On Dad Blogs Sucking, Perspective and Garden Gnomes

So, apparently a lot of people ignored my warning and read my off-kilter take on the Type A Mom Conference anyway. Now, I don’t necessarily consider myself a very perceptive individual, but I’m under the impression it touched a nerve based on the DM’s, Tweets, phone calls, emails, and comments I’ve received since hitting “publish” on Wednesday. (The people at Spanx, for one, are quite upset. “You, sir, are no Joe Namath,” expresses their position in succinct terms.)

Again, I’m not that too swift on the uptake, but there’s this itsy, bitsy, teeny, weenie, little part in the recap where I mention that someone, I won’t say who (his initials are …yeah me), blurts out something to the effect of 2010 not being the Year of the Daddy Blogger, after which, a bunch of dad bloggers put out some well-articulated posts addressing the claim. Coincidence right? Well, at least in one case, yes …sort of.

In a totally uncoordinated moment, Clay Nichols, who was also in Asheville this weekend, shared his candid thoughts ("Do Dad Bloggers Suck?") concerning CNN’s take on daddy blogging, Newsweek’s recent article on masculinity, and the disparaging claims made about dad blogs in the conference session. He was a little riled up (apparently Baby Bjoin makes a hot seat and I was in it), and hey, I don’t blame him. Clay and the DadLabs crew have been bustin’ ass demonstrating that dads are capable dudes in the world of diapers and teething. In fact, DadLabs is one of the positive examples of how to effectively use a social media platform to change misperceptions

Now, for a moment, let me go back to the session itself (“What Dad Bloggers Can Learn from the Moms”). Some feel I didn’t give my co-panelist Megan Jordan (Velveteen Mind) enough credit in the recap; so here’s the skinny.

What Ron did: Submitted panel idea. Showed up. Made slides. Hooked computer to projector. Clicked mouse. Introduced Megan. Offered supporting comment. Sipped on glass of water. Mentally pontificated on age old debate centering around the order of existence between chicken and egg. Thanked everyone for coming.

What Megan did: Everything else.

I’m not being patronizing. Megan gets all the credit for the concept (which was funny) and the message (which I fully agree with). I’m the one, though, who’s responsible for getting the session together and for the consequences in it’s aftermath. NEXT!

Back to my inflammatory remarks. Lemme ‘splain. No, ez too long. Lemme sum up.

2010 Is and Isn’t the Year of the Daddy Blogger
Yeah, political answer. (By the way, Jessica Smith still has her eyes on it this.) Is it the year we made our mark and firmly established ourselves? No. Is it the year we gained the attention needed to get the ball rolling to make our mark? Yes. This is something I purposely didn’t qualify in the panel, because it needed to be discussed. But in any case we should be looking at what’s the next step forward to definitely make that mark? See also Dad of Divas thoughts

Dad Bloggers Know Dad Bloggers Don’t Suck
I don’t think I need to list the plethora of incredibly written blogs by fathers focused on their roles (I’d point to my blogroll, but that got wiped out, thank you very much Blogger.) However, I think our male readership is… well, kind of inbred. There’s a general agreement that the majority of guys reading dad blogs are other dad bloggers. Backpacking Dad lays this out pretty well. Thus, we’re sort of preaching to the choir, and no, I don’t think other dads are going to read our blogs on their own volition.

Learn From The Moms
Prior to the Type A conference, I had an inkling of this, but after the first day of sessions …Holy Cheese Whiz on a Cracker! The ladies are doing all kinds of crap with their blogs, and not product reviews either (another topic unto itself). Something that always gets mentioned is dads working with brands and making money from their blogs. Sure that’s one way to do things, but there are other ways to use blogs as platforms for money-making endeavors, like say, advising local businesses on how to use social media effectively. But as JackB points out, we need to look the part too. (PS, I’m glad to share the slides from the session on building a media kit.) Hey, and just because a conference has "mom" in the name doesn't mean you can't go.

Before the conference, I asked some top dad bloggers, social media consultants and PR guys what they thought moms were doing right. The feedback was great, but Jason Avant’s (DadCentric) comment really popped.

“…one element of the mommy blogging community that goes unnoticed is its sheer diversity of content. Moms are writing about an incredibly wide range of topics; along with the classic "diarist" blogs, there are review sites, how-to sites (covering everything from website design to photography to work-life issues), pop culture and sports blogs written by and for moms, and even political sites. These writers aren't merely clich├ęd "mommies". Their community is brimming with intelligent, diverse, and sophisticated women - women who, by the way, happen to be mothers. More and more dad blogs are popping up, and our community would be better served if we recognized the value of having something original to say about being a dad. Yes, it's wonderful, we should all strive to be great fathers, "society" doesn't "appreciate" dads, we're so much more involved than our fathers were - we get it. Our community would benefit if more dads were blogging about other stuff that affects us as men, and not merely "dads". There's much more to writing about fatherhood - and being a father - than simply talking about how great it is to be a dad.”

I saw this first-hand at the conference. Here’s the thing, as mentioned earlier, dads probably don’t read dad blogs, so how do we reach them? Go to them with sites that engage other aspects of male identity and interests but from the point of view of a father. We can be dad bloggers or we, like many moms, can be dads who blog.

Working Together With Moms
This is close to the learning from the moms point, but I’m hitting this because, there are a bunch of issues out their in blog world that moms discuss all the time. Mostly it’s the business end, but we should know what they are and work with moms as parent bloggers if these issues are applicable. Product reviews and doing crap for free is a solid example. I’m not going to expound much more than to say it was thoroughly denounced at the conference. We dads need to know the value our blogs just like moms.

A few dads have hit the nail on the head with this fundamental step. I’ll point to DC Urban Dad who’s been saying this all over in comment sections the last couple days (JackB is another). So why do we do it? I don’t think there’s a wrong answer here. To express thoughts and meet other dads? Cool. To establish credibility as a subject matter expert? Great. To get writing gigs? I’m with ya. To change the negative image of fatherhood? (The DADvocate is a good example) I’m right behind you. Make millions? Good luck with that. Get a job? That’s exactly what I’m trying to do. Whatever the reason, if we know our blogs purpose, then it’s just a matter of going in that direction, so drive on.

And my final point…

Garden Gnomes Are Cool.

…well they are.

Okay, I’m done. (So much for “sum up.”) The reason I posted this was to explain a few things and provide a little perspective. Agree / Disagree? I'm fine either way because in the end this is just blogging. I've got more important thing to deal with right now--real life crap that will probably never end up on this site. And one last thing: not only am I slow, but I also don't take myself too seriously. I sure as hell am not going to start now. Not on a blog.

PS. Neither to these guys!

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