A new tribe has formed, and they’re taking over cyberspace: meet the parent bloggers.
ime was, if you had something of importance to say you could either write to the letters page of The Times, or tell ’er next door over the garden fence. Not so any more. These days we can, and frequently do, bestow our most esoteric musings upon the world at the click of a button. We tweet them, we paste them as our Facebook statuses, and, if we are so minded, we set up an entire blog devoted to our particular passion, whether it be crochet, gardening, or Celtic weaponry of the early Medieval period.
I’ve been spending a bit of time in the blogosphere recently (yes, really, blogosphere) and it’s a fascinating, if somewhat bewilderingly populous, place. There really are blogs on pretty much everything you can possibly think of (and quite a few things that you would definitely never have thought of). But there is one group of people who are particularly widespread: the blogging parents. It’s surprising, in a way – you might have thought that the kings and queens of this relatively new territory would be twenty years younger, but no – it’s the mums and dads, with their tales of domestic disaster and heart-warming triumph, who dominate.
And, I suppose, there are good reasons for this, when you think about it: in an average family one parent is usually at home looking after the kids, at least some of the time, and those parents are often looking for an alternative way of making a living – and potentially feeling a little isolated into the bargain.
Keith Kendrick, author of The Chronicles of a Reluctant Housedad, was made redundant last year and became a stay-at-home parent to his three children, while his wife went back to work. “I started writing my blog partly to chart my journey from employee to housedad, partly to vent my frustrations, party to connect with a like-minded community, but mainly to showcase my writing in the hope that it would lead to freelance work.”
While some are looking for work, other blogs are the result of a more specific interest: Bianca Wessel, founder of childrenswear blog, Little Scandinavian, found that her passion for children’s clothes and furnishings, sparked by her two daughters, led naturally to an outlet in blogging. “I have a genuine interest in design for children, and people would ask me questions on the subject. The blog was set up to share my finds and knowledge.”
For Jessica Clark, model, and author of maternity-wear blog Mumzy Not, blogging came about out of personal need. “When I became pregnant, I couldn’t find any pregnancy fashion or style blogs. I wanted to know all the latest trends and where to buy maternity clothes, and I didn’t want pregnancy to change my sense of identity. I felt that there was a real need for a blog like this and I thought, ‘why not do it myself?’”
With several platforms available (such as the popular WordPress and Blogger), that jump from ‘why not?’ to actually setting up a blog is almost too easy – at the click of a few buttons you can be sharing your innermost thoughts and personal struggles with a potential audience of billions (though, of course, most blogs don’t have quite that many readers). And more and more people are doing it.
Last month Mumsnet set up a Bloggers Network, to provide a platform for parents who blog. The Mumsnet Bloggers Network seems like a natural extension of their hugely popular parenting forums, and, with blog-heavy news site, The Huffington Post, also having launched in the UK last month, it’s further evidence of blogging’s march across the boundary from internet niche, into the mainstream.
What’s in it for the bloggers, though, apart from providing an opportunity to indulge their interests and get their parenting frustrations off their chests? Well, in addition to the moral support and sense of community that most bloggers report, both Keith and Bianca have found that blogging has led to paid writing work, and Jessica is planning to develop her own range of maternity wear. Successful blogs can also draw advertisers, though that will mean attracting enough visitors to your blog to make it worth their while. This is possible, though, as Bianca found with Little Scandinavian. “Within a month I had more than a hundred readers a day, within three months I had more than a thousand, and I was voted one of the top twenty kids style blogs in the world.”
So, if you have a business to promote, or a specialist subject to wax lyrical about, or even just an urge to write, then perhaps you should jump on the blogging bandwagon? As Bianca says: “Things move quickly in the blogosphere – that’s what makes it so fun! Social media is here to stay and blogs are a vital part of that.”
Blogs we love!
• The Chronicles of a Reluctant Housedad
Keith Kendrick records his, sometimes emotional, journey from magazine executive to stay-at-home father; and throws in a few recipes into the bargain.
• The Plankton
Not for the fainthearted: a brutally honest account of life as a forty-something single mother, at ‘the bottom of the food chain’.
• Belgian Waffle
British journalist living in Belgium, and writing about life, animals, cakes, and, occasionally, parenting.
• Little Scandinavian
Super-cool children’s fashion and design blog, with an emphasis on all things Scandiwegian.
Maternity wear and baby products for yummy mummies everywhere.
• Babyccino Kids
Upmarket kids lifestyle, and city guides.
• Kate Takes 5
Irish stay at home mum, blogging her way to sanity.
• Fat Kittens
Thoughtful and funny blog about kids’ weight and nutrition.