Dad, blogger, author, quantity surveyor..and waver goodbyer to pert breasts. Is there no end to the talents of BEN WAKELING, this month’s main man in the Blogger Insights’ spotlight? Let’s find out, shall we…
Reluctant Housedad (that’s me): So, Ben Wakeling, explain yourself…
BW: This sounds like an episode of Blind Date, except in this case I’m married with kids, which makes me a less than appealing proposition. My name’s Ben, I’m 27, and I live in a village called Kenilworth where the average age of the population is about 70, and the average driving speed is 20. It’s essentially where people go to die. I’ve been married to Jess for five years, we have two kids – Isaac and Noah – and in my day job I’m a Quantity Surveyor for a housebuilding company. Pick me, lonely singleton!
RH: When did you start blogging?
BW: In my head I constantly narrate my life, so I suppose I’ve been blogging for a good couple of decades. But that’s not the answer you want. The real answer is January 31st, 2010. I’ve written 174 posts, although I prefer to call them ‘beautiful works of literary art’. It works out at just over two posts a week, because I’m pretty lazy.
RH: How many hits does your blog get?
BW: I usually get about 500-600 hits a week, which I’m fairly happy with. I’m not one of these people who gets hung up on stats too much, although I did get over 1,700 hits in one day once, which gave me a mild heart attack. I think I cheered more than I did when I found out Jess was pregnant with our first.
RH: You Tweet as @benwakeling. When did you start?
BW: 20th December 2008, although it took me a good year or two to work out what to do. I’ve sent 11,045 tweets as we speak, which equates to around 11 a day (that’s some good maths). I don’t think that’s too bad. It makes me cringe when I see people who’ve tweeted 60,000 times and have about 200 followers. In fact, I rarely indulge in any kind of lengthy, meaningful conversations via Twitter. That’s what phones are for.
RH: How many followers?
BW: I have 1612 followers, of which 1000 are spammers, 300 are random businesses, and 311 think I’m someone else or have forgotten they’ve followed me. That just leaves my dad. I can’t stand it when people unfollow me. I want to find out exactly who it is and send them a ten-page questionnaire on what I did which was so repulsive to them that they felt the need to click on the ‘Unfollow’ button.
RH: Why did you start blogging?
BW: To plug the book I was writing at the time (‘Goodbye, Pert Breasts’). I wanted to see if other people liked it, and if they did I’d carry on. Fortunately, I got some good feedback. Excellent feedback, if I counted the spammers’ comments: ‘Great post, really moving, click here for hot babes.’
RH: What did you hope to get out of it?
BW: Fame. Fortune. Wealth. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I basically my aim in life is to make everyone like me and laugh at my jokes. I can’t stand it when I know I’ve upset someone. Other people are like ‘whatever, I don’t care if she doesn’t like what I’ve written’, but all I want to do is go to the person’s house with a basket of muffins and a written apology. Basically, I want to be the Justin Bieber of the writing community, but without all the haters and jokes about girl parts. And I want fans who can grow body hair.
RH: What did you start off writing about? Your growing family and the issues surrounding that, for example?
BW: I began putting up excerpts from my book, a week-by-week account of pregnancy through my eyes. Nowadays, I write very little about parenting, instead choosing to write very random posts about strange things.
RH: Please can you add a link to your very first post so we can see the birth of your blog
BW: Of course: I’ve even given it its own bit.ly name. http://bit.ly/bensfirstblogpostinthatbloghewrites
RH: On which point, how and why did you come up with the name for your blog?
BW: My wife came up with it, OK? Honestly! So stop lynching me, angry mothers! Your boobs look great, promise! Apart from hers, over there. You could tuck the contents of a pencil case under those.
RH: You are one of only a handful of men bloggers who really connects with the ‘mummy’ blogging community. Was this deliberate?.
BW: Yes. Ever since I became a dad my eyes have been opened to the number of hot mums out there. Before, when I was young, free and single, I wouldn’t have looked twice at a woman pushing a pram. Now, the first thing I do when I take my child to playgroups is scan the room for attractive mums. Sometimes I don’t even take my child. I just stand there and leer. Plus, I know that mums like to gossip, and if they’re gossiping about my books or blog, then great – I’m all for free publicity!
RH: Three of your posts you’re most proud of
- Are You Thinking What I Think You’re Thinking? – What I imagine is going through my 16 month-old’s head when he’s been told off.
- An Ode to Obesity – I’m completely awesome at poetry, as this little ditty about fat people shows.
- Who is the Most Super-Badass Animal in the Savannah? – It’s not who you think it is.
RH: Your three favourite bloggers?
BW: Oof, I’m going to have to have a good think. Bringing up Charlie is probably on many peoples’ lists of favourite bloggers, and he’s given me a couple of good reviews. Slummy Single Mummy is also a great writer, and is guaranteed to provide a good laugh. Finally, After Iris is a blog by Jessica Southwood, who lost her baby a few years ago. She writes some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.
RH: Three best things about blogging
BW: Finding out other people have laughed at or enjoyed something I’ve written, being able to broadcast my innermost thoughts without any kind of regulation, and getting the odd free gadget to review.
RH: And three worst?
BW: The pressure to do it often, trying to get peoples’ attention, the sinking feeling you get when you write a brilliant post but get one page view. In a week.
RH: Tell us about your books?
BW: The first is called ‘Goodbye, Pert Breasts: The Diary of a Newborn Dad’, which gave birth to a sequel, called ‘Teething Pains: How to Survive Being a Dad’. I also wrote a book called ‘Skidmark and the Quest for Coolness’, but it’s rubbish.
- ‘Goodbye, Pert Breasts’ is about pregnancy from my perspective: what dads worry about, and the observations they make (but would never say out loud). It’s also got a few chapters on how to become more involved as well, so during the birth you’re not just stood in the corner of the delivery suite gibbering like an idiot.
- ‘Teething Pains’ deals with the first four years of being a father, and basically how to look after your child without completely screwing it up. Both of my books are packed to the brim with daft pictures and witty captions, which often bear no relevance to the topic being written about.
RH: How long did they take to write?
BW: ‘GPB’ took nine months (obviously), plus another month or two to tidy up and pad out a bit. ‘Teething Pains’ was written in about four months.
RH: How did you get them published?
BW: I tried to get them published through conventional means, going to an agent, and so on, but kept getting rejection letters, which took me back to my dating days. So I decided to self-publish. Marketing the books is incredibly hard work, and the fame I crave so deeply is way out of arm’s reach, but it’s fun, and I love to write, so I guess it’s worth it.
• Tune in next week for Ben’s Top 10 Tips for How To Survive Being a Dad.