May 03, 2023 - 12 min read
The number 1,000 holds great value in our human life. Most people desire to make their first $1000 and few want to earn an extra $1000. And now we want 1,000 true fans to build our creative business. And do what we are passionate about with the help of those true fans.
Originally the idea of having true fans to make a living was introduced to me when I was 14 years old. Seeing my uncle sell out his whole music inventory in a village of 3,000 people. He had 600 true fans buying from him. Then, I came across the article “1000 True fans” by Kevin Kelly. His analysis of how artists can make a living from their true fans.
I was amazed by the analysis, it opened businesses and creatives to the idea of building relationships with their users. That is like a never-ending bond.
But like every other idea in the world. Ideas don’t mean much if you don’t execute and work for them. Especially, in a way that people want to believe in your ideas.
While I love the idea proposed earlier by Kevin & later posts on this idea were published by Li Jin & many others on building your true fans. The concept is broken because most posts talk about revenue & emotional connection.
There is not much talk about how creators & businesses built those 1000 or 100 true fans. Most of them built those true fans in different ways.
Not talked about enough, most true fans have different characteristics and they are connected to your business for different purposes.
In general true fans, take an element of your business and stick to it. Most true fans of your business will have 90% similar opinions but 10% different. And that 10% is the personality trait that makes them feel connected to you in a different way than others.
What we have learned from all the theories regarding building true fans is finding a pain/common point. And connecting with them on that level to turn an average fan into a true fan.
A concept of understanding buyer purposes as a theory of building true fans. That is why the execution of building true fans is broken.
First, ask yourself. Are you a true fan of any business, creator, or artist? Ask me, My answer will be: A true fan is an unaware individual who knows my business in a way that benefits me the most.
I grew up with the belief that you can never do something completely right or wrong. Because we are always unaware of what effects on our future will occur when we do right or wrong. We, humans, are always unaware of X percent.
And your true fan is currently only aware of what he needs to be aware of to keep buying from you. At one point, he will be aware of more and will go back to his life as a regular fan.
This means A true fan will not buy into everything you sell. He is on a journey like humans to be more aware of their presence on earth.
That is why focusing on building true fans is kind of impossible. Because your fans are always in the loop of your journey. There is no constant.
Don’t settle for a number like 1,000 true fans. Try to make sure more and more people are in the loop of joining the journey. And reaching the stage of being a true fan at some point.
Now, I would like to focus back on steps you can take to make sure more and more people are reaching a peak true fan level. Before they got more aware and reversed back to being a regular fan.
I remember last year until October I was a true fan of J. Cole (rapper/artist). I still love him, what changed was my context of rap music. How much knowledge I had about the culture & art of rap grew. Made me aware of what the next level of rap music exists on the underground level.
Understanding the rhymes, and stories, and thinking behind them changed me. Context- The first and most important part of your journey building a successful business.
Find what level of awareness your regular fan might hold to find you & fall in love with your product & art. To reach a point of being a true fan. After that, have an awareness of what is the next level for that true fan. Because most fans have to see progress from the artists & businesses they love.
Joining/finding you introduced them to a new level of awareness in that niche/industry. Their context will be having the best product or music album on their hands. You should be aware that there is always someone doing better. So define possibilities of them reaching the X business or artist. To learn from them and adapt.
It is hard to do for artists but as an artist, you should not be afraid of experiments & risk to improve your craft. For both businesses and creators, The first angle of building true fans is being aware of what your ideal fan knows and how they will change or grow while being with you/your business.
The second step of building true fans is understanding what matters the most in their journey.
Most artists & businesses have strong connections with fans through their products. And at the end of the day, Product makes the connection between fans unbreakable.
They may never stop caring about you if the product is impeccable. We have had artists in the past with personalities that no one likes. And businesses with a brand purpose that no one stands for. But besides that, nailing your end product remains the center and starting of a fan journey.
For many your story & long-term vision matters the most. Thinking that connects with others to make them join your brand or market it with you.
To this day, many unprofitable brands are funded by VCs again and again. Because they believe in the long-term vision of that business. And local small businesses thrive because they have a story that makes people support them.
Every business is born with an element of making people connect and become irreplaceable. That element is hard to find, but it is worth finding to build true fans for your business.
The last step of building fans is Acknowledgement that you care.
The audience of true fans likes to be seen and the most important thing for them is finding that you care about them.
Trust and caring make them stay!
The examples most independent artists & startups have in 2023 about building true fans. Did not try to build that fanbase.
I’m straight out of Coachella, Many People hate Frank Ocean for not performing well and true fans defending him. The story of Frank Ocean explains a lot about True Fans.
Many Artists do what they do for their comfort & benefit. And most of them build their true fans by doing that, not caring about what people think.
But when the number of true fans grows, those same fans can hold you back. Because they want the same music & you to do what they like.
That becomes a challenge for artists and businesses. Because pivoting and trying new things is what most of them do. That change and adaptation mentality can impact your true fans.
When you do that, the part of building true fans changes into steps you need to take to keep your true fans. By knowing their touch points & caring about them.
You should never be afraid of pivoting, adapting & taking risks. But the important part is understanding your true fans when you do that.
When you started reading this article, my influence over you was potentially zero percent. And it might remain that way or change. Every single step in front of your fans impacts your influence on them.
Early Research on Influencers & Artists shows that with every piece of content. They connect with potential buyers & lose many at the same time. Proving again that there is no constant.
That is the reason, Many successful startups, and artists steal the work & frameworks. And rebuild a new business or work of art for those lost audiences.
Those Successors meet those audiences at a point where other artists lost them.
The post from Kevin talked about how true fans can help artists make a living. And until now, I have mentioned more about building fans, keeping & understanding them.
As proposed by Kevin, I agree with him. To make a living off your true fans. It is not about the number 1,000.
I know artists & businesses struggling with 100k IG followers, 1 million Spotify streams, and viral editorial content across the internet. And I know artists with 500 IG followers thrive.
It tells a lot about finding true fans is hard and also involves luck. It could take only 1000 followers or real-life interactions to find your first 100 true fans. Or it could take more than 100k followers to discover them.
Even with all the hard work, it involves luck and your current state as a business or artist.
All the changes in the world and human behavior are changing the definition of a true fan.
The True fan definitions for artists are changing. Because the touchpoints changed. Streaming options disrupted the music world.
Affecting the earnings of musicians. Digital Arts (NFTs) created a new opportunity for fans to invest in an artist's journey. Influencers becoming brand faces for new businesses made people resonate more with the brand.
In a few industries, the changes are making it harder for artists to make a living and in many, it is easier than ever. The important part for you is to be aware of what they want now. And what you have to change to make a living or connect more with fans.
I know today artists and businesses are afraid of AI taking their work. Fear won’t help. What helps is your creative intelligence to start finding a way to differentiate yourself from others. And know what changes, and how you can protect your art & be better than AI. With what you have and AI doesn’t.
There are few individuals in the creator economy and artist world. Trying to help everyone build true fans and make a living.
I would like to mention them and share my insights on what you can learn from them. I consider myself a true fan of these individuals.
There are many others I believe contributed a lot to the Artists, Creators & business economy. Their names aren’t here but the effects of their steps will always remain.
That’s all I have for you. I am on my journey to reach 100 True Fans this year. My first touchpoint of turning a regular follower into True fan is by making them subscribe to my newsletter. Would you like to join the journey?
And I hope you reach your desired number of true fans. And you gain a new one, whenever a fan falls out of the true fan phase.