The concept of 1,000 true fans has been around for a while, but it seemed like an appropriate topic to launch a new blog on the subject of creativity and technology. The concept, as many of you may know, originated a few years back on the Technium Blog. It’s quite a simple concept: if you are an artist, author, photographer, musician – really a creative type of any sort – you need only 1,000 true fans to make a living.

A true fan defined:

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 have 1,000 true fans who will follow you to the ends of the Earth you can afford to continue to create and to support yourself in the process. It’s by no means an easy lay up. It will take blood, sweat and tears to earn that first 1,000 – you’ll have to work hard and offer quality content, but it is certainly possible. The concept of the “true fan” draws upon the work of author Chris Anderson andn the “long tail.” Technology has made it possible to reach just about any niche. There’s no longer a barrier to reaching those 1,000 people. You no longer have to achieve “critical mass” with a large audience to make it big.

In the several years since Technium presented the concept, reaching the goal of 1,000 true fans has become an even more achievable goal. One word: Crowdfunding. Sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have made it possible to raise funding and build audiences as you produce. Independent content producers are using it to raise the funding necessary to produce films, rent recording space and to generally get things done. They also serve as a great way to get the word out about new and interesting projects.

Social media has also made it considerably easier to create and build upon a fan base. Using a Facebook fan page, it’s possible to compile a database of true fans and to engage with them. Twitter provides the same easy access to engage new and existing fans. Depending on your location and the nature of what you’re doing there are also location and topic based social networks that can enable a content creator to reach his or her niche directly.

Again, I can’t stress enough that this is hard work. It’s not a matter of just putting it out there and hoping fans fill the seats. the work necessary to build a loyal fan base is a full time job in and of itself. But if creating is something that you love and the prospect of doing it full time is really a driving force, it’s really a work of love.

I was introduced to the concept of 1,000 true fans recently in Tim Ferriss‘ new book The 4 Hour Chef. You can agree/disagree, like/dislike Tim Ferriss, but one thing is indisputable. He is a master marketer. Ferriss launched his career as a coaching guru basically one fan at a time. He has gotten his name and his message out in just about every way possible. As he’s promoting the book I’ve seen him everywhere from the pages of Outside Magazine to tech blogs. Ferriss can now rightly claim millions of fans, but he built up his network using the same techniques and he still does it.

Distilled, here’s how you get started building your 1,000 true fan fanbase:

1) Identify your demographic – Who are you trying to get into the tent? Realistically, you’re not going to attract 45  year old, hard core bike racers and 17 year old Justin Bieber fans.

2) Reach out directly – Find established bloggers who reach your desired audience. Reach out to them, and let them introduce you to your audience.

This is all you really need to get started, but remember that you can never have enough outreach. Of course, you also need to have a quality product. Remember, your true fans will follow you any and everywhere… if you produce.

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