Make Your Work Matter, Not Just Wanting More People
Making something worth people’s time can be a more focused path than wanting to grow a large following.
You Are The Media has just hit eight years. Let me share what I now feel much more comfortable with, having been at the wheel since October 2013.
Where we are today, the audience isn’t huge.
If I set myself an objective of having 100,000 followers or subscribers, I’d have to say I’ve let you down, it hasn’t been achieved. There hasn’t been massive growth, but the goal all along has never been about popularity and reaching everyone.
For the record, there are just under 2,000 people who receive the weekly YATM email and social media seems to be driven around the 1k to 1.5k ‘followers’ (on LinkedIn and Twitter). The YATM Facebook Group is over 400 people.
Many people and businesses like popular, but it doesn’t have to be your goal.
You don’t have to connect with everyone you meet and drive them to your website, you don’t have to ask for more followers in your social spaces. A bigger audience doesn’t matter at all. More followers and further reach are meaningless if you don’t do anything with it.
Encouraging the participation of strangers who don’t buy-in, is worthless.
At the last YATM Online Offline, our main guest, Jay Acunzo brought everything home. Jay said, “You are on the hook way more if you say, “What if I made something better or more personal, or more emotionally deep for the people, that I’m speaking to?” I’m truly making something that matters to them.”
Watch the clip with Jay, below…
What Jay says makes me realise that we have to be driven to make our work resonate, rather than looking for a wider reach. What about your work? Does it take a stand? Do you put your neck on the line from time to time? Does your work refuse to be everything to everyone?
It Doesn’t Have To Be About Everyone
Over the past eight years, I have got to know more people than if I didn’t take on YATM as my project. This was one of the things that kept me together during lockdown and has given me immense happiness and connection. This has turned into business, this has turned into nights out (even swimming together).
When you eliminate distance between you and the people you address, it becomes such a strong way to connect. In an article called you are your audience, chasing numbers become misleading. “They may look encouraging but don’t tell you a whole lot. You may have had lots of website visitors but do you know who they were? And that 45% open rate for your email – how did it impact your business?”
If my drive over these past eight years was always collecting more people, would I have got to know them better?
The Right People
Seth Godin introduced the term ‘minimum viable audience.’ In a nutshell, it concentrates on the importance of having the smallest market possible for you to serve. For instance, if people send to me an email with a comment from something they have read in the weekly YATM email, I know I would let them down if they didn’t get a reply back.
A big audience can feel good as it means a potentially larger audience to sell to and make money from. At the same time, it can turn your work mediocre. When you go out to please everyone, you become replaceable.
Seth says this, “Stake out the smallest market you can imagine. The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This goes against everything you learned in capitalism school, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.”
So, from what Jay and Seth says, we have to create work that is worth people’s time so we can actively engage with our market and then grow from it.
Currently from my side, I want to create YATM Online Offline as an occasion that people look forward to. To make a commitment and to travel to an event, has to be worth people’s time, now that they have a choice. Even if the Zoom delivery for YATM Online Offline is now becoming more like a TV show I still want the premium experiences to be around other people.
Doing It For The Right People, Not Everyone
Here is why an engaged audience over a large audience matters. This is what I know after eight years.
💥 When people feel a part of what you do, it is easier to ask.
I like to get feedback so I am asking for a helping hand (on Zoom) at the end of October as we plan for 2022. Knowing the people around you means you can gain insight, ask for feedback, let them know when they can buy, share new ideas.
💥 It shapes someone’s sense of belonging.
Over time, the longer someone feels involved, it starts to make an impact on their identity within the group. This extends further out to the group with a shared this is who we are. This is the way we do things.
💥 You can do better work together.
At the last YATM Online Offline the morning was dedicated to Bournemouth & Poole College apprentices who shared their expectations for their future. This only happened as the college team has been a part of YATM for the past few years, so doing something together felt right. Every person you get to know becomes a new hub in your network. The more hubs you have, the more valued your work becomes to others. This is how you become meaningful to someone else
💥 You’re all in for the marathon, not just you.
The marathon analogy seems to focus a lot on you doing the work. Why can’t everyone join in with you? The winners will be those who keep going together, making sure no one is left behind. Running sprints is what everyone can do, a marathon takes a lot more dedication.
Eight years of You Are The Media hasn’t meant gloating at large numbers and sharing those numbers to convince others to join. It hasn’t worked out like that. It’s been about keeping going with the people who care.
When you focus on being the source for others, you start to change in yourself and also change something in others. It could be people to reach out to, it could be belonging to something.
The goal of wanting more and more is not as valuable as making something that is worth people’s time. If you can do that, you become the bank of connection, ideas and learning.