It’s not 1000 true fans, it’s 40 raving fans

It’s not 1000 true fans, it’s 40 raving fans

The crowd at Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany, in 2013. Taken deep in-field, facing the stage. It shows a sea of arms reaching for the band on stage.

Heard that idea that you only need 1,000 true fans?

It was popularised after Seth Godin promoted an essay by Kevin Kelly; and that essay has again been put forward by Tim Ferriss in his book Tools of Titans.

The idea is that you don’t need millions of fans. You only need 1,000 ‘true’ fans.

The definition of a ‘true’ fan is: ‘Someone who will buy anything you produce’.

A great example is a band that my husband was in, which was enormously popular in Australian underground music, but of which you wouldn’t have heard: Cauldron Black Ram. Their fans were rabid; people who didn’t get it really didn’t get it. But their true fans were legion. These true fans would travel to any city in Australia to see them play, whenever they played; and when their lineup changed (i.e. my husband left the band), I had hardcore fans telling me at the next show that if they’d known, they wouldn’t have bothered to travel.

But this idea about 1,000 true fans is itself misleading.

Mike Michalowicz, author of several entrepreneurship books, suggests that 1,000 sales is the magic number, but that you can get momentum with just 40.

In an interview with Dorie Clark, he explained it like this:

‘Of all the books you sell to individuals, you’ll get only about 20% of those people to actually crack the book open and read past the first chapter, so out of 1000, that’s 200 people. And I’d say only 20% complete the book in its entirety, so now it’s only 40 people. But if you sell 1000 books, that means you have the potential for 40 raving fans.’

Forty raving fans is a long way away from Keith’s 1,000 fans, right?

But he’s right.

It’s particularly the case in Australia. If you sell 1,000 copies of a book in Australia, you’re in the big leagues. No, I’m not kidding. 

When I launched the music publication Metal as F***, I did it with the idea of using the year in advance of the build as promo time. By the time we launched, we did have 1,000 fans. Those fans did all the work for us. It’s the same grassroots mentality that Michalowicz talks about, that Kelly talks about, that Godin and Ferriss talk about.

But to get to 1,000, you have to recognise that you might only have 40 raving fans. The fans who will go to any event you run; who buy anything you produce; who sign up to every publication you create.

It’s the same for businesses as it is for creators. Just because you’ve got a business blog, or a “newsletter”, it doesn’t mean that you can excuse yourself from these facts.

You can create a raving fanbase no matter what your gig is. Hell, even Brutal Pixie has fans. We have people who have sworn never to let us go, who turn up to all our events, who rave about us to other people.

And it’s all because we’ve applied the principles of publishing to the business, AND to our publications. We don’t have marketing, we have publications.

One of the critical things about any publication, though, is that you have to know how to reach your fans.

If your fans are on social media, don’t waste your time or money building assets and babying your channels along. Just build the assets right and use technology to do the work.

You can get a taste of that with MissingLettr. If you haven’t heard of that wonderful platform (which, by the way, we use), get yourself 50% off any plan for the first three months by going to:

Or, if you’re not into the paid stuff, add yourself to my daily emails, and get tips like the above, every day:

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Leticia Mooney

The Brutal Pixie is Leticia Mooney. Race: Eladrin, Class: Publisher. --- Leticia is Australia's foremost authority on publishing in a business context. She ghostwrites for, and advises, entrepreneurial individuals in the professional services.

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