There are many musicians, creators, E-sporters, athletes, events, and other creative businesses struggling to make a living from their beloved craft. These creators have one thing in common: they are blindly focusing on growth.
While having more fans does open the door to greater opportunities, it is not necessary to have a large audience to make a living from your content. In fact, in his must-read essay from 2008, Kevin Kelly states that you only need 1000 true fans to be successful.
To illustrate his point, he names those true fans ‘superfans’ and defines them as the “ones who will buy everything you produce”. They will be the first in line to buy your new merchandise, the first ones to check out your new content, the ones buying the VIP tickets to your events. Essentially, your ‘superfans’ are those fans who are ready to go the extra mile for you, simply because they feel so deeply connected to your brand.
Why 1000 fans can be enough to make a living
His statement that you only need 1000 of these superfans, is met by two criteria.
First, you need to be able to create enough content to be able to earn $100 from each of your superfans yearly. In some businesses, this is easier to do than others, but it’s a great challenge nonetheless. This is because we know that rewarding your loyal customers is much more beneficial for a business than finding new ones.
Second, you must have a direct customer relationship with your fans, meaning that you sell to them directly without the interference from a third party intermediate.
Kevin Kelly’s philosophy is even more applicable today than it was in 2008. According to Forbes, our passion economy is growing, meaning that more and more people are able to monetize what they love. Nowadays, aiming for thousands of paying fans is a more realistic goal than aiming for millions of paying fans.
Since we nowadays have access to great tools that offer us the possibility to sell to our fans directly, it has become easier than ever. Kevin Kelly also stated that “this new technology permits creators to maintain relationships, so that the customer can become a fan, and so that the creator keeps the total amount of payment, which reduces the number of fans needed… It has never been easier to gather 1,000 true fans around a creator, and never easier to keep them near.”
Jeroen Riemens further explains in his article how having 1000 real fans changes everything: “First they’ll buy almost everything you put out, allowing you to make a living while working on your craft. Second, as enthusiastic as those true fans are, they will tell their friends about your product, spreading your story. Assuming you have a good product, this will add customers, and if you’re investing enough time in your inner circle, more true fans.”
There are many ways to reach your superfans nowadays, but not every one of them is as effective as they seem to be. Think of your social media following. You might have 100,000 followers on Instagram, but how many are actually seeing your content? Are you reaching the right fans? You need to consider which channels are best for connecting directly with your superfans, giving them the treatment they need and deserve.
Platforms like Fangage allow you to reach your true fan base 100% of the time. This can be highly beneficial when you are executing the strategy of 1000 fans.
The idea of having 1000 fans to be successful is not for everyone. But it is a great alternative path to success for those who do not want to aim for the unlikely chances of rising to stardom. Instead, you focus on direct relationships with a core of true fans, who will genuinely appreciate you. Besides, you never know how many fans you will pick up along the way.