Our plans don’t always work out. If we’re lucky, they turn into something even better.
Take graphic designer Brent Almond. When he started thinking about his blog, Designer Daddy, he planned to review baby items from a design standpoint. That didn’t work out. Instead, his blog became a chronicle of his family and Almond’s introduction into a world of father bloggers.
“I just kind of followed the lead of what’s going on in my life,” says Brent, 45.
Brent met his husband, Nick, in 1997. They connected on AOL, back when “you had to crank the Internet up,” he jokes. The two had a commitment ceremony in 2003, and fatherhood was already on their minds.
“We both voiced the desire to have a family at some point,” Brent says. “It was pretty much part of the conversation from early on.”
They took their time pulling the pieces together. While his husband worked as an attorney, Brent worked as a graphic designer, eventually starting his own freelance business. They got a dog, along with a house in the Washington, D.C., suburbs with a big backyard.
Their adoption process took time. With starts and stops, including a match that didn’t work out, they spent two years working to become parents.
“Honestly, the part that took the longest was making the family album to show prospective birth mothers,” Brent says. “It had to be perfect.”
Their son, Jon, was born on Nov. 7, 2009. A year later, Brent didn’t just celebrate his son’s first birthday on that date. He also launched the blog. His inaugural post showed off the birth announcements he had designed.
“That kind of set the tone,” he says.
GROWING AND CHANGING
As Brent’s son has grown and changed, so has Designer Daddy. His initial idea of reviewing baby items fell by the wayside as he read other blogs and realized that he didn’t see a lot of blogs by gay dads.
There were some sites meant for prospective fathers, and other sites making connections for prospective adoption. But as Brent considered all the options, he realized that he simply wanted to blog about fatherhood and life as a father.
With some design and cool graphics thrown in, of course.
For much of Designer Daddy’s first year, Brent blogged without much interaction from the audience. The breakthrough, he said, came when he made contact with another blogger named Oren Miller and became a member of a Facebook group for daddy bloggers.
What had been a solitary pursuit became a social one. He met people he was reading and saw how they approached the daily and weekly and month routine needed for successful blogging. He learned ways to do it better and more effectively.
These days he tries to post two to three times each week.
“And I keep thinking of things I want to write but I haven’t gotten to yet,” Brent says. “I’m always kind of thinking and playing with the formula.”
Through the years, Designer Daddy has notched some major successes.
One of the blog’s most widely read posts to date came in November of 2013. “Chasing After Batman: An Introverted Parent Raising An Extroverted Child,” wasn’t even focused on LGBT parenting issues. It was, simply, about how a quiet, thoughtful parent sometimes has to race to keep up with “the most gregarious and extroverted child there.”
“This particular story had nothing to do with being gay,” Brent says. But it was a personal story, which he’s found resonates with readers.
Another post that gained considerable attention was “25 Reasons Having Gay Dads Is Awesome!” from June of this year. Twenty-four other gay families submitted pictures and Brent added tag lines. That made it to the front of the Huffington Post’s Gay Voices section. He’s also appeared on the HuffPost Live video feature at the site.
Design is still part of Designer Daddy, though. A regular series showcases the cartoon notes that Brent puts in his son’s lunchbox. The super-cute versions of super heroes might make you wish you’d paid more attention in art class.
“As blogs have evolved, there’s a lot of competition for eyeballs,” Brent says, so striking imagery is important.
While there are directions aplenty that the site could take over the next few years, Brent’s next goal isn’t based in the online world. He wants to write and illustrate a picture book for children with gay parents.
“I know a lot of people I can hit up,” to pitch such a project, he says. “It’s just a matter of getting it on paper.”