As part of your blogger outreach, you might find yourself in a position to source content from writers all over the world. This presents an opportunity to showcase points of view, tactics, tips, and the like that are different from your own. It’s a unique learning opportunity not just for you, but for your readers, as well.
And for as wonderful as this opportunity is, it does, of course, present its own set of problems.
Make no mistake. This is not a post about why you should or shouldn’t outsource your content writing. This is merely to say that, as you take a dip in the writer pool, as it were, you will undoubtedly come across fantastic bloggers who don’t live in the same country as you. The fact that you don’t share the same native language shouldn’t be a permanent barrier.
In fact, I like to think of it more as a language hurdle. It’s something that can be overcome.
When I was in college, I worked as a tutor for my university’s writing center. Some of my favorite “tutees” were students for whom English was not their first language. In some cases, English was not even their second language.
For some people, this is a red flag warning of low quality. A barrier. For me, I thought it impressive that they were working so hard to master English, as well. And because of their commitment and their willingness to continually practice, edit, and repeat, they were some of the hardest working students that I encountered.
Do you run the risk of receiving low quality work if your blogger outreach extends to other countries? To answer that, let me ask you this question:
Do you run the risk of receiving low quality work from someone whose first language is English?
I’ve seen some pret-ty terrible English-as-a-first-language writers in my day.
Yes, it’s true that some of the non-native speakers that you encounter won’t necessarily be at the point you’d like them to be just yet. But can we give them some credit for trying? I can kind of speak French, but that doesn’t make me brave enough to try to publish anything I’d write in France.
If you’re using freelance writers and reaching out for the assistance of bloggers, it’s a given that you’re going to have to do one of two things: coach or edit.
Coaching a writer will take a significant amount of resources, not the least of them being time. It’s a good option if you’re looking for a longterm investment. This job could be one for leadership, or it could fall to your editor or assistant editors. There are a number of ways to go about it.
Though it will require time and patience, you’ll help that writer not only to improve upon his or her English, but also you have the benefit of being able to coach them to write the way you want them to be writing for you. I don’t really want to compare it to a blank canvas, but it’s kind of along those lines.
If you’re working in the short term, you’re probably looking to edit. Again, just because you might be working in the short term doesn’t mean that editing is a short term task. Keep in mind that many writers will craft a piece in their native language and then translate it to English. Direct translations don’t always come through, and so while the idea behind the piece may be brilliant, the English might seem broken or inconsistent. It could very well end up meaning that you’ll still have to work alongside the writer to make sure his or her intention remains in tact as you edit the piece.
It also means that you need to ask yourself how much you’re willing to edit, as well as at what point in the editing process does a piece stop belonging to the writer and start belonging to you. If editing turns into completely re-writing, that writer isn’t ready yet. Offer coaching, if possible.
Both options are going to require you to put in some effort, but then, no one ever said content development would or should be effortless. There is something to be said here for commitment and faith in your writers.
So if, in your outreach, you come across a writer who seems promising, don’t shy away simply because of a perceived language barrier (and this includes those native speakers whose English is perhaps not as eloquent, shall we say, as we might like).
Instead, when possible, think of it as a language hurdle: something to be overcome.
Have you worked with international writers before? Let us know the pros and cons in the comments!
photo credit: indiana state university library