According to Kevin Kelly, You Only Need 1000 True Fans To Be a Success.

It’s true, but don’t miss the real point of this incredible piece of business advice.

I first read Kevin Kelly’s now-famous blog post a few years ago, and it was nothing short of a revelation. It has influenced how I approach building my business as nothing else has before or since. It is a guiding light and one of the first places I head to when I’m confused or losing my way.

His post has come up in conversation more than a few times in the intervening years. People often focus on the wrong part. They get fixated on the numbers when they should be thinking about fans.

In case you haven’t read the post, here is the gist. You need a small number of people who love what you do to sustain you in your creative endeavours. He calls these people ‘true fans’.

You need to work out how many true fans you have, and that is what this article is about. A good place to start is by understanding who your true fans are not.

Your Instagram/Twitter/Facebook followers.

Most of these people are not your true fans. People follow other people on social media for all sorts of reasons. What proportion of your followers engages with you or posts thoughtful comments. How many of them make public declarations of love and adoration?

People who like your Instagram/Twitter/Facebook posts.

Possessing the ability to move your thumb 5 millimetres northwards does not make you a true fan.

The people on your email list.

Some of them will be your true fans, but again, not as many as you think. Many of the people on your list are only there because you gave them something for free when they signed up. They’ve long since forgotten you and your mini-course.

Those that bought your premium course and loved it, they’re true fans.

True fans will buy all your stuff. They can’t wait for you to release something new. When you do, they’ll tell all their friends about it. They get the premium version of your newsletter. They leave glowing reviews about you. Not only that, but they feel connected to you and will engage with you whenever and wherever they can. These are the people that you need to be focussing your energy on.

Here are a couple of things you can do to nurture your true fans and a few things to avoid.

Do: See problems as opportunities. If you have a customer come to you with an issue or a complaint, they are presenting you with a golden opportunity. Make them happy, solve their problem. Go above and beyond to make things right, and there’s a good chance they’ll become true fans.

Do: Be generous. Give them your best advice. For free. Give them gifts to show your appreciation. Give them exclusive content. Ask them how you can make them happy. Check-in on them from time to time and see if there is anything you need to improve.

Don’t: Issue discount codes, or at least not without some serious thought about why you are doing it. Discounts cheapen your products and train your customers to only buy when they can get money off. Remember, just because someone buys something from you, it doesn’t make them a true fan.

Don’t: Do things where getting followers is the goal. Giveaways can attract people to your brand, but a lot of these people are like cats, and we want dogs. Cats don’t care about you, they want their food. If you don’t give it to them, they’ll head next door for a meal instead. These people don’t love you, or your product — they love getting free stuff.

Keep it tight.

I’d suggest you use your email list to figure out who your VIPs are. There are a couple of reasons for this. Your email list is yours, and you’ll always be able to reach the people on it. Moreover, your true fans will be on your list already,

If you use a regular email service provider, you should be able to create a segment that contains your VIPs. The rules for this segment are going to vary depending on what you do. You can add your big spenders and those people who always open the emails you send out to them. The Pareto principle will apply here. So, we would expect that around 20% of your customers are going to account for 80% of your income, give or take.

Be brutal.

If someone never opens the emails you send them and never buys anything from you, get them off your list. This is important. The people that open your emails but don’t buy could be true fans already. They may love what you do, but they’re struggling with finances or the time is not right for them to buy.

Consider asking them why they aren’t buying. It may help you figure out whether they are a true fan or not. Remember that even if they’re not buying, they could be telling everyone they know about how awesome you are. They’re working in your marketing department.


Figure out who your true fans are. Give generously to that community and help them with their problems. Ask these people what you can do for them.

Think about your follower: true fan ratio. If it’s too high, you’re operating in an environment with excess noise. Which means you’re creating unnecessary work for yourself. Consider shedding some followers.

Finally, do yourself a favour and read Kevin Kelly’s article here. If you want to dig into the numbers side of all this, all that information is there and easy to understand.

Take one hour to absorb what he is saying and think about how you can get his ideas working for you. I promise you’ll be glad you did.