It's coming up on a year since I started working on Ways We Work in a more full-time capacity. It's also been a year since Matt joined the project. So we figured we were due for a good sit down to reflect on what we've done and where we want to go. Matt and I obviously talk regularly about the site and are constantly working on different things but we wanted to really dig deep into how we're both feeling after the last year, what we've tried, what has worked and what has flat out failed. So we got together this week at a local coffee shop, recorded ourselves interviewing each other and took some photos of us talking with our hands.
In the last year we've done over 10 features on teams like Facebook, Medium, Photojojo, Bloc, Thoughtbot, Pivotal Labs and Igloo. We've interviewed 50+ people and experimented with a ton of things behind the scenes to keep Ways We Work alive and thriving. While we'd like to share our own experiences more often that usually becomes less of a priority with everything else we're working on. But, we're here now to share everything we've tried and learned over the last year and what it's like working on Ways We Work. We've had a few successes with weekly sponsorships, larger sponsorships, we spent a few months exploring a video series that didn't work out, we spent a couple months exploring the idea of becoming a recruiting platform and we even tried our hand at advertorial content. And while we're still learning, what has come out of the last year is that we both understand exactly what we want and what we need to continue growing Ways We Work.
We want to produce engaging content focused around how people do the work they love. We want to become a resource for people who are figuring out what work they find meaningful and how they can pursue it, and we want to partner with others who support that goal.
Matt: It’s been a year since we partnered up and you’ve got a year under your belt now of doing Ways We Work mostly full-time. Can you give us the general view of what the year has been like?
Amandah: It’s been strange, that’s the best way to describe it. It’s certainly been a series of ups and downs. The entire year has been trying to find the balance of pursuing creative freedom while also being able to financially sustain myself, and Ways We Work. It’s been about trying different things, and going step-by-step. I think it’s strange to hit the one year mark because this was never the plan, I mean none of it was planned. I just love doing this so much that I want to keep doing it, however I can. That’s the motivation. As many times as I’ve thought “I should really get a job or do something more steady for income,” it feels like giving up. Despite how many moments I’ve had where I feel like I want to give up, I really don’t. I sometimes think that most reasonable people would have by now [laughs]. In my mind, I have to try everything before I do that.
Amandah: It’s been a year since you joined the project, I’d love to hear what you’ve learned in this last year?
Matt: I’ve learned, or more confirmed, that these projects are really challenging. They're really hard and if you put pressures on them that they're not able to handle or you put expectations on them that maybe aren't fair, they can start to crumble. I've done a number of projects and the ones that succeed are the ones that just have this life to them. No matter what happens, you just keep going and going and you love the process and the core of it stays true to itself. Whereas the projects that fail are the ones that get too business too fast. Expectations ramp up and pressures are placed upon the project that ultimately buckle it in on itself because it's just not ready to hold what it's been made to hold. The dream scenario is expected to happen too fast or something. I've had that happen a few times where if the dream scenario isn’t met right away and the team gets impatient, the project fails. I'm super careful about that now.
What I've learned over the past year is that I completely fell in love with the project and I love everything about it and it's offered me some really great experiences and unique opportunities. What I've learned to do is just to not place expectations on that are too large because if I do, I know what happens; things start getting out of alignment. When I do these projects I try and do them with a humble attitude, or try not to make unrealistic expectations. As soon as I put them up there, I get into the wrong head space. I remind myself that I need enjoy the process of making content and have a vision and of what I want to see happen and then, however fast it goes, just ride the wave.
Looking back, last summer, we were like, "No, let's just be a publication. We're a community and we're small." Then we were like, "No, we've got to make money." And, "Let's be this big thing, this big platform." Then we were like, "We don't want to get VC money and be a platform." Then we stepped back and asked, "Okay, let's really think about this. What do we actually want to be?" It's good, I think, that we zig and zag because we test the waters along the way and get a better understanding of what we actually want out of our careers.