Why You Only Need 1000 True Followers For Your Business

André Ruud
Updated: 11/28/2023
5 min read

The idea of what it means to be successful has certainly changed over time. Today, one of the most coveted symbols of achievement, especially among those with high aspirations, is a hefty Instagram following. In many social circles, the number of followers one has can instantly rank their social standing and influence in their respective domains.

But let’s be honest, the race for followers is often just a facade. The reality is much simpler: you don’t need an army of followers to reach your goals.

In fact, the magic number might just be 1,000. Why? Let’s see.

Why You Only Need 1000 True Followers For Your Business
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Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Followers Concept

This isn’t a new concept. Way back in 2008, before our digital lives became as central as they are now, Kevin Kelly — the visionary founding editor of Wired magazine — introduced us to the idea that one only needs a thousand true fans to find success. His essay, which quickly became a sensation, still resonates with people today.

Kelly, a true internet forerunner, has always had insights that demand attention, but his theory on ‘1000 true fans’ is especially relevant to independent artists and creators feeling trapped in the grind. If you’re worried that you can’t make a decent income from your passion, Kelly’s theory is a beacon of hope. He argues that a thousand loyal fans can indeed support a creator to earn a substantial income, such as $100,000 a year. The update to his original essay is as insightful as the initial release and well worth a look.

He clarifies a phenomenon that became obvious to online merchants as they expanded: a small number of people tend to reap the lion’s share of the company’s revenues. This is a trend seen in many different fields. Only a handful of writers dominate the bestselling lists year after year.

Is It Dispiriting?

Only a few artists have ever had their paintings sell for millions of dollars. In Hollywood, the A-list is like a small, select group. There are just a handful of truly legendary designers in the fashion world; these individuals are household names thanks to their work at both independent labels and major fashion firms. Similarly, the music charts are periodically controlled by a few bands and solo singers contracted to huge labels.

The situation might seem a bit bleak at first glance. The reality is that there’s an all-or-nothing trend emerging where a few top creators snag most of the sales, leaving a huge gap between them and the rest. But here’s where things get intriguing. Beyond these best-selling giants, the sales graph sharply dips into what’s known as the long tail—a vast expanse representing a gradual trickle of sales. This is where most creators find themselves.

Traditional outlets like physical retailers, publishers, agents, art galleries, and record labels typically bank on those within the long tail becoming breakout stars. In contrast, for internet and independent retailers or small-scale operations, the long tail isn’t just leftover space—it’s fertile ground. This is where creators catering to a niche audience can thrive.

Breaking The Numbers

Kevin Kelly offered a straightforward premise in his seminal essay. Independent creators can achieve an annual income of $100,000 by cultivating 1000 true fans who each spend $100 on what they offer.

What this means is that there’s plenty of room for the unique and the specialized. Whether you’re a German-singing all-female death metal band, a photographer who excels in canine portraits, or the author behind a comedic series about a plus-sized vampire, your focus is on drawing in a modest group of people who are passionate about your work. Your mission is to identify these individuals, engage with them meaningfully, and deliver them outstanding value.

And you might not even need that much. Say you can live comfortably on £50,000 a year. Then, you’re looking at needing either 500 fans who can spend £100 or 1000 fans who’d part with £50 each. Or maybe your craft is creating more premium, high-cost items that net you £500 each. In that case, finding around 200 true fans willing to buy from you every couple of years is your target.

The point is, no matter how particular your craft or product, the goal is attainable: it’s about quality and dedication, not just sheer numbers.

Music Niche Example

Take a niche music group, for example. They might sell 5,000 albums globally at £10 apiece. Perhaps 500 of those fans might also grab a T-shirt for £20. Then there are the 100 die-hard enthusiasts who splurge £500 on a collector’s edition complete with signed memorabilia and exclusive content.

If you’re tied to a record label, they’ll likely pocket most of these earnings. But go indie—keep your overheads low, factor in gig revenue, and suddenly you’re not just scraping by; you’re running a successful business. This is the reality for many independent musicians today.

Consider a visual artist. They might sell a few high-ticket pieces each year to serious collectors. But what if they also sold hundreds of smaller prints? With a well-crafted website, a network of boutique galleries, and savvy online marketing, that’s not a far-fetched scenario. Add to that merchandise like mugs or greeting cards featuring their artwork, and the income starts to diversify. And then there’s engagement. By growing a social media following and cultivating an email list directly from their website, an artist can create and sell exclusive workshop experiences.

This model isn’t exclusive to artists and musicians. The goal for any creator is to connect with those true fans—the ones who really get and appreciate your work.

How To Get Loyal 1000 Followers?

Attracting and maintaining a loyal fan base isn’t about casting a wide net—it’s about crafting a meaningful relationship with your audience. Here are some key strategies to do just that.

  • First, aim to create something that’s more than just a product—it should be a life-altering experience. When you deliver something truly valuable, people naturally want to spread the word. They become advocates for your work, not just passive consumers.
  • Next, focus on community building. This could be through a dedicated Facebook group or active interactions in your blog’s comment sections or on Instagram. The goal is to cultivate a space where people feel they belong, a space that’s both supportive and inspiring. Giving your community a distinct name can provide a sense of identity and pride, making it more than just a group—it becomes a part of their identity.

And perhaps most importantly, don’t shy away from direct engagement. Genuine, one-on-one interactions are the cornerstone of cultivating true fans. Whether you’re replying to their messages, acknowledging their comments, or meeting them at events, the time you invest in your fans can cement their loyalty like nothing else. While a figurehead can draw attention, it’s the personal, human connections that build lasting devotion.

You Only Need 1000 True Followers For Your Business

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