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5 Crucial Questions to Ask Before Deciding to Blog in Another Language

This guest post is by Stephanie Hetu of StephanieHetu.com.

Most of us international bloggers learned pretty much everything we know in English, just because the community of bloggers is there, huge, active, and available. We don’t have to search very far to learn all sorts of little tips and tricks to make our blogs more appealing, to write better content, to interact better, etc.

listening

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So we should all blog in English shouldn’t we? The market is huge! Nahhh it is often much easier to blog in our own native language because the words flow better, we know the local expressions, and we know what makes people laugh (or not!).

Personally, I discovered the Web in 1999, learned everything I could in English (and still do every day), started my online business in English, and left my day job in 2003. But then I decided to take a 180-degree turn and build an online presence in French, and it works very well.

The decision to do it was not an easy one, but I don’t regret it for a second! And today I help entrepreneurs make the same decision when it is to their advantage.

Starting, growing, and monetizing a blog in another language than English is not for everyone, so I have compiled a list of five questions you can ask yourself before you make the decision.

1. Do you speak the language?

I know, this sounds like a really dumb question, but it is important! Sometimes, bloggers want to start a blog in another language just because they think it will be easy to get lots of trafic (SEO is usually easier in other languages). But often it’s a bad idea!

Why? Because if you decide to start a blog in French when you don’t speak French, you will be faced with these problems:

  • Customer service: How will you manage the emails you receive from the blog asking you questions? They will be in a language you can’t read … not easy!
  • Comments management: How will you decide if a comment is a good one to publish on your blog or not if you can’t read and understand it?
  • Quality of content: Same problem here: how will you write good-quality posts if you don’t speak the language? I know some bloggers use an automatic translator, but that is not the way to go for long-term profit!

There is a workaround: to outsource everything. But what’s the point when you are just starting out? Especially if it’s your first blog, you want to learn all the ropes of building, promoting and monetizing it, so you don’t want to outsource work you don’t even know how to do in the first place!

2. Is there a market?

Even though starting a blog in another language is often a very good idea because there is less competition, it does not guarantee success! You still need to do some research to see if there is a market for the subject you want to talk about on your blog.

The nice thing is that some tools that work great for research in English also work in every single other language out there! For example, you can use the Google Keyword Tool External to research your niche and select a specific language and a specific country. This way you get an idea of the demand for your subject in your own local market.

3. Will you be able to monetize your blog?

Next, you need to look at monetizing options. This is important because being in a smaller market with no competition is great, but if there are no affiliate programs to help you monetize your blog, you’ll have to think of something else to make money!

First, look for affiliate program in your own language, because they are easy to use on a blog to make money. But do not despair if there are not many good quality affiliate programs—it does not mean you can’t monetize your blog!

If affiliate marketing is not an option, you can always turn to selling advertising space, adding Adsense to your blog, and (my favorite) selling your own products/infoproducts on the site.

4. Will you be able to find JV partners to grow your audience faster?

One way to build an audience faster for your blog is to create joint ventures with other bloggers by writing quality posts that will be published on other blogs in your niche as a guest author. To be able to do that, there must already be some influential blogs in your niche!

Even though it would not personally stop me from starting a blog in a specific niche, if there are no other blogs in the same niche or in the same market you can guest post to, it could take longer to build traffic and authority for your blog.

5. Are you in a niche where you can leverage the fact that you speak English?

If the answer is yes, than it could be a very lucrative idea to start a blog in another language!

Let me explain.

If you are blogging in a niche where there is a huge time gap in knowledge between the English-speaking market and your other language, you have a real advantage: you can learn everything in English before everyone else, and then look like a hero by teaching it in another language and be the first one to do it.

What will you choose?

Blogging in another language can be fun and lucrative, if you are in the right market or the right niche. If you have been blogging in English and you wish to take advantage of the fact that you speak another language to build blogs on the same subject, why not?

Just make sure you understand the situation and you could be on your way to adding new income streams to your online blogging business!

Stephanie Hetu has been blogging in French since 2003, helping small businesses grow their online presence using blogs, email lists, infoproducts and social networks through her own “Internet Success System”. You can reach her at http://www.StephanieHetu.com or follow her on Twitter (@stephaniehetu) and Facebook.

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Comments

  1. Fazreen says:

    I’m a Malaysian. Malay is my native language. I have been blogging in English for 3 years and I feel comfortable with it. But deep inside my heart I still want to blog in Malay. This post help me little bit to start another blog in my native language

    • DkTek says:

      I have to agree with you. I have an English blog, but I want to blog in my native language. But I have no time for it :(

      • You are write when you say that you do not have time to write another blog although you would love to write in your native language. Making a success out of the first blog is the way to go forward as this will give you the much desired experience of how to take your blog to where want to see it one day.

        You can apply the same principles that you learn at your first blog to your native language blog and make it rise even faster. This is a great way to break away from one of the Myths about Blogging that Blogging in your native language is always better and easier than doing so in another language.

        Follow me on twitter at – @Tuubol

        • Karan Lugani says:

          Its not at all easy to manage multiple blogs and specially when your first blog is not really top of the charts. Darren is able to manage multiple blogs due to guest blogger which indirectly depend on the popularity of blog. What I advice is properly taking a blog to heights and then starting off with another one.

    • Go for it! The best way to find out is to try :)

  2. Toy says:

    I come from China. I am willing to write posts in English. One reason is that I am now an international student in USA. I also want to live in USA after graduation. Blogging can help me learn how to write practical English well.
    Recently I want to create a blog in Chinese. Because the same contents can be posted in both English and Chinese bloggers. The difference is only the language.
    If you have any questions about Chinese, welcome to contact me.

  3. Hi Stephanie,
    I wish I could say that I have the option to blog in another language, but even after four semesters of Espanol, I know next to nothing! But I think your ideas are innovative – especially when you talk about leveraging the fact that you speak English. While yes, you will look like a hero for sharing your knowledge – You will actually be a hero! You’d be making available the knowledge that would otherwise be obscure or impossible to obtain. That’s a great service!

  4. sokun says:

    Great tips, i’d say it would be hard to blog in another language if you don’t speak it.

  5. Justin Dupre says:

    Blogging in another language can be quite challenging to some. The important thing to consider is that you have to know that other language well for you to be able to construct a readable article.

  6. Martin says:

    I am Swedish and I blog completely in English which I’ve found to be no problem at all. I agree with everything except “don’t outsource work you don’t know how to do yourself”. If you don’t know how to do something in your business it’s a great idea to outsource it!

    Anyway great post and thanks for taking the time to write it although you probably wont benefit as much from it since most people here wont understand your blog.

  7. Harrison Li says:

    great points! wouldn’t Chinese be essential now?

  8. I live in Brazil and always wanted to create a blog in English. The problem is that I am a perfectionist and would hate to discover, months later, my first mistakes in English texts.

    Maybe i just have to try it and see how it goes…

    • Absolutely. You can know about your writing skills only if you start to write in the language. English is not the native language of many throughout the world, but it is the most widely spoken and read language. So, you have the benefit of having a larger audience for your blog.

      And mistakes only help you improve and continuous improvement is the way to go forward in life. This is what Lean Blogging is all about.

  9. very interesting post and something i have been contemplating as well. i speak 4 languages fluently, and can blog in either. the concern however is english is the predominant language in all these native countries. do you not think so in france? with the younger generations coming up, do you think there will still be enough demand to consume information in one’s mother tongue? especially considering the fact that there is a good chance that worldwide preference is/will be evolving toward english?

    • I work in French and I can assure you there is a good market! A lot of people still don’t speak English, and even if they do, they like to read and learn in French.

  10. Marie Noelle says:

    I had to comment on your post Stéphanie because we’re from the same part of the world (and no, I’m not talking about France)!

    I tried to blog in French before but I couldn’t find an audience. I’ve decided to blog in English and it’s going great! I still have my personal blog in French but I don’t monetize this one; I know it wouldn’t work…

    It is challenging to blog in English, 6 days a week, but I really love having readers, followers and customers!

  11. Good advice. Right after reading this I visited Google’s keyword tool and entered a search phrase in my native language.

    Though the monthly search figure is not that impressive, I know that the phrase is targeted and when I checked for competition, there are only a couple of sites listed, it’ll be pretty easy to write an article on the keyword and most probably easy for the search engines to pick it up and rank it.

    I enjoyed this article. Thanks!

  12. I am from Indonesia, I could be a few languages ​​such as English, Indonesian, French and Russian.
    but I can not write in English, can only be read. how to write proper English?

  13. Timo Kiander says:

    Stephanie,

    You addressed many thing that I haven’t even thought of!

    I’m a Finn myself and there are only 5 million people in this world speaking the language.

    I thought of starting my blog in Finnish at first but came to realize, that the audience is just too narrow – that’s why I started blogging in English.

    In some ways I’m in a tricky position: I cant blog in my native language because of the small audience. At the same time, I’m dependent of the help of others, when blogging in English. Although I can write and speak English well, I still need some help when proofreading my content.

    Timo

    • 5 million is a lot of people.

      Even if you reach 10,000 regular readers you will have more than most blogs out there. And you will have enough visitors to earn money.


      Michael

  14. Benny Lewis says:

    My secondary blog is maintained in 7 languages. For people who would like to run a multilingual blog, I’d highly recommend the plungin “gengo”. It checks the user’s browser settings and automatically gives the entire site in that language if available.

  15. It’s different for each person. I’ve been selling a web writing course in french for a while now and it works well. But you have to go with what you are comfortable with.

    I love the design of your blog by the way!

  16. This is a good idea. I could have a blog in Portuguese and another one in Greek, but I have no time for anything… I love the English language because it is very simple and almost everyone in the world speaks English. I had the intention to create a blog in Portuguese first of all, which is my native language because I was born in Brazil, and I’m sure it would be wonderful, but I don’t think I have the time to handle everything…

    After reading your article I can see that it could be a very good idea to have blogs in another 2 languages. My parents and all my family are Greek, and I live in Greece. Another excellent alternative.

    Thank you for your guidance. This is a topic we rarely find online.

  17. Raphael says:

    Hi Stéphanie,
    As one of your readers, I generally fully agree on what you say, and that one, too!

    Great article, great question and convincing arguments: nice post!!

    @HarrisonLi: I’m not sure Chinese is a must-have since language is not the only barrier with China. If it’s a blog about tourism or food, why not; but otherwise, I fear China is too far for now, but I hope I’m wrong and I’m ready to change my mind ;-)

  18. Michael says:

    Hi,

    Thanks for all tips from blogging in another language. I learn English currently and the idea to blog in English is very interesting in my case.
    Your article is efficiently as a rule.

  19. Nassim says:

    Dear Stephanie,
    Very interesting article. This is what I am keeping : “before investing in any market (in any language) you shout study it first !
    Best regards,
    Nassim

  20. Daniel says:

    Merci Stéphanie,
    Thank you for your post. I did my blog in spanish. But my native language is french. I really prefer to blog in spanish because I am feeling good among people from latin america. Also it is a challenge for me to express idea and develop relationship wirh the people talking topics belonging to their country. I know america latin very well and so I love to write for them.
    http://www.danielpoi.com/blog
    Daniel

  21. Hi Stephanie,

    I’m one of your french customer. I agree with what you say … again !

    A lot of people know different languages because it never has been as simple as that to travel around the world, meet people, fall in love, have babies who can talk fluently in one or more different languages ; )

    That is why, thanks to your advice, I set up my blog as a translator from English into French (my mother tongue), to help those who can not …

    It is associated with another site where I translated articles for charities, people who want to act for the planet …
    So I’m sure to keep my motivation !
    You made the right choice in 2003, I hope you won’t stop
    Hopefully you made that choice in 2003 and you’re not going to stop.

    Stéphanie

    • Don’t worry, even if I create something in English some day, I will never leave the French market, my whole business is there, and I love it too much!

  22. Bonjour Stéphanie,

    I loved your article! It comforts me in my decision to have my blog only in French since 2008. Yes, our Canadian French market is rather small, but I take pride in having reached the 21k visits on my blog this past year from 95 different countries. :-)

    You are a great source of inspiration. Continue your great work!

    Chantal

  23. Josue says:

    I blog in spanish!

  24. RudyB says:

    Stéphanie,

    thank you for your great post. My blog is in french because of my language.I’ve tried to do nearly the same in english but it’s too difficult for me to find the right words and expressions; Also, the competition in english is hard for this niche.

    if I had read your article “5 Crucial Questions to Ask Before Deciding to Blog in Another Language” before starting a blog in English, I would have won a lot of time.
    I thought that producing a blog in English, I would have all the benefits of english’s tools and support, they are more numerous and more powerful than in french. I had not asked the right questions before i begin.

    RudyB

  25. Simplice M. says:

    Thank you. I did my blog in french. But my native language is french and Swahili. I really prefer to blog in English but my english is very poor, because I am feeling good among people from foreign country. Also it is a challenge for me to express idea and develop relationship wirh the people talking topics belonging to their country. I’m congolese DRC.

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  27. Andew287 says:

    blogging in english is exciting but i’m not very good at english , so i continu my blog in french . but i think
    i wiil learn a lot of thing in marketing in english.