The ugly truth about running a bilingual blog

The ugly truth about running a bilingual blog



Remember when I wrote a blog post about how having a bilingual blog could be beneficial for your website? Well, I did not change my mind. Running a bilingual blog generates more traffic and will also please your clients or potential customers, especially if you live or work in a bilingual environment. In Montreal for instance, it is very important to have content available both in French and English.

But there are also downsides to running a bilingual blog. Some days I wonder if the visits I get for the articles I translate really outweigh all the time and energy I dedicate to it. So here’s the ugly truth about running a blog.


Time consuming

Having a bilingual blog means you will have to translate all or at the very least most of the articles you write. And since Google Translate, although good for single words and simple sentences, is a poor tool when it comes to complex articles, there is only one remaining solution: translating everything manually.

In my case, I write first in English and then translate to my native language, French. This way, I avoid making silly translating mistakes from French to English (Frenching up English articles is way too easy). Most of my articles take more or less 40 to 60 minutes to write and an extra 15 minutes to proofread. It’s not too bad considering I usually write between 500-1000 words.

That timeframe would be great if I didn’t have to start over in my native language right after. That’s an extra 40-75 minutes spent translating (articles in French contain more words and take longer to translate sometimes, or perhaps it’s just me who is too picky and slow), another 15 proofreading again, taking the sum of all the time spent on one single article to over 2 hours. I repeat this writing-translating activity 4 times a week, totalizing 8 hours (instead of 4 if I was only running a unilingual blog). You get the big picture; it’s a lot of time spent writing, translating and correcting. It’s the double.


Growing tired

When I was in cegep, I studied languages (advanced English, Spanish and German) and back then I seriously considered becoming a translator or interpreter. Today, I am SO glad I did not walk down that road. After translating over 50 articles, I am tired. I’ve come to a point where I dread writing articles because I know I will have to spend an extra hour translating them.

Translating used not to disturb me. I’ve done it too much and it killed this discipline for me. On the pro side, my translating skills improved greatly.


So, how about numbers?

At the end of our 4th month of activity, thanks to Google Analytics, I have a good idea of how many French visitors we get. Let’s take a look at the actual numbers:

For the month of November, we had on Veodesign a total of 3513 visits and 5782 pageviews (an increase of over 150% since last month). 569 of those pageviews were on the French version of the site. 231 of those French pageviews were not for the blog but for the static pages. That leaves 338 French blog pageviews.

What does this mean? This means that if, in November, we would have had no French blog, we would have lost only 6% of our total pageviews.

Are over 16 hours of work each month worth 6% of our pageviews? It’s debatable. I’m personally still undecided, considering all this time that could be spent doing something else, but also my French readers who would be left without new content.


Is running a bilingual blog a good idea?

So I ask you this: is it or not a good idea? Is it worth the effort and time?

About the author

Tina Mailhot-Roberge is a graphic designer, illustrator and co-founder of Veodesign. She holds a BFA in Design from Concordia University, Montréal. She loves to help people and wirte about arts, design, web and technology. Find her on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.