The Importance of Being Earnest, In English—A Content Buyer’s Guide

Your small business is looking at cheaper English writers overseas to fill its content needs. These foreign English content writers make big claims about polished and grammatically flawless products. I won’t argue against that, because there are plenty of “grammatically flawless,” “native” English writers in such places as India and South Africa. Many of which will scramble and beg for your business. But ask yourself these questions first:

  • What exactly is a “native” English speaker?
  • How does your foreign writer reach your target audience when he or she is not familiar with the demographic?
  • Do that writer’s values, style and objectivity reflect the culture your business sells?

Don’t underestimate the aptitude and social fluency of your audience—especially an audience as socially literate as the kind living in modern, industrialized countries.

Literacy ain’t just good grammar

Every language is loaded with idioms and concepts that are particular to the place it is being spoken and written. Objects, concepts and ideas, sometimes referred to by linguists collectively as the “social stock of knowledge,” are inextricably attached to language structures like words and phrases. So that you get the best product, your writer needs to be highly literate and dexterous in the target language. They need to be familiar with the place to which the writing will be marketed.

In advanced, industrialized countries there are many different types of professions. Every different field of expertise, from car mechanics to brain surgery, comes with its own unique stock-knowledge. English content writers born and raised in advanced industrialized societies will always be, on the whole, more adroit and efficient when it comes time to master and apply professional jargon. Rarely will you find an overseas writer capable of both dealing in professional slang and constructing a piece of writing that is communicative and persuasive.

You may find many perfectly eloquent writers overseas, but none will strike a consonant note with your audience quite like an English writer from a highly literate, industrialized society like the United States.

How else can we say it?

In other words, natives will always be more conversant and knowledgeable about the world they are part and parcel. Ask a non-native speaker to give you variations on the word car. I’ll give you three before I take another swill of this venti, non-fat, triple-shot cappuccino I have before me: lorry, automobile, motorcar, vehicle, jalopy, and clunker.

Because English is the commanding language of the modern world, the world of high-tech education and business, the non-English speaking world is in frenzy to learn. South Korea, a technologically advanced but non-English speaking society, is practically running out of visa paper to print new visas for the 22,000+ foreign-national English teachers it hosts every year. However, very few Korean students will ever speak English like John Doe dwelling in Denver or Delaware (or carelessly stimulate you so precisely with literary devices like alliteration).

Second Language Writers Speak Volumes, Scribble in Starts and Fits

I was an English teacher with the US Peace Corps in a small, non-English speaking country that was once a Soviet Socialist Republic. It was a minimum requirement I become conversational in the local language. After three months of language and cross-cultural training, I understood my new language was bit unusual compared to the one I was raised in. Here are a few examples:

a.) There is no future tense to speak of.

b.) The adverb now, usually understood by Westerners to mean ‘now’ as in, ‘right now,’ actually meant ‘maybe in five minutes,’ ‘surely in the next fortnight’ and ‘chill out and drink more tea.’

c.) There is a dedicated verb tense for when the unexpected happens. You could reasonably expect to utilize this marvelously opaque tense on a daily basis.

Second languages are not simply a matter of repetition and diligence. To really communicate, one must understand the values of the target language’s culture (or is it the target culture’s language?).

If you are thinking offshoring your English content needs, you may get concision, logic and fluidity, but don’t be surprised if it lacks the all-important aspects of tone and delivery. Those grow out of the supernatural sixth-sense that only an American writer is endowed with.

Google’s Latest Panda Update Will Penalize Duplicate Content

From now on, Google’s search engine will equate duplicate content with inferior content. For businesses and content providers alike, gone are the days of content duplication across multiple websites.

For example, if you own a small business that runs multiple websites with similar services or products, Google will regard them as less relevant and place them lower on the search engine result totem pole. Plainly, duplicate content is bad for business. Wholesale content providing of this sort is over.

For your writing needs, nothing is as cost-effective as buying American

The ability of a compatriot, English writer to argue, punctuate and expound upon a diverse subject matter is what ultimately sells. Quite literally, in this case, buying American guarantees a higher writing standard that offers commensurate intelligibility, fluency and articulation befitting your audience. Without any one of these elements, you risk losing a client because a foreigner called an intellectually challenged person “thick as thief.” Buy American.


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Amie Marse is the founder of Content Equals Money. She lives in Lexington, KY with her two dogs: Billie and Lily. She has been writing content for her web based clients since 2005. She launched Content Equals Money in Oct of 2010, home of conversion focused content writing services. She loves to chat about small business development and how to make content equal money!

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    1. What a well written and informative post. Ian does a great job of articulating the issues while incorporating his background and experiences in the Peace Corps. Capturing the right  tone, voice and vernacular is essential for copy to be successful at its intended purpose, whether it is to educate, entertain, persuade, inspire, motivate, etc. Having someone who truly “speaks your language” is essential, and this post illustrates why.

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