The Secret to Attracting 1,000 True Fans

The Secret to Attracting 1,000 True Fans

Everyone says play bigger, grow; keep expanding.

But is all growth and development good, or even necessary?

I’ve learned that there’s no guarantee that growth will make a difference in your business. You can have more people on your list, and no one actually buying. You can have more traffic, and only crickets in your comments section.

There’s a big difference between growth that’s meaningful and growth that’s hollow. The difference is depth.

A lot of people say you need 1,000 true fans. I think that’s a good, tangible goal to aim for.

For our purposes, “True Fans” are defined as: People that buy everything you create. When you announce the launch of a product, creation, or offer, they are actively waiting for you to release it. They refresh the “coming soon” page. They comment on every post. They tell everyone they can about what you do.

1,000 is good because it’s a number that we can wrap our minds around. It seems like a stretch, but it also seems doable. You can convert one true fan a day if you’re really on your game.

But the way most people go about trying to get fans is completely backwards. They target everyone they can (instead of using deliberate content marketing). They shoot for a certain amount of traffic, or try to increase their conversion rate to their email list. These numbers, however, aren’t worth much of anything without those people becoming true fans.

The truth about true fans

Not everyone is going to become a true fan. Even if you go out of your way to do something memorable for every person you come in contact with, not everyone is going to connect with what you do on an insatiable level. And that’s okay.

But the chances of getting 1,000 true fans by a “shotgun” approach is slim at best. I would venture that simply trying to add people to your list will get you about 1 true fan for every 100-500 people you sign up. That’s pretty poor. Not to mention it’s going to take you a long time (potentially 100,000-500,000 people on your list to get you to 1,000 true fans).

So how do you ensure that you don’t just collect a bunch of lukewarm dabblers? How do you find people that are willing to take up arms for your cause, that will vehemently support your work?

There are two keys:

  1. Relevance
  2. Context

In order to gain true fans you need to be highly relevant. Your work isn’t merely useful (that’s a baseline requirement), they also identify with it. They feel like it’s their work because they it’s something they believe in or feel strongly pulled to.

The die-hard fan

Have you ever seen a die-hard sports fan talk about their team? They don’t say “The Jets lost the superbowl.” They say “OUR team lost the superbowl.” When their team loses, they have lost. When their team wins, they win.

A lot of teams and athletes have this camaraderie built in, simply because that team or athlete comes from the same city or state the fan has. But you don’t need to rely on having “home-town status.” You can create a sense of belonging with your tribe by giving them a reason to rally together.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • What is the cause your true fan feels strongly pulled to?
  • What is the common enemy your tribe is railing against?
  • What makes them feel different?
  • What makes them feel united?
  • What about their story, history or experiences makes them strongly identified with your cause?

The more you can tell a story that person identifies with, and keep your content relevant and useful, the greater the chances of that person becoming and staying a true fan are.

The importance of context (and some bad news)

The amount of messages, advertisements and marketing intrusions a person receives on a daily basis is massive. 250 billion emails are sent per day. 80% of them are spam.

As creators and artists, our battle is not to win the game of who can create the most stuff. Our challenge is to be at the top of the list of importance to our audience.

That ladder looks something like this:

  1. Unmissable. Everything you create must be given attention.
  2. Important. Relevant and important, but can be set aside to be looked at later (and potentially forgotten).
  3. Relevant. Your content is useful, and relevant, but it’s not important enough to take priority.
  4. Mildly interesting. Seems interesting, but there’s too much incoming to pay any attention.
  5. Noise. Considered spam or is completely irrelevant. Might as well be invisible.

True fans view everything you create as unmissable. Missing is not an option. If they can’t get tickets (not likely, since they’ve been refreshing the web page), they will jump the fence to get in.

The bad news is, that these true fans are not created out of thin air. They require attention, and care, and to win them you must be memorable.

The case for high-touch

What used to be amazing and unexpected is simply a requirement now. Free shipping used to blow people’s minds. Now people won’t buy something online without free shipping in most cases.

If you want to gain true fans (life-long fans) you need to do something to be a pattern interrupt. You have to care about more than giving people just value. You have to create a memorable experience.

Here are some way you can do that (warning: they all require work):

  • Personally call and thank every customer that buys your product.
  • Create a short, personalized thank-you video for repeat customers.
  • Spend time at an event personally shaking each person’s hand.
  • Create an unexpected bonus for people that sign up to your email list.
  • Answer every single email.
  • Release a movie-style trailer for your product, or do something unexpected. (See how we did this with Trailblazer.)
  • Reward your true fans with something memorable that relates to your message or product. Personalize it.
  • Hold a contest with one winner, then surprise everyone by giving every entrant a prize.
  • Spend a month giving revenue from every sale to a charity related to your message or cause.

Most importantly, do something different. There’s very little competition at the leading edge because everyone is afraid to do something that hasn’t been proven to work.

When it has been proven, it will no longer be effective. It will simply become a requirement to not failing.

This is a marathon

The path of creating a tribe of 1,000 true fans is more of a marathon than a sprint. It’s more like farming than hunting. Most people won’t do it because it’s laborious, time intensive and you don’t often see the results immediately.

But I’m guessing you’re not most people. I’m guessing you were brought here to do more than what’s already been done.

Question for you:

What’s your best tip for cultivating True Fans? Leave your comment below.

The person with the best advice will get a free coaching session with me. 

Note: Dan Andrews from Tropical MBA wrote another great post on this topic which you can read here.

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Comment & Add Your Voice

ethanwaldman January 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

Great article! I have to say my favorite method is to offer to talk with someone on Skype if they send me an email with a question. Too often it feels like the bloggers behind the blogs we follow are untouchable, unreachable, too busy to care about an individual. By offering a 15 minute chat to answer a question, I’ve found that people are really impressed and see that I really do care about each and every reader.

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JonathanMead January 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm

@ethanwaldman Great tip Ethan, very unique.

Lasse Larsen January 2, 2014 at 6:28 pm

This is a great suggestion, I actually think this is one of the best and most caring ways to engage I’ve ever heard/seen.

doolin January 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

Oooh… Livefyre… excellent!

You’re right about it being a marathon.

Not sure about high touch. I can think of counter-examples (Grateful Dead *cough*). I would definitely agree that high touch is tactic associated with a strategic principle of _giving unstintingly_.

I read somewhere that more than 95% of all electronic traffic is spam at best, with a significant percentage of that being outright fraud or even worse criminal intent. When I think about how electricity is wasted supporting criminals getting a free ride on the web, I’d be happy to pay a nominal amount to slow it down.

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MainstreamMom January 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

Honesty is the best medicine. I tell my kids often, “Tell the truth, it’s the best thing to do.” My tip to cultivate True Fans is … Be honest, be transparent, tell the truth.

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Jonathan - Advanced Life Skills January 3, 2012 at 11:35 am

You nailed it with this one Jonathan. In fact, I would say this is the best article I have ever read on this subject. Most of the time tested approaches have become obsolete. Once we accept the fact that the majority is always way behind the curve we can fully appreciate the trailblazer approach.

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JonathanMead January 3, 2012 at 12:37 pm

@Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills Trailblazing is where it’s at. :)

Butterflyist January 3, 2012 at 11:37 am

I agree with MainstreamMom – transparency and honesty are key to creating true fans, as well as remaining congruent. But I’d also add that having a unique voice in your communication is also important. This is what your true fans will relate to and like about you, even where others might not.

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dikedrummond January 3, 2012 at 11:42 am

Great post Jonathan and I think the foundation of all of this is to “get” your people at a very deep level. They aren’t just our “ideal customers” … that’s too much in the head and an abstract. These are our people (tribe if you will). We have felt their pain. We connect in a way that they clearly understand we “get” them … because it is true.

IMHO that level of “getting” and being able to communicate it to your people takes time and some pretty deep reflection and a great deal of respect for their journey and the role you play in helping them along.

My two cents,

Dike

Dike Drummond MD

http://www.threehourmidlifecrisis.com

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CaraWilde January 3, 2012 at 11:52 am

I’m new to the business world, but my small amount of time in it has shown me that taking time to create beauty in whatever you are producing has a big impact. Not only can I be proud but it shows my potential clients that I care about what I do. Honesty and congruence, I agree, are crucial. Coming from a place of sincere gratitude for the people who buy your products and use your services will automatically activate a lot of the behaviour that is needed to create true fans – taking extra time, being flexible to take into account the clients needs on an individual basis whenever possible. This maybe a little way out but you can also connect with the hearts and souls of your potential customer. Be clear in your intention the type of customer you would like to attract, then on the inner realms broadcast a message to the souls of your potential customers telling them with as much passion and enthusiasm all about your work and how it would serve them. Then imagine that their soul is inspiring the individual through synchronicity to find your work. This, obviously, doesn’t replace any practical work we can do but it does work and can lead to interesting connections.

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charliegilkey January 3, 2012 at 11:57 am

Great post, Jonathan! As we’ve often discussed, it’s easy for the “Go Big” mentality to really trump what it takes to develop that following of true fans.

For those who’d like to hear more about attracting those 1,000 true fans and don’t mind watching a longish video, I gave a keynote a few years ago that discussed other aspects of this, too. You can find it here: http://www.productiveflourishing.com/go-big-or-go-home-or-go-deep/

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Jane May 3, 2013 at 12:34 am

Hi Charlie, Just watched the video you suggested and it was very informative, I love the theory or quote about building and maintaining a small cozy fire rather than building a huge fire that can get out of control, and unfriendly. As you are no more warmer, and you cannot connect or even see the people you once shared the small cozy fire with, finding it hard to add value and contribute.

I took home a message which was create a small network and produce great work and create deep meaningful relationships with your for your ideal fans and support them promote their message and add value to their world, as they are the ones that say “this is for you” when they promote your stuff and you need to support them in doing it.

And that for each person the could be 3 others they know that are true fans that promote your work and so the network grows very quickly until you have a huge network. But you cannot control this network and be of service to all so you only attract say 2% of the huge network, but thats Ok, just nuture and support them, and they will give you feedback regarding using your products and how you can improve or further innovate.

Just produce great work and better quality work that adds tremendous value to your ideal fan base and nurture them and treat them as your leaders, by inspiring them and giving back to them in as many ways as possible. Give not take.

Thanks for sharing
Jane

monicaleestudios January 3, 2012 at 12:13 pm

This was great Jonathan! You reenforced my belief that big is not always better, there is nothing i love better than attending a trade show and someone mentioning something that they read on my blog! That means it stuck with them, hooray! I have been blogging for years (ack!) and FINALLY learned to be myself, not a know it all, not a good girl, not superhuman. I treat my blog posts as if I were having a cup of coffee with a friend and that seems to be resonating.

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LauraLeeBloor January 3, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Granted, I’m in the infancy stage of my business venture, but the best tip I’ve learned for cultivating True Fans is also one of the most obvious: Be – and remain – authentic. The second you deviate from being exactly who you are and sharing what you love and verge into some quick niche that seems better or will get you a better audience or whatever, you lose fans.

The urge to reinvent yourself into something you’re not is hard to resist because it takes a lot of time to build those True Fans. During that time, you may start to doubt yourself and buy into the hype that you need to do something else. (Or at least I know I have.)

The key in this situation is to turn on the blinders, and stick to your guns.

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gaileejohnson January 3, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Thanks this was a great post. I am creating a website and that’s what I want true fans who can connect with me. I think finding a true fan shouldn’t be hard if you have a valuable product that meets their demands. I think the best thing to do is keep focus on what you’re interest are and the people will follow! Happy New Year !!!

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JonathanMead January 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm

@gaileejohnson Happy new year to you too Gailee. Thanks for stopping by!

LoriJill January 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I loved this article. So very true, Jonathon. Thank you for continuing to share your insight and wisdom with us. I especially like the section “This is a Marathon”. It reinforces what I have spent the last year doing within my own group. I am just now seeing the effects from the amount of work I have been put into cultivating my community and creating “true fans”. I never realized that this was what I was doing, I merely took my life/ work lessons on customer service, and how to excel at it, and applied them to the community that I was building. It’s been a long financially draining year, but I believed if I continued to care and give more than what was expected of me, and my time, that the rewards would come.

I have just begun to offer a paid membership and seperate place for my fans to sign up and join me on a smaller, but more connected, level. I have been so amazed, and thankful, at the results of this.

I will continue to look forward to your future articles! Thanks again!

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AnnieD January 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm

I’m still struggling with this, personally. You make a fabulous point–we can count visitors to our projects and blogs, but they’re really just that: visitors.The connections that really matter are lasting ones we forge by engaging people with what we’re doing. As people in the art-and-online-business community say, you don’t want to just show people what you’re doing and expect them to buy it–you need to create a community, make them feel like a part of something.

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Sarita January 3, 2012 at 12:46 pm

How nice! What a wonderful post! :)

I am new to all of this but right now my personal feeling is this:

To always keep your finger on the pulse of the people you speak to. To be so in touch with them that you can anticipate and know their needs before they know their needs.

It’s so crazy simple, but it’s what I’ve got. :)

Happy New Year beautiful trailblazers!!!

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RachelCollis January 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm

When I think about what has made me a ‘true fan’ of certain people’s work. It comes down to:

– They are unquestionably excellent at what they do

– What they offer is unique and I can’t get it elsewhere

– They ‘walk the talk’ – everything they do is consistent with what they are offering

– They never once let me down. I am never disappointed in what I have bought from them

– They treat me with respect – they don’t break my trust by charging unfair, exorbitant prices

The truth is that it is actually incredibly difficult to do this. I aspire to offer this to my clients but gee it is hard.

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doolin January 3, 2012 at 1:35 pm

@RachelCollis That’s my experience as well: it’s really, really hard!

BerylAynYoung January 3, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Loved this post. I am struggling with this right now and it consumes my thoughts. all. the. time. I am working towards a big launch right now and reaching deep to make those lasting connections and find those ‘true fans’. The name of my game right now is “authenticity”. Figuring out why I do what I do was a HUGE breakthrough for me within the last 6 months. Letting that “why” shine through, that authenticity of emotion, the stories about me. It seems to attract people like bees to honey.. It makes them want to sit down for coffee with you, converse awhile, and get to know you better. At least that’s what I am hoping is the case. We’ll see if I make it to the finish line. (P.S. a coaching session with you would certainly help me hone my skills and tap into my potential even more…thanks for the opportunity. xo.)

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stormbringer January 3, 2012 at 2:38 pm

love your target market (of fans) unconditionally, from this base will grow your true fans, the art is of whom of these “fans” to cultivate, those that reciprocate or attempt to reciprocate unconditionally are to be selected, with these you discover their hearts desire and feed it, this nurturing builds a bond between you and your “fan” at an emotional level, repeat in parallel in physical (practical) and rational (minds) levels. Win and nurture their “hearts, souls and minds” and you will have “true fans for life” a tripartite win (a triple braided cord in not easily broken), do not forget to constantly maintain the relationship for it is a living thing and must always be fed.

(sub note for the inner statistical analysis nerds within us all :) )

a) Relevance b)Context

when a)+b) have been achieved, the wining ration won one hopes to beat should be 8:1 suspect/prospect, with a 3:1 prospect/contract = 24:1 add in another 8:1 for random seed factors, hence 32:1 conversion ration for activity/numbers. Based on a bell curve beating 32:1 or achieving it puts you in the top 5% in the world, to move higher requires a decision matrix combined with major bid appraisal to give you an uplift to a higher then 75% win probability from a modus operandi in the 5% realm. From here scale moves to being the best in the world in your chosen field.

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Kareng January 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I would pay attention to the people that share and re-post. I never would have found this if Linda Wagner had not re-posted it. I personally read your articles because — to be interesting, and find my own voice as a writer, I have to immerse myself with interesting thoughts. You have all sorts of interesting things swirling around in that head of yours!

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shaylamaddox January 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm

I think it’s important to understand the difference between fans (of the average sort) and “true fans.” A true fan is interested in more than your product. They’re interested in *you.* For me, as an artist, I find that I easily become great friends with many of my true fans. This isn’t just because we share a common interest (that being my art) but because I believe in very specifically taking the time to know who these people are as human beings. I pay attention to what they say, I listen. I never give stock responses to those who’ve taken the time to share information about themselves with me. I try to remember as many details about each individual as possible. I ask questions. I know them on an intuitive level, as I do my real-life friends. I want my fans to know that I care about each of them, beyond purchasing my art. In this way, I’ve made relationships with collectors that are far stronger than just “fans.” They are my friends. This bond between us grows their interest in my ongoing body of work, and makes them want to stick around for the entirety of my career. They don’t just care about my art, they care about my success in life. :)

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JonathanMead January 4, 2012 at 11:19 am

@shaylamaddox Good distinction Shayla.

vickief28 January 3, 2012 at 4:02 pm
vickief28 January 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Make the person feel important. Period. They don’t care what you know till they know that you care.

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starcatdreamer January 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm

My favorites are conversation and gratitude. My partner and I have become friends with our biggest fans, whether or not we’ve met them in person, and that’s the approach that we’re going with as we build our tribe. I also like the advice about sending out non-physical energy messages to your people. We do that as part of our spiritual practice. Blessings, Starcat

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maggs January 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm

Creating true fans is to take the step of showing extra care and concern when someone is in a hard place (like getting chemo for cancer, going through a divorce, trying to conceive after 40) , these are all important situations.

A connected person feels and shows real empathy. I am not speaking of manufactured concern. Knowing your audience is more than just feeling for vibrations. It also means going to the place where they are and giving solace, asking questions, listening and being present. If this is achieved, I believe a true fan will come closer.

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suddenlyjamie January 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Hello, Jonathan! Love the post and the excitement I “hear” in the voices of the people commenting. You’ve obviously struck a nerve.

I agree with much of what others have already said here – about honesty, and authenticity, and the “high touch” you wrote about, but my favorite tip for earning true fans is to help other people shine – especially in ways that have nothing to do with your business. Make your fan the star of the day by sharing their work with your audience or even just quoting their tweet or blog comment in your next post. Share their blogs instead of your own. Rave about their products. Give them the pat on the back they deserve. This is something that I do organically because I really love to help people succeed (and I love sharing Good Stuff), so I often wind up sharing the work of others with my various networks “just because.” I never realized the impact this has on a person until someone else did it for me and then – wow! – I knew what it felt like to go from being a fan to a true fan. I now routinely and consistently promote this person’s content, products, and services to my networks. I’ve become that evangelist that brands of all sizes dream of. All it took was a selfless act – something someone did for me that had no ulterior motive or even minor benefit for her … except that it earned her a die-hard fan. And me? Well – I felt like a rock star, met some great new people, and have some new opportunities because of her generosity.

As you said in your post, when a true fan roots for her team, she refers to “our” team. That’s a huge distinction. Do things that make your fans feel like you’re all on the same team, and they will soon become true fans – cheering you on at every turn with support, promotion, and the investment of their time and money.

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JonathanMead January 4, 2012 at 11:19 am

@suddenlyjamie That’s really great. Most people show up to sharing/giving from a place of what they’re going to get out of it. Doing it with no ulterior motive creates a totally different result.

kathleenchamp January 3, 2012 at 8:48 pm

Hi Jonathan,I feel that the key cycle of actions for cultivating True Fans are as follows:1. Encourage hope – People generally are attracted to other positive people and tend to respond well to encouragement about their own lives and the prospects of change. The bond between you and a new fan that is created through this encouragement is based on hope, (ideally) leaving the person with a buoyant feeling of “I can do anything!” / “The world is amazing!” or whatever sentiment is relevant for your particular area of work. 2. Build WITH your fans – While the tabloid media (and the ‘shotgun approach’ you mentioned) both rely upon garnering small amounts of passing interest from larger groups of people without much substance behind the content, to cultivate a True Fan, you should be looking to build and create change WITH your fans. They must be engaged in the work, even if minimally at first, and find that with your help, they can create new changes/things/ideas for themselves within their own lives. While watching someone build something is fun, helping and learning through being involved will draw in potential True Fans.3. Celebrate success – Any successes (your own, but also your True Fans) must be celebrated in order to leave your True Fan patting themselves on the back for their accomplishment, as well as inspiring them on to bigger and better things. This success celebration leaves them feeling positive about the change/building that occurred, putting them in a good place to continue and deepen their engagement with you. Keep up the awesome work!- Kate

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kathleenchamp January 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Hi Jonathan, I feel that the key cycle of actions for cultivating True Fans are as follows:

1. Encourage hope – People generally are attracted to other positive people and tend to respond well to encouragement about their own lives and the prospects of change. The bond between you and a new fan that is created through this encouragement is based on hope, (ideally) leaving the person with a buoyant feeling of “I can do anything!” / “The world is amazing!” or whatever sentiment is relevant for your particular area of work.

2. Build WITH your fans – While the tabloid media (and the ‘shotgun approach’ you mentioned) both rely upon garnering small amounts of passing interest from larger groups of people without much substance behind the content, to cultivate a True Fan, you should be looking to build and create change WITH your fans. They must be engaged in the work, even if minimally at first, and find that with your help, they can create new changes/things/ideas for themselves within their own lives. While watching someone build something is fun, helping and learning through being involved will draw in potential True Fans.

3. Celebrate success – Any successes (your own, but also your True Fans) must be celebrated in order to leave your True Fan patting themselves on the back for their accomplishment, as well as inspiring them on to bigger and better things. This success celebration leaves them feeling positive about the change/building that occurred, putting them in a good place to continue and deepen their engagement with you.

Keep up the awesome work! – Kate

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wagefreedom January 4, 2012 at 1:13 am

“As creators and artists, our battle is not to win the game of who can create the most stuff. Our challenge is to be at the top of the list of importance to our audience.” — Bingo. This, along with the ‘it’s a marathon’ idea helps me from feeling overwhelmed at the thought of trying to rush the process.

Here’s what I have started doing Jonathan. I printed up business cards that say WageFreedom.com and I keep them with me.

I live in Bali, Indonesia, a place that seems to attract lots of people in transitional phases of their lives. The casual atmosphere here makes it very easy to strike up conversations with people in restaurants at the next table or at the market, and I can’t count the number fascinating people I have been fortunate enough to meet like this.

I realized this domain name I bought years ago was for sharing my story and stories of kindred spirits who have not just cut the ties of working jobs, but who had committed themselves to waging freedom, in whatever way best fits them. A card is a bridge that outlasts brief, electric encounters.

I’d suggest that one doesn’t need to be in Indonesia to use a method like this in the slow, delicious march toward ’1000 true fans’. You can do it where ever you find yourself, and in my experience an intense hour-long conversation about the big picture with someone you might not meet again is a wonderful means to constructive and positive introspection, and I keep in touch with a disproportionate amount of people I meet in this way. They tend to visit my site. And by the way, I tend to visit their sites too!

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ChaoticKatieP January 4, 2012 at 1:52 am

I send my subscribers a personalised email from my own email account to welcome them before the auto-responder sequence kicks in. I title it “hello from a real live person!” I get so many responses to this email telling me that people are floored that I take the time to do something the old fashioned way.

I also like the idea of making people feel like they are the experts. I acknowledge that they have really great ideas when they comment (and I try to reply to every comment).

Have a great new year Jonathan and I loved, loved, loved your movie trailer video (and I think you look rather handsome in a suit) x

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JonathanMead January 4, 2012 at 11:16 am

@ChaoticKatieP You’re making me blush. ;)

Great idea Katie. I think that’s especially cool to do in the beginning of building your list.

Justin | Personal Growth January 4, 2012 at 5:36 am

I believe by making our readers.followers feel inclusive we can turn them into true fans. Maybe not 100% but most of them.

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RobertWall January 4, 2012 at 5:54 am

I think the best tip I’ve heard in a long time is about targeting.

Picking a specific group (or groups) that you’re selling to is as much about who to *exclude* as much as who to *include*. Just because somebody walks through your door (or visits your site) doesn’t mean they’re somebody you should be targeting.

Treat everybody that wants to do business with you well, but realize that your focus is best spent figuring out how to make your truly loyal fans happy. And if that costs you a little business from the people that aren’t the focus of your business, you have to be okay with that.

You can’t be all things to all people!

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las_dos_ashleys January 4, 2012 at 9:31 am

Love this article and the idea of ‘true fans’. I know one things that I try to do is interact on a daily basis with potential customers on their own blogs/social pages as well as through Twitter. I found that having ‘conversations’ with people is a great way to build their interest in your products (well really anything that you do).

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rmcotton.art January 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

I think the trick is to be 100% consistently you. Be honest, transparent and full of gratitude at every turn. We can try to pidgeon hole ourselves, but as we change and grow, the people that identify with us changes and grows too. Sometimes the hardest part for people is just being ok with who they are… I am openly the dorkiest artist mom I know. I am far from perfect, and just being who I am, making the best possible art I can make, and sharing that with people going through the same sorts of daily issues and insecurities seems to work for me. That being said, I am a long way from 1000 followers on any social media platform… But I sure feel good about being me :-)

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monicaleestudios January 4, 2012 at 10:39 am

@rmcotton.art Hi! I am a dorky artist too! Welcome to the tribe! People do like to see you grow, be self deprecating or a bit goofy. Wish I was cooler but I am comfortable finally being myself online! Must check out your art!

AngelaArtemis January 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Jonathan,

Excellent information! I’m bookmarking to reread because it’s truly relevant, important and highly interesting. I think 1000 “true” fans rather than subscribers is awesome goal to work towards.

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JonathanMead January 7, 2012 at 10:59 am

@AngelaArtemis I agree. I think it really creates a higher level of focus.

Esme Gosling - Money Coach January 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm

It used to be K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid!); now I would say KIRS – Keep it Real (Stupid!). Keeping it real has been one of the best things I’ve taken away from reading your site, and it’s really freed me from trying to write a certain way (which is hard to keep up) and trying to be a certain person. I love that I can be flawed (in my own sweet ways!) and still have so much to offer.

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Esme Gosling - Money Coach January 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm

It used to be K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid!); now I would say KIRS – Keep it Real (Stupid!). Keeping it real has been one of the best things I’ve taken away from reading your site, and it’s really freed me from trying to write a certain way (which is hard to keep up) and trying to be a certain person. I love that I can be flawed (in my own sweet ways!) and still have so much to offer.

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DanceofLife January 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Hi, Jonathan: I am a photographer who is finding I am seeing a bigger picture (no pun intended) in talking about what I am learning about staying with uncertainty and finding its’ creative potential. I find practicing living this way is becoming as interesting as the images taken in this way- and creating authentic experiences for writing unique e-materials I can offer, sell, or gift to my true fans. Terrific energy here!

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louisewiles January 5, 2012 at 2:22 am

Rarely I find articles these day that go beyond what everyone else is saying about list building, fan base and so on. This one did – so much so that not only did it attract my attention as UNMISSABLE BUT it also gave fresh insight and ideas that are actionable – tripple ticks!

In short – you walked your talk and in so doing demonstrated to me what I MUST do to make my content UNMISSABLE.

My steps to developing my Raving Fans:

Get off the wall and commit whole heartedly to my targeted niche – my avatar and write FOR them!

Don’t write in generalities and pleasantries – write with purpose which is to help solve their biggest issues, challenges and problems.

Take a deep breath and put the real ME into the text – because they do want to know me/and my opinions. Never be bland again!

Set as my standard my goal to amaze and extend my contribution in everyone communication with every fan.

Get CREATIVE with that communication and contribution, once a month I pledge to do something remarkable and outstanding for my fans.

You’ve just inspired me and reminded me that marketing is not some clinical technique that has to be done – it is the heart and soul of what we do………. I’m am jumping to get going again and until I read this article I was really struggling with my reason why this year.

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thechadisstuck January 5, 2012 at 4:46 am

The biggest tip for cultivating true fans is to KNOW your target true fans. Write all your content directly for your target audience, communicate constantly with your audience to discover exactly what they want from you, and listen to everything they say. Build your contribution to them from that.

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SellWhatYouKnow January 5, 2012 at 10:57 pm

I have cultivated True Fans through my blog, newsletters, answering emails and writing about them to promote their respective businesses.

That said, my largest brand’s target market is women 45+ and not that involved in web 2.0. So while they’ll buy everything I sell (which I love and appreciate!), they aren’t as likely to share links to stories, comment on blogs, etc.

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JonathanMead January 7, 2012 at 10:58 am

@SellWhatYouKnow So you might want to involve more older generation friendly methods of sharing. I bet most of your women are on Facebook, so I would encourage sharing their and through email.

JonathanMead January 7, 2012 at 10:58 am

@SellWhatYouKnow So you might want to involve more older generation friendly methods of sharing. I bet most of your women are on Facebook, so I would encourage sharing their and through email.

ChezBlancheDesi May 23, 2012 at 9:44 am

 @SellWhatYouKnow Older women are on blogs, writing, on facebook, as Jonathan mentioned… We are more than likely to share links– believe me I am and my friends do and I have all ages, all types on my facebook page which I consider a creative workspace. Who said so that they are not involved with the web? What study– it does not correlate with me or my experience. Just saying…:)

Mary Kim January 6, 2012 at 10:42 am

I’m just starting out with my blog and I’ve been trying to get more traffic to my blog site. And I think I was also making that mistake of just trying to generate traffic without focusing on cultivating true fans. For me, 1000 true fans seem very intimidating! But I definitely try to focus on content that’s UNMISSABLE :)

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judybelmont January 7, 2012 at 9:17 am

Wonderful tips! Thanks you – i just came out with a blog/site on emotional wellness/ personal development and will take your suggestions to grow my base. Regards, judy

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JonathanMead January 7, 2012 at 10:57 am

@judybelmont Very cool Judy, I’m sure you’ll be off to a great start.

hazelnutcottage January 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

hello jonathan,i’m pretty sure this qualifies as ‘high touch’, and certainly unexpected: i created hand stamped jewelry, often for moms, and some of those moms have lost a child through miscarriage or other sorrowful life event.i remember one woman who was looking for a customized necklace to remember her baby daughter ‘ashley’ who had recently passed away. i was moved by her story. we went through the usual back and forth emails to customize the piece and at the end of the process, i told her that i was gifting the necklace to her as a gift from ashley to thank her for being her mama. i included a handwritten note from ashley to her mom, that simply said ‘thank you for being my mama’.so my advice would be: alllow yourself to connect in a real way (in this case, from one mama to another) and be kind. :)thank you for allowing me to share!

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CourtRJ January 18, 2012 at 3:51 am

This is fantastic. I’m printing it – yes, printing it.

My personal philosophy of cultivating true fans is that I rarely promote my email list, and when I do, it’s more of a “hey, if you read this regularly, consider signing up for updates so that you don’t even have to think about it.”

With my email list, I want to know that the majority of those people are true fans. It’s like a special little club!

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ihelpmusicians January 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Great tips Jonathan! I’m really enjoying your blog.

After blogging for a few years myself I’ve learned a few things along the way that I think are relevant.

First and foremost you have to care. If you don’t REALLY care about your audience then nothing else you do will matter much. You can’t hide it and the importance of caring can’t be overstated.

Also, I think it’s very important to lead with the giving hand. I try and make sure that I’m giving away as much value as I can in the first few emails of any autoresponder sequence I write. I hope something I send them will help them or inspire them and I hope that they’ll decide to continue opening my emails.

To gain true fans you have to infuse your sales process with some genuine relationship building. You have to put yourself out there, break down walls and take chances. If your heart is in the right place then I think you’ll do better by taking the chance of offering too much or being too honest than by playing it safe and hiding behind a computer.

Computers are not just impersonal money making machines. They’re great tools to leverage ideas and value to serve a lot of people but you still need to do it in a human way.

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unorule March 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I keep loyal to my principles.
 
I write what I do really like and think, never fake. If someone decides to follow me, I know it is a true fan.
 
The same way you cannot force others to love you, I think you cannot push them to follow you, that is their own decision.

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Espresso English April 4, 2012 at 6:49 am

I absolutely love the list of practical ways to go “above and beyond!” I’m still experimenting to figure out the best way of doing that on my site. I once sent a personal “thank you and I’d love to answer any questions you might have” e-mail to each of my new newsletter subscribers, and I was a little surprised that only 2 out of 100 responded to it. Maybe that just wasn’t a method that “resonated” well with my audience?

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ChezBlancheDesi May 23, 2012 at 9:46 am

Interesting material to give consideration to as I venture out with my designs. 

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Little Kodak November 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I FEEL LIKE THIS CHANGED MY LIFE AND ENCOURAGED ME TO DO SOMETHING POSITIVE & DIFFERENT IN MY LIFE TO GIVE TO THE PEOPLE OUT IN THE WORLD. IT’S SO MANY THING PEOPLE DO THAT ARE THE SAME BUT I NOW REALIZE IT’S TIME TO SPARK UP SOMETHING NEW AN IMPROVE TO SHOW PEOPLE THE TRUTH ABOUT THINGS. FEEDING THEM KNOWLEDGE AND STAYING CONNECTED WITH PEOPLE.

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Patricia December 17, 2012 at 9:57 am

Wow! What an eye opening article. Great tips (and homework)! Thanks for sharing, encouraging and giving a wake up call!

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Patricia December 27, 2012 at 9:54 am

Thanks for the great tips. I think we too often forget the importance of taking that extra step to wow those people that we want long term relationship with. Thanks for the great reminder!

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Jen February 24, 2013 at 6:49 am

Don’t try to network just do good work.

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Shannon Lagasse March 2, 2013 at 7:09 pm

My best tip for building a list of true fans is to provide really valuable, relevant content. I hear all the time from my readers “This is just what I needed! Thank you!” or “I’ve been struggling with this forever! I can so relate!” It’s all about getting inside their head and knowing them so well that they feel like you’re writing to them. That keeps the subscribe rates up and the unsubs down.

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Aimes March 5, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Great post, Jonathan!

To my mind, one of the greatest challenges is curating personal brand to match and satisfy the varied members in your audience. When it comes to blogging and social media—how do you ensure that your activity is consistently “Unmissable/Important” to all 1,000 fans, especially given knowledge that some audience segments like high touch and others may operate differently?

Thanks,
Amy

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Christiane April 16, 2013 at 12:25 am

I’m new to this, but I feel that I need to give my readers what appeals to me when looking for a product or service: sincerity, authenticity, good content that is useful and enjoyable to read, openness, personal attention, quality, affordability. Yes, I like some freebies too, but free postage isn’t important to me (unless it’s from one of the big retailers), if I want to buy something unique I don’t get elsewhere. And to be honest, competitions to win prizes don’t attract me at all (unlikely to win lol). But perhaps that’s just me ;) I suppose it’s all about the target audience what works and what doesn’t.
Thank you for this interesting post.

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Faheem Moosa April 16, 2013 at 8:47 am

Great post. I have a new blog and this is what I’ve started doing: I visit all my new email subscribers’ websites (if they have one) and send them a personal note thanking them for subscribing. I try and make useful and relevant conversation about their business. I then ask them what they’re struggling with and how I can add value to them, i.e. what type of content they want to see more of. When they respond to my email, I usually go back and forth with them about their business and try and address their current struggles. I also offer my phone number if they want to chat. The idea is to get to know them and let them know I give a damn and am genuine. No pitching or any of that.

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Darcy May 13, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Great article, I think too many people focus on getting fans, and not enough on getting loyal fans that actually care.

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Antonio McKnight June 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Getting True Fans is to love that person and treat that person with the most kindness. You have to show that person the attention they deserve because your number 1 fan deserves your number 1 attention. You have to give them a part of you through your lyrics (something they can compare to). You have to be amazing at what you do, and willing to take on the competition of the most gifted. True fans love you for who you are, and you have to be willing to let yourself free from being others!

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David August 23, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Thanks for guiding my focus to always seeking quality over quantity. It sounds to me as if marketing is being generous with ourselves and that opens a space. This space draws people in creating a true connection. As for a tip, with my band TheStopboys, we treat every interaction as if it were irreplaceable – and it is. It’s fun because its usually kids although it requires tons of energy.

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suddenlyjamie January 4, 2012 at 11:57 am

@JonathanMead It really is like magic – and I think it’s a magic that flows both ways and spirals outwards to touch people beyond the “giver” and “receiver.” It’s just damn good karma all around! ;)

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