1,000 True Fans

Once you’ve made the decision to start a business, one of things you’ll no doubt be asking yourself is how do I find the people who want what I have to offer? This next section has been adapted from an article written by Kevin Kelly in 2008 when his now popular idea was embryonic.

Kevin believes his 1,000 True Fans concept will be useful to anyone making things, or making things happen and starting a business definitely falls into the category of making things happen.

I mention the need to make money in my book, but I don’t specify an amount, that’s because success is relative therefore, the amount of money I want to earn, may be very different from what you want or need to earn and right now I don’t know what your ideal figure is? That said, to be successful you don’t need millions. Be that millions of dollars or millions of fans. To make a living as a service provider you need only thousands of true fans.


Kevin defines a true fan as a fan that will buy anything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the hardback, paperback and audible versions of your book. They will purchase your next work of art sight unseen, come to your chef’s table once a month and buy every single one of your on line services. If you have roughly a thousand true fans like this, also known as super fans, you can make a living provided you’re content to make a living as opposed to a fortune.

Here’s how the maths and the money works. To begin with you need to meet two criteria first, you have to create enough each year so you can earn, on average, $100 profit from each true fan. That’s easier to do in some businesses than in others, but it’s a good creative challenge in every area because it’s always easier and better to give your existing customers more, than it is to keep finding find new ones.

Secondly, to make this work you must have a direct relationship with your fans or customers. That is, they must pay you directly. You get to keep all of their money, unlike the small percentage of their fees you might ordinarily get from a music label, publisher, studio, retailer, wholesaler or other intermediate. If you keep the full $100 of each true fan, then you only need 1,000 of them to earn $100,000 per year. That’s a living for most people. Add to that the ease at which the internet allows you accept online payments from around the world and your direct relationship with your fans is more accessible than ever before.

A thousand fans is a lot easier to aim for than a million.  If you manage to add one true fan per day to your following, it would only take three years to gain a thousand and by using the internet to attract those fans, this is a very achievable and conservative goal. That said the number 1,000 is not absolute. The actual number has to be adjusted for each person. For example, if you are only able to earn $50 per year per true fan, then you need 2,000 fans. Likewise if you can sell $200 per year per fan, you only need 500 true fans. Or you may only need $75K per year to live on, so you would adjust downward.

On the downside cultivating a thousand true fans is time consuming, sometimes nerve racking, and not for everyone. Done well it can become another full-time job. At best it will be a challenging part-time task that requires on-going skills.  That said there are many entrepreneurs who don’t want to deal with followers and prefer to hire someone else to do this. If that’s you and you do employ someone to build your fandom, this commitment will skew your money making formula because you’ll have an extra wage to pay, but that’s fine if that’s the best way forward for you. Click the link to my next post and discover  how to find your fans

Will you build your own fandom or get someone else to do it for you?

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