How COVID-19 Has Translators Working on New Content

Here's what translators have been working on over the last few weeks.

Matt Grech

Matt Grech

Content Marketing ManagerSmartling

Everyday, translators breathe life into content to help move the world with words. It is their translations that connect communities, families and businesses around the world, across languages.

Right now when the world is turning to digital experiences, translation has become more important than ever. Yet at the same time, many businesses are experiencing completely new challenges and setbacks.

On one hand, there is a clear need for translation, yet on the, there is also a clear decrease in demand for certain experiences and service. With all the disruption surrounding COVID-19, we were curious to learn how translators have been adapting.

Still translating, different content

The current situation has clearly led to a change in demand. There has been a decrease in demand for some major industries, like Hospitality and Travel, meanwhile a massive boost for others like eCommerce and digital services.

So it would make sense that while some brands are translating more than ever before, others are translating far less than usual. We wouldn't expect to see a major airline translating their marketing content, for example. But that doesn't mean they won't be translating at all. These brands still need to get messages out to their customers and clients, and therefore will have new content to translate.

And, of course, a smore and more people turn to digital services and eCommerce continues to boom, there will be a continued need for the translation of this content.

So, while it might inheritably feel like there will be less demand for translation, the reality is there may actually be an increase in demand, and a shift in the content.

In fact, that's what our translators had to say, as well.

Hear it from the translators

I reached out to a number of translators that we had previously featured in our book. Right away, the good news is that they're all doing well! But, like everywhere else in the world, typical life has come to a halt.

Except for translation -- they're still translating, that's for sure.


oana-small Oana's still busy, translating away on all different types of content for different clients.

"Mostly marketing copy as usual, like blogs, emails, and website content. But I'm also working on updates regarding different policies all related to the uncertain period we're going through. Things like like refunding and exchanging services, account cancellation, or pausing accounts, rollout credits, and. temporary service interruption notices. Content related to green behaviours also seems to become more than ever a priority for some companies, which is great news!"

Of course, Oana's seen a change in demand, but maybe not what you'd expect.

"For me, March was just about as busy as the six months or so prior to COVID-19. Slightly less work than March 2019, but quite consistent with the second half of 2019, for instance. The economic impact of this public health crisis promises to be tremendous, so I expect a shift in the demand for translation. Not sure of the direction though. Some believe this crisis will change our world permanently. We will not stop communicating though. The need to cooperate seems more obvious than ever"


vanina Vanina typically translates medical and technical documentation , and certainly has had no shortage of work.

"I have been translating and working a lot, I can say I have my regular workload. I have not noticed a reduction in my normal work, but this is my personal situation. I cannot say it is what is happing to most people, but, luckily, my workflow has been continuous."

But she's been working mostly on notices and advice regarding COVID-19, as opposed to her typical work.

"For example, one Smartling customer changed a bit its content. It is more aimed at this situation we are all experiencing, like advices, official guidelines, etc."


daniel-small Daniel typically translates for eCommerce, technology and travel, and has definitely noticed the impact that COVID-19 is having on these industries in particular -- but with most brands still translating.

"Among these sectors, travel has obviously been the most affected, since all but non-essential travel has been brought to a halt. However, not all activity has stopped, since many companies within the sector are using this time to update some content and also to continue communicating with their customers, so this content still needs to be translated."

He has noticed a significant shift in the content he's been working on, particularly with Travel and Hospitality brands.

"It has been a bit of everything: from announcements explaining the measures that certain companies are taking to protect their staff and clients, to companies telling users how their product can help them during the outbreak to communicate effectively with customers, to help vulnerable people, to move their work from an office to an online setting."

Yet despite everything going on, Daniel has had more work than before.

"The number of translations for companies offering digital services has stayed the same or even increased slightly. Many companies need to adapt to the new circumstances and therefore they must increase their online presence or move their business online."


teresa-small For the month of April, Teresa has been working closely with one brand on translating their marketing content as a top priority. But, like Daniel, she's also seen some of the other brands she works with transition to more information-based content.

"I was working with a client from the tourism sector and we needed to inform their travellers about possible changes in regards to COVID-19. Everything had to happen quickly and a lot of content had to be changed hourly almost, since things were moving so quickly. It was a very intense time, everybody was nervous, we didn't know how to treat this new virus that was suddenly all over the place."

Her interpretation work has changed, as well, introducing some new challenges to the craft:

"All direct and person to person interpreting work is paused. My agency offers telephone interpreting to their clients, which I do sometimes. But to be honest, it is not the same. The connection can be bad or interrupted, you can't read the client's mouth while he talks and you need to be very concentrated to not make any mistakes. It is doable, but I will be so happy to be able to drive to the clients again and be there in person."

Overall, Teresa is still translating despite the disruption.

"Business is slower at the moment, for sure. But I am thankful to have some of my clients who are still localizing content and are not affected by it as much, especially my eCommerce clients"


gabriela Normally, Gabriela splits her time between local translations in Argentine, where there is a shortage of translation companies, and international clients mostly in the Healthcare and Medical fields. She's felt the impact quite differently on both fronts:

"The work for local clients is completely halted. I think I only did one or two jobs since this started. On the contrary, my international clients have kept me super busy (Thanks God!). Healthcare and medical translations are booming, but also those related to customer service and online solutions."

But in April, she'll be working on helping brands refresh some of their already existing content, and has even been taking on some new projects.

"Most of the content I have for April now are either daily updates to existing websites or new content on COVID-19 or updates relating to the pandemic. In March, however, I translated a travelers’ website for New Orleans and it was such a pleasure!"

Translators are keeping our world connected

I think Oana said it best: we will never cease communication. There will always be a need to connect and communicate, and there will always be a need for translation to drive those connecitons.

If the situation we find ourselves in has taught us anything, its the power of language and human connection -- a connection that has only become ever more important.

Thankfully, we still have amazing translators to keep us connected, and move the world with words.