So you have decided that you want to start your own online business as a language teacher. You may have already bought a domain and web space, made yourself familiar with some WordPress basics, bought a nice-looking theme ….. but no content yet.
The blank screen syndrome
You stare at your screen and try to think of something unique to write about. You start typing, you hesitate …. and start thinking again:
- Hasn’t that been written by someone much more knowledgeable than me?
- I’m a teacher, not a writer. My texts will sound dull.
- Which language should I use? English or the language I teach and which my students learn?
- How will I come up with enough ideas to publish new articles regularly?
- I’m afraid to repeat myself
Let’s address these points one by one so that we can find an answer to our initial question: “How can I create unique content as a language teacher?”
Is there such thing as unique content?
If you just look at facts, then there isn’t. All grammar rules, all synonyms, all idiomatic expressions, answers to all the reasons to learn the language you teach can be found somewhere in the depths of the world wide web.
A blog is more than just facts
But writing a blog isn’t just facts. There’s a person behind each blog and that’s you. You have a unique personality, you have a unique way to address your readers and express yourself. And all that makes your content unique.
You know this from real life. Some people love to listen to your ideas and discuss opinions with you, others find you boring. You’re just not their cup of tea. It will be no different with your blog.
What kind of blogs do you like?
I mean, think about it for a while. What are the blogs that you like to read? Those who just provide facts or those where you feel you have something in common with the person who writes it? Sure, you will read blog articles because you need certain information but will you follow those blogs? Probably not unless the article made you curious about the person behind the blog.
I’m not a good writer
Well, you decided to start a blog so you probably don’t disrelish writing completely. You probably won’t win the next Nobel Prize for Literature, either. Don’t make it complicated.
I had my first blogs some years ago. One was like a diary, on the other one, I shared information about the Czech Republic. Both were terrible. The first one was self-centered and the second one was a dull sequence of facts.
Address your reader directly
At that time, I simply didn’t know that it’s best to address your audience directly. That I should use more “you” and “I”. That doesn’t only make the text more appealing to the reader, it also facilitates writing.
Practice makes perfect
And the more you write, you better you will become. It won’t happen overnight but it’s the same like with any other skill: Practice makes perfect. It’s very likely that you will feel embarrassed when you read your first blog post again after three years. So what?
Avoid spelling and grammar mistakes
However, try to avoid spelling and grammar mistakes. Especially when you target readers are people who learn that language you’re teaching and you write in that language. In that case, you should double-check every sentence.
The last point leads us to the next problem.
Which language should I use?
If you’re a Spanish teacher and want to address beginners from all over the world, it’s not the wisest idea to write long blog posts in Spanish.
Who are your readers?
My Do you speak Deutsch blog targets intermediate German speakers who want to become fluent. When I started, I really wasn’t sure whether I should write in German or English. I opted for German and after a while, I asked my readers to take part in a survey where I asked them. About 70% of the participants (the survey questions were written in English and German) wanted German blog articles and newsletters and I realized that it made sense.
Writing in English although it’s not your native language
If English is not your native language, you may worry whether your English is good enough. Well, the more often you use it, the better it will become! You can use Grammarly to help you with spelling, grammar and punctuation. Veronika Pavlovska wrote a great article on how to really use Grammarly which you can read here.
How will I come up with enough ideas to publish new articles regularly?
The fear that you will run out of ideas for good and interesting blog articles is understandable but without cause. It occurs because you think too general and wish to cover a broad topic in one article. Perhaps you have a dozen of those broad topics in your head and that makes you think you won’t be able to come up with new ideas after you have written 12 articles.
Narrow down your topic
I still stumble into that pitfall, too. Last week I decided to write an article about plateau phases in language learning and how to overcome them. I took some notes and did some research on the internet. I soon realized that my topic was much too broad. Now, there’ll be an article series about overcoming plateaus.
Use mind maps
You can use mind maps to break your initial topic into sections. That will help you to put your thoughts in order. You’ll be surprised how long your list of future blog articles will be after you’ve done that.
I’m afraid to repeat myself
A blog is a work in progress, it’s not a book (though you may consider to turn some of your best blog articles into a book one day). That implies that you get new readers all the time and most of them won’t read your complete blog (because it’s not a book that you read from the beginning to the end). It also implies that you advance as a writer and as a teacher. You gain new knowledge every single day.
Don’t be afraid of repeating yourself
The more you narrow down your niche, the more you will repeat yourself – but not in a negative way. It means that you will highlight your reader’s problems in different and more sophisticated ways. Someone who does this with perfection is Elena Mutonono.
I hope this article encouraged you to just get started with your blog and trust yourself that you will be able to create useful and unique content for your readers.
Are you a language teacher? Please leave me a link to your blog in the comments.