A guest post series from some of my favourite bloggers. Learn more about what inspired their blogs and learn some very valuable insider tips. This week we have Andy – half of the genius behind the very popular blog How To Be A Dad:
1. Why did you start blogging?
As with all great things in history, it all started on Facebook. Um, okay, that may not be an accurate statement, but it IS how I got started. For a couple of big reasons. Charlie, my co-conspirator, and I met on “The Book.” We really should have known each other years and years ago on Realbook because of all the mutual friends we have but it just never happened.
Friend request accepted. Charlie saw what I was doing on Facebook with graphics as well as status update shenanigans and that we both had newborns. He approached me about partnering up to do a daddy blog. It made sense to me since I was already sort of micro-blogging on Facebook, but it honestly never would have occurred to me to start a blog. I didn’t really read or follow them and saying the very word “blog” made me feel dumb. Like I was some kind of poser speaking Geek-bonics. Then, he basically started sending over really old, male nude telegrams to my house. It had to stop, so I agreed to do it with him. The blog, I mean. Do the blog with Charlie.
2. What have you learned about life through blogging?
How little sleep the human body can endure. How long this endurance can be bolstered with caffeine before you can actually hear your coursing blood (it’s a sad agonized sound, by the way). I wasn’t really expecting it, but the blog has heightened the love and appreciation I have for my family. I have to pay really close attention so I can share the experience, so the “taking it for granted” waking dream effect you can get stuck in as a hard-working parent isn’t an option.
The fact that I’m able to share my life and make others laugh is pure gold. Which it better be, because we’re not really monetized yet. Ha ha! Okay, I’ll stop now. It’s been eye-opening to interact with people’s comments about parenthood, and then when I look at where all of these people are in the world, all of the differences and sameness, it blows my mind. It creates an odd emotional paradox for me, a euphoria that is at the same time very humbling.
3. What have you been most surprised about regarding blogging?
How hard it is! MAN!!! I don’t really even want to go there so I’ll mention how amazed I’ve been at how well Charlie and I collaborate. We are a two-part Voltron. We like the same stuff, obsess over the same things, come to the same conclusions and improve each other’s work. I think we both know that if it weren’t for each other, our blog just wouldn’t have gotten off the ground or gone anywhere. When it’s just one person, it can just be too easy to betray a goal when you’re only accountable to yourself and the bed is calling you with its siren song.
Because it’s so hard and we set our pace and standards so high, I think if we didn’t have the nearly mythological creative relationship we do, well, I’m pretty sure one of us would be eating a salad out of the other’s hollowed out skull right about now.
Another surprise was my fulfillment as a designer. That’s my day job. I think that whatever a designer is in his or her heart, in the day-to-day practice of our trade, we are a lot like an artist and a businessman shared a ride in a telepod from the movie The Fly, and got fused into one. Most of what we do is a commercial transaction, for a commercial endeavor. The joy that comes from the fact HTBAD is pretty much whatever I want it to be has been a big shocker for me. I just didn’t realize how thirsty I was for my own creative experience.
I never see the effects of the work I produce, and I rarely even get second-hand reports from clients about it either. The way I recently explained this point about the blog to a musician friend was by asking him to imagine never performing in front of a crowd, just always doing studio work, that that’s what it had always been like for me as an artist. But now, with HTBAD, I can hear the crowd.
So, the connection to our readership has also been, quite frankly, addictive. Just the other day someone wrote to us asking us permission to translate our most popular Instructional Diagram, Zombie vs. Baby, into POLISH! Again, humbling euphoria.
4. Any tips/ insider info for those interested in starting their own blog?
I’m not sure if these tips are “insider” since we’re just getting our foot in the door.
Get your purpose, concept, audience and goals down first, as clearly and thoroughly as you can. What do you want to say, to who, why, and to what end? I think this provides a center and can decide your entire forward path.
Then comes the fun part of naming your blog. It should be distinct from others, but also easy to remember and spell. It’ll be easy to decide on since you’ll only be able to choose from the fourteen domain names left out there that don’t utilize mspllings or numb3rs. Create accounts on all the major social networks out there, even if you don’t plan on using them. Trust me on this one.
Create your blog. Ha ha ha ha ha ha! I love that I can just SAY that! Three little words that took me 2 seconds to type and will probably represent countless hours of work and cups of coffee for any new blogger. I get to laugh guilt-free though, Charlie and I paid our dues. For nine straight months.
Suicide is very bad for your blog, so don’t go too crazy with it. It really is better to get up and running than to work so long on setting it up that you wind up putting on Bohemian Rhapsody …. in a running car in a closed garage.
Don’t be shy, promote. Friends and family, social networks, other sites, you name it. If you’re here to blog, you’re here to say something. And don’t forget to interact with your community.
Some technical tips: Google Analytics! Never knee-jerk install install plug-ins on your website or anything without reviewing them and testing them. Don’t run too many plugins—they’re not like apps on your iPhone, they’ll slow the whole show down. Backup regularly, I don’t need to explain why. If you have a site that can go viral, make sure your site is ready to deal with a line for Twilight on opening-night.
Andy came into this world so quietly that his mom thought she just needed go to the bathroom. She is probably one of the very few people who almost literally “dropped the kids off at the pool.” Now larger & much less quiet, Andy is a heavily-caffeinated designer dad living in Pasadena with his spunky wife and three boys. He isn’t a writer, but his knack for strange analogies and metaphors rivals a magician’s flair for finding quarters behind unsuspecting ears. He is a lover of life, family, friends, fun and other f words.