In 2012, my company began rapidly expanding internationally, and we decided that in order to grow successfully and authentically, we needed to localize (translate) our app. A key part of my role is establishing and maintaining the voice of all of our communications, so the task of finding, hiring and managing writers/translators to localize content fell to me.
One of my favorite things about my job – and what made this task so particularly challenging – is that we have a very unique voice. Our language is rife with cultural references, colloquialisms and snark, and I needed to find people who could maintain that tone – not just translate but transform it into culturally-relevant and compelling content in French, Italian, German and Spanish.
I only speak English.
I honestly wasn’t sure I could pull it off. It can be difficult enough to find those “perfect-fit” writers in English, but when you don’t speak or read the language you’re hiring someone to write in, the task is particularly daunting. And I’d never taken on something this big before – sure, I’d hired freelancers and managed projects in the past, but localizing an entire, content-heavy app under a tight timeline is a massive undertaking. Not only were we dealing with different languages, we also had to deal with different currencies and time zones and a variety of content tools and personalities.
We could have gone the easier, safer route by hiring a translation service, but we felt this would come at the expense of the voice we’d worked so hard to maintain. I knew localizing the content in-house was absolutely the right decision, and I was excited and terrified at the same time.
But I went for it. I did a massive amount of research to find the right places to post the job descriptions for each country. I screened hundreds of resumes and writing samples. I had to lean on multilingual colleagues and friends, and ask for a lot more help than I’m used to – or generally comfortable with – asking for. I did all of it while still keeping up with my ever-growing list of other responsibilities; it’s amazing how you just power through when there’s a goal in sight. I didn’t give up, even when it got hard, because I knew the end result would be so worth it. And it was.
I learned a lot along the way – how long managing people and processes can take, how to more efficiently budget my time and how to ask for help and support when I need it. And I learned a lot about myself: that I’m capable of pushing myself harder than I thought to achieve goals I never thought I could manage. I’m so proud when I look at the app and see it in multiple countries and languages, and I’m much more confident now when given responsibilities I might have previously thought were out of my reach.