1,000 True Fans
The 1,000 True Fans concept was something of a revelation to me. The concept is pretty simple. If you make stuff and you can get a relatively small cadre of people who love what you make, you can make a living.
There’s some fine print. A “True Fan” is someone who will buy anything and everything you produce. If you put out a book, they’ll buy the e-book, hardback, and audio version. If you make music, they’ll buy the album and drive all day to go to your concert. They’re hard to get.
You have to have a direct connection to the True Fans. You can communicate with them directly, and they can buy directly from you.
From there, it’s based on some pretty simple math. If you have 1,000 True Fans and you produce $100 worth of stuff for them every year, you can make $100,000.
You’ll actually make more because you’re going to sell some stuff to people who don’t buy everything. Someone’s going to buy the e-book and leave it at that.
It’s an extension of the Pareto Principle. A majority of your money is going to come from a minority of your fans, customers, or clients.
There’s nothing magic about the number 1,000 or making $100 worth of stuff every year. The math is the same if you have 100 True Fans and can produce $1,000 of stuff each year.
If you’re making art—as the original concept assumed—you’re producing songs or books or whatever that sell relatively cheaply. If you’re providing professional services like coding, copywriting, or graphic design, you’re probably producing a lot more than $100 worth of stuff every year.
The important thing here is not the numbers or the math. The important thing is the principle that you don’t need a huge client base to make a decent living.