The highs and Lows and everything in between being 'big on Instagram'
So I've been wanting to blog for a while but having a full time job, almost 2 year old triplets and a very lively 5 year old it's not always easy to put pen to paper for longer than a caption.
I thought long and hard about what I could open my 'blogging life' with, the usual subjects crossed my mind, like what's it like having triplets, or what did we do when we first found out, however I thought I would use this an opportunity to share my thoughts and experiences on my Instagram account, how it all came about and what I get out of it.
Now please please rest assured I don’t in anyway think I am famous, I don’t think I am a better dad than anyone else, or that we are a perfect family, I fell into this as much as anything and I think my genuine approach of 'what the heck happened and how do I have all these followers' is one of the main reasons that people warm to us as I know that it doesn’t mean anything it just means people like to see our lives and that’s cool!
I started Instagram in May 2017 a few weeks after the girls were born, I didn’t really know what it was, charlotte and I had a joint private page which we posted a picture a week or whatever on and we had about 200 followers all of which were our friends. I don’t think I even knew the password and Charlotte did all the uploading, although I knew it was a cool platform I didn’t really get it.
Not long after we had the girls I started having explosive urges to spill out how I was feeling, I mean having just had triplets I had a million things going round in my head and I was finding it hard to process them, I used humour to soften what was a daunting task ahead, and I also wanted to just get things off my chest, emotions, questions, and instagram seemed like the platform. So the day the girls were born I got the password and started uploading pictures of the girls on our private account, I also uploaded a picture of Henry and me chucking stones in the river on the evening the girls were born (I wasn’t allowed to stay in hospital with them). The reaction was massive considering the small following we had, tons of positive comments, likes and basically people blowing smoke up my ass and boy it felt good.
It made me curious as to what would happen if I set up on my own and would the interest be as high, I also thought maybe I can connect with other triplet dads and get ideas from them but also help some that are going through the pregnancy stage or have just found out. I also thought maybe I can blag some free bibs or vests as this little girls are going to cost me a fortune, so as I said Mya 2017 the 'daddy_to_triplet_girls' page was formed.
Looking back I don’t really know why I didn’t called it DTTG and Henry or something but I just didn’t, to be honest the way my mind worked was that people would be interested in the triplets and not me, or charlotte or even Henry and I would just focus on the highs and lows of triplet hood.
Within a week I had 1000 followers, I was shocked massively then a week later 2000 then after a month 10k, it just kept growing, every time I posted a video it went on the popular/trending page and I would just gain more followers by around mid-June I had 15k followers and a magazine called me to run an article, I said yes of course and they printed a massively cheesy story of me and called me a dad blogger, that’s the moment when I started to think I may be on to something here …..
The page kept growing and the brands started to approach me, they wanted to send me baby bath's, baby clothes, baby toys and all sorts, I just yes to anything and at a time when the ASA rules were more relaxed I just used the bits I was sent and tagged the companies in and they were happy.
Whilst this was amazing I set myself some simple rules, I would never swear on Instagram, I would post every day without fail and I would always be 100% honest on how I was feeling and how we were coping. This however did bring pressure, I felt under pressure to post something new and different every day, I was at work so Charlotte had to look after the triplets and Henry all day plus get a photo, that was relevant, new, exciting and cute as I was always worried that if I didn’t post people would stop following me.
Charlotte delivered every day without fail and whilst this was a pressure, in a way it made her get up, get the girls cleaned and dressed and even out the house sometimes and I thought this was a massively positive part of the Instagram journey as one of my biggest fears was how she would cope and she was smashing it day in and day out and had the pictures to prove it.
It's hard to pinpoint the timeline as to when the followers hit milestones but they continued to climb at an amazing rate and I started to attract some interest from the media etc, I did an interview on Sky sunrise Live about colic and the effects on relationships and I also did some radio bits, I found it all nerve racking but my life was turned upside down by the girls that it all just seemed to be part of the norm for us now, as regardless of the Instagram stuff everywhere we went people wanted to speak to us and ask us questions.
I must admit I did start to get obsessed with my page, not in terms of how long I would spend on Instagram but when I went to bed I would be excited a t how many followers I would wake up to and what comments I would have on my post from the day before, I guess this point which was around Aug/Sept was when I first started to experience some trolls or negativity. I found it hard to take, people would call the babies ugly or call me names and it made my blood boil, I wanted to write some sharp witty reply and shame them. But I decided that I was better than that so I blocked them and deleted their comments, now my view is that everyone has an opinion and I like that about Instagram. If I carry one of my kids upside down up the stairs I truly expect someone to point out that it isn't a great idea or if I give them chocolate for breakfast I appreciate people may say its not a suitable meal for a baby and that’s cool and I welcome that. It’s the nasty and offensive people that call you a bad dad or a bad parent – that’s what hurts as I put every ounce of my soul into trying to be a good dad and give the kids time.
Around October time I got my first break, I think I had about 40k followers and Ella's kitchen got in touch, they wanted to do some paid stuff with me and provide me with some food for the girls as well, I went down to Oxford to their head office and production farm with lots of other 'influencers' and we learned all about Ella's ethos and what they wanted us to do, it was amazing I was sitting there just thinking I'm out my depth here and don’t know what I'm doing here but once again I thought sod it and went for it, I still actually work with Ella's kitchen today and they are truly a great bunch!
From October 2017 onwards it carried on snowballing and my following was growing and so were the paid brand opportunities, Marks and Spencer wanted to do a photo shoot with the girls for the website, Nokia wanted to work with me, it was just amazing, when I was at work people started coming up to me saying they saw me in a magazine or heard me on the radio or on a website, it was truly mad!
I kept saying to Charlotte she needed to open a page as she could capture all what goes on during the day and so many parents love and respect her from my page that she would be amazing at it – and when the girl were 6 months she did.
So now we were both giving it a go and by xmas 2017 I think I had 50 odd thousand and she had around 10k, as our pages grew so did the branded opportunities, to be brutally honest I would challenge anyone who isn’t already financially stable (which we wasn’t as we even put the IVF for the girls on a credit card) who was 3 extra children over night to turn down things like this, its impossible, however I set some rules and I still stick to them today, I want work with products or companies that I don’t feel relevant to our followers and I turn down a lot of things as I try not to flood my page. You would be amazed how many followers I lose when I do a paid advert, and I understand that but I also hope our followers understand that we need to do it to keep the food on the table and when we first had the girls I said to Charlotte I would get a 2nd or a 3rd job to make ends meet but we have been blessed.
2018 was a mad year both our Instagram pages grew and grew and people started listening to us, we both met some people that I would class as lifelong friends now. Ive had dads message me while they are in the waiting room about to have a baby, I have mums asking me how I get the girls to sleep, I use Instagram as a platform to share all aspects of my family life, my battle with mental health issues and my weight, when we argue I mention it and I would say again it helps inspire us to get up and get out of the house to invest in memories and our family.
I still get the negative comments, I still get the haters but I stick to my rules I made in the first place about posting every single day and have never not posted and about not raising to the bait when someone is nasty even though it does rattle me and I start to question if its worth doing it after .. but that doesn’t last long.
I try to use the platform now as a stage to help as many people as I can with advice if they ask and I promote being open about you feelings as it can help save lives.
I don’t want to rattle out a list of all the other opportunities I get from Instagram as the intention of my blog post was to share how the journey started and how lucky we are not to brag about how many companies we work with, but we know we are fortunate although what I would say is with these opportunities comes responsibility, sometimes that means long phone calls, tight deadlines, having to capture content before we can go out for the day and then approval processes, contracts, limited companies etc etc. Im not suggesting that its not worth it but it isn’t as easy as just taking a photo.
I often get asked how 'I can make a successful Instagram page' well read the above again there is your answer … no I agree have no idea either.