How to start a foreign language channel: step-by-step

Translating your content into a foreign language is no longer just a fancy luxury enjoyed by the biggest YouTube channels, it is slowly becoming a reality and a savvy investment for a lot of smaller creators as well.

People all around the world are looking for great content, so you should be aiming to make it as accessible for them as possible and provide them with the most comfortable watching experience by sporting a brand new localized channel.

Whether you decide to hire someone to do it for you or you are willing to put in the work yourself, there is quite a lot to be done, but luckily we have broken down all the steps for you!

  1. Select the right videos

In a perfect world you would translate all of your content, but let’s not kid ourselves — the amount of work and the cost of it can be a little bit overwhelming.

For the launch of your channel you should be translating around 10 videos that went through a strict selection process.

What you should be looking for are your all-time best performing videos, the bangers that are going to make someone go down the rabbit hole and watch all the videos on your channel.

Remember — views are not everything, make sure to look at the average view duration, likes to dislikes ratio, number of comments, user engagement and shares.

Don’t forget about the “Wow!” factor — look deeper for more “human” metrics, is the video trendy or slightly provocative? Does it relate to current events? Statistically your best video can be something from 2019, like a detailed breakdown of The Game of Thrones finale, but if someone watches that in 2021 they could be more like The Game of What? — “Ain’t nobody got no time for that”.

2. Transcribe the video

This is probably the easiest and the most mundane task on the list. The good news is — it’s doable by literally everyone. If you already have a script that you followed in your videos it should make this process a breeze, well if you don’t then sit down and produce a transcribed version of your video. Try to be very precise and do not omit anything, this will serve as a base for all the future steps, so as boring as it might look like, there is no going forward without it. Remember that sometimes we say things without words, so it might be a good idea to put in notes for meaningful pauses, sighs and every other sound you think adds something to the context.

3. Translate the script

If you are bi-lingual you might want to give it a shot yourself, but you are probably better off having a professional translator take care of this. Ideally you could find someone that could work as both a writer and a translator (although that could be a pretty rare feat). Having the content translated is one thing, but a true writer will elevate your localized content to another level. We have already established that half-doing this is not going to work, so if you really want all the nuances captured you will need someone to help you with that. Also, a writer will enhance the script by using the correct, current slang that will resonate with your target audience as well as make sure the flow of the script is correct.

4. Translate everything else

It would be a good idea to have the translator work on all the other elements of the video — all the graphics, texts and descriptions to make your new audience feel at home. Leave no stone unturned and go all in, make sure everything is translated, do not forget about meta-data and thumbnails.

An example of full localization of all the elements by Evan Carmichael’s Spanish YouTube channel.

5. Hire the right dubbing studio

Do your research and reach out to multiple vendors in your target country to make sure you find a perfect fit. Go with a studio with a proven track record to ensure good quality of dubbing. Responsiveness and turnaround time are also important factors to consider. Smaller studios still trying to break out will probably offer a free demo if you ask nicely. Bigger studios will at least send you their roster of available talent and voice samples to choose from.

If it’s within your budget it’s a great idea to go with voice actors with regional recognition. You would be surprised but it’s not impossible to secure voices of Marvel or Disney characters in most of the countries. As much as acting is glamourous on paper, it’s real and steady gigs like dubbing your content that pay actors’ bills. Unless you are an A-list celebrity, you don’t really refuse any paid work as an actor after years of starving for employment in the field.

One of unilingo’s partners in Latin America steadily supplies us with top-tier talent and our customers enjoy their content being dubbed by voice actors who also became official voices for Spider-man, Black Panther, Hulk and many others!

What’s really great about getting talent with established recognition is that they already have a substantial following of their own and if there’s one thing true about actors, they sure love to showcase their work, so you can count on being tagged in their social media videos.

6. Edit the video and upload it

If you are editing your own videos make sure you have a native speaker to help you put everything together. If you are outsourcing the editing choose an editor from your target country to ensure everything is done properly and the timing and all the nuances are captured.

7. Engage with your new audience and promote the channel

Show your new fans that you really care and respond to as many comments as possible. It might be a good idea to hire a part-time channel manager who speaks the language and will be able to bring the engagement to a whole new level. Audience engagement is very important in the early days of the channel to generate buzz, more shares and bolster organic growth.

For the final touch ask the translator to help you with all the marketing materials that you might want to use — channel’s new banner, community tab posts on YouTube and any other social media resources you use on a regular basis.

The best thing you can do is give your new channel a shoutout on your main channel, whether it’s a separate promo video or just a quick mention at the end of your most recent video, it is going to help tremendously to bring your old fans who speak the language to your new channel.

The ultimate cool thing you can do is to learn a few phrases in the chosen language and say them to your new fans! Yes, you will probably horribly butcher your pronunciation, but think how much people will appreciate your efforts and it will definitely bring people to the new channel.

Fan: “I am very grateful for the great team behind all this work, and even more so for the translation team” Creator: “Thank you very much Armando for appreciating our work to bring you the best content in Spanish”

8. Analyze and improve

Listen to the feedback from your audience, maybe the actor that was casted did not do an amazing job and people do not resonate with him. Perhaps the dialect that was chosen doesn’t sit well with most people, so try to do some A/B testing to determine which accent and dialect works best. Maybe the writer didn’t do such a good job and some of the writing sounds corny or lame? All the knowledge you need will be in the comment section and the analytics, use it wisely! (also, it’s free!)

Good job, you did it!

Your new channel is set up for success and you can watch your new baby grow, slowly generate more and more ad revenue and open up new brand partnership opportunities.

As with every baby, remember, it needs constant attention and nurturing to ensure proper growth.

If going through the steps seems a little overwhelming, don’t worry, unilingo has mastered all the steps and put them together in an easy service with transparent pricing that provides you with all the benefits and no headaches.

If you enjoyed this read, check out our YouTube channel for more helpful tips on how to localize your content.

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