Keeping a blog while you study abroad is a great idea, and it has lots of advantages. It'll help you learn some brand new skill sets, like writing, marketing, community management, social media, and proofreading. It'll give you a place to process your experiences while you're abroad and figure out how it's changing you and what you're learning. It's a cool way to remember your study abroad experience. And it could just inspire other people to take the plunge and study abroad.
If you've decided to start your study abroad blog, I've got tons of tips to help you make it as successful as possible.
Find Your Niche
There are thousands of study abroad blogs on the Internet these days, so if you're going to stand any chance of being noticed, you'll want to find a niche. This could be something as simple as blogging about London if you're studying there, but you could also narrow it down to food in London, or everything you need to know about moving to London. Widening the niche, you could focus on how to explore Europe using London as a base.
You don't have to focus just on the location, though. You could aim to write a study abroad blog that covers how you can do the same if you struggle with anxiety or depression. You could write a humorous blog about how not to study abroad, or you could share how to stay safe when studying abroad, or you could aim to be the biggest resource on what it's really like to study abroad. The possibilities are endless.
One of the easiest ways to build an audience that keeps coming back for more is to keep posting regularly! If you publish a blog post every Tuesday and Friday, people will know when to visit your site to catch up with your latest adventures. If you were to post every day for a week and then not post again for a month, you'll end up confusing your readers.
You'll want your audience to trust your opinion, so don't be afraid to show the negative sides of study abroad. Write about how scared you are, or how you're struggling to make friends, or how you're homesick, and you'll be surprised to see how many people relate to your feelings. Being honest makes you more human to your readers, especially if they've experienced the same things you're going through.
Read Other Study Abroad And Other Types of Blogs
It's research! Spend a day searching for some of the most popular study abroad blogs on the Internet and subscribe to their feeds. Study what types of posts they're writing and whether they're resonating with their audience or not, and then figure out how you can replicate their success. You don't want to copy them exactly, but if you see that, for example, a packing list post does well, you could write about what you've decided to travel with, as well.
It's also good to read outside of your blog subject to see what other bloggers are doing and what works for them. You may pick up some ideas for posts you hadn't considered before, find out about a hot new social network, or even discover a money-making idea through them. Reading widely across an entire range of blogs will also help to improve your writing skills and encourage you to try new writing techniques and styles on your site.
Interview Other Study Abroaders
This is a really easy way to boost your traffic and introduce your blog to a brand new audience! Each week, or month, find another person who's studying abroad and interview them for your site. Ask them 10-20 questions about where they're studying, how it's going, what's been their biggest struggle, what's something they miss most from home, etc.
It's definitely worth seeking out other study-abroad bloggers for your interview series. Once their interview is live, they'll most likely share it and promote it to their audience, giving your site a much wider reach.
Join Social Media
Okay, so you're probably already on all of the big social media sites, but I recommend also creating profiles specifically for your blog. It's a way for your readers to keep up with what you're doing, to see the stuff you don't usually write about on your blog, and even to widen your audience, as people will start finding, for example, your Instagram profile and then heading over to your site to find out more.
Create a Kickass About Page
The first thing most people will do when they first arrive on your blog is to look for your about page. People want to know who you are, why you're studying abroad, what your history is, and most of all, why they should care about you. Make your about page the one page on your site that you put the most effort into and update regularly.
Write Posts for Other Bloggers
A fantastic way to gain exposure is through guest posting on other sites. If you write a post that connects with that blog's audience, they'll likely come over to your site to subscribe. It also has great SEO benefits, too, so your blog will start ranking higher in search engines.
Make Your Posts Useful
After you've written every blog post, go back through it and think about how you could make it more helpful for your readers. If you've written about a trip to France, think about adding links to the hotel you stayed in and the restaurants you ate at. If you're writing a packing list post, include links to the specific brands you've bought for your trip. If you've written about feeling lonely, end your post with tips about what you can do to conquer these feelings when you experience them.
Include Large Photos
These days, most people are very visual and like looking at photos -- it's one of the reasons why Instagram took off so quickly! Keep this in mind as you write your blog and ensure that upload photos that fit the full width of the text area. Your readers will thank you for it!
Tell Everyone You Know About Your Blog
Word of mouth is an underrated promotional tool, so once you start yours, make sure that everyone you know knows all about it. Ask your friends and family to sign up for email notifications of new posts, invite them to like your Facebook page, drop it into the conversation when you meet new people. You don't want to be so over-the-top that you annoy people, but subtle reminders are always good!
Don't Wait Until You Leave to Start Blogging
Get a head start by starting early and writing about the planning stages of your year abroad. Not only will this help you build an audience before you've even left, but it'll also help you hone your blogging skills well in advance of your departure date. Blogging is tough, and it takes several months for you to learn the ropes, so definitely set aside some time to understand how it all works while you're still at home.