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Christina Brown Talks about Multi-Cultural Blogging


What is the right niche for you? Some niches are crowded and others have room for newcomers. For Christina Brown, she saw a gap and she filled it.

In this exclusive NMX video interview, hear what Christina (a past NMX speaker) has to say about the challenges of working within a niche, being a reflection of your audience, blogger networks, and community building.

Want to learn more about how to succeed in blogging? Check out the blogging track at NMX. We hope to see you at the conference in January!

The Challenges of Working in a Global Industry


More than most industries, blogging and new media are truly global fields. We tend to think in a really patriotic, insular way, especially in the United States (where I live), but not everyone who reads your blog or follows you on social media will be from your country or even speak the same native language as you do. That presents some specific challenges, and in my opinion, bloggers who completely ignore these hurdles are doing a disservice to their readers – and even potentially driving away would-be fans.

Here are some of the biggest challenges I’ve found about working in an industry that is so global – as well as the way I’m solving these problems (or at least attempting to solve them!):

Challenge #1: Vocabulary

When I first started blogging, I had a terrible time communicating effectively with readers because my vocabulary was too localized. Now, I think most bloggers know some of the commonly confused works, especially between British English and American English, but phrases that sound natural to me are completely foreign to many of my readers, even some who live in the United States but didn’t grow up in Pennsylvania. It’s hard – but you have to train yourself to write a bit more globally without losing what makes you you. If you use regional words or phrases, at least take the time to define them (or link to a definition) so you aren’t leaving out readers who didn’t grow up in the same environment as you did.

Challenge #2: Grammar

Just like there are obvious differences in vocabulary from one country to another, there are also grammatical differences. Again, you don’t want to lose the essence of you, but if your grammatical choices are too cringe-worthy to readers, they might not come back. This is an area where I personally still need tons of work, though I do think I’ve come a long way. It’s ironic, since I was an English major in college, but because I grew up in a very rural Pennsylvania Dutch area, some grammar choices that make others gasp simply don’t sound wrong to me. It helps to work with an editor who will point out the mistakes you make most often so you can start retraining yourself to write (and speak) in a more globally pleasing way without compromising your style.

Challenge #3: Taboo Topics

This is a big one. You can overlook weird terminology or silly grammar choices if you like a person’s message or writing style, but if someone offends you, you might not return to read their blog again. There’s definitely something to be said for just being you – you’ll find “your people.” At the same time, I’ve occasionally be told be someone that something I wrote was culturally offensive, and that was not my attention at all, so I promptly changed what I wrote. In general, I’ve found the the best we can all do is be aware that cultural differences exist. Few people actually mean to offend, so typically it just takes communication to clear the problem.

Challenge #4: Formalities

Chances are that you won’t just be writing a blog post that reaches global readers, but you’ll also be communicating directly with people from other countries through comments, emails, and social networking sites. It’s hard to know the formalities another person expects, since it might be very different from what you expect yourself. I personally always find it challenging to address an email if it’s to someone I don’t know (or don’t know well). Do I go with the more casual first name and risk taking to many liberties? Do I use Mr./Ms. and risk sounding too impersonal? There’s no right answer, even when emailing someone from your own country, let along someone from another country. Formalities are also hard to handle outside of the email – for example, I was watching a TV show today where it was mentioned that British people don’t like compliments – and too many can seem rude. (I don’t know if that’s true, since I’m not British – maybe some of you international readers can weigh in?) Again, I think it just boils down to realizing that there are differences as you travel across borders and few people actually mean to offend.

Okay, these are the four biggest challenges I’ve found as someone who works in a global industry. Well…there is one more, but few of you probably deal with it. Since I sometimes go by “Alli” and I have a lot of readers on After Graduation from India, where “Ali” is a popular male name in that area of the world, I’m often mistaken for a guy! That mistake usually makes me laugh, and it’s easy enough to correct the other person.

So what challenges have you faced as a global worker?

Do You Blog for an International Audience?


I blog from the United States (Pennsylvania, to be exact), but something that I try to be conscious of is the fact that not all of my readers are from this country. In fact, especially here at BlogWorld, a large percentage of readers are from other countries. Whether you’re a US blogging like me or you blog from another country, marketing your posts to an international audience can be tough at times. Here are a few pointers I use, and I hope you’ll comment with some of your own tips:

  • Explain colloquial phrases.

If part of your blogging identity is your location, don’t avoid colloquial phrases. However, make sure you explain what you mean so that readers from other countries understand what you’re saying. This can be tough. I use a lot of local or country-specific terms without even realizing that no, not everyone says that. It can be an uphill battle sometimes, but when someone points out a phrase they don’t understand, try to be more conscious about using it on your blog. Again, I think it’s great to use regional terms if they’re part of your identity – just make sure you explain them for the rest of us.

  • Remember that not every retailer is found in every country.

I used to read this fashion blog (which has since been closed) where the blogger lived in Europe, and although I loved her sense of style, a good 75 percent of her posts were highlighting things that I couldn’t buy without paying ridiculous shipping costs. Sometimes, they weren’t available to US buyers at all. When making recommendations, try to include retailers that are found in multiple countries or that at least ship affordable around the world. Think about this when it comes to your affiliate ads as well.

  • Schedule events with the whole world in mind.

Running a webinar? Posting a time-sensitive contest? Launching a product? Not everyone is awake at 3 PM your time, no matter where you live. You’ll never be able to please everyone, but think about when your target market is awake and what is most convenient for your readers. You may want to schedule more than one webinar, for example. At the very least, when mentioning times on your blog, specify the time zone. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across times on blogs for things like contests ending and the blogger didn’t give a time zone.

I’m curious to hear from bloggers in other countries, since I bet there are things that annoy you when you read blogs from US writers. What are your top tips for writing to an international audience? What do you wish bloggers from other countries knew about you and your needs?

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