Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans Predicted the Future of Online Business

Before we ever made a dollar as YouTube entrepreneurs, we used to think you needed an amazing, once in a lifetime idea to start a business.

And a rich uncle to “loan” you a bunch of money.

And an audience of millions to sell your product to.

It made starting a business feel so impossible.

But one day we read an article that shattered all of our preconceptions about being a creator.

It completely blew our minds and shook us to our cores.

The short article was called 1,000 True Fans and it was written by Kevin Kelly.

Kevin Kelly 1,000 true fans at TED.
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Kelly is the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, where he now has the baller title of Senior Maverick. He’s also the author of 15 books, including What Technology Wants and his recent New York Times bestseller The Inevitable.

Kevin’s 1,000 true fans theory went viral shortly after it was published in 2008. It has been cited by some of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs like Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi, Ryan Holiday, and Seth Godin. And it’s commonly accepted as the most critical piece of advice for anyone looking to start their business.

1,000 true fans graph google search
Google searches for 1,000 true fans in 2008 — 100 pretty much means virality in terms of Google search

What is the theory? Well, it’s actually pretty simple.

1,000 True Fans Explained

If you want to make a living as a creator—you need to find 1,000 people who would be interested in buying what you produce. If you can do this, you can make enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life.

In case you’re a skeptic at heart, here it is in Kelly’s own words:

“Whatever your interests as a creator are, your 1,000 true fans are one click from you. As far as I can tell there is nothing—no product, no idea, no desire—without a fan base on the internet. Everything made or thought of can interest at least one person in a million. The trick is to practically find those fans, or, more accurately, to have them find you.”

We have the benefit of hindsight to understand this is the reality now. But back in 2008, it was revolutionary.

Facebook and YouTube were 4 and 3 years old, respectively, just getting off the ground.

Amazon’s self-publishing unit, Kindle Direct Publishing, was only months old. Kickstarter wouldn’t be launched until the following year, and Patreon wasn’t born until 2013. So at the time, finding 1,000 True Fans was really hard to do.

In nearly every industry, you still had to work with middlemen like record labels, brick and mortar retailers, book publishers and TV executives to get to the end user.

But now, you can reach anyone in the world who has a smartphone. Finding 1,000 True Fans is actually very achievable, as long as you take the right steps.

Thinking about the possibilities of the 1,000 true fans theory was incredibly inspiring at the time. When we first read it, we were still in college, sitting in our crappy apartment, trying to come up with an amazing idea for a business. We knew we didn’t want to take the “traditional path” of getting a degree in a major we didn’t care about, and then working a 9-5 job we hated.

But at the time, we had no special skills, talents, or film experience, which made starting a YouTube channel seem impossible to us.

But after reading “1,000 True Fans” we realized that making a living doing something we were passionate about was well within our grasp. It no lo longer seemed like a pipe dream.

It meant you no longer needed someone to pick you to “make it.” You didn’t have to be famous. You no longer needed millions of fans to earn a living. You just needed 1,000 raving fans.

If we could convince 1 out of every 6 million people to like what we did, we were set.

And it almost didn’t matter what our passion was, as long as we loved what we were creating, we were confident we could find people who would love it too.

This is what led us to start Simple Pickup. We didn’t consider ourselves “dating experts” from day one, but we spent almost all of our free time trying to meet girls. As young, single guys in college, it’s what we were constantly reading about and practicing when we went out. We felt like there were thousands of people who would love our content if we did it right.

…and it applies to you as well. Today literally ANY interest you have, there’s a niche of people out there who are obsessed with it.

Whether you’re into video games, taxidermy, or yoga, there are thousands of people who love it just as much as you do.

1,000 true fans in graph form.
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Your job is to find 1,000 of them who would say, “Shut up and take my money,” whenever you have something to sell.

Like Hugh Howey did. Howey self-published Wool, his post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel about a society forced to live underground, on Amazon. It quickly became a phenomenon, selling hundreds of thousands of copies.

The film rights were quickly optioned by Hollywood and the big book publishers came calling.

Howey signed a deal with Simon & Schuster to sell his books in bookstores, but he turned down seven-figure deals just so he could keep the rights to self-publishing his books online. That’s the real power of being able to sell directly to your fans.

Or Amanda Palmer, a musician who is one half of the punk-cabaret duo, the Dresden Dolls, and the lead in her new band, Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra. In 2012, she launched a Kickstarter for a new album project, which eventually supported by over 24,000 and raised over $1 million. At the time it was the most money ever raised by a musician on Kickstarter. She’s since done a TED talk about the experience, which has been viewed over 9 million times.

Or blogger Ben Thompson, who runs the popular technology and strategy blog Thompson is able to give an insider’s perspective on the business and economics of technology startups given his experience working at Apple, Automattic, and Microsoft. He believes his niche perspective has been key to his success: “The internet enables niche in a massively powerful way, where you can focus and be really good at one thing. And because you’re not constrained to a geographic area, you can reach the entire world. I have subscribers in 30 countries.”

Thompson’s dream when he started Stratechery was to get 1,000 subscribers, which he says was based on Kelly’s 1,000 true fans. He now has over 2,000 subscribers and is pulling in more than $200,000 in revenue annually.

Or take our students, David & Harshyt of Riffshop. They started a YouTube channel that explains “life through death metal,” with hilarious results. Since taking learning our system, they’ve gained over 8 million views and have been featured on IGN, Chive, and Esquire. Right now they earn over $1,200 for every YouTube video they create via Patreon.

Putting Theory Into Action

Knowing the 1,000 true fans theory is all well and good—but the question remains, how the hell do you get them?

And what can you create in the first place to get 1,000 true fans?

These are the TOUGHEST questions… yet, no one ever gives you a framework to figure it out.

This is the part that no one explains. You can scour the internet…but as of yet, I have not found anyone that systematically breaks down how to get those 1000 true fans.

Until now.

After years of trial and error, we’ve developed a proven, repeatable system for finding 1,000 true fans.

It’s like riding a bike. It’s a totally learnable skill. You suck at first, but as you get the hang of it you can consistently repeat it.

Here’s a breakdown of exactly what you’ll learn in our YouTube Influencer crash course:

1. Finding Your Profitable Channel Idea

You’ll learn how to get 1,000 true fans on YouTube AND how to find your idea even if you’re an absolute beginner.

2. The Remix Strategy

Most people think creating viral videos (and attracting a HUGE audience online) requires an insane level of creativity and innovation. We’ve proven this just isn’t true, and we’ll show you how to know which ideas and winners, and which ones are losers, with The Remix Strategy.

3. The Traits of Virality

You’ll learn the ONE thing that all the best YouTube videos do to their audience. And we’ll also reveal the three best strategies for getting this reaction out of your fans.

4. The Influencer Economy

We’ll introduce you to a “blueprint” for success on YouTube, including the truth about how we make our millions online.

Let me put all this into perspective for you so it really sinks in…

You only need 1,000 people who absolutely love what you do to make an amazing living.

Let’s say, as a creator ALL you did was occasionally sell t-shirts for $25 a pop…. And every other month, you came out with a new shirt to sell.

1,000 true fans buying a shirt for $25 is $25,000 in revenue…. Just from occasional t-shirt sales.

Obviously, $25K in revenue doesn’t mean $25K in profit. When you use a service like TeeSpring, they do 99% of the work in selling the shirts you design. And for a $25 t-shirt, they’d charge you about $8 per shirt, so your profit is still $17.

So $17 x 1,000 true fans = $17,000 in profit. That’s just for one sale.

If you do this every other month, then $17,000 x 6 t-shirt sales = $102,000.

And as a content creator, that’s just ONE way you can monetize your audience.

Which is why we believe that living your dream lifestyle is attainable.

But here’s the thing. We don’t want you to waste years on trial and error to get there—not when there’s a better path.

That’s why we sat down and created this step-by-step crash course for starting your YouTube channel and getting 1,000 true fans. For the right person, learning how to do this can be life-changing.

And it’s completely free. Because we want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to change the direction of their lives.

This information enabled us to live the life that we wanted without having to get a crappy nine-to-five job. Or study a major that we just didn’t care about.

So we put together this free 4-part video crash course that walks you step-by-step through the process. How to find your idea, launch your channel, and attract your 1,000 True Fans. Click here and sign up for free right now.

Right now you have an opportunity that people would have killed for just ten years ago, when Kevin Kelly first dreamed up his 1000 true fans theory. Today you have access to an audience of billions on YouTube. You have the ability to reach people who are just as passionate about the topics you love. The time is now to take the first step in finding your 1,000 true fans.