Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Meet Annabel Candy – Expat, Web Designer, Copywriter and Travel Fiend

Hi Everyone, You may recall that when we launched our book Expat Women: Confessions - 50 Answers to Your Real-Life Questions about Living Abroad last May, several kind women donated prizes for our launch competition. Today, we would like to introduce you to one of those wonderful women...

Meet Annabel Candy – Web Designer, Copywriter & Travel Fiend 

Two years ago, Brit Annabel Candy was experimenting as a blogger and set up a travel blog called Get In the Hot Spot. Since then, Annabel's blog has grown exponentially and Annabel even scored a free trip to Shanghai, courtesy of Coca Cola!

Expat Women: Annabel, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Annabel: I was born in the UK and I have lived in France, Laos, Zimbabwe, the USA, New Zealand, Costa Rica and now in Queensland, Australia. I have been a web copywriter and web designer for 17 years, and currently run an Internet marketing company called Mucho (with clients in Australia, New Zealand, North America, Europe and Africa).

Growing up, I always dreamed of living in a hot tropical place by the sea and I am so grateful I actually do. I work from home and live with my husband and our three school-aged kids. It is quite chaotic, but the beauty is that we can always escape to the nearby beach when we need some down time.

Expat Women: How did you come to be living in Australia?

Annabel: My husband and I owned our own web design and copywriting business in New Zealand and our three kids were born there. But we are both travellers and yearned to hit the road again. It took us a while to pluck up courage, but when our youngest child was two, we sold our house, along with most of our belongings, and moved to Central America.

We did not speak Spanish at first and had never been there before, so most of our friends thought we were crazy. We lived in the jungles of Costa Rica for 18 months with no Internet. We loved it but schooling the kids was hard (we had to buy desks for the classroom) and of course we could not do any web design work without the Internet! It was a great experience but in the end we decided to move to Australia instead - it had the warm weather and the Internet.

Expat Women: Why did you start blogging?

Annabel: I started because I wanted to learn about blogging and have a creative outlet for my writing (that was not anonymous like my normal web copywriting work was). I started blogging before I left New Zealand (but the blog was understandably on hold while I was without Internet in Costa Rica).  It was 2006, and in my first blog post I wrote that I was going to: "Stare fear in the face and overcome my fear of being read, the fear that my writing would be judged." I never wrote another blog post for three years!

Expat Women: So what inspired you to pick up blogging again in 2009?

Annabel: I decided to give it another go. This time, I was determined to stick with it, even though at first, it was depressing because no one was reading my blog. However, slowly but surely, I started to connect with readers and get subscribers.

I started guest posting on other people's blogs and that helped grow my blog faster. Then, after I had been blogging for one year, Coca-Cola got in touch and paid for me to go to a social media conference in Shanghai (!) because they liked my writing. That was a real breakthrough moment because finally I felt that all the effort I had put into my blog was being recognized.

Expat Women: But is guest-posting just giving away your best content for free?

Annabel: I have learnt to stop thinking of guest posting as "giving away" my best work and start thinking of it as free prime time advertising. I am proud to say that my writing has now been featured on some of the biggest blogs on the Internet, like Problogger, Copyblogger and Zen Habit - and that has helped me grow my blog more than anything else. It has also been an excellent way for me to connect with new readers and raise my profile.

Expat Women: Do you make money from your blog?

Annabel: My core business is web design and copywriting, but blogging has helped me get clients all over the world, which is a huge benefit because I live in a holiday area with limited business opportunities otherwise.

In New Zealand I could never get a job unless I met the client. But blogging has helped me get clients all over the world. Not because of my qualifications (I do have an MA in Design for Interactive Media) or experience, but because of the personal experiences and stories I shared on my blog.

Now, I also sell my own e-book about blogging and promote other people's products, so blogging has allowed me to increase and diversify my income in these ways as well.

Another benefit: I can now also pick and choose what work I do. I have reached a point where I only do jobs that I enjoy and work with people that I like, which is a real luxury. For example, I just got a travel writing job for our local tourism board, where I go for a massage or try a new beauty treatment, then write about it for them. How good is that? :)

Expat Women: Do you have any advice for other bloggers and writers?


But success with anything depends on perseverance, so my advice is stick with blogging, if you enjoy it, even when you want to give up.

Do not expect to see any results for a year or so, but promise yourself that you will keep updating your blog at least weekly. Blogging is an art, not a science. So keep blogging, keep experimenting and have fun with it!

Annabel Candy shares her travel stories and personal writing at Get In the Hot Spot. Or find her blogging tips and blogging book at Successful Blogging.

Thanks Annabel! Andrea

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