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Why Having a Blog is Like Having a Baby

This Sunday is Fathers Day here in Australia and to celebrate my first one as a Dad I thought I’d do a little post on why having a blog is like having a baby.

Disclaimer – yes I know having a blog is nothing like having a baby – for every reason why they are similar there are 10 why they are not (for instance it’s difficult to put advertising on your baby…. so I’m told….) but I thought I’d have a little fun with it anyway to mark the occassion.

So here are my 8 reasons why having a blog is like having a baby:

Fathers-Day-2

1. Everyone has advice

It’s quite amazing to experience the attention that everyone gives you when you’re pregnant or have a newborn baby.

This attention comes from everyone from family and friends to complete strangers who will walk up to you on the street to ‘ooh and aah’ at your little one. Oh course with every interaction with people comes advice ranging from – ‘I think he might have a little wind’ to ‘don’t let him sleep for more than 2 hours at a time’ to ‘let him sleep as long as he likes’, to ‘have you tried taping his ears back so they don’t stick out’…. etc

Much of the advice you’ll get is well meaning, most of it is conflicting with other advice you receive and in the end you learn to take it with a grain of salt, nod as if you’re going to do exactly what they say and then go home and find your own way.

When it comes to advice about blogging the story is very similar. Every blogger and their dog has a tip on what makes a good blog great and how to do everything from find readers, to climb the search engines, to choose a blog platform, to have a sexy design, to writing compelling content.

Much of the advice out there is good advice from well meaning people – but perhaps the best advice I’ve heard (and passed on) is to be yourself and find your own way. Every blog is different and for every rule or tip you might be given there’s an example of a successful blog that has done well despite breaking that very rule.

2. Short Attention Spans

I saw a really helpful video in one of our pre-natal classes that talked about bonding with a baby. It said that many people say its not until a month or two of age that babies connect with those around them – however they showed a few examples of how even a few minutes after birth a baby will be having short moments of concentrated connection with others. The problem isn’t that the baby doesn’t connect – it’s that the parent doesn’t look for the connections.

I’ve come to value those short moments each day when Xavier and I ‘connect’ with a look, a smile (I refuse to believe it’s just gas) or a touch. The key is to look for these moments and to take advantage of them.

Web readers have notoriously short attention spans also and while they do read longer articles from time to time, mastering the art of writing concise, attention grabbing and compelling posts that worth with the short attention span of readers is important.


3. It’s an Investment of Time

A good friend of mine who became a Dad for the first time a few weeks before me told me one night that the biggest surprise for him was how much time it took to do anything with his baby.

Getting ready for a walk, giving a bath, feeding, changing nappies – all of these activities took considerably longer than he expected and when you put them all together they can become quite consuming. In fact a few days after Xavier was born I asked ‘V’ if I’d ever find time to work again as my life was quite full just being a Dad.

Blogs – like babies – take a lot of time to get off the ground. While most bloggers find that writing and posting content gets quicker over time, it still can become quite time consuming.

4. Long Term

It’s just starting to sink in that being a Dad means my life is irreversibly changed.

I’m sure that there will be elements of my life that will return to some level of ‘normality’, but there are other things that will always be different now (some of them good and some of them difficult). Having a child is a life long commitment and something a parent needs to work on on a daily basis over a very long time.

Blogs too need a long term effort. While it might not be a life long commitment that is needed (and the seriousness of the commitment will of course be lower than one to a child – one would hope) – too many bloggers don’t take into account that the setting up and sustaining of a blog is not only a lot of work initially – but it’s something you need to put continued effort into over time.

I know this from personal experience this week after trying to clean up after being hacked on top of my normal blogging load. Blogs have a way of presenting you with a challenge just at that moment that you think you’re cruising – something I’m told kids do too!

5. Sometimes it’s a Smelly Business

Someone told me that newborns don’t do smelly poos…. and while I’m sure they’ll get worse – I’ve seen my fair share of messy and smelly things in the past couple of weeks.

Often having a baby can be glamorized – all the baby product ads show serene scenes of smiling or sleeping babies who smell wonderful, never make a sound (other than a cute giggle) and who look just perfect.

The reality might include such moments – but they are also mixed up with a lot of noise, smell and sights for sore eyes.

Sometimes I think people talk about blogging in such glowing terms that I hardly recognize it – it’s like the baby ads that only show one side of the equation.

The reality is that having a blog is a wonderful thing (otherwise no one would do it) with many benefits – but it can also get messy. Dealing with trolls, comment spam, being attacked by other bloggers, having servers crash, deleting long unsaved posts just before hitting publish, being hacked, accidentally posting your bank account details….. all of these things (and more) can – and will – go wrong when you blog. Sometimes it’s a messy business.

6. It’s Fun

– amidst the smells, late nights, worry and moments of terror – having a baby in the house is fun – a lot of fun.

Each day is punctuated with all manner of moments to look forward to – morning cuddles while he wakes up, watching his eyes roll back in ecstasy when you rub his feet, the satisfaction of settling him at 3.37am after three hours of screaming, watching the look on his face when you put him in a nice warm bath, getting one of his cheeky smiles and holding him when he’s in one of his milk-drunk floppy states after a feed (I could go on). I wouldn’t swap the last two months for anything – anything at all.

Blogging can be hard – but it can also be a lot of fun and is punctuated with a variety of moments which you come to look forward to – seeing another blogger link to you for the first time, checking your stats and finding that you’ve had a record breaking day for traffic, getting your first comment ever, the satisfaction of hitting publish on a post you’ve been working hard on and are proud of, being quoted in the NYT as an expert on a topic you mentioned once in passing in a post (I’m an expert on the spiritual motifs in the Lord of the Rings apparently!), the rush when you see a post you’ve written rising up the front page of Digg and the elation at the 8000 visitors an hour that can follow etc etc

7. You Need Time Out

Even after just two months at this parenting game I can see how important it is for ‘time out’. In fact I just packed ‘V’ off in the car and told her to go shopping (something I rarely encourage!) while Xavier has a sleep because I can see already how all consuming babies can be. Even when they’re asleep your day revolves around them and to have even just an hour or two away is like a mini holiday in the middle of the day.

As I’ve already said above, blogs take a lot of work. They are also a little addictive and new bloggers can especially be tempted to spend every spare moment they have on them.

While it is fun and addictive – it’s important to take time out from a blog from time to time.

Doing so will keep you fresh, stop you from burning out, keep your life balanced and mean you are healthy (body, mind and spirit).

I try to take time off in different ways – daily (I tend to take a couple of hours off in the afternoons), weekly (weekends) and yearly (I take a number of week to 2 week holidays each year).

8. Finding a Rhythm

– 48 hours after we got home from the hospital with Xavier V and I looked at each other and said ‘something’s got to change’.

Amidst the chaos of birth, visitors at the hospital, learning the basics of nappies and feeding etc we’d enjoyed our stay in hospital but hadn’t really established any kind of rhythm or routine with Xavier.

Of course in the first few weeks I’m told you should throw routines out the window – but we were in a pretty chaotic lifestyle and we needed something to at least give us a starting point for what a normal day would look like. Luckily we were recommended a great book which suggested such a daily routine which has been a great thing for us to have.

While Xavier doesn’t stick to it down to the minute – we’ve found it helpful to at least have a little structure to our day (and it does seem he’s responding to it too).

I write quite a bit about blogging rhythms and how each blog will have it’s own. I think it’s important for a blogger to find his or her rhythm for each blog that they write and to attempt to stick with it. From my experience – finding a rhythm is not only good for the blogger but readers seem to respond to it pretty well too.

I’m sure I could go on and round this list out to 10 reasons why having a blog is like having a baby – but as I write this the man of moment is waking up from his nap an it’s time to go be a Dad again (I still havn’t mastered the art of blogging one handed).

To those of you celebrating Fathers day (I know in some parts of the world it’s in June) – have a great day.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. OK, scratch what I said the other day about a fave post. This one ROCKS and needs to go into the “ProBlogger’s Solid Gold Greatest Hits”.

    I’d love to dish out some great advice in this moment, but I have to admit you seem to have the situation handled pretty darn well. :) Nice job!

  2. katiebird says:

    I’ve got to pop in to say how much I like what you’ve said. I don’t have anything of depth to say. It just seems too sad for a post this great not to have at least one comment.

    I like the way your mind works. And the way you express your thoughts.

  3. I LOVE this post!
    Imo, I think this would make a fun group writing project. I’ll certainly be blogging on it (thanks for the inspiration). I’ve been saying for years, that launching a product is like having a baby. Particularly among my crowd who are over 90% female.

  4. Father to Father This post is great. I love the work you are doing here. You Inspired me to start a website I had been holding onto for 7yrs really check it out http://blog.marketandmain.com/2006/08/happy-birthday-lucky.html .

    Thank you for all you do! and HAPPY FATHERS DAY!
    Dennis R. Nestor Jr.
    http://www.marketandmain.com

  5. Hank Osborne says:

    Darren,

    This is a great post. For me the title goes like this, “Having a Baby is Why Having a Blog”. I had a domain name for years, but I really did nothing more than use it to have a permanent email domain. Once my second child was born with some complex medical issues, I found myself using my web site to keep family and friend up to date on his condition. I didn’t even know the term blog existed less than two years ago. I was updating a static HTML file with notepad a few times per day, and then I realized that I could be using some cool software to make my life much easier. Now my domain gets a ton more traffic than it was getting before I started to blog. I even make a buck or two off of my site now. My son’s blog “Caden’s Page” is still alive and well after a little less than two years. Caden and the blog will be two on November 2nd. Most of that blog’s visitors come as a result of searches or email notifications of it being updated.

    Thanks for the funny, but very true post.

    Hank O

  6. katiebird says:

    Kathleen, I stopped by your site and I really like it. You have a unique vision and a very interesting perspective on your topic. (And I’m so glad that I’m not the only one to like this post!)

  7. adorable picture of you with your baby!

  8. jldude says:

    1. More advice for you: Enjoy.
    2. Here’s my little bit of short attention span.

    http://mysearchformeaning-money.blogspot.com/2006/08/daddy-who-me.html

    happy father’s day

  9. Ken Cheung says:

    I almost mentioned number one on your list on my post about how blogging and taking care of a baby is different. It was going to be something like “spam filters do not work on the in-laws, relatives, friends, and their parenting advice.” Well meaning but just too many of them.

  10. Happy Fathers Day to you Darren and anyone else that is celebrating at this time of year. As the father of a soon to be 8 year-old and a 5 year-old, as well as a new blog, I can relate well to your comments.

    It is funny to see sometimes how closely aspects of our personal lives parallel things in our businesses.

  11. Mary Jo says:

    And here’s one more, and this one in honor of Mrs. Pro-Blogger:

    A baby, like a blog, is not the work of one person alone. It takes a community.

  12. Glen says:

    i know exactly what you mean by that. Sometimes when my traffic is down its like seeing a loved one in pain.

  13. Mike says:

    Nice post, I’m supprised you didn’t call it eight reasons why…

    You are looking way too relaxed and so is X, very nice!

    We had a spring barbeque tonight for Fathers Day, (I’m in Newcastle, Australia), there’s nothing like good meat, good drinks and good friends to make for a great occasion.

  14. Spiro says:

    Great post and very timely for me who is having our first baby (just found out it’s a girl) and at the same time launching a blog network (still trying to figure out what it is).

    One of the sites is related to Babies, so it’s only fitting that this post should be the first reference on the new site.

    Thanks again for the great post and great site…

    Spiro

  15. Joe says:

    Hey Darren,

    Cute pic, but maybe you need to get another Sweat Shirt. That’s the same one you have in your about. Wink, wink… Nod, nod

    Great piece, The analogy fits quite well, especially with a younger blog.

    Joe

  16. Karen says:

    Darren, spot on. As a mum, I identify with this too and like others feel inspired to write something on a similar vein.
    Mary-Jo, what you said about babies also had me nodding in agreement.
    Happy fathers day, all.

  17. I like your post, but as a woman who has had a couple of babies and a couple of blogs I look at the world differently. Some how having a blog is not nearly as strenuous, painful, frightening or as expensive as giving birth. I never push my posts out and so far none have caused stretch marks. My blog does not wake me up in the middle of the night and need to be fed, changed or rocked. But there are some similarities, my blog grows, and it never sleeps.

  18. Ray Dotson says:

    Great post, Darren. I’ve had a lot of experience over the last few years having (actually, the wife having) babies and raising children. There’s a lot of truth in what you’ve written. I’m still feeling my way with blogging, but some of the skills I’ve learned as a parent have come in very handy, like being patient and also forcing myself to clean up a smelly mess. Happy Father’s Day!

  19. Riihele says:

    Hei Darren et family.
    CONGRATULATIONS & CELEBRATIONS on becoming a newly-baked Dad! You compared the babas and the blogs very well indeed, making your points on both aspects with expertise of a pro. Take care, all 3 of ye.

  20. Congrats on being a dad and on a great post. A friend sent me here. I can so relate to much of what you say. Good stuff.

  21. Secret Sara says:

    Sure you can put advertisements on your baby. That’s what T-Shirts are for!
    haha. Anyways, great post and great father-son pic! Congrats to you on your new role in life of fatherhood and enjoy it!

  22. Pete says:

    well happy fathers day to you.

  23. shuchetana says:

    sooo cuuute!!
    your baby, not your blog :)
    (and that’s one way a blog is different)….
    when i saw your pic, i first thought, I hope I can take a picture like that someday if i have a kid, and i manage to get my new blog up and running.
    Congratulations on being a dad :)

  24. Ranting2006 says:

    I have to admit, I absolutely hated my in-laws after the baby was born. They had the nerve to smoke around my baby, and monopolize the baby, and I wanted to literally kill them. Hope you are having better luck. By the way, love the picture of you and the baby. Yes, we will need future bloggers, so it’s good you are letting her get started blogging early.

  25. Ben Uy says:

    I am thinking of the same thing, I want to take care of my blog and give it all the nifty toys I can find, and dress it up so it gets pretty.

  26. Kenneth says:

    Interesting post. Real cuddly. But I wish you’d buy an ergonomic keyboard. My fingers hurt just looking at yours… ;-).

  27. Ralph says:

    I can relate to this post, as I have just become a father in April this year. Curious enough, I found myself starting up a dormant blog again, partly because the baby was moved to the computer room, as it is the warmest room in the house (it is winter here in Lima, Peru). So whilst the baby was sleeping, I was working on the pc to breath back life into my blog. And I agree that there are many similarities between the two, babies and blogs!
    Just to settle you a bit: life actually gets a lot easier after the first two months…

    p.s. In the end I had to abandon the computer room which has become the baby room

  28. Great comparisons! Amazing how experience continues to be the best teacher. ;o)

    Hugs,
    Holly
    Holly’s Corner

    Here via the Carnvial of Family Fun ;o)

  29. Kailani says:

    Great comparison. I never really thought about it but I guess they are very similar in many ways.

    BTW, if you wanted to, you probably could put a little advertising on Xavier. Maybe a onesie that said “Subscribe to my Feedburner feed”?

  30. Vera says:

    CUTE KID!!
    I just found your blog yesterday and am reading every page.

Trackbacks

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