An Interview With Dave Hornby Who Writes The DADventurer

This is my sixth interview with pro-bloggers and this week I’m super proud and honoured to be able to interview Dave, the man behind The DADventurer. Dave writes about his adventures of being a stay-at-home dad to his three and a half year old daughter (L) and 2 month old son (‘Beetle’). With appearances from the missus (Hayley) and sausage dog (Dax), he shares his experiences, thoughts and random musings about parenthood in an honest, light-hearted and often excessively sweary way.

When I first started blogging and I googled dad bloggers in the UK, The Dadventurer came up instantly on the first page, and I was hooked from that moment onwards. Dave is humorous, and never fails to make me chuckle. Dave is always rated in the top ten lists of dad bloggers and always produces quality content. If you haven’t checked out his blog I highly recommend you do. You won’t be disappointed.

Thank you to Dave for agreeing to be interviewed by me.

1. When and why did you start blogging?

I started The DADventurer back in July 2014 when the missus was coming to the end of pregnancy with my daughter, L. I was a freelance writer at the time and saw it as an opportunity to write different types of content, showcase my writing and hopefully turn it into something which would supplement my freelance work.

Sometimes there’s a stigma associated with starting blogging for financial gains, rather than, say, it giving the blogger a creative outlet, but I’ve never shied away from saying that I started blogging to try to make money.

2. Did any previous training or education before blogging help you when you started blogging?

Not really training or education, but previous jobs helped. When I graduated from Uni, I was a business consultant, so that skillset definitely contributed – be it stuff like problem solving, learning new things, being analytical or even knowing how to structure a business email.

After that, I changed careers and started producing content for a football and betting company. Long story short, that went bust so I became self-employed and started writing football articles for the likes of Metro and Bleacher Report. I’ve found blogging to be very different to this, but I wouldn’t have started The DADventurer had I not randomly begun penning footy content back then.

3. Do you take much notice of your blogging statistics? (page views, unique monthly users, charts etc)

Yeah, I take notice, but more out of habit than anything else. It’s something I clock mentally, but don’t obsess over it. I just try to get my head down and produce content.

If you’re obsessing about the fact you’ve been stuck on 5,000 Instagram followers for months because people play the follow unfollow game or get annoyed when you’ve dropped 10 places in certain charts, then you’re not focusing on what matters the most – content.

4. When you get approached by a brand who want to work with you, how do you decide if it’s right for you and your readers?

Deciding what campaigns to work on is a bit of a complicated process and involves multiple decisions. For example, is it a brand I like, is the campaign something that interests me, what other work do I have, is the fee reflective of my time / effort, will it create interesting content for my audience?

I’ve always been picky about what paid work I do, but since having a second kid, I’m even pickier as I have limited time. As such, I probably turn down 95% of approaches I get and only take on the ones that tick all my boxes.

5. What do you think are the key ingredients that make a successful top blog?

Tough question! I don’t think there’s one or two factors, but instead a multitude of things you have to get right. Blogging is a funny one – I don’t think you need to be the best at anything, you just need to be good at everything. If you’ve got the time and patience, everything can be self-taught too.

For instance, you need to take decent photos, be aware of SEO, know how to tinker with your blog, be active on social media and produce good content. If you’re not producing content people want to read, then they’ve got no reason to engage or come back. You need to somehow find a USP and unique style in among thousands of other blogs. That can be tricky and often takes time.

6. How do you balance your work/life balance?

Not sure, I still haven’t managed that after 3.5 years! The issue with blogging is that it’s all encompassing. Your work is your life and your life is your work. Doing a traditional job, you can (usually) switch off at weekends, but as a blogger, you’re continually in blogger mode. We live our lives online, so there not much separation between the two.

I’m a stay-at-home dad, so have always had to juggle the blog around looking after my daughter – and now son. They are my priority, however I’d be lying if I said that there haven’t been (plenty of) times when the blog has had to come first due to deadlines etc. These days, I do the vast majority of work on the two days that my daughter is in nursery, which is obviously helped by the missus still being on mat leave.

7. You have made appearances on radio or television? Is this something that comes naturally to you?

I’ve been on the radio a few times but have always shied away from TV. I have no issue in talking to people or presenting to large groups – this is something I did regularly as a business consultant. My issue is more about whether I can be articulate and whether I have enough time to think before I speak! Being a regular member of the (now defunct) Meet The Parents podcast definitely helped, but I prefer to stay away from ‘live’ situations in favour of hiding behind my keyboard.

8. Many bloggers won’t talk about or use photos of their children on their blog. What are your feelings when it comes to talking about your children on your blog?

It’s a really interesting topic and one where the answer really comes down to your own personal situation. That being said, you need to carefully consider your stance before you start blogging, otherwise it’s too late – once something is on the internet, there isn’t any way you’re getting it back. As a parent blogger though, it’s pretty hard not to feature your kids.

For me, I’ve always been conscious about trying to protect our online identities. For instance, I use nicknames for the kids (L and ‘Beetle’) and am very careful about revealing too much personal information. Recently, I’ve also made the decision to stop sharing L’s face – I’m conscious that she’s never asked for her life to be online, and now she’s approaching four, she’s lost that ‘all babies and toddlers look the same’ vibe.

9. You have won awards for your work on your blog. How important is it to win an award for your blog?

Thanks for rubbing it in, Nige! I’ve actually never won a blog award, although I’ve been a (losing!) finalist in numerous awards, such as the BIBs and Vuelio. Although a bit of a kick in the knackers at the time, I focus on the fact that this is achievement in itself.

I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t like to win something at some point – it’s the ultimate recognition from the blogging community. However, I don’t think awards make or break you – not winning doesn’t take anything away from other achievements.

10. As one of the premier dad bloggers and influencers in the UK, do you feel under any pressure or  a certain responsibility in regards to the content you publish?

To an extent – I guess I have a certain profile so am aware that others may look towards me to see what I’m doing. This brings some responsibility – take something like disclosure and follow links. If I didn’t disclose collaborations with brands or chose to publish paid follow links, I don’t think that would send out the right message to new bloggers in terms of industry best practice.

However, I’ve always tried to do what’s right for me rather than worry about what other people think. You’re never going to please everyone so may as well focus on living up to your own standards rather than those of others.

For me, that means things like only publishing posts when I’m totally happy with them. I’d prefer to post one blog post per week that meet my standards rather than three per week which I’m personally disappointed by just because of other people’s expectations.

11. If blogging was eliminated tomorrow, what would you do to make a living?

I’m not really sure. My primary job is being a stay-at-home dad and there are no plans for that to change anytime soon – the blog is just a nice bonus on the side. However, I don’t think I could be a stay-at-home parent with no side project, so I’d have to find something or potentially go crazy!

The natural thing would be looking at what I’ve learnt from blogging and putting this into something else – such as social media management or freelance writing.

12. What do you think your children will think when they are teenagers about how their early life has been recorded online? Happy or mortified?

It’s something I worry about, and as teenagers, I guess the answer depends on what side of the bed they’ve got out of that day! I’d hope that they would be happy – we have so many captured memories and have been able to do so many things thanks to the blog.

However, I’m well aware that certain things have been shared which they may not be best pleased about – as a 16 year old, would you like to read about the time you crapped in the bath as a kid? Ultimately, time will tell. Hell, who knows, the internet may not even be around in 15 years time!

13. When family or friends find out you are a blogger, what is their reaction?

Everyone I know is well aware of my blogging alter-ego. I’ve never had any issues or negative remarks about what I do – in fact, quite the opposite. Blogging is a lot more mainstream now than it was when I started, so I’d say that most non-bloggers get it, or are at least aware of what it involves. This helps to make life easier when you get that dreaded ‘so what do you do?’ question when meeting someone new.

14. Since you have started blogging, do you think it has changed and how?

Yes and no. What I do hasn’t changed – I produce different types of content across numerous platforms to try to get a reaction from an audience. However, has the blogging landscape changed? Yeah, it probably has.

For instance, everyday there are new parent blogs being created – I don’t know numbers, but it certainly feels like the market is more competitive and saturated than it used to be. Social media has changed a lot too – Twitter used to be the go to platform for bloggers, but now feels like a quiet place for excessive link-dumping.

Then there’s the rise of the Instagrammer. When I started, it was barely a thing. Now it’s the home to some of the biggest parenting influencers in the world – and they don’t even have a blog. I think this is one of the biggest changes – people have seen an opportunity to focus on one social platform only, then expand from there. The traditional blogger route was to focus on a blog, with social media being secondary.

15. Is there any subject you won’t write about on your blog? If so what and why?

Not really – I’ve written about plenty of things that have probably crossed a line. How to have sex with a baby in the room and Mr Tumble snorting cocaine are two examples that come to mind. I’m happy to swear, I’m happy to make crude jokes, I’m happy to say things others might not.

I sometimes look back on things I’ve previously written and wince a bit – however, this is the stuff that helped to get me noticed when I first started to blog. I’m not reckless in my approach though – there’s a certain amount of thought behind what I say to ensure it’s not detrimental to the blog or the family.

16. Do you find PR’s and brands easy to deal with?

I wouldn’t say ‘easy’. When dealing with PRs, it’s ultimately a business relationship. They want you to do something in exchange for something. Like all walks of life, some of these relationships are a pleasure whereas others have a lot to be desired. Above all though, if you want your blog to be a business, you need to act like it’s a business – be professional, polite and deliver on commitments, no matter how challenging the relationship.

17. Where do you see your blog in five years time? Will you still be writing it, or will you have moved onto something else?

Who knows? That’s a lot of time in the life of a parent blogger. By then, L will be nearly nine and ‘Beetle’ will be just over five. I can’t even imagine what that’ll be like. I’d like to think that The DADventurer will be around in some form or another, but I’m sure I’ll also know when the time is right to call it quits.

18. What has been the most exciting thing to have happened to you from being a blogger?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have some pretty cool things happen through blogging, but it’s hard to say what’s been the best. Some of the coolest include doing a skydive through a collaboration with Red Letter Days, getting the chance to test drive cars in Luxembourg with Goodyear and getting an Audi TTS for a week – a vast upgrade on our Nissan Juke!

Probably the best was working with the FA where I not only got so see my beloved Aston Villa beat Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, but was also given a VIP pass to go behind the scenes and walk around the pitch prior to kick off.

19. What has given you the most satisfaction from blogging?

Being able to say that I turned an idea into a full-time business, which I manage around being a stay-at-home parent, definitely gives me a lot of satisfaction. It’s challenging, but gives me the best of both worlds.

On a more day to day level, it’s nice getting a reaction. Whether it’s a knowing nod or getting someone to think about something in a different way, having people read your random thoughts is satisfying. I’m hardly a comedian, but I particularly enjoy making people chuckle – that, for me, is the best reaction.

20. Finally did you ever in your dreams think you would become a premier dad blogger in the UK when you started?

Aww, aren’t you sweet?! I mean, I always hoped that I’d make the blog a successful venture. For me, success was always about turning it into a profitable business, which I guess goes hand in hand with being a high profile dad blogger.

The truth though is that The DADventurer has become a million times more successful than I envisaged. But, this has taken a combination of hard work, too many hours and some good fortune – it’s not happened overnight.

6 thoughts on “An Interview With Dave Hornby Who Writes The DADventurer

  1. What a fab interview! I have to admit, I’m always a bit extra nosey when it comes to the dad bloggers and the type of content they write about. Dave’s definitely got the right idea about going with what’s right for him and not worrying about everyone else. Thanks for joining us for the #Dreamteam

  2. Awesome interview Nigel, thanks for putting it together. For me, the thing that stuck out is the whole work/life balance issue. Though I’m not a “dad blogger”, this is a real problem and something that I still deal with myself. It’s so easy to focus on work at ALL TIMES when you work from home. This interview helped me because it showed that I’m not the only one that thinks this way and probably works a little too much…

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