Fifteen months ago, after D joined our family, I wrote about how I was so “in it,” so in the middle of figuring things out, that I had trouble articulating my thoughts in a succinct blog post.

I still feel like that. Parenthood is a train that keeps moving, no matter how much you want it to slow down, to relish a fun new stage or simply catch up on sleep. It barrels forward while you work and travel and live, and because you don’t want to miss a single smile or cry or milestone, you hang on as tight as you can.

Becoming a mom has been the most joyful transition of my life — and the most challenging. I used to think about my past as a series of stages, often based around where I called home: childhood in upstate New York, college in Maine, working for the newspaper in Houston, traveling in Africa, running my own business from DC, enjoying life as a newly married couple.

Now I see it far more simply, as two distinct stages: before and after D was born.

Family photo! Being a Working Mom

Family photo courtesy of Susie Condon

Motherhood is all encompassing, for better and for worse. I dislike the term “mommy brain” because it makes women sound weak and forgetful, instead of acknowledging the million pieces they juggle every day. But I now, as I struggle to keep up with my tiny human and my full-time job at The Penny Hoarder, I understand why people say it.

Imagine taking your already-full brain and stuffing it with two or three times as many things to understand and remember — oh, and those new things are more important than what you had in there previously, because they involve taking care of a tiny baby you love and adore.

Would all that information fit? Would you remember it all? Hell no.

And yet somehow, your heart is able to accomplish what your brain simply can’t. Having a baby means adding more love than you’ve ever felt before, piling all the new love right on top of the old love, and then piling more love on top of that… and your heart still doesn’t explode or overheat or fail. You feel something indescribably wonderful when your baby laughs, when he cuddles up to your chest, when he explores grass for the first time with his tiny fingers and you can see the wheels in his head turning. It is a beautiful gift to nurture another human being as they grow.

So how is it possible, with all that love and so much good, that this transition could also be so darn hard?

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At the digital media company where I work, we’ve dubbed this “the year of science.”

We’ve long relied on intuition and experience to create content that will engage readers and drive clicks to The Penny Hoarder. And while that has worked well, growing the site to 20 million readers a month, this year we’re putting more metrics and data behind our decisions. We believe that will go a long way toward helping us optimize, with the goal of continuing to grow our community.

For me, it’s also FUN. Using data to make decisions is one of my favorite parts of running the editorial team — it give me a whole new perspective.

Tools digital media companies use

Seeing things from a new perspective.

When I ran my own content-marketing shop, we worked super lean, investing only moderately in tools that would help us do the best work for our clients. At The Penny Hoarder, we’re doing much of the same work — but on a larger scale, with a bigger readership, a bigger company and a bigger budget.

While we still practice lean methodology in many ways, we have chosen to invest in tools that help us make data-based, real-time decisions about how to create meaningful content, reach more readers and bring in more revenue.

Here are three of my personal favorites.

1. Naytev for A/B Testing

(Use discount code MakeYourOwnLuck)

Naytev is a highly effective tool for growing your readership, both on Facebook and through website traffic.

I first met one of the founders, Patrick Costello, at a media event in Washington, D.C., where we both lived. He and the company have since moved to the West Coast, where they participated in an prestigious incubator program, Y Combinator. I tried the tool in their early days for client work, and then revisited it when I joined The Penny Hoarder — and I’m impressed with how the company has improved the product and narrowed their focus in the last few years.

Naytev helps publishers optimize content for Facebook through A/B testing. While publishers can use it in a number of different ways, at The Penny Hoarder, we use Naytev to test all our blog posts before sharing them on our Facebook page. That allows us to share an optimized version of each post, so we already have an idea of how it will perform once it hits the Facebook page.

As you might imagine, this is far more effective than posting on Facebook and hoping for the best. Using Naytev has had a huge positive effect on the size and engagement of our Facebook community, and it also helps us drive traffic back to our website.

Because they’re all tested before they go live, the majority of our Facebook posts get a ton of likes, comments and shares, which helps our content take off on other platforms as well.

How Naytev Works

How does Naytev actually work?

It allows you to A/B test three components of each Facebook post — the headline, image and teaser — to see which variation gets the most clicks and engagement.

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Our Twitter Love Story Continues… (Plus a Ridiculously Adorable Photo)

November 1, 2015 17 comments

Since our son was born eight weeks ago, I’ve tried to write a coherent blog post at least half a dozen times. But as any parent will tell you, mothering a newborn is exhausting. Between around-the-clock breastfeeding, evening fussiness and a lot less sleep than I need, I’m lacking the physical and mental capacity to […]

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Why You Should Use Flow for Task Management (Over Basecamp or Asana)

September 1, 2015 10 comments

I’ve long used Flow for task management. My Socialexis team used it, my editorial team now uses it at Taylor Media, and my husband and I even use it to keep track of household tasks. In short, I’m a huge Flow fan. So I’m always surprised when this app doesn’t make it into conversations about the […]

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Doing the Work vs. Writing About It

August 17, 2015 11 comments

This blog has been quiet for nearly a month. It’s perhaps the longest I’ve ever gone without posting. On several occasions, I started writing a blog post to explain why. I wrote about how I’m juggling a company transition and preparing to have a baby. I wrote about how I’m failing at a lot of little […]

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Work With Us! We’re Hiring Full-Time Editors, Writers & Social Media Superstars

July 20, 2015 4 comments

After building my own business for the last five years, my blog-management company was acquired this summer by a digital media startup. Now I’m in-house at Taylor Media as Executive Editor, building an editorial team. It’s a fun and challenging ride already! While several members of my Socialexis team have joined us for this transition, […]

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Big News: My Content Marketing Company Has Been Acquired

July 5, 2015 66 comments

I have some exciting news to share: My content marketing company, Socialexis, has been acquired by Taylor Media, a digital media startup. As you can tell from the giphy above, I’m pop-the-champagne-excited about what this means for the business, as well as for me personally. While this closes a chapter of my career that I’ve […]

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On Making the New Journalism Profitable and Sustainable

June 22, 2015 0 comments

You’d think the recent sale of tech website Re/code to Vox Media would’ve been spun as a success story: Founders sell 18-month-old startup to media giant! Niche website attracts 1.5 million monthly unique visitors and gets acquired for an undisclosed sum! Instead, it has sparked articles about why new digital media publications can’t seem to turn […]

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Here’s Your Excuse to Stop Worrying About Chores and Spend More Time Living

June 15, 2015 2 comments

I just finished barreling through productivity writer Laura Vanderkam’s new book, I Know How She Does It, on how women juggle careers and family. While it’s full of time-management gems, my biggest takeaway wasn’t how to save a few minutes here or there. Instead, this read served as a reminder that life should be my […]

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Why Work-Life Integration is a Better Goal Than Work-Life Balance

June 10, 2015 12 comments

Everyone’s always talking about the importance of work-life balance — and how elusive it can be. But what if our conversations around work-life balance were all misguided? What if we started talking about work-life integration instead? That’s how productivity blogger Laura Vanderkam approaches it, and her take really resonates with me. Rather than forcing our workday […]

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