Table of Contents
What Is A ‘True’ Fan?Essentially, a true fan is someone that is enthusiastic about all of your work. They follow you closely and purchase anything and everything you produce. They will plan overnight journeys to attend your concert and get your signed copies. They will buy your mug, t-shirts, and every merchandise you sell. Since your true fans are SO enthusiastic about your creations, you should personally connect with them. Besides expressing gratitude for their support, you should give special access to these super fans. They may act as your unpaid marketing force and spread your work through word of mouth. They can get your casual fans and regular followers on board. For example, Slipknot calls its fans ‘maggots‘. The ‘true’ maggots (like me) don’t just watch every new music video they release on YouTube. They buy music/masks/merchandise from their site, closely follow the updates about their band members, and don’t miss a chance to watch them live. In some cases, they plan to travel 4,500 miles to witness the band live at their metal festival (that would be me!)
But Is The 1000 True Fans Theory Relevant Today?Kevin conceptualised the theory in 2008. Back then, Google, YouTube, and Facebook were fairly new. For the distribution of any kind of creative work, some middlemen decided which product gets to the end users. As a creator, you dealt with entities like record labels, brick and mortar retail stores, book publishers, TV channel executives, and the like. Flash forward to today, and the internet has democratised the distribution of content. There are an ample number of platforms with:
- No middlemen,
- Direct access to millions of users,
- Increasing consumer attention by the day.
- More than 400 hours of video is uploaded on YouTube every minute.
- Over 2 million blog posts are published every day.
- Kickstarter, the largest crowdfunding platform, has seen over 100,000 creative projects funded. And the average number of backers for a successful project stands at 255. That means you can run a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign with “true” fans.
- In his revised version of the essay for Tools of Titans, mentions how every idea, product, and desire has takers on the internet. Even if you appeal to 1-in-a-million people, they can access your work with a few clicks on the internet. Here’s how Kevin puts it:
How To Get 1000 True Fans: 4 Slow And Painful StepsForget going viral. Abandon your pursuit of getting thousands of social media fans. And stop focusing on trying to gain the attention of the masses. Take these four slow and effortful steps to find your true fans and making a sustainable living.
Step #1: Define Who You Want To AppealThe noise on the internet calls for niching down. It’s no longer about trying to create a video or a blog post that hundreds of thousands of people will ‘like.’ Any metric that doesn’t tie closely with your revenue is a vanity metric. Instead of creating, without a documented audience and sans strategy, you need to attract certain kind of people. Note that these superfans are not supposed to be an “ideal” audience. They are actual, real people. Don’t fall in the trap of creating for a set of people in your fantasy world that don’t exist. That’s the sole reason why many startups fail, blog posts don’t get traffic, and artists fail to breakthrough. Hence, research, get clarity of the audience that you want to attract with your creations and document the audience. In his advice on creating content that sustains a career below, Tim Ferriss notes that your goal is to define the people that absolutely LOVE what you create. They find your work extremely valuable and will recruit casual followers for your creative endeavors. Here are the questions you can begin with for a basic overlay of your “true” fan:
- Who is my audience? (Write down their age, location, gender, job title, annual income, and the like)
- What are their top challenges? (Write down a few pain points, questions, and concerns that they have).
- List their major interests. (Include hobbies, books they read, blogs they visit, and other aspects of their personality).
- What are the desires that they currently seek? (List any results and goals that they want to achieve right now).
Step #2: Create For Your Super FansWhen you create, your goal is to connect and add value to your “true” fans. Even if you create with the mindset of appealing to a niche audience, the engagement from these enthusiasts can catapult your reach. Even Facebook and Google algorithms are weighing user engagement to decide the content that gets visibility on their platforms. Now, when you get down to creating, you can use the formula below devised by Dana Sitar. Before she begins writing, Dana likes to fill in the following statement that she refers to as a ‘reader story.’ You can modify and use it for your other types of content as well. “As a [type of person], they want [some goal] so that [some reason].” If you’re stuck for ideas, then don’t directly run to paying for a tool like Ahrefs and finding the highest-volume keywords. Rather, you should get out there and talk to your true fans. Don’t already have access to them? Wait for the next step where I’ll tell you an actionable strategy to build a community. Until then, you can join the communities where your “true” fans hang out. Try exploring niche forums, Facebook groups, subreddits, and the like. If you run into same questions repeatedly, then note them down. Once you have a few questions from these fans, then it’s time to come up with content ideas and find the relevant keywords that fit with them. It’s like an inverted keyword research strategy by Grow and Convert. The cool part? It prioritizes reaching out and engaging with a few dedicated customers, over getting LOTS of traffic that doesn’t convert.
Step #3: Build A Community Of Your True FansMike Shreeve solicits the email of his website visitors in exchange for valuable advice on freelancing that his target audience seeks. Once he has their email, he sends them nuggets of helpful freelancing advice daily. Even if Facebook shuts down tomorrow, Mike can still continue to grow his business because of owning a list. Here’s how he puts it. Later in the above email, Mike aptly summarizes the advantage of building a list, “In the world of doing business online, the email list (and the relationship you have with your subscribers) is the only real asset that you own.” Now, how is building a list equivalent to building a community? You see, a community is all about relationships and interacting with your audience. An email list achieves both of these goals. The only drawback is that you miss out on the valuable discussions that happen between your community members. So if you have the bandwidth, then you can also start a Facebook group and invite your “true” fans. Authority Hacker has a dedicated Facebook group (for its paid subscribers) where passionate site creators talk about marketing, SEO, business, and the like. In fact, the founder of the company, Gael, also drops by occasionally when writing a blog post. Look at the number of comments containing questions Gael could address in his article.
Even when he plans to revamp his paid training course, Gael conducts a poll asking the community on what they want.
Isn’t that a great way of finding the EXACT issues and requirements of your “true” fans. In the process, you also make your work extremely relevant and valuable to them. The community also fulfills another crucial aspect of having those true fans. “You’re always hanging out nearby your true fans.”
Step #4: Solicit Feedback And Create MORE For Your Existing “True” FansIf you don’t innovate, then your existing ‘true’ fans might get bored. Here’s how you can engage them and keep your fans near you.
- If you’re a content creator, then serve new content at a regular pace and address the questions raised by your audience. You should also create exclusive content and give special access to these subscribers.
- If you’re selling a digital product, then it makes sense to validate new product ideas with them and serve them. You can build a thriving business and lead a comfortable lifestyle by focusing on your die-hard customers alone.
Here’s a comparison of how the average spend of a “true” student stacks up against an ordinary student.
- Lastly, even if you’re selling physical products as a Direct To Consumer Ecommerce brand, then interact with your tightly-knit community. And come up with newer products for your existing customers.
Let’s Thank Kevin Kelly For Coining 1000 True Fans By Showing Him Another Example!If you want stardom and aim to make a fortune, then 1,000 true fans might not be the ideal way. However, with the rise of hundreds of digital tools, you can build a thriving business merely by catering to your 1000 “true” fans. Indeed to finance your next product/creation, you can raise money. In North America alone, over 17.2 billion dollars have been generated via crowdfunding. And Kickstarter creative projects have been pledged over $4 Billion. The best part is that you can leverage your direct relationships with your super enthusiastic fans alongside the traditional intermediaries. That is, you can lean on a publishing powerhouse, yet also self-publish (depending on your goal with the content you create). Now, it’s your turn. Are you a “true” fan of any artist/company/creator? Let me know in the comments below.
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