Blogging

Blogging / Travel Writing in English when It’s Not Your Native Language

English is not my native language. The same goes for many bloggers out there. Guess what? This doesn’t have to be a problem and prevent you from launching a successful, profitable blog!

I was always frustrated because I wasn’t a native English speaker. In my native language, I can produce awesome copy. Funny, smart, witty. I have a great style and I can juggle words like… well… only a native speaker can.

But when it comes to writing in English… things are not as good. I am not a master of the grammar. I don’t know as many words as I would like. Expressions to make the content more engaging, idioms… I can’t use them as I would like to.

Sometimes, I feel that the content I write in English it dull. Uninteresting. Boring. No matter how much I try.

And usually I am right.

But you know what? That is not a problem!

Despite all this, I still earn most of my income by writing articles in English. And this proves one important lesson:

You don’t need to be a native English speaker to have a wide audience and keep them glued in front of their screens, reading your articles! You don’t need to be a native English speaker to make money blogging in English. You don’t need many bells and whistles to produce high quality content – or at least content that your audience finds useful.

The main rule in journalism is that you have to be concise. Precise and to the point. This is what makes great journalists, not the ability to charm you with their writing!

Of course, being able to tell stories and juggle with words like a mini J.K. Rowling does help a ton and having a voice, a style or an approach different to what everybody else offers is an advantage. But it’s not needed if you want to be successful as a non-native English speaker.

It does sound kind of cliche right now, but it is true: if I can do it, you can do it as well! Here are some other important things that matter when you are blogging in English, if it’s not your native language:

Idea over spelling

You will find out that most audiences are looking for that bright idea and not for the crusty crunch covering useless words. The idea matters the most and your readers are ready to get past some misspelled words, some poor grammar and less than stellar phrasing if the article as a whole is useful to them and serves a purpose.

What does “useful” mean?

Well, it depends. Your articles can keep your visitors in front of the screen if you answer their questions. If you offer them a valuable guide. If you share a helpful experience. If you tell a story they can relate to. You tell them what they expect to hear.

The “idea” doesn’t have to be something that nobody has ever seen before. Your article must answer your readers’ needs. You have to deliver exactly what you’re saying you will.

Travel blogging is more than words

This is another potential major advantage that travel bloggers (and most other bloggers have): multimedia rules!

Travel blogging is not all about words and phrasing and producing text that is ready to win literary awards.

No, travel blogging is also about images. Video content. Experiences. Soul.

That’s a great advantage that few other jobs offer. You can increase the value of an article by adding high quality images. Remember the saying that an image is worth 1,000 words? Well, that image says the same thing, no matter what your native language is (or what the native language of your reader is!)

Always improve

This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to improve. My rule is that I always have to strive to get better. To improve my style, to write better content. To learn new things.

For starters, do what I did: check out which are the most common mistakes or errors when writing in English. Just google it and find as many examples as possible. Or check out this article to spot some of the biggest errors you can make and tick them off your box.

In my case, one of the mistakes I made most often was using “it’s” instead of “its”. I am no longer doing that, and I stopped after learning what each of those words actually mean. Sometimes, fixing your spelling or grammar is extremely easy!

The if clause, for example, is a nightmare for me and probably for everybody who’s not a native English speaker (and probably many who are). It’s OK – I try to stay away from it as much as possible, but if not, I’m ready to do some butchering and take grammar nazis as an added bonus. It happens!

Globalization means that things are changing. People are becoming multilingual and this means that words, grammar, spelling change. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing, but it’s something that happens. And most people know to take it with stride and move on.

But do you know what makes a non-native English travel blogger really suck in English?

Not giving it a try. Not giving it their best. Not learning anymore.

You didn’t pay too much attention to your English classes in high school? You learned it all by yourself and you’re still not able to produce high quality content?

That’s not a problem: you can get better and you don’t have to be perfect! Trust me – I am not and I am making a living producing content in the English language.

So don’t be afraid -just do it. Read a lot of content in English. Try to learn from that content. Get better. Practice. Write a lot. Then re-write.

But, most important: don’t worry! Your readers – the true readers, the ones that are genuinely interested in the content you’re producing, the ones who really want to find out the answer/guide/tips or whatever you are writing about will be very forgiving and will be able to get past minor (or even major) errors as long as you deliver high quality content!

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