How many fans do you have?

You’ve probably heard of the idea of 1,000 True Fans. Seth Godin gets a lot of credit for the idea, but he’s quick to point out he got it from Kevin Kelly over a decade ago.

True Fans are those people who really believe in you and your work. They make it a point to consume your content. If you’re close to them they’ll make a point of coming to see you. Most people don’t have any fans. Think about your normal employee working their average job. They do good, solid work, but no one is going out of their way to hear what they have to say.

Kelly’s idea about 1,000 True Fans is this:

“A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce. These diehard fans will drive 200 miles to see you sing; they will buy the hardback and paperback and audible versions of your book; they will purchase your next figurine sight unseen; they will pay for the “best-of” DVD version of your free youtube channel; they will come to your chef’s table once a month. If you have roughly a thousand of true fans like this (also known as super fans), you can make a living — if you are content to make a living but not a fortune.

Here’s how the math works. You need to meet two criteria. First, you have to create enough each year that you can earn, on average, $100 profit from each true fan. That is easier to do in some arts and businesses than others, but it is a good creative challenge in every area because it is always easier and better to give your existing customers more, than it is to find new fans.

Second, you must have a direct relationship with your fans. That is, they must pay you directly. You get to keep all of their support, unlike the small percent of their fees you might get from a music label, publisher, studio, retailer, or other intermediate. If you keep the full $100 of each true fan, then you need only 1,000 of them to earn $100,000 per year. That’s a living for most folks.”

That’s a very good living for 99.9% of the world’s population. I could live comfortably in the U.S. on $100,000. Maybe not NYC, or San Francisco, but most places $100K gives me a wonderful life.

I wrote a book, The Talent Fix. I’ve written every day on this blog for over eight years. I’ve been blogging in the HR and Talent space for a decade. I know I have some True Fans. I don’t think I have 1,000, although I’ve sold way over 1,000 books. I think I would be comfortable saying I’ve got 100 True Fans.

Some might read that and think, well that’s not very much, but I would disagree! Think about your own life. Who are your “True Fans”. If you said tomorrow you’ll be on stage in your hometown talking about whatever and it costs $25 to see you, how many people are showing up? Now take that number and take away your parents, your spouse, your kids, etc. Now, how many are showing up?

100 is a good number. I’m working to get to 200, then 300, and maybe one day I’ll have 1,000 True Fans of my work. That would be very awesome!

My best True Fan story is that my wife jokingly calls me a “Micro-celebrity” saying there’s really only a couple dozen HR and Talent Pros in the world who know who you are. One day we were going on a trip and we were walking through Detroit Metro Airport. The new terminal is giant, a mile long.

So, we are standing in the middle of the terminal as people are rushing by to catch flights. We are discussing where we should grab a bite to eat before we get on a long flight and a guy walks by me. He stops and turns and says, “Hey, you’re Tim Sackett!” I said, I am, and started up the conversation around how he would know me, etc.

Turns out, he’s a ‘fan’ (his words, not mine), he reads my blog every day. Just happen to be making a connection in Detroit, he was a Talent Pro from the east coast. What a small world! As he walked away I could feel my wife staring at me, knowing she wouldn’t be able to fit my head into the plane! I mean, when your wife calls you a micro-celebrity and then you get noticed in an airport, well…

That how it all starts, one true fan who will notice you in an airport and show your wife you’re completely a micro-celebrity!

So, what does this have to do with anything? 

You don’t need to boil the ocean. You don’t need to recruit every candidate. You don’t need to have everyone see your employment brand. You need to start with one, then two, then three. That’s doable, you can do that, I can do that! Trying to do that with everyone, that seems impossible!

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