Going West by Mark Powers

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Chinese website

My English blog doesn't get even a tenth of the attention or viewers my Chinese blog does today. I remember a few years ago the reaction people had when I just had an English blog about my life in China. A Chinese girl asked to see my blog and I gave her the web address. She said it looked nice but everything was in English and she felt it was too tiring to try and read it. Which left me sorely disappointed. 

I am sure there are some Chinese who enjoy reading in English, but I learned something very important from that girl's reaction. First, Chinese people are quite interested in foreigners, but reading English can tiresome for them. I can completely understand this and have the same feelings about reading in Chinese. I am interested, but reading a Chinese newspaper article or blog can quickly drain a lot of mental energy.  

I wanted to reach a Chinese audience with my websites, so I decided the best way to do it was to try and write a blog in Chinese. I took my first shot with a website called Xiaoxitian "Little Western Heaven" which was the name of the community I lived in, in Beijing. I created a nice background, added pictures, and did my best to explain a little about my life and the community.

The reaction from Chinese readers was not what I expected, but positive. I was concerned my poor writing would be a big turn off. But on the contrary, Chinese didn't seem to mind my Chinese writing, and seemed anxious to help me improve. Additionally, they said they really liked my unique perspective and thought my writing was funny and cute (maybe cute in the sense that my writing was more like a child's than an adult). Anyway, the reaction was very positive. However, one big problem at that time was the long load-up time in China of web pages from web servers in the US. Normally, a website should load up within a few seconds, but from servers in the US, load-up times in China could take 30 seconds or more, which made people give up rather than wait. I fortunately overcame this problem by finding a local web host in China, and www.getpowers.net was born. The Chinese you see there actually says De-dao Li-liang, which means "Get Powers" in Chinese. Below that it says, "A blog written in Chinese by a foreign friend" 

There were more twists and turn to the story, and the website still needed (and still needs) a lot of work. But average daily viewership has hit a few dozen a day in China, which I truly believe could just be the beginning. 

There are plenty of videos, music, and one-time articles made by foreigners using Chinese, but I have scoured the web for other blogs written in Chinese by foreigners and there are very very few. Most have either stopped or write rarely. I was surprised to discover the prime minister of Australia (a former diplomat to China) speaks perfect Chinese, he's quite amazing. 

My goal is to keep writing and promoting my website. I just love how the web can leverage one man's work to reach so many 24 hours a day. I think that is the big attraction of the Internet for me. The ability of one person to reach so many in time and space, to be so accessible, to reach such a broad audience, so quickly. 

When I realized a few years ago while living in China how often I would be asked the same questions, and found myself repeating the same answers again and again, I knew there was interest, but not enough of me. I only have a limited time in a day, a limited amount of voice to talk with before I go hoarse, a limited amount of energy, and a need to make money somehow. The Internet leverages your time and energy a seemingly infinite amount. 

我在食堂So my dream of a web-based business was born. Of course its still in development, but I have hope that with continued work, good things will happen. Since I have returned to China, I have been able to promote my site further and write more content relevant to Chinese, and have seen a boost in the number of viewers and hits. Time will tell how things go. If you are interested to read what I write about on my Chinese blog, but can't read Chinese, there is a Google Translate tool on the webpage that allows you to change it to English instantly. 



Post a Comment

<< Home


Pick my brain

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner