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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88 Comments on "The Secret to Attracting 1,000 True Fans"

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


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[…] The Secret to Attracting 1000 True Fans (Pay To Exist) […]

Little Kodak



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


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!


Don’t try to network just do good work.

Shannon Lagasse

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.


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?


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… Read more »
Faheem Moosa
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… Read more »

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

Antonio McKnight

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!


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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This has been very informative for my small baby business right now. Thank you everyone for your comments, I will try to be as authentic as I can and take the time necessary to find these “true” fans. :)


[…] first. If you asked me which of these posts to read first, I’d say it’s this one.) The Secret To Attracting 1,000 True Fans – Jonathan Mead, […]

Dan Bishoigg

Thank you everyone for your comments, I will try to be as authentic as I can and take the time necessary to find these “true” fans. :)

Thomas Andrews

Hey Jonathan,
I’m not new to Facebook and I have been a user since 2009.
But recently I have created a Facebook Page for my business. In the last 5 days, I have got just 2 Likes on my page. I am not disappointed but a bit worried. The information you shared in this post has given me a ray of hope by showing a way to success. I will try my best to do everything I’ve learned today.
Thank You Very Much!

First, let me say thank you for the tips giving in this article. My best tip for cultivating true fans; would be simply to develop a positive personal relationship. Once the relationship is built then you definately have to maintain it. You simply treat others how you want to be treated. The same efforts it would take to gain the attention require the same amount if not more to maintain it. One of the best things you can do, in my opinion -is to show people how much you care rather than how much you know. When you care it… Read more »

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[…] The Secret to Attracting 1000 True Fans […]

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