When a hobby turns into a professional blog: The story of the blog Expatpanda

expatpanda, blog, sharethelove, expat

When a hobby turns into a professional blog: The story of the blog Expatpanda

Expressing your own voice: The blogging Journey of Expatpanda

Blogging can be a very rewarding path for Expat Partners or Expats in general who want to share their story but are also looking for some ways to earn money or continue a career. In the following weeks, I will introduce you to great Expat Bloggers who managed to create amazing platforms with lots of inspiration and knowledge in that field! In the sense of Share-the-Love they will share their valuable experience with us! Let’s start with the first interview of this series. I had the opportunity to interview Aneesa from www.expatpanda.com about her blogging experience and recommendations for you. Check out her story and her personal approach to milestones, traffic and reaching the target group. 

1. Hello Aneesa / Expat Panda! THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR WISDOM HERE! Tell us a little bit about you!

Hi world! This is Expat Panda saying hi from the Middle East- Dubai, United Arab Emirates to be exact. I’m a twenty-something nomadic panda born and raised in South Africa. I first moved abroad to South Korea, later moved to Kuwait and now live in the United Arab Emirates. My goal is to never stop trying to inspire and connect with people through my passions. I started my blog in late 2016 when I first moved to Kuwait and 2 years later, I am happy with the progress it has made! Follow along on my journey: www.expatpanda.com or on Instagram: @expatpanda. Expat Panda is a space for all sorts of stories. Sometimes they are about adventure or chaotic mishaps, but often they are really just musings about a crazy South African teacher, living in Dubai and trying to love life as much as possible.

2. What advice can you give on how to best find your niche and the topic you want to blog about?

Finding my niche was easy because there aren’t many South African bloggers who are sharing their experiences of living as a woman of color in the Middle East. I’ve written about everything from visa hassles to cuisine on my blog regarding the Middle East and its been the main reason people find me via search engines. However, as time shifted and I became more confident, I began to share my travel tips, experiences and personal struggles. I have opened up about my divorce, job loss, my ethnicity and the struggles of traveling with a passport from a third world country on my blog.

It has brought me closer to my audience and allowed me to forge meaningful connections through an online community. I have even been fortunate enough to meet many of those amazing people in real life! The more I grew and experienced, the more I learned; over time, my blog became more focused on sharing those lessons with other people who could benefit from my own hardships- possibly avoid them or get through them as I did. I highly recommend that new expat bloggers do not “follow the rules” to only blog about one topic. Open yourself up to the world and explore all your interests. Let the world know who you are and what you have to say!

"I highly recommend that new expat bloggers do not FOLLOW THE RULES to only blog about one topic."

Dr. McNulty

3. Are you setting yourself milestones for traffic?
Do you have any insights to share on how to gain traffic in the first placec and grow your audience?

I never set myself tangible milestones or goals for my blog; instead I focus on engaging significantly with my audience. So far example, instead of setting myself a goal of publishing 4 posts a month, my goal would be read to the blogs of those who follow me & provide feedback. 


I try to take my time and make sure my content is useful rather than setting publishing goals and meeting them even if the content is subpar. I have also learnt that numbers are irrelevant; instead of aiming to have 10,000 views in a day, I will aim to appreciate a smaller audience who is responsive to my posts rather than a whole bunch of views from people who don’t even care about what I have to say or even worse, spam bots. 


Responding to people and conversing with them is key to encouraging traffic; so is producing unique and excellent content that people can actually use.



In today’s climate of sponsorship and endorsements, I know my perspectives are unpopular but I stand by them… The moment numbers influence my content, is the day blogging stops being fun for me! Grow your audience by taking an interest in them and appreciating the interest they take in you.


Contribute to websites and answer questions… you never know whose life you may change!

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4. How personal is a personal blog?

A blog can be as personal as you want it to or as impersonal as you feel necessary. I truly believe that in this day and age, there is no magic recipe for a successful blog and that different blogs appeal to different audiences. 


As long you’re publishing your very best posts that make you happy, you can choose to be as intimate with your audience as you like. I choose to publish personal posts about my life experiences if I feel someone can benefit from them. I give myself space from my online community while I deal with hardships and once I am ready, I share with the world. 


Publishing posts on the struggles I have had as really introduced me to some of the kindest and supportive people out there! Just publish as much or as little as you feel is necessary- there is no wrong or right way to blog despite what ‘blogging courses’ may say!

5. Is blogging for you a hobby next to your profession as a teacher or are you planning on becoming 100% self-employed with blogging?

Blogging has always- and may always be- my hobby while my profession has always been education. This may not be the case forever, but I currently enjoy having the blog as a hobby. While I don’t know what the future may hold, I don’t see myself relying on my blog to generate a sole income for me as I believe that with the rate at which technology evolves, one day blogs may be totally obsolete and then what will fund my travels??!!



At the end of the day, your blog is your creation. So share as much as you want to, post as often or as seldom as you’d like; don’t feel the need to use the same washed out filters that everyone uses on their photos or pose in the same way that other people do; just let your personality shine through on your platforms and your blog will grow- maybe not dramatically but if you have 20 genuine people who read and comment on your posts, its far better than 2000 spam bots who don’t even know you exist.

Don’t feel the need to use the same washed out filters that everyone uses!

Bottom line:

Thanks to Aneesa for these great insights and inspiration on how to chose a niche and stay true to yourself when it comes to gaining traffic!

 I think she hit a very important point here: You should think about why you want to start a blog and see blogging not only from a financial point of view. It is also my very own experience that the luxury of blogging is that you can decide for yourself what you are writing about.

The moment you will start to change the content towards the topics with greater reach but less interest to you, it will start to feel like work than can become unrewarding. 

In the following weeks I will add further interviews and resources around the topics of blogging and hope to give you some more insights into this interesting path for Expats. 

Let me know about your thoughts in the comment section below where you can also add some questions you might have. Also visit www.expatpanda.com for some amazing blogging inspiration! 

Thanks for sharing the love and stopping by

Kate from Share the Love, expat, expat wife, expat life

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