If you’re multilingual, then it’s only natural that you’ll think about doing your blog in at least two languages. After all, by doing so you can get your content to a much wider audience – especially if you’re topics are about things that interest people who aren’t necessarily well-traveled or likely to know additional languages.
And it is very tempting. At the same time, it will cause a lot of hassle. So no doubt you’re wondering if it’s actually worth it. That’s what I did when I decided to start a multilingual blog in Hindi and English.
Here is what I learned.
It’s a lot more work than you realize
When you run a multilingual blog your work doubles. This is because you have to translate everything. And that doesn’t just mean the blog post. It also means all the other language on your site, as well as all the social media content you’re throwing out there.
In fact, in some aspects – like the marketing – it will more than double as you’ll have to find the right groups and keywords for both languages. And that can be incredibly labor intensive.
What’s more, some of it will be quite repetitive. You’ll throw all your energy into writing blog post and then you’ll have to translate them as well. That can be a serious drain and might even stop you from writing the post to begin with.
What about using somebody else? That’s what I tried. I had somebody commit to writing all the posts. The thing was, she ended up not living up to her word (probably because she didn’t think it was as exciting as she’d hoped it would be). The result was that the Hindi section ended up lagging behind.
I guess I could have paid some good translation service to do it, but as the point of the blog was to make me money instead of having me spend money, that wasn’t really an option.
Use the tools that are out there
Still considering a multilingual blog? I don’t blame you. It is incredibly enticing to get out of the English web. After all, it’s far more expansive than any other language, which means almost every niche is saturated. That’s less likely to happen in other tongues.
If you do want to go down that road, make sure that you use the tools that are out there however. Google translate, for example, is a must. They recently did a massive update to their system, which has made it a lot more accurate than it used to be.
Of course, it still won’t work on its own. You’ll still need an actual translator to go through and make sure the meaning did not get distorted. Otherwise things like:
“A woman riding her motorbike in leathers stopped to give a light to a boy in overalls carrying a jack and a milling cutter”. Get turned into “A woman riding a motorcycle in leathers stopped to give birth to a boy in the monkey wearing a cat and a strawberry”.
Which isn’t exactly the same thing. In fact, you might as well scratch the ‘exactly’ from that sentence (example taken from indigoextra.com).
Still, it’s a time-saving tool and it’s free. So there is that.
Consider something different from one to one
Another good move is to not do a one to one translation where everything you write in the first language gets written into the second one (and vice versa). There are several good reasons for this.
- Not everything that is relevant for your audience in one language will necessarily be relevant for your audience in the other language.
- It allows you to be more creative and spontaneous, as you don’t necessarily have to translate everything.
- Both sites can create their own character which is more suitable to the language the site is in.
Even better, if you do realize that running both languages is too much work, then you can always consider bringing in somebody new to run the second language. As the site will have an independent personality, that will be far more interesting to most people.
Heck, you’ll even be able to sell the second language if you realize it’s become too much as it will be its own thing.
In the end the answer to ‘is it worth it’ is ‘it depends’. Yes, like so often, that is yet another cop-out. But then, that’s because it’s so often true. It depends on how much energy you’re willing to invest. It depends on whether the niche you’re exploring is available to you in both languages. And it depends on if you yourself speak the second language well enough or know somebody who does.
If you’ve got the energy, the niche and the language, then go for it. If you don’t, then it’s better to hold off.