February 12, 2015 | 1:45 p.m.
By Sue Yonker, creative content specialist
Many people blog, but just a few turn it into a career or become famous doing it. Chris Ashbach ’13 has done just that through livedan330.com, and was recently featured in the Wall Street Journal as an internet celebrity.
Ashbach’s blog, a family-run site that he manages fulltime, serves up seasonal recipes, travel tips, craft ideas, and more. The blog began as a gardening site after his father Dan’s Pinterest site reached 1.6 million people. Then Ashbach and his partners—his mom and dad—decided to expand into other areas, such as recipes and home improvement, so the blog dished out relevant information all year long. Today, the site attracts more than 1.5 million page views a month and features advertisers including Disney, J.C. Penney, and Citibank.
The LiveDan#330 team actively seeks out advertisers by attending trade shows. And Ashbach has found that success requires flexibility. In an area that constantly changes, the team has to be willing to recreate parts of the business all the time, Ashbach says. “We need to follow advertising money through a maze of platforms and changing technology,” he explains. “Planning is very hard because we just don’t know what things will look like three months down the road. All we can control is that our personalities, humor, and eye for inspiring content will continue regardless of the playing field.”
And their creativity pays off. They were posting tailgating recipes on the blog last month when deflate-gate was trending. So they ran with it in a humorous way. “We showed how to deflate meatballs to the perfect pounds per square inch (psi) so they were easier for Super Bowl party guests to handle,” Ashbach says. “We tied humor with anger or disappointment at the New England Patriots and NFL with a great recipe. It was just funny. People saw it and laughed out loud. The post was a great success on social media. People immediately related to the ridiculousness of the recipe and of deflate-gate.”
Along with posting original content, Ashbach also accepts submissions for posts if they add value to his site and include great images. “People’s online attention spans are about three seconds long. A good image and title will earn you about 30 more seconds of time from a reader,” he says. “Good content might get you another minute, and future visits.”
As a graduate of Bethel’s M.A. in Organizational Leadership (now Strategic Leadership) program, Ashbach believes that growth during school “isn’t always directly relevant to the subject you are learning about. Certainly, the courses are very important, but sometimes you are learning deeper values that teach you how to relate, understand, and interact with other people. These values are what made me successful with social media and blogging.”
For Ashbach, it’s all about fun. “The day we stop having fun will be the day we need to find something else to do. It is our personalities and humor that make this work. We have to deliver inspiring or funny content. To do that, we all need to be inspired first. In that kind of an environment, managing relationships is easy. Like any job, there is work we must do, but it is fun work.”
Read the Wall Street Journal story to find out more about Ashbach.