Blogging For Expats - Multipurpose Social Media!

Social media impact on the living overseas experience
The rise of social media has pretty much transformed the experience of living overseas, and not just for expats. It means that all the friends and family back home can now be updated in real time, whether with a tweet, a Facebook update, an Instagram pic, or whatever. It's incredible to imagine that one day, relatively speaking not all that long ago, all we had was telephone calls, letters, postcards and the occasional visit home when we wanted to catch up.
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And while all the above methods of communication are effective means of expressing ourselves - which is especially important when we're in an unfamiliar place and settling in to a new way of living - the humble blog is a unique form of social media that expatriates across the world are using in many creative and fun ways.

Why blogging's unique
If you're an expat, sometimes it's really useful to get all your thoughts down on paper. Or on a computer screen -all those new experiences whizzing past need to be remembered, and what better way than to journalise them. The difference between a blog and a traditional diary of of course that you can make it public. You can share your trips, sightseeing and general adventures with friends and family with a blog - and also anyone else who's interested in your story. This could be be other bloggers with shared interests across the world, or potential expats who are researching and want to hear first-hand experiences of the country you're now resident in.

Positioning your blog
If you have a special interest or hobby, you can incorporate it into your blog content - it doesn't need to be the sole focus of it, but there are expat bloggers out there who do choose to blog about, say, their work in the fashion industry or their interest in music. And there are also lots of foodies out there, documenting their expat experience through their encounters with local cuisine and all the exotic produce on sale in the shops.

One of the best things about blogging is that there's no prescribed formula for making your blog what you want it to be. As long as you enjoy the experience, that's all that really counts in the end. But if you want to stand out, and to earn an ever-increasing readership over time, then it's valuable to think about things like buying your own domain name, and spending time looking for a visual theme that suits - rather than keep the generic theme that comes out of the box with most blogging software.

The golden rules of blogging
Once you're up and running, one of the important things for attracting and maintaining a readership is to keep posting regularly. It doesn't have to be every day, or even every week, just as long as you don't allow the blog to lie dormant, otherwise people re less likely to check back.

Of course, there may be times you don't much feel like blogging - especially if you're busy or just not in the mood. One way round this is to have a stack of posts on standby. This could be stuff that's a work in progress, interesting photos, or just general musings. That way if you're ever stuck for a post you can just cut and paste a post in no time.

Although not a golden rule, it is often good to add photos to your blog posts – they can help contextualise the content, bring stories to life, and if you want to post pictures of yourself, they help put a face to the blog’s name.

Socialising your expat blog
In every blog there's the potential for an audience. It doesn't need to be a big audience (although it can be) but having a readership is a rewarding thing. Getting on sites like Twitter means being able to promote your posts and see what's going on in your area. It's a great resource for finding out what's happening and getting involved in conversations – and for alerting the right people to the presence of your blog.

If you’re an expat blogger, chances are you’re already reading other blogs, including one that are written by other expats. So if you read a post you enjoy, let the blogger know in the comments section – people love genuine positive feedback, and it’s also a chance for them to see your blog since the comments ID should allow you to link back to your site.
About the Author:

Gavin McMillan writes on expat topics on behalf of AXA PPP International for a selection of wellbeing and travel sites. You can find Gavin on Google+ here.

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