The Path To Success As A Content Creator: Building Up Your True Fans
from the they'll-pay-for-value dept
Here’s a story that follows nicely on our recent post about Trent Reznor quickly selling out his $300 “Ultra-Deluxe” limited edition offering on his new album. As we noted, just because Nine Inch Nails is a recognized act, it doesn’t mean that smaller acts can’t learn from it as well. Helping to underscore that point is yet another thought piece from Kevin Kelly, talking about the concept of 1000 True Fans. The idea is pretty straight forward: if you want to become a successful content creator, what you really need is 1000 True Fans. In Kelly’s estimation, that’s the cutoff point where a content creator can make a living. His definition of a True Fan is:
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.
That appears to be exactly what Reznor has (though, clearly he has a lot more than 1000 at this point). But Kelly then discusses just what you need to do to build up 1000 True Fans. You need to connect with them directly. That means communicating with them. Having a blog, a social network profile, a Twitter account — whatever. And then using all of them to really connect with the fans. Give out your early content so more and more people have access to it and are more likely to become True Fans. As Kelly points out, for each of the True Fans will be surrounded by Lesser Fans — some of whom may purchase goods from you, some of whom may not. Some may become True Fans over time and others may not — but the more True Fans you have, the more True Fans you’re likely to gain over time. There’s a network effect here. You build up those True Fans and then you give them reasonable reasons to spend money to support you. It’s not about gouging them, but offering them something (scarce) of value that they’re perfectly willing to pay for.
It’s an excellent framework for any content creator getting started. Certainly, you may not be able to build up enough True Fans if the content isn’t good enough (or unique enough, in some cases), but you’re certainly unlikely to be able to build up those True Fans from scratch by keeping your content locked up and hoping that someone important “discovers” you and makes you a star.