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Many a time I’ve received a question from a person who has English as a second language, regarding their options for writing a blog and whether they should focus on English since most success stories seem to be from English websites. I almost always recommend they consider their native tongue first, as the opportunities there are potentially significant due to the reduced competition compared to the English market.
In this interview, Olivier Roland demonstrates that you can enter a non-English market and become a leader, often simply because the market is underdeveloped and you will have early mover advantage. This means you can go after very lucrative top level niches like weight loss, dating and of course, making money online.
The French Problogger
In this case study interview you will hear how Olivier began as an entrepreneur running a computer software and hardware company started when he was just 19 (he never completed his high school qualification). His business, while successful, did not offer the lifestyle he desired. To put it simply, he was working way too hard, with 70 hour weeks the norm, looking after his employees and customers.
After reading the 4-Hour Workweek from Tim Ferriss, Olivier was inspired to change things, which led him to Steve Pavlina’s blog, where Steve’s example of making $40,000 a month from affiliate products appeared like a great model to follow. Next Olivier came across Darren Rowse’s Problogger blog, which eventually led him here, to Entrepreneurs-Journey (now Yaro.Blog).
Olivier started his own blog in the technology niche since that was the area he had the most experience, however it was a false start as his blog never gained the traction he wanted, although he learned a lot about blogging. He began translating the work of Leo Babauta from ZenHabits into a French blog next, which proved somewhat successful, but because it wasn’t original work Olivier didn’t feel as connected to the project, he wanted something of his own creation.
Olivier next project was a blog chronicling his journey to read one book from the Personal MBA a week. The blog is known as “des-livres-pour-changer-de-vie.fr”, or in English, Books That Can Change Your Life, established a following, and Olivier was able to make a couple of hundred dollars a month from AdSense and selling books via Amazon’s affiliate program. Then for the first time, Olivier spent money on a course, when he joined Blog Mastermind and diligently applied many of the lessons building his blog over the next twelve months.
The big success story came when Olivier decided to launch a product. To do so he surveyed his audience asking them “what is the greatest frustration or problem you currently face?” The answer was procrastination and a lack of success launching their own business. Having had his own business for ten years, Olivier knew he could teach in this area.
As a result of the survey, Olivier had his first email list of about 300 subscribers, his most loyal fans, which he used to do an internal launch of a training program on how to start a business. After the launch he had a 3,000 euros a month income stream, charging 47 euros for a standard training program and 97 euros a month for the premium program with extra training. Three months later, after connecting with various French bloggers and other contacts, and recruiting some of them as affiliates, he did a full public launch, including videos, generating a 14,000 euros a month revenue stream.
Can You Target A Non-English Market?
Despite Olivier’s thick accent I know you will enjoy his story in this interview, even if you are an English marketer.
It will especially inspire you if you have the ability to produce content in another language. Languages with significant Internet presence, such as German, Spanish, French, Japanese, Korean and Russian, etc, present some significant opportunities. You could become a leader in your language, and enjoy some nice profits as a result.
Enjoy the Interview!
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Truly inspiring! It keeps me motivated to think big and keep making the progress. Japanese is my first language but have not looked in that area when it comes to blogging. I need to brush up on my Japanese!
Also the lesson here is procrastination always holds you down. Take action and results begin to appear!
Thanks for this great post!
I don’t know. I blog about Japanese language in Russian and have to say the results are less than what I expected. People sign up for the free lessons happily, thank me for them a lot but don’t buy anything. Maybe I do something wrong, I don’t know. But I started to doubt the success in that niche, at least when it comes to such a rare language 🙁
I am happy to know people start to speak Japanese with my help but I would like to start selling more than one copy of the textbook a month.
Nobody is going to help her?
I feel sorry for her, and I wish I had the answer to he problem. I feel like her, I help people, but get nothing in return.
In any case, good luck Anastasia!
I agree. Olivier Roland is without a doubt a model to follow, an inspiration for all of us.
It’s great to see a french entrepreneur here for french people like me 😉
Olivier starts to be famous now into the french blogosphere and his journey is really great.
Thanks to both of you for this interview.
Being able to blog fluently in other languages definitely gives you a good advantage over other bloggers.
But even though the competition in non-English markets is much less, I think some non-English markets provide less of an opportunity to bloggers. Some of those markets don’t really purchase things online… Maybe they don’t really use credit cards? Might need to make use of other monetization streams
But some markets are booming to purchase stuff from you. 🙂
Allen, that’s right, some market provide less opportunities than others, and some doesn’t really use credit cards.
For example, as incredible it seems to be, nationals of Morocco couldn’t use a credit card to buy things on the Internet before 2011. Now they can, but only about $ 1300 a year, not more.
But I think for most of non-English markets, the opportunities are simply enormous. And you have an advantage : you can have a lot of ideas just by looking at what is happening and have success in the English market, and see if you can replicate it in your local market 🙂
Very nice and inspiring interview!
I know his blogs and read them from time to time. He is doing a great job, I really enjoy.
Also he released recently a very cool ebook that I’ve read two times. It contains plenty of tips/tricks and help lot of french bloggers.
Thanks Olivier for the great job. Thanks Yaro for thinking to share this kind of inspiring interviews.
Hello Elwaly, I’m happy that you like my book ! 😉
There is a bug on your website Yaro, we are not the 11 January but we are the 10.
You might want to have a look at Australia’s timezone, Yoann, you’d be surprised !
My blog exists in the future Yoann…
That and I am in Australia 🙂
I am pretty good in English, so I was thinking about creating my first blog in English. However I am Italian and I am far better in Italian than English ;-). So, after some market research, I started my blog about photography. I’m not yet monetizing it, since it is too young, but stories like this one are inspiring.
I am curious about one thing:
is it “legal” to create your business around a blog which is only the translation of another one? How successful can it be? Could it be a good idea to create a sort of joint venture with the original blogger?
ZenHabits has an “uncopyright” policy, so you can use Leo’s work however you like. Most sites don’t have this policy though, so you should check what their copyright is and ask before doing anything.
Oh shit ! I was right but confuse that is there any possibilities to be famous in your native language but after reading about Olivier I am in the mood of not escaping the domain I have targeted to my country readers who speaks Hindi and that’s more beneficial if it is the second largest populated country India.
A very interesting point! As a typical American, I can sometime go for days at a time without even acknowledging that there are languages other than English (and programming languages.) It’s an interesting idea that, perhaps, you could hire an outsourcer to maintain a version of your site in a different language. Definitely something to think on… hmm.
Thank you very much for this great post + MP3. After thinking a lot (= procrastinating …) about wether to start an english or a german blog, I could finally make my decision. Just installed my new blog – and it’s going to be a german one :).
You make a great point. I am not fluent in another language other than English but I have a friend who lives in Germany. She has been asking me the same question should I go German or English. I went with both. I said she could have two sites and have them mirror each other. But I failed to think of the great capability she had to dominate in the German market. I am assuming seo is the same across the board. So she really would have an advantage.
It is true that writing in other languages helps readers, but still English is the language spoken by the majority of internet users.
However, even people with some knowledge of English (and in Greece that’s a huge number) just avoid reading english websites and blogs unless it is something that they really want ot learn about.
I do have a question though: I was thinking of translating some of ZEN’s articles (and not only) but how do you get around to that? What i mean is do you have to ask the owner or can you just translate and attribute the source to the writer?
Of course that is the difficulty of translating posts like ZEN, you can’t just translate the words but the essence of the post. That means that you really need to have two mother tongues!
Good luck down there!
I wish I could speak multiple languages. Definitely opens doors.
Olivier is one of the great inspiring stories of the French-speaking Web.
I think the most interesting thing about him is that he’s always ready to challenge the statu quo in a way that brings value to his reader.
It’s great to see him interviewed here.
Thanks for all yours comments 😉
Some precisions that I want to bring :
– I counted the number of articles I wrote in the 1st and 2nd year, and it was a little more than 1 per week (the number I said in the interview). 1st year I wrote an average of 1.6 articles per week, and second year 1.4 . The point is you don’t have to write 5 articles a week to succeed with your blog, if others things are right.
– “Agir et Réussir”, the name of my product, doesn’t mean “Act and Success” but “Act and Succeed” or “Act and Win” 😉
Some of those markets don’t really purchase things online
I am a big fan of sponsored posts and I am probably one of a handful of bloggers who writes some of his posts in Spanish. There is a network that offer sponsored posts in Spanish, I learnt how to speak it very quickly when money was on the table. 😀
English is the number one language in the world! But it is possible to be a problogger writing in another language! Well, it’s not my case, but take a look at http://dinheirooportunidade.com and you’ll see a portuguese problogger.
Hello Yaro this is really inspire me. thank you for providing this audio. I will listen again and again. thank you again!
this is a great question, one i have often pondered. i speak four languages, with English being the fourth . . .
i keep asking myself, what will make my blog ( in another language ) stand out more so. in the end it is the content – because most people globally understand / can read English.
the idea sounds good (i.e. imagine a blog written in Tagalog – Filipino or Hindi – Indian), but why is it so different? is it mainly the language factor and that it is something different compared to the norm?
what are your thoughts on this?
Do yo know if a community for non-English bloggers (or for people making a living online) exists?
Should we create it?
Is English not popular because to put it bluntly, nearly the population of nearly every western speaking English country classes a computer as an essential item to have? Technology is at the forefront where as in other countries, they are perhaps ten, twenty years behind. Maybe in the future, there is a void for sites in other languages. Saying that I have seen a lot more sites in Chinese.
Félicitation à Olivier. Un bel exemple à suivre.
1. Olivier could do it in French and is earning a great living. But..what if he had done this in english. How much would he be earning now. On one hand, in non english markets you have lower competition, but it’s all much work: almost no bloggers for $ community, no products, no affiliate networks to leverage your product, best traffic generation system are 100% english only , etc…
2. English speaking markets are getting crowded, and a natural fresh income flow could come from internationalization. To YaroÇ: are you thinking about ways to resell your programs for non english speaking market….or it’s simply too early at these stage. That could be a nice passive income flow
It’s a good interview !
How do you think about the formation Blog Mastermind ?
Do you advice this formation for a french blogger ?
I think that this topic is very important. I’m not a native English speaker, but I blog in English.
On the other hand, there are other huge markets out there, that are non-English based (Russian, French, Germany, Chinese …) and I believe that there are many possibilities in those as well.
Good for you Olivier! I am truly happy to see you here with the great Yaro. Your hard work has paid back and I believe it is just the beginning. Keep leading us as members of the French blogger community. 😉
Thank you Yaro for this great interview! Though the English speaking market is a leading market I think it is possible to start an online business in other languages. The best example is Olivier who is a successful French blogger and entrepreneur.
Olivier, je vous souhaite beaucoup de réussite et bonne continuation!
As I am a German native speaker I started my first blog in German. Then I decided to start a blog in English. I grew up bilingually so English is my second language. I studied French at school but I would never dare to write a French blog as my French isn’t that perfect.
I think the best is to try out a blog in English and in addition to that start a blog in your mother tongue. Then you will see which one works best.
Best regards from Germany,
I’ve been thinking about this topic for a long time. I guess the question is, for the number of people who would be spending money online anyway, what percentage of those already speak english (as a foreign language) fluently? I suppose having something in their native language might make them feel more comfortable buying anyway.
Merci pour cette interview grande comme d’habitude.
Hopefully, Olivier will chime in and correct me if I butchered the french language a bit.
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very inspiring indeed!
though its difficult to understand the accent, but i can sense the happiness and enthusiasism in Olivier’s voice..so that’s sufficient for motivation.
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Getting on Time blog-post. Usually I also write in my mother-tongue Gujarati. In fact I saw more popularity in my language after getting wonderful and flexible facilities from Google’s transliteration (www.google.com/transliterat) service. Where we can write almost 24 languages in its script.
We have huge potentiality in writing in our language. As it gives us more freedom and open thoughts for the target audience.
That was a really great podcast Yaro and I learned quite a lot from Olivier.
I had visited his book site in the past.
Reading his success is quite inspiring.
Thanks Olivier for the great job. Thanks Yaro for thinking to share this kind of inspiring interviews.
Really inspiring for any beginner in online business or blogger.
However, I noticed that the translation was mistaken: “des-livres-pour-changer-de-vie.fr” is in English: “Books For Changiong Life”