Build Your Audience: How to Get Your First 1,000 Fans

Kevin Kelly wrote a famous blog post stating that with just 1,000 fans in your corner you can make a living online. (Fans, mind you, not “likes”.) Kevin describes a fan as someone who:

“… will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work...”

In other words, true fans. Read the full article here: http://kk.org/thetechnium/1000-true-fans/

Common mistakes when trying to build a fan base

  1. Talking about how great you or your service is instead of focusing on solving problems for your audience;
  2. Not genuinely caring about your fans. Little things matter: engage with your fans; reply to their emails; respond to constructive comments;
  3. Taking more than you give, i.e. treating your customers like cash cows to be milked.

Serve your audience

With 1,000 people supporting you, you can make some serious bank. It really isn’t a large number when you consider the tools at your disposal to reach it. Before Al Gore invented the Internet, finding 1,000 fans was a challenge. Now you can realistically reach that number in a year:

  1. Serve others. Give before you take. Give away some of your best stuff free. Go all out, over-deliver and expect nothing in return. You can create a free ebook, system, checklist or – better yet – a course. Once you have created your offer, build a squeeze page to collect visitors’ (future fans) emails in exchange. Finally, advertise your free offer on Facebook, directing people to your squeeze page.
  2. Be everywhere. Convert your information into a series of slides to put on Slideshare. Create an infographic for your target market. Create a video to put on YouTube. Create a free/low-cost Kindle book. Offer your freebie to relevant bloggers and influencers. Your goal is to establish yourself as someone who produces great content. Let your work speak for itself. If it’s of a good enough standard, people will naturally follow you.
  3. Comment and support others in your space. Find people in your target market and take an interest in what they’re doing. Comment and contribute without promoting your work. Concentrate on offering great value to the community. You may be able to leave behind an URL to your site in your comment signature but that should not be the reason to do it. The goal is to develop the habit of being useful to your target market.
  4. Create killer content. A great book, for example, catapults you to another level, leapfrogging months or even years of grind. Look what it did for Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss and Chris Guillebeau for example: it made them instant authorities in their field. Create an incredible resource for your target audience and you’ll never look back.
  5. Attend conferences and live events. This is the gold-standard of building a fan base. Attend the same events as your target market. What do you do when you get there? Don’t pitch. Just engage in conversations. Ask questions. Learn about what they’re doing. Ask them if you can help them with anything and if you can, do. Introduce them to people who can further their goals. Get their opinion on future products/services you may be planning. You will make more contacts and create more opportunities in a couple of days than you can in a year.

Takeaway points

  1. Give more than you take, more than what seems sensible. Deliver great value and you’ll create an army of fans who will promote you to their network. Go into every transaction with the attitude, “I’m going to out-give you”.
  2. Always look at what you can do for your target market. Have a spirit of service. Be enthusiastic, helpful, human.
  3. Building a fan base takes time. Don’t quit. Some people will love what you do; some will hate it; the rest will be indifferent. You can’t please everyone. Just concentrate on helping your target market.

Action steps

  1. Make it a priority to attend the next big conference in your industry. Attend more than one if you can afford to (it’s a business expense). You will improve your craft; communicate your message and make more contacts than spending all year in front of a computer.
  2. What makes you a fan of other people? Is it the products they create? Is it the way they treat others? Is it their personality. Make a list of all these attributes you admire and examples of each. How can you integrate those traits in your own business?
  3. Are you unwittingly doing something that may be deterring would-be fans? Are you unknowingly curt or unfriendly? Are you mercenary? Do you take customers for granted? Are you a poor listener? Identify those traits that you are not be proud of – we all have them. Work on those.

Photo credit: marfis75 via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

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