Social influencers: Russell Ward
Travel and lifestyle blogger Russell Ward offers his advice for living a life less ordinary.
Ten years ago, Russell left his home in England to seek out a life of travel, adventure, health and vitality. Now settled in the Northern Beaches of Sydney, he uses his popular blog and social media channels to share his stories, inspirations and ideas about living life to the fullest every day.
When and why did you start using social media to share your story?
In 2010, I created the blog In Search of a Life Less Ordinary as a way to share my travel and expat journey with friends and family in the UK. It rapidly gained an audience here in Australia and further afield in the US and Canada. Once I started using Twitter and Facebook to complement the blog, social media became a way for me to connect with others following a similar path, a means to give advice to those wanting to travel or move abroad, and an outlet for sharing my stories of living a different lifestyle to the norm.
What does “a life less ordinary” look like to you?
A life less ordinary for me was about breaking away from the 9-5 routine – weekdays crawling in traffic on the daily commute, weeknights sat in front of the TV, weekends spent down the shopping mall. I craved a healthier lifestyle with more emphasis on the outdoors and on quality time spent with family. I wanted to try new things, see more of the world, and push myself as a person. I live on the Northern Beaches in Sydney – I don't have a flash car or fancy house, but I'm in control of my life and I've designed it the way I want it to be. I work exclusively from home on my new writing business, The International Writer, and I avoid the stresses of the Sydney commute. I make time to hang out with my wife and one-year-old son – we'll go to the beach or pool in the evenings or simply eat lunch together during the day. I'm active and healthy, travel frequently – be it within Australia or overseas – and we share adventures together as a family, not apart.
How do you decide what content to post on each platform?
Each platform lends itself to different types of content. I'll share photos of my travels and local lifestyle on the blog's Facebook page as my followers enjoy seeing where I've been to and where I live. On Twitter I share news or advice on how to make changes to your everyday life. The blog is where I write about living the less ordinary life. An idea might come to me in the most random of places or I'll take time to think about the next month's posts. Either way, I always make sure the post tells a story, taking the reader on an emotional journey – I've never been afraid of exploring both the good and bad that comes with relocating abroad and travelling extensively. My favourite platform right now is Instagram as I love taking photos of my beachside environment and of my travels.
What makes social media a beneficial medium for connecting with people?
On this journey, I've met incredible people and made friends from places I'd never normally have been able to without the help of social media. It's has allowed me to reach out and connect with people who comment on my blog, who agree or disagree with my tips and tricks, who reach out and ask if I'll join them on a Twitter chat or online forum, or sometimes just let me know that my writing touched them in some way. The true power of social media is that it has no geographical limits or boundaries and anything is possible – and it's easy to use. For someone who travels and lives far from his original home, I've found social media vital for staying in touch with loved ones and making new connections along the way.
Have you gained any valuable information or insights from interacting with your followers?
For a start, social media is just that: social. So you need to interact with your followers to get the most out of it. Through my platforms, I've learned about the best places to travel to; untold life hacks and how to make life more meaningful; how to eat better, sleep better, live better. The list is endless. But for me, the most important insights I've learned from my followers are the ones where people tell me about their own personal experiences and what they've learned from expat life, travel, or simply living a better lifestyle –the need to worry less, to focus on what's important, to let stress go and concentrate on the here and now, to appreciate loved ones and be the best person you can be.
What are your top three tips to help people on their journey to better health?
- Fear of the unknown often holds people back and stops them from starting or completing their journey. The way I see it is you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from changing up your life. If it doesn't work out, at least you tried. I'd rather regret the things I did do, rather than those I didn't, so don't put things off – plan that trip overseas, take the family on a day out somewhere new, introduce healthier foods into your lifestyle – but do it today, not tomorrow.
- Start small and take baby steps to get to where you want to. Don't bite off more than you can chew in those early days – set yourself small goals and enjoy the quick rewards. Make changes here and there, tweak things, try something different and patiently build towards that better life. It's about learning, adjusting and constantly moving forward.
- Define success on your own terms. For me, success is good health, having more time with family, trying new experiences and opportunities, and enjoying my immediate environment and our travel adventures together. I try to live in the moment and enjoy times like these rather than look ahead to the next big thing. Life is fleeting and precious so enjoy the day-to-day to your fullest potential.