When I started this blog back in July 2014 I honestly didn’t know what kind of blog I wanted to have, but one thing was an absolute certainty for me: I was going to write in English. It was an extreme challenge - most of the time a fun one, but sometimes a frustrating one. I have never succeeded in describing ‘Sinterklaas’ in English (for the non-dutchies here, it's a Dutch Santa Clause), and if you translate the word ‘nice’ into Dutch you get ‘fijn’, but it has completely different connotations. Oh, and ‘cozy’ isn’t the same as the Dutch ‘gezellig’. These are some of my daily frustrations - but blogging in English has some major advantages as well. You might not realize these things before enthusiastically setting up a new blog in a different language so in case you want to start a blog in a different language as well - take a look at these notes! This decision is much more important than you might think.
Like I said: you can translate every sentence literally, but you’ll rarely pass on the same feeling. My writing-English is quite good but I sometimes feel like I can express my feelings and true intentions better in Dutch: it’s just a tad easier, more natural and quicker.
Creating grammatically correct sentences is one thing, letting them ‘work’ and making them interesting to read is another. You can’t literally translate expressions and wordplays and it's tempting to write easy, boring and very ‘dry’ texts. This is because writing interesting - often more complicated texts - is a lot harder.
Family and friends often ask me why I’d started blogging in English - and because I’ve written quite a few photography articles for www.teske.nl, a Dutch lifestyle blog by, well, Teske, my Dutch audience has grown. I can imagine that reading an English blog as a Dutch person, knowing that the writer of that blog is Dutch as well, can be annoying. (that’s the reason why I’ve created lemontierres.nl, but that’s a story for another post. :-))
I never know which language to speak on social networks. I’m not an active Twitter- or Facebook-user but I sometimes really feel like adding a simple and easy Dutch caption on Instagram.
Having an English blog as a Netherlands-based blogger is not very practical: I often get invited to events in London because PR agencies assume I live in the UK. And even though I live in Amsterdam I rarely get an invitation for a The Netherlands-based event, because writing about a new, for instance, restaurant in Amsterdam to people from all over the world doesn’t really make much sense. This really is one big disadvantage for me as I’d love to be more involved in the real-life blogging world.
The pros (yes, they do exist! In abundance!)
I’m able to reach a bigger audience. Almost everyone can read English while, in comparison, only a small portion of this Earth’s population understands the Dutch language. It isn’t about the numbers for me - not at all! - but knowing that all kinds of people read what you write, take a look at your photos and sometimes even like what you create is the best feeling ever.
My blog pushes me to keep on expanding my English vocabulary. I like doing this because I like English as a language but also because I just want to be good at writing English texts. I almost exclusively read English books and I don’t know if I would’ve been encouraged enough to keep this quite exhausting hobby alive, had I not had my English blog.
I’ve gotten in touch with so many great people from all over the world. I read every comment that’s left underneath any blogpost and even though they often are of the ‘nice blog, read my blog!!!’-kind, some people leave the most amazing and time-consuming comments and I’m so, so grateful for that.
I’ve made many online friends. With some I’ve only exchanged a few emails and that’s fine, but I’ve stayed in touch with some (hi Isa and Stephanie Eva!!). And that’s so cool! I have Dutch blogging friends as well and meeting up with them in real life is a whole lot easier, but I’ve always wanted to have ‘pen palls’ and thanks to this little thing called lemontierres I finally have them. :-)
It seems like I only listed cons, but that absolutely isn’t the case for me. I sometimes regret the fact that I started an English blog, sure - especially when I’m struggling with finding words that feel the same as they do in Dutch, when translating a blogpost takes an eternity - but then I remember the things I’m grateful for and realize that they are so much more important than the time it takes to write a blogpost.