Should You Blog In Your Native Language? (For Non-English Speakers)

One common dilemma that new bloggers have that are not native English speakers is whether they should start their blog in their native language, or still try and make it in the Anglosphere.

It is a point of major decision, as you will end up with two vastly different blogs depending on this choice. So a careful weighing in of all the options, all the pros and cons, all your strengths and weaknesses, is highly recommended.

As I’ve faced this problem myself, and I’ve spent quite some time thinking of it, I’ve developed a simple framework to help make this decision.

How to decide if you should blog in your native language?

There are several very important factors to consider when making this decision. I’ve tried to formulate them into five yes or no questions, and each answer gives you a certain amount of points. After you answer all of the questions, add up all the points. If the sum is equal to or greater than 3, then I think you may have a strong case for starting your blog in your native language.

Of course, the decision is ultimately yours, and you will probably know other important factors based on your specific circumstances and language and culture landscape. And just because you get more than 3 points, doesn’t necessarily mean you should definitely start the blog in your language (personally, I’m more biased towards creating content in English, but more on that later).

But still, if you’re struggling with this decision, and your sum for all of the answers is more than 3 points, then you may want to consider your native language as your primary choice.

One thing to note: this framework is developed for what we traditionally call affiliate blogs, or niche blogs. It shouldn’t be used for other online businesses!

Let’s examine the questions a bit, see the points, and see some examples.

Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers?

Answers and points:

  • Yes: +1
  • No: -∞

This is sort of a preliminary question that should instantly filter out languages with less than 5 million native speakers.

I strongly believe that you shouldn’t start a blog in your language if there are not at least 5 million people that speak it.

Why?

Several things.

First, 5 million is a very small pool of people for a blogging audience to start with.

Second, as a niche blog, you will only be of use to a small portion of that already small pool of people. And niche blogs need their audience to be as big as possible, because, well, you’ve already niched down, and the vast majority of your audience will never directly earn you a single cent.

Third, a lot of people, especially younger people, already speak English. And, especially if they speak a language that’s not spoken by many people, they may already be used to Googling stuff in English.

Most of my friends, myself included, are probably a perfect example of this. My language is spoken by just 2 million people. I don’t think there were any affiliate blogs in my language when I first got on the Internet, and there are not that many now. Whenever I wanted information, I just Googled stuff in English, and that’s how me and the vast majority of people my age or younger have done things since the beginning of the Internet, and will likely continue to do so forever. I simply never Google stuff in my native language, I just know there will be no results for my more specific queries, and I don’t even expect them to be there.

I’m sure there are exceptions here, but I think this is a good rule of thumb.

If your language is spoken by more than 5 million people, write down one point and move on to the next question. If not, this is probably game over, and you should probably blog in English.

Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers?

Answers and points:

  • Yes: +2
  • No: 0

If your language is spoken by several dozens of millions of people, well, now we’re talking. This can be a reasonable pool for an audience, even if you niche down significantly.

So, if you’re able to blog for a market larger than 50 million people, add 2 points. Otherwise, don’t add any points.

To be honest, I chose the number 50 million somewhat arbitrarily, as I wanted this framework to be simple, instead of turning it into some complex formula with square roots and logarithmic functions, etc. I guess an argument can be made that you should maybe add just 1 point if your language is spoken by, say, 30 million people, and you can go ahead and do that as well, or if we want to make things more sophisticated, we would probably divide the number of speakers by 25 million and see exactly how many points this market should bring, but then we’d have to make the cutoff point more complex as well and we can’t really get away with a simple decision formula like “look at whether the total number of points is 3 or more”.

So, I believe it’s a good enough estimate, and keeps things simple. In any case, the bigger point in case you want to do your own thinking outside of this framework, is to strongly consider your market size.

Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online (and how strong)?

Answers and points:

  • Yes: +2
  • No: -2

This can be one of the most important points to consider. You want your audience to have trust and experience with online payments, to be used to buying things online, clicking on ads, all of that, as much as possible.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about formulating this, as there are several things to think about.

For starters, this can also be a dealbreaker in many countries and for many languages. Who cares if 250 million people speak your language, if they never spend a dime online, right? Or if your country has 80 million people, but most of them barely even have access to a good Internet connection?

However, I believe that time is probably on the side of big markets here, as almost every country moves into the direction of increased online spending (that’s the way forward, after all, and believe it or not, every country and region in the world is actually going forward). And people are getting on the Internet faster than ever before, and while estimates vary here, there’s very little doubt that almost the entire planet will be online in a few years. And, even though there are discrepancies in how fast economies grow, in general, every region in the world is getting richer on average…

So, to keep things simple, just do an evaluation of your culture and how it behaves online. You can think of all the people you know, probably including yourself, and remember whether they buy things from online stores, do they spend money online, etc.

You don’t even have to answer yes or no here. If you’re confident your native language speakers spend a lot of money online, then write down two points, but if you think they do but you’re not sure, probably write down one point.

Do you want to earn money a bit faster?

Answers and points:

  • Yes: +1
  • No: 0

The competition for non-English blogs will be smaller, and you will have more room for maneuvering, and even more room for mistakes. If you’re writing on a keyword that has zero competition on it, you will rank a lot sooner than even if there were just one good competing article on it. And chances are, these types of keywords will be much more abundant in your native language than in English.

That will almost always result in your blog starting to rank faster, and you will start earning a bit sooner as well.

Now, this can probably be counterbalanced with a possible low earning ceiling. English-speaking countries spend by far the most money online, and they will hold the biggest limits to how much you can earn from a niche. Blogging in every other language will have less potential.

However, I chose to not include that point for the time being, because if you completely dominate your niche in your language, or even better, if you’re the only blog in that niche written in your language, than you will probably still earn pretty good money. I guess if your plan is for your blog to earn you $30.000 every month, then you should lean more towards writing in English, but that’s probably not a goal that many first-time bloggers have.

So for now, if you want to earn money a bit sooner (and, let’s say, you don’t necessarily hope that this blog will make you a millionaire), then add one point.

Is your English poor?

Answers and points:

  • Yes: +2
  • No: 0

Ok, we all knew this was coming, and it’s obviously something we must consider.

If you havez reelly behd Inglizh, then add two points.

A quick note here: if you were my best friend, and you told me you’d have to add these two points, I would probably scorn you a bit, and try to inspire you (or even somehow force you) to learn English. Come on. It’s 2021, you can’t afford to have poor English, it’s just a catastrophic mistake, and most of the world will be closed for you, in a time when the world has never been more open.

Anyway, if your English really sucks, and you are determined not to learn, then probably the choice is already made for you as well. If your English sucks but you want to learn, well, you’re on the right track (we’ll cover how to do that exactly very soon, and how to improve your English for your blogging in the simplest way).

Add up the points

After you’ve added up the points, if your sum is 3 or more, you have a good argument to consider starting your blog in your native language. Again, this doesn’t mean that you should do it, but at least there is probably a good opportunity for you if you decide to go down that road.

Examples of the framework in action

Let’s see some examples of the framework in action.

Since the last two questions are personal, we will not cover them.

But you’ll see how the general landscape might look like for some languages. I’ll try and cover many different languages and many different markets, both big and small. The answers are based on my personal perception and knowledge (or ignorance), so feel free to correct me if I get something about your language or culture wrong.

Spanish

The second most spoken native language in the world has a lot to offer to bloggers, in my opinion. Lots of native speakers, spread across three continents, increasingly starting to spend more and more money online.

All in all, I think a blog in Spanish might do pretty well.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 2 point
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 1 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 4 points

Mandarin Chinese

I’m not sure how blogging in China would look like, with that Great Chinese Firewall and all. But the market itself is not only there, but will probably be the number one market at some point.

So, probably starting a blog in Chinese might be good (unless there’s something crucial I don’t know about digital marketing in China, which is almost certainly the case)..

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 2 point
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 2 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 5 points

Hindi

India is also a huge and rapidly growing market, although I’m not exactly sure how much they are actually spending online right now, so the decision is probably not clear in many cases.

I guess it could go either way, depending on your other answers, or if you have a better understanding of the market behavior there and come up with different points.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 2 point
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => -2 points (probably)
  • Total (without last two questions) => 1 point

Arabic

I think there are several good things going for bloggers thinking of blogging in Arabic. It’s spoken in many countries, and a lot of those countries are very wealthy, and those are all excellent signs. I believe many people in Arabic-speaking countries are either spending significant amounts of money online, or are starting to.

All in all, I think starting a blog in Arabic has a lot of potential.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 2 point
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 1 point
  • Total (without last two questions) => 4 points

Portuguese

Portuguese is spoken in two countries, by somewhere around 250 million people I believe, so it’s certainly a big enough market. Sadly, I have no knowledge of their online spending culture, and I can only base my answer on my personal observations during my stay in Brazil, and I don’t think I saw a lot of online spending there yet.

Still, a lot of good things going, big market that’s almost certainly going to start spending more money online, so I would probably not be too hesitant of starting a blog in Portuguese.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 2 point
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 0 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 3 points

Russian

Russian is spoken in several countries. I’m not exactly sure in how many of them it is the official first language, but I believe a lot of Google queries are done in Russian even in a country that has another official first language.

Spending online is probably not that great yet, however.

Now, I might be wrong about the spending online question here, and if you live in a Russian-speaking country, you will know if that’s the case. Anyway, based on the other answers, I would probably not hesitate too much to start a blog in Russian, I think it has good potential overall.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 2 point
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => -1 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 2 points

German

If you’re thinking of starting a blog in German, you should probably do it. It’s a big market, and I think people are starting to spend a lot more money online.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 2 point
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 1 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 4 points

French

There are a lot of native French speakers, and it’s certainly a big enough market. I think that online spending is also pretty good.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 2 point
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 1 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 4 points

Italian

Italy’s population is not as big as the other Western European countries, but it’s still a big market, and I think online spending is growing rapidly there. It might be good to start your blog in Italian.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 2 point
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 1 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 4 points

Dutch

This is an interesting case I believe. Even though the Netherlands is not that big in terms of population, I still think a blog in Dutch might do well, not just because the country is prosperous, but also because online spending seems to be increasing a lot.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 0 points
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 2 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 3 points

Swedish/Danish/Norwegian/Finnish

Sorry for grouping you guys all together, but I guess you may be used to this at this point, and probably you don’t mind (you’re in a good company anyway).

None of the Nordic countries are really big, but they all have at least 5 million citizens that speak the native language, so that technically qualifies them past the first question.

Now, I’m not sure about how much money they spend online yet, and I’m sure each one of these countries differs in this regard, but as a general answer, I believe they spend money online somewhat regularly, but not too often.

Meaning, starting a blog in any of the Nordic languages may come down to your personal answers on the last two questions of the framework. As I’ve never met a person from any of the Nordic countries that didn’t speak almost perfect English, I believe that’s not an obstacle either, so the choice is really yours.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 0 points
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 1 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 2 points

Estonian/Latvian/Lithuanian

Again, sorry for lumping you guys together as well, but again, I guess you’re somewhat used to it (and, again, you’re not in a bad company, neither).

While the Baltic countries are pretty prosperous, none of them speak the same language, and none of them is a big enough market in my opinion, even though the population here may be used to spending money online.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => -∞ points
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 0 points
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 1 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => -∞ points

Polish

Polish is spoken by about 37 million people, so it’s not exactly a huge market. But online spending is rapidly increasing I believe (in fact I think it’s pretty high already), so it may be a good time to capture a niche in Polish.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 points
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 0 points
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 1 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 2 points

Macedonian

Hey, there we are! We never get mentioned like this, anywhere! 🙂

This is my native language, and it’s only spoken by 2 million people. So, nothing personal to my countrymen, but I would never start a blog in my language. Also, people don’t really spend money online too much, which is another reason.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => -∞ points
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 0 points
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => -2 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => -∞ points

Serbian

Serbian is spoken in several countries, and while all of the variants differ, they all understand each other very easily, and I believe they can be thought of as one market. Not exactly sure how many people speak it, but it’s more than 5 million and less than 50 million. Also, I don’t think they have a strong culture of spending money online, at least not yet.

Maybe some native Serbian speakers might know something I don’t, but personally, I wouldn’t start a blog in Serbian neither.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => +1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 0 points
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => -1 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 0 points

Japanese

From what I’ve heard, spending online in Japan is not only growing, but growing like crazy! Plus, the country is fairly big, so it’s all good there.

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 2 point
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 2 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 5 points

Bahasa Indonesian

Did you know that Indonesia has more than 300 native languages? Wow!

Still, almost all of the country speaks the official Bahasa Indonesian, and it has more than 200 million speakers, probably most of them Googling their queries in it.

Online spending is probably growing in some islands, but overall it seems like the country as a whole is not spending that much money yet.

Still, given the market size, I would probably not think too much about starting a blog in Indonesian

Points:

  • Does your native language have more than 5 million speakers? => 1 point
  • Does your native language have more than 50 million speakers? => 2 point
  • Do the native speakers of your language have a strong culture of spending money online? => 0 points
  • Total (without last two questions) => 3 points

Pros of blogging in your native language

Probably obviously, but you will have full mastery of your native language, which can be a powerful tool in blogging. This advantage may be somewhat neutralized if your English is pretty good as well, but if not, it’s probably your biggest advantage.

Also, there will definitely be less competition in your native language, no matter which one is it. I haven’t done the individual research on this, but I’m almost 100% sure, as English language blogs are not only the most common, but English-speaking audiences are also the most lucrative ones to pursue by far. Plus, there are a lot of bloggers that blog in English even if English is not their native language, while I’ve never even once heard of the opposite.

Another advantage is probably not just related to the language, but also to the location. If you blog in your native language, chances are, you will be closer to the advertisers and businesses that speak the same language, both geographically and culturally. That’s not that big of an advantage, as you don’t necessarily need that closeness to be successful, but it may still be of some use.

Cons of blogging in your native language

If you blog in your native language, you are essentially giving up on the most profitable audiences right from the get go. Sure, competition will be lower, but so will be demand, and the ceiling of how much you can earn will probably be lower.

Also, it’s not just the wealth of the audience you’re giving up on, but the size as well. Combined, the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia, and South Africa, make up almost half a billion people!

Not to mention countries where English is the de-facto lingua franca, like Nigeria, Singapore, etc.

Not to mention countries where English is not the first language, but it’s so often used both officially and in education, that huge parts of the population probably use it online heavily, countries like India, Pakistan, the Philippines, Kenya, Ghana…

Not to mention people that speak languages spoken by so few people, that they’ve never even expected there to be blogs in their language, and are simply used to searching things in English…

Why you should try to blog in English?

Make no mistake, blogging in English is playing in the big league.

We can develop frameworks and formulas and debate this for days, but personally, I always lean more towards blogging in English. It’s simply the language of our time, and the language of business, and the default lingua franca status quo language that you expect everyone to understand no matter where you go.

It’s the only language in the world that can reach audiences in every single country in the world. That’s too much to give up in my opinion.


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Matt
I’m Matt, the man behind the Learn Digital Marketing brand. Find me on Instagram and TikTok if you want more.

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