“100 True Customers” – A 1000 True Fans Approach For Entrepreneurs and Freelancers

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“100 True Customers” – A 1000 True Fans Approach For Entrepreneurs and Freelancers post image

Kevin Kelly, who wrote one of the best books I have ever read, also wrote an influential article for bloggers and artists called “1000 True Fans.” It said a lot of things, but the one that resonated most for me: if you can cultivate 1000 true fans, they’ll spend $100 dollars on your art every year, grossing you 100K in personal income. You’ll be able to spend your time creating your art. “You make a living instead of a fortune.” 

That’s what I call a damn good start.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as an artist, being a small business entrepreneur is often about being creative. You need to produce stuff that others find valuable.

There is a passage that Kevin doesn’t linger on, but is important for entrepreneurs and freelancers who want to think about their businesses this way:

“As your True Fans connect with each other, they will more readily increase their average spending on your works…”

This is especially true for customers who are buying your stuff to solve problems. A group of customers focused on solving the same sorts of problems could be helping each other save time, make more money, and build better businesses.

A community of people focused on solving the same sorts of problems is a product in itself.

True customer = someone who pays $1 a day for your products and services. 100 true customers = $3,000 monthly income.

When you find 100 people to sign up, you’ll make around $36,500 annually.

Since your true customers are subscribers, you’ll deal with less turnover. The pressure to produce new works of art, or intensive programatic products will drop dramatically. Instead, you’ll continually serve your community members. That type of work will naturally lead to higher value product offerings.

Instead of developing an ebook on copywriting, or doing an 8 week course on ‘how to improve your sales pages,” you’ll want to use ‘static’ products as incentives to join a private community. In some cases, this will mean taking less money up front in order to get subscribers.

A reliable cash flow and interaction with customers is exactly the type of foundation– cash, market insight, and relationships– that builds great businesses. You’ll be in a great position to launch higher value products and services. You’ll be free of the “launch” mentality that a lot of information marketers find themselves in.

If you want to find 100 true customers and make a living from them, you won’t just be building products, delivering services, or doing freelancing. Instead, you’ll be building a platform that delivers all three. Instead of saying you are “writing ebooks,” or “doing copywriting consulting,” or “doing freelance writing,” you are “building a platform that helps entrepreneurs skyrocket conversions on their money pages.”

Here’s some a basic framework for thinking about your products and services as a subscription, capable of developing “100 true customers”:

  1. Start a community focused on the core problems that your products and services solve. For the example of the copywriter… what is the most compelling reason people need your services? Do they need content for SEO? Do they need to improve their conversation rates on their sales pages? Let’s say that’s the case… you are going to start a community around the idea of creating super high converting sales pages.
  2. It costs $1 a day to join your community. Pay to play. No big deal though, because you are an amazing copywriter, and the free tips that people will pick up inside of your community will more than pay for the $1 a day thing. Plus, your sales page will be awesome.
  3. Give your “static” products to your members for free. Classic info products like eBooks should be given 100% free to your members, and used as a sales funnel in to your group. Essentially, your private group services as the operational backend– customer support, service, etc.
  4. Ning is $30 bucks a month. Launch your products from inside of a community, either something you pull together on a WordPress platform, or within Ning’s wonderful social networking environment. Don’t waste your time on features until you get 100 customers.
  5. Seed the community with former and current customers. If people have supported you so far, perhaps they are willing to be charter members of your new group. I’m sure they’ll show up just to see the resource lists you are pulling together.
  6. Offer up-front incentives for joining the community. For example, access to all of your sales page templates. This doesn’t need to be a big thing, we are only talking about a dollar a day here. Perhaps you can start with 1 or 2 that work for you, and offer them up front. Totally worth it! If you can, get on the phone with every new member or prospect. This is the best way to figure out what your higher dollar ad ons will be.
  7. Build out high-dollar premium products for the group. Need somebody to create video intros for your sales videos? I’ve vetted somebody and got you a discount. Need a WordPress framework? Here’s our recommended plus a tutorial with support. Need to hire somebody to write one outright for you? I’ve got my flat rate posted right here. And so on. People who make money off of a fleet of sales pages would likely be willing to pay just to have the best paid services reviewed and clearly presented by people who’ve taken the time to ensure they are the best products and services on the market.
  8. Focus on passive value and saving people time. If I sign up for your sales letter community, I probably want to spend less time on my sales letters. It’s important to keep that in mind because platforms like Ning and Forums encourage interaction, which can be time consuming. Ways to cultivate passive value would be to send out weekly newsletters that say stuff like, hey I’ve got phone time all next Friday, just Tungle me and I’ll shake down your website. Or perhaps you host monthly Webinars. Maybe you offer free tutorials on the best new software offerings every 3 weeks. Maybe you’ve developed a new buy-now button and you send that out to everyone to put up on their sites.
  9. Have a mission. Why is it that your community exists? What are you trying to improve? What am I buying in to when I join?

Whatchu think? Got any questions about how this sort of thing could get done? I think this approach to online business has tons of potential.

Cheers,

 

Dan

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Published on 12.29.11
  • http://www.theskooloflife.com Srinivas Rao

    Thanks Dan 

    Lately I feel like you are writing posts just for me. It’s like “SRin, here is your plan for how to kill it in 2012.  I’ve got a good amount of stuff in the works.” I love what you said about giving your members all of your static products for free. Makes complete sense. I don’t know if you caught this article by Lori Taylor, but you should read about what she says about Kindle publishing. It’s spot on. 

    http://lorirtaylor.com/publishing-to-amazon/

    I think you’ll appreciate her perspectives. You’ve just given me the blueprint for what’s coming next. 

    -Srini

  • http://www.brandsuperpower.com David Crandall

    I was reading the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing and decided to take a break for a moment. Thought I’d check in on my buddy Dan and started reading this. Then Srini DM-ed me on Twitter and said to check this out…WHILE I was reading it. Haha! Love it.

    All that to say that I’m glad I stopped in and completely echo what Srini said. This is spot on and exactly the direction we are thinking…nice to have the input of someone who is already doing it.

    On a side note (and you should dig this)…I’m responding to this post via my new iPad. Yes…me on an Apple product. What is this world coming to?!

  • http://www.bzemic.com/impossibleInstinct/ steve ward

    geez Dan you killed it with that post, i know you should write epic stuff but that crazy information. It most of took you a month of planing to write it out most likely will take me 6 month’s just to blend that into my business system.

    I hate you……………….=P

  • http://www.thepracticalnerd.com Tom Meitner

    Dan, this stuff is fantastic. You touched on some of these points in a podcast that I was listening to on a plane (I think I still have the notes written on that AirTran napkin). I’ll just have to drop this post into my Evernote notebook instead. Nice work!

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    haha thanks Tom! :D

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    aw shucks

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    muhahahahha.. welcome sir, it gets easier… :D 

    thanks for stopping by man! :D

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    haha, thanks for the link Srini, checking it out now!

  • Andrew Eydt

    Really liked the post Dan!
    Building a community, rather than peddling single products is definitely in line with my goals for virtual business in 2012.

    I appreciate the info and am looking forward to the next masterpiece.

    Cheers!

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    haha cheers man! 

  • Thomas G
  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    ah great blog. thanks for the link

  • http://www.bzemic.com/impossibleInstinct/ steve ward

    =P

  • Thomas G

    Yeah Gabriel is really one of the good ones, the most usable article would be : http://www.gabrielweinberg.com/blog/2010/04/in-the-pursuit-of-traction-have-you-considered-all-verticals.html

  • Pingback: The Secret to Attracting 1,000 True Fans | Illuminated Mind

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    cheers! thanks

  • http://twitter.com/PTheWyse Praverb

    I really needed to hear this now. I was contemplating selling static product and well now I am reconsidering it.

    I would rather build a community than just sell items here and there. Thank you for this inspiring article.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    cheers you got it. good luck.

  • http://twitter.com/PTheWyse Praverb

    Thank you your article inspired me to write a blog post entitled 100 Ways to Gain 100 True Fans.

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