I Miss Being A Dad Blogger

I've come to a point in my life where for the first time I'm looking backwards more than I'm looking ahead. Maybe this has something to do with turning 41 last week. Maybe not. What's unclear to me is whether this is something normal that most men go through at a certain stage in their lives--the storied mid-life crisis--or is it just me. Whatever the reason, as I keep looking back in time I've realized I'm not happy in the present.

There's a lot I could go into with that statement--most of which I should probably tell a shrink. Essentially it comes to circumstances and believing that if they were different than they are now, or at least if they could be what they once were, then  I'll be okay again. It's a false hope, and staying on that road will only lead to a lifetime of never ending unhappiness. I know this, and yet, it still hard to fight thoughts the contrary.

While talking to my wife about it she finally asked the question I've found difficult to ask myself--What would make you happy?

"I don't know," I replied.

She helped me hobble through a list of possibilities that sounded reasonable, but that also felt impossible at the same time, like the book I've been working on ...that's stalled beyond its deadline. Again, I blamed circumstances--something about no time to write on the weekends anymore because of all the kids' social activities and whatnot.

It's funny, though. Of all the things my wife and I talked about that once did make me happy, being a regular dad blogger is one item I never would have guessed would be on my list. It used to be such a big part of my life, bigger than I realized at the time.

If that was the case, then why did I walk away from it? There were a few reasons. One, I was hired to work full time at my current job which meant giving up all of the writing gigs I was a part of. Two, I started feeling like my writing had turned stale compared to the fresh new dads who were coming onto the scene. Worse still, I felt my writing was contrived; it was becoming too easy to make myself look like some great dad when in reality I was becoming more distant from my children because of work.

Finally, and probably the biggest reason I quit, was that I didn't think I had anything more to say. My story had always been about being a stay-at-home to my stepdaughters while trying to find a way to reunite with my sons who lived hundreds of miles away. That story ended last May when the stars aligned, allowing us to leave Texas and be altogether as a family. The end.

But it's not the end. I just thought it was which is why I figured I wouldn't miss being a dad blogger anymore--one who posted on a regular basis, offered viable input to the community, and did what he could to support other bloggers. I thought that given my new set of circumstances I would be too busy to care. I'm starting to believe I was wrong.

As I stood in the shower this morning, it dawned on me that my story isn't over, it has only changed. There are new challenges to face--teaching my boys to be good men, helping my stepdaughters deal with being away from their father, and dealing with my own demons which have been raging more than usual.

Blogging once made me sit up and pay attention to what was happening in my life. Without it, I feel like life is drifting by unnoticed. I don't mean to sound dramatic, but I see now how essential blogging is for me. And when I talk about blogging, I mean the real stuff--stories, reflection, good writing, authenticity--not all the accolades  attention, events, and so forth. (Those things have their place, but it's not what it's about.)

Blogging means more to me than I've been willing to admit. I miss it, and I miss the community. As I've thought about this more throughout the morning, it's become evident that, despite present circumstances, I need to keep up with blogging if for nothing else than just myself.


How Dad Bloggers Can Keep Their Posts Alive on Facebook

Facebook. Whether it’s our personal profile, a page for our blog, or a dedicated community, most dad bloggers I know use it in some manner to get their blog posts out there. In marketing speak Facebook is a "content distribution channel," and getting our content in front of as many eyeballs as possible is, admittedly, what we all want.

A drawback with Facebook, however, is that in recent years it has limited the visibility of posts to our network of friends and page followers. Couple this with the fact that the life of an average Facebook post is less than 3 hours and you’ll realize that not as many people are seeing your posts as you might have hoped.

There are a few things you can do, though, to help increase the life span and effectiveness of what you share on Facebook in order to reach a greater audience. To do this it’s good to be familiar with two things about Facebook—how it’s algorithm works and how it “weights” different methods of sharing. 

EdgeRank and Weighting

Facebook’s algorithm set up is known as EgdeRank which basically determines what information is displayed and how high it is on a person’s newsfeed. Edgerank, as you can see in this infographic, is based on four factors:

1. Your past interactions in another person
2. Your interactions with a specific type of post (Link, status update, photo, etc.)
3. A network of people’s interaction with a specific post
4. The amount of complaints or negative feedback on a post

So for example, if someone frequently interacts with your posts, particularly photos, and a large number of other people interact with those posts without negative feedback, than that post (in this case a photo) will display higher on another person’s newsfeed and it will stay alive longer. Conversely, the less interaction it gets, the less likely it will appear in your network’s newsfeed if it appears at all. By the way, if you’re into stats you can check your Facebook Page’s EdgeRank using this tool.

The other Facebook quirk is the weight it places on various methods of posting. In other words, Facebook plays favorites when it comes to what you post and how you post it which ultimately determines how much of a life it has in a newsfeed. What do I mean?

If you share your blog posts to Facebook using a third party app such as RSS Graffiti then Facebook doesn’t place as much weight on the information as it would if you manually posted the link to your blog in a regular status update.  Even better than manual posts are photos which are more noticeable on the newsfeed and have been proven to last longer in a feed than even a manual posting. And if you really what to get some reach and more fans, for a few dollars a day you can pay for a promoted post through your blog’s dedicated Facebook Page.

A Few Effective Tactics

So how does this all translate into tips to make your blog posts beat the average shelf life? Right. Here’s a couple things:

Determine how and what you’re going to post: Are you going to go with a feed, a manual link, or something visual? You already know which of these methods Facebook prefers more. There’s nothing wrong with doing all three. I actually do this by scheduling the posts out over a period of time. First, I post a picture associated with a blog post (400 x 400 pixels displays best). Then I place the link in the comments section below during a time of day I know (based on stats and previous experience) when most of my network is on Facebook. Later I will manually post the link, and finally, I set my RSS feed setting to automatically post my blog at a different time. By far the picture gets more play, but the other posts don’t do so poorly either. (You can see a few examples of this on my own page.)

Maximize engagement: Based on the above, engagement has been proven as the ultimate key to a long lasting Facebook post. It’s okay to ask people to Like, Comment, and Share posts. Everyone in the dad blog community recognizes we are trying to promote our work to build an audience and asking for a little help is okay.  One tactic for increased engagement is to post a photo with a link to your blog on your timeline and then to share it on a community page (if the rules permit) or your blog’s Facebook Page asking for Likes and Shares. All that engagement will get the post some high placement in newsfeeds.

Get a Facebook Page for your blog: If you don’t already have one then it’s a good idea to get one. I know it might seem like more work, but you’re missing out on a potential audience that may only be interested in your writing and not in what you had for dinner last night. Having a page also gives you some analytics that can help in knowing when and what to post. Plus you can do a few other extra things like “pinning” a post to the top of your page so it’s the first thing they see on a visit. (At some point I can share some tactics on how to build a Facebook Page audience if anyone is interested.)

These are just a few tactics I’ve advised clients to use that have thus far proven effective. Try these out on your own to see what works for you. Don’t hesitate to ask me to Like, Share, and Comment on your stuff either. Also, I don’t profess to be a know-it-all so if you have other tips please feel free to share with the group. 


Hookers, Line, and Sinker

I want to take a moment to talk about hookers. Did he just say—yes I did. Specifically I want to talk about my personal experiences which, believe it or not, are quite extensive (and no, not in the way you’re thinking). You may be asking what does this have to do with being a father. Well, it might sound like a stretch, but I intend to eventually pass these stories along to my sons to help them avoid such awkward situations later in life and to my stepdaughters so they don’t go down this road because of any daddy issues I may have caused. Think of it as a twisted take on How I Met Your Mother.

I could probably start off any number of over a dozen encounters with hookers such as the Lady Marmalade knock-offs at that dive joint near the San Antonio airport or the country girl in Tahoe who claimed she needed a place to stay because her truck had broken down—and don’t even get me started about my time living in the Far East! Instead, I’ll begin in my mid 30’s when I was between marriages and living the life of a well-to-do bachelor. (My wife refers to this time as my...

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