AN INVITATION TO PARENT BLOGGERS TO DISCUSS A FEW CONTROVERSIAL BLOGGING DYNAMICS.
Single Dad Laughing. It’s a name that for many parent bloggers invokes instant and strong emotion, whether good or bad. Single Dad Laughing is the blog I started two years ago shortly after my wife left and I was struggling to adapt to life as a single dad.
To listen to many parent bloggers, you would believe that Single Dad Laughing is an incredible, beautifully-written, honest, and well-intentioned blog. To listen to others, you would believe that SDL is a poorly-written, dishonest, self-aggrandizing, and even fraudulent blog. Being that such “discussion” has now spilled onto the pages of Babble, I thought I would respond and share my thoughts about these dynamics here where we hopefully can have a productive discussion about it.
Indeed, it is a strange reality to have so many people applaud the exact things I have done to grow my blog that others feel I should be apologizing for. It is surreal to be loved and hated for the exact same reasons. I will be the first to admit that I haven’t always followed the conventional “rules” of blogging. I have marketed my blog and promoted my blog in a multitude of different ways, and I have grown a fairly big following in the process.
I come from a business marketing and sales background. It’s what I did before pursuing this odd life as Single Dad Laughing. And I was always very good at what I did. I don’t think any person I’ve worked with will dispute that I always brought in big results wherever I worked, whether they liked me as a person or not.
In the middle of it all, I bought a therapeutic mattress store. We sold specialty beds that sold for anywhere between $999 and $9500. I bought the store in August of 2008. I’m sure you all remember what happened to the U.S. Economy in October of that same year.
At the time I bought my store, the parent company was selling all 13 of its stores to individual owners. Most of the new owners started out fairly well. By the end of 2008, only half of us were still in business. By mid 2009, mine was the only store left standing. When an economy is crashing, people hold off buying what most would consider splurge items. I don’t know that the individual store owners can really be blamed for their failures. The whole country was going down in flames, it seemed.
But for some reason, my store always did great, even throughout the economic downfall. I made pretty decent money and was never in danger of going out of business.
As things turned south for the other store owners, I remember there grew some resentment from them for my marketing techniques and strategies. While everyone else was pulling back, I was spending more. When things occasionally got a little tight, I would go guerilla and figure out how to get our advertising out there with little or no money at all. The other owners didn’t care for my billboard on the freeway. They didn’t care for the army of teenagers I would hire every weekend to wave signs. They didn’t like that I paid top dollar for the best salespeople in the company. They didn’t like a lot of things, and they let me know it. They also let customers know it. And employees. And the folks over at headquarters.
A lot of these guys were my friends before we bought our stores, and even though they weren’t too pleased with my success, I never considered them to be anything less. I have always believed that success breeds more success in business. Had they all been successful, I would have seen fruits from their successes and visa versa.
In a bad economy like that, there is often a need to point fingers for one’s own failures. Eventually we got past the finger pointing long enough to bring all the owners together for a training. I promised to give them all my secrets for my success thus far, and told them I’d be happy to help them train their staff and help get their marketing in the right place, free of charge.
The owners congregated, and they learned everything I could teach them in the course of a day. They got excited, and any ill-feelings quickly disappeared. Surely from that point on, we could all work together to bring a great name to this product we were all peddling. Surely from that point on, we could all work together to help each other succeed.
Interestingly enough, after hearing me out, they openly admitted that I hadn’t done anything wrong in what I’d done to make my store successful. I never apologized for anything I had done, as there really was nothing wrong with it. They took my challenges and advice and they each went back to their own stores, determined to make it work.
Some of them saw immediate success after our meeting. They’re the ones that lasted a while. But even they, with time, stopped following my advice and stopped working together with me. The continued bad economy and subsequent drop in customers scared them too much. And they all went under, one by one.
Toward the end of 2009, I pulled the plug on my own store, having had a fun and profitable ride. Corporate was selling the manufacturing to another company who had their eyes fixed on national distribution. My little shop would be nothing but a thorn in their side, so it was time. I then worked in corporate marketing as an executive for the next year and a half. With a still horrible economy and a limited budget, I had to really get creative and unique with my marketing strategies. And, those strategies paid off just as they had with my store.
While working there, I started my blog Single Dad Laughing. At the time, I didn’t know anything about blogging. I didn’t know there were tens of millions of blogs in existence. I didn’t know that there were a handful of “super blogs” such as Pioneer Woman, Dooce, and The Bloggess. I didn’t know people made money from blogging, nor was that ever a goal of mine starting out.
I just wrote to write. It was my escape from the reality of my broken life.
And as Single Dad Laughing gained popularity, I naturally started learning there was a lot more to the blogging world than I ever dreamed there was. People actually had blogs as businesses. That was a weird concept, but a fun one to me. And if other people could do it, why couldn’t I?