InterExchange Content Provider Guidelines


Tell the story of your international experience with articles, photo stories, and videos!
Tell the story of your international experience with articles, photo stories, and videos!
Image courtesy of Tara B.

Congratulations on joining us as an InterExchange Content Provider! Before getting started with your content contributions, we request that you review the following guidelines.

Generally we seek three types of content: Articles, Photo Stories, and Videos. You can link to specific guidelines for each via the sidebar.

Consider Your Audience

Before deciding which kinds of content you would like to create, please take some time to think about who will most likely be consuming this content. Most of your readers will either be prospective applicants thinking about whether the program is a good fit, or future travelers who have applied, been accepted, and are getting ready to travel on an InterExchange program.

Prospective Applicants

What would you have wanted to know about the program before applying? If someone were a good fit but just needed a bit of a push or confidence boost, what would you tell/show them? What are some of the highlights of your experience and how can you convey them in such a way as to captivate your audience? What are some challenges and how did you overcome them? Why should someone apply?

Future Travelers

Once accepted to your program, what kinds of information would have helped you plan? How could your article, photo story or video make planning more fun? What kinds of inside knowledge have you picked up along the way? Any suggestions for engaging locally in your host region? Tips for success in your role? How has your experience or thinking changed throughout the program? Any major changes in perspective?

Sample Topics:

  • A Day in Baht (Show us a day in your life in your host country via your daily expenses)
  • First Day, First Lesson
  • Connecting With My Italian Host Family Through Meals
  • Getting Around (Content focused on transport options, costs, and ease of use)
  • Apartment Hunting in Sydney
  • My Barrio (Content focused on your specific neighborhood)
  • Breaking the Ice with My New Students
  • Happy Challenges: Life of an Au Pair
  • Working Holiday: The Name Says it All
  • Why I Pick Apples: A Working Adventure in New Zealand
  • An American Au Pair in Paris

We may provide you with specific prompts that we’d like you to cover in at least one of your submissions.

Articles

When writing an article, focus on the moments that move you!
When writing an article, focus on the moments that move you!
Image courtesy of Alexis R.

If you plan on contributing narrative-style content, there are a number of options for structuring your writing. We suggest one of the following. Please note: When submitting written work, if you have one or two photos that go along well with your topic, please share them!

Standalone Article

If you plan on writing a standalone article with a specific purpose other than to track your activities and observations, you will need to make sure you provide sufficient background and context regarding your program. Include a compelling, concise intro, a paragraph that demonstrates the main purpose of your article, supporting text, and a thoughtful closing. Remember that this will be shared on its own and not as part of a “series.”

You don’t have to begin by telling the reader which program you are on. Go for something more captivating (“I’d been awake for two days. I was exhausted, disoriented and was starting to forget why I’d come to Thailand in the first place. A chance encounter at the Talad Rot Fai night market steered me back on course…”) and then find a more organic way to fill in your reader as to the context of your journey.

Journal or Field Notes

Do you plan on writing a few narrative posts that could be considered part of a series? If so you might get away with something more like a journal/field notes style entry (“Week one as a Teaching Assistant in Paris has felt like the longest of my life, but with it behind me I can confidently say that it’s been one of the most rewarding as well. There are three reasons for this…”).

Even though you might approach this kind of journal-style writing less formally than you would with a standalone article, it’s important to keep your readers engaged and figure out what the main takeaway is meant to be. There should be a reason you decide to talk about a certain part of your day or week. (Hint: focus on the moments that move you!)

Listicles

If you are an active consumer of social media, you already know that these kinds of articles can have pretty clickbaity titles (The 5 Tastiest Snack Bugs in Bangkok).

Listicles are pretty commonplace and if you’re more comfortable with this style of writing, it can simplify things a lot! As with Photo Stories, you’re going to want to prop up your list with a few solid photos. The idea should be for a reader to be quickly understand and scroll through each item on the list. Readers might check each numbered heading first before going back and reading the full content, so make sure your headlines are fun and interesting!

Examples:

45 Things to Do In DC That Have Nothing to Do With Politics

16 Life-Changing Things All Harry Potter Fans Must Do In Scotland

More Tips for Great Writing

  • Be descriptive. How/why did an experience/encounter affect you?
  • Invest the reader. Don’t just recap your day; share an impactful moment in your day (a powerful interaction or realization).

Photo Stories

Consider a theme and tell a story using photos with included captions.
Consider a theme and tell a story using photos with included captions.
Image courtesy of Unsplash

If you’re interested in photography, we would love to publish your photo contributions. Rather than sending individual photos, however, we ask you to consider a theme and to tell a story using five to 10 photos with included captions.

Landscapes are nice, but the setting is only one small part of any good story. You need characters, activities, and feelings. People relate to challenges and to emotions more than they do with a beautiful mountain view.

Try beginning with a brief intro to set up your story. What kind of connection do you hope to make with viewers? What are you trying to tell them? Continue with the five to 10 photos. Try to let these convey your story but support your photos with brief captions.

Examples:

Style and Tech Tips

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to snap great pictures! Use some pro tips to ensure you take the best photos possible:

The Rule of Thirds

This is one of the most essential composition concepts in photography. When considering the image, break down the scene into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, so that your screen or viewfinder resembles a grid. Place your subject along these grid intersections instead of the middle of your shot to capture more visually interesting images.

Need some help? Use the grid function of your phone’s camera.

Take a Knee

You don’t always need to shoot at eye level - for instance, shooting an object or a pet on the ground from your eye level makes your subject look distant. Depending on the image you’re trying to capture, consider standing on a chair or kneeling to photograph a more interesting angle of your subject. If you’re photographing a building or monument, angle your camera from the bottom upwards to the apex.

Set the Scene

Chances are you’re seeing some beautiful scenery while abroad. Think about creating a sense of place in your photos. While it’s great to have a photo of yourself in front of your host family’s home, it would be more visually interesting, for example, to angle the photo of yourself so that you not only capture their home, but also the buildings on their block and neighbors living their daily lives. A sense of place and some depth make for great photos. And unless you’re in a splendidly decorated home, office, or school, your photos will almost always be more interesting when you’re outside.

Lighting Matters

Be wary of backlighting - that is, when your light sources are coming from behind you. Backlighting washes out your entire shot and can ruin it.. When you can, angle your subject away from the light.

Be wary of your camera flash, especially if you’re shooting something close up, like food - the lighting is often too harsh and unflattering for your subject. When natural light is not an option, try moving away from your subject and zooming in before using your camera’s flash.

Resolution Matters

When you submit your photos to InterExchange, please be sure to submit the original size - that is, the highest resolution possible. If you’re using your phone to upload photos, you may be prompted to send a small or medium size version of the original photo; please ignore this and send the original/full size photo.

If you’re using a DSLR or a point-and-shoot camera, please set your photos to the highest size and lowest compression possible. Depending on your camera model, you’ll find these under the Quality menu or a similar menu.

Want more photography tips? Digital Photography School features a series on learning to see as a photographer sees.

Use our practical tips to help you take fantastic photos with just your phone.

Got an iPhone? Use these photo hacks for better images.

Etiquette and Ethics

Before taking photos with your host family, school community or other human subjects make sure to ask if it’s okay. This can feel awkward at first, but it gets easier!

Don’t come into a job on day one and start snapping away - it’s better to settle in first and choose a day in particular, during which you can set aside some time for photos.

Also keep in mind that some individuals may not want their photos on a website. For this reason we have simple photo release forms that we provide to content contributors. If you’re shooting photos of children, you’ll need to get an adult to sign off on use of the photos.

Video

Rotate your phone horizontally if using a smartphone to shoot video.
Rotate your phone horizontally if using a smartphone to shoot video.
Image courtesy of Unsplash

You don’t need to be a pro to get good video content, but there are a few important things to keep in mind.

We’re looking for finished, edited video so if you’re not comfortable with a basic video editing function (Youtube; Windows Movie Maker; iMovie; etc.) this might not be the best choice for you.

As with other content, consider your viewers’ response; there’s a reason we’re so addicted to cute puppy videos on YouTube! Three minutes of landscapes out the car window will most likely be unusable, though it might make for some decent B-roll, or stage-setting footage.

Style and Tech Tips

Horizontal Not Vertical

Rotate your phone horizontally if using a smartphone to shoot video. Vertical video is only great for Snapchat Stories; if you want standard 16:9 video to share on YouTube or another web-based platform, please film horizontally.

Stabilize

Whenever possible set the camera/phone down on a stable surface. Movement and shaking is noticeable and can even nauseate your viewers. If you’ve got $20 to spare, invest in a mount and a cheap selfie stick that will hold your phone steady; it will make your video look more professional!

If it’s impossible to use a flat surface hold the camera with both hands and keep your elbows down for greater stability. If you can, rest your elbows on a nearby object.

Minimize Zooming

Your phone’s camera zooms into your subject digitally, not optically, which means that your photo may look pixelated if you zoom in too much. When you’re able, move physically closer to the subject you’re filming. You’ll also record better audio by moving in.

You should also avoid zooming in and out too much while filming; it can be distracting.

Phone Features

If using an iPhone, take advantage of the exposure focus lock (AE/AF Lock) feature. If your phone keeps adjusting and re-adjusting your exposure and focus while you shoot, tap and hold on your subject until you see the yellow AE/AF Lock banner appear. Adjust your exposure as needed, then tap the record button. This is particularly helpful if you’re shooting outside, when you’re most likely to have changes in the background or in your lighting.

Lighting Matters

As with still photography, you still want to be wary of backlighting. When you can, angle your subject so that the light source falls on your subject, not from behind them.

Editing is Key

If you’re looking to do some simple edits on your phone, try iMovie for iOS. You can also upload your footage from your phone to your computer and try using a free cloud-based video editor like WeVideo.

Examples:

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation