Technology expert Kevin Kelly writes
on his blog that most creators only need 1,000 true fans to be successful.
Many artists and entrepreneurs chase clicks, hits, and media mentions “trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum bestseller hits, blockbusters, and celebrity status.”
But a better strategy is to develop stronger relationships with the people who really care. For Kelly, the focus should be on quality over quantity.
A true fan will drive 200 miles to watch you perform; they’ll buy the hardcover, paperback, and audio versions of your book; they’ll test the beta version of your app and tell their friends; they’ll buy your latest painting sight unseen.
You need to meet 2 criteria to make the math of 1,000 true fans work:
- Each year, you need to create enough so that you make, on average, $100 profit from each true fan.
- Your relationship with your true fans must be direct, so that you can earn the $100 from them without involving an intermediary like a publisher, studio, or retailer.
If you meet the above criteria, you can make $100,000 each year, which is a good living for most people.
The 1,000 true fans formula isn’t absolute, and should be adjusted for each person.
For example, if you can only earn $50 from each true fan then you need 2,000 of them; if you are able to earn $200 from each true fan, then you only need 500. Or maybe you can survive on $75,000 per year.
The point is that you probably need fewer people than you think to successfully pursue your craft, and when you’re starting out this can make the process more encouraging and realistic.