I just hit 1000 fans in my Etsy shop and wrote this post to celebrate (woo hoo!) I know a thousand fans may seem small to some but for me it is a milestone moment, and one that I have been striving for ever since I first discovered the concept that started in a blog post by Kevin Kelly. Have you heard the concept of 1000 true fans? It completely blew my mind and sparked a major “maybe I can actually pull this off” moment. Hearing this concept unpacked by Tim Ferris on a podcast episode was the first time my dreams felt kinda-sorta achievable.
Still, undoing a lifetime of self doubt and negative talk doesn’t just happen overnight. I have days where I stumble across the IG account that kind of looks like mine but with way more followers and think “I’m never going to get there.” I struggled so much to get my first 100 IG followers, the thought of replicating that a thousand times can seem impossible. Luckily I’ve finally realized I don’t need to replicate anyone else’s success, I just need to show up for my people with authenticity, empathy and consistency and the growth will happen.
Now, whenever I come down with a case of the comparisonitis, I circle back to the 1000 true fans concept. When I finally realized I didn’t need to chase the vanity metrics of a huge following it was like finding an oasis in the desert. Think of it this way; if you can find 1000 people who are annually willing to exchange $100 of their hard earned cash for something that you offer, you’re making a six figure income. It’s literally that simple, but there is one small caveat. Those thousand can’t just be luke-warm fans. They’ve got to be boiling hot, full-blown obsessed with your products and more importantly, who you are as a human. They’ve got to be stalking your feed, signed up for your email list and waiting for your next product drop with credit card in hand. There will always be the next new thing and the luke-warmers will eventually find it. This is why so many businesses fail. They get caught up in the cultivation of new fans and forget to take care of the ones they already have. Having 1000 full blown fans is better that having 10 000 luke warm fans any day and feels much more achievable.
So how do you go about cultivating your tribe of 1000? The qualities that have helped me build my 1000 etsy fans and that I’m sure will eventually help me build my first 1000 IG fans are; authenticity, empathy and consistency. These core qualities never fail to make me a total fan girl of the brands I follow and I believe everyone should implement them to level up in business and in life.
Seems simple enough right? So lets unpack these qualities a little more…
Authenticity represents a brands true voice and the way they show up to the world. It means being unapologetically you and is the main thing that will immediately distinguish a brand from others. In order to be authentic, it is crucial to define the things that you stand for and reject all the things that you don’t. If a brand aligns itself with animal welfare and then releases a line of fur coats they are no longer authentic and would most certainly get an unfollow from me. Authenticity also comes from being honest in the way you show up and interact with others. It’s so much easier to maintain consistent branding when you stop worrying about what other people are thinking and just be true to you. Most humans have a pretty good b.s. meter, if you’re trying too hard to be something that you’re not, people will pick up on it. Own who you are, be passionate about the things that matter to you and the cultivation of your thousand(s) will feel effortless.
Empathy is putting yourself in other peoples shoes. As consumers we are always asking the question “what’s in it for me?” but as businesses we should be asking the inverse. When we stumble across a brand that has identified our deepest problem and offers us a solution to it, it becomes a no brainer. We hit that like/follow/subscribe button and eventually become true fans. To be fully empathetic we must identify the problem our customers are trying to solve in their lives. What are they googling, what are they dreaming about and what is keeping them up at night? The best way to do this organically is by interacting with the customers you already do have. Ask them questions, respond to your comments and DM’s, make every single person who already follows you feel seen and heard. If you only have 50 followers, show up for those 50 followers from a place of radical empathy and you will be amazed by how quickly that 50 will grow. You also can also ask yourself, “what is the thing you wish the you from 5 years ago knew or had”? If you can solve a problem for yourself, chances are you will be solving a problem for someone else too.
When I decide to become a fan girl I like to know what I’m getting myself into. If you are holistic health guru promoting body positivity and then show up one day with a massive boob job, sorry but I’m out. I’m all for women doing what they want with their bodies but I expect some consistency in the brands that I follow. It’s also important to be consistent with your workflow, if you promise to drop a collection this weekend, make sure your collection is set to drop that weekend! I once subscribed to a podcast that was so good but would often go months between episodes. Their content won me over immediately and at one point I was ready to become a raging fan but after months of no episodes have lost interest. When a brand doesn’t show up with consistency it sends a message that they don’t really care and their followers stop caring too.
When I first discovered this concept a fire was lit within me and hope it will do the same for you. It’s important to have big goals but breaking them down into actionable steps is the number one key to achievement. For so long I had been looking to the vanity metrics of others as a barometer of success when I should have just been worried about my own biz. I had been dreaming of that six figure number when I should have been laser focused on cultivating a quality thousand first.
Inevitably, something magical will happen once you find your tribe of 1000. People talk, word spreads and those core thousand are going to tell their people. Every single person I know has heard about the ‘Don’t Keep Your Day Job Podcast’ and many of them have gone on to become raving fans as well. This is how brands end up growing huge followings, not by being everything to everyone all at once but through radical empathy, authenticity and consistency one true fan at a time.