Daddy Blogging is for "Losers"

I’ll be the first to admit that telling people, especially other men I was a daddy blogger brought on a flush of embarrassment. Granted part of this had to do with the fact I was more or less unemployed, and every post I spent an hour putting together carried with it the feelings of guilt associated with knowing this could’ve been an hour spent job hunting. I remember making small talk with some of the guys at my wife’s former employer during their Christmas party around a year and half ago. Invariably, this sort of clunky chit chat that occurs between sips of bottled beer wrapped in damp cocktail napkins includes two questions: “So, do you golf?” and, “What is it you do?”

Well, you see, I got this daddy blog, Mr. Potter.
Within the right group, wanting to know what someone does for a living can be a genuine means of getting to know one another. In this situation, however, such an inquiry was guy-code for, “How big is your pecker?” This is typical of douchey males whose large, salary-fueled egos are inversely proportionate to the size of their genitalia, and at the moment I stood smack dab in the middle of the largest concentration of douche bags this side of a Masengill production facility.

How exactly does one explain to the VP of an investment banking firm that your career consists of cranking out silly stories about being a stay-at-home dad? Well you see, I’ve got this daddy blog. Big future in blogging—real growth industry. 

With the myriad of options available to me, I chose something classic with a touch of mystery on the side. “I’m a writer.”

“Oh, a writer. I see.” He seemed almost impressed. “And what kind of writing? History? Politics?”

“Creative non-fiction.”

And here’s when the VP’s tone changed to that of a father disappointed his son decided to be an interpretive dancer instead of heart surgeon. “Creative non-fiction? What’s that?”

“Essays—opinions and observations on different topics.”


“Mostly parenting and fatherhood.”

The expression on his face told me I needed to check out the superfluous nipple that had somehow magically appeared on my forehead. Call me a social suicide bomber, but often when I’m in a conversation where I’m made to feel not good enough, I tend to lob out any ol' answer hoping something I say will reestablish my credibility. This is where I mentioned my regular writing gigs, my blog, and my upcoming book.

“A book? Is it a novel?”

“No, it actually based on my daddy blog.” High-pitched whistling. Big explosion. Textbook crash-n-burn executed flawlessly.

“Well, I’ll have to check that out. Now if you’ll excuse me.” Everything about his body language and departure signaled that he could only tolerate being in the presence of losers like gas station attendants, fast food servers, and Bachelor of Arts majors for so long. I think it’s safe to say dad bloggers just made the list.

In hindsight, I should’ve lied about my golfing prowess. You could be changing out tubs of expended salad topics on the buffet table at Golden Corral for a living, but with the right golf handicap, the fact that you’re making minimum wage is suddenly immaterial. To guys like the ones above, mad golfing skills can add a couple of inches to your pecker quicker than OD’ing on a bottle of ExtenZe. Unfortunately, those who’ve been on the fairway with me and have the bruises to prove it can attest to my shortcomings in swinging wood on 18 well-manicured holes. Cue slide whistle.

* * *

Fast forward to ten months. I’m sitting with several lawyers and businessmen when the topic of parenting comes up. I make a few comments on the matter which in turn leads to, “So, Ron what is it you do?” 

This time, rather than dance around the answer like coked-out Michael Flatley in a saloon full of trigger-happy cowboys, I mention my blog up front.

“A daddy blog. Is that like a mommy blog?” one of them asks.

“Mommy blogs. I’ve heard of those,” another chimes in.

“Yeah, mommy blogs—what exactly are those?” the third guy wants to know.

Hey gents, did I mention I have an eight handicap?

I answered their questions by first defining the term “mommy blogger” as a marketing reference used to categorize a particular niche demographic, not a gaggle of women with kids and internet access.

“Oh, I thought it was just a bunch of moms trying to sell crocheted tissue-box covers and bitchin’ about their husbands,” the attorney says.

Not quite. Then I gave everyone a quick rundown on what mom bloggers have accomplished over the past few years—negotiating major media deals, building ad networks, running marketing consultancies, influencing major brands, book deals, TV appearances, and the list went on. This seemed to get their attention.

“And so you’re doing this too, but as a dad?”

“Well, yes …sorta.” That last part warranted some explaining. “Dad’s aren’t at the level moms are. There’s a bit of a gap.” I went on to out some of why that was which then lead into sharing a few business models bouncing around in my head. Somewhere over the course of this I mentioned how Chevy has lent me cars to go traipsing around the country in, and my roles as a brand ambassador for Let’s Play (in conjunction with Dr. Pepper) and Carnival Cruise Lines.

“So lemme get this straight,” one of them asks. “Carnival just sent you and your family on a vacation to the Caribbean and all you had to do was write about it on your blog?”

I started grinning. “There were a few other things involved, but, yeah, that’s basically it.”

All of the guys stopped for a moment. Then one of the businessmen says—and I kid you not, “You know, I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a while now.”

Well, give me a shout when you do, buddy, and I’ll see if the people at ExtenZe would like to have you do a product review for them.

* * * 

So what was the difference in these two conversations? The difference was me and how I viewed daddy blogging and subsequently presented it to these other men who otherwise, could not have cared less. With my investment banker buddy, I talked of it as a creative endeavor—my writing pursuits. Among those other chaps, however, I spoke within the context of the business elements associated with parent blogging. 

Why the switch? Even though I put a lot of effort into blogging, the former business executive side of me kept me from taking what I was doing seriously. Sure, I picked up some paid writing jobs and got a book published, but none of this was going to yield the serious income needed to pay the bills. But, somewhere in between the two above situations I was struck with a blinding flash of the obvious: the real earning potential comes, not directly from a blog itself, but rather from the opportunities created as a result of that blog.

There are exceptions of course, but a key component to these few bloggers’ success is a high number of sustainable traffic, and face it dads, we don’t have that going for us. According to Blog Rank, of their list of the Top 50 Parent Blogs, only two are written solely by dads—Daddy Types and The Father Life. (There are two more that are co-written by couples.) Assuming their data is correct (and stats are always up for debate), then I’m going to make a broad leap and say that receiving large bags stuffed with cash from pay-per click campaigns and selling ad space isn’t in the stars for us dads.

What then is? Well, that’s the real question, but even more fundamental is what do we dads really offer to the parent blogging niche that differentiates us from the moms while still bringing added value to the table. I mean, if we don’t have the large audiences and the corresponding influence to go with it, then what do we have? (Don't anyone dare say a list of Top 25 Dad Blogs.) I have my own opinions here, but for the sake of discussion, I’m going to leave that question open to debate for readers.

Before I say anymore, I should probably clarify that not every dad out there with a blog cares about the business aspects of blogging, and so I don’t mean to unfairly lump them into this conversation. These guys blog purely because they enjoy their role as fathers as well as the opportunity to interact with other dads who feel the same. The one thing I will say, though, is that as I explore more of the business boundaries of blogging, this great bunch is a touchstone that keeps me mindful of why I started posting in the first place.

However, for those dads who view blogging as a profession in one way, shape or form, I’m curious as to where we’re headed with all of this. My concern (and that might be too strong of a word for it) is that in the wake of attention gained during the “Year of the Daddy Blog,” we dads could fail to capitalize on that momentum in YoDB + 1, and thus, end up being viewed as some form of anomalistic appendage to the mom blog marketing demographic rather than a separate, viable entity that enhances the community.

Granted, I might be off my rocker here (that happens a lot), but given the off-line conversations I’ve had with both moms and dads, there is more than enough consensus here to justify such thinking. It’s not enough (or in my view, professional) for us dad bloggers to thump our chests and demand that brands and marketers grant us their attention. Even if they do, at some point these companies and firms will want to see a return on their investment, and what will that be? 

So, on the eve of Mom 2.0, arguably the most serious business-oriented of the mom blogger conferences, where several dads including myself have been granted the opportunity to speak on such topics, these are the questions I am wondering about. Admittedly, there’s a part of me that’s somewhat intimidated to be entering into a dialogue with such an accomplished and savvy gathering of women who are having highly intelligent debates about what they are earning from and as a result of their blogs while we dads, as a whole, are still trying figuring out how to not just successfully monetize our blogs, but to also take advantage of larger possibilities that arise because of our blogs.

In the meantime, I keep having this reoccurring nightmare that halfway through the panel session I’m a part of, I inexplicably start talking about my golf game and then realize I forgot to wear pants. 

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