Behind the blog

Behind the Blog #2 – featuring Diary of the Dad

No one could call me hasty when it comes to getting things done. Some people, if they were in a spiteful frame of mind, might suggest I was ‘tardy’ as they say in the US of A.

Yes, it’s been three months since I posted the first in my, so far very occasional, series Behind the Blog.

So this month (let’s see if I can keep this up every month eh?) I am delighted to have been chatting with Tom Briggs who writes as Diary of the Dad about life with his sons Dylan and Xander and his wife/best friend Kate.

He’s also one of the founders of the Love All Dads podcast so do check that out.

And finally he’s just gone freelance so if you have any work leads do let him know!

Name: Tom Briggs

Blogging as: Diary of the Dad

Since: September 2010

Tom aka Diary of the Dad

Me: You’ve been blogging for five years now. Why did you start blogging, why have you stuck with it, and what have been the main changes in that time?

Tom: I started because I wanted to keep a record of the things my first son, Dylan, got up to. I also wanted to write a book about being a dad and thought it was a good way of piloting material. I still haven’t got round to writing the book – and doubt I ever will! – but the blog has really come into its own and I love writing it.

I’ve mostly stayed true to the original style – namely trying to be funny while banging on about things Dylan and Xander do – but I’ve branched out to include reviews and sponsored posts. My sponsored posts are in the same ‘voice’ as my other content, but I try to sound like I know what I’m talking about in reviews!

Me: I seem to take a long time to write something I’m happy with. Do you plan your posts or simply bash something out when the mood takes you?

Tom: Definitely the latter! I sort of plan posts in my head and often know the posts I want to write a week or two in advance, but all attempts to plot them in a chart have fallen by the wayside. I’m hoping to go pro with the blog soon though, so I may have to become a little more disciplined with my planning.

Me: So in terms of quality versus quantity is writing anything better than having big gaps in your posting schedule? And do you have tips for the dreaded writer’s block?

Tom: I don’t like having big gaps in my posting schedule. It annoys me if I go a week without publishing something – especially when other bloggers seem to manage to post every day. I’m quite lucky with avoiding writer’s block, but one thing I do if I’m short of ideas and want to post something is to look at what I’ve tweeted about over the previous week – there’s normally something that one of the boys has said or done that I’ve found funny enough to tweet about that can form the nucleus of a post.

Me: Some bloggers add lots of photos to their posts but I notice you don’t often use many. Is that deliberate or just because they can be so time-consuming? And do you think it matters to your readers?

Tom: It’s mainly a time thing, to be honest. I’m not a bad photographer and have a decent SLR camera but, by the time I’ve written a post, edited it and proofed it and done the SEO, I often don’t have the time to go and get the perfect shot. I actually managed to go a whole year without using pictures when I first started and it did me no harm as I somehow won an award! I think they’re important though and can definitely make the difference between someone reading your post and another number in the bounce rate column, so I try to include at least one per post now.

Me: You’re one of the top ten dad bloggers in the UK! I know there are only eleven of us but it’s still quite an achievement (only kidding). Do you worry about rankings and do you have any tips for other bloggers on how to grow a readership?

Tom: Ha! I don’t worry too much about rankings, but it’s definitely nice being in the top ten. I need to practice what I preach with this (time has been a major issue for me in the last year) but commenting on other people’s blogs, joining in with linkys, putting yourself out there on social media and getting involved in online conversations are all helpful here.

Me: As more dads take up blogging do you think events like Brit Mums Live could do more to attract and include dads?

Tom: They could definitely do more to attract dads as the numbers at conferences are never truly representative of the parent blogging community. Changing the name to be non-gender specific would be a good start, but that’s never going to happen. They could invite more dad bloggers to be panellists alongside the mums. I’ve spoken at BritMums Live twice and both times I was on a male-only panel. Integration would help as that’s what we want.

Me: Like many bloggers you do occasional reviews for brands. Do you think bloggers can be successful without doing reviews? 

Tom: Yes, definitely. Some of the leading parent blogs out there don’t include any at all (that I’ve seen anyway) so it’s possible to get a large readership without working with brands. Some bloggers include a lot of reviews and sponsored posts but I’m not going to knock that as times are hard and it’s a good way of bringing some extra money in. That said, it can be hard to read something where the balance is tipped too much in the way of brands.

Me: There are new blogs starting every day. Added to that all the tweets and IG statuses and emails we all get bombarded with. Do you think there are simply too many blogs? Is there any point in someone new starting a blog now?

Tom: There’s every point in people starting blogs if they want to. Everybody’s got their own way of telling their stories and most parent bloggers I know started blogging for themselves and their families. If they enjoy writing posts they’ve already got something out of the experience and that’s something that definitely keeps me going on times when I write something I’m really proud of but that nobody seems to read!

Me: The mainstream media recently flagged the risks of people posting photos of their children online. Do you think this is just another media panic? What decisions have you made around privacy for your family?

Tom: I try not to include too many pictures of the boys but have put their names on the blog, so they’re out there on the internet forever now, but I think if we employ common sense and limit the information that we put out there (as well as being responsible parents offline) the risk can be massively diminished. The fact is, there are risks everywhere these days and we can’t live in fear of them otherwise we’d never leave our homes. It’s a question of finding the right balance.

I’m guarded in terms of what I say about them too as they’re going to read my posts one day and I want them to still like me. There have been some things I’ve been really tempted to write about but have decided that, while they won’t do any harm in the short term they could upset them when they’re older. I’m also going to dial down the amount of content I write specifically about the boys as they grow up.

Me: You’re a founding member of the Love All Dads podcast. Do you think all bloggers need to branch out into audio or video or can a blog based around writing still be enough?

Tom: I think writing a blog can be more than enough, but it’s nice to branch out a bit and I really enjoy doing the podcast – even though we talk absolute rubbish most of the time! I’m also looking to start vlogging a little more, but we’ll see how that goes!

Me: Finally, after your debut single ‘Please Vote for Diary of the Dad’ in May have you had the call from Simon Cowell yet? And will there be a follow up or are you a one hit wonder?

Tom: Ha! No, I haven’t had a call from him which is just as well as I’d tell him what I think of what he’s done to the music industry and that probably wouldn’t help my burgeoning music career at all. Maybe I ought to go down the one hit wonder route…

Big thank you to Tom for letting me interview him. If you’d like to be next do drop me a line:

The Twinkle Diaries

6 replies »

  1. I love these type of interviews. I completely agree that there is lots of room in blogging. I believe that you should blog for yourself anyway. You shouldn’t blog to get more readers or to increase your stats. If you do, then you can lose the ethos of your blog. A fab post. Hugs Mrs H xxxx #TwinklyTuesday

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  2. It’s a crying shame that Tom’s ‘Please Vote for Diary of the Dad’ hasn’t soared to the top of the download charts. DotD is always a good read, and part of the charm of the LADs podcast is that they don’t take themselves too seriously – it’s like listening in on four mates down the pub.

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