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student_blogging

My niece has been on a mission service trip abroad with The World Race for five months. Before heading off to travel the world and minister, part of her agreement was to blog about her adventures. More Than a Mission Trip being her blog. If asked, she will admit that she never fancied herself a writer, but that she was willing to do her best to honor the agreement. Her first post was a basic explanation of where she would go and what she would be doing, along with a confession of her lack of blogging expertise:

Disclaimer: I have not had much luck with blogs in the past. I usually have grand ideas about things to write about and then when I sit down at the computer, I realize nothing is actually interesting enough to write. I don't usually communicate my thoughts or feelings often or well, but now it's timetime to bare my heart and soul on the Internet. Watch out.

Over the past five months, she has become an excellent travel blogger—sharing her experiences through words and pictures. Her blog makes me want to be where she is, participate in her ministry, and meet the people she's met along the way. That’s the work of a good travel blogger. They transport you to the places they are seeing and experiencing; they make you want to go there yourself.

Here are six things my niece has done to create a successful travel blog at such a young age:

1. She uses an easy to use blogging platform.

Although there are a plethora of blogging platforms out there, these are two of the most recommended options available: Wordpress.org and Blogger.com. Both offer simple templates and make it easy to post content and pictures even while using your mobile device. They are perfect for any blogging novice to get set up and running immediately.

2. She uses descriptive words to paint a picture.

Composing engaging entries remain the cornerstone of good travel blogs, according to Cameron Wears, of the husband-and-wife blogging team Traveling Canucks (travelingcanucks.com). “The most important thing is to entertain your readers and always share something informative, but interesting. The Internet is overloaded with information and people have enough on their daily agenda, so your posts should be fun,” he says.

In my opinion, a mix of laughter and sentiment also make up a great blog. Don't hesitate to add some passion and emotion, along with your humor. Think of a good movie, if you laugh and cry, it's usually one you want to watch again or share with your family and friends.

3. She uses picturesque and inspirational photos and videos to go along with her descriptions.

The saying, "pictures paint a thousand words" is so, so, so true. Words paint the picture, but photos bring the experience to life. Images play such a key role in creating a successful travel blog, but they have to be the right pictures.

Keep in mind that your "visual content" should be more than just typical travel photos of buildings, scenery, or people posing for the camera in a group. Take the time to compose a photo library that includes candids, observations, people currently living in their environment.

Capture the emotions, excitement, and passion of not only the people surrounding you, but also of yourself. This helps bring personality to your blog. Adding quality videos are great, too.

4. She makes it personal.

As you can imagine, my niece comes in contact with people, occurrences and images that aren’t always positive and uplifting. Just a few days after the earthquake in Nepal, she was on the ground helping victims of all ages. You should write about your own reactions to the places you visit and the people you meet. People respond to honest posts; posts that divulge your feelings about the places you visit.

5. She interviews and introduces you to people she has met.

A travel blog should be personal and that often means introducing your readers to the people you meet during your travels. The interviews should be appealing and alluring. In my niece’s recent blog, she wrote about a man she met in Malaysia and how his life influenced her when she was welcomed into his home.

6. She posts regularly and shares on social media.

In order to gain readers and keep their interest, you should post regularly. It’s not enough to just post-to-post. You should try to keep a regular schedule. And always share your posts on social media to expand readership. And if you don't think you have time to blog, you can simply share extra pictures from your repertoire on your Facebook page or on your Integra account. More content means more connections. Always strive to grow your audience and drive traffic to your blog.

7. She posts to promote the program.

Let's face it, she's traveling on an impressive mission trip doing valuable service work. Something she wants other potential students to participate in and to see the importance of what she is doing. Parents, too.

Being a travel blogger is one of the best ways to chronicle and share your study abroad trip or gap year experience with your friends and family with the added bonus of gaining blogging experience and continued readership. So, get typing.