I had the absolute pleasure of speaking with Paul Fellows of Babysitting the Kids. If you haven’t read his blog, you need to head over there right now! His recent post hilariously illustrates his quandary with commuting home during the summer holidays.
So I had a few questions for Paul. Fellow humor bloggers, you would do well to pay attention!
1. How did your blog get started?
Back in May 2016, our local branch of the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) sort of press ganged me into it, through my wife. A blog for dads by a dad was their plan. What could possibly go wrong?
I had blogged a little around 2010, but this usually consisted of political satire (mainly swipes at our government of the time) and utterly ridiculous inventions (microwavable frozen toast, or “Froast” anyone?) Oh, and one line restaurant reviews. Couple that with stopping studying English aged sixteen, and I was clearly the man for the job.
2. How do you define your niche? Do you have a target audience?
Babysitting the Kids is essentially a blog about parenting and disaster, hopefully using my everyday woes and frustrations to put a smile on people’s faces. I don’t use this blog for anything but parenting, although there’s the occasional serious post thrown in amongst the chaos. The post that I wrote about baby loss from a Dad’s perspective had a phenomenal response.
My target audience is probably for dads to make them feel better about themselves, but it usually works for mums too, smug creatures that they are.
3. Where do you get your material? Do you think funny things happen to you more than other people, or do you have to “enhance” your stories to make people laugh?
My material is a largely a true-ish account of real life mishaps. OK, there’s a bit of hamming up at times for comic effect, but not much. There’s humour in most scenarios that don’t go to plan (parenting in a nutshell) if you bother to look for it, so it’s not unique. The scenarios generally play out by themselves, then you write it all down, pop a cherry on top and press “publish.” Then spend the next two hours fixing the typos that you missed.
Most of my other material comes from deconstructing ridiculous or sicophantic “serious” articles from the newspapers or parenting blog sites. Some viral blog posts are beyond terrible, so are pretty easy pickings for someone with a playful or mischievous mind. How they get so much coverage in the first place is the question that I’m incapable of answering. If I could, I may one day break through that elusive 100 Facebook likes.
4. Do you think that being funny is something that comes naturally, or can a writer learn it?
To a degree, it is natural. That said, I would be astonished if you pointed me towards a genuinely funny writer who didn’t read, watch or listen to comedy or humorous material on a regular basis. The more you absorb, the more your subconscious understands how to work to a form. Like anything, comedy requires planning and structure. Comedians don’t just come up with a show in an afternoon but draft and refine just like bloggers should.
In my experience, there’s no such thing as a good first draft, which amazes me why so many bloggers insist on publishing them! I’m not sure if you’re aware of the TV shows “The Thick of It” (UK) and it’s sister show “Veep” (US) but they have a brilliant way of filming. Take one is essentially the already tight script. Then they do another couple of takes where they allow the performers to improvise which is often where the magic comes from when they splice it all together. Writing should be the same. Make it tight, then make it funnier.
“Most of my other material comes from deconstructing ridiculous or sicophantic “serious” articles from the newspapers or parenting blog sites. Some viral blog posts are beyond terrible, so are pretty easy pickings for someone with a playful or mischievous mind.”
5. How do you find other humor bloggers to connect with? Is there some “humor blogger cool kids table” I haven’t been invited to?
I have never connected with another humour blogger. Seriously.
To be blunt, I’ve never found a “humour” blogger that I find consistently funny so please point me in the direction of some. The odd amusing post pops up, but it’s usually a low strike rate in context to the rest of the material. Proper writers and comedians, like David Sedaris or Richard Herring do this sort of thing much better as a concept. I like Gary Bainbridge, a columnist in the UK too. He has a warm and self-depricating style that I instantly took too.
6. Seriously, do you connect with other humor bloggers?
No. Seriously. In fact, I think that you may be the only other blogger that I’ve connected with. Seriously.
7. Do you monetize your blog? How do you do it?
Again no. I wouldn’t know where to start, and I guess that I would run a mile if I understood what was required.
8. Do you think it’s harder to find a “product” to sell when your product is wit and sarcasm?
I genuinely don’t know. Half of the blogs that I see on parenting sites are dull and tedious attempts at actual product placement, so that would appear to be what sells. Literally. What you should be selling is a story, so it shouldn’t be an issue given an appropriate opportunity to be heard. In reality it probably is more difficult, as most folk don’t seem to have the patience to read anything more than 140 characters these days. RIP books. It’s been a pleasure knowing you.
9. How do you publicize your blog? Are there any social media platforms that you think work best for humor bloggers?
I’m terrible at this. I do Facebook and Twitter mostly, but not anywhere near often enough. I know that I should shout louder, but being a Brit would rather wait to be asked. It’s in our DNA. Asides from James Corden’s.
10. Any final words of wisdom for other humor bloggers?
Write what you want to write, when you want to write it. Also, plan and write ahead for significant dates, special occasions, etc. when you’re in the mood for it. There’s nothing worse than trying to meet a deadline with only shoddy material as your friend. My plan is to get enough material to keep recycling and never have to write again. Writing is such a dreadful waste of life, don’t you think?
If you want more humor like this, follow Paul’s blog and social media!
Thank you for stopping by! I hope you had a laugh! If you like what you read, please, PLEASE sign up for my newsletter. If you are my one-millionth subscriber, I promise to bear your children. For all others, I will send you a free set of printable wine labels, plus my hilarious wit to your inbox every week.
And if you’re in the mood to make someone else laugh while making yourself the hit of the party, head over to my etsy store and purchase some of my Mommy Needs Wine products. Or just share one of my posts on your social media. I love sharing! Sharing makes squeal with joy. (Good Lord, don’t hog all of my wit for yourself! Sharing is caring!)
Did you know that you can vote for my blog once a day on Top Mommy Blogs? Just click on this badge:
This blog post participates in some of the following linkies: