If you haven’t heard of it, I want to introduce you to the concept of a 1000 True Fans. And if you’re in business and you’re struggling or you’re uncertain, the idea behind Kevin Kelly’s article with that title might transform your business. 1000 true fans. When I first read it years ago, it validated the way that I wanted to do business, but it also went against what so many other people were teaching and talking about. And what he basically says is to be successful, you don’t need millions of customers. You don’t need millions of dollars and you don’t need millions of fans. But when you ask a lot of people, they will think that that’s absolutely necessary. And this is basically geared towards the freelancer, the craftsmen, people like authors, designers to musicians and the photographers. This is for them. And the way he describes it, he describes a true fan and what a true fan is, is somebody that will buy anything you produce.
They’re the ones that will drive a long distance to see you live. They’re the ones that when you come out with a book or a product that they’re going to buy it because they trust you. If you have a get together or some type of event, they’re going to show up. That’s a true fan and he says, if you are content to make a living but not necessarily a fortune, you will do just fine if you have a thousand true fans and here’s how he describes it and he brings two points into it. First, you have to create enough each year that you can earn $100 profit from each true fan basically on average, the second which so many people now have such a hard time with is to have a direct relationship with your fans monetarily describes it, is that they pay you directly because if you go through another label or an agency, even though you’re, even though you’re a fan, you’re going not going to get all of that money.
And this is a very basic premise and you could spread it out into different ways and different numbers, but we’re going to keep the symbol with a thousand fans. And what he’s saying is if each fan will pay $100 a year for what you do, all you need is a thousand of them, and that’s $100,000 a year. And for most people that’s a pretty good living. So immediately, instead of getting out of the overwhelm of I need millions of people to follow me, or hundreds of thousands of people on YouTube or Instagram, I need a thousand people that truly love what I do. And the ironic thing about this, he talks about is this is the way it used to be where we had direct contact with our customers and then for a long period of time, especially with artists and musicians, they lost contact with them because there were middlemen and there wasn’t as much of a direct relationship.
But now that’s changed. If you use the music world, there’s bands out there that don’t go through any of those channels anymore. They basically have their fans come directly to them. Pearl Jam was one of them that they’re still huge, even though you don’t hear them on the radio, they’ve got their fans that follow them anywhere that they go and they’re loyal and they’re faithful. A beautiful example of this from the past with the Grateful Dead, they didn’t have any radio airplay. They didn’t have any pop culture following, but they had one of the most loyal fan bases that traveled everywhere that they went. Those are true fans and there’s a lot more to this article and I don’t want to overcomplicate it, but if you want to read the whole thing, just google Kevin Kelly, a 1000 true fans and read the article and he had readily admits.
Cultivating a thousand true fans is not easy. It’s time consuming. It’s difficult and it’s not for everybody, but he says it a thousand true fans is an alternative path to success other than stardom because many of us want the success, but we’re not looking for the stardom. So that holds people back because they feel like I don’t want to be a public figure and I don’t want to be annoying and pitching myself all the time. I just want to do my art, and by building up true fans, little by little, you get to do it your way without looking for the stardom, and it’s truly the way we’ve built all of our businesses. For the most part, nobody knows who we are, aside from the people that really follow us and those people, those small number of people are really into the stuff that we do.
I don’t need everybody to know about it. I just need the right people. And the beautiful part about it, it doesn’t have to be a thousand people at $100 it could be 2000 people at $50 it could be 50 people at $2,000 when you start thinking about this, if you can create a product that’s worth $2,000 you only need 50 people to buy it, to make $100,000 or maybe this is even easier to grasp. If you have something that’s worth $1,000 and think in your mind what you can create that has so much value that you can sell for $1,000 you need 100 people in a year to buy it to earn $100,000 if you’re like me, you start getting excited. Well, well if we have a different product and they’re a raving fan, it’s very easy to add another option to that higher or lower and that number can double or more.
But the key to this, even starting with one person is start developing true fans. People as Seth Godin would say that would miss you when you’re gone and with not even talked about in this article is the fact that 87% of clients come from referrals. So you and I both know that when you’re a raving fan or something, you tell other people about it. So over time you don’t personally have to win over those true fans. Your true fans will do it for you. And that’s called compound growth. And when you start getting there, you start wondering, what did I even worry about in the first place? Just serve this group as well as I can. And that’s when the snowball starts rolling downhill. But the takeaway at the end that he talks about is, if you do this, you won’t be surrounded by faddish infatuation. But by genuine and true appreciation, Kelly finishes, it’s a much saner destiny to hope for, and you’re much more likely to actually arrive there. So if you want success, don’t focus on the masses. Focus on your true fans. It worked for us. It could work for YouTube. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.