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15 May Exploring Blog Platforms to Hit Your Stride

A traveler’s blog is, perhaps first and foremost, a way to inform the world about their experiences and to connect with people near and far. Blogging while abroad can be a productive way to let off creative steam and reflect on all the adventures you’re having and can be the start of a business or a way to showcase your expertise. I’ve used blogging for a combination of these reasons across multiple platforms—Wordpress and Tumblr in particular. Finding the right platform and motivation that work for you is both part of the journey and the ultimate goal.

WordPress

WordPress has quickly risen to be the top choice for bloggers. It’s simple enough that even a total newbie can use it, but it’s complex enough to customize in sophisticated ways for those with the time and know-how. WordPress.com is completely free and has many ready-to-go themes—careful, or you’ll spend your whole day perusing themes.

WordPress.org refers to the WordPress back-end of a self-hosted site. If you started out using a free WordPress.com site, and you want to level up your game by monetizing and gain more creative control for customizing, it’s relatively easy to move your free blog onto a self-hosted site.

WordPress even has a mobile app for both iOS and Android. It can be hooked up with either kind of WordPress site and is very useful for drafting posts from mobile devices and uploading media content from your device into your media library. However, many people complain that it is difficult to get the formatting right for posts while using the mobile app.

If you’re in the blogging game for the long-haul, WordPress is a safe bet.

Medium

Medium has definitely made a splash in the blogging world. It’s an open platform, so you have a profile page, but not a unique blog that’s all yours. The content is the focus without all the bells and whistles. Anyone can post anything, and it’s become a viable way to “go viral”.

Medium is also a good way to guest post for an organization you admire. One major downfall—there’s not much latitude for customization. You can add images and play around a bit with text size and weight, but this is definitely a platform for those who enjoy streamlined reading and writing.

For people with limited electricity and internet when it comes to crafting posts on a computer, Medium also has mobile app for iOS and Android where writing posts is just as easy as it is in a laptop’s browser.

Tumblr

The Tumblr experience feels very relaxed and is a more plug-and-chug system—similar to Medium in that sense, with less room for personalization than a WordPress blog. I started on Tumblr because the themes are very simple and clean and it’s good for no-fuss posting.

Tumblr might also be a better option for people who want to focus on visuals. Many of Tumblr’s users scroll through on their phones and re-blog, or share, heavily visual posts. Since Tumblr is so interactive, many people post multiple times a day, you might get “discovered” if you share widely and tag relevant keywords.

Posting via a mobile device to Tumblr is especially easy on through their app, available on iOS and Android. Once you get the hang of it, it’s easy to create some really compelling posts and build a large following.

Other Options

Most blogging sites now make it really easy to integrate videos, photos, and other media to complement your writing. Or if writing isn’t your strong suit, choose a platform—and/or a theme—that is heavy on the visuals. This way, your writing simply sets the scene and your epic photos or compelling videos can shine.

Sites like Wix, Weebly and Squarespace can even help you take your blog to the next level and go full-on portfolio style. You can have more control over the layout and theme of your blog, which will showcase your personality and programming skills. But even if you don’t have any programming chops, the basic themes on these sites are easy enough for even those who are illiterate in computer science to elevate their portfolio.

 

While text and images enhance each other and both are necessary for a complete post, hone in on your strength. Don’t feel constrained by platforms or writing styles while you’re blogging. Explore, experiment, and get your message out. After all, blogging is about sharing, so as long as you feel good about what you’re putting out in the blogosphere, someone will appreciate your efforts.

Finding the right platform and the style of blogging that connects with you and your readers can bridge the gap from submitting the occasional post to identifying as a “real” blogger. My biggest advice: just dive in and discover what works for you!

Did we miss your favorite platform? Let us know about it in the comments!

 


Ashlee Sang has been documenting her travels for years. She was based in Dakar, Senegal for four years, where she worked in the international development sector. She recently moved to Central Illinois, where she has changed gears and is focusing on local non-profits. She’s a fan of sitcoms, snacks, and social justice. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.

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01 May 3 Simple Steps to Prepare to Blog Abroad

In the world we live in today, where quotes about traveling by any means necessary laid over-top of dreamy pictures make daily appearances in you social media feeds, where you can’t do a Google search about a place without coming across the travel blog with a rundown of travel tips, where announcing your past and future travel plans are met with statements of jealousy, it can be easy for your blog to fall into a cycle and habit of being a bit of a travel diary.

But, your blog can provide so much more. It can act as a bridge of cultural connection, especially in a time when people seems to want to isolate themselves more. Taking the time to seek out cross-cultural experiences and subsequently sharing these observations may take a little more effort than a restaurant review, however, it will enrich your writing and your audience’s experience.

With these three simple steps, you’ll be on your way to writing more meaningful blog posts focused on cross-cultural understanding. They’re perfect for thinking about in between packing, or for reflecting on when you’ve returned. With a bit of foresight, incorporating culture into your travel and increasing your own understanding of the host culture is easy.

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04 Mar Feb Photo Challenge Winner: Around the World in 28 Days

WHAT IS THE #BAPHOTOCHALLENGE?

Photo challenge participants get a prompt emailed to them at the beginning of the month, and follow-up emails periodically in the following weeks. They then share their best photos that follow along with the theme that month.
The goal is to share captivating images online, with meaningful captions, in order to promote cross-cultural understanding in a fun, simple way.

FEBRUARY’S PHOTO CHALLENGE:

In February we challenged you to connect with bloggers all around the world. Participants used their own personalized hashtag to travel ‘around the world’ without leaving the comforts of their home. Reaching 18 different countries we were able to follow their journeys around the world. From the shores of Ghana to dancing in Indonesia we were able to see landscapes, people, and cultural exchange from all across the globe. This month was about connecting people across the world who are all passionate about travel and cultural exchange. In the end we had one winner, let’s look at her journey across the world!

Check out her personal cross cultural journey on instagram or on her blog www.movingwrightalong.com

Thank you to all the participants this month! Be sure to join us with the next photo challenge to get an all new prompt on the 1st of the month!

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New Years 2017 Blog Challenge - bridging cultures through blogging

13 Feb 2017 Blog Challenge BONUS Round Up BONUS: Hospitality

Our final prompt of the 2017 New Years challenge has officially passed, however, we did issue a bonus prompt. A few intrepid bloggers took us up on the additional challenge, which we will share with you here.

The Prompt: Hospitality

Peace Corps Week is coming up at the end of February and they’re celebrating with the theme: Highlighting Hospitality. So we took the opportunity to support that effort, as an optional Blog Challenge prompt. Although not everyone in the Blogging Abroad community are Peace Corps Volunteers, this theme applies to anyone with a host community overseas.
PCV or not, this was an opportunity to share traditions of hospitality and inspiring stories of how our host community welcomes us and others.

You’re encouraged to browse the Round Up links listed below for more blog inspiration and interesting cross-cultural topics. You can also find more posts highlighted on our Blog Challenge pinterest board.

 

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New Years 2017 Blog Challenge - bridging cultures through blogging

30 Jan New Years 2017 Blog Challenge Round Up #4: HOPE

Welcome to the Week Four Blog Challenge recap!

This is officially our final prompt of the 2017 New Years challenge, however, there is a bonus prompt in the pipeline for those who want to continue their blogging challenge beyond January.

The Prompt: Hope & Change

For many of us, our worlds are going through some major changes and sometimes it’s easy to lose hope. So we’re focusing our blogging efforts on Hope and Change. Where do we draw hope from? And how do we create positive change?

Highlights

This week’s responses were especially encouraging to me. It was clear that many bloggers have been “feeling the weight of the world” and yet, they’re able to find hope, find ways to move forward, and encourage others. It’s not an easy thing to published a balance of positives and negatives, or to keep yourself in check when emotions are running high. Here are just a few examples of great posts from the past week with a cool spin on the theme:

You’re encouraged to browse the Round Up links listed below for more blog inspiration and interesting cross-cultural topics. You can also find more posts highlighted on our Blog Challenge pinterest board.

 

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New Years 2017 Blog Challenge - bridging cultures through blogging

23 Jan New Years 2017 Blog Challenge Round Up #3

Welcome to the Week Three Blog Challenge recap!

This January, bloggers living around the world are taking the challenge to start the year off with weekly blog posts on meaningful topics. Over the past week, blog posts on the new prompt have been pouring out into the blogosphere and we’ve rounded them up for you here.

The Prompt: Cultural Differences

The point of this prompt was not really to draw attention to how big the differences are between cultures, but actually to realize how we’re all heavily influenced by the underlying, unspoken “rules” of culture. Understanding why people behave the way they do and empathizing with the values that inform their decisions is an important skill. This week, we used some social science and cultural communication resources, like the 10 variables of culture differences, to inspire our blog posts.

Highlights

It’s not hard to find stand out blog posts among this community of passionate bloggers! Here are just a few examples of great posts from the past week, with a few notes about how you can apply their strategies, too:

  • Here’s a great example of sharing life lessons from abroad with folks who might follow in your footsteps. Also, a good reminder to always link back to your previous blog posts that relate to the new topic! (Liz, Mozambique)
  • This is a fun, photo-centric post from the perspective of a village dog as a way to share cultural differences about pets. (Morgan, South Africa)
  • The focus on one topic and the composition of this post, with super-sized quotes, super-short paragraphs to highlight ideas, bolded headings, plenty of space, etc. make this page really attractive. (Olivia, Madagascar)
  • A “10 Things” tribute list with supporting stories and pictures is a great way to share why you’ll miss your host country. (Mark, Kyrgyzstan)

You’re encouraged to browse the Round Up links listed below for more blog inspiration and interesting cross-cultural topics. You can also find more posts highlighted on our Blog Challenge pinterest board.

 

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New Years 2017 Blog Challenge - bridging cultures through blogging

16 Jan New Years 2017 Blog Challenge Responses Round Up #2

Welcome to Week Two of our second annual Blog Challenge!

This January, bloggers living around the world are taking the challenge to start the year off with weekly blog posts on meaningful topics. We now have over 90 folks living in about 30 different countries signed up, with more joining every day! One week ago, participants received the following prompt via e-mail:

The Prompt: The Danger of a Single Story

This week’s prompt is based on a popular TED talk by author Chimamanda Adichie (see below). In it, she warns that if we only hear a single story about a person, country or issue, we risk great misunderstanding.

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

 

Along with the prompt, Challenge participants also received some blog tips and a number of creative ideas to approach their response. Over the past week, their posts have been pouring out into the blogosphere and we’ve rounded them up for you here.

Highlights

Once again, there was so many impressive, thoughtful posts this week! Our highlights today focus on the note-worthy formats and techniques that certain bloggers have used in their responses:

 

You’re encouraged browse the Round Up links we’ve listed at the bottom of the post for more ideas. You can also find more posts highlighted on our Blog Challenge pinterest board.

 

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New Years 2017 Blog Challenge - bridging cultures through blogging

09 Jan New Years 2017 Blog Challenge Responses Round Up #1

Our second annual Blog Challenge begins!

This January, bloggers living around the world are taking the challenge to start the year off with weekly blog posts on meaningful topics. We have over 80 folks living in about 30 different countries signed up, with more joining every day! Roughly one week ago, the first prompt was sent to them via e-mail.

The Prompt: Global Citizenship

Along with the prompt, Challenge participants also received some blog tips and a number of creative ideas to approach their response. Over the past week, their posts have been pouring out into the blogosphere and we’ve rounded them up for you here.

Highlights

These bloggers have impressed us! There was so many great, thoughtful posts this week. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to reflecting on Global Citizenship, so we’d like to focus more on the formats and techniques a few bloggers used.

We invite you to take some time to get to know more of our Blog Challenge bloggers by checking out the Round Up links we’ve included below. You can also find more posts highlighted on our Blog Challenge pinterest board.

Join us!

Want to participate? If you’d like to join the Blog Challenge and get the last couple blog post prompts in real time, sign up here(more…)

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29 Dec December Photo Challenge Highlights: #Celebrate

What is the #baphotochallenge?

Photo challenge participants get a prompt emailed to them at the beginning of the month, and follow-up emails periodically in the following weeks. They then share their best photos that follow along with the theme that month. This month’s theme was “Celebrate”.

The goal is to share captivating images online, with meaningful captions, in order to promote cross-cultural understanding in a fun, simple way.

Join our monthly Photo Challenge!

Note: If you are viewing this post by e-mail or feed reader, please click here to see the full post properly formatted.

December’s Photo Challenge

December’s challenge was about all things celebratory. Participants used #celebrate to tag their pictures of celebrations from all over the world. Participants were also challenged to invite friends to join the challenge by tagging people in the caption of their picture. This month’s journey included German holiday cuisine, African wedding festivities, and Christmas tree decorating in Moldova, to name a few. We saw holiday filled landscapes, celebrations of faith, celebrations of change, and celebrations of life. This month was all about challenging bloggers and social media followers to expand their definition of ‘The Holiday Season’ outside their own cultural traditions, holidays, and festivities.

Let’s review the Top 5 photos of December’s ‘Celebrate’ Challenge:

5. Christmas Tree Decorating in Moldova (more…)

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Best Cross-Culture Posts of 2016 | Blogging Abroad

27 Dec Best Cross-Culture Posts of 2016 World-Wide

Our mission at Blogging Abroad is to inspire and equip people living abroad to promote cross-cultural understanding through blogging and social media. This year, we’ve seen so many fantastic examples of cultural exchange online, we decided to round up the best of the best.

 

What makes a great cultural blog post?

 
Here are some of the top things we considered when composing our list:

  • Well-written, easy to read text
  • A positive, respectful outlook and promotion of cross-cultural understanding
  • A cohesive theme, rather than a running diary entry
  • A unique perspective or creative post format
  • Engaging, quality images
  • Interesting titles and headings
  • Responsible crediting of outside sources (including image credits)
  • Appropriate post length – not too long or rambling

 
We applaud each of our finalists for their excellent blog posts. And above all, we hope these examples will spark ideas and encourage more bloggers to join in the meaningful work of unofficial cultural ambassadorship!

Still need more blog post ideas? Check out our Tools & Resources page.


Top Cross-Culture Posts

 
We narrowed our list down to thirteen front runners, each with their own particular strengths and merit. Here they are, in no particular order:

Take a Quick 5-Minute Trip to Moldova by Sara Hoy | SaraJoy (Moldova)

Friends and family can’t always come visit while you’re abroad. Why not take them on a virtual tour? (more…)

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