Updated a month agoopinion
Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by Polywork but all opinions are my own and not suggested, influenced or edited by anyone at Polywork.
There’s a concept of polyamory in life, where people engage in consensual multi-person relationships. It’s not for everyone, but the idea that we don’t have to be tied to one person is an interesting concept to think about. Now, if you take that concept and apply it to your work and personal life then you start to see where Polywork is coming from.
In our professional lives, we often identify as a specific career or job role: the Product Designer (like me), the Frontend Developer, the Milkman, or the Beautician. The reality though, is we’re often a lot more than that, and even very often in our professional careers, we perform more roles than that title we hold.
If you’ve read my articles for a while, you’ll know that I sit in the land of “Product Designer who codes but also writes music”. At different points in my career I’ve been able to take advantage of all these facets but never once could I call myself that as a job title. It’d be weird.
What Polywork encourages is the idea that we can have many skills and do many things, and that we should celebrate that. Whether that be our achievements or our failures. There’s plenty of badges for things such as “College Dropout” or “Failed at a job interview”. Normalising this is critical to Polyworks differentiation and to its success.
But most important to Polywork’s future success is their approach to how they build the platform. And this is where I want to focus.
It’s become increasingly common for modern startups to build out in the open, willing to ship half-finished ideas and broken flows to gauge customer interest and determine what features to prioritise.
Most famously coined by Facebook’s early “Move fast and break things” methodology, young startups taking this approach are finding their strength in being vulnerable.
From when I joined near the beginning (which, in retrospect, wasn’t long ago at all so that goes to show how fast they’re iterating), the platform simply offered a timeline you could fill out. That timeline hasn’t changed much since those days, it’s had steady updates but because the team focused on this as the true MVP of the idea, they remained laser-focused on their initial mission of making it easy for people to showcase all that they do without it being confined to a particular job. It was at this point that I set up the custom domain option so I could set up my changelog (more about this later).
Since then, we saw the first glimpse of what would become the Multiverse, allowing you to see other people’s profiles on the platform and now the Space Station for finding people to collaborate with, and basic messaging. In a matter of months, the platform has evolved from a timeline to a pretty full-featured product. And it’s safe to say, so much of that has been down to building out in the open. Learning by shipping. Testing, iterating, improving and scrapping. Being okay with being vulnerable.
I’ve focused on treating my Polywork profile as a personal, and professional changelog. Whilst my personal website is kept minimal, focused on very specific finished deliverables, there’s a host of things I do that live in and around those things and the last thing I want is for my personal site to become littered with it.
That’s where treating my Polywork as a changelog of achievements fits in perfectly. It allows me to personally track my successes and failures, but it also allows others to see those things in chronological order. What’s not to love!
It can be pretty daunting to go back through your experience and fill in all those key moments but I found that in some ways, it became cathartic. It acted as a reminder of all the things I’ve achieved over the years and how I’ve got to be where I am today. It’s humbling.
Depending on who you are, what you do, and where you are in your journey, Polywork will do different things for you. Start by adding some basic content like your job history to see the timeline fill out and then begin to add the nuances at whatever level of detail you want. Polywork is flexible enough that you can decide how granular you want your profile timeline to be. Make it an extension of who you are.
There are a few key things I think any business can take away from Polywork’s approach to shipping their MVP across the web and mobile.
If you want to get on Polywork yourself (and I highly recommend you do!) then you can use my personal link to sign up, the first 25 people will skip the queue. Make sure you come and follow me once you get on there and say hi!
This site, and all of my work, is dedicated to my hero, my inspiration, and the strongest man I've ever known. My father. I love you Dad ❤️.