We all want to be loved. We want fans of our work. We want people who can’t help but talk about us. We want to be famous. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s a natural desire, even for the most humble individual.
Where things begin to differ is how people go about building such an audience. Many people just chase everyone. They want every fan and follower they can find. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but its not the most efficient, nor is it the most stable.
Such large fan bases come and go. They are attracted by ads and marketing campaigns, but have little connection to you and what you do. You may achieve a million fans in a matter of weeks, but the quality of those fans will be low.
There’s an alternative though. You don’t have to chase the entire market, instead you can chase the right market.
Kevin Kelly, in his famous essay on 1,000 True Fans, explains this point perfectly. In it he argues that you don’t need everyone, you just need 1,000 die-hard, loyal fans that love what you do. Once you hit 1,000 fans, you’ve hit a threshold that will allow you to be successful and achieve your goals.
These 1,000 true fans will spread the word, make things go viral, and share your work with the world. They will be there through good and bad and aren’t going to disappear over night. Why? Because they are individuals you have formed a real connection with. Either you know them personally or you have proved yourself to them over time. They love what you do.
When you think of it from this perspective, it starts to become more clear that maybe striving to reach everyone isn’t really the best strategy.
Here’s why striving for 1,000 true fans is worth your time.
1. It’s actually attainable
First and foremost, 1,000 true fans is attainable. You can make connections with 1,000 people. Compared to trying to get millions of people, it almost sounds like a piece of cake.
Of course it’s still not easy, but if you work towards this goal, in whatever you do, you can get to a number of fans that will be with you for life. Sure you’re not going to become a multi-millionaire by getting to 1,000, but you certainly will make a good living doing something you enjoy.
2. It’s a defined strategy
Often we just have a blanket idea in our heads of what we want, but with little thought behind it. In this case, we not only have a number, but we can target a specific audience that fits the type of fans we want.
Defining our market allows us to be methodical and targeted in our approach. We can build a list of fans that share our values and ideas. That we get along with beyond our work and fit our overall mission.
3. It will lead to stronger connections
While being famous sounds great, do you really want to be recognized by every single person in your life? Does your life get better when a barista knows who you are? On the other hand, how would it feel to know that people you respect and look up to, are fans of yours?
There is something to be said about the quality of your fans and focusing on your 1,000 true fans leads to a much deeper connection with your audience. One that is made up of people you respect.
It can be an audience that you are not only proud of, but that inspires you to do good work as well.
4. It will keep growing
Finally, reaching 1,000 true fans isn’t the end. The long tail takes over and building more true fans only builds on your foundation.
If you do it right, you could be set for life, once you hit this threshold, because your following will only grow stronger the longer you engage with it. So while 1,000 true fans doesn’t sound like much, it is scalable and can turn into massive success.
You enjoy your true fans, as much as they enjoy you.
This is why best overcomes biggest. When you have an audience you respect, that you enjoy, your work only gets better. You get invigorated by their support and adoration. You both reap the benefits in this relationship.
While quantity can take you places, quality can truly enrich your life. So when you’re trying to build your own audience, take a moment to think about how you want to get there because it will dramatically change what your community looks like.
Image via flickr