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

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English is not my native language. The same goes for many bloggers out there. Guess what? This doesn’t have to be a problem!

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 the audience loves me.

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.

And sometimes I am right.

But you know what? That is not a problem!

Despite all this, I still earn most of my blogging and freelancing income by writing articles in English. And this proves one important lesson (or a thousand):

You don’t need to be a native English speaker to have a wide audience and keep them glued to their screens, reading your copy. 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.

The main rule of 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. But it’s not needed if you want to be successful as a non-native English speaker.

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 interesting.

What does “interesting” mean?

Well, it depends. Your articles can keep your visitors glued to the screen if you answer their questions: fully and to without extra words. If you offer them a valuable guide. If you share a helpful experience. If you tell a story they can relate to.

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

Travel blogging is more than words

That is 100% correct. We’re extremely lucky on this matter!

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

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

That’s a great advantage that few other bloggers have. 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 thousand words is the same no matter the native language of the reader or the author!

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.

In my case one of the mistakes I made most often was using “it’s” instead of “its”. I am no longer doing that – meaning that all mistakes that you’re making can be corrected.

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.

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.

You can check out this article on Shout me Loud for some tips and tricks on improving your writing style if English is not your native language.

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 – do it. Read a lot of content in English. Try to learn from that content. Get better. Practice. Write a lot. Re-read and 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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