#SoG130 - 1000 True Fans

In #SoG27 (it talks about the concept that if humans knew their expiry date (a date at which we'd die), we would be more effective. Or more defective. AND it talks about how I assume that I have an expiry date and how that continues to motivate me), I touched briefly on the idea of 1000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly (founding editor of Wired Magazine among other things; website, Wikipedia link).

I won't get into his biography (that would run in few thick volumes). And apart from the fact that he owns www.kk.org (who else owns a 2 character TLD?), his greatest contribution to my thinking is his piece on 1000 true fans.

In one line, in that piece, he says that if you are an artist, a business or something, all you need to survive and thrive is 1000 true fans that will pay you for everything you create (these people who will pay you for everything are called "true fans"). And once you reach there, you can truly focus on your art. Things like Patreon, Gumroad et al are built on this very principle.

The 1000 true fans post is one of those MUST READ pieces on the Internet. There are so many powerful ideas and insights hidden in that post. You HAVE to read it.

For the lazy ones, in short, it essentially says that if you are a creator (writer, painter, comedian, artist, stand-up etc) and you create enough, the Internet now allows you to interact with your customers directly. And you need to use this direct connection to remove friction between yourself and the customers. To be able to convert your audience into "true fans" (a true fan will buy EVERYthing you consume). And once you get about 1000 of those true fans, you are financially independent (assuming you make 100 dollars of net profit from each customer).

For even more lazy ones, bullet points.

  1. A creator that creates enough work to be able to make a 100 dollar profit

  2. Has the ability and intention to interact with customers directly

  3. Delivers enough value and gets customers to believe in the work so much that they become true fans and consumer EVERY thing you create.

  4. Get about 1000 of these fans.

  5. You are sorted.

  6. You do NOT need to be super popular to make a living off your work. That is passe. You exist at the cusp of popularity and the long tail.

If you are still lazy, see this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ4u8IK_McQ.

This chart explains the concept of 1000 True Fans pictorially.


If you read the piece on KK's blog, you would be amazed at the variety of ideas in it. The part that I found the most illuminating is...

If you lived in any of the 2 million small towns on Earth you might be the only one in your town to crave death metal music, or get turned on by whispering, or want a left-handed fishing reel. Before the web you’d never be able to satisfy that desire. You’d be alone in your fascination. But now satisfaction is only one click away. Whatever your interests as a creator are, your 1,000 true fans are one click from you. As far as I can tell there is nothing — no product, no idea, no desire — without a fan base on the internet. Every thing made, or thought of, can interest at least one person in a million — it’s a low bar. Yet if even only one out of million people were interested, that’s potentially 7,000 people on the planet. That means that any 1-in-a-million appeal can find 1,000 true fans. The trick is to practically find those fans, or more accurately, to have them find you.

So, even if you are interested in coffee beans that are grown in a village of 20 people in India and you want to talk to people that drink in a fine China, you potentially have your true fans. You just have to get those fans to find you!

And you know, it's all so easy.
All you need is the Internet.
And the capability to create enough!
Go look at websites like Patreon, Gumroad and our own Instamojo. These websites will teach you how to collect payments.

Go find that thing that you could be known for.
Vishal (at Safalniveshak.com) did it for the financial services industry.
Rajeev Masand did it for Bollywood.
I aspire to do it for practical wisdom.
Why can't you?

Good luck!

Oh, and in the end, three things.

A. Do creative artists around you (stand-up comedians, writers, painters, photographers, musicians et al) a service. Share this letter with them. Make them understand the potential of 1000 true fans.

B. What if I asked you if you are my true fan?
Will you pay me your one day's wage for a year-long supply of these letters?
Here. I made a payment link, in case - https://www.instamojo.com/saurabhgarg/sog-contribution/

C. And if you want unsolicited advice? Read EVERYTHING written by Kevin Kelly. See www.kk.org.

Thank you for reading,
Subscribe to these letters at http://bit.ly/SoG2019.
Enjoyed reading this letter? Forward to a friend and help them get wiser.
Previous letters are archived here and here.

Tags: Kevin Kelly, Futurism, SuperThinkers, Creative, Work

Streak: 1 (broke a 7-day streak by not sending the letter yesterday).

Further Reads / Views

PS: I did not send the letter yesterday. Even though I could. I had the time. I knew what I wanted to talk about. But I did not.

In fact, not just the letter, last few days have been tough for almost everything. To a point that I am unable to write. And I am unable to even think. Or operate. I have no clue why. Maybe its all the heat in Mumbai? Or maybe its something else?

Is it all the work on my plate that is keeping me occupied? Or because I am not working out? The worst part? I can't seem to find time to workout! Oh, workout for me means a leisurely walk for 10 minutes.

Also, I am not doing so well in my head. In the sense that thoughts are swirling and "flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup, they slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe. Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my open mind, possessing and caressing."

I am actually at that point where I am questioning if I want to write these. One part of me says I must - each letter is an opportunity to write and thus, an opportunity to read. Plus writing every day is one of those discipline things that I must have in life. This is the thread that could define my life. Heck, define me.

And then I read how Picasso lived for 33,403 days and has 26,075 published works (see this tweet and this post). And I realised that if I can't write a letter a day, how am I going to get closer to my mission of inspiring a billion people?

On top of it, I got this message from a stranger (on Twitter) that said that he would like to subscribe to my letters. I don't know if it was a random act of kindness but it did make me smile. I know that these letters touch a chord and thus the resolve to write every day got stronger. Thank you, Mr Shah. I hope you are reading this.

Oh, and of course responses to this letter affect my writing. And of course people, things, incidents, circumstances and all that affect my sanity as well. There are a few things that I can control. And a lot that I cant. Writing is one. Feedback, readers, subscribers, unsubscribers, I cant.

And then I read this on fs.blog. Says persistence is antifragile. Maybe I need to persist? So yeah, for the time being, I am committed to writing these. Let's see when the next jolt comes in. Do let me know if you would want me to write something specific.

Thank you for reading and staying with me! Here's to 1000 True Fans.