I said in a post about pitching to dad bloggers that most of the readers of dad blogs are women. I don’t have a survey in hand about this; it’s an opinion. But it’s not an empty or inconsequential opinion, since holding it to be true actually informs a lot of the writing I do.
Why don’t dads read dad blogs? Well, maybe because dad bloggers don’t think dads read dad blogs, so they aren’t writing in order to capture that demographic.
Clay over at DadLabs shares the “dads don’t read dad blogs” opinion, and he’s on a mission to make sure that we understand that we don’t suck, that everyone knows we don’t suck, and to hopefully change society’s view of parenting, and dads in particular, so that everyone knows dads don’t suck, so it’s okay to be interested in dads, parenting, and dad bloggers. But I don’t think it’s the fact that we don’t suck that will or even should cause men to read dad blogs.
Men will read dad blogs when dad bloggers start writing as though their audience is male.
This is not the same as being neutral with respect to the gender of the audience. Being neutral with respect to the gender of the audience will split the audience along demographic lines that you have no input into, and I think this will still leave most of your readership as female, because you’ve got “dad” in the title of your blog and that implies “parenting” and nowadays, to an online audience, that implies “sensitive guy”.
Nor is it the same as just talking about things “from a guy’s perspective”. While it may seem like guys are the ones who relate to guys and so they’d be the ones tuning in to see you talk about parenting from a guy’s perspective, the men online don’t care about parenting from a guy’s perspective. The dads care about parenting: in the absence of dad blogs we were already reading mom blogs. The non-dads don’t care about the subject or your perspective (or at least not in any numbers to swing your audience). So who are you attracting with your writing from a guy’s perspective? Women who want to see what a guy’s perspective is.
Clay gets mad about the host lead-in to the CNN interview with dad bloggers; the host had joked “I feel like we should be talking about football.”
You have to talk about being a parent. You have to think about what it means to be a good father. You have to give some consideration to what kind of stroller is best and when to introduce solid foods and whether or not to hold the kid back from kindergarten.
You’d rather talk about football; well, that’s just too fucking bad.
He’s mad because he thinks that this kind of commentary reflects an attitude about the subject of dad blogs that will then deter men from reading those blogs. I think he’s wrong; I don’t think we can just change culture and then sit back and enjoy our suddenly male readerships.
Men are attracted to posture, show, confidence, and competence. If we want our readership to be mostly male, or have a higher proportion of males, then we have to write to men and not just from a male perspective.
(Because I like to spout off, I like to say things like this without any idea of how to then follow up. How do we write to men? I’m asking seriously. There’s clearly a way, since women tend not to read Maxim and men not Cosmo even though there’s just as much skin and sex talk in each.)
Writing to men, and not just about men, means that our subject matter (parenting) might still fail to attract bigger crowds, even if our readership is more male, and that is going to reflect what Clay identifies as a cultural problem. He wants to know how to join in shifting that culture, so that more men are interested in reading about, talking about, learning about, posturing about, and geeking out about parenting. I don’t know how to do that. But the answer isn’t just “don’t suck”, or to point out that we don’t, in fact, suck.
We do suck. We suck at writing to men. And as long as we do we will always have more women readers.
(This post brought to you by no science whatsoever and a vast amount of dissertation avoidance that is going to get me yelled at by my wife because I send the kids to daycare so that I can write and then what I end up writing is crap on the Internet.)