Kevin’s 1000 True Fans concept was made popular by many gurus of online audience-building and monetization, just like Malcolm Gladwells made Anders Ericsson’s 10,000-hour practice rule popular through his book Outlier.
Kevin Kelly’s idea was simple but novel. He wrote:
To be a successful creator you don’t need millions. You don’t need millions of dollars or millions of customers, millions of clients or millions of fans. To make a living as a craftsperson, photographer, musician, designer, author, animator, app maker, entrepreneur, or inventor you need only thousands of true fans.
He presented this concept at a time when creators were doing anything they can, including spending a lot of money to attract as many clicks as possible to their websites.
Clicks were considered the equivalent of ‘foot traffic” in brick and mortar stores, and the online entrepreneurs and creators were obsessed with increasing the number of visits to their stores.
Kelly showed them an alternate way using simple math.
If you have a thousand fans and they buy $100 worth of product in a year, you earn $100,000.
Of course Kelly had two criteria:
But this simple math had a major flaw.
Many creators, in fact, thousands of them, didn’t even have 1000 followers, let alone 1000 true fans.
I am one of them.
I have been writing online for almost three years now my email subscriber number is still in two digits.
My LinkedIn follower number is, 930
My Facebook followers are just 270
My Instagram followers are merely 80.
Most of them are family and friends. They are not buyers. I can’t launch a book or a course and expect to make a sale.
But then something happened last month.
I asked a simple question on my three social media platforms.
One person responded. She chose option one.
She wrote, “Please write the first one, and stick to basics. I will buy it because you explain things in simple terms.”
That one reader gave me all the confidence I needed to write the book.
I wrote the book for her.
And she bought it.
It was a big thing for me that someone paid $2.99 to buy the book that I wrote.
That single true fan gave me more confidence than 2.1 followers on Medium and 1000+ followers on social media.
You don’t need 1000 true fans. You just need one.
I don’t know how many followers I need to get 1000 true fans. Fifty thousand? One million? Many million?
I don’t know whether I will ever get them.
But I have learned that I don’t need them. I just need one person to believe in me, to buy my book, or to take my course to get me started.
Having a single buyer or client can give you enough confidence to get you going. The key to online business isn’t skill or even knowledge.
Instead, it’s confidence.
Most of us start with fancy titles like “book coach, yoga teacher, life coach, etc.” when in fact, we’re still right on the bottom rung of the ladder.
When a single client pays us even a tiny amount of money, it gives us just the boost we need to keep going. Aiming for a thousand clients, in the beginning, freezes us in our tracks.
I sold 18 copies of my book on the first day. I know six of those were my family and friends, but the rest 12 were true buyers.
I am starting my second book.
Once again, I asked my tiny little following, would they like to read the story of my journey from competitive to creative life in the form of conversations between my inner critic and me?
Three people responded in the affirmative.
I am going to write the book for them.
You don’t need 1000 true fans, you just need one.