January 29, 2011

EPM and 1,000 true fans

1,000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly
It would be criminal to write a blog called Each Person Matters without going back to the article "1,000 True Fans" by Kevin Kelly of Wired Magazine.

In the digital age, we talk a lot about the "long tail" of a distribution - the seemingly infinite number of people, products, books or songs that we can now access thanks to the internet. The digital jukebox at the bar now has 100,000 songs in it, instead of just 50 CD's. Justin Bieber can have millions of followers on Twitter, and each those people can follow millions of other people.

But, if you're a singer, a painter, or own a small business, how does this help you make a living? 1,000,000 Facebook fans would be great to have, but you can't eat a wall post and Retweets don't pay the rent.

Kelly's argument is that each person matters, but you can only guarantee making a living as a creative or entrepreneur if you have some number of dedicated followers who are True Fans.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can't wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.
If you estimate that a True Fan will spend $100 on your art or product per year, all it takes is 1,000 True Fans to earn a living. How many do you have?