5 Steps to Taking your Blog Global
The World Wide Web has made it easier than ever to reach a global audience. In theory there’s nothing to stop anyone with an Internet connection from accessing your blog, whether they’re on the move in Boston or sitting behind a screen in Bangalore.
In reality, however, it’s going to take a little more time and effort to reach those potential readers. They might be no more than a mouse-click away, but cultural and linguistic barriers remain. In order to truly take your blog global you have to make sure your content is both interesting and accessible to an international audience. And of course, you have to ensure they can find it in the first place.
1. Target your audience
Focusing your efforts on a few specific markets may be far more worthwhile than taking a broader, ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and hoping for the best.
Exactly where you decide to focus your efforts will depend to a large extent on the nature of your blog. A blog focussing on local politics may have a very narrow appeal, while a sports-based blog might appeal to certain specific markets. Baseball, for example, is not very popular in Europe and or many other countries outside the USA. But it does have a lot of followers in Latin America and is huge in Japan.
2. Keep your language simple
To some extent English remains the lingua franca or common language of the Internet. English is the single most widely used language online, according to Internet World Stats, but it still accounts for only around a quarter of total usage.
An English-only blog might rule out large swathes of the global population but it will still stand more of a chance of reaching a wider audience than one written in Swedish or Swahili. Keeping your language simple will help make your blog easier to follow for those millions of potential readers who speak English as a second language. And, if you do decide to translate your content for certain target markets, simpler text can be far easier to translate.
3. Consider your translation
If you decide to translate your blog there are a number of ways to do it. Automatic translation tools, such as Yahoo! BabelFish or Google Translate, offer a quick and easy solution. But even the best automatic programs can be prone to contextual errors, and often produce “over-literal” results. They also don’t deal well with slang, abbreviations and other linguistic variations.
A better solution is to hire native speaking translators. They will be more accurate and can help avoid any cultural faux pas, but they can be costly. If you’re on a tight budget, you can test the water by translating a few carefully chosen posts. If they prove popular, it’s worth translating more of your blog.
4. Keep other international differences in mind
The best time to publish new content is generally considered to be early to mid-morning. This poses a problem when you are dealing with different time zones but it’s a relatively simple matter to set different publishing times depending on the language.
You should also remember that different places use different systems of measurement. US customary units and British imperial units are largely the same but there are some key differences. A British gallon, for instance, is 20% larger than an American one.
Much of the world uses the metric system and you should convert measurements expressed in your translated content to the appropriate equivalent units. Even if you’re running an English-only blog, it may be worth giving the equivalent measurement in brackets. There are a number of free conversion calculators online to make this process easy.
Finally, remember that the date format also varies from place to place. While the United States uses the ‘middle-endian’ format of ‘month/day/year’, most of the rest of the world uses the ‘little-endian’ format of ‘day/month/year’.
5. Make use of social media
Social networks can be a great way to promote your blog internationally. The big-hitters like Facebook and Twitter combine an international audience with local settings and may often be your first and best port of call. Depending where you’re targeting your blog, however, you might wish to consider maintaining a presence on local competitors. Vkontakte (or VK) is the most popular social networking site in Russia for example, while Facebook remains banned in China and Tencent Qzone is the market leader.
Taking your blog to a global audience may require time and forward planning. But the rewards of tapping into vast new readerships can be worth every bit of extra effort you spend.
Author Bio: Christian Arno is the founder of professional translation services provider Lingo24. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 170 employees spanning four continents and clients in over 60 countries. In the past year, they have translated 55 million words for businesses in every industry sector, including MTV and World Bank.