Blogger Feature: James Zahn The Rock Father
• June 26, 2015
James Zahn The Rock Father
This month, we’re featuring James Zahn of The Rock Father. James writes about pop culture with a family spin (he’s got two young daughters!) – and a healthy dose of Star Wars. Read what he has to say about his own blogging style and process below.
How did you start blogging?
I was “blogging” before “blogs” existed. My first paid gig as an entertainment writer was back in the Fall of 1992, when I started covering music for some regional ‘zines – the kind printed on newspaper in black and white. I was in high school at the time, and writing became a natural extension of what I was doing on television – cable access, interviewing bands like FAITH NO MORE, MEGADETH and STONE TEMPLE PILOTS. I just never stopped writing, and after years of writing and editing for other companies, my wife and I decided that it was time to start my own site.
It was becoming a parent that was the driving force behind launching “The Rock Father,” which started as a “Daddy Blog” for the first few months. Once I found my footing and audience (which skews 80% female), the site evolved into THE ROCK FATHER Magazine: Pop Culture & Lifestyle for Families that Rock. It sort of all came together the way it was supposed to, and fits like a glove!
What are your favorite blogs to read?
Consumerist, Adweek, Blabbermouth and The Hollywood Reporter are day-starters. From some fellow like-minded dads, Life of Dad, BenSpark, Mommy’s Busy, Go Ask Daddy, Lunchbox Dad, I could go on. I always feel bad listing a few, because I don’t want to leave folks out – there’s a ton of people doing some really fun and great things!
What social media outlet do you use most frequently and why?
Instagram is by far my favorite, and it’s where I’m the most active – though my posts get syndicated to my other platforms. It’s instant, personal, and fosters creativity while providing a look into the lives of others. Twitter is where my biggest audience exists, so I’m there constantly as well.
What are some Clever tips for planning/organizing your blog posts every week?
I’d be dishonest if I didn’t fully admit that I’m completely old-school, and essentially terrible with this. I need to get better, and my wife reminds me of that daily. Despite being surrounded by technology and completely rooted in it, my editorial calendar is a dry erase whiteboard in my office. I plot out when sponsored posts, twitter parties, special events and travel are taking place, then try to create the right content mix of my reviews and features along with it. Since a lot of what I do is news-based and time-sensitive, those plans can go out the window if I need to jump on something that’s “breaking” – like a release date or announcement. Time is my limitation.
What are some suggestions for bloggers looking to grow their readership?
Write, write, write. I know it’s completely disheartening to put a ton of time and effort into a post just to have it fall flat (especially in the beginning, though it still happens regularly), but the old saying that “Content is King” still remains true for me. I’ve used giveaways to lure in some new readers, but that can be a double-edged sword in terms of quality and retention. Overall, I’ve always taken the “slow and steady” approach, and I think long-term it will pay off.
How do you put your own unique and personal twist on sponsored posts?
My girls. One thing that I have that no one else does is Adalyn and Finley, aka “The Rock Daughters.” They are why I do what I do, and being a work-at-home Dad informs all of my writing. My experiences with them even works its way into my news items, giving nearly all of my posts that “personal” spin. When sponsorships come into play, I involve them wherever possible, and we’ve recently started having advertisers specifically request that, which is really cool. If I can tie into a life experience, that’s great as well – such as dealing with a classic product that I may have grown up with and am now introducing to my family as a husband and father.