Because of Instagram’s annoying algorithm, some poor bugger might have ended up with this photo filling their feed six times over a few weekends ago. Six dads sitting in a London beer garden.
Despite appearances, this was not a meet-up of long lost friends. No, we’d never met each other, but there was good reason for this dad blind date. Let me explain…
As the editor of The FMLY Man and a blogger/instagrammer, I’m part of a small yet brilliant online dad community. This forms part of a much bigger parenting network, but if you ask any dad trying to carve out a little cyber profile for themselves, they’ll tell you that most of their followers are mums. But why? Is it because:
- We’d rather use our time online doing something else (I’m talking checking the sports news here, not anything blue)
- We’re just not into social media and blogging like the mums are?
- We don’t really care what other men (who let’s face it, are strangers) are up to – alpha male instincts kicking in and all that?
But for those dads who are throwing themselves into the online world, why do it? Is it because:
- We simply love writing?
- We need a creative outlet away from the 9-5 and the chaos of kids?
- We’re hoping to launch a little career on the side?
- Or, we’re simply looking to engage with likeminded dads?
Well, it’s possibly all of these, plus more, but for some clarity, I wanted to pick the brains of a few dads having varying online success and who were using the dad community for different reasons. Hence beers.
Joining me on that sunny Saturday afternoon, that quickly became late Saturday night (the sign of a good time) were:
- Giles (@youthedaddy) – a large Instagram following and dad blogger. Giles is regularly invited to events and has worked with some big brands. Could this be a full-time career for him?
- Tom (@unlikelydad) – a gay dad with an adopted son. He has a popular blog with growing social numbers (especially on Facebook). Surely the best back-story of all of us, so why was his blog and social numbers not stratospheric yet?
- Mark (@lemon_drop_books) – children’s author who also works with bereavement charities. I was interested to see how he uses Instagram and how dads can support Mark and others like him.
- Billy (@gooutsidethelines) – owner of a popular children’s print business. What more could he get from us dads online to possibly take his business to the next level?
- Connor (@dads_and_donts) – relatively new to blogging, but always engages with other dads online. I was interested to see how he was finding it all and did he have any grand plans.
- And then there’s me, Jamie (@adayinthelifedad) – award winning dad blogger (no, really) and editor of The FMLY Man.
Unfortunately, Greg (@london_dad) and Ben (@dulwich_dad) couldn’t make it. Greg has a huge following (I’m guessing second only to FOD in the UK) so it would have been good to understand his growth, and Ben runs an online store (@beyond_the_stork) – again, it would have been interesting to get his take on everything.
The drinks flowed, as did the chat as we covered everything from football to fashion and from babies to beer – basically, as cliche as it is, but throw a few like-minded men together for a few drinks, and a good time will be had. But, and here’s the crux of what I was trying to get from the day, whenever the conversation turned towards our blogging, social media and our online intentions, one word was continually used: ‘support’, or indeed lack of it. Whether it’s support of a social media post, a blog, a book, charity work or just a bit of (*cringes*) ‘banter’, we all agreed there’s a serious lack of it amongst the dads.
The mums on the other hand are absolutely nailing it online right now (ok, aside from the recent Instamum v Mumsnet spat). You don’t have to go far online to see them providing comfort when they see another mother having a hard time, encouragement for their latest blog/social media post, help with a leg up the publishing ladder, shouting about each other’s small businesses or attending events, workshops and mother meet-ups together. But as far as I can see, only a handful of dads do this.
We all came away from the day agreeing that for the dads who want to do well online, we should all do more to help each other. Let’s swallow our silly male pride and encourage each other whether it’s someone dipping their hairy toes into the blogging world for the first time and struggling as a new dad, or at the other end of the spectrum, their #daddingit tales are on the brink of a Hollywood blockbuster – we should all shout about each other a lot more.
Brilliantly, since that afternoon there’s been a noticeable difference to the dads I’m meeting online (that sounds like I’m using some dodgy dogging meet-up app). Perhaps it made it all look a bit more ‘normal’; six dads, drinking beer and simply enjoying each other’s company, not hidden away behind a laptop – take away all the crap about social engagement and SEO, and just meeting for some beers might be enough to boost this community. So many dads have said they’d love to attend the next meet-up which is amazing to hear, not just because it means another unhealthy flow of alcohol, but it’s confirmation that dads are ready to support each other a bit more.
Whatever we’re online for, we all have one thing in common, we’re dads. We’re all in the same Peppa Pig shaped boat, probably facing the same issues and fumbling our way through fatherhood. Let’s take the time to support each other, have each other’s back, like photos, engage in content, meet for beers, shout about each other blogs, business or whatever it is that needs shouting about, because in the crazy world of parenting, we could all do with a little bit more support, whether that’s online or in the real world.