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Attaining 1000 True Fans

Attaining 1000 True Fans
Simon Krystman
  • Reaching the milestone of 1000 true fans proves that a product creator has built dedicated support from people beyond their own friends, family, and network.
  • True fans occupy the "head" of the long tail curve for the sales of any product, which represents about 10 per cent of the total sales.
  • True fans are brand ambassadors, sharing the good news about your product with the world.

The power of a dedicated audience

In the world of entrepreneurship, marketing, and product creation, there's a concept that has gained significant traction: the idea of attaining 1000 true fans. 

This concept was first proposed by Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired magazine, who asserted that as a creator, if you can earn the dedicated support of 1000 true fans, you can make a living.

But what does it mean to have a "true fan"? How do you attain them? And why is this concept so powerful? 

This blog post explores these questions in depth, drawing on my decade-long experience in the product creation and e-commerce industry.

Defining the true fan

Firstly, let's define what a "true fan" is. According to Kelly, a true fan is someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing, they will buy the super-deluxe reissued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they already own the low-res version, or they will purchase your latest digital product on the day of release. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They are true fans.

In essence, true fans are your die-hard supporters. They love your work, they believe in your vision, and they're willing to support you financially. They are the first to buy your new product, the first to share your latest update, and the first to evangelize your brand to others.

The power of 1000 true fans

So, why is having 1000 true fans so powerful? The answer lies in economics. Kelly argues that if you have 1000 true fans who are willing to spend just $100 on your products each year, you'll earn an annual income of $100,000 – enough to sustain most individuals.

This idea challenges the traditional notion that success requires mass-market appeal. Instead, it suggests that success can be achieved by deeply serving a small, dedicated audience. It’s a viable digital-age path to being a full-time creator.

But there's more to the power of 1000 true fans than just the economics. Having a dedicated audience means you have a direct relationship with your customers. You can engage with them, learn from them, and co-create with them. This can lead to better products, stronger brand loyalty, and a more resilient business.

Moreover, true fans can help spread your work to a broader audience. Each true fan is likely to bring in a number of 'lesser fans', who might buy one or two of your products, rather than everything you produce. This can significantly increase your total audience and revenue.

Attaining your 1000 true fans

Now, the million-dollar question: How do you attain your 1000 true fans? Here are some strategies:

  1. Create with passion and authenticity: True fans are attracted to creators who are passionate and authentic. They want to support individuals who love what they do and who have a unique voice or perspective. Therefore, infuse your work with your personality, your values, and your passion.

  2. Build direct relationships: In order to cultivate true fans, you need to build direct relationships with your audience. This means engaging with them on social media, responding to their emails, and involving them in your creative process. You could share behind-the-scenes content, host live Q&A sessions, or ask for their input on new product ideas.

  3. Offer exclusive benefits: True fans want to feel special. They want access to exclusive content, early product releases, or limited-edition merchandise. Consider what exclusive benefits you could offer to your most dedicated supporters.

  4. Provide value consistently: Consistency is key when it comes to attracting and retaining true fans. This doesn't just apply to the frequency of your output, but also to its quality. Ensure that every product you release or content you share offers real value to your audience. This will help build trust and loyalty over time.

  5. Nurture your community: True fans often derive value not just from your products, but also from being part of a community of like-minded individuals. Foster this sense of community by creating spaces where your fans can connect with each other, such as online forums or social media groups. Encourage interactions, discussions, and user-generated content.

  6. Leverage the power of storytelling: People connect with stories. Sharing your journey, your struggles, your victories, and your vision can help your audience feel more connected to you and your brand. Effective storytelling can evoke emotions, build empathy, and make your audience feel like they're part of your journey.

  7. Show gratitude: Never take your true fans for granted. Show your appreciation for their support through personalized thank-you notes, shout-outs, or small gifts. This can go a long way in making your fans feel valued and respected.
The journey to 1000 true fans

Attaining 1000 true fans is not an overnight task. It requires time, effort, and a commitment to serving your audience, but the rewards can be substantial. Not only can it provide a sustainable income, but it can also lead to a more fulfilling and resilient career.

In addition, the journey to 1000 true fans is not a linear one. It's not about going from 0 to 1000 as quickly as possible. Rather, it's about deepening your relationship with your audience over time. It's about turning casual followers into engaged fans, and engaged fans into true fans.

Remember, each fan is a person, not just a number. They have their own passions, interests, and desires. By understanding these, and by striving to serve them through your work, you can build a dedicated audience that not only supports your livelihood, but also enriches your creative journey.

Case studies of success

Over the years, I've had the privilege of working with numerous creators who have successfully built their tribe of 1000 true fans. Each of their journeys is unique, but take the example of a small indie game developer. They started with a simple idea for a game, which they shared on social media. The concept resonated with a small group of people who were intrigued and wanted to see the game come to life.

Instead of rushing to release a finished product, the developer involved their early supporters in the development process. They shared regular updates, sought feedback on different elements of the game, and even invited some fans to beta test early versions. This not only helped improve the game but also deepened the fans' investment in the project.

When the game was finally launched, it had a small but dedicated fanbase. These true fans were instrumental in spreading the word about the game, leading to more sales and more fans. Today, the developer has a thriving business, supported by a strong community of true fans.

Or consider the case of an independent musician. Struggling to get noticed in a sea of talent, she decided to focus on building a dedicated fan base instead of chasing record deals as a priority. She started sharing her music on online platforms, along with personal stories and behind-the-scenes content.

She also started hosting intimate online concerts, where fans could interact with her and with each other. These experiences brought her closer to her fans, and gave them a sense of belonging and exclusivity.

Over time, she attracted a group of true fans who loved her music and resonated with her journey. These fans were more than willing to support her by buying her albums, merchandise, and concert tickets. Today, she has a sustainable career as a musician, powered by her true fans.

The future of true fans

As we look to the future, I believe the concept of 1000 true fans will become even more relevant. In an increasingly noisy and competitive market, creators who can build a dedicated fanbase will have a significant advantage.

The rise of platforms like CrowdMall, Patreon, and Kickstarter is testament to this trend. These platforms enable creators to connect directly with their fans, offer exclusive benefits, and receive financial support. They are paving the way for a new model of entrepreneurship, where success is not measured by mass market appeal, but by the depth of your connection with your audience.

In conclusion, attaining 1000 true fans is a powerful goal for any creator. It's not just about the income it can generate, but also about the direct relationship with your audience, the resilience it can bring to your business, and the fulfillment you can derive from serving a community that loves what you do.

I hope this post has given you a deeper understanding of the 1000 true fans concept and how to apply it to your own journey. Remember, it's not about the numbers, but about the people behind them. Focus on serving these people, and the numbers will follow.

As you embark on your journey to attain your 1000 true fans, remember that every fan is a testament to your passion, your creativity, and your impact. Cherish them, nurture them, and together, you can create something truly remarkable.