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If English is your Second Language – Which Language Do You Blog in?

Posted By Darren Rowse 15th of September 2007 Reader Questions 0 Comments

Two weeks back I wrote a post asking whether readers Use American English, British English or do you Swing like the Canadians? – the resulting conversation was a great one with a variety of opinions offered.

It’s time for a new but related question – this time it’s directed at bloggers for whom English is a second language.

Which language do you blog in?

This question is a real one and one that I get asked quite a bit by people looking to start blogs. Here’s one question that arrived in my inbox today from Alonso (no URL as he’s yet to start his blog).

“Hi Darren, thank you for your blog. It has helped me greatly in preparing to launch my own blog. I do have one question thought that I am stuck on. I am from Argentina and speak Spanish as my mother tongue but in researching the topic for my blog have been wondering if I should write it in English to make my potential of greater size. Spanish is spoken by many people but it seems that blogs are read more by those speaking English. What would your advice be Darren?”

Alonso’s question is not isolated – in fact I get asked it every week. I’d be interested to hear what ProBlogger readers think and do? I’m particularly looking for the feedback of those who have English as a second language and who have been confronted with this choice.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I agree with Avinash – I am from India as well and blogging in English makes much more sense than blogging in my native tongue, Malayalam.

    And most of my blogs are about technical stuff(programming, linux, etc.) Most of the terms in those sites are not even translatable to Malayalam.

  2. I publish in German: I have direct knowledge of and contact with my audience and there are still some open niches in the German web. But I am scared that this niches are rather narrow and it is sort of frustrating to look at Google Analytics and see only a tiny area in Europe in dark green color and the rest of the world white or very light green. I plan to publish in English soon and to compare the results. But I am shure that I will not give up publishing in German. The German language will stay around an other fifty or hundred years.

  3. My native language is finnish. I’ve used that one in my blog, because initial target group was friends, relatives, etc.
    One major problem in finnish as language is that there is something like 6 million (6,000,000) in a world, who can speak and read it. That gives you so small target group, that like so many others in these comments, I am seriously pondering whether or not I should create english version of my blog in hope of getting more readers.

  4. As a mainland Chinese, I mainly write blog in Chinese(www.happysky.org), and host it in USA. I had tried to start a blog in English and host it in mainland China(blog.nklog.org), but I find it’s hard to maintain — for people live in a big country like China which speak only one language, it’s less need to start a English blog…

  5. My native language is danish, and I use that on my blog about entrepreneur and marketing. I also considered a great deal to blog in english because of the bigger group of people. Denmark only have 5 mill inhabitants. But I’m considering a new blog in english, but the competition is thereby also bigger for the good keywords. Its a 50/50 decision in my mind!

  6. My native language is Norwegian, and therefor it was naturally for me to launch my first blog in Norwegian. The first problem I stumbled upon was there was only 4.5 million people in the wordl that could read and speak Norwegian. This of course made them a very small group to target. After a couple of months, and a few hundred users daily, I found out that I’ve reached my highest point. There was no more people to target within my niche.

    Therefor I started, on a very small scale so far, blogging in English. I haven’t goten so many users so far, but the target group is so much bigger now. I would rather be a mid-size English blog than a big Norwegian one.

    But when it comes to Spanish as the example, you could do pretty good with that languange, considering that it’s the second most spoken language in the world. I can even understand some myself :)

  7. Hi, i’m a from Spain. I tried to blog in english but my english is not enough good for that. That’s why in my current weblog, i use spanish.

  8. Hi Darren,

    I am portuguese and living in Switzerland. So I generally blog in german language. When I think a story of mine is digg-worthy, I write it in german and english, so both parts of my readerships can enjoy it.

  9. I’m German and blog in English.

    Most of the people who’d read my blog in German understand English anyway.

    Not only is the number of native speakers higher, I also get to know other bloggers from a lot of different countries.

    To reach a wider audience, English is good.
    To network, English is essential.

    Even if you make mistakes (as I do – lots of ’em *g*), you’ll be understood worldwide.

  10. In Serbian/Croatian it’s preety same language so most readers come from these countries. I haven’t tried to blog in English, mostly because I am not that ambitious about my blog

  11. Only on croatian langauge :)

  12. I’m Italian and I blog in both English and Italian. It feels quite natural: if I’m reviewing a book or article I’ve read in English, I do it in my English blog; if I want to comment on Italian societal trend or on the state of the Web in Italy, I do it in my Italian blog. Still, I have noticed that, with approximately the same amount of content and posting frequency, my English blog has reached a higher Google page rank than my Italian one. And that’s because the algorithm goes where the people are.
    Thanks for posting this interesting question!

  13. English. I don’t really have choice since I live in US and 90% of my readers are coming form US, Canada, Australia, and UK.
    Time to time I am posting in some discussion forums in Polish, mostly about my blog posts: ~1% of readers from my native Poland.

  14. Hi Darren,
    I am spanish and I have two blogs, in spanish and english. The english one is more focused on technology and software development because I think english is the ‘lingua franca’ of all the techies around the globe. My english is not very fluent, but it’s good enough to communicate to my readers. Some complains about my grammar and style, but writing in english help me to have the language fresh.
    I write also in spanish in another blog because sometimes is very hard to express deep thoughts or feelings in a language is not your mother tongue. Spanish is a very expressive language and you can play easily with the language. It does not make sense to do it with tehcnical english.
    Finally, I know I lost a lot of readers in my english blog because anybody can figure out easily that it’s not my mother tongue and my writings are sometimes too naive, but since I am not a professional blogger, blogging helps me to keep me fresh and sharp in english, something I need in my daily job.

  15. I am german and blog in english. For me it was never a question when I started my current blog, because most of my friends and aquaintances nowadays are either english, american, australian or Kiwis. So, it wouldn’t make any sense for me to blog in german.
    Besides, I had a look around the german blogosphere recently and I found maybe one or two bloggers I like to read, but the rest I wouldn’t wanna be associated with. So I’m staying with english, even if my language skills may not be perfect yet.

  16. My native language is Slovenian but I write my blog in English because there is only 2M Slovenians and that’s not enough for a blog.

  17. I am Indian and Blog in English.

  18. portuguese, always.

    my choice it’s all about “mindset”. writing in other languages is not a question of translating words, but being able to translate thoughts within different realities.

    but ..sure.. it depends. i must acknowledge that it depends on your goals while blogging. what would be different .. what would it mean to you .. if you could blog in a language that all the web-users could read and understand?

  19. The language is not just a matter of expressing yourself. It is also related to the problems you write about and your attitude to your readers.

    I am Bulgarian and I started my first blog in English but I realized very soon that the problems I write about are specifically local so I decided to start another blog where to write in Bulgarian and to establish a closer relationship with my fellow readers.

    Bulgaria is a very small country and Bulgarian language is spoken only here so writing in Bulgarian condemn myself to have very small audience so I don’t think I can get significant income from ads but I hope that my blog can make a significant help in promoting my business to my readers, which is also a good way to make money out of a blog indirectly.

    At this moment I keep both blogs and depending on the topic of the post I decide where to post it – on the English blog, on the Bulgarian one, or on both. Of course, it takes more time and effort but I think it is the right way.

  20. I’m a Malaysian Chinese, but Malay isn’t my mother tongue. It is Malaysia’s national and official language, the one we learn in kindergarten above anything else :)

    But I don’t blog in Chinese either, though it’s my mother tongue because (this is embarrassing), I can’t read and write Chinese. That’s why I blog in English :)

  21. Hello there. I have an indie games and game programming blog. My native language is Spanish, and I know English pretty well. My blog is in Spanish.

    This was a question I had to answer before putting online your blog. I think it has to do with what you want to take from your blog. I wanted to contact fellow Spanish-speaking game programmers, while providing the best content (tutorials and reviews) in Spanish.

    It’s no surprise that writing in English will bring you the most traffic you’ll ever dream with other languages. I’ve been blogging for 9 months and I’m currently receiving ~250 daily visits, and have 50 subscribers. As a Spanish-speaker, I think the most difficult thing to do is to reach other countries’ audiences. I live in Venezuela, and I registered in Venezuelan blog directories (there is a healthy blog activity here), and until recently, almost all my traffic comes from here. Last two months I registered in a Spanish directory, and I’m currently receiving more traffic from there than my home country!

    Would this mean that I have to register in every single country blog directory? We’re talking about marketing yourself in more than 10 countries, and that assuming that every country has a good blog activity: I know from experience that Spain, Mexico and Peru have it. I can’t speak from other countries. Probably experience will tell.

    And now the ad part :-), if you’re a Spanish-speaker game programmer, please do visit my site and stop by for some chat, thanks :-P .

  22. I’m blogging in german – also the title of my blog ist german and a .de domain. In my niche (distance education) there are already some english blogs and boards – but mine was one of the first in german.

  23. I’m from Argentina too. I writing my blog about Spanish Language and Latin culture in English language. My English is not good but i can write it. I think English, nowadays, is the Internet language. Is more economic language than Spanish language.

    Thanks Darren for your blog!!

  24. I blog both in English and in Hebrew.
    It’s somewhat hard, since Hebrew is wirtten from right to left. This imposes technical issues, but it’s fun!

  25. I write articles in English. I’m from Romania, but our blogging market is small, and many blogging services do not support Romanian blogs. There’s plenty of time to blog in my native language some day.

  26. This is not so complicated question.

    I think that bloggers that feel more confy they should write in that language.

    I speak and write 5 languages ( Bosnian, German, Slovenian (1st), Russian and English) I write my blog in english because I notice that I receive more hits then in any other language. The reason why that is so is because people even speaking german or slovenian for example they search in english most of the time.

    For people that would like to target multiple audience they should create 2-3 blogs and write posts individualy instead of writing 1 post in 2 or even 3 languages. Posts like that could be more then 10K words long and nobody really want to either scroll down or up to see where the translation starts.

    Thats my blog tip.

  27. I am Russian so I am trying to maintain blogs both in Russian (http://www.triorus.com/ru) and in English (http://www.triorus.com/en). However, it is difficult because my English is not perfect. English posts always come with delay.

  28. I’m Spanish and make my bloggin in spanish ’cause is the language of my readers. As the other Fernando said, I don’t try to achieve the english world because there’re too much in english at Internet.

    Future is Spanish ;)

  29. I’m Dutch. My second languages are French, English and German, all fluent. I blog in Dutch because of my goal: reaching Dutch readers who want to learn about NLP. I don’t monetize my blogs. If I would monetize a blog I would surely choose to blog in English or bi-lingual.

    I’m testing http://www.worldwidelexicon.org. Love the concept and the possibilities and started translating my (Dutch) articles. Still some bugs to solve (feeds stopped when I installed theplugi – WordPress) but (wo)man, the world is opening for everybody who doesn’t write or read a second language! Bloggers in the world check out these guys! Bloggers in de wereld, kijk op die site!

  30. And LodewijkvdB, hi to you! Practice by thinking in English. I keep up my favourite second languages by thinking about my private life in English and thinking about some parts of my work in French and some emotions in French and other parts of my work in English. Works like a charm!

  31. My blog is about public transport system in switzerland and some swiss topics in general. So it’s comprehensible to blog in german. ;o)

  32. I’m from the french speaking part of Switzerland, so my first language is french. I blog both in english and french, depending of the topic.

    My blog about aviation is in english, but this is was a very easy choice to do, as any pilot is supposed to have basic english skills.

    For some more litterate and novel-oriented blog, I use french, because my english writing is not good enough for litterature.

  33. I, like Yohay, am a native Hebrew speaking person. Hebrew is written right2left so it imposes theme issues (behind and infront the scene) so even if you want to write both in hebrew and english – you’d rather create to separate blogs then one (that’s what I and my brother did with “The hummus blog”, where the english version is on “www.humus101.com/EN “).
    Having two blogs (one for each language) is not ideal, but it seems optimal…

  34. I am Dutch but I blog in English (US). I use English a lot in my work but I can still do with some practice. So blogging in English is also about learning to write better in English

  35. I’m african, and speak and write three languages (other than English) fluently. I choose to blog in English because my audience is primarily English speaking and the topics I blog on would be difficult to write in my native languages. I don’t have a non-English blog but it’s an idea I have toyed with for a while, and I am planning to make it one of my 2008 projects.

  36. i am german. i blog in german. sometimes i think about blogging in english.
    two reasons against that:
    1. my english ist not good enogh
    2. from a seo point of view (whitch is important to my blog) there is less competition in other languages than english.

    3. i stole your layout. i hope, you can live with ist. but i will change it anyway. because the click-rate is worse than it was with the more-than-ugly layout i had before.

  37. My native language is slovak, but I have blogs in slovak, czech and also in english.

  38. I blog in Spanish. Starting over again, I would probably choose English.

  39. I am Kyrgyz but I blog in English (US). Officially Kyrgyz Republic, also known as Kyrgyzstan is a Central Asian country, which gained independence in 1991 after the collapse of USSR.

    Kyrgyz is my first language, Russian is my second language and English is my third. So I choose to blog on my third language ;) So far has been quite successful at it.

  40. As you can tell from my name, I am Japanese. I grew up in Japan, so my English is still not that perfect. But I spent most of my career outside Japan, in the US and Europe, and now live in the US. I have much better knowledge of US and European businesses. As I am writing on business topics, I chose to blog in English.

    So I pulled another blog partner who is an American as a co-author of my blog, and sometimes have him proof-read my articles…. :) There’s always a solution to everything :)

  41. romanian. but 25% of my posts are in english. is good for my english speaking language friends and not only for that…

  42. Wow.. this is definately an overwhelming response.

    First I thought of blogging in English but then I was too scared because of the potential language errors I would make by doing so.

    For me, a better question is: What do native English bloggers think about blogs written in English wich is not perfect.

    Usually if I read German text written by foreigners I immedeately realize they don’t speak German as a first language. I don’t mind, but I definately know that others do.

    What do you think?

  43. I’m Thai Blogger and I perfer to write in native language because the native language sentense will make me closer to readers.

  44. I can read and write English, Mandarin and Bahasa Malaysia. Which language I will use depend on the market place.

  45. I blog both in Swedish and English. I started in English and most of the time I translated articles back into Swedish. Nowadays I blog things my mother understand in Swedish and work related stuff in English.

  46. I blog in Spanish, mainly because my English isn’t good enough, but I keep reading English blogs both as a source for blogging and to improve my English so that I can blog in English in the near future…

  47. Well, I’m from santo domingo so my mother language is spanish. Thinking like you I installed a widget that “translate” my blogs so you can read both -english and spanish- languages. Well , it not translate them but instead I have you write them in both languages and you can choose your preferred language.

  48. I write my blog in norwegian. I have often wondered about switchin to english, but I like the little community that exists in Norway. There aren’t too many blogs in norwegian. It would probably be easier to get more readers in english, based on numbers alone. But so far I’m writing in norwegian.

  49. Hi,

    I must agree with the first blogger: I am a native Dutch speaker and blog in English to have more audience. Although I plan on translating some good English sites into Dutch.

  50. I´m from Argentina as well, and blog in English AND Spanish, though mostly in English. Depends on the subject I´m blogging about, sometimes it´s easier to get the message across in English, but when talking about regional things, Spanish works better.

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