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One Thousand “True” Fans

James Huang | 2021.05.18

In 2008, Kevin Kelly dispelled the myth with his essay titled “1,000 true fans.” It took the internet by storm.  The premise of the essay was that any writer, designer, musician, artist, entrepreneur, investor, or any other kind of creator, can lead a comfortable lifestyle by simply finding one thousand ‘true’ fans.

As a creator, how do you find these dedicated customers to live a comfortable lifestyle? In this article, you’ll see the exact actionable steps with examples of brands connecting with a few super fans. First, let’s define what a “true” fan is.

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 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 or cultivated experience 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.

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.

The theory is more relevant than ever.

The internet is wide open, but niching down your creative work to focus on your 1,000 true fans has never been more important. 

How NFTs help creators?

You don’t need to become famous. If you can get just 1,000 people to spend $800 Hong Kong dollars a year, you can earn a very reasonable living.

It captured the imagination of artists and entrepreneurs, the idea of 1000 True Fans is simple—find your best customers and get them to keep buying from you.  In creative fields, the idea has come to life through crowdfunding.  NFTs also provides a tool to incentivises creators and top fans, imagine a redeemable receipt by the NFTs owner can provide a fan badge to your true fans, with a secondary market and value. 

In a piece titled Apple’s Middle Age, Apple is actually pursuing the exactly strategy. No longer in its swashbuckling, tumultuous early days, Apple doesn’t need to continuously innovate in the same way that they used to.  There’s more value for Apple in providing value to their existing users.

Finding 1,000 True Fans isn’t easy.  Relying on a small base of support can be dangerous. As a concept, though, the idea of True Fans is extremely valuable.

Set aside the specific number of fans, or even the idea that your fans need to be foaming at the mouth for your brand.  Then ask yourself: what else can I offer my existing customers?

One Thousand “True” Fans
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