Why don’t dads read dad blogs?

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.

Hi ladies.

(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.)

54 comments

1 Redneck Mommy { 09.29.10 at 3:06 PM }

Interesting. I never really thought about what gender I'm writing to. I'm just writing. Also, I read Maxim and I'm not a boy even though the nipple hairs and chin whiskers may lead some to believe the contrary.

2 DaDa Rocks! { 09.29.10 at 3:16 PM }

and ofcourse the first comment is from a women :)

3 Dadstreet { 09.29.10 at 3:24 PM }

I agree with Redneck Mommy. I don't write "TO" anyone at all. I write about my feelings, thoughts, and reflections. I'm not partial to who visits my blog. Would I like to connect with as many Dad's as I do Mom's on my blog? Sure! The truth of the matter is I'm going to attract Dad's who A. Care about being a Dad and B. Have the time and/or desire to even sit down to read a freakin' blog.

So how do I become a member of the Community? I'm vocal, even outside of my blog. I'm on Twitter all the time, I'm on Facebook all the time, I read other blogs. Oh, did I point out I'm a Dad reading a Dad blog? Shhh…don't tell anyone. I'm also vocal "offline" talking with Dad's on the street. Maybe people shouldn't judge the situation so harshly. We've (Dad's) have never been taken seriously in the parenting space and we're just starting to be more vocal. It's going take awhile coming from a culture where the only way to attract male readers to your blog is post up hot pics of the latest 24 year old female Rock Star.

4 Redneck Mommy { 09.29.10 at 3:25 PM }

You have to be quick on the draw around these parts dude.

5 The JackB { 09.29.10 at 3:56 PM }

I like the lack of science here because it makes it easy to say that you are wrong. A 2009 Fouker Institute study said that men read twice as many blogs as women and comment half as much.

6 Backpacking Dad { 09.29.10 at 4:00 PM }

Unless the study said that men read dad blogs then even science doesn't

prove me wrong.

7 beta dad { 09.29.10 at 4:05 PM }

I get the feeling that the kinds of dads who would be interested in reading blogs are the kind of dads who are writing blogs. That makes us a pretty insular group. This is also a highly unscientific claim.

I don't really know how to write to a "male" audience without pandering to, and therefore reinforcing, stereotypes. I write about stuff that interests me, and hope others are interested regardless of gender.

I know you are not really suggesting this, but I'm afraid that a blog written intentionally for a male readership would risk having some of the toxic characteristics of mags like Maxim (sorry Redneck Mommy).

8 dcurbandad { 09.29.10 at 4:21 PM }

I think we as Dads need to ask what we really want out of this media stuff we are doing. Do we want to change the world and opinions. Do we want free stuff from brands. Do we just want some recognition for what we do. Do we want it all. I write what I feel. If a Mom reads me cool. If a Dad reads me cool. If a random nonparent reads me cool.

9 beta dad { 09.29.10 at 4:31 PM }

If you read the details about that study, you'll find that 76% of the blogs men read are about football, and the rest are porn.

I made that up.

10 Didactic Pirate { 09.29.10 at 4:31 PM }

Geez, Dude, writing to men is so simple. Just do it like this:

"So today I was knocking back some BEER at a FOOTBALL game, when I notice this CHICK next door bouncing on her TRAMPOLINE, with her BOOBS all out. And then I FARTED." (BURP.)

See?
You're welcome.

P.S. I'm not totally sure you need the trampoline. It just sort of helps addressing the Boobs sub-topic.

11 Written Dad { 09.29.10 at 4:50 PM }

I guess I can see your point but, like Redneck Mommy and Dadstreet, I just write to . . . people. I don't want a gender specific blog. And, to be honest, I think I have more males who comment than females and more male readers as well. And I guess you have a point about Maxim vs. Cosmo, but I think it's easier to attract a certain demographic when you're writing about "10 Way to Please Your Man in Bed" or "What Will Make Your Woman Beg for More?", but that's just not what many of us write about.

And, in the long run, do we really need to have gender equality in our readership?

12 Backpacking Dad { 09.29.10 at 4:54 PM }

I am not advocating gender equality in our readership.

13 Chris Singer { 09.29.10 at 5:07 PM }

You most definitely need the trampoline. Remember Jimmy Kimmel and The Man Show?

14 Written Dad { 09.29.10 at 5:40 PM }

So you're looking simply for an increase (and an abundance) or male readership? Or are you just examining the difference? By I guess my comment stands: Why does the gender of readers matter? Just wondering.

15 Liz Gumbinner { 09.29.10 at 5:42 PM }

I like you backpacking dad. I say that as a woman of course so that probably fucks everything up for you.

But my favorite comments on my blog are "I'm not even a mom and I like what you wrote." It's interesting that dad bloggers might be looking for the opposite.

16 Winn { 09.29.10 at 5:44 PM }

This is a weird topic. Weird because I'm afraid I'll say the wrong thing here because I'm a non-dad and I might offend or piss off the dads because I have a vagina-not-a-penis and have no idea what it's like being a guy or dad. I know the dad of my child has zero interest in reading dad blogs, or blogs in general, or in learning about parenting in general. He spends most of his time playing games on his ipod or zoning out to sci fi movies. Maybe you could incorporate those topics or mediums into your blog? Maybe a sci fi mini-movie about parenting from the dad's perspective. Or a dad-game for the ipod. Just trying to help.

17 R_Mattocks { 09.29.10 at 6:21 PM }

well, everything intelligent has already been said including the trampoline (I want a to write a dad blog about trampolines–eh, it's probably been done–never mind). I'm just going to add to DCUrban's comment. It really comes down to why are you blogging. For fun? To gain some cred for another venture? To showcase writing for freelance gigs? To build a platform to get a book published? To establish yourself as the world's leading authority on all things Ashton Kutcher? Then do it.

But are dads as a whole going out of their way to read dad blogs? Probably not. Not unless their wives are making them. The majority of the male readership for a dad blog is another dad blog according to the two out of three men I surveyed. Pretty definitive proof if you ask me.

18 Backpacking Dad { 09.29.10 at 6:31 PM }

Leave your science out of this!

19 Redneck Mommy { 09.29.10 at 6:57 PM }

No apologies necessary, Beta Dad. It's a well known fact I only read Maxim for the pictures. heh.

20 Backpacking Dad { 09.29.10 at 7:00 PM }

Not really the opposite. What Clay was looking for, I think, was something

like a guy saying "I'm not even a dad and I like what you wrote." Or maybe

he was only wondering about dads. It didn't seem like it.

21 Julie Marsh { 09.29.10 at 7:04 PM }

I wish I had an answer for this question. I've told Kyle multiple times that you two would get along famously (and occasionally fight like cats in a sack), but he still doesn't read you.

I don't think it's a matter of style. I'm not sure what it is though.

22 Ordinary Dad { 09.29.10 at 8:28 PM }

I am struggling with this very thought right now. I'm experiencing the dip as described by Seth Godin, and another Dad blogger I respect suggested I think about why i blog…I think one of the reasons I blog is hopefully interact with other dads. Another reason is to counteract the stereotype that is portrayed on t.v. of the idiot dad who isn't involved. Men and women hold this stereotype, so I'm writing to both audiences.
As a side note…I don't really think my kids will read my blog in twenty years, blogs will probably be out of date, like vinyl records by then.

23 Bethany { 09.30.10 at 3:34 AM }

I'm just here because I enjoy your pontificating. And dissertation avoidance. And cute kids. And triptravaganza. but that's it, I swear.

24 kyooty { 09.30.10 at 6:53 AM }

I think it's not that they aren't reading, and more about they aren't commenting? i'm sure that some links will lead you to a woman's account but that her husband may be reading on her computer. Also woman like to "add" to or discuss, men that I know? Read and digest or not. It's right up there with the way men argue with each other. One minute it's all "you suck" and the next minute it's all "so you watching the game this weekend?"

25 Carol @NYCityMama { 09.30.10 at 7:42 AM }

I like the idea of a blog post about trampolines….and I'm not even a Dad and I'm reading your blog!

Let's make it simple: I, a mom, don't read mommy blogs. Not on the regular, unless: it's a friend or it's an interesting, specific topic on a particular post. Because I write about travel…and eating food, those are the blogs I read the most. It's what I am interested. Childrearing, parenting, diaper giveaways, and where to by the best pacifier bore me to know end…HOWEVER, interestingly enough, I really like reading about Dads talking about being Dads, and husbands, and all the freakin crazy people and situations that come with being a parent…and maybe even specifically, a Dad.

Most of the travel blogs I read are family travel blogs, and a very many are written by *wait for it* Dads, with a HUGE male following, both as fathers and as whatever their niche is.

I think that the best approach is to write from your heart, or penis, or where ever the hell male emotions/thoughts come from. If it comes naturally, do it. Don't conform to any written "mommy blog success story" cause even the most successful mommy bloggers don't have everyone's attention, nor are is what they have to say meaningful to everyone.

Sorry this is so long, I'm a chick, I like to write. Just write however it feels naturally, you feel find an audience who will want to read what you have to say, on both ends. And please…don't write to me (the mom), cause that will just be stupid.

26 Carol @NYCityMama { 09.30.10 at 7:48 AM }

And yeah, I can spell, just not today! (sorry for all the typos!) Coffee please…to go.

27 Carol @NYCityMama { 09.30.10 at 7:57 AM }

The thing is that there are a lot of "mommy bloggers" who are asking the same questions with regards to more successful female bloggers. "How do they gain their readership/popularity/status/sponsorships?" I think to try to get the same type of feedback as a well read female blogger would be difficult, guys just don't interact the same way women do, and that 's fine too. Is the measure of success for a dad blog the level of comments and chatter on his blog, or the amount of dads who he might (silently) be affecting? I think that dads have made a strong mark this year, and the ones I follow regularly seem like awesome dads who are absolutely nothing like any of the moms I follow. And that is way cool.

28 Toquegirl { 09.30.10 at 8:47 AM }

So, I totally just found a new bunch of dad blogger tyes to read in these here comments. Yay!

I love hearing what guys have to say about parenting. I love seeing that there are guys out there who care enough about thier parenting roles that they put thought into that role and that they share their thoughts and opinions with others. Gives me some hope.

I truly believe that most dads out there really are that sterotypical "don't bother me with it" type of parent. It is more than true in my case, though, so maybe my opinion is colored.

I think, though, that it has more to do with the traditional roles that male and female parents play. We still play them, whether we like to admit it or not, whether mom is also a full time federal judge or not. Most times, she's still the one making supper, folding laundry, and disciplining the kids. Women in most cases are still doing the bulk of the actual parenting, which would be why they seem to be more interested in both writing and reading parenting blogs.

I think what you guys sre doing is awesome. I think that, by writing about your parenting roles, you are paving the way for some serious change in the way everyone looks at fatherhood.

Also, please don't egg my house. :)

29 tracey { 09.30.10 at 8:54 AM }

I think men DO read dad blogs but men aren't as chatty. They just don't feel the need to validate each other as much or gab, so we may not see the comments that us chatty cathy's provide.

Then again, I could be completely insane.

30 Backpacking Dad { 09.30.10 at 7:58 PM }

I'm not really looking at status, popularity, sponsorship here…or even

overall readership. There's just a question on the table about why dads at

large aren't reading dad blogs in particular. Maybe also implicit in the

question is why dad blogs aren't having the same cultural impact that mom

blogs have had. That could all be wrapped up in questions about status and

popularity and brand relationships but I think they can be answered

differently. What makes someone popular and have relationships with brands

isn't necessarily what makes it popular with dads or men in general.

31 Backpacking Dad { 09.30.10 at 8:00 PM }

Writing from my heart gets me female readers. I'm okay with it. I just

wanted to offer an answer to the question of why dads/men aren't primary

readers.

32 Backpacking Dad { 09.30.10 at 8:02 PM }

I love my stalker readers the best. ;}

33 Dawn { 09.30.10 at 8:48 PM }

I agree. I think that men just don't comment as much as women. It's not that they aren't there and they aren't following. They just aren't voicing everything that they think, like we women tend to do :)

I follow MANY dad blogs. I like to see the male insight. I like to hear dads boast and brag about their kiddos. that and…Guys are just plain stinkin' funny!

34 David { 10.01.10 at 10:43 AM }

Fun post! I love irony. As a fellow SAHD and blogger, I think you've touched on a major theme that affects all of us parents, mainly, how families are evolving and, in particular, how fathers are evolving from stone age breadwinners to more engaged and sensitive dads. It's a slow process, though, and may take millions of years…

35 chicago pop { 10.01.10 at 2:32 PM }

Oh dear. I'm afraid I just disagree and think this whole problem is bogus. If more dads/men don't read dad blogs, that's really a shame, but it's also a shame that more dads/men just don't read more in general. It would be nice if men read more blogs by men, but it would also be nice if men just *read more*, period. Anyone got ideas on how to change that particular issue? Anyone who has written a book or is interested in writing one, or has friends in publishing, can tell you that women are the people who put money on the counter to actually purchase reading materials.

The question "how to write to men" presumes that we know what Men are and like and should be, and is therefore contrary to why I blog about being a Dad, because I believe that none of these presumptions hold any water. So it's a free-for-all out there, as it should be.

I do think your initial intuition is right (most readers are female) … but I have absolutely no problem with more female than male readers. There is no need to reach an audience defined as someone in possession of a penis. There is a need to reach an audience defined as someone interested in parenting in its glorious spectrum of possibilities and a conception of masculinity that is beyond football and stock picks.

36 Derek Markham { 10.01.10 at 2:35 PM }

Wait, you're saying dads don't read dad blogs? I guess that makes us Male Mommy Bloggers.

37 chicago pop { 10.01.10 at 2:39 PM }

I think if we had any sense of whether dads read mom blogs about parenting, then we could find out whether they read fewer dad blogs. But I bet you what's going on is that there are a lot more mom blogs/websites with a lot more moms/women following them, because, as we all know, most parenting is still done by … moms. That's the demographic reality. When that changes — as it is, albeit slowly — then we might see more dads reading the (small number of ) dad blogs. Although there's still the problem of men not wanting to read at all. Generally speaking.

38 chicago pop { 10.01.10 at 2:44 PM }

That's fine with me :-)

39 Backpacking Dad { 10.01.10 at 3:21 PM }

I don't have a problem with having more female readers.

40 Backpacking Dad { 10.01.10 at 3:24 PM }

That's exactly backward. Sort of. Clay does press the cultural shift side of

this, but the short answer to getting more dads to read dad blogs isn't

changing culture. It's presenting a product in the right package. Sears

doesn't shift culture first to sell more lawn mowers.

41 Babyshrink { 10.02.10 at 6:50 PM }

As a shrink who does Parent Coaching, what I observe is this: The Mom calls for my help. The Dad acts all cool and like he doesn't need any help. IF I can connect with him — make him feel like I'm taking him seriously, make efforts to make it work FOR HIM as well, make him realize that I'm not in cahoots with the Mom — then he'll usually open up and really get involved in the process. But not until I prove that I can "get" a Dad's perspective. (And it really helps being married to a shrink who specializes in working with men. He tells me when I'm off base, and how to try to connect.) I have to prove myself. Which actually works out great, because USUALLY, the Mom is all like "He won't lift a finger to help with the kids", and the Dad's all like "She just won't let me help MY WAY." Moms usually need help in recognizing that Dads' help is not only useful, but IMPORTANT to their child's optimal development. ie: Dad isn't just an "incompetent babysitter". Dad should be involved and taken seriously for some really important reasons.

I guess this is my roundabout way of saying that Dad's WILL and DO participate in parenting — which includes reading parenting blogs — but it just takes a lot more work to bring them in.

Thanks for the discussion, Shawn.

42 Jacob { 10.03.10 at 7:50 PM }

I read a fair number of mom-blogs and some dad-blogs. I don't think I have much to contribute and certainly can't top trampolines, but I'll try. Lots of mom-blogs involve crafts and other homemade stuff. Many are even work-at-home-moms. Maybe dad's should do the same. I'll need to teach myself to knit first, though.

43 Ewa { 10.03.10 at 8:28 PM }

I just found your blog and I like it enough to comment after just reading this one post so I'll probably stick around! :-)

Now, what I wanted to say is that there are probably more women reading about parenting in general because that is considered a female task. It's engraved in us all with the gender roles. When men (in general) start taking equal responsibility for raising the children parenting will probably become more interesting to men and you will get more male readers. If you're around that is. I think this is going to take time unfortunately…

44 TravisErwin { 10.04.10 at 1:25 PM }

My blog readers used to be all women but over the years the gender has became more balanced. I try to write things men will enjoys as well.

45 Peter West Carey { 10.05.10 at 1:21 AM }

My problem with reading Dad blogs is I can't read. At all.

46 DaddyGeekBoy { 10.05.10 at 9:45 PM }

I often write about bacon. Can't think of anything more manly than that.

47 Family Matters { 10.05.10 at 9:47 PM }

Seems like there's plenty of dads reading this post ;) You must be doing something right.

I agree that parenting is just slowly drifting toward the male persuasion, but it is moving there. In offline (real) life, I see many dads caring for their kids, even if they leave stroller buying decisions to the moms.

Dads are more basic, I think. If the kid's comfy and the wheels are turning, the stroller works. Backpack's even better…

48 Darren { 10.07.10 at 9:59 PM }

When I started dad blogging five years ago, dads DID reach each other's blogs. Maybe most of the mom bloggers hadn't discovered us yet. A few years later, I began to notice that many dad bloggers were starting to write for the moms. It happened at about the same time bloggers started expecting to get advertising or free stuff from their blogs instead of just enjoying the community. That's when blogging stopped being fun for me.

49 Al { 10.10.10 at 6:03 AM }

I agree, I just write. "Writers" may write "too" someone but I believe most social bloggers do not. Sure, I want more readers but I am not changing how I write or what I write about to get more readers.

About being mad about the interviewer's comment… WOW! Men are being stereotyped! I maybe wrong but women and minorities have this happen to them all the time. We are just now getting our taste of "The Man" and some people don't like it.

Suck it up:)

Al http://www.stayathometripletdad.blogspot.com

50 Dadigo Com { 10.22.10 at 12:29 PM }

I have to agree that we have been getting more female readers than male at this point but I don't think its a bad thing. How to increase male readership is what I think we are all talking about though and you have a great point that those of us who blog need to attract them by giving them what they want not giving them what we think they should want. Finding that balance and not selling out though is the tough part…

Great discussion though…

51 Straight Dope Dad { 11.23.10 at 11:00 AM }

I think my readership it is very post specific. Judging from my Google Analytics, my post "Vasectomies Rock!" is probably read mostly by men. Same with "How to Get More Sex from Your Wife". The "7 Things Every Woman Should Know About How Men Think About Sex" seems to be skewed female. But overall, my readership seems has a decent male following considering:

1. Women read much more than men
2. Woman are more interesting and involved in parenting in general
3. Women are more likely to participate and share

I also made it a point from the beginning to write a blog that was clearly topic/subject specific (what I and most men prefer) instead of a diary, and focus on the male perspective.

Additionally the subtext of my blog is to encourage men into being all they can be as parents. I live in a very progressive town and still the level of male involvement in parenting is shameful.

So those two factors help. I'm pretty confident that if I started writing about every cute thing my kid did or running lots of giveaway and promotions for parenting gizmos, or filling my sidebar with affiliate ads for baby strollers, my male readership would suffer as it would send a clear message…this blog is for chicks. And men are allergic to anything that seems female centric. They practically break out in hives. It's quite sad, but that's how it is.

So I think a lot depends on how you write and what your mission is. But honestly, I didn't think I'd ever have a high male readership for the simple fact that it's a parenting blog. And I'm fine with that.

52 Straight Dope Dad { 11.23.10 at 6:00 PM }

I think my readership it is very post specific. Judging from my Google Analytics, my post “Vasectomies Rock!” is probably read mostly by men. Same with “How to Get More Sex from Your Wife”. The “7 Things Every Woman Should Know About How Men Think About Sex” seems to be skewed female. But overall, my readership seems has a decent male following considering:

1. Women read much more than men
2. Woman are more interesting and involved in parenting in general
3. Women are more likely to participate and share

I also made it a point from the beginning to write a blog that was clearly topic/subject specific (what I and most men prefer) instead of a diary, and focus on the male perspective.

Additionally the subtext of my blog is to encourage men into being all they can be as parents. I live in a very progressive town and still the level of male involvement in parenting is shameful.

So those two factors help. I’m pretty confident that if I started writing about every cute thing my kid did or running lots of giveaway and promotions for parenting gizmos, or filling my sidebar with affiliate ads for baby strollers, my male readership would suffer as it would send a clear message…this blog is for chicks. And men are allergic to anything that seems female centric. They practically break out in hives. It’s quite sad, but that’s how it is.

So I think a lot depends on how you write and what your mission is. But honestly, I didn’t think I’d ever have a high male readership for the simple fact that it’s a parenting blog. And I’m fine with that.

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54 jasontoheal { 06.20.12 at 9:48 AM }

good post… I actually never thought about it quite like you did… but there sure as heck is a lot more material for women and mothers on the net than dads. i wonder if men aren’t simply less likely to seek help… in ANY field