Whatever your reason, if you have decided to expand your blog into one or more languages, here are 10 tips that will serve you well.
1. Define Your Audience
Every language/cultural group has sub-demographics. You will not write the same for a senior audience, as you would for a millennial audience, just as you would not in your native language. Just be certain that you have identified your demographic persona before you begin any translation of your blog posts.
2. Research Your Target Language Demographic
Millennials in one country do not share every value, belief, and priority with the same demographic in another culture. It will be important that you research and study the popular blogs already existing in your target language for your demographic. You don’t want to make “cultural” errors in your posts. If you are not fluent in the target language, and you plan to use translation services, be sure to choose one that has native language translators who can translate posts from the most popular blogs. A good translator who is a native of your target language can be a huge cultural resource.
3. Be Selective
Not all of your blog posts will be relevant to a foreign-speaking audience, especially if that audience resides in a foreign country. Before you translate or have translated any post, make sure that the content will be useful to them. And be especially mindful of the links you have. If they are to country-specific sites, they will be useless. Finding links in the target language instead will take time and some expertise. But that will show you as a valuable resource for your target language audience.
How fluent are you in the target language? You don’t have to be perfect, but if fluency is not at a basic level, you will sound foreign and stilted. It’s hard for readers to stick with an article filled with mistakes and poor phrasing.
The best approach is to keep the native language post as simple as possible. You should do this anyway. In English, for example, the research shows that a 7th grade reading level is the best for blog posting, as long as they are not technical or scientific in nature. That’s a different audience.
If you keep your native language posts simple, then translations to other languages will not be too difficult, and you reduce the chance of corrupting the meaning.
5. Decisions About Organization
There are decisions to be made when creating a multilingual blog:
- How will your blog be organized? If every page/post will be multilingual, how will target language readers access those pages or posts in their languages? The best strategy seems to be to create tags for your posts, identifying the language(s) that can be accessed with a simple click, as well as the topic categories.
- Another option is to use a single language for sets of posts, based upon topic – often called a thematic approach.
6. Multilingual posting means translating more than words
If you are writing strictly about cold facts, such a post is easy to write in several languages. But, in most cases, you are writing something more personal and intimate – experiences, feelings, opinion – and your emotions are involved. Trying to translate that, and not just the words, is tough indeed. You may have to change examples, names, and more, and this can alter the emotional context of what you write. Any personal writing, translated into a foreign language, takes some serious thought and probably several tries.
7. Consider a Thematic Approach
Rather than translating every single post, a thematic approach may sometimes be better. In this way, you can create different series of posts in different languages, especially if you are fluent in them yourself. If you have a travel blog, for example, you might have a series in each language based upon the regions of the world which that demographic finds most popular. For an Asian demographic, for example, you might want a series on travel to famous spots in the United States. An American English-speaking audience, on the other hand, might appreciate a series on travel to China. The same goes for food, politics, sports, and most any other topical theme.
8. Dealing with Social Media
Social media is how a majority of your readers will probably find you. But do you know which social media platforms are most popular with your target demographic(s)? And many areas of the world have developed local social media that can prove to be the most efficient method of accumulating readers. Facebook and Google+ are pretty international, and both have platforms in many languages. And Tumblr is wholly international. Content can be posted in any language on Pinterest.
This is one area in which localization service can prove highly valuable. If you use a translation service for anything, this would be it. Cultural factors play a big role on social media.
9. Optimize Your Language Buttons
No matter what blog design/structure you may choose, your language buttons must be very clearly presented. One idea, especially if you have multiple language options, is a drop-down menu, so that options are available above the fold.
10. Consider Automatic Detection Capability
This will require some code, but if your blog can automatically detect the browser being used, and then bring up the appropriate language right off the bat. Some plugins even offer this function. It will be a nice surprise for users to automatically be directed to those posts that are in their native language, rather than to have to try to navigate to them.
The key to the popularity of any blog is valuable content and the user experience once he arrives at that blog. These must be your prime concerns. There are many multilingual blogging benefits, and if they meet your personal or business goals, take the time, do it right, and follow these tips.
Guest article written by: Dina Indelicato is a blogger enthusiast and freelance writer. She is always open to research about new topics and gain new experiences to share with her readers. Currently she is a writer for Pick Writers. You can find her on Twitter @DinaIndelicato and Facebook.