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Building Bridges: How Self-Sufficiency Strengthens Community Bonds

Taking ownership without continual reliance on outside sources, whilst surrounded by people who can help and amplify your work, lifts everything.  

The confidence we gain from others helps us to hold our heads high and to progress our own efforts with conviction.

A self-sufficient approach to your work while being supported by a community, proves that we were never meant to fight in our own corners.

Since 2013, I made a small corner of the web (and in the real world), called You Are The Media. It was a testing bed for me to see if you can build a presence and make a space for people to gather around. It was my way to continually experiment to see if you can build identity, trust and revenue, without continual reliance on external sources. 

You play by the rules of third parties, from LinkedIn to Google, but you don’t grumble when they shift the goalposts. The reason you don’t need to moan is that people are already with you.

Getting people to commit and come to your home is hard. The biggest commitment you make is learning to learn on your own. For example, when I started YATM it was from zero and a very lonely place. It wasn’t associated with a definable practice, such as SEO, entrepreneurship or email marketing. It was around the idea of standing for something and building a space.

Getting people to gather around an idea is empowering but hands up, it takes effort. People need evidence, a way to commit and most importantly a way to see other people.

The early idea for YATM was how you can be resourceful without having plentiful resources. Today, YATM represents how we can be self-sufficient promoting our work and our businesses. When you do, you cut out the middleman. It becomes even stronger when you are supported by others. 

Why Do I Believe In This?

The only way I can prove to you is to sit to the side and do the work and show you. 

You can read the YATM timeline, here. I wanted to find a way where we don’t always have to pay Google, Facebook etc to be seen. Paid advertising always has a place, but not to the detriment of growing a small business. I traded money, for investment in time. The time was spent writing a Thursday newsletter and then monitoring the audience and scrutinising where I could find sparks to progress that wasn’t wholly about marketing. 

I noticed a growth of subscribers from a local level, so what I did in 2016 was to start lunchtime events, near where I lived. It was a way to bring people who subscribed to the newsletter together and for each person who attended to say, ‘I get the newsletter too.’ Our first event was with 23 people.

These principles are what binds everything together. 

This ability to be self-sufficient whilst surrounded by a community works two ways.

MARKET YOU : Just as a company makes products and then markets to the world, people can market their perspective, expertise, abilities and knowledge. This is key to building association and progression. However, for the most part, people are isolated and it can feel tough when continually looking for acceptance and support, when promoting and sharing our work to an anonymous audience.

SURROUND YOU : A strong network where you know people are alongside you is important, it means opportunities arise to support each other and to encourage familiarity. Building people around you is integral to marketing yourself and promoting your work. It works by spending the time to nurture that space first and understand how it works. When you are generous with your time in figuring it out, rather than a carbon copy of what people are used to, people reciprocate with their time and commitment.

Here is the change.

When you start it is you promoting yourself to the world. What you may not have in connections, you have in access to platforms and media. This is where people reside and distribute to gain awareness and attention. You also can reach out to people directly who opt-in (give you their email). 

It’s this…

When community comes into play, it means people become familiar with you and opportunities arise to join in and even lead. This means that work doesn’t have to sit in isolation ie. few people see it, but where you garner support and the feeling of an extended team where you feel a part of something with others.

It’s this…

What Does It Mean?

Being self-sufficient, sidestepping the middleman and being part of a community to elevate you and your work, is set amongst these grounded steps.

1 Awareness that you want to get things done that aren’t wholly reliant on external sources

2 You do it to become independent, be more creative and be seen

3 Ideas, progression and momentum come from being part of a community, not separate from it

4 The reason we do it: freedom, togetherness, support, generosity and spirit

Let me explain in more detail:

1) You want to get things done that aren’t wholly reliant on outside sources

This is where you want to take ownership and diversify your activity. Spending all your energy on one platform might not give you the results you need. There are always high profile examples of people with high follower numbers, not being able to sell their products. When you can go direct to your audience it is empowering. You can reach out, you can build a relationship, and you can ask people directly. Starting with an email list to send a Thursday newsletter was one of the best career decisions I have made.

2) You do it to become independent, be more creative and be seen

This is about practising and developing your capabilities and using them to good effect. It could be rallying people around an idea. It could be an approach where you know that sits beyond just posting. Coupled with the ability to be recognised and known by others, it leads to growth, developing your personal brand and enjoying the success that comes with it. The only limits are what we put up in front of ourselves.

3) Progression and momentum comes from being part of a community

This is where your efforts are recognised and pushed forward by the people you surround yourself with. Nothing ever has to feel in isolation where it is just you creating and looking to get people to buy in. It means that you can build confidence around ideas which may have previously held you back. Being supported by others encourages confidence and delivery is channeled, where people become aware. Having people who encourage and keep you grounded, is an asset.

4) Freedom, togetherness, support, generosity and spirit is integral

This is where you progress from initial resourcefulness and set up the foundations to being self-sufficient to where you look to your community to help fulfil wider aspirations. Whilst industries, beliefs and approaches may differ, there is a connection around common goals. 

Examples To Share With You

Being self-sufficient with dependence on others around you isn’t just an idea, it’s happening. Let me share two examples.

i) Ben Franklin & The Ground Zero Podcast

For a 20-year-old, young professional, Ben Franklin is an ambitious person. Ben is part of the YATM community and has aspirations to start a podcast. When you are starting in your career, the people to reach out to from a professional perspective, may not be as abundant as you hope, particularly when it comes to the right guests for a new podcast.

Ben’s podcast is centred on starting from zero. It’s about stepping into a space where you may not have much experience but a willingness to make that commitment. The wider YATM community supported Ben with the first batch of live interviews for audio and video. To ensure a variety of topics for making that first step, included starting a new job, setting up a record label and beginning a newsletter.

Back to the graph, from above, and to share what I mean. What happens is that from Ben doing the work himself, he now has support from the wider community. This can be from guests to advice when it comes to visuals and promotion. When Ben starts he is independent of himself, by being a part of a community he is dependent on others to help him make that next step.

ii) YATM Creator Day Podcast

With YATM Creator Day happening on 25th April, I wanted to see if we could help to build a sense of the occasion before the occasion.

At the end of February, I created a Saturday morning newsletter to send to attendees as well as set up a WhatsApp Group. For the introduction to the event, we had a Zoom call and the recording became an MP3 to share in the WhatsApp Group.

The following day I had the idea to see if the MP3 can become a podcast that ties into the event. By reaching out to the people in the WhatsApp Group, within 30 minutes we had created a show with the attendees as the guests. The format is two attendees meet each other and we have a chat. The whole idea is to cement bonds and familiarity before an event happens.

What I want to highlight from these two examples is that you start by believing enough in the work you want to create and the role it plays for people. For instance, Ben’s podcast is to help people realise that starting can be the biggest step people make and then it becomes easier.

For my side and Creator Day, I have to be willing to make the tweaks each year while I am on the path to making things better. When you surround yourself with others who are on the same journey (or in my case, an event), can encourage you to produce your best work. You start with you (and back yourself to the hilt), and you progress to we. 

It’s realising that over time, it’s better to understand how we can be dependent than self-directed. 

Let’s Round-Up

The journey from independence to dependence lies in the essence of true self-sufficiency. It’s the ability to take ownership while being buoyed by a supportive community. 

This progression from solitary efforts to collaborative endeavours shows the power of interconnectedness and shared aspirations. It means we create and feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. 

In this link between self and community, we find the freedom to innovate, the courage to pursue new ideas and the way we navigate challenges. Ultimately, self-sufficiency isn’t about standing alone, it’s about standing together, united in purpose and bound by the values we share.

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