Average Number Of Customers – Long Tails And True Fans!

Building an audience around your online business, your website, and the work you do and share online all begins with an article written in 2008 called "1,000 True Fans" by Kevin Kelly.

Show Notes

Here are links and resources mentioned in today's video. Enjoy!


If you have no idea what I'm talking about here, if you've never heard of this article, definitely check it out after this short video. This article is one of the few, very important cornerstones of modern internet marketing, audience building, and doing fulfilling work that matters to people who care.

And the rabbit hole goes a bit deeper: Kevin Kelly's "1,000 True Fans" is based on The Long Tail, an economic model popularized by Chris Anderson in his book "The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More."

And in fact, Chris Anderson has an article himself with the same title, The Long Tail, which is a second critical cornerstone -- and another article you must read if you haven't yet.

Learn how to build your small business website!

See, The Long Tail model describes for us how consumers have shifted away from mainstream offerings and have turned their attention to more niche or specialized products and services.

The days of one-size-fits-all are over. And all of this has been caused largely by the advent of the internet. See, what the internet did was it fragmented every industry.

For example, we now no longer have science fiction...but we also have hard sci-fi, fantasy sci-fi, cyberpunk, steampunk, dieselpunk, and tons of others. And this is just one example. Think about your interests and hobbies. How have they fragmented and become more and more specialize?

Markets and subcultures have now fragmented or splintered into much more specific groups and sub-groups. The internet now gives us near infinite options and choices.

And this means as consumers, we don't have to settle for products and services that only "kinda" work for us. Average is over. Regular won't do. Instead, we can get EXACTLY what we want...

So if you picture a long-tail graph, with the mainstream on the left and the tail tapering down towards the right, a niche market or sub-sub-culture or special interest group is a tiny slice of this tapering tail.

It's in these very specific niche markets where you can find what Kevin Kelly calls your 1,000 true fans. As you expand outwards (to the left and right on the long-tail chart) into other market segments / demographics, fewer and fewer people care about your work.

Philosophically, maybe this is a good thing -- after all, "everyone" is way too many people for your business to serve. And if you think "everyone" is your customer, then you haven't narrowed down your focus nearly enough.

This is what's so exciting about Kevin Kelly's 1000 True Fans. Only a small segment of people, or a tiny special interest group needs to know about you, who you are, what you do, and how you can help them...

...and in exchange, they can provide you with a decent living doing work that matters to you and that's fulfilling. What's exciting about the 1,000 True Fans theory is that it tells us that we don't need a #1 hit single.

Mainstream success is for anyone looking to sell out for fame. Instead, folks like us can live quite comfortably in the tiny sub-culture we've carved out for ourselves.

What we create, and ourselves as creators, can maintain credibility, respectability, honestly, and genuine-ness, without selling out.

As Kelly goes on to say, "It's a much saner destination to hope for. You make a living instead of [hoping for] a fortune. You are surrounded not by fad and fashionable infatuation, but by True Fans."

Share this!
Geoff Blake, Ten Ton Online

Hey there, I’m Geoff! Business, marketing, and the web can seem like a tangled, confusing mess, right? Well if you wanna get clear, straight info on all this stuff (no gimmicks or hypey nonsense)...then you're definitely in the right spot! Start here (free!)