During my first ten years of stay-at-home fatherhood, I never once had any intention of starting a “Dad” blog. The thought simply never crossed my mind.
Yes, I was always intent on writing a book to share my story, but it wasn’t until I had already finished Dad@Home: Fully Domesticated when a publishing agent that told me I had to rapidly expand my online profile if I wanted to secure a book deal. So, on April 11, 2016 I dove headfirst into the wide world of online writing with my very first blog post:
The original point of Dad@Home was to introduce myself to the world and prepare the general public for the “much anticipated” launch of my masterwork of non-fiction, set to be published by late 2016.
Well, as a tool to push sales, this blog would have to be considered a colossal failure.
The three articles that specifically advertised my book are quite literally my least read posts by a huge margin – with 14, 16 and 18 total views respectively. I learned pretty quickly that people who followed my blog weren’t looking for a salesman…
They Were Looking For a Storyteller
Over time, Dad@Home has transformed into a very effective forum to share stories that are actually relevant to my life. So, in the months that followed my book release, I abandoned the blatant sales tactics and started writing about issues that mattered to me, funny anecdotes about my life at home, and sometimes… articles that had absolutely nothing to do with being a stay-at-home Dad.
I’d write about my big day in traffic court taking on the “system”, or how I gained too much weight and need a new workout regime. Other times, I’d pen a sad goodbye to my longtime “companion” – my Subaru. And then you might see a truly random post about how I now need a hearing aid. Ultimately, the subject matter of my stories truly has been all over the map.
There were also multiple articles that simply mirrored my social media accounts. Those were the posts about our fun-filled family vacations, my annual Christmas letter or personal milestones like me turning 50-years-old and officially entering my senior years. At times I’d struggle to find content to fill my monthly quota, so I’d ask my faithful readers for story ideas. But quite often, stuff happened… or rather, LIFE HAPPENED and voilà – the next story would almost write itself.
Some of my Most Popular Posts Were About Stuff That Happened With My Kids
Being a stay-at-home Dad for the past 17+ years has meant I’ve spent considerably more time with my kids than the average father. That’s been great for our relationship, but the major fringe benefit is: MORE CONTENT for my book and blog!
When I look at the total clicks of my 74 published articles, some of the most viewed were stories about the trials and tribulations of raising kids. Other popular ones included the more offbeat parenting tales, like the day Daniel shadowed me for “take your kid to work” day, or the story of Abby’s bumpy road to getting a driver’s license.
Two of my most popular posts in the last five years are stories of my failings as a father. The remarkably similarly named “Was I a Bad Dad?” and “Am I a Bad Dad?” both got a boatload of views and I think I know why. I truly believe parents want to know they’re not alone when they occasionally screw up. Personally, the last thing I want to read about is some braggart telling the world how great his life is… or how great a parent he is… or how perfect his kids are. What are people supposed to take away from that? Life is messy. I am far from perfect. I think my blog that reflects that.
I tend to shy away from the truly emotional or sad moments we have shared as a family, but I have made an exception. We’ve had some bad luck with losing our beloved family pets over the past few years, and I still get a little choked up when I read “A Tail of Two Kitties“, where I detail how we all dealt with a very unexpected farewell to Duff the cat. That story was actually very difficult to write!
Surprise, Surprise! Over the Past Year, I’ve Been Writing A LOT About Living With COVID-19
In fact, since the first lockdown hit over 13 months ago, I’ve written five articles on how the pandemic has affected our happy little household. Is that overkill? Maybe, but as a good citizen who has actually been following the guidelines and protocols set by the various levels of government, there were long stretches of time when I rarely left the house! What else was I supposed to write about? And besides, people were actually reading those stories! “Dad-No-Longer@Home: How Our World Has Changed Four Months After The Lockdown!” is my third most popular post with almost 500 views.
And speaking of views, I am completely floored as to how many countries around the world Dad@Home has reached. Yes, a VAST majority of the clicks come from Canada and the United States, but whenever I check out the stats that wordpress provides on where my readership comes from, I find that another obscure country pops up in the map! Hello Guernsey!
When I wrote a post about the one-year anniversary of Dad@Home, I marveled that I had readers in 27 countries. Well, as of today I have views from 76 countries from all four corners of the globe… from Chile, to Switzerland, to Malaysia, to Kenya, to New Zealand. Is that actually five corners? Sorry. In any event, I’m proud to have a “global reach“, even if my total all-time views are less than 12,000 clicks over the past five years. Hey! Nobody said my blog was well read. I just hope it’s well written.
I Always Hoped One of my Articles Would go VIRAL! Well, One of Them Finally Did… (Kind of)
Just a couple of months ago, I posted a story about how one of my very ordinary, not particularly well-read articles from two years ago suddenly became an overnight sensation. “Are Stay-at-Home Dads HAPPIER Than Stay-at-Home Moms?” had only 78 views in the month it was published back in April 2019. Fast-forward to today and it has over 650 views (and counting). I literally get multiple clicks on this article every day of the week and I still have no idea why.
Last month it overtook my previous number one article of all time “If I can do it…” which was just the second blog post I published WAY back in April 2016 (and the first one that I really pushed online for views). I’m not complaining, as every blogger craves that “evergreen” content that brings in new views from old posts. But again… if anyone has any idea why my two-year old story is now the number one Google result when people type in, “are stay-at-home dads happy?” I’d love to hear your theories.
What is the FUTURE for Dad@Home?
When I launched this wordpress website, I didn’t know how long I would keep it going after I published my book. I thought I’d maybe utilize it for half a year to sell a few more copies and try to keep the excitement of the launch at a fever pitch. When sales of Dad@Home: Fully Domesticated fizzled almost immediately, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to pen another book… EVER. But after a few months, I found that writing this monthly blog became something that I actually looked forward to. It became an outlet for my creativity. It became a place to vent and a place to make people laugh. It became a part of my routine. It became a part of me.
Once my kids have both graduated high school and are out of the house, will I still be “Dad@Home”?
I’ve already started working part-time and there will come a time when I’ll be looking for full-time employment. That will mean significantly less time for me to maintain this blog. That will also mean my primary source of new material: ME BEING AT HOME – will vanish! So, I don’t really know what the long-term future of this particular online writing space holds, but I do know this:
I will always find a way to keep writing, creating and publishing my stories in some way, shape or form. In the past five years, I’ve written well over 120,000 words and if I’ve learned anything – it’s that once you start blogging, it can be really hard to stop.