As an expat, you are likely to have a host of new experiences, meet a variety of people from different walks of life, and face tons of challenges as you settle into a completely new way of living. All of this makes for some great stories! This is the reason many expats decide to start their own blogs.What may start out as a way to write your way through the exciting, and often chaotic, experiences of expat life may later turn out to become much more than that. Personal blogs enable you to keep in touch with family and friends back in your home country. Since they can be easily accessed from any place with Internet access, you can always stay connected. It could also be a way for you to explore your interests, such as discovering new cuisines or learning the local art and crafts. Many expats journal their life changes through their blogs, allowing themselves the opportunity to make sense of their transition, and also offering help and support to other expats. There are a variety of topics to blog about and expat blogs range from photo, food and design blogs, to personal blogs.
If you’re thinking about starting an expat blog, here are some reasons why that may just be a fantastic idea.
Telling your experiences
A drastic lifestyle change is perhaps the main feature of living life as an expat. Everything is different once you move abroad. From adapting to weather changes to culture shock, there is a complete overhaul in life as you have known it. As you settle into your new country, you are likely to encounter varied and interesting experiences almost on a daily basis. Many expats write about their experiences of learning a new language, and of the oftentimes frustrating conversations that may occur with the locals, as both try to understand each other. Such incidents make for interesting blog posts.
Sharing your knowledge
Expats learn some valuable lessons during their time abroad. Multilingualism, for instance, has many advantages; one of the most obvious being that you become a more effective communicator. Other advantages include learning how to process meanings in different ways, being better able to learn further new languages, and also enhancing your employment prospects. Learning a new language may feel like a challenge for many expats, and blog posts on such topics help to create awareness and support. Another important lesson expats learn is that of appreciating a new culture. Accounts and advice on this can be encouraging to others struggling with the all-too-common obstacle of culture shock. Some expats also prefer to focus on the process of relocating, by writing about important points to keep in mind such as the documents you need to carry with you, essential items to pack, and also moving and packing.
Providing your own perspective
It’s true that expat blogs are not a new phenomenon, and there are several expats running hugely popular and successful blogs. But starting your own blog is also a good idea because it will be based on your unique perspective. There’s always room for those who offer a fresh way of looking at things, and this applies to the expat life too. While expat experiences may often share similar themes, each is likely to deal with it in their own way, and this can provide useful material for your blog.
Staying in touch
There are many ways to stay connected even over long distances. Doing it through your blog is a unique way to let your family and friends know the latest updates on your life. You can even add photographs to make it more interesting. Apart from learning about all the new places you’ve been to and the people you have met, they can also get an insight into what you’re feeling from time to time. This can help keep you connected in a more personal way, even if it is through your blog. It can also make you feel less lonely, because life as an expat can seem unfamiliar and alone at first. Blogging can also help build new connections with other expats and locals through sharing of experiences, advice and inspiration.
Finding new opportunities
Your blog can pave the way for many new opportunities, such as being featured in other blogs, magazines or websites. You may even discover new things about your own skills and interests, which could in turn lead to other lucrative options. In time, you may even come up with new ideas for services you would like to start offering to your readers.
Doing something you enjoy
If writing, or simply sharing your life experiences, is something you love to do, then this is good enough reason to begin your blog right away. As you live your expat life, with all its ups and downs, engaging in an activity you enjoy will help you feel better, and also give you a sense of accomplishment.
Before you start your blog, here are a few points you may want to keep in mind.
If you are creating a blog with the aim of having your writings published at some time in the future, then you may want to pay more attention to the blog posts you put out. In such cases, it is advisable to post your best work. If your blog is more of an online journal, then spontaneity may help to draw more readers. Once you decide on the purpose behind your blog, it will provide a good starting point for your posts.
While it may be fun, and even therapeutic, to write down your daily experiences, if you want to keep your readers engaged, you may want to ensure that your posts also offer some real value to them. Posts that inform and assist, along with entertaining, are the kind that will make readers coming back for more. It may help to narrow down on who your target audience is, so you can guide your writing accordingly.
Blogging is a commitment, especially once you build your readership. Posting inconsistently can cause your audience to diminish. Regular blog posts are particularly important if you are hoping to get them published.
Since a large part of being an expat is getting accustomed to a brand new way of life, it is advisable to stay away from generalizations and casual observations, especially when it comes to the local culture and customs. A good way around this is to focus on an area you already know about. If you have a keen interest in a particular topic, you can also use it to draw out more information that you can incorporate into your posts. This will help build credibility. Some great examples of this would be expat blogs that focus on photography or travel, or even parenting.
Keep going. Starting out may be a slow process and you may find that even after multiple blog posts, you haven’t received much online traffic. But if this is something you really want to do, then push through those initial difficulties and keep posting.
How to get started
Creating an expat blog is a simple and quick process. Follow these steps to get started.
The first step is hosting. This is the place where your blog is stored, along with all its content. You can purchase a hosting package on a monthly or yearly basis. Once you sign up for it, the company will provide you your blog name and also set up your blog for you. Most companies also provide technical support. For higher speed and greater control over your blog, you may also want to start on a dedicated server.
The domain you choose will be your blog address, so you may want to spend some time on it. You can even use your own name, which will work well in case you want to change your blog content at a later time. Some tips that may help while choosing your blog name include choosing one that you personally like because it’s something you will use all the time once you are a regular blogger. It should also be easy to remember! Another tip – try being creative with it, so that it stands out from the many expat blogs that are already available online. Social media can play a big role in promoting your blog, so it’s helpful to check if you can get the social media names for your expat blog, at least on the main ones such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can check the availability of your chosen name from the order form.
You can then select hosting addons, a useful one being domain privacy. This will prevent you from getting too much spam and can keep your personal information, such as your contact details, hidden from public view.
WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms, which is also easy to use. Once installed, you can proceed to selecting a theme, which will give your blog its unique appearance. There are plenty of themes to choose from, and you may have to experiment with them before you finally decide on one. Free themes are available, but they may be slower to load and less responsive, so some bloggers may prefer to purchase their themes from any of the available websites. It is advisable to keep your blog design simple, so that the focus can remain on your content.
Plugins can help to optimize your blog. These have different functions such as blocking spam or adding buttons so readers can easily share posts social media sites. You can also find plugins for search engine optimization.
It is advisable to start creating a list of subscribers right away as this way you will be able to send out an email to all of them each time you publish a new post or announce a new service. This can be done through the subscription or newsletter form, where those who visit your blog can fill in their email addresses.
Apart from the main blog pages, another essential page is the ‘About Me’ page. Since your blog is new, visitors are likely to go here first to find out more about the writer. You can keep this page simple by providing a little background information, sharing a little about yourself or mentioning the purpose of your blog. Another essential page is the ‘Contact Me’ page, which can just be a contact form that your readers can fill out.
If you are creating your blog as a way to open up new professional avenues, you can add a ‘Work With Me’ page, where you can feature the services or products you offer. It helps if you can clearly mention how you will be able to cater to your target readers’ requirements.
The whole idea behind starting a blog is to share your experiences, and for that you require traffic to your blog. This is especially important if you want to earn revenue through it. One of the best ways to get traffic is first and foremost to offer good content. Knowing what your target audience wants to read will help you create relevant and interesting content. Another effective way to encourage traffic to your blog is to use social media to share your posts. Visiting other blogs and commenting on other bloggers’ content is also a good way to promote your own blog. You can even work out ways by which you can write guest posts for other blogs.
Having some knowledge about search engine optimization and keywords comes in handy when trying to get blog traffic. If you are unable to spend the time doing the research on your own, you can sign up for a course designed especially for travel/expat bloggers.
Remember to back up. Your blog will contain not just your work, but also your memories, so you may want to ensure that you back it all up. Using the ‘export’ option in your blog’s dashboard, you can download a copy of everything you have created onto your computer, for safekeeping.