Meet Linda, An Expat Entrepreneur In London
This week I’d like to present you Linda, a Swede in London. I met Linda over 10 years ago at university in London while we were both studying marketing. After graduation, Linda landed her first media job in the city and stayed there ever since. When she quit her marketing job 18 months ago, little did she know that introducing a dog into her life would lead her to become a successful online marketer.
Meet Linda, Expat in London
Tell us a little bit about you and what made you move to London?
I grew up in small town in south of Sweden, but always dreamed of going travelling. When an opportunity presented itself to study in London, I couldn’t get on that plane quick enough. I thought it would be a great chance to get to know London, study marketing and learn the language all in one go.
Then, after graduation, I landed my first media job in the city and have stayed here ever since.
What were your first impressions – was it much of a culture shock?
I moved to London the week before 9/11 and one of my first experiences of living in a big city was to get evacuated out of Canary Wharf when the second plane hit in New York! Coming from a small town that was quite a culture shock right away!
The second surprise was to realise just how low the average living standard was in London. Coming from Sweden I was used to triple glazing, wooden floors and outdoor space as standard. Here, the same amount of money that you’d pay for renting a villa in Sweden, got you a studio flat with wall to wall carpets in the bathroom. Oh, and not all bathrooms had showers!
Tell us 3 things you love about London or the UK in general.
1. The People – everyone is so polite. They even apologise if you accidentally bump into them on the street.
2. The City itself – London is such an old city, with hundreds of years of history. I love walking down the old cobbled streets and imagine what it must have been like back then. The contrasts between new and old seem to gel seamlessly and you can spot modern glass and steel structures in between the Victorian cottages. Somehow it just works.
One of my favourite walks in London is strolling down the Southbank, checking out the street performers and seeing all the famous landmarks around me. Exploring London has also given me plenty of ideas for writing articles online – there is just so much to see and do, that tourists don’t know where to start and use the internet as a starting point to plan their journey.
3. Internationality – London is a very international place. Most of my friends are from overseas and it’s a rare treat to occasionally find a born and raised Londoner!
You are from Sweden. What do you miss most about Sweden?
When you move abroad, you go through phases of what you miss. The first couple of years I just couldn’t get over that the bread tasted so horrible here, and I missed my Swedish Marabou chocolate and kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls). As the years go by, you start picking up new favourite food here and you end up missing your friends, family and the country itself instead.
The best thing about going back to Sweden on holiday is the fresh air, the silence and hanging out with people who’ve known you since you were born. I actually wrote an article about the things I love about Sweden recently – it was a great project and it was fun to go through all my old photos. It did make me feel a little homesick too!
You’ve started a couple of online businesses/projects – What are they and how did they come about?
A year and a half ago I decided it was time to quit my marketing job, take a couple of months off and buy a puppy. That puppy turned out to be quite a handful, and my husband and I spent a fortune in dog training and all the toys and things that little dogs need. I set up a dog blog so friends and family abroad could get to know Alfie – and it’s all written from his point of view.
Alfie’s Blog grew really popular and I started getting advertising requests from pet related companies.
I thought, hang on, there could be a business here and I started reading everything there is to know about blogging. Now a year in, Alfie’s Blog and shop is generating a steady little income and I’ve gotten to know some wonderful dogs and people through his blog.
I also found an online community called HubPages where you can write and publish articles on any subject, and earn revenue through advertising and affiliate sales. I started writing articles about Sweden, London, Dogs and anything else I have experience of and slowly the pennies started trickling in.
It’s all a learning process and some of my earlier articles generated very little traffic compared to some of my latest work. I like to combine Alfie’s Blog with writing articles on Hubpages as they complement each other and I can create useful back links.
Marketing is one of your strengths. So, could you give us a couple of examples of successful activities or some tips to get more traffic to your blog or web?
1. Get to know other people writing in the same field – leave insightful comments and questions on other people’s blogs and you’ll soon see them visiting, reading and talking about your own blog.
And you’ll get to know some fantastic people in the process!
2. Join Blog hops if you’re brand new. They are a wonderful vehicle for generating traffic and getting new readers. I started my own bloghop called ‘Monday Mischief’ – and Alfie’s Blog is now cohosting this along with some other dog bloggers I met through his blog.
3. Learn the basics of SEO. If you can get your titles search-engine-friendly and generate a couple of inbound links – you’re way ahead of many other bloggers.
4. Get a decent camera. People love photos and it makes you stand out from the crowd as most online writers are too concerned about getting their keywords right and use boring stock photos.
Real photos will make you look genuine and real – and if you name the photo files using keywords, and add good captions, they will help you be found by Google’s little spiders too.
5. Don’t give up. You won’t become successful overnight – most online writers need at least 6 months to build a following and convince Google that their content is useful and interesting. The key thing is to find your niche and keep writing regularly – and you will start seeing traffic build up gradually. I started seeing my first real ad revenue after 6-9 months of writing regular articles online.
What advice would you give to anyone willing to set up his or her own online business?
Find something you feel genuinely passionate about. Check out the competition and do something better. Take baby steps – don’t give up your day job until you start seeing the money trickling in.
Thank you very much, Linda!
Want to read more Expat Entrepreneur Stories? Make sure to check out my other Interviews here.
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