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Why “International” Bloggers Have an Unfair Advantage

This guest post is by Lucas Kleinschmitt of German Efficiency.

If you’re in the blogging business, not being a native English speaker can be tough. The market in your home country will often be small, there may not be a culture of buying things online, and it can be difficult to find guest posting opportunities in your native language.

Image copyright NASA Goddard Photo and Video, licensed under Creative Commons

On the other hand, blogging in English seems like an equally bad idea at first glance: How are you supposed to compete with an army of bloggers whose command of the English language greatly exceeds your own? Even if your English is really good, you will probably need to pay a professional editor to avoid the occasional English-as-a-second-language errors.

I admit it: all that sounds rather intimidating. But don’t despair! Fortunately, we “internationals” enjoy one huge, unfair advantage for which every American, Australian, or British blogger should envy us. In fact, all the hurdles we must face shrink to nothing when compared to this major benefit that comes with being an international blogger:

We can leverage our home country’s brand

I’m a time management consultant from Germany. My surname is as German as it can get—Kleinschmitt—and my blog is called German Efficiency. I teach personal productivity, made in Germany, to people from all over the world.

Is my command of the English language as good as that of the American probloggers? Of course not. But can they teach German efficiency? Of course they can’t.

And that’s my point: As a German productivity coach, I have my unique selling proposition built right into my nationality.

Who would you rather have teaching you about vodka: an Australian or a Russian?

Who would you prefer to learn the Salsa from: a Canadian or a Cuban?

Whose romance blog would you prefer to read: the British banker’s or the Parisian artist’s?

Your country’s unique selling proposition

You might be the guy from Switzerland blogging about watches, or the lady from Holland writing about cheese. You could be the Brazilian martial artist teaching us Capoeira, or the Japanese comic book fan keeping us up-to-date on manga.

Every part of the world is renowned for something. The advantage we internationals have is that almost nobody from our home country is blogging about it in English.

Yet, the global community is the one that cares most. I’m far keener to learn about romance from a Parisian artist than another Parisian artist will ever be. To the latter, the former Parisian artist is just another guy teaching romance. To me, he’s a Parisian artist teaching romance! How could I not read his blog?

Indeed, opportunities for us internationals are endless. There’s a giant market gap, and our unique selling proposition is handed to us on a silver plate.

Time to step up, don’t you think?

Lucas Kleinschmitt teaches you personal productivity, made in Germany, at his blog German Efficiency.

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Comments

  1. Rhys says:

    Nice post, though you neglecting to mention something that affects every blogger that’s not US based.

    The exchange rate.

    When you’re beginning to make your blog profitable, then the exchange rate can be a godsend or a pain in the arse!

    • Graham Lutz says:

      So you’re saying I should make my money in the US and spend it in the islands? deal!

    • Lucas says:

      You’re right Rhys, the exchange rate matters. Having to pay my rent in Euros, being paid in dollars is not so nice right now. On the other hand, I also pay all my blog related expenses in dollars, so that makes up for it at least a little :-)

      • You are paying your rent in Euros/Pound but being paid in dollars is not great at all,but it doesn’t affect me as I am paying my all in Indian Rupees.Ya again I agree with exchange rate as said by “Rhys”.
        English is my third language and I know it wouldn’t help me to be successful,so I am searching for few English based guest poster,hope it will balance both content and languages.

    • Lemuel says:

      Yeah Lucas your right. It is godsend for me :-)

  2. Morgan says:

    Hi Lucas,

    I’m not sure if you wrote this to rub it in our faces or to show how we can take advantage of it. ;)

    Hah!

    But seriously, I think you can take this same principle and apply to your local brand. You don’t have to take something from America itself and try to brand it, you could take something from your home town and brand it. Like in San Antonio, the Alamo is very popular for obvious reasons, so a lot of companies have taken advantage of that by naming their business, “Alamo “insert name here” (like, Alamo Tires or Alamo Cafe).

    But you could also be a little different. San Antonio is also known for their military bases, so you could be a military spouse blogging about the struggles of day-to-day life, helping others in their struggles, etc.

    It’s a matter of finding something unique about where you live and being truly passionate about it.

    Great thought provoking post!

  3. Maaike Quinn says:

    I like your unconventional and optimistic way of looking at blogging, but seriously, now I should start blogging about cheese? Or cows and milk? Windmills? Tulips? Wooden shoes?

    Yes, I am Dutch. But! But, but, but. But I want to blog about happiness for perfectionists! That is what I am passionate about. That is what I love to write about.

    I say, f*ck cheese.

    (Alright, sorry for the rant. Of course if you’re a Cuban salsa lover, a Swiss chocolate fanatic or a Russian vodca addict, it makes huge sense to blog about your country’s wealth.)

    • Lucas says:

      Hi Maaike, Thanks for your comment! Indeed, this solution isn’t perfect for everyone. If you have no interest whatsoever in the things your country is commonly associated with, then it may be better to blog about something else.

      On the other hand, it is often possible to develop interested in something even though we may not be fascinated by it from the start.

  4. You’d be better off learning the art of romance from an English artist: email me for further details.

  5. se7en says:

    What a great concept, best novel idea I have seen in ages!!! Brilliant… Going to check out what my homeland has to offer… apart from sunny skies, the best beaches…

  6. @Rhys, that’s a great point about the exchange rate.

    For us English speaking Bloggers, is there any way we can team up with internationals to make it better for both of us?

    • Lucas says:

      Alex, I’d sure think so. Especially for new bloggers, both the time that is needed to write in a second language and the costs for professional editing can be a real pain.

      Also, most of the real world events in blogging take part in the English speaking world, so it is easier to make connections if you live, for example, in the US.

      I think that international bloggers and English speaking Bloggers could really work well together here.

      The international blogger could, for example, take care of the branding and draft articles, and the English speaking blogger could improve and correct the articles, and take care of networking.

      Just a suggestion.

  7. Alex says:

    Good point on the advantage internationals have – if they can write well in English.

    I have tried to find Italians to do guest posts on my blog about Italy, or even regular columns, but have been unsuccessful so far, with one or two exceptions – and even then, I end up spending quite a lot of time editing and knocking the English into shape so as to maintain quality.

    However, if you are not a native speaker of English, but can write well – you may well have an angle or USP like Kleinschmitt which may well appeal to an international audience. Germans have a great reputation for Teutonic efficiency so it’s not a huge surprise to learn that a German who can write about this and offer personal productivity courses can do well.

    Other internationals could well do the same, I’m sure.

    Stereotypes can become USPs! ;)

    Best,

    Alex

    • Lucas says:

      Hi Alex,

      yes, language is definitely a challenge. I actually spend quite a significant amount on editing services to get my English “knocked into shape”, as you put it.

      On the other hand, seeing my editors changes is like taking English lessons for me, so it helps me in two ways.

      • Alex says:

        Hi Lucas,

        Language is a real challenge! I know – my ability to write in Italian is not fantastic and would need editing to ‘knock it into shape’ too. But as you point out, you can learn from editors!

        I have the greatest admiration for people like you who have not only learned, I imagine, to speak another language, but who have also learnt to write in another language too. Speaking is one thing, writing is a whole different ballgame.

        All the best for the future from Milan, Italy,

        Alex

        • Lucas says:

          Thanks Alex, I wish you a lot of success in your quest of finding more Italian guest posters who write high quality English :-)

  8. Nice post, Lucas. You certainly get more out of focusing on your strengths than obsessing about your weaknesses.

    Nice blog, too. Keep it up!

  9. Felix says:

    Well spoken. I should emphasize the “German Engineering” aspect of my WP software development company a bit more. Thanx for the article.

  10. Justin says:

    Hey Lucas,
    The blogosphere provides ample opportunity for everyone to succeed. Take advantage anyway that you can my friend.

  11. alls says:

    popular and pleasure its true blogger

  12. Harrison Li says:

    Wow, great point, it’s nice to see someone has finally pointed this out, I’m Chinese but I’d rather blog in English and compete with the natives, it’s surely a great challenge but who cares?

    • Lucas says:

      Harrison, good attitude! This challenge can definitely be overcome.

      By the way, I’m a huge China enthusiast (been there four times already and going again this summer). I’d love to read a blog by a Chinese teaching foreigners about China, especially customs and traditions, appropriate social behaviour, and things like that.

  13. Ann Khee says:

    Great point! I’m from Malaysia. I always feel that I have the disadvantage as compare to popular blogs in America, Australia etc. You’ve made me change my thinking. Thanks for speaking up for us – the international bloggers.

  14. Jerome says:

    Hi,

    That is an interesting marketing point of view about blogging.

    Maybe you should have also provided ideas/tips about how international bloggers can reach a better level of writing in english….Using software for grammar is not enough, making each post being reviewed by a VA ?

    Anyway, I am in the islands, Pacific Ocean, then what should i be blogging about ?

    • Lucas says:

      Hi Jerome, thanks for your comment!

      Yes, I think a VA, or professional editor, is a good idea. On the other hand, I’ve also seen ESL bloggers succeed without one – I guess it depends on your audience and on how good your English is.

      To be honest, I’m not really familiar with the place in the world where you live. What pops into my mind when I hear “islands” and “Pacific Ocean” are surfing, mixing cocktails, and environmental protection (protecting the sea), but I might be totally off here..

  15. earn5k says:

    The same line of thinking always prevented me from blogging. I wasn’t sure whether I can crack the code or not. Your blog post has really gave me hope.

    But then, I would like to be writing on the same levels of the native English speaking bloggers.

    • Lucas says:

      I’m glad I could give you some hope :-)

      You really don’t need to write on the same level as native English speakers stylewise – what’s more important is the usefulness of your content and your branding.

      Just give it a shot!

  16. Kent M says:

    I get your point, but everybody is an “international.” If people from Germany can read English, then my blog would be international to them..right? Or maybe I missing something? Haha.

    I do not think anyone has an unfair advantage based on where they are located. Whoever has the biggest marketing budget has the unfair advantage. For example, If the Parisian artist has a $1000/month budget for Marketing, and I have a $20,000 budget for marketing, I’d have the power and resources to become an authority in a subject that I do not know anything about. Haha. Its the truth

    • Lucas says:

      Thanks for your comment, Kent!

      Sure, a big marketing budget helps, but your unique selling proposition has a big influence on how efficiently your budget will be invested.

      Regarding the term “international”: Generally, you’re right of course. But in this post, by “international”, I meant everyone whose native language is not English.

      These people face specific challenges because the market in their native language is often too small or not well developed. That’s why I pointed out that there is also an advantage which can compensate this challenge :-)

  17. Very nice post, I like those regarding international blogging.

    For the 2 years that I have been blogging about weddings, I knew that my Scandinavian background could be an advantage. I started out writing in Danish about weddings around the world, then switched to English and blogging about Scandinavian weddings. the switch meant that I had a unique background and style, it was easier to find unique and useful content, and in this way, I differentiated myself from the other wedding blogs. Yes, there are still challenges with focusing on the Scandinavian market and readership, as in many ways they aren’t ready for the many potentials of blogging, sponsorships and advertising – but in other ways, I know I will have an advantage once that time comes.

    • Lucas says:

      Elizabeth, that’s a great story, thanks! You’re so right in always looking for the advantages of your situation.

      By the way, your blog looks really nice!

  18. Nathan says:

    When someone complain about my English skills, I think to myself “so, you have so little to say about my knowledge that all you can do is complaining about my language?” I’m self-taught mostly, most of my vocabulary and grammar skills is an effect of hours of studying on my own, and you know what? I’m proud of myself, that I’ve managed to learn this great language! I guess it’s about self-confidence, really. If you’re confident that your English is OK, and that you have great things to share, then people won’t care about small grammar mistakes, really.

    At least this is something that I see on my blog. People understand what I’m trying to say, they enjoy my articles, they don’t complain. And my English isn’t perfect. But people see no problem in this. Even more, sometimes I get feedback from readers who are inspired by the fact that I’ve decided to share my knowledge in English, not Polish.

    • Lucas says:

      Excellent point, Nathan! I know several blogs written by ESL-speakers, which are very successful. Yes, there are occasional language errors on these blogs, but they are hugely succesful nonetheless.

      • Lane says:

        One of my blogs seems to have been recently discovered by google seaarch engine and I have begun getting hundreds of comments. Many are for non-English writers.

        I don’t care that the messages is sometimes, let’s just say, interesting to figure out; there is a special thrill for a new comer like me to realize someone in another language appreciates my efforts enough to say well-done. I hope I can return the encouragement.

        I blog for pleasure, do not have a monetized blog. But I feel the pay off is fantastic!

        • Lucas says:

          Lane, I’m glad that you are making this positive experience. I also feel touched every time I realise that people from totally different parts of the world appreciate what I write.

          This feeling really is irreplacable.

  19. Primoz says:

    Really a good point of view. I am one of those internationals, writing most of my blogs in English. But mostly about the general themes, not “selling” interesting things from my country (Slovenia).

    Nice post!

  20. James Greg says:

    Writing English should not be a factor as long as you have enough skills to deliver the idea. But since international bloggers are enjoying a wider market and probably the exchange rate they are bound to feel lucky after all money makes everyone happy. Professional blogging is all about earning money and to sat this would not be wrong even many Americans would not be close to that perfection which a foreigner might achieve after all it’s hard work that pays off in the end. I’d say the content focused on the article’s theme would provide a better reading experience rather than just blabbing in advanced English.

    • Lucas says:

      Thanks James, I totally agree. As long as our English is understandable and not too difficult to read, the usefulness of the content matters far more than occasional errors or a less advanced style.

    • Lucas says:

      I would actually add that writing the less-advanced English of an ESL-speaker even has an advantage:

      Our vocabulary is less fancy and can therefore be understood more easily by an international readership.

    • Very well said James… indeed hard work will conclude everything in the end. What is important is that you deliver your work in an understandable manner.

  21. After reading this mid-triggered article, I think this is the time for me to start the universal english blog rather than to concentrate on malay language only :)

    • Lucas says:

      Ekspresi, thanks for your comment! I messed something up and as a result, my reply was posted further down in the comments. Here it is again:

      “Go for it, man :-)”

      Plain and simple ;-)

  22. Cristina says:

    The idea behind the post is good but I think it’s stuffed with stereotypes.

    • Lucas says:

      Yes, I proudly admit to that. I would even go further and say that marketing in general is stuffed with stereotypes (Seth Godin’s book “All Marketers are liers” makes a great point of that).

      I don’t think that’s a bad thing though. Some stereotypes are both good and true. For example, I’ve recently been to Amsterdam and they had small cheese shops everywhere, which we just don’t have in Germany, and the cheese was fantastic.

      So, while you might call the fact that Holland is famous for cheese a stereotype, it is still true and getting your cheese from Holland or reading a Dutch blog on Cheese would be a nice thing to do.

  23. Gabriella says:

    Great post! there’s always pros and cons, but being an international blogger has its pros. I mean, they have something unique that the Americans do not have… culture etc. Don’t get me wrong, Americans, Australians and the British folk have interesting lives, too but it is far too well-known and foreign bloggers have something to use in which to stand out…if only some would realize that rather than trying to fit the norm. :)

    Great comments coming in, too.
    Gabz

    • Lucas says:

      Thanks Gabriella – I’m also very much enjoying the comments here. What a great conversation!

      Yes, there’s definitely pros and cons in being an international blogger. What we need to do is to exploit the pros and find a way to deal with the cons :-)

    • Really, I just wouldn’t focus so much on where a blogger comes from. Blogging and networking is about eh people. You find some that are great to connect with and others that are not. Some help you to grow others through obstacles in your way.

      Personally I don’t care about nationalities in blogging as long as the content is relevant, unique and worth investing my time to engage in it.

      For that matter who said that a native English speaker needs to be better at English than a non-native. You find blogs written by “natives” with horrible spelling, grammar mistakes and really bad style. Really there is no difference and no rule to be found in it, right?

      • Lucas says:

        Well, I do think it’s fair to say that statistically speaking, native English speakers write better English than those for whom English is a second language. Of course that doesn’t mean that there are no exceptions.

        Also, especially in the beginning phase when money is tight, it makes quite a difference if you have to purchase flight tickets from Europe to the US to actually meet your fellow bloggers in person.

        But like you say, these are obstacles that surely can be overcome, as many bloggers have already proven.

  24. Lucas says:

    Go for it, man :-)

  25. Adarsh says:

    Nice post. Made me think a bit.

    What you are saying is possible in a lot of minor niches. But in major niches, the US or UK people definitely have an added advantage.

    I am from India. Say I host a webinar or a screencast. My accent will not be anywhere near what native English speakers can deliver. Some people may even have trouble understanding what I mean. We Indians try to speak fast. So, even if I give amazing content, my language and accent can turn most people off.

    Honestly speaking, I cant expect to make money with online teaching in India because people dont like to pay for anything on the internet. So the customers are always in the US or UK. I don’t see how that is a very big advantage

    • Lucas says:

      Hi Adarsh,

      you’re right, audio is a different thing still. Our spoken English needs to be clearly understandable if we want to attempt that.

      On the otherhand, it is still possible to run a successful blog without audio or video.

      Also, as long as you can be clearly understood, your accent might actually be a good thing – it adds credibility and value to the “Indian” experience.

      If, for example, I were read a travel blog about India, written by an Indian, I would love to hear him speak with an accent.

  26. Gabriella – The Stepford Wife says:

    Great post! there’s always pros and cons, but being an international blogger has its pros. I mean, they have something unique that the Americans do not have… culture etc. Don’t get me wrong, Americans, Australians and the British folk have interesting lives, too but it is far too well-known and foreign bloggers have something to use in which to stand out…if only some would realize that rather than trying to fit the norm. :)

    Great comments coming in, too.

    G.

    • Lucas says:

      Hi Gabrielle, thanks for your comment – I’ve responded to your first comment above (somehow, it ended up showing twice)

  27. fabio says:

    Lucas, I completely agree with you. I run the most followed regional blog in Italy, about my region Puglia, in italian language. Now, I ahve started my english versione, it’s hard, ok, but I am the only puglia voice on the web. This should means something, right? Reputation, leadership, and so on. I asked to myself: who can tell about Puglia better then me? I was born there, I know the culture, I know even the secret that a travel magazine can’t know.

  28. Lucas says:

    Fabio, what a great example, thank you! This is exactly what I was talking about. How could anyone travelling to Puglia NOT read your blog??

    I mean, your beach- and restaurant recommendations, this is priceless for anyone who is travelling in this region.

    Also, the success of your blog in italian language proves the point which Morgan has made earlier in the comments, that you can really use even regions within a country to create a unique brand.

    Again, thanks!

  29. Marie Noelle says:

    Great post ! Unfortunately, I don’t think this can apply to me ;( I’m not a native English speaker, so I kinda relate to the post… however, my country isn’t “international”… I’m a French speaker from Canada! So, pretty much, I have all the disadvantage! … I wish I was in France instead… Well, I guess now, I can just go and cry about it! :)

    • Lucas says:

      Marie, indeed your situation appears to be somewhat special. I guess you’re from Quebec then? Maybe you can find a way to write about Quebec? A travel blog, as Fabio above is running for a region in Italy, or some other regional thing?

  30. Carlos Villa says:

    This is a deep-thinking stimulating post, Lucas. It carries us, non native English speakers, to one of the cores of blogging if not “tha core”: what to blog about.
    However I don’t totally agree with just looking into what your country is renowned about. It would almost be like selling a national USP. Instead, (or besides) there may be potential in writing about your particular passion or specialization in your native language.
    Although no language competes with English Internet usage, there’s a huge growth potential in Spanish or Portuguese, to name a couple. Russian and Chinese (or Mandarin, I don’t know for sure) will also grow fast.
    Thanks for the great ideas!

  31. Lucas says:

    Thank you, Carlos. You’re 100% right, blogging in your native language can also be very good thing to do.

    I meant the idea of selling a national USP more as a suggestion – it is one thing that can work well. Of course there other ways to succeed as a blogger too.

    And considerations like what you are personally interested in are of course also important and shouldn’t be neglected :-)

  32. Devils Advocate says:

    OK I am going to be a pain and press you here.

    I am not trying to be a troll just make what i think is a valid point given your area of “expertise”.

    I think it shows great initiative for a start up, low traffic volume site like germanefficiency.com to get a guest post on this popular pro blogger site so serious kudos for that.

    However to personally log in and comment to almost every reader comment posted – at times every 10 mins or so – most to just say “thanks for the comment” is hardly “efficient” use of time.

    I know that this is just one day in your life and you might view the “opportunity” Problogger presents as worth it, but once you become a full time blogger this sort of engagement is just how we do “business”

    This is akin to checking your email and clickbank and adsense balance every 5 mins.

    Normally one would understand based on the enthusiasm of someone starting out and getting a great PR spot like this but if your going to teach something you need you be good at it and I bet one of the first things you preach is blocking time for specific activities.

    In my opinion this is one of the great flaws of “social media” that “instant engagement” and “efficiency” for the solo operator oppose each other and I think that many people waste hours on activities just like this.

    The challenge is course does that mean you dont respond ?

    If you disagree and advocate that people need to be checking these things every 5 mins – as you are doing here I would love to read more about how to do that efficiently – maybe a future post ?

    • Lucas says:

      Thanks for writing such a long comment. I generally don’t think that checking email and other things too often is efficient. However, to every rule there are exceptions. In this case, I do believe I was using my time efficiently.

      I don’t really want to go into more detail here because this question really doesn’t have anything to do with the topic I discussed in the post, so I don’t want to start a discussion about this in the comments.

      Like you say, this would be material for a future post – thanks for the inspiration!

  33. Alberto says:

    This is by far THE best post about international (or non-English) bloggers. I totally agree with you idea and my mind is already jumping all over the place with new ideas.
    In my closet I also have an idea similar to yours: teach your language to English speaking countries. Genius, isn’t it? ;-)
    However, what I’d like to read about was someone who is successful writing in his/her own language (not in English) and selling products to people living in his/her country.

    • Lucas says:

      Thanks Alberto, that’s a big compliment :-)

      It’s good to hear that you’re already getting new ideas!

      Regarding your idea of teaching your language to English speaking countries: This is great, and I know it’s actually already being done with the Chinese language.

      There are Chinese companies that offer 1on1 Skype Chinese lessons with language teachers from Beijing. The price is far lower than a 1on1 live Chinese lesson would cost in the USA or Europe (I think it was around 15$, but I’m not sure), and if you think about it, the value is almost the same.

  34. poch says:

    When you say ‘international bloggers’, do you mean non-native English speakers? If so, I don’t think they have the advantage.
    I’m a Philippine native who writes in English mainly because my topics wouldn’t be interesting to my native audience. And of course I know I wouldn’t be able to beat native Americans at traffic generation although more than 50% of my audience are from the US. I think the only solution for me is to get more traffic from my own country which, fortunately for me, is finally starting to happen. Please give me your opinions.

    • Lucas says:

      Hi Poch, thanks for your comment!

      Yes, by “internation bloggers” I mean those bloggers for whom English is a second language.

      My point is that while there are obstacles for us “international” bloggers, we can make up for it by smartly choosing a niche for which our country is renowned.

  35. Constantine says:

    The best advantage of being a blogger based in Africa is, it is easier to be successfull. In Africa you need your blog to earn just US$500 monthly, and you can live comfortably as a full time blogger. In the US and other first world countries anything less than US$3000 a month is not enough to make one a full time blogger.

    • That is so true and a good point! You also see a lot of location independent bloggers from the US, Australia etc. moving to Thailand or Vietnam to work from there. They make less money than they would need in the US but live like kings enjoying a fantastic lifestyle.

    • Lucas says:

      That’s true, Constantine. It’s one of the things I love about globalisation!

  36. I believe that after deciding on a topic to focus on with your blog picking the right language is most important. It all depends on your goal and the way you do business. If your business sells digital goods or stuff that can easily be shipped and used around the globe than a universal language is a MUST. English might not be the most widely spread first language but it is definitely the language most people in world master at least to some degree.

    If you mean to sell your services to a target market that is geographically limited than you should consider bogging in that target markets preferred language.

    On the other hand you might not be blogging to generate sales at all. Your goal could be as simple as spreading your thoughts and ideas as wide as possible. Well than a widely understood language is the way to go.

    Exchange rates are a little off topic with this article as they don’t really have anything to do with the language you write in, right?

    - Philipp

    • Lucas says:

      Philipp, thanks for your insightful comments. I agree that picking the language is one of the most important decisions we have to make with our blogs.

      One thing I’d like to add is that it’s really a good idea to look at the level of competition in different languages. Even if the market in your home country is smaller, blogging in your native language can be a good choice if the competion is really weak (given that the market is still large enough to support your business).

      Exchange rates: Yes, they are a bit off topic. That’s why I didn’t mention them in the article. But I still think it’s great that we are discussing them in the comments, because exchange rates also play a big role for international bloggers.

      • Lucas, thanks for the active debate on here! It is great if an author not only pushes out his statements but also listens to the audience and then decides to react.

        You are right, going after a smaller, less competitive market can be a smart move. You can also spin that around. What if a market in a language you are capable of (to a somewhat professional degree) is by far smaller than in your own language. Then you might be very well of bringing you knowledge to that market and I guess your audience will find a way to live with some language weaknesses (lets call them uniqunesses).

        So that leads directly to what you mentioned to start with. You have a chance to bring your non-native perspective, knowledge, ideas etc. into a fresh market. Just like you took German efficiency global.

        • Lucas says:

          “uniquenesses” – I love that! Thanks, Philipp :-)
          And you’re right of course – it should work both ways, as long as your language skills are advanced enough.

  37. John says:

    Great article

    By the way i think i can help a lot of people making some bucks online.

    Please just see my link. Its working for me.

    Thanks
    John

  38. Hi Lucas,
    I liked your post and it stimulated some great ideas.
    I have a quite wellknown blog about “personal growth” in Germany. Your great article gave me the courage to open up my blog for the english speaking world too.
    Immediately I bought a new domain and a translater program. So I plan to bring up some of my articles in English as well. Especially I want to sell my eBooks and eMail.courses to the US.

    Thanks a lot for your inspriring idea – although I know that your approach was a bit different.

    Grüsse aus Heidelberg.

    • Lucas says:

      Hi Roland,

      Thanks, I’m really happy to hear that you took immediate action after having read the post! I wish you all the success in the world with your quest of conquering the US market :-)

  39. Dorothy says:

    I love the identity factor in public speaking or online blogging. Being Southern, as in from the American South, I get so much mileage out of my ethnic material in presentations.

  40. Lucas

    Your post was very inspiring. I can relate to the language barrier that you speak of. My problem is not the English language but the Internet language. I am 76 years old and learning blogging for the first time at my age. My daughter wanted me to have a hobby and share with the world my recipes that were handed down in my family.

    Just finding the courage to try and post to an empty audience is hard. I feel that I am at a loss with a language barrier that is hard for me to understand. As the time passes and I get more familiar with the Internet it seems to be easier for me.

    I have started one blog on home cooking recipes but in my quest to understand how all this work I have a second blog to record my finding on. I spend more time now on research and trying to learn this new language. I wish it was as easy as hiring an English expert to correct my papers. At my age it is hard to find anyone who is willing to take the time to explain this new world of blogging. I have no other choice but to learn from Google what this means.

    Thank you so much for your encouragement and you have given me some wonderful ideas to write for post on my blog and maybe someone might be interested in hosting them as a guest post on their.

    • Lucas says:

      Sarah: Thanks a lot for this fascinating comment! I truely admire you for learning to blog at the age of 76.
      I can imagine that you find it difficult to get used to the way bloggers interact.

      However, it is great that you are blogging because at your age, you will have gathered a lot of life experience and I’m sure that there are a million things that you can teach us!

      I can see that you are also using your age as a unique selling proposition on your blog by using the word “grandma” in the title – just like I’m using the “German” thing. I’m sure that this will help you to make up for the “language” problems you are describing. So, our situations really are more related than they may seem at first glance!

      Keep going!

  41. James Greg says:

    Lucas Man! you just started a great debate here and almost everyone here seems to be agreed to the fact that international bloggers are after all taking the cherry. Great Job with the article plus you have done even a greater job in replying to all those comments. Looks like the article has kept you busy more than you might have expected!

    • Lucas says:

      Yes James, quite a bit ;-) I’m really enjoying this conversation! Thanks for your comment.

  42. English can be a problem to me too (as I’m not a native English speaker) but that actually makes me language simpler to understand (especially since I do lots of tech how-to posts). Thanks to my “limited” vocabularies and catchy words, my non-techie readers are pretty happy with my blog posts so far :)

    • Lucas says:

      Michael, this is so true! Something I find very convenient about reading blog posts from ESL speakers is that I don’t have to use an online dictionary while doing so.

  43. This is a really good article that makes you think but I also believe that by far the most important thing to blog about is something that you are passionate about. If you blog about a topic just because of the market then you will probably run out of steam pretty fast. You need to make sure your blog topic is important to you and that you are going to want to write about it for a long time. I think I read recently that 90-95% of blogs fail and I can imagine that one of the main reasons for this is the choice of topic.

    • Lucas says:

      Hi Sarah! Absolutely, it sure helps to have interest in the topic you blog about, or at least be able to develop that interest.

      Personally, I find that most topics become interesting once we really put our minds to them. But, yeah, I can also imagine a lot of topics that I would never blog about ;-)

  44. Yup,
    being international blogger really a handwork, very challenging.

    But thanks to recent, advanced apps. My blogging activities are helped by some language-apps. they alert us if we write a false words, etc. It’s simple but helpful.

    Promoting a brand of our country is good idea. I’m trying and found many many resources to become a unique content. Gathering content from our native language easier, but that’s an important materials of our “international” blog

    thanks, lucas

    thanks

    • Lucas says:

      Thanks, Iip!

      Yes, one of the advantages of having a native language other than English is that we can find resources that may not be available in English language, and translate their essence.

      I recently wrote a blog post titled “What the German Soccer Team Can Teach You about Productivity”, for which I used a lot of interviews and news articles about the German Soccer team that simply weren’t available in English.

  45. Ina says:

    You’re making a very good point about using your very own culture and nationality – something that you already have – to create your unique niche.

    But I’m not sure if simply resorting to obvious stereotypes is the best way to go. I mean, how many Dutch cheese blogs can there be? Plus, it might be really hard to find a topic you’re passionate about among the limited scope of things that are typically assigned to your country.

    Why not combine the two – your passion (or some highly popular topic you happen to care about) and your nationality? Elizabeth mentioned Scandinavian weddings – here you have weddings, a topic plenty of people around the world are deeply interested in, but also a cultural twist that makes her stand out among the hundreds or thousands of wedding blogs mostly written in native/perfect English.

    I also think for branding your blog it’s not just about your specific topic, but also the abstract notions that are being evoked. For your nationality that means: don’t just think about obvious, specific things, also think about what your country stands for in an abstract, romantic way. I associate France not just with wine and food, but also with whimsicality. South-east Asia is wild, lush and spiritual (at least to me). Make sure your blog expresses those notions (well, the positive ones) and you don’t sell just facts but also an emotional idea – which someone from another part of the world probably could never sell as good as you. Plus, if you don’t hide your nationality/ethnicity but celebrate it, any grammar or spelling mistakes might be seen as charming and authentic ;)

    Having said that, it’s still difficult to make up my mind on whether to blog in English or my native language, German (I’m in the process of creating my blog right now). I’m tending towards English because of the potentially much bigger audience for my topic (which is probably too abstract and universal to be given a German twist anyway) – but I’m thinking about using my blog to market my writing skills to German clients, too. Obviously, this works much better with German articles than with English ones. Well, I guess there’s never an easy solution :)

    • Lucas says:

      Ina, thanks for this great comment! I absolutely agree: there are many ways to incorporate our nationalities in our blog. Some more obvious, others more abstract.

      I also agree that using our “national identity” to convey emotions on our blogs is a very good thing to do.

      And I definitely like what you said about grammar mistakes being authentic – this could save me a lot of time and money ;-)

      Regarding your own blog: Yes, that’s a tough choice to make. I guess it depends on how important it is to market your writing skills with your blog? Like you say, I would imagine it to be difficult to market your German writings skills with an English blog …

  46. Raj says:

    Its simply hard to believe but this is really true.. I personally have faced such problems…

  47. Nic Wirtz says:

    National stereotypes in 3-2-1 GO!

    This ignores the fact that many alleged experts for latin america are second-third generation US born. Going on holiday somewhere for two weeks a year doesn’t make you an expert on such a diverse geographical region.

    • Lucas says:

      Well it really depends on what you choose to wright about. For example, Caopeira is from Brazil, that’s a fact. There are a great number of different kinds of cheese available in Holland, that’s a fact too. These things aren’t just stereotypes, and they are definitely not the bad sort of stereo types.. Some other things may be stereotypes, and in other occasions, facts and stereotypes are blurring.

      The bottom line is: if you dont believe something is true, you don’t have to market it. If you’re from Holland and you don’t believe that you know a great deal about cheese, then don’t write about it.But if you do, I don’t see why you shouldn’t.

      The problem with self-proclaimed experts who in fact don’t deserve their expert-status is a different one. I think it is one that you will find in any business.

  48. Anna says:

    Hey Lucas,
    thanks for your post – really enjoyed reading it. I am new to blogging but I have been in the international press and media business for quite some time now, and I can tell you that your point transcends blogging – it is as valid for the new media as it is (and always has been) for the traditional media.

    Personally, being German is my main selling point (I live in the US) and so far it has made my life a lot easier, be it job hunting, dating, or talking my way out of speeding tickets. :)
    Best thing about it: it works both ways – Germans think I am cool just because I work in Washington, DC, I was even asked to write the introduction to a Washington Career Guide in German. (Don’t tell anybody but I am actually not that cool.)

    Basic requirement for taking advantage of your internationality is of course that you understand both your native culture and your host culture and how they relate to each other. Once you’ve mastered that, you’ll always find yourself having something interesting to write about.

    • Lucas says:

      Anna, thanks for your interesting comment! I’m fascinated to learn that you are using your origins to your advantage in every aspect of life – not just in marketing.

      Please tell me how it helps you out of speeding tickets! This is the kind of knowledge the world is waiting for! Do you pretend not to understand English? :-)

  49. Zaadu says:

    Wether International or not….the Ad Price by google/yahoo changes intentional coming to USA/Eurpoe nations they have high price compared to Asian countries