You’re volunteering, teaching, or studying abroad, and you want to tell the world about it, but you don’t know how. Carrier pigeons? Messages in bottles? Do people still use chat rooms? Well, you should #BlogAboutIt. Whether you’ve only lurked on other blogs about the architectural wonders of Singapore or you’d like to polish your blog about studying as a high schooler in Venezuela, blogging is a purposeful and rewarding pastime. While many bloggers will never know how many people they’ll reach, they do it anyway because, just like travel, it can be meaningful work.
Just think, you might inspire someone who is nervous to leave their college’s cozy walls because they may be the first in their family to study abroad. They may even be the first in their family to attend college. Maybe they leave a comment or send you a heartwarming thank you email, or they might not even share your posts. Is this a reason to not blog? No!
The more people you reach, the more chances you’ll have of meeting friends and potential employers from all corners of the globe. So, how do you start a blog and get people to read it? What’s the difference between blogging about an internship versus blogging about studying abroad? We’re here to help.
How to Keep a Blog that More than Just Your Mother Reads
Here are four of our best blogging tips, followed by how to write according to your experience:
1. Identify your niche.
Everyone has a story to tell, but what makes yours worth reading? Bloggers ask themselves this all the time. Yours could be a password-protected blog that you only let trusted people access, or you could be trying to convince everyone and their mother to visit Bulgaria. Your audience can change, and that’s okay. It helps to narrow down who your audience is early on so that you can hone in on what they’d like to read.
Blogging is all about finding a balance of writing about your passions while writing about things people will want to read.
2. Grab a guest.
Find other bloggers within your niche and have them guest post. Guests post can range from giving someone access to your blog so they can post their own articles, or it could look like an interview. The point is to bring in others’ perspectives and showcase them on your blog. Having other bloggers within your niche guest post is a great way to expand your readership, since the guest post will more likely to be read by your readers as well as your guest poster’s audience. Sending your interview questions in advance to your guest poster will make them more likely to respond.
3. Be consistent.
You can have life-altering content on your blog, but if you only post once in a blue moon about topics that have nothing to do with each other, then you won’t reach as many readers. Find a posting schedule that works for you, whether you promise yourself to post every Sunday or twice a month. It’s easy to start a blog and to post every day for your first week abroad, but it takes discipline to space posts out every couple of days and post consistently (but it’s worth it!).
4. Use at least one social media outlet.
Want people to read your blog? If you’re first starting out, it’s crucial to build a social media presence so that you already have a set audience of people who know you. Most of your friends and family probably use Facebook, so this outlet is a great way to start plugging your pieces for an audience that is most likely to check out your posts.
Once acquaintances and people you haven’t met in person start liking, sharing, and commenting on your posts, then you know you’re coming up with valuable content. Not a fan of Facebook? Try Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, which are also effective outlets for marketing yourself.
Not All Travel Blogs are Created Equal
Curate your blog to fit your overall experience, but be sure to avoid potential pitfalls, such as the temptation to just post photos of your delicious meals. Follow these specific tips if your meaningful travel experience involves...
High School Study Abroad
- This is probably your first blog, so keep the teen angst to a minimum. Life will always be a roller coaster ride, but if you write only about how many mosquitoes there are and how cute so-and-so is instead of talking up the fantastic handmade tamales you’re eating, then readers will be turned off.
- The way you write about your journey will define how readers perceive you. Keep it PG and professional because blogging is a great college application booster. You could even turn a potential post into a personal statement!
- Avoid using too much slang, abbreviations, and text message lingo. Don’t make grandma wonder why you’re using so many hashtags or why you’re LOLing every three seconds.
- Have a purpose. Don't just blog to update Mom and Dad, that’s what emails are for. Find ways to connect your blogs to the passions you are exploring or your potential career path. It's never too early to stamp a positive digital footprint in your preferred industry!
- Less is more. Your posts can be as short or as long as is convenient for you. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so you could write a post about that picture you took over a suspended bridge in the middle of the Himalayas. Also, include snippets from your travel journal.
- Think big! You’re one of 4.5 million students studying abroad, and that number is apparently growing by 12 percent a year. What advice would you give to future or current students that you wish you’d known? Essential “Know before you go” lists are some of the most popular posts because they’re practical.
- Keep it profesh. Your future employer should find zero naked or drunken photos of you at the beach. They're not cute.
- Now that you’re diving into working abroad, ask yourself: do I want my blog to be about my work experience or to be a travel blog? This will help you decide which topics to tackle, but it’s fine if you balance the two.
- If you want your blog to be a tool for your next career move, write openly and clearly about the skills you are learning, whether they’re soft, hard, or technical. Bonus points if you find someone in your preferred field to guest post about the skills they’ve learned abroad!
- As an observer, write about the differences in work cultures you notice and how you expect this know-how to benefit you in future jobs.
- Tactfully discuss the downsides of your experience, as having your first 40-hour job in a new place can be a monumental feat! Make it clear that you’re learning as you’re going instead of hating on the culture or country. Formulate your post(s) as “This internship would be best for someone who…”
- Upload your resume and/or add your links to social media, like your LinkedIn profile. Posting your pieces on LinkedIn will wow future employers and potential followers because they’ll notice you take your work seriously.
- Don't use the space to complain about how your students zip out of the door when the ice cream man comes by, or that they’re braiding each other’s hair instead of staying in their seats. On the flipside, don’t sugar coat the ease of your ESL job, either! For every negative, speak truthfully about two or three positives.
- Your boss may find this page, so double check your wording and avoid making false accusations about other teachers or the local government. Please don’t make your boss ask you if you’d like a window or aisle seat on your flight back home.
- Share your tips for your favorite activities or your secrets to a killer lesson plan. This insider info will up your karma and let you tap into the online community of ESL teachers helping each other do their jobs even BETTER!
- You left your country to work without pay. Why would you do that? Because you’re passionate about a cause. Teach others about the realities (both positive and negative) of the cause you are working towards. Talk less about the symptoms and more about the cause. You’re welcome for your first post idea.
- Don't be afraid to dive deep into your topic while also keeping it relevant and light hearted. Millions of people volunteer, but why did you choose to work in a women’s shelter in Kenya? Because violence against women still happens in 2016. Because women don’t know their rights. Because they are stigmatized for reaching out. Because this norm has persisted without challenge. Because colonialism.
- That being said, not every post needs to invoke white man's guilt, or your posts will become predictable. There must be moments that make the work worth it, so highlight those. Talk about that bright-eyed elementary schooler who sells candies in the street to save up for school supplies.
- Once you speak of the progress, the small wins, and the challenges that you just have to laugh at, prospective volunteers will have a better idea of what to expect.
You’re not the only meaningful traveler who is blogging about their experience, so keep it real. Write about useful things to prospective or teachers, students, or volunteers that are unique to you. Speak to the daily ins and outs of your experience and how you are handling the adjustment to the work, the studies, the culture, and you’ll inspire others to follow in your footsteps!
Ready to plan (and blog about) your adventure? Use MyGoAbroad to save and compare programs today!