HOW TO BLOG FOR INTERNATIONAL AUDIENCES
If there is one word which perfectly suits the adjective “global” well, that is
definitely “internet”. Nothing is more widespread than the web, Coca Cola excluded,
probably. But unlike a drink, which can be sold and consumed anywhere in the world
without any problem, a web site needs to deliver a content, hence it needs to be
And here comes the language issue: since between 1.5 and 1.8 billion people speak
English as their first or second language, we can easily gather that more than 4 billion
people all over the world don't understand English.
Is it worth trying to reach them adding one or more languages to your blog? It depends.
But, generally speaking, the answer is yes. Let's see when it's worth it and, how to tackle
the language barrier, if so.
DEFINE YOUR CONTENT AND YOUR AUDIENCE
If your blog is about politics in Sweden, it's quite unlikely that you need to make a version
in French or Chinese: most of your audience will definitely be Swedish. But if your blog is
dedicated to Katanas, the traditional Japanese swords, you can easily assume that your
audience will be much more international, therefore a multilingual version of your blog
would be a good choice.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Once you have decided to aim at a foreign audience, one thing to keep in mind is that
the simpler the language you use to write your posts, the more chances you have to
be understood by a wider, international audience. This is valid either if you write only in
English or if you write a multilingual version. In the first instance, many of your readers will
be non-native English speakers, so avoiding slang or idiomatic expressions will help them
get the correct meaning, in the second, it will make the translator's life easier.
TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE TIME ZONES
A good, general rule of thumb for any blog is to deliver the new material in the morning,
so when your readers open their computers, either at work or at home, they can find your
freshly published posts. Of course, this becomes tricky when your readers are located
in different continents and therefore have different time zones. The optimal solution to
this issue is setting different publishing times for your posts depending on the language
they are written in. There is no doubt that this takes some effort, but it gives your blog
a very professional allure. To help you managing several time zones you can use
GOING MULTILINGUAL: ELECTRONIC VS. HUMAN TRANSLATOR
If you have decided to go multilingual, the next big step is choosing between electronic
and human translation. The two big advantages of the first choice are speed and cost,
but the downside is that you enter a risky territory where unwanted comical results are
always around the corner. However, if you keep your original English text as simple
and straightforward as possible, you could ‘give it a try’. In this case, I'd suggest you to
download Google Chrome, a fast browser which features a built-in translation bar at the
top of the page. To translate it, it's enough to click “Translate” and there you go.
On the other hand, if you have a budget, a human translator is undoubtedly the best
choice and it can be less expensive than you might think. Freelance portals such as
www.peopleperhour.com or the translation giant www.proz.com offer many professional
services at very reasonable prices. Whatever your choice, take into account that different
languages very often mean different paragraph lengths. So don't forget to keep text
separate from images and graphics. For this purpose, the cascading style sheets (CSS) is
definitely a good tool to incorporate, since it allows you to control the layout of your page
by keeping graphics separate from content.
PROMOTE YOUR BLOG LOCALLY
Every non-amateur blogger knows well that no matter how compelling and unique the
content is, without any promotion it is almost impossible to reach a wide audience. So,
creating a page for your blog in different social media is still the best cost free way to
spread the word. Of course, Facebook and Twitter are always top choices, but once you
have decided to attack a specific country, establishing a presence in a local social network
could put your blog a step ahead of your competitors. Besides, you may be surprised
to find that in some countries, a national social network is more popular than Facebook.
For example, according to the “European Social Media Trends” survey carried out by
GlobalWebIndex in 2010, Hyves with over 10 million members and Vkontakte with about
130 million, are the most popular social media in the Netherlands and Russia, respectively.
A very valuable resource to know the top social platforms in different countries is the world
map of Social Networks that you can check here: vincos.it/world-map-of-social-networks.
Okay, now you are all set, it's time to launch your blog beyond borders!
About the author
Christian Arno is the founder of Lingo24, a provider of top translation services in the USA.
Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 150 employees spanning three continents and
clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over forty
million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV, World
Bank and American Express. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.
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