take to read, allowing people to either read now or save for later. 

Brandon Gorell on Thought Catalog
Like Medium, Thought Catalog allows publishers/authors to have their own blog that lives on the Thought Catalog site. I am using this author as an example, though I know he uses more photos in his long form blogs than the typical Thought Catalog writer (if you’re writing about the internet, things like screenshots are helpful). Most Thought Catalog articles are long form but of the ones I looked at, most used things like pull quotes and formatting bullet points to break up the text.
Takeaway: Being thoughtful about formatting breaks can make long form writing more digestable. 

Us at Breaking Even Communications
No one will ever accuse me (Nicole) of being brief. That said, I write this blog like I speak and try to use language and examples that are fun and easy to relate to. I will also say that, compared to the previous examples that have much larger audiences, Breaking Even also has readers and subscribers that seem to enjoy what we have to say. Who else is going to tell you that whitepapers online are like man purses in France?
Takeaway: Having funny/memorable examples that take time to explain will get you a small but dedicated following.

So be brief if you want to but if you’re a chatterbox, don’t let that stop you from blogging long form. There are plenty of websites and individual bloggers who encourage this style and plenty of readers who appreciate it too.



1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9