100 True Fans? Is Small Really the New Big?

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Here’s an idea that might cause a few of your brain cells to fire in new directions …

What if I challenged you to think SMALLER instead of bigger about the audience you want to attract?

What if your goal wasn’t to reach “the masses,” but to cultivate a small, dedicated core group of people who love and support you?

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You may have dreams of creating the next “Gangnam Style” song or video, or blowing up your Instagram following, or striking gold with an Amazon bestseller.

That’s fine. It’s great to think big. But there may be another way to tackle growth.

In the music business, unit sales figures for bestselling albums are much lower than they used to be. Harry Potter-sized book sales are also not as common.

At the same time, more people are consuming music, movies, books, and video games than ever before.

It’s just that the attention of consumers is now spread out over a wider variety of styles, artists, and platforms — such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Spotify, etc. It’s an incredibly fractured marketplace.

As part of this evolution, thousands of independent artists are now doing well serving niche audiences.

But most of the success stories you hear about (like Macklemore, Pomplamoose, Jonathan Coulton) are at the upper end of the indie scale.

At the same time there are countless artists who do well under the radar catering to distinct (albeit smaller) groups of people.

Some serve yoga instructors or massage therapists; others attract environmentalists, car enthusiasts, or cat lovers.

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How Low Can You Go?

Kevin Kelly wrote a popular blog post in 2008 called 1,000 True Fans, which described this new world of artists who cater to specialized clusters of supporters.

How cool would it be if your goal was to see how SMALL of a fan base you could develop and still make a difference (and even make a living) with your art, music, or expertise?

If that was your goal, your actions would be quite different …

If growing your career wasn’t about attracting the masses, you would spend more time cultivating individual relationships with fans.

  • You would serve and repeatedly thank your small but dedicated group of supporters.
  • You would regularly get their input on new projects you worked on.
  • They in turn would feel more special and connected and be more likely to show up and support you.

The funny thing is, catering to your tribe of early adopters in this caring and authentic way just might lead to positive word of mouth. And that could end up growing your audience exponentially … without you ever having to be concerned about “the masses.”

As Seth Godin has written, small is the new big.

Speaking of Seth, the idea for this post came to me while listening to a great interview Krista Tippett did with him. Listen to it here.

I’d love your thoughts on this!

Please leave a comment, give this article a clap or five :) and share it with someone who would benefit from reading it.

This is Day 21 of my 30-Day Blog Writing Challenge.

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Bob Baker helps musicians, authors, artists, and creative entrepreneurs use their talents and know-how to make a living and make a difference in the world!

Listen to his Creative Entrepreneur or Music Marketing podcasts.

Check out Bob’s books on Amazon and follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

He also creates affirmation and guided meditation recordings on his YouTube channel, Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms.

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My mission in life is to inspire & empower people through audio affirmations, guided meditations, books, podcasts, music, art, coaching, and improv comedy.

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