Here’s this week’s instalment of Blogger Behind the Blog where I interview a blogger all about their reasons for blogging and what it means to them. This week I’m joined by John from Dad Blog UK.
Here’s John with more about his blogging life:
When did you start your blog and why?
My personal life and blog life are intertwined. I became my daughter’s main carer in 2011 (we only had the one child at the time, Helen). We took the decision for practical reasons. Helen had been in nursery full-time and we wanted her to have more attention from us. My wife earned more money and so it made sense for me to put my career on hold.
I was very surprised at the amount of casual sexism I faced as a man who had chosen to look after kids. Most of it came from women who didn’t quite know what to make of me or felt such work was a woman’s responsibility and also healthcare workers. I started blogging about my experiences a week before our second daughter was born in October 2012.
At first it was a mouthpiece pretty much entirely for that purpose. I continue to champion positive fatherhood and masculinity on the blog. Even so, I had to diversify my content as I was finding it was getting a bit repetitive. I write about all manner of lifestyle and family issues and I’ve built it up into a small business that I fit around my family commitments. I’ve kinda launched a second career by accident but I love it!
What did you do before you blogged?
Well, I’ll tell what I didn’t do: I didn’t spend anything like as much time on social media!
What was your first post?
This is what I consider my first blog post, something I wrote about inducing labour naturally. It was basically inspired by a midwife who suggested Mrs Adams and I consider sex as a way to start labour.
While I appreciate there’s some science behind that method, it really doesn’t seem fair on whoever is delivering the baby.
What inspires you to blog?
Oh gosh, I get inspired by all manner of things. I used to be a journalist, so I do enjoy tackling big issues.
Flexible working and parental leave are two issues I often write about. Here’s a good example from when I got to discuss these issues with none other than Nick Clegg (remember him??)
One thing I don’t do is blog to be popular. If I am writing challenging blog posts, I fully expect people to disagree with me.
What post has had the best response, which post are you most proud of and which post did you enjoy writing the most?
For a very long time, this blog post, about whether women made better parents than men, was the most heavily read and so I have to say it is one I am very proud of.
I was also very fortunate to play a very minor role in an international mental health campaign run by Movember that saw me travel out to Australia a couple of times. Pride may not be the correct choice of word, but I it was a fantastic opportunity and one that only came about because of my blogging activities.
Have any of your posts not had the response that you expected?
When you’ve been blogging for six and a bit years, this is an inevitability! Then again, others that I expected to go nowhere have been very successful. This recent interview with Alex Gregory MBE, the Olympic rower, performed very well, much more so than I was expecting.
Bizarrely, the internet went wild for this review of Aldi tights and bibs, which I wrote back in 2014. On the day I published it, my twitter timeline just went insane. It’s an early blog post so it’s not reflective of what I’d produce today in terms of length or image quality. That said, I just can’t understand why it was so popular! Answers on a postcard please.
Where do you see your blog in a year’s time?
Interesting question. I am planning some changes and planning to move into new areas. I can’t, however, reveal too much at this stage. Watch this space!
What is your favourite thing about blogging?
Blogging is so varied, diverse and it appeals greatly to me as a former journalist. There is also a very supportive community. Ultimately, I also love the fact I have been able to use my skills to create a business that I fit around my family.
…and your least favourite?
Social media is both a blessing and a curse. I love it when you get great interaction, but I don’t like the amount of time I have to dedicate to updating my channels etc. Unfortunately, this comes with the territory.
What’s the best blog post you have ever read?
Ah man, I’ve agonised over this. I honestly don’t think I can answer this. I have read so many superb blog posts over the years I just don’t think I can narrow it down to one!
What blog do you love to read and why?
There are so many. The blogs I read change all the time as new people join the community, give up or move on to start new blogs etc.
I love reading Phil’s blog The Corporate Dad. He’s such a nice guy and you can see how important family is to him.
A blog I come back to time and again is Mummy Tries. Renee’s lived her life 100 times over and this comes through in her writing and her recipe videos are awesome!
One of the first blogs I ever read because she’s so engaging was Jo Middleton’s Slummy Single Mummy and I’m still a regular visitor.
If we include Instagram in this melee, I’d have to include Gregory who produces London Dad.
Do you do anything differently now to when you started blogging?
Oh my word, I do just about everything differently! I have to be a lot more organised and have to create a lot more content. Once your blog reaches a certain size, especially if you make money blogging, you have little choice but to be active on Instagram and YouTube. When I started, it was essentially something I did for fun and I could just concentrate on the blog and send out the odd tweet. I simply can’t do that any more. I also pay a lot more attention to the imagery I use. Even so, I’d like to be 100 times better with my photography.
Also, regulation is a much bigger thing these days. To a greater or lesser degree, all bloggers have to be compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation. You also have to be much hotter with declaring paid-for content. I think a lot of bloggers take a blasé approach to declaring commercial tie-ups and I can spot undeclared content from a 100 paces.
I predict a storm is coming our way. The Advertising Standards Authority is investigating this right now and I think us bloggers could be in for a shock.
On a related note, I’ve made no secret of the fact I think the time is right for us bloggers to create a trade association. You’ll find my thoughts on the Vuelio blog.
Is blogging what you expected it to be?
Blogging is not what I expected it to be at all. I went into it with the mentality of a print journalist and quickly learned that blogging does not work like that at all.
I also wasn’t prepared for the attention I’ve have to spend on social media. The thing that surprised me most was the interest in me as a man who effectively swapped traditional gender roles with this wife. I didn’t expect so many people to read my blog!
Also, who oh why do bloggers call each other by their blog names? “I was at such and such an event with The Floral Mama last week….” It’s a very strange habit!
What’s been your favourite blog collaboration to date?
Based purely on fun, that would probably have been the tie-up I did with Goodyear. Al and Jen Ferguson of The Dadsnet, Dave Hornby from The Dadventurer and Henry Ellis of the Mediocre Dad were all flown over to Luxembourg and let loose on a test track to try out Goodyear’s all season tyres. It was madness, but such good fun! You can see the resulting video here.
Are there any brands you would love to work with, why?
Oh wow. I’m really stumped by this question. The one I keep coming back to is Durex purely on the basis I’ve only ever seen it work with mum bloggers!
Have you had any blogging fails so far?
I can think of many. The video I made questioning what would happen to the UK in the event of a leave vote possibly wasn’t my brightest idea. I had to take it down because it was beginning to attract the attention of hardcore Brexiteers.
What is your biggest blogging hope, dream or ambition?
To morph into a massive multimedia publishing house, take on the likes of Amazon or 21 st Century Fox and pour all profits into a charitable trust.
What do you do when you’re not blogging?
I’m quite a keen photographer so you may find me up a tree or stood on a bench taking photographs!
and lastly, tell us all a random fact about yourself
Because of a quirk of my birth, I was liable to do national service in the French armed forces. I managed to get out of it on administrative grounds but I did receive a call-up card. What annoys me is that I lost it. I’d like to have kept it and framed it.