THE ABU DHABI STONE

For those that saw the title of this post and clicked on it thinking it must be a cultural post about a historic monument in Abu Dhabi, you are going to be disappointed. In fact the “Abu Dhabi stone” refers to the amount of weight that expats traditionally put on in their first twelve months in the country (more generally known as the “expat stone” as it happens elsewhere as well).

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WHY “THE QUANTIFIED EXPAT”?

Having “relaunched” (perhaps too grand a description for a blog with a small number of readers) my blog last week I guess I should explain my change of name from “An Arabian Adventure” to “The Quantified Expat”.

Firstly, why bother changing? “An Arabian Adventure” felt as though it described well the purpose of the blog when we first moved to the UAE, and given that its primary purpose is to keep family and friends up to date with our news I’ve been pleased with the number of people who do read it. Most posts get more than 50 views and almost 1,800 people from around the world have viewed at least one post (the map below shows the location of viewers for the last month).

Despite this, like many bloggers I am sure, I would like to build up an even bigger readership. It seems that many expats over here start blogs when they first arrive. Many become inactive within a few weeks, others tail off over the first year, but some build up a large following and are still going years later.

I’m sure there are plenty of understandable reasons why people stop blogging, many will become too busy working and enjoying life, some will run out of things to talk about, and I’m sure some become discouraged by the lack of interaction they provoke. All of these apply to me to a greater or lesser extent at different times.

Interaction is an important factor. I love getting comments on my posts, either on the posts themselves or via Facebook. It’s great if they are from members of the family, it’s even better if they are from friends, and it’s fantastic if they are from people I’ve never met (although I’ve not yet got desperate enough to be pleased with the regular comments I get offering to sell me dubious tablets and other paraphernalia).

The doesn’t seem to be a foolproof recipe for what works and what doesn’t, but one thing I have noticed is that a common theme for many successful blogs is that they have a clear “brand” (too grand a description again). It may be that they focus on one topic (restaurant reviews seem to work well), or use the same identity on several social media channels to drum up readers from different sources, or post on the same day / time each week. This is something I’ve been conscious of but not focused enough on.

One aspect of “brand” is that all the successful blogs I have come across reflect their blog name in their URL. I wasn’t able to do this as most versions of http://www.arabianadventure (.com, .co.uk, etc) were already taken, which was another indicator that maybe my blog was too similar to others out there.

Having decided that a change was necessary the next decision was what to change to. I wanted to reflect that the main reason for me doing the blog is the fact we have become expats, so that bit was easy. But what to go with it? That bit was fairly easy too, because at the time I was thinking about this I was also becoming more interested in the “quantified self” movement.

For those you not familiar with it, the “quantified self movement” is defined as “a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person’s daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood), and performance (mental and physical)”. Source: Quantified Self. (2014, May 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 05:43, May 24, 2014, fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Quantified_Self&oldid=609593895

In short it is self knowledge through self tracking with technology. It is a movement which is gaining in popularity, not least due to the increase in wearable technology (wristbands that track the steps you take, sleep you get, etc) and smartphone apps (record what you eat, what you read, etc) that can do the tracking for you. Given the number of gadgets flooding onto the market it seems that 2014 is going to be the year the movement really takes off.

The movement plays to my love of gadgets and the fact that I have always enjoyed playing with numbers (I have mentioned my obsession with spreadsheets previously I think). It would appear that I am indeed a geek.

Given the above it wasn’t too much of a jump to “The Quantified Expat”, bringing together our new life overseas and the quantified self movement. The URL http://www.quantifiedexpat.com was available (who else would want it!?), so the decision was made, and here I am, new logo and everything.

My intention is to blog about the following in future:

  • Diary posts chronicling our life here, hopefully of interest to friends and family, and others who may be moving / considering moving over here.
  • Posts about different aspects of life here in the UAE that interest me, usually with a sprinkling of numbers, to provide a somewhat dubious link to the quantified part of the blog name.
  • Brief reviews of the places we go, and things we do, hopefully of interest to family and friends, and people new to the UAE.
  • Posts focused on “the quantified self”, reflecting on what I am measuring, and what (if anything) I am learning about myself.
  • Reviews of the apps and gadgets I am using for my tracking, hopefully of interest to other quantified self people.

Hopefully there will be so something in there for everyone, but let me know if you would like to hear about anything else. And remember, I love getting comments.

In my next post I will share with you some of the things I am tracking in 2014, and why (I’ll have to think about this part of it!).

Having revealed that I am a numbers obsessed geek longing to be liked, I will end the self therapy lesson there. Thank you as always for reading.

If any fellow bloggers are reading, please let me know what you think. What works well for your blog? How do you increase engagement? What other tips do you have for me?