From our Depsters September 28, 2018
Just this dad’s unexpected journey into the world of vlogging
Having sprogs can be both hard and exhausting work leading to many sleepless nights. But it can also be heaps of fun, as demonstrated by this dad from New Zealand who has amassed over 250 million video views worldwide after going viral. “Far out that’s quite right hey!” That’s Kiwi for “wow!”. Speaking at the third edition of Dept’s annual Festival, Jordan Watson’s “How to Dad” gave valuable insights into his venture into the world of vlogging.
One man, two journeys
After 27 hours of flying, a few trains, three hobbit journeys, and a bicycle ride, Jordan had finally made his way to the Festival’s Green Stage to an expectant crowd’s welcoming. Sticking to his roots, he took to the stage in what has been described by many as the most entertaining talk to date. Combining his witty presentation style, similar to that in his videos, along with heaps of Kiwi-isms and his self-proclaimed Mexican Jon Snow charms, he enjoys unbridled attention, receives enormous praise and certainly lives up to his internet notoriety. Amongst other things we hear how this whole thing started and his journey into DIY parenting, when he was simply left alone with his youngest daughter, a video camera and his imagination.
Best guide to fatherhood on the internet
“So three years ago, I made a video and chucked it on the old interweb. I had a mate of mine who had a baby on the way. I was bored at home with my four-month-old and thought that I’d chuck together an instructional video of sorts.” Little did Jordan know, this was the beginning of something special filled with once in a lifetime opportunities. “There was no big planning behind it, no big thought. I just made it up and thought that my mate of mine at work would enjoy it. I posted the video on YouTube, sent the link to his Facebook page, went to bed and woke up the next day and BOOM! 250,000 views, I was viral without even trying to be, me!” The resulting video features multiple ways to hold a baby with names ranging from “Baby Jesus” to “The Box of Beers”, to “The Rugby Ball Hold”. With currently 3,155,629 views on YouTube, ‘How to hold a baby‘ has turned Jordan into what GQ magazine has described “the best guide to fatherhood on the internet“.
Scratching a tickle
Following his first two videos, which led to multiple interviews and media agencies from around the world such as the Huffington Post, The Today Show and E! online scrambling to get permission to post and share his little videos, the hype deaded down with Jordan stating that he took a six-month break from vlogging. He was back to being just a dad, saying to the crowd’s disappointment that he was destined to be one of those weird one-hit wonders. Deep down though, he had this strange tickle irritating him. “But what was it?” rhetorically addressing the crowd. When a few of his friends mentioned his early success and kept asking him for further instalments through either a YouTube or Facebook page, he answered “yeah nah, yeah nah, yeah no, yep!” which is Kiwi for “ok!”. And so, in December 2015 he decided to scratch that tickle through producing weekly ridiculously unhelpful parenting videos by setting up his “How to Dad” YouTube and Facebook pages; which have gathered up to 251,688 subscribers and 1,801,631 followers respectively.
Perseverance that paid-off
While up on the stage, Jordan explains that, whenever he was out with family or friends, he would be paying attention to problems that parents encounter on a daily basis. And if he noticed something, he would start daydreaming all the while chuckling. Within a few days, that idea was filmed and posted online. The only problem was, practically no one was watching them but, “she’ll be right”, he said at the time. Which is a Kiwi idiom that Jordan uses throughout his videos. He went on by explaining that for the next six months, he kept producing weekly content and his perseverance eventually paid-off when that viral thing happened again in May 2016. “25 million views, it’s hard to wrap your head around”, he exclaims. And then, a few weeks later, his self-proclaimed ‘most controversial video to this day’ sent him viral again. “People still ask how I trained my baby to do that”, he jokingly says to the audience’s amusement. Finally, this dad from New Zealand was a real-life vlogger. His page likes and subscribers were exploding, emails were bulging at the seams, and even brands such as Ford and New World supermarkets wanted to work with him. While juggling work and opportunities such as trips to Australia, more videos for Ford, attending the Boss Baby premiere in New York and appearing as a background extra alongside Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson in Daddy’s Home 2, Jordan realised that this thing might have legs. Maybe even more than he has on stage in his tiny blue shorts. And 18 months ago, this dad took the plunge.
Just a dad having fun
After realising that he needed to embrace these new opportunities rather than being scared by them, Jordan quit his job to become a fully-fledged vlogger. Since then, he has published two best sellers, held a TEDx Talk in Christchurch and is currently working on a web series for YouTube. His journey, like Frodo’s, has led him to both wonderful and unexpected opportunities which he credits to both his daughter’s performances and by staying grounded. As he so enthusiastically put whilst closing his talk: “I think that a big part of my success comes from knowing who I am, what I am and what “How to Dad” is all about. I make family-friendly, funny parenting videos, I am just that dad from New Zealand who fell into an opportunity, worked hard on it, laughed with it, went viral with it, got scared by it, got paid by it, fought for it, owned it, grown in confidence by it, still gets scared by it, still has a bloody great time with it and is still making it my own. I’m just that dad from New Zealand, I am not quite sure what’s coming next but, she’ll be right.”