Throughout the week, we had several professional development sessions with leading media and creative folk in the D.C. area. We talked in-depth about photography, videography, storytelling, and media strategy. We also spent time sharing tips with one another on design and keeping up readership. In the third and final series of my Blog It Home recap, I thought it would be nice to pay it forward by sharing my thoughts on setting up a solid Third Goal blog. And if you’re interested in trying for the contest during your service, feel free to reach out! I’d be happy to talk.
Four Tips to Third Goal Blogging
Post with purpose and PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect ✌️)
A commonality amongst all our blogs this year – and which also may be true for previously winning blogs – is that our posts tend to be more topical than ‘this is what I did today.’ A lot of PCVs start their blogs with the intent of keeping friends and family at home updated about their daily lives and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, several Blog It Home winners started theirs blogs that way, too. However, their blog eventually transformed into a platform to share all the awesomely weird but cool things we see and experience as a resident of our host country. Some people add a lot of research and host country national perspective into their posts while others stick to more personal observation and revelation. The important thing is to provide context and show compassion. Highlight differences and show your readers that we’re all harmonious humans on this planet.
Appreciate UX and make it pretty
No, you don’t have to pay for your own URL or for a theme (though I considered it). But put some thought into User Experience (UX). Organize your information into different pages. Make it easy for readers to find topics or posts that may interest them. Always write a thoughtful About Me with a portrait of yourself. The more a reader can connect with you, the more your stories will have weight and connection.
Knowing to whom you write is right.
Yes, your English teacher was correct to drill these questions into you in high school English class: Who is your audience? Why are you writing this? I struggled with this in the beginning because I didn’t know who would be reading my blog besides my parents. But I knew I didn’t want to write to only my mom and dad. That would be too personal and would include details that only they could understand. I decided to pretend that the majority of my readers would be interested and future PCVs of Mongolia. It shaped my voice and what details to include. It’s given me a list of questions and topics that would have been nice to know before I came to country. Plus, with the change in application where candidates can choose their country of service, I thought my blog would have more relevancy. I can’t say for certain if most of my readers are from my intended demographic, but that’s okay! As long as it helps me write, I’m good.
Believe in your POV
You bring a unique perspective to your service and just because everyone else is already writing loads about a topic, say a big holiday in your country of service, don’t take that as a reason for you not to say anything about it. For me, I’m an Asian-American in a Central Asian country. I look like everyone else and even if I don’t talk about it often, it certainly shapes my life here and how people perceive or treat me. I also tend to think about food a lot so yes, there are several posts about that. Brittany started her blog as a way to document life as an African-American female Peace Corps Volunteer in a Latin American region. Mark’s posts are informed by his time and love for the Central Asian region. Zak is a third generation PCV. We’ve all got on a different pair of glasses so reflect on that as you formulate your blog posts.
And if you want to see blogs from other Blog It Home winners: www.peacecorps.gov/returned-volunteers/awards/blog-it-home/