The Practical Guide to Blogging in English for Non-Native English Speakers

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The Practical Guide to Blogging in English for Non-Native English Speakers

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kk/4048176621/in/photostream/

How do you rise an English blog when you’re a non-native English speaker?

Anton email me asking to write a blog post to answer this question, and here I am writing this post.

As you know I’m from Italy, probably one of the country with worst English teaching in the entire world – which means that you’ll forgive my grammar mistakes :)
Seriously, to make you understand what I mean, know that I’ve been taught to pronounce great as “griːt “ instead of “greɪt” at school.

If I can rise a blog in English, everyone can do it, no wonder about this.

So let’s dive into serious stuff.

Blogging in English for a Non-Native English Speaker Is Hard Like Hell

Like VERY hard.

I need almost the double of the time to write an article in English than I do in Italian – depending on my mood I may even need much more time than that!

And to say it all, when you write in your second language, at the beginning your article sucks, a lot.

Of course things change with the course of the time: the more you go on, the easier it becomes; but unless you spend years blogging in English you won’t reach the fluency you have in your first language.

And of course your starting point matters a lot. If you learned English well (and for a long time), it would be much easier than if you have learned from a bad teacher.

Said these, I hope you’ll find the following advice helpful.

HINT: my English writing has flaws (probably a lot), my pronounce isn’t the one of a native speaker, but people understand me, and I go on, which I think are the two most important things.
Sure, having flawless writing and speaking skills would be great, but it’s better to go on imperfectly than giving away (or never starting).
Therefore this won’t be a guide to make you a flawless writer, this will be a guide to help you start and go on :)

How to Write in English…Even When You Can’t

Probably you already know it, but refreshing it can just be helpful:

better-writer-graphic

By Copyblogger

The only REAL way you can improve your writing is by writing. There’s no way you can avoid this.
Sure you can take classes to improve your writing, but in the end it all comes to writing, and writing, and writing again.

The trick is to write according to your skills. If you can’t properly use the third conditional, then don’t use it! Use simpler structures. There are always many ways to say something.
Using structures that you can’t manage well will just make your sentences hard to understand because you’ll likely use those structures in the wrong way.

Remember: you’re writing to make people understand you, not to prove that you are a genius.

Use simple, straight to the point sentences.

With the practice you’ll be able to enrich your writing.

Use Proofreading Tools

Making mistakes when writing in your first language is common, so you won’t be surprised by the mistakes that you will make writing in a second language.
Most of those mistakes come from distraction – like writing “tree” instead of “three” or forgetting a letter in some words.

The easiest and fastest thing that you can do is to use a proofreading tool: you just have to insert your text in the proofreader, and in seconds you will be aware of most of your mistakes.

I advise you to use proofreading tools, but not proofreading services when you want to check regular writings like posts and emails.
You’ll find free proofreading tools, but proofreading services are always paid (and they are much better than proofreading tools); if pay every time you publish a blog post, you’ll go broke in no time. Save the proofreading services for the special things that you do one time – like ebooks, autoresponder series, a manifesto, etc…

The proofreading tool that I use is PaperRater, and it’s free.

Improve Your Written English

Other than writing in English, you can read great stuff from talented writers. As you read you’ll find that you are absorbing structures of the sentences, new words, new ways of saying, jargon, etc…
In the long run this is very helpful!

You can also learn English while you write.
Start writing your next post; as you go on you’ll probably find some grammar rules/words that you don’t know, so go find them on the web: it will take from few seconds to few minutes, and you’ll learn something new that you won’t forget easily.

How to Have Guest Posts Published

How to Have Guest Posts PublishedGuest posting is harder than posting on your own blog when you don’t have a good written English: if your posts have too many mistakes, they won’t be published.

Probably you are thinking that making a series of guest posts on big blogs when English isn’t your first language is almost impossible. Let me tell you that, by following some suggestions, it will a completely doable task.

First and foremost, if you don’t know how to guest post, you’ll need to learn that. Guest posting may seem something simple: you find the blog on which you want to appear, you write the post and send it hoping to have it published. The truth is very far from that, guest posting requires much more thinking and analysis – unless you want to publish just one post once in while.

To learn how to guest post properly you can gather all the useful posts about guest blogging around the web, or you can take a great guest posting course (highly suggested) and have all you need in one place, thus saving your time and energies.

Once you know how to run a successful guest posting campaign, you are ready for my “special trick”.
Most of the guest posts that I sent to bloggers had many grammar mistakes, but they were published anyway.
How did I do that?

Secret :)

It’s simple: send a guest post that a blogger can’t help but publish, even if he has to correct grammar mistakes.
If you send a really great guest post, the blogger will be willing to correct your grammar mistakes (if there aren’t too much mistakes! Don’t try to push the boundaries too far).
No one will ever refuse a great blog post because of a few words used incorrectly or because you wrote “in” instead of “on”.

Notice that by great I mean GREAT.
No one will ever go on the process of correcting your mistakes to publish a good post – it has to be great!

How to Make Videos…When You Can’t Speak the Best English on Earth

How to Make Videos…When You Can’t Speak the Best English on EarthMaking a video in English when you don’t have a good spoken English may be really hard, but with enough time and the right attitude you can do it.
Simply put in your mind that it will take time.

First advice is to write a script of the content you want to put in your video – leave improvisation to when you’ll have better speaking skills.

You don’t necessarily want to follow your script word by word, but you want to use it as a guide: when you have to speak in a second language you have to focus on more things than in your first language, so if you can simplify your task, it will be better.
You already have to focus on pronounce, expression and voice…you don’t want to think to content too.

Improve Your Spoken English

To make videos easily you want to improve your ability to speak English.
You can accomplish this by speaking English very often, and by listening English as much as you can.

If you don’t live in an English country at the moment you can think about moving to one of those countries – but this isn’t always possible.

Another good thing to do (and easier than moving to another country) is to find someone whom you can speak English with. He may be one of your friends, or you can find someone to speak online; if you live in a big city, you can even find other people interested in speaking English to improve, so you can join them.

Other than this, a good thing to do it to listen to English people. Do you like movies? Watch them in English; maybe at the beginning you’ll need the help of subtitles, but with the time you can switch to movies with no subtitles.
Do you have a passion? Listen English audio or watch English video about it – notice that best stuff you find are in English, so this will be an additional benefit!

For example, I learned at least 50% of my English because of my passion about personal improvement – Anthony Robbins is a great man, but has a terrible accent…just learning to understand him was very helpful for my English!

How to Run a Podcast

How to Run a PodcastRunning a podcast may be easier or tougher than making videos, it depends on how you do it.
If you make interviews, it will be harder because you have to interact with someone, which is another challenge for your spoken English.
If you just speak by yourself, it will be much easier because you can cut and edit audio pretty easily, compared to editing videos.

In either cases it will just come down to improving your spoken English.

A Powerful Way to Bypass Your English Problems

A Powerful Way to Bypass Your English ProblemsBefore I explain you it, notice that you can’t always rely on this, so you’ll have to improve your English anyway.

Surely you know how powerful images are…and if you don’t know just think about the way of saying “one picture is worth a thousand words”.
Not only pictures are quite powerful, but they also don’t require you to write, nor to talk. Do you see where I want to go? :)

If you use pictures in the right way, you’ll have to write less (or to speak less).

Do you know why I had wonderful results with SlideShare?
Because at the time I couldn’t write as I wanted in English, so I had to find an alternative way to increase the exposure of my blog. The obvious solution was to use images, so I started making presentations on SlideShare.

Of course, making presentations isn’t the only way that you have to use images.
Another good idea is to make posts using images.
Or you can publish infographics – either yours or someone else’s ones.

Simple: the more images you can use, the less you need to write.

Conclusion

Rising an English blog when you aren’t a native speaker is much harder than blogging in your first language, but it has also some benefits.

Here are the pros:

  • a bigger market
  • not depending on a single nation economic situation
  • more opportunities

On the other hand, there are the cons:

  • harder than blogging in your first language
  • it takes more time
  • more competition

Before taking a decision, think carefully about pros and cons.

Did you like this post? Then please help me share it, so that other non-native English bloggers can benefit from it.

Mauro D’Andrea

Name: Email:

Comments

  1. Sab says:

    Thank you for this post! I can totally relate to that as I’m not a native English speaker as well. Shared!

  2. kle says:

    Thanks for the amazing post! I am, of course, a non native speaker who decided to open a blog in English. I am actually Italian too! i had a chuckle when i read about Italians being the worst..sadly true. I am “lucky” as i was able to live in England for 5 years and i obviously improved a bit but man, is it difficult? it takes me ages to write a post, and i still find mistakes everywhere. My boyfriend mock me all the time and correct me every 5 seconds. Pretty humiliating :) but that’s the way it is, so i decided to stick to it no matter what. It’s hard, damn hard and it’s even more frustrating as nobody acknowledge it, this is the first post i ever read about the subject. Such a relief! So thanks for writing it, i will share it for sure. Regarding guest posting, you are totally right. One of the reasons why i started guest posting so late is because i feel so insecure about my English. In Italian i wouldn’t have any problems at all. I have another suggestion to make: be honest with your readers from the very beginning. If you are open about it, they will understand a few mistakes here and there. Same with guest posting. I always state it right at the beginning, and I’ve found many bloggers willing to publish my posts anyway. Being Honest always pays off! Do you think it would be wise to create a blog both in English and Italian (or whatever native language)? I am thinking about it but it’s just too much work right now. Thanks a lot!

    • Hi Klelia, thanks for your comment!

      No problem about mistakes, everyone makes them; it’s important to keep going anyway ;)

      Sure, honesty always pay off.

      My pleasure!

  3. Gera says:

    Hi Mauro,

    I’m reflected in this article in a 100%.

    Having as primary language Spanish (I’m in Latin America), my English need to be polished constantly and like you said, all writing take more – a lot of more – just only to correct the English errors :)

    A site I use often, to look up further in sentences or specific words is Wordreference.com.

    Cheers,

    Gera

    • Hi Gera, thanks for sharing your experience with us.

      Of course, that site is very useful, I can’t explain how I forget to mention it inside the post :)
      To tell it all, Google is another very helpful tool for us non-native English speaker – if used in the right way.

      Cheers!

      • Gera says:

        Hi Mauro,

        Of course Google Translator is a staple for me :)

        It isn’t possible to list all English resources available ;)
        I’ve a complete folder in my browser with them.

        Another useful resource, to not repeat over and over the same words is Synonyms.net

        All the best,

        Gera

        • You’re right, Gera: too much resources for us non-native English speakers :)

          I didn’t know that, I’ll check it out. Thank you!

          All the best!

  4. Hey Mauro, some great tips there for non-english speakers and everyone else too. There are many way to improve a skill, but practice in it’s many forms is really the only way. I live in Switzerland (german part) and had to work in German last year alot. Then I really suffered the reverse problem – for once in my life I did not have the native tongue!! It is tough.

    • I completely understand you, Ashley!

      Having a good understanding of a second language, and using it in proper way, is something that really takes a lot of time. And it’s hard…

      There should be a unique language in the entire world :)

  5. Mauro, it’s always an honour to see how many people like you do such wonderful things with English. Thank-you.

  6. For me this is still the toughest part to convince my audience with my writing skills.

    I am working hard on it, and for sure things will go positive for me very soon.

    • I can understand you, Kulwant. Anyway, by working hard it will become better and better. Keep going on! ;)

  7. Petra says:

    Hi Mauro,

    thanks a lot for this article, you gave me the needed nudge to go for it finally. I am Czech and wouldn´t have even dreamt of publishing online but your spirit kicked me up :)
    Keep going! :)

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