I began writing a blog in November of 2011. Most of what I write is laced with self-deprecatory humor or bogged down in convoluted language as a desperate attempt to philosophize parenting in its many facets. For me, blogging is part therapy, part hobby.
I also write the odd serious piece that reminds me I still have a long ways to go in figuring out just how to thrive as a mother rather than merely survive, as I sometimes find myself doing. I usually ask my husband, the other co-parent in this gig called 'raising four kids and living to tell the tale,' to read my essays prior to each post. Most times, he reads the stories I tell with interest because this is when he truly gets to hear about my day. I would sooner write than talk. He often finds out the funny things that Little One said at bedtime or the wacky, crazy parts of my day job as he is sitting at the computer table, reading my latest work. Meanwhile, I am the sidekick editing/revising beside him as he reads.
Recently, I asked him if he would read the kinds of stories I tell if he a) did not know me, b) did not help to pro-create the children in these stories or c) wish to find out what kind of mood I am in before I arrive in bed. To this list of options, he countered with this reply: He would probably not actively seek out and read material such as I write for my blog because it really is not the kind of hard news/informational text he prefers to read.
In other words, no. He would not.
So, this got me thinking, why not? And if my guy is a non parenting-blog reader (actually, he is a non-blog reader across the board), I wonder if there are more men of like mind? Turns out, there just might be. So then, why do men generally avoid reading parenting blogs? Men may not find a parenting blog written by a woman to be of continuing interest (due to content and topics), but there are blogs written on parenting by men. Which further begs the question, in light of the fact that there are male-authored parenting blogs, why are there not more men reading parenting blogs written by men?
So as to find some answers on this very complex and compelling topic, I turned to this article written by a dad blogger. Backpacking Dad, otherwise known as Shawn from Silicon Valley, writes a blog about hiking, camping, nature and the outdoors, but he also tells a few tales in between about his kids. Thus making this blog a dad-blog.
Shawn says men will read dad blogs when dad bloggers start writing as though their audience is male. According to him, most of a dad-blog's readership are female primarily because they have "dad' in the title of their blog which implies they are writing about parenting which further implies to an online audience he's a sensitive guy. And I guess the assumption is made sometimes that only sensitive guys who care about parenting read/write blogs. Shawn asserts that women read dad blogs to find out about parenting from a guy's perspective. The reason most men don't read dad blogs is somewhat of a mystery, but it could have to do with the fact that men are not really as interested in finding out another guy's perspective on parenting so much as a woman might be.
Another article that also shed some light on this topic was written by Daddy Clay at DadLabs Blog, but it was a comment found below this piece that caught my attention. Jason from Dad Centric says this in response to Daddy Clay's question, "Do Dad bloggers suck?":
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. Perhaps the reason that so many dadblogs aren't attracting dad readers is that they are speaking AT dads, and not TO them.
In getting back to my original statement, that my husband does not read parenting blogs written by female or male bloggers and figuring out why this might be, I am left with this conclusion: my husband does not read blogs in general for the same reasons I don't read science fiction or regularly watch the Discovery Channel. The latter are not genre choices that I prefer. Furthermore, it just so happens that in our household, the male prefers hard news stories and the female prefers soft-news. We both like getting the information, but how we like it delivered to us is different. We prefer different genres of writing and different methods of news delivery. I prefer to read a more reflective piece of writing than something taken directly from a newswire; my husband wants just the facts, ma'am.
Parenting bloggers sometimes attract readers who enjoy human interest/soft news type stories. It happens to be that blog readership is more often than not of the female variety. I read a few mommy blogs, and I just recently discovered the world of daddy blogs. What makes me want to read more of this genre is good writing, interesting, relevant content and the blogger's ability to make emotional connections with their readership. The biggest draw for me is when I feel like I am getting to know the person writing the blog, as blogs are often conversational and informal. They lend themselves to forming a community. This is something I am look for in the essays I read online.
So, if dads who are bloggers are concerned that there are not more dads who share their blogging passion, I say accept that some readers who are reading might generally be more interested in soft news stories. Or are at the very least looking for this type of story when they read a parenting blog. And if that means drawing an audience that is largely female, so be it. If men are truly interested in making larger connections to a male audience, then perhaps blogging is not the way to go. There are other genres of writing that may attract a more male-oriented readership.
In the end, writers must ask themselves why they are blogging in the first place, whether they be moms or dads, male or female: is it to write for your selected genre or is it to attract a certain gender of readership? If you write well, you will draw readers. I just don't think daddy bloggers have to get so hung up on the fact that woman are their primary readership.
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