Meet The Bloggers: An American Girl In Shanghai

Meet The Bloggers December profile is one of the older blogs in Shanghai (and one of those ranking on top of googles search for Shanghai Blogs). Meet An American Girl In Shanghai

Tell us a bit about Anne Marie

Once upon a time I was a teacher and instructional technology specialist in suburban Charleston, SC.  I was married, happy, employed and settled.  Then my husband got an offer he couldn’t refuse, a three-year contract to work in Shanghai, China.  I spent the next three years traveling, blogging, and teaching in Shanghai.  After 1189 days in China, we relocated to Burlington, Kentucky where I am reconnecting with loved ones, blogging and volunteering in a local elementary school. 


Tell us a bit about American Girl In Shanghai and how it was born

An American Girl in Shanghai is my account of my three-year adventure in Shanghai. When I first learned I was going to be relocating to Shanghai with my husband, Chris, I wanted to share the experience with family, friends, and folks who were going to have an expat experience in China.  Originally, I wanted to help people who would be having experiences similar to my own.  I also didn’t want to have to repeatedly recant my experiences to family and friends.  So I looked up An American Girl in Shanghai, learned the domain was open, and started sharing my story.  The blog became one-third diary, one-third travel blog, and one-third expat survival manual.


Blogging is fun! What’s the most fun part about blogging in ShanghaI?

An American Girl in Shanghai forced me to live my expat experience in the most exciting, meaningful way possible!  In order to keep the blog fresh, I felt obligated to try new things that I wouldn’t ordinarily do. Blogging also made me live reflectively, and gave me opportunities to meet many different people from all over the world.  I love Shanghai, and the blog is my love letter to the city.


Blogging can be challenging! How do you find inspiration to stay creative on your blog – and motivation to keep up the blogging even on bad days?

Many days, especially those during the cold wet winter months, I used my blog as a measurement for how exciting my life was.  If my blog was boring, my life was boring and I needed to do something to change that.  I would then plan an adventure around the city or a trip over my next holiday.  Then my creative juices would start flowing.

Unless you are being paid to produce content by a specific deadline, don’t blog on bad days.  There were times when I had difficulty writing.  To overcome writer’s block I would look at my pictures, do a little background research on my topic, and then start writing.  If I wasn’t inspired by then, I would save my post and resume writing at a later time.  Eventually the post would find its way on the blog.


If someone wants to start a new blog in Shanghai, what’s your suggestion for topic - What’s missing on Shanghai’s blogging scene?

Be selfish. Blog about your passion.  Keep your writing authentic, and write about what fills your bucket. Find a purpose for your blog, and fill that need.  Keep in mind that there are many good food and travel blogs out there, so be prepared to compete for readership if you head down that road.


Do you have any advice on how to rank higher on Google or increase traffic on a blog? Or what’s your best general advice to someone who just started their blog?

Have a very catchy url, tag your posts, network with other writers, and connect with other expat blogging sites like Shanghai Bloggers. Include links to other blogs on your blog, and have other writers link to your blog.  I also set up other social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to grow my readership.


What have surprised you most about Shanghai/China after you moved here? 

There are an amazing number of kind people in the world who are very willing to help others.  


You have actually just left Shanghai Anne Marie! What's the 3 things you already miss or will miss the most and why?

 

  1. I never thought I would say this, but I miss the wide selection of authentic international restaurants.  While I love being able to access American comfort foods at extremely cheap prices, there are times that I wish I could try out the new Indian restaurant down the street or the great Thai place around the corner.  Chinese food is definitely not the same.

  2. I miss traveling to new places! My adventures to places only heard of in geography books have been replaced with road trips to reconnect with family. While I am LOVING being able to attend birthday parties, reconnecting with friends and celebrating the holidays with family I miss the breathless feeling I got when seeing an exotic location for the first time.  As soon as the holidays die down and am finally finished unpacking boxes I hope to experience that breathlessness in the US…hopefully with my friends and family!

  3. Most importantly I miss the people.  While in Shanghai, I met some of the most kind, intelligent, and fun people.  As an expat, my friends became my family.  Now that I’m on the other side of the world, I miss my people!!  Fortunately I am able to keep in contact with friends via social networks but it’s not the same…. especially around the holidays!  There are many days when I wonder how our Ayi or my students are doing.  I imagine it will be even more difficult around Spring Festival.


Can you give us a link to one of your recent favorite posts or most popular posts?

According to Google, my most popular post was one I wrote on superstitions. Read it here

However, my favorite post was my final post on the blog. While I mentally composed it for months, wrote it my final night in Shanghai. I feel like it captured the raw roller coaster of emotions I was feeling at the time. Read it here.


Thank you so much dear Anne-Marie and good luck

- we hope to see you back in Shanghai =)