In this post Liz from Pocket Cultures shares 5 tips on how to develop a blog that is friendly to those from around the world.
First of all, why do you want to blog for a global audience? Well, the world is getting more connected, and people in more and more countries are becoming active online.
PocketCultures.com had visitors from 83 different countries over the last month (note from Darren: here on ProBlogger Google Analytics tells me that visitors come from over 200 countries and territories) – some of you will have even more international readers. In December 2008 there were more Chinese than Americans online for the first time in history.
These trends are set to continue. So what does that mean?
You can keep up with the changing web demographic and increase your reader base more successfully if you take steps to adapt your blog for a global audience.
Here are 5 things you can do to make your blog more friendly to people from other cultures:
1. Use clear English
Most English conversations in the world don’t involve a native speaker, likewise many of your blog readers might not be native English speakers. Think about whether you have written clearly, or whether you can use simpler words and constructions.
For example, before I publish a post I go through it, asking myself for every idea, ‘is there a clearer way to write this?’
As a reader of ProBlogger you probably write in English but of course this applies if you blog in another language as well. Just substitute ‘English’ with your choice of language.
2. Offer translation options
Other languages on the web are rising fast. If you only publish in English you are missing out on a lot of potential readers.
The Italian actor and comedian Beppe Grillo publishes his blog in English, Italian and Japanese. As a result he is one of the most widely read bloggers in the world.
Let’s face it; most of us can’t go as far as translating our blogs, but an easier option is to put a translation tool (such as Google translate or a translation plugin) in a prominent place.
3. Write culturally aware
In other words don’t assume all your readers behave like you do. This is probably the most difficult point, because it’s hard to imagine what can be different in another culture when you haven’t experienced it yourself.
Increase your global awareness by reading blogs written by people in different countries – it’s a great way to find out about what’s different in other cultures. International films are another good way to get insights into other places and points of view.
4. Meet people on their own terms
With blogging and social media some people are more comfortable sharing personal information than others. Also, different cultures encourage different levels of sharing – what’s normal in one culture may be too much or too little information in another. People in some countries can even get in trouble for their opinions, including what they say online.
This means that some people you meet online may choose not to give away personal information and may seem guarded until they get to know and trust you. That doesn’t mean they are unfriendly, just that they feel comfortable taking things at a different pace.
5. The weekend is not always the weekend
In many Middle Eastern countries the weekend is on Thursday and Friday (including Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria) or Friday and Saturday (including UAE, Egypt and Israel). For maximum impact release your best posts on Monday or Tuesday, that way you can be sure the whole world is paying attention.
How about you? What do you do to make your blog more accessible to international readers?
Eulalia – Thanks for reading. I think monetising is not the same if your audience is outside North America. It depends what you are using – Adsense should (in theory) adapt itself to your audience, but otherwise you will need to look for advertisers who are targetting your readers. I would think that Hispanic blogs have more to say about this though…
Martijn – the chance to ‘meet’ people from different countries is one of the things I like best of the Internet. I think you are spot on about language being the last border. At one time a lot of people thought English would be the universal language of the Internet, but it isn’t working out like that. That’s probably a good thing though!
Mikko – I’m not a Finnish speaker so I can’t comment on the hilarity of the translations, but I’m sure you’re right :)
Ulrike – you and Mikko both make a very good point, and if you read through the other comments you will find plenty of people who agree with you. I’m not suggesting anyone to use a translation tool to produce their blog posts. They are a poor substitute for writing yourself in different languages, or using a professional translation. But usually these things are not possible so in that case I think it is helpful to provide a translation option for those who want to use it.
Another point is to please make sure if you use currency amounts (eg $100) or dates/times to mark what currency you’re using (eg US$100) and what time zone your date/time is in – especially if you’re referring to an internet event which may be attended by people in many different timezones.
And if you’re marking a date/time the best way is to put the GMT offset as well as any relevant USA timezone – for me as an Aussie to read something’s at “7pm PST” doesn’t really help me figure out when it will occur in my time, whereas if you write that it’s 7pm PST (GMT-8) it helps me to figure out that it will happen 19 hours later here, or 2pm the next day.
I was aware that there was a translation plugin – what an awesome tool!
Thanks Darren for this hint.
I have a German blog for “personality” since three years and got more and more followers on Twitter. So I decided after reading your post to provide a translation for several languages.
I use the WordPress-Plugin Global Translator with good results. The machine translation is not perfect but as you write better than nothing.
I am curious how much additional readers will visit my blog with that service.
i am from China, and i am your reader.you really have done a good job as a blogger for global audience!
Not enough people are blogging about how to write for a world audience. I will take this advice to heart. Thanks for the unique article!
It took me awhile to learn these five things. Surprisingly, they didn’t occur to me until recently! And it took Twitter and meeting people from around the world to teach me! When I finally learned, I felt rather silly that I had not considered the rest of the world until that point. I think those of us in American are sometimes taught that the world should resolve around us, and act accordingly… We don’t do it intentionally, or meanspiritedly, it is just the way we are taught. Now I want to be more global, and concerned with others, and write for more of a global audience — always keeping in mind those around the world — trying to be helpful and thereby not offending those from other countries.
krissy knox :)
follow me on twitter:
It is really good and right to have such an approach… Kia aap Meri Baat Samajh Saktay Hain?…. just the nudge, don’t mind. Will a translation do as good as an original would? I belong to Pakistan and Urdu is the national language but in that I have no facility to write in- needless to say I really wish to. I am trying to build a network facility for people who are crazy about learning English in my city Hyderabad, Pakistan. I hope if I could find translator tool for Urdu… By the way we call English here “Ang-ray-zee”.
Thanks for the updated article on Chinese ol, no wonder top IM is on to China to make some breakthrough over there
@ Keith Collantine: Interesting point. I wonder at what point a blogger can afford to have a native speaker proof-read a translated version or if it is even possible to do in conjunction with a translating plugin?
Blogging is so universal now that this post is really essential, thanks Darren.
This is fantastic advise for those of us who are both new to blogging and looking to reach people from all around the world. Many thanks. We are now implementing your 5 key actions.
This is a very nice topic! Because this is my expertise! If you also have time to visit my site, you will read lots of ideal blogs that will relate you. Blogging really helps.
I’m answering something already said but : one can’t trust the output of a translation software. If readers want to use them, it’s ok for me, but I won’t encourage my readers to use it.
I’m a Chinese blogger, but I’m not very good at English.
Now I want to set up an English blog to share my thoughts with others, do you have any advices for me? Thanks.