What I Learned As A One-Man Band (Working Within A Larger Company)

I got asked the other day about how you make it work as a one-man band — if you’re starting at a decently sized company, but you’re the only advocate for what you do.

And I told this person:

At BuzzFeed, when we launched email, I was the only staffer fully devoted to email. Every single newsletter that was sent in 2013 — and they numbered in the thousands — was written by me. (It was a lot. I wouldn’t recommend doing that.)

But now, we’ve three — and soon to be four — others helping write our newsletters, and the email team continues to grow.

So how’d we get from there to here?

-We set simple goals for the products we wanted to launch.

-We figured out the metrics that were more important, and worked hard to meet — and exceed — those numbers. But we didn’t obsess over those day-to-day numbers, especially if the overall feedback about the product was strong.

-We launched things quickly. Like I always write: When you build something with Good/Better/Done in mind, you’re able to get it out the door quickly, and then improve it as you go.

-We didn’t waste motion. After the first few weeks, we didn’t spend too much time talking about the What Ifs before a launch. We picked a target, we roped in the necessary people we needed for support, and we got the product out the door. Everything up until launch is an exercise in theory — so just get the thing launched.

I knew when I started at BuzzFeed that I was going to have to work like a crazy person to get email off the ground. But now it’s starting to take off. And as it has, my bosses have been hugely supportive of the project, and are helping give it the fuel it needs to grow.

I couldn’t have done this alone forever. But to start, I didn’t need a lot.

That photo of an actual one-man band comes via Flickr’s William Ward.