Case Study – A Passionate Skier Balances the Slopes and the Office




Skier shows you how to work your job and live your passion … at the same time

I’m still down surfing in the warm Mexico waters, but I’m starting to get anxious to go skiing and shred some powder. Soon I’ll be leaving on some ski adventures.

To get all stoked and excited for the snow I’ve been watching ski and snowboard videos online. While I was cruising the web I came across this awesome case study of a woman who has been able to work a job and live her passion at the same time.

Lots of people try to manage their time to allow for both the day job and their passions, but work can all too frequently crowd out the time of doing what we love.

Whether it’s an inflexible schedule or the general minutiae of life, there are many factors that seek to monopolize our time.

Skier and internet marketer?

But, you can find a balance between work you love and a lifestyle that keeps you energized. Take a look at Allison Schwam, a passionate skier and internet marketer.

When you don’t have to sacrifice your love of the outdoors for your career or vice versa, it’s something special. In fact, my love of both skiing and marketing has grown dramatically since I took my job at Backcountry. Getting to work with Google, specifically managing our AdWords account, is an online marketing geek’s dream come true. Combine that with every skier’s dream of Utah powder, and life is good.

Day traders wake up every morning to check their portfolio — I get up and check my AdWords accounts. Backcountry sells gear and equipment for the outdoor enthusiast from ski boots to tents, and we sell all of it online.

My job is to drive valuable, qualified traffic 365 days a year to Backcountry using AdWords. The AdWords platform lets me manage hundreds of campaigns and hundreds of thousands of keywords with relative ease. I have access to huge amounts of data that are revealed as daily ebbs and flows in impressions, clicks and bids.

Allison works for Backcountry, a provider of gear and accessories for the outdoor enthusiast. The company understands the need for employees to be able to get some play time – while still providing the necessary expertise to keep the company growing.

Allison uses Google Adwords extensively to help her reach her marketing goals. She is able to use the technology as she needs it, thereby freeing her up to capitalize on mountains covered with freshly fallen snow.

A passionate skier and her schedule …

She relates her schedule on a good skiing day.

7 – 7:45am

Roll out of bed.

Get the coffee going.

Fry eggs and bacon.

Check snow totals.

If it looks like a good ski morning, I first check my email and glance over our AdWords campaigns. All I need to do is my daily reporting to see that I’m on target for my revenue and cost goals. As long as things are okay, I email my boss to say I’ll be out slaying the white dragon.

Just as I have the ideal tools to maximize our online campaign performance, I have the tools avid skiers covet for deep days: fat, rockered skis, stiff ski boots, Gore-Tex jacket and pants, helmet, goggles, merino wool layers, etc. After I grab my gear, I’m off.

7:45am – 12noon

My commute to The Canyons Ski Resort takes 10 minutes. My friends and I know how to get the most out of our time on the mountain, balancing chair lift time, snow quality and vertical. Does that sound a bit like cost-per-click, conversion rate and top-line revenue? Take this lift to that lift, ski the trees while we wait for that chair to open, get after our favorite steep lines.

After an invigorating morning of skiing, Allison is energized and ready for work. Just imagine how much more passionate Allison will be able to approach her work of marketing ski apparel and gear after a morning on the slopes!

12pm – 5pm

I head a few miles down the road to the office. As the afternoon goes by, co-workers will emerge from their cubicles; sometimes because legs are cramping up but also to share stories about how the morning was. Where did you ski? How was the snow? Smiles all around.

I settle into work knowing what I need to succeed at my job is at my fingertips. AdWords gives me visibility into my programs to prioritize and understand trends. It also makes it easy to add and edit my account without getting bogged down in manual work.

I regularly use Keyword Performance Reports to monitor both head terms and tail terms to stay on top of revenue opportunities. I’ll take into account the average order value and also the percentage of clicks that turn into sales (rate of conversion) in order to manage our keyword bids. As I do bid updates, I also check the AdWords Preview Tool to see how our ads are ranked and what is going on with our competition.

We don’t really focus on “cost-per-click” but instead on “cost as percentage of revenue,” which means the more people purchase, the more ads we can run. So the higher the return on advertising spend, the more room we have to grow our paid search presence.

5 pm – 8 pm

I like this afternoon time in particular because it’s quiet and I can really focus on data-crunching. Uninterrupted time and a strong cup of coffee are essential for doing long-term analysis.

Campaign Performance Reports are great for identifying long- and short-term trends as seasons shift or for changes in demand by brand. We just wrapped up our winter sale, so this is a great time for me to run an Ad Performance Report to analyze which versions of ad copy had the strongest clickthrough rates for future reference.

Finally, Google Insights for Search is a fun tool. It’s a great way to connect with our buyers by discussing big-picture trends with the brands we carry.

We can look at AdWords Campaign performance and try to tie it back to general search volume in the marketplace and identify product searches on the rise. In short, given our metrics focus, AdWords gives me the information I need to make decisions about specific keywords, bids, and our overall spend.

There are typically the same few folks hanging out at the office this late. We’ll exchange some pleasantries, and as the lights get turned off I’ll shut down my computer.

It’s possible for us to get so completely locked into the routine of the daily grind that we forget what is possible. You really can be passionate about your time doing the things you love and be passionate about your work.

It will most certainly take some searching and effort to find just the right fit. Certainly every employer will not be as flexible or indulging of your passions, but those employers are out there.

Stay passionate. Stay focused.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Are you a skier? Do you mix your favorite activities and work? Let me know in the comments if you like these case studies and I’ll do more.

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Leave a Comment

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Mark

    Very inspirational. That is what is missing in so many lives. Being able to balance work with playtime and getting out the most enjoyment/rewards from both!


  2. Chris Carpenter

    I agree! I think that more people can do this though. It is possible to balance your passions and work. Even if you work a job.

    But it does take effort, and some skill!

    I’ll be posting more case studies like this. Hopefully they will inspire people to do the same for their passions and work.


  3. Andrew

    This is what I always dream about


  4. mohammed

    that’s amazing


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