John Adams of dadbloguk.com writes on National Freelance Day about taking the leap into self-employment
I received some good news the other week. Vuleio the PR, communications and public affairs specialist published its Top 10 UK Daddy Blogger list for 2019 and I was delighted to feature on it.
Modesty prevents me from saying exactly where I appeared on the list. Suffice it to say I was very happy. [He was Number One! – ed]
How, though, did I go from struggling full-time working dad to becoming freelance writer and blogger? Not just a freelance writer and blogger, but a work from home dad who does the school runs, handles the after school clubs and organises play dates?
The truth is, it was a complete accident. The tale begins in 2011 when I worked in communications and PR for a public service regulator than no longer exists. I wasn’t happy in my job and one day I looked across at the 80-ish people in my department. There had been some changes in management and approach. I identified three of my colleagues as married and even fewer had kids. As a married dad of one, my face maybe didn’t fit any more.
Informally, my bosses were very flexible regarding family commitments. Formally, things weren’t so great (when I say that, I’m not necessarily referring to my situation, but across the organisation). The time had come to leave.
Initially I got a job working part time for a nearby charity. It represented a huge cut in salary, but I was close to home, I could earn a bit of money and we could reduce our daughter’s nursery hours from full-time to part-time.
We had our second daughter, Izzy, soon afterwards. As a dad and main carer for two young children, I found myself facing subtle sexism all over the place: From healthcare workers, other mums and all too often in the media. I think to some women, being a caregiver is a big part of their identity so when a man like myself comes along we can be seen as a bit of a threat and so I wasn’t always welcomed.
With men it was a different story. I can honestly say men were very supportive. I didn’t expect this at all. I expected to be the butt of jokes but no, people wanted to know what it was like being a man who “held the babies.”
After a year of balancing housework, a part time job and childcare I launched Dadbloguk, initially to highlight the causal sexism I faced. I gave myself three months to achieve something. I didn’t know what that “thing” should be, but it would have to be something.
Within those three months I found myself being invited to attend a charity reception at 10 Downing Street. This was a sign I was on to something with Dadbloguk and I knew I had to keep at it.
Interestingly, I never referred to myself as a stay at home dad at this point. I had a part time job so the term wasn’t quite accurate. Other people called me a stay at home dad and I was called it so often the label just stuck!
When our eldest daughter started school, the part time job became too much. I had been blogging for a couple of years by now and made a few quid on the side. After discussing with my wife, I left the part time job to become a proper stay at home dad. The blog would be a way for me to bring in some money, but it was a side-hustle.
Until this point, the blog had been a mouthpiece, somewhere for me to rant about the negative experiences I had as a dad and main cargiver, to highlight where changes needed to be made in society. I was, however, finding it quite restrictive. I adopted a new approach and wrote about what I wanted to. Promoting positive fatherhood and gender equality will always be at the forefront of what I do, but I broadened out into photography, motoring, DIY and even men’s style and fashion.
With this new approach, new commercial opportunities presented themselves. I’ve appeared in commercials, videos, brought out a basic line of merchandise. Over time the blog grew to the point where it is today. It is a cottage industry, but it is one I am able to fit around my family commitments.
Unfortunately, the word blogger or influencer are often mentioned in the same breath as “freeloader” or “freebie.” I personally take a very professional approach to what I do. I run my blog as a limited company, so I am a company director and have to adhere to company law. I have to adhere to both the Competition and Markets Authority and Advertising Standards Authority rules and my company is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office. This is not a bit of fun, this is a business.
When things started to take off, I struggled to find the time to balance work and family. For two years solid I got up at 5am every single day so I could work on the blog early in the morning before the family woke. I still do from time to time. Oddly, it’s not the blogging that’s the difficult bit, it’s keeping on top of social media which is a massive commitment.
This brings me bang up to date. Both my daughters are at school. In fact, my eldest daughter will soon start her last year of primary school. The school day is short, but that is the time I dedicate to blogging and making money. I’m always behind on the housework, but, ultimately, working the way I do works for out family.
The kids have a main carer and my wife is able to work full-time in London as the main provider. My wife simply isn’t the kid of person who will ever be chair of the PTA or part of playground WhatsApp chat group. It may not work for everyone, but it works for us and it works for me.