Parenting is hard work. As is blogging. So being a parent blogger is doubly hard. I can’t speak to what it’s like to be a blogging mother but here are five reasons it’s tough to be a dad blogger – and five reasons I do it anyway.
According to Tots100, just 8% of their 8,000-plus members are dads. Glance at their January 2016 rankings and you will see that only two of their top 100 are male. (I’m number 104, if you’re interested. I’m also number 104 even if you’re not interested.)
At the annual parent blogging conferences, the percentage is closer to 1%. There were 11 male bloggers out of over 700 delegates at BritMums Live last June and four at Blogfest in November.
Let me be clear, this is not a whinge. Mums form the majority of parent bloggers for a host of good reasons. I’m okay with that. It’s merely a reversal of what women still contend with in many walks of life even today.
Being part of a small and under-represented minority can be challenging – but it can also be a lot of fun. So here are my five reasons why it’s tough to be a dad blogger in what is predominantly a mum’s world – and five reasons why it’s brilliant.
Why it’s tough to be a dad blogger
1. A smaller natural audience
It’s human nature for us to be drawn to other people with whom we associate closely.
Mums are more likely to be drawn to the blogs of other mums – which creates a natural audience – than they are to ones written by someone with a Y chromosome. Consequently dads, being in the minority as both writers and readers of parenting blogs, face an uphill struggle. That’s not a complaint. It’s just the way it is.
2. PRs and brands think you’re a mum
I have lost count of the number of times an email from a PR has dropped into my inbox that opens with the salutation, ‘Dear Mum’. Or issued a brief that talks about ‘mums’ rather than ‘parents’. Or even offered the opportunity to review female sanitary products. (Not that that stopped John aka DadblogUK creating a unique review of said products himself.)
It can be quite dispiriting at times to feel so invisible.
3. Blogging conferences are scary
Picture BritMums Live last year. 11 men, mostly huddling in a corner and surrounded by women fuelled by the double-whammy of free Chardonnay and being child-free. You can smell the fear, can’t you?
And you thought Christians versus Lions was a tough match-up …
4. If you win anything, it smacks of tokenism
If 8% – one in 12 – of parent bloggers are male, the law of averages suggests that having one male (Julian from Northern Dad) out of the 12 winners at last year’s BritMums Brilliance in Blogging awards is exactly as expected.
I’m not for one second questioning the fairness of the judging process – Julian was a fully deserving winner of Best Writer as he’s one of the most consistently funny bloggers I know – but while men remain such a small proportion of the parent blogging world, some will always suspect that a sole male winner is the beneficiary of positive discrimination. That’s unfair on all concerned.
5. Even other dads look down on you
I sometimes see mums complain that people bandy around the term ‘mummy blogger’ as if that designates them as a second-class citizen or something unpleasant they’ve just found on the bottom of their shoe.
It’s just as bad for dad bloggers, if not worse.
Non-blogging mums eye you with suspicion, assuming you are some kind of predator lurking on the Netmums forums hoping to pounce on (a) vulnerable women or, worse still, (b) their children.
And do fellow dads show male solidarity? Do they heck. To some, you’re a girly wuss. Why would you be writing about your family and your feelings when you could be drinking ten pints down the pub and leering at women in nightclubs? Real men don’t blog.
Why it’s great to be a dad blogger
You might think that any or all of the above would be more than enough to drive any dad blogger to hang up his keyboard. But it isn’t.
Actually, it’s great being a dad blogger.
1. Yes, it can be difficult finding an audience. But good writing and persistence will always find a readership. And as one of a small number of dad bloggers it’s easier to carve out your own unique perspective on parenting.
2. Yes, PRs forget you or think you’re a mum. But at the same time, an increasing number are embracing dads too. And when you’re one of a relatively small number, if brands bother to look you’re easy to find.
3. Yes, it can be daunting to be in such a small minority at blogging conferences. But you’re easy to spot in a crowd and I’ve never felt excluded at a blogging event – quite the contrary, in fact.
4. Yes, some people will think that male award winners are the beneficiaries of tokenism. That’s their problem. Dads don’t win many awards – but when they have you can see exactly why they’ve won: on merit.
5.Yes, you’re considered a curiosity by some dads and looked down on by others. But in reality they’re just a vocal minority. And so what? I don’t write for them. I write for me and that’s all that matters.
It’s for all of these reasons that I will keep blogging away because being a parent blogger – whether you’re a dad or a mum – is, in so many ways, its own reward.