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15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

Awesome Study Abroad

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad. Now here are 15 tips to help you make your study abroad blog an awesome one:

1. ADD VISUALS. Snap away while you’re exploring. Studies show that blog posts with photos have 94% higher views. They add color and vibrancy to your posts, create emotional connections with your readers who remember your content more easily when there are images and they can help with search engine optimization too if you want your blog to be found more easily. Just remember to label your files with keywords before you upload.

A few more quick tips: Pay attention to the size of your images. Large files can slow down the page loading time, but photos that are too small are less compelling. We upload ours around 660px wide or tall. You can use Picmonkey or Canva to re-size images, add text to them or create collages. Remember to always use your own photos or get permission from the source first unless they are listed under public domain or creative commons licenses.

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

 

2. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Balance those visuals with text. If you’re writing about a new city, add interest and authenticity to your post by doing a bit of research. Learn about cultural traditions, history and language of the place you’re visiting. Are their any fun facts your readers might not know about East London or La Boca in Buenos Aires? Any famous people who lived or died in the area you’re writing about? If you’re writing about an event, share a bit of its history or the story behind it. Research adds an extra layer of interest that takes your writing beyond your personal experience.

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A few more quick tips: Make sure your sources are reliable (ie – no Wikipedia!). You may wish to quote them and link back to the original article. Don’t forget to step away from the internet too. Talk to locals. If you’re writing about a visit to Moore Street market in Dublin, chat with a few of the vendors. Whatever they are sharing with you is likely to be unavailable online, adding originality and credibility.

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

 

3. READ OTHER TRAVEL WRITERS. Whether you pick up a paperback at your local secondhand shop, take out a subscription to Afar or Lonely Planet Magazine or browse the internet for blogs, read as much travel writing as you can before you start writing. See what grabs your attention and notice what holds it whether it’s a style of writing or a certain subject or an amazing lede. Find your muse and be inspired. When you craft your posts, ask yourself if it’s something you’d be proud to share with that person.

A few more quick tips: Travel blogs come in all shapes and sizes, from cruise writers to family bloggers to adventure travelers to solo females who spend their lives on the road. Decide what interests you and go from there. If you Google “top travel bloggers 2015” you’ll bring up a number of lists like this one, this one and this one. Do the same for travel books if don’t want to stare at a screen and you’ll find this listthis list and this list to start.

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad4. WRITE WITH DETAIL AND FOR THE SENSES. Some of the best travel moments come through all of your different senses: that rich coffee bean scent of that cafe you visit in Florence each morning, the sound of market vendors shouting the deals of the day in London’s Columbia Road Flower Market, your first taste of a scorpion at a Shanghai food stall and the texture of it while you chew.

Engage the senses of your readers by describing these little moments that you experience not only through how you see them but through how you taste, touch and smell the city around you. Think about the sense of place you felt and the essential characteristics that make it different from everywhere else. How do you convey this through words? “Write like you have been commissioned by the New York Times,” is a great tip from travel writer and blogger Michael Collins.

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A few more quick tips: When you’re out and about in the thick of it all, sit somewhere where you can people watch and take in what’s going on around you. Maybe a cafe with outdoor seating, the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London or St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin. Take out your notebook and pen or iPad and just take a few minutes to jot down some thoughts.

Make note of what you’ve been smelling, tasting, hearing and feeling as these are easier details to forget when you’ve left the area than what you’ve seen since they can’t be captured in photographs. Look for the details of a place that often reveal the larger truths.

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

 

5. MAKE IT EASY TO READ. We’re in an age of information overload. We tend to scan for information until we decide if it’s worth the time investment to read a post fully (as you may be doing with this post right now). Instead of publishing long block of text, when we organize information into lists or break text apart with headers or images, it makes it easier to digest and your reader will stick around longer.

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A few more quick tips: Use your notebook to jot down dialog while you’re out and about. This is another great way to engage with your readers that not many bloggers tend to use because it takes some extra effort. If you’re savvy with video editing or willing to learn, including video adds another dimension as well.

Other great ways to break up your content so it’s easier to digest include adding gifs, memes, slide shows, sound clips, polls, bullet points and infographics. Consider your introduction and ending: are they compelling? Do they tie together? Have we learned a lesson or come away inspired? Make sure you spellcheck too!

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

 

6. CONSIDER USEFULNESS. Is your post adding value to your readers’ day or giving them something to bookmark for future reference? While you’re traveling, you’ll learn a lot of useful tips that you can pass on through your posts for future study abroad students. Are there things you wish you would have known before going overseas? Are there key takeaways from your internship that you can share? Did you stumble upon an amazing little hidden gem in Sydney or the best place to grab lunch between classes on a student budget in Dublin?

A few more quick tips: While you’re writing, a good way to consider whether you’re contributing something useful to the blogosphere is to ask yourself if you stumbled upon this piece, would you share it with your social media followers?

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

 

7. LET YOUR PERSONALITY SHINE. Unlike the structured essays you write for class, the informal style of a blog means you can really develop your own voice. If you’re the who’s always cracking jokes with your friends, pull humor into your writing. If you’re the quiet, observant type then add your observations and reflections to your stories.

“We are interpreters of experience, of a place, of people.” says Audrey from the popular travel blog Uncornered Market. How you interpret an experience will be completely different from the way someone else does and that’s the beauty of travel blogging; there’s room for every voice.

A few more quick tips: Some words of wisdom from the author of Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing Don George: “What I learn about a place illuminates something about myself. What I learn about myself illuminates something about a place. They enhance each other.” What you’ve learned from a situation might be different from what someone else learned.

Diversity can also play a role in letting your personality shine. How do you identify in terms of race and ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, introvert versus extrovert, age, diet requirements or medical issues that you’re dealing with and how do these characteristics come through in your stories, if at all?

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

 

8. INCLUDE OTHER VOICES. Another way to make your blog stand out, add depth and create an easy-to-read format is with interviews. They’re also an amazing way to get to know the city, the locals, and pick up some tips you won’t find elsewhere to pass on to your readers. Who to interview? It depends on your angle. If you’re the creative type, you could reach out to up and coming local artists.

If you’re a business major, maybe chat with some people who are running start up companies in your new city. Speak with your professors, CAPA staff and other students – either to interview them or for ideas.  

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A few more quick tips: The internet is a great place to find people who are looking for a bit of exposure for their work and who will surely be interested in being interviewed. Try Etsy (or Not On The High Street in the UK), Instagram to find local photographers and expat groups on Facebook to reach out to other Americans who have set up life in your host city. Offline, markets vendors are great to approach, visit gallery openings and join in on real life meet ups with meetup.com.

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

 

9. BE REAL. Sometimes travel isn’t all unicorns, rainbows and cat memes. You’ll face challenges and plenty of them. You might be homesick, struggle with the language, lose your travel card, get lost or fail to see why something happens the way it does. You blog should generally be a place for positivity, but it’s also a great place to share a challenge that you faced and the story of how you managed to overcome it along with some tips for other students abroad. This goes back to being useful (see above).

A few more quick tips: One of the challenges you may face while abroad is culture shock. Things are different when you travel and you may not feel comfortable with the way certain things are done. Being real means keeping an open mind. Instead of sharing judgments on your blog, share your observations. Sit back and take it all in and then shape it into a blog post that lets your readers form their own conclusions.

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

 

10. WRITE A DETAILED “ABOUT” PAGE. About pages can be intimidating to write, especially if you don’t know where to start. They’re important, though, because they’re the first place a new reader will go when they find your blog. Think about what you’d want to know about a blogger you’ve just discovered.

Probably where they are from, what they write about, some of their hobbies and interests, quirky facts and definitely a photo. Mention you’re studying abroad and documenting your adventures. Share a bit about yourself, show off your personality and people are more likely to stick around.

A few more quick tips: Have a look around the internet for some “About” pages that resonate with you. Think about how you want people to feel when they read your words. What’s important to you? What makes you different from other bloggers? Add images to the layout. Include a call to action; where do you want your visitors to go next? You might link to some of your favorite posts or encourage them to find and follow you on social media.

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

 

11. USE A CLEAN DESIGN TEMPLATE. Whether you’re setting up your blog on WordPress, Blogger, Medium, Tumblr or any other platform, give it a clean look so your content stands out as most important. Don’t be afraid of white space! Check out Colorlib’s round up of clean themes for WordPress in 2015. Simplicity, ease of navigation and lack of clutter are key for a great first impression.

A few more quick tips: You’ll want to have a sidebar cleared of everything except essentials like a welcome photo of you at the top with a one sentence bio, your social media icons and perhaps images you design in Picmonkey or Canva listing your categories with links, a search box and a subscribe button. Keep your menu bar links to a minimum too.

 

12. POST REGULARLY ON A SCHEDULE. Whether you decide to blog once a week, a few times a week or every day, it doesn’t necessarily matter. What does matter is that you set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Readers want to know when and how often they can expect new content. Most platforms will let you schedule content in advance, so if you have a free Saturday but a busy week ahead, it’s easy to plan ahead. Obviously you want to make sure you have plenty of time for exploring, interning and academics so set a realistic goal for yourself when deciding how often to post.

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A few more quick tips: Some bloggers set up an editorial calendar to plan types of posts in advance. You may decide to incorporate some regular themes. For example, on the CAPA World blog, we publish interviews every Monday, lists every Tuesday and Thousand Word Thursday posts each week. Our other daily content fits around these, but readers know to expect those posts and look forward to them.

 

13. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE PERKS. Once you’ve built up a reasonable amount of content on your blog, you might be able to take advantage of some of the perks that often come with being a blogger.

You’ll find that if you have a decent following on your blog and social media, certain restaurants, cafes or events will be open to inviting you for a free meal, discounts or free entry in exchange for a sponsored post. You can find these opportunities by joining blogging networks, reaching out to PR or marketing departments, scouring blogger hashtags on Twitter or attending local blogger meet ups and asking for advice.

A few more quick tips: While it’s perfectly fine to take advantages of the perks that come with blogging, make sure you don’t sell out. Only collaborate with brands that you are honestly interested in. If you’re invited to a restaurant for a meal and it’s terrible, say so, but be tactful. Perhaps the staff was wonderful but the food left something to be desired. Giving your true opinion adds credibility. If you promise a review, make sure you follow up and write one in a reasonable amount of time.

 

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

14. MAKE YOUR CONTENT SHAREABLE. This one is really straightforward. You want readers to share your content, right? Well, the easier you make it for them to do so, the more likely they are to spread the word about your wonderful Parisian cafe recommendation or your packing tips for Buenos Aires. You’ll also want them to be able to follow you, so make sure you place handy social media icons in your side bar so you’re easy to find. The SITS Girls have a great tutorial on how to do this if you’re not sure.

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A few more quick tips: Think about the ways people will share your content. Do you have vertical images that would look great on Pinterest? Have you installed a Pin It button on your blog that will make it easier for them to be pinned? Consider installing the TweetThis if you’re using a self hosted blog. If not, you can pull tweet-able quotes of less than 140 characters to stand alone within your post. Do you have sharing buttons added to the bottom of each post? Sometimes the best way to get people to share your post is simply by asking at the end!

15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

 

15. PROMOTE YOUR POSTS. Don’t rely on other people alone to share your content. Every time you publish a post, share the link on Twitter (multiple tweets scheduled through the week) and Facebook. Including a visual makes your tweet’s engagement increase by 313%. Pin one of your images to Pinterest and link back to the post.

Encourage your Instagram readers to visit your blog through a link in your bio with a photo from your latest post and a sentence or two describing it. Use relevant hashtags on Instagram, Twitter and maybe even Facebook to help increase your reach. @mention anyone you may have quoted or interviewed.

A few more quick tips: Other great places to promote your blog? Word of mouth works wonders, so tell your friends to check it out. Add a link to your email signature. Comment on other blogs which allow you to include a link to your latest post. Include a link in your social media bios. Thank everyone who shares your content! 15 Tips for Writing an Awesome Study Abroad

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