My blog has just reached 10 thousand page views. I know, for you established bloggers out there, you probably get close to this every day but for a newbie it's quite a milestone. I'm very pleased.
I posted a piece and tweeted about it knowing that I was close to the 10k mark. I figured maybe a quick post and a few well timed tweets would get me where I wanted to be. I was right!
I checked my stats during the course of the day and saw the target getting closer and closer. Exciting stuff. Or sad as fuck depending on your point of view.
I also started to think a little about blogging and how things have changed for me in the short time I've been getting my stuff 'out there'.
When I started blogging my aim was simple. To be a writer. I have a friend who is an author. A very talented lady by the name of Laura Kemp. Laura is a former editor at the Western Mail who now works on a freelance basis, writing a column here, selling a feature there and producing an amazing first book "Mums like us". Many of you will already follow her on twitter @laurajanekemp and may have seen her speak at Britmums live this year. You will undoubtedly have read some of her pieces in quality publications and the Daily Mail.
I had already been writing for some time. Mostly about parenting (write about what you know!) but also about many other subjects. I used it as a tool for venting my own frustrations in a positive way and clarifying my own thoughts. Like most blokes my head is a jumbled mess of naked pictures and quotes from Blackadder but when I write, things just come out in an organised way. These 'articles' sat on my laptop and had been read by Mrs Hapless and Laura on a number of occasions. I'd passed things on to Laura in the hope of maybe using her skill and experience to get something published. She was extremely positive and helpful and pitched several pieces to various people on my behalf.
This continued for a year or so in dribs and drabs. I didn't really pursue it with any determination. Mrs Hapless (a marketing manager) and Laura had already suggested setting up a blog and using twitter to publicise my writing. To be honest I was a little nervous. Not about people reading my stuff, but about being open and unguarded. If you met me you'd think I was a gobby little sod, and I am really. But I'm also extremely private and don't like people "getting up in my shit" (sorry I've been watching too many episodes of The Wire recently).
However I worked out a solution. I began blogging as an alter ego - in this case Hapless Dad. This seemed to help as I was comfortable with people knowing about Hapless Dad.
I set up my blog in the simplest way possible as I am utterly clueless when it comes to anything technical. I set up blogger, fiddled with templates etc and posted the first few pieces from my collection.
I was hooked from the start. I posted every day and sat glued to my stats. Very soon the bank of articles I already had ran out and I began to post real time. This was when my approach completely changed. Instead of the blog just being a place where I put stuff I'd written it became a place where I tried to put things that people would want to read. I followed parenting trends and stories and I kept up to date with various events and milestones in the calendar trying to put my own slant on things and maybe raise a chuckle.
During the early days Laura pitched one of my pieces to the Daily Mail and, bloody hell, it was commissioned. I hadn't even had anything published in the free ads and here I was about to have my own by-line in the Daily Mail. Interviews were conducted, photo shoots completed and payments agreed. I was absolutely elated. Sadly the piece didn't run, at least it hasn't yet (crosses fingers) however it was still a massive feather in my cap (plus I still got paid) and made me think it was possible to make some sort of a living out of something I loved. I was also getting some great feedback on stuff I'd put on the blog, both from friends and the online community.
The Daily Mail piece was the last thing I pitched and this was some time ago now. I haven't pitched anything since. The blog became an activity in and of itself rather than a stepping stone to something else. I've had a few posts shown on various web sites such as dadzclub and parentdish but nothing paid. I've also linked up with a few other bloggers which helped to reach a new audience. Although I haven't put anywhere near enough effort into this. It has sort of fallen by the wayside.
The thing is I'm now at a bit of a crossroads. I can't devote all my spare time to writing (who can?) so getting the most out of my blog, producing articles, pitching to the right people etc is quite a tall order. Not to mention the fact that if you pitch an article you can't put it on the blog, which effectively means you have to write twice as much.
I now need to decide whether to focus on this blog, get as many followers as possible and try to make some money from it or just blog for fun and get back to focusing on selling some stuff to make a living. I've even thought of writing a book of some sort (who hasn't!).
Anyway, I'll keep you posted. Thanks again to all of you who read this blog and keep coming back. Your support is very much appreciated.