While the blogosphere often seems to be dominated by moms, there are some dad bloggers out there as well. Michael Kwan is a Vancouver dad blogger who fearlessly hangs out with myself and my fellow mom bloggers in a local Facebook group. He’s here today to share a dad’s perspective on blogging.
TKM: First, tell us a bit about Michael Kwan.
Michael: Hi, my name is Michael Kwan and I’ve been a professional freelance writer for the last 12 years. I was born and raised here in Vancouver, attending the University of British Columbia where I graduated with a degree in psychology and English literature. In addition to the work I’ve done with clients and the writing I do on my blog, I’ve also authored three books.
As basic as it may sound, three of my biggest passions in life are food, travel and technology… and sharing my stories about all three of them! I am happily married to my high school sweetheart and we are the proud parents of little three-year-old Adalynn, who continues to impress and surprise us each and every day. Fatherhood has very much taken over my life.
TKM: When and why did you start blogging?
Michael: Part of my answer really depends on your definition of “blogging.” Back in high school, a good friend of mine started an online column called The Commentary, which he distributed via email. I thought it was a brilliant idea. It planted the “journalism” seed in the back of my head. I subsequently started my own email newsletter, called Now That’s Entertainment, manually sending it out to my humble subscriber base. That was almost 20 years ago, long before I had any sense of what a “blog” even was.
Even though my skills were clearly not up to snuff at the time, I really enjoyed writing. I enjoyed organizing my thoughts into words outside of the academic context, taking on a more casual, conversational tone. It boggled my mind then, just as much as it does now, that actual people really do read the words I write.
The newsletter eventually evolved into a Geocities site—remember Geocities?—which is how I came to teach myself about site design and basic HTML. Each time I published a new column, I would have to update the homepage manually to indicate this.
As I learned more about the possibility of professional blogging and making money online, I outgrew what Geocities could provide and launched Beyond the Rhetoric in 2006.
The nature of the blog has shifted right alongside changes in my personal and professional life. While the content about working from home and running your own business is still around, I write a lot less about sports, movies and video games these days and a lot more about parenting, life lessons and personal fulfillment. It’s about organizing my thoughts and sharing them with a wider audience.
TKM: How did you come up with your blog name?
Michael: I actually wrote a blog post on this exact topic when I launched Beyond the Rhetoric in 2006. I’m a bit embarrassed by the actual writing now that I look back at it, which I suppose can only be expected. Basically, the objective of Beyond the Rhetoric then, which is fundamentally the same as it is today, is to provide a home on the Internet “for my thoughts, reviews and mindless musings.”
It’s called Beyond the Rhetoric because I strive to be as open, honest and transparent with my readers as is reasonably possible. I try not to get too caught up in the semantics or clever wordplay of more formal writing, offering a relaxed environment to speak frankly about topics that interest me. I’m going “beyond the rhetoric” as I try to express my ideas.
TKM: Do you have a blog schedule or do you post when you feel like it?
Michael: The blog schedule has been adapted and revised over the years, but yes, I generally try to keep up with some sort of editorial calendar. Part of this has to do with establishing a routine and helping to further solidify my sense of a positive work ethic. What I find is that I don’t work well without a deadline, because it becomes far too easy to kick the can further and further down the road. With a set blogging schedule, I know what I need to write and when it needs to be done.
When I first started Beyond the Rhetoric, I endeavored to publish a new post each and every day. Between juggling my various personal and professional responsibilities, particularly as it pertains to fatherhood, I’ve since scaled back to four times a week. Right now, Sundays are reserved for the Sunday Snippet where I share and explore a notable quote or excerpt. For the past year, I’ve put out a new vlog every Monday as well.
TKM: What is your favourite part of blogging? Your least favourite part?
Michael: I’d say I have two favorite parts. It’s incredibly rewarding connecting with readers and other bloggers who share similar interests, even if we have wildly disparate opinions or perspectives on these interests. The engagement and discussion demonstrate that everyone can have a voice on the Internet and we should all be open to listening what other people have to say. It’s about building a sense of community.
My other favorite part is that blogging has provided me with a consistent creative challenge. Paradoxically, I’m one of those people who find comfort in routine and predictability, but I’m also a big novelty seeker. I yearn for new and exciting ways to express my thoughts and exercise my creative muscle. That’s why I started the vlog, for instance, and why I wrote the books. These ideas all spawned from the blog.
My relationship with my least favorite part of blogging is equally paradoxical. I obsess over the numbers. How many followers do I have on Twitter now? How many views is my most recent video getting? It was almost better when we didn’t have access to all these analytics, because they inevitably lead to comparisons. I wish I didn’t worry about the numbers nearly as much as I do. Conversely, these comparisons can also be a great source of motivation and that’s part of what keeps me going.
TKM: What advice would you offer other bloggers?
Michael: The best advice that I can offer to other bloggers is that you really shouldn’t view other bloggers as your competition. This isn’t a Coke vs. Pepsi, Apple vs. Samsung kind of scenario. Instead, think of other bloggers as your colleagues, your partners, your collaborators and your cheerleaders.
You’re on the same team. There’s plenty to go around; this isn’t a zero sum game. We can all learn from one another, sharing information and expertise for mutual benefit. As cliche as it sounds, a rising tide really does lift all boats. And you might make a few friends on the journey too.
TKM: What is your favourite social media platform and why?
Michael: Probably Instagram. Even though I make my living as a freelance writer and blogger, I’m drawn to Instagram as an inherently visual platform. It may have lost some of its focused minimalism over the years, but I think it’s ultimately better for it. Video is just as much a part of Instagram now as photos are, just as Instagram Stories are such an integral part of the platform too. It still feels spontaneous and authentic, even if we all know it really isn’t sometimes.