True Fans

According to Kevin Kelly to be successful an artist needs to find just 1000 true fans.  He defines a true fan as somebody who will buy anything and everything you produce.  The assumption is that each of people will spend $100 per annum on average and that $100,000 (less expenses) is enough for somebody to live on.

I was reminded of this when John from Ponoko posted this video of one of their customers:

That’s a true fan.  999 more to go!

But, is that enough?

I’m sure that this guy is not the only person who loves what Ponoko is doing.  So, if 1000 is the target then it’s fewer than that.

The actual number of true fans required for a business like Ponoko to be viable depends on:

  • How much they can convince each true fan to spend
  • How much it costs them to run the business to support those fans

I don’t know all of those details for Ponoko (and those I do know are not for me to divulge here), so I’ll leave the example there.

But, the point is the maths is not complicated.

How many true fans do you need?  Is that number achievable?

Once you understand the impact of these two variables it will focus your attention on the things you can do to improve each of them.

How can you increase the average amount that each true fan spends?

And, how can you eliminate costs that do not contribute to supporting true fans? (see #10 from the “Margin Manifesto” list by Tim Ferris)