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business marketing

Find the first 10 and then the other 990

If you’re an entrepreneur (perhaps a wantreprenuer?) or know people who are, chances are you have heard or read Kevin Kelly’s take on the 1000 true fans. It’s probably one of the most useful marketing lessons of all time. A practical strategy to maintain one’s sanity while building a sustainable business over time.

The only challenge with the advice is that it’s not for everyone, particularly if you’re after raking in the millions. But do you really need the millions? Probably not.

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.

Kevin Kelly, 1,000 True Fans

Truer words were never said. Yes, it’s a perspective but I’d say the theory hits home for most people. But the real challenge is finding your 1,000 true fans. They’re not out there waiting for you. Heck, they don’t even know if you’re alive!

So, what do you do? Run Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter ads everyday for the next 3 months? No way! If you have money to burn, great! But I have a hunch all the folks who’ve liked your page and content are still not going to buy what you have to offer. This is a long game my friend. If you’re hoping things are going to change overnight, you’re mistaken.

But there’s hope — start from where you are. Create content, the kind that you believe in instead of something you hope is going to go viral. Do it everyday or at least more often than what’s “comfortable” for you. And in no time you will find your first true fan — the one who will like, love, and share everything that you put out. Gradually, you will find some more. Keep at it until have 10 true fans. That’s your core audience, the one with whom you will engage so you can create content that resonates with them.

I know, this sounds like a lot of work because it is! But you have to be patient throughout the journey because it’s not going to happen in a few weeks. Sometimes it could take your months (a couple of years or more even)! But if you’re in for the long haul (which you should be), you have to keep doing this.

These 10 fans are going to tell 10 other people of which 1% might convert and join your brigade. And over a period of time, the numbers compound. Simply because you had your ears to the ground and were constantly engaging and creating content just for this exclusive audience.

The gap between 10 and 1,000 has been unexplained for obvious reasons. The concept is easy to understand but then most entrepreneurs get excited and go out to find their 1,000 true fans (based on the number of likes on their Facebook page) only to hear crickets. That’s disheartening.

So, if you’re after your 1,000 true fans, I highly recommend that you start out with finding the one true fan whom you can count on. The others will follow. This probably could be the hardest phase in your life as a creator/artist/entrepreneurs. And that’s okay. Because real momentum starts to kick in once you have your first 10 fans. That core base is what you need to grow to 20, 40, 80, 160, 320, 640, 1,000 and beyond.

Scaling up from 10 to a 1,000 is much easier than from nothing to a 1,000.

All of this takes time. And if you’re wondering how you’re going to survive as you’re building your tribe, I’ve got two options for you:

  1. Use your craft (even if it’s creating content) to help other entities (corporates, small businesses, or influencers) for money
  2. Get a job

I know, it’s not the most ideal or juicy option but that’s life. You’ve got to be patient about building a business. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you empire won’t be done by dawn tomorrow either.

P.S. I did a quick search on 1,000 true fans and noticed that there are crapton of videos explaining what’s the theory all about. Here are a few that I found the best. I hope you’ll enjoy and learn from these.

HOW TO GAIN 1000 TRUE FANS
HOW TO FIND YOUR 1000 TRUE FANS – Brian Rose’s Real Deal
How to Create Content That Sustains a Career | Tim Ferriss

Blog Post: How 1000 “True” Fans Can Help Creators Make A Sustainable Living (SN: This one’s quite indepth and goes into the nitty gritties of marketing.)