• The Rise of the Parent Bloggers 29 August 2017 | View comments

  • Written by Kirsty Nicholls

    We’ve all done it. A blog post has popped up on our Facebook timeline and we’ve had a quick squiz. Before we know it, it has absorbed us. It describes exactly how we’re feeling using words that we haven’t been able to find ourselves. So we hit “like” and share, share and share some more. And realise that we’re as normal as normal can be. Or at least, that there are other mums and dads out there who are just as weird as us.

    ohn Adams started Dad Blog UK a week before his second daughter was born in response to the “lazy sexism” he experienced as a stay at home dad. “It can’t just be me who finds it annoying,” he says. “When I’m out with the children, people often assume I’m babysitting. The nurse asked for my wife when I took my daughter for her inoculations. So my blog supports other dads who are made to feel out of place as the main carer.” John is now the UK’s top dad blogger and his writing has taken him on adventures galore. He recently found himself interviewing actor Steve Carrell and in his blog laments the fact that “I was still wearing the clothes I wore for the school run: an old pair of navy shorts missing a button.” We’ve all found ourselves in “parent clothes” at the wrong moment, right?

    John is now working with four other dad bloggers to reach a combined readership of 1.2 million. The parent blogosphere is a busy space. Directory of UK parent blogs Tots100 has more than 8,000 members. To stand out in such a saturated market requires careful planning. “Research is everything,” reveals successful blogger Beth Macdonald. Beth is Managing Editor of Career Girl Daily, which offers life improvement and career advice to young women. Although it was only established 3 years ago, it already reaches a global monthly audience of 1.5 million. The company is now sharing its know-how with other wannabe bloggers through new book, The Ultimate Blog Plan. “Make sure you look at what your audience is reading and what your competitors are publishing,” she advises. “You need to create a unique voice full of personality. We put together a spreadsheet every week, picking out statistics to analyse how each of our articles has performed and why.”

    Slummy Single Mummy writer Jo Middleton could also host a masterclass in blogging. Winner of numerous awards and named Top Mummy Blogger 2017, she has been writing Slummy Single Mummy for 8 years after leaving a job in fundraising and marketing. “I took a leap of faith into the world of freelance journalism,” she says. “My blog started out as a marketing tool to showcase my writing. Now I’m approached to write advertorials and sponsored posts. It was a gradual process, but the balance tipped towards it being my main source of income.” Many a blogger’s dream is to write full time, but producing content is only part of the job. “My friend is a teacher, and so many of his students want to be bloggers,” says Dad Blog UK’s John Adams. “That isn’t as simple as it might sound, though. You need skills in videography, photography, social media management and feel confident about search engine analytics too.” And freelancing isn’t a walk in the park either. “You need to ask whether it would matter to you if you didn’t earn a penny one month,” says Laura Crichton, creator of Edinburgh with Kids. “If you’re in a position where a regular income isn’t a necessity, then blogging would be an amazing career.”

    By day, Laura Crichton is a secondary school teacher. She was inspired to start her blog after reading and then writing for a site that she admired. The positive feedback she received sealed the deal and Edinburgh with Kids was born. “I want people to get a happy vibe from my blog,” she says. “It’s positive and thought-provoking. I’m hopefully offering a different kind of support, writing about this amazing city and all of the things there are to do here.” Hearing from people who have visited a place or tried an activity off the back of a photograph she has shared is the icing on the cake. Fellow Edinburgh blogger Caroline Blair also loves meeting people who enjoy reading her work. “I met a friend of a friend in the park who knew me from my blog. She said my posts really resonate with her and that felt great.” Blogging is a labour of love for Caroline, creator of Finding Mum. “I post about activities that I probably wouldn’t normally go to, and have brilliant new experiences with my son. I make free vodcasts about local businesses because I love filming and editing. It’s something for me.”

    Caroline views Finding Mum as a hobby rather than a commercial venture. For many parents, simply the opportunity to write and share their thoughts is valuable enough. Jennifer Anderson recently launched Positive Mind Positive Mummy, an honest blog about living with postnatal depression. She hopes that by talking publicly about her experiences, she’ll help others who are in the same boat. “I was talking to one of the mums at the school gate and mentioned my postnatal depression. Because I had been honest, she admitted that she had some of the same feelings. So I decided to talk openly about my postnatal depression, so other mums know it is okay to not be okay.” As well as helping her readers, she has found that her blog has helped loved ones to better understand her. “I am very close to my mum and although she knew how I was feeling I don’t think she truly understood,” says Jennifer. “So mum is enjoying reading things that I didn’t feel like I could speak to her about. My partner is the most supportive person I could ask for however he too is able to learn things about me that he didn’t know.”

    According to Wordpress, over 409 million people are reading blogs every month. It’s inevitable that your friends, acquaintances, family and colleagues will be among them, so deciding what to put into the public sphere can be tricky. “I’m not much of an over-sharer, because I teach secondary boys,” says Laura Crichton of Edinburgh with Kids. “Once the students found my Twitter feed and thought they might discover something juicy. They soon lost interest when they saw my latest tweet was about a museum visit.” Each and every one of us has a digital footprint and most don’t want their babies’ every vomit and nappy explosion to become googleable. But how about our own misdemeanours? “Some bloggers purposely overshare and play on it to create a public persona,” says Laura.”But did they really feed their children fish fingers straight from the freezer? Probably not.” Slummy Single Mummy blogger Jo Middleton says she’ll use her blog to confess to hiding dirty dishes in the cupboard, but never push for a laugh at the expense of her children. “My children were 7 and 14 when I started the blog, so I’ve always written in the knowledge that they might read it.” Caroline Blair had a frank and honest chat with her friends and family when she launched Finding Mum. “I felt I should reassure them that I’d never communicate my thoughts or feelings to them personally through my blog,” she recalls. “I’d never want them to read a post and think it’s a thinly veiled message to them. I have found that it gives them a heads up if I’ve had a bad week though, or helps them to better understand some of my experiences. Blogging has been a hugely positive experience.”

    Photo copyright Freepick.com

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