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9 Questions For...Rob Mills

Tuesday 21st November 2023

"9 Questions For…" is an interview series in which I ask founders, leaders, and entrepreneurs to share their experiences of doing "their thing, their way". The questions might be the same but the insights certainly aren't! If you fit the bill and would like to share your learnings please get in touch.

First up and taking the plunge is Rob Mills from Fourth Wall Content.

I had the privilege of working with Rob over a decade ago and was delighted to learn more about his content-focused business, which recently celebrated its second anniversary.

Rob Mills Podcasting

Rob Mills — Founder and more of Fourth Wall Content

Q: Are you a founder, co-founder, solo entrepreneur, consultant or something else?

I'm a founder, solo entrepreneur and a consultant. I feel more like a consultant most days as I am doing the work with clients. I rarely refer to myself as a founder or a solo entrepreneur, but I am indeed both those things.

Q: What type of business do you run?

I run a content consultancy/studio, Fourth Wall Content. There are a few strands to the services I offer. I work with organisations and teams on improving their content and helping them meet the needs of their users and their own business goals through effective content.

The precise tasks vary but can include defining workflows, creating content principles, writing content, embedding clear language principles, improving content operations, pair writing with subject experts, and auditing content, it really is a long and varied list, but ultimately it all helps the organisation improve how they plan, approve, create, publish and manage their content.

I also produce podcasts, provide editorial services to industry blogs and books and grade UX writing courses too.

The final part of my offering is coaching. I have helped community managers and other content designers improve their content through 1-to-1 mentoring sessions.

My ideal clients are anyone who cares about creating helpful, inclusive and accessible content. It's always nice when the organisations provide a service or offering that I support and am aligned with like charities and not-for-profits.

Q: Why did you start your business?

I was at a crossroads in my career where I had left my job of six years without a plan, and it felt like a now or never moment. Initially, I intended to be a freelancer/sole trader, and when I mentioned to people I was available for work, I had a few offers. In order to do them all, I would have to be self-employed, so I took the jump. Three weeks later, Fourth Wall Content became a limited company.

On reflection, I had been craving a new challenge for a while. I wanted full autonomy and control of the work I did. I also wanted to do more varied work, bringing together all of my skills and experience from my journalism degree, my stint as an audience researcher for the BBC, my time as a studio manager for design agencies and my role as Head of Content for a SaaS company.

Fourth Wall Content — Strategic Content Services

I had recently become a first-time parent too, so establishing a true work-life balance, not dictated by other people's annual leave policies and approval, was also a contributing factor to setting up the business. I have to admit I started it with a lot of questions still to answer, so it was very much learning as I went and through doing.

Q: What's the biggest challenge you are facing in your business?

I am 2.5 years in, and this is my quietest period. It's not worryingly quiet, and I have plenty to do, but quieter nonetheless. I know lots of other solo companies and larger agencies who are also experiencing this. So, the challenge for me is evaluating where my work comes from and, the services I offer and also seeing the downtime as an opportunity rather than something negative.

Q: What's working well in your business?

Making the most of more time to focus on Fourth Wall Content. I recently launched a podcast, I am pitching to speak at events, and I have a few articles to write for other blogs. So, it is a time of getting myself and the business out there, prioritising personal projects and also planning for the next year for the business and where I want to take it.

Q: What skill do you excel at, and which one do you want to get better at?

I excel at being able to communicate feedback, findings, outcomes, recommendations and insights with clarity. Disseminating information is an important part of getting buy-in, engaging stakeholders and collaborating with subject experts, and I think I do that well. This also helps with the coaching work I do.

I would love to be better at the business side of what I do - from pricing to promotion and everything in between. I often have a default mindset that I'm 'just a freelancer', and this can be limiting to progress.

Q: What will be different about your business this time next year?

I will have a more diverse service offering with workshops and coaching programmes in the works.

Q: What's the one thing you wish you'd known before starting your entrepreneurial adventure?

I wish I'd been more knowledgeable about the operations and logistics. I had some sense but was so focused on the work I hadn't really considered or learnt about some aspects beforehand. I did a lot of learning on the job, which was fine, but I wish I had done more research on the different tax requirements, pensions, insurances, benefits and health care.

Q: Where do you live, and what do you love about your city?

I live in Cardiff, Wales. It's a city big enough to have plenty to do but small enough to get around easily. It's also a short drive from the coast, the mountains and other areas of interest, too so it's pretty handy to have as a base.

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This is the web site of Keir Whitaker — I'm a UK-based marketing consultant, coach and advisor and founder of event series Craft+Work.

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