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AMA: Amandah Wood, Founder and Editor of Ways We Work

over 4 years ago from , Founder at Ways We Work

Hey friends!

I’m Amandah - Founder & Editor of Ways We Work - a digital publication focused around telling stories and first-hand accounts of how people do meaningful work.

The site originally started 2 years ago as a blog where I would do quick Q & A’s with professionals in all different industries. Since then the interviews have evolved to be more in depth and feature professionals in creative and tech industries. Almost a year ago my good friend Matt Quinn joined the project as a partner. Together we started creating team features with some incredible teams like Facebook, Pivotal Labs and many others.

On March 18th the site is turning two and next week will also mark our 100th interview, which will be with Geoff Teehan, Design Director at Facebook. On Monday we’ll be publishing a feature on the design team at Medium as well.

Currently I wear a lot of hats, Ways We Work has quickly become my full-time gig but it doesn’t yet pay a full-time salary. Every week I’m doing interviews, editing, writing, promoting the pieces, contacting sponsors, and more recently working on the next iteration of the site. On top of that I do some freelance work so I can feed myself.

I’ve learned a lot, about a lot of things in the last two years and I’m happy to answer questions about anything! Throw them at me!

14 comments

  • Matt RaeMatt Rae, over 4 years ago

    Amandah! What gets you up in the morning and excited for the day? What has been your favourite experience from running WWW?

    4 points
    • Amandah Wood, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      Thanks Matt!

      This is a good question, because I am definitely not naturally a morning person. Wednesday's are the easiest because they're interview days and I'm always pumped up to share a new one. At the moment I feel really tuned in to what we're doing and I know that if I don't get up and get to work, everything will stop. That's the motivation for sure.

      Favourite experience is the two trips we've been able to take to San Francisco. Both trips were jam packed, but the experience of travelling somewhere and meeting all these insanely talented people is awesome. Also almost everywhere we visit has heard of and read Ways We Work, which is always a mindblow. When you put so much time and effort into creating something, there's no better feeling than when people interact with it and connect to it.

      4 points
  • Katie Cerar, over 4 years ago

    Hey Amandah! Love your site!!

    What has surprised you most in the process of creating and working on Ways We Work?

    2 points
    • Amandah Wood, over 4 years ago

      Thanks Katie!! :)

      Probably the most surprising has been the response. When the idea for Ways We Work first came about it came from a personal place of feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to be most successful in my day-to-day work and career.

      From talking to people in interviews and people that read the site, there's this constant resonating "oh, me too". I thought I would start the site and immediate learn all the exact right ways to do things, instead I learned that no one really has it figured out and everyone is learning as they go.

      And then on top of that, just how much is involved in doing a site like this! I have a new found respect for people running online publications.

      2 points
  • Mohammed Asaduallah, over 4 years ago

    How did you go about building your audience/community up to now and what are your plans for the future?

    2 points
    • Amandah Wood, over 4 years ago

      Early on our audience came largely from social media and the audience of the person we were interviewing. I was pretty new to the world of growing an audience for something like this so everything was just organic.

      Last April, a fan of the site put us on Product Hunt, which was a huge point of growth. Our newsletter grew by 4x that day and continued growing steadily for weeks after.

      Honestly, it's mostly been through the content. When you interview someone, their friends follow, when you feature a team, the team and their friends follow. And when you produce a really great piece, other outlets share it and it just kind of spreads.

      Growing the audience is actually something I'd like to be more strategic about in the future, but we just focus on creating great content and that seems to resonate!

      In the future, I'd like to see how we could create content around what we've learned. We've done almost 100 interviews now and I think there's some key learnings we could pull from those and publish on major outlets.

      3 points
  • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, over 4 years ago

    Hi, Amandah. Thanks for doing this AMA! What, do you find, is the most difficult part of running a site like Ways We Work? And which part of the process do you enjoy the most?

    2 points
    • , over 4 years ago

      Thanks for the question Daniel!

      Most difficult: Probably one of the most difficult things is just learning as you go, and wondering if you're doing all the things you could/should be doing. Once an interview is done and edited and ready to go, then it's about making sure it gets seen and stands out online. Keeping that pipeline and flow can be challenging. I've had to kind of accept that not everything is going to be as perfect as it could be and prioritize what absolutely needs to happen.

      Because it's an online site and community it can be easy to feel a bit disconnected sometimes too. Like you're interacting with numbers instead of people, which is something we're working to make better currently.

      Best part: The interviews and the feedback. I've been able to interview some people I have so much respect and admiration for, and learn from them 1:1 through the interviews. Then we get to share that with readers. My favourite recent tweet from a reader was: "A night of reading @wayswework interviews has me kind of excited about going to work Monday." Stuff like that is the best.

      1 point
  • Drew McDonaldDrew McDonald, over 4 years ago

    Posted 7 hours ago, may be too late -

    Amandah, what advice in your 2 years with WWW would you give to an up and coming journalist wishing to publish a site like yours? Thanks for joining us here at DN!

    1 point
    • Amandah Wood, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      Thanks for the question Drew! My best advice is to just get started. Ways We Work could not look more different now than it did when I first started it two years ago, but it wouldn't be where it is if I didn't just bite the bullet and get it going.

      Also, good design matters. Invest the time in making the site easy to use, and easy to read on. When I did the first redesign of Ways We Work in the first year, the traffic doubled, and that was the only thing I changed. But of course, I don't have to tell this audience that design matters ;)

      0 points
  • austen m, over 4 years ago

    With a growing viewer/user base could you start monetizing or raise funding for growth/future revenues?

    1 point
    • Amandah Wood, over 4 years ago

      Thanks Austen! We do actually have some big things in the works for monetizing the site, I can't quite talk about them yet, but they're coming!

      We're not currently interested in raising any money, because both Matt and I lean more towards bootstrapping and iterating and doing things the best way we possibly can.

      0 points
  • Max LindMax Lind, over 4 years ago

    Hey Amandah, thanks for joining us!

    • You probably get this question a lot -- Being that WWW is a "full-time gig but it doesn’t yet pay a full-time salary", how do you go about the work/life balance?
    • Do you have a personal preference: interviews vs stories or are they both interesting/intriguing in their own right?...add to that, do you have a personal favorite? :)
    • How are the photographers, editors, etc chosen for each project? (anyone beyond you or Matt)... and if applicable, how might one get involved?
    • The Patreon support is a genius idea for many reasons, do you see WWW growing financially more so in this realm as compared to traditional sponsorships?

    PS, Happy (early) Birthday to WWW!

    1 point
    • Amandah Wood, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      Thanks for having me Max!

      • I still don't consider myself very good at this. Currently, my strategy is just to work as often and frequently as possible. So a lot of evenings and weekends. I also try to find freelance projects that won't take me a ton of time but will provide a reasonable amount of income. My partner and I also run an Airbnb in the basement suite of our home which helps a lot!

      • I love the 1:1 aspect of interviews but team features are so fun because of the in-person interaction. We get to hang out with a team for a few hours, Matt takes a ton of amazing photos and we get to do interviews with people as part of those, so it's almost like the best of both. Interviews are definitely easier in terms of producing them frequently so they're both very different! I don't think I could exclusively choose one over the other haha. My favourite interview or feature always ends up being the most recent one because I feel they get better everytime. But my current favourite interview would have to be the one with Cap Watkins at BuzzFeed. He was super honest!

      • If you mean the editors and photographers to create the pieces - it's just Matt and I! For team features, Matt does all the photography, and I usually do the editing and writing but Matt pitches in on that as well when he can! Because we don't have a budget to pay anyone yet, we do everything ourselves BUT if someone is interested in volunteering to help out with that sort of stuff, I definitely think we're going to need it in the very near future. I'm amandah@wayswework.io if anyone is interested!

      • Funny you ask about this actually! As part of our two year celebrations we're sending notebooks to every one of our Patreons, and letting them know that we'll be stopping our Patreon in the next few weeks. There are a few really awesome things in the works in terms of a business model, and we feel Patreon isn't really the right route going forward.

      3 points