Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Bailey Lewis, Founder of Words First Content Strategy, located in Columbia, SC, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Words First Content Strategy trains, coaches, and consults with marketing, communications, and digital teams cultivate more intentional, human content strategy practices that help people do business with their organizations online.
Our customers are teams in any industry or business type who care about creating excellent digital content, building stronger relationships with their audiences, and creating processes that make digital life easier for everyone on both sides of the screen.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a fiction writer and academic turned digital content champion. I got into content strategy when I was working on the staff of a literary magazine. At the time, literary magazines were taking their publications online to cut costs associated with printing and mailing. The only problem was none of us knew what we were doing. I had a lightbulb moment while solving content challenges like, how do you post a poem to the internet and allow it to keep its formatting across devices? I realized businesses must have similar problems and that this work was likely a profession that I could enjoy. I found out what those jobs were called, interviewed for content strategy positions, and found that others agreed: my skills translated.
When I got into the tech world as a content strategist, I was working with teams to build digital experiences and products, and I noted the unique challenges that digital content creates for human-to-human communications. I set out to solve those problems and eventually started building and leading user experience and content strategy teams. Over time, I saw a need for teams to invest in focused content strategy problem solving and knowledge-building beyond isolated projects. I knew that I could be of service to others by providing those services, and Words First was born.
That's still what drives me to work—the challenges that come with digital content persist and likely always will. Those who care about meaningful communication and interactions with other humans in digital spaces have to keep working through them every day, and I love to help them with that.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
On top of our client work, I recently launched a membership called the Words First Course & Community. The membership is for teams and individuals who want to build their own content strategy expertise. Members learn content strategy principles in the course and apply them in a hands-on demo deck that they can use for their own purposes. They also have access to our exclusive community of content professionals who help each other work through specific problems and support one another in the pursuit of creating excellent content.
I really wanted to offer a service option for individuals and teams that, for whatever reason, aren't ready or able to engage us for a full content strategy training or consulting relationship. I'm very proud of this growing membership that's allowing for just that.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, it's the internal echo chamber. It's easy to get caught up in your own thoughts, and sometimes, especially early on, those thoughts can be full of trepidation or uncertainty. That kind of internalizing of the unknown can prevent you from seeing how far you've come and how great you're actually doing.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Find a way out of the internal echo chamber. Seek out those who understand what it's like to run a business and speak your thoughts out loud to them. Get their perspectives and input, and also, just see what your thoughts sound like when you say them to someone who gets it. I've found that the uncertainty often just melts away when I give it a voice. It can't hold up very well under the scrutiny of having been said out loud.
- You don't have to act on every piece of advice. (Even this one.) There are a lot of opinions out there, and smart ones at that. That doesn't mean every piece of advice is right for you and your business. Trying to act on everything you're told you should do is exhausting and counter-productive. Take what makes sense for your internal compass and your mission, and leave the rest for someone else who it can help.
- It doesn't have to be perfect. Whatever it is you're refining, researching, analyzing, or agonizing over, get it out the door. Adapt and fine-tune while it's out in the world, and take advantage of having real-life feedback to be able to make those adjustments.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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