A Decade Of Lessons: Regret To Resilience
Looking back on ten years of a project, longevity comes down to perspective, resilience and not giving up.
You Are The Media has just reached 10 years old. When it comes to reflecting on a decade of work, time to share some hard-earned insights.
😕 My biggest regret
😉 The one thing that stops you from giving up (too soon)
This can’t be all about me, it’s all about what you can do if you want to start something new that can become your main revenue generator. Perhaps you are thinking about a shift on your side, changing a job, or introducing a new idea that you want to be associated with?
The whole message here is if you don’t start, you’ll never know.
9th October 2013
I sent my first newsletter on 9th October 2013. I decided to call it You Are The Media. One of the reasons was out of necessity. I was picking myself back up after accruing a huge amount of bad debt from a client that went bankrupt.
The money I was spending on other initiatives was generating no return. Adwords campaigns, Facebook ads, and sales promotion activity all resulted in further expenditure and made me realise that no one else cares about your business apart from you (and your family).
When you learn to be resourceful over having resources, it exercises your creativity muscle. I traded money for time and started a newsletter. This was going to be my focus to bring people to me, by that I mean people subscribing.
In the early years, I wrestled with self-doubt. This would probably be magnified today with stories of others accumulating huge audiences to prove their worth. It always makes me think, if someone shares their glory of having 50,000+ subscribers, it is impossible to serve that many people or are we all part of a transaction? Perhaps you have been there too, comparing your journey to others and feeling discouraged?
One thing I do know now is that we look at others’ accomplishments and wonder why we haven’t reached their level yet? Here’s the thing, different newsletters build differently because they cater to a variety of audiences and goals. What works well for someone else, may not be the right model for you.
My Biggest Regret
For eight years, I defined YATM as my side project, it was ingrained in my head as something that I played with. A side project is something you do in addition to your main job.
Side projects have their merits. I now look at them in two ways.
🤔 Hobby related – relates to something you love and gives you joy. Driven by fun
🤔 Idea related – relates to a belief and seeing how far you can go to explore. Driven by curiosity
When you look at your work as a side project, that’s what it is, something that sits separate, almost an afterthought. I looked at YATM as a side project and shared perspectives on it. Read what it takes for a side project to work.
What I realised was that over the years, YATM wasn’t just a project to tinker with, but my true calling. This belief of being self-sufficient, being creative, having independence and building on your own terms so people want to stay with you, is an approach that others can get on board and make happen on their side. This moves beyond a hobby but a belief.
By sharing examples and experimenting over the years, you don’t always need a publishing partner, an agency, or someone else’s platform. You can reach your audience directly, or use someone else’s to bring people back to you.
The role YATM plays today is that we can see the challenges that are out there, as it’s harder to create and sustain, given the sheer volume of content out there. YATM has become this space where people can join in, take ideas and feel supported and seen by others.
However, what was framed in my head for many years, the side project was holding me back. My biggest regret is that I didn’t see YATM as a business model earlier. It was my way to reach out to others, but I didn’t acknowledge the opportunity it had become. A defining point was Covid. When everything stopped, it was YATM that saved me when we took everything online and created shows and deeper learning. My big lesson since 2020 and still stands true today is to build yourself a platform before you need it.
If you have an approach or belief that you recognise can resonate with others, alongside your main job, at some point you have to have the freedom to let one side take precedence.
This is what I now know that could have meaning to your endeavours if you look at a lot of your work in the side project narrative and reframing as a viable business approach:
How you label your work, significantly shapes your mindset. When you see your work as a side project, it may not receive the attention it deserves. This was one of the reasons for my burnout in 2018, when I took so much on board in the build-up to the first conference from YATM that it affected my health. I let the word ‘side’ deceive me.
Always remember that whatever you are doing, consumes a significant amount of your time and energy. It becomes part of your story, it may even define you. It can make you or break you. Give it the consideration it deserves.
Society often associates success with traditional, full-time careers. People and businesses pay for your time for you to deliver your skillsets. However, today people pursue multiple interests and income streams. There are many people achieving success by focusing on what may not be considered a traditional route. Success isn’t defined by a single path, it’s about what feels right for you and how you can shape it.
A portfolio pursuit
You have freedom when you build a diverse collection of work and income streams. For instance, YATM income is built around membership, events, education and sponsorship. This approach can enhance financial stability and provides fulfillment to what you do. You don’t have to dabble with one delivery, such as a workshop, you need to build in a programme around a calendar. You can build a career that aligns with what you believe in and what you know you cannot stop.
Overcoming the stigma
There is a stigma associated with side projects, in terms of not being taken seriously, a fleeting delivery or something to fill your time. When you embrace the role your project can serve and be of genuine value to other people, you have to lean into it. When people receive a benefit from what you deliver, that is when you can make that step up. It’s also something to be proud of by recognising what you can build.
The Reason For A Decade Of YATM Comes Down To…
Persistence is what keeps you relevant.
Persistence is why YATM has reached a decade.
If you believe in your idea, you have to stick to it. You can’t be defeated if something doesn’t work. Trust me, I have experienced that many times. However, you have to adjust if what you are delivering isn’t quite hitting the mark. This could be a lack of buy-in, few people showing up, or your in-costs outweighing your margins.
What can leave you feeling deflated and dejected can define you. There are moments to take it on the chin, but at the same time acknowledge the opportunity that can be presented, which you will never realise at the time.
Standing out today demands far more than being consistent with routine updates and sticking to your content posting schedule, it requires relentless persistence. By this I mean you don’t say ‘I’m here,’ you say, ‘I’m here with something useful,’ over and over again.
What you start may begin as a modest endeavour, but as your message and audience grow in relevance, persistence pays off.
For me, sticking with YATM has been about not giving up. There were times when I felt like throwing in the towel. For instance, my two daughters are only 17 months apart. It was tough putting together the YATM newsletter from 2014 to 2016 whilst they were so young and life dedicated to the early mornings, broken sleep and getting used to life as a parent.
Persistence is about endurance and staying the course. I take a break from the newsletter during the summer and Christmas, but for ten tears it has always been here. As it’s part of my week, the longer you stick at something the easier it becomes.
These are the results of being persistent, continually learning and moving forward. YATM in ten years has affected my life, for the better.
🔆 I’ve met people I now call good friends
🔆 I gained the confidence to start in-person events such as YATM Lunch Club
🔆 It’s helped me grow my personal brand
🔆 I’ve experimented with countless ideas (most haven’t worked, but that’s ok)
🔆 Allow me to connect with amazing thinkers worldwide
🔆 Even formed a sea swimming group 🌊
🔆 It helped diversify my income streams
🔆 I learned how to organise an annual main event/conference
🔆 Understood the power of community
🔆 Sustained me through COVID when everything else stopped
🔆 Took me to places and introduced me to amazing people
What is important is that you keep playing, that’s an exhilarating place to be. There is no such thing as a failing, only discovering unexpected outcomes. Persistence is the linchpin of success. It’s about more than just showing up; it’s about showing up with adaptability, and a spirit of exploration. It’s about growth, learning, and the enduring relevance of your presence.
A decade of YATM has taught me that if you believe in an idea, you have to stick with it. It’s going to change, and you’re going to have to modify, but when you feel a part of your endeavours with the people who choose to be with you, you can create work that is relevant to so many people.
The setbacks aren’t there to feel disheartened, they are clues and routes to shape your thinking and help you progress.
Whilst I looked at YATM as a side project for too many years, underneath was a serious approach to bring people together and to buy into an idea centered on creation, experimentation, co-learning, community and visibility. It is possible to make our stand, cut out the middleman and swerve the algorithm, YATM now is that place for people to come around that campfire and feel fired up to make their own stamp.
All it takes is that moment to step up and take a seat at the table to start. If you don’t give it a go, you’ll never know.
If you subscribe to the YATM newsletter, or unsubscribed, or joined in and attended events over the past decade, thank you so much.
YATM keeps going because of the enthusiasm and spirit of the people who make this space so welcoming for others who want to join in. We find ways to make our work better together. That is rewarding for all of us.