What’s A True Fan Worth?

“A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce.” Kevin Kelly

How cool is that?

Clients and buyers who will scoop up EVERYTHING you offer up.

How many of those do you have right now, this minute?

And how would it change your work—not to mention your life—if you had more? Many more…

Kelly’s point in his original piece is that creators—artists, writers and musicians in particular—only need 1,000 True Fans to make a living at their art.

But if you sell expertise—advice—your magic number may be far less.

Take “Thomas”. His first client interaction is an assessment project that brings in an average of $2,000. Not a big-ticket item, but if the client takes the NEXT step and hires Thomas for part two, it’s worth $35,000—a year.

And while only about 25% of his initial clients sign on for part two, precious few stop using him once they’re on his system.

A single True Fan is worth just shy of $175,000 over the life of their relationship.

Why is that important? Because it tells Thomas how much he can afford to invest in building his client pipeline: attracting casual fans to become clients and eventually move into True Fan territory.

But let’s agree that Thomas isn’t the norm.

Maybe Angela is more relatable. She serves her clients on a project basis—no retainer. In a good year, she completes five to ten projects and nets $150,000 (she worries about the bad years since her work moves with the economy).

She works hard and at the end of the year, she’s typically added three or four raving fans. And while they’re theoretically worth about $25,000 (her average assignment), in practice she has nothing else to offer them once they’re done with the project.

She’s got no leverage.

And if she can’t keep those True Fans warm when she’s not working with them, they’ll eventually disappear off her radar.

One solution: develop her intellectual property into new forms—perhaps a digital course, a workshop or a book. But to make her time investment pay off, she has to ensure she’s drawing her future True Fans into her orbit. She needs to keep her fan base in motion.

For Angela, maybe it’s a $20 book that she promotes into the hands of her next generation of clients. And then a $250 digital training program that becomes a feeder system for her 1-1 clients. While she’d increase what her True Fans could buy from her only incrementally ($25,000 + $250 + $20), with the right content, promotion and distribution she’d start attracting a new group of True Fans almost immediately. She literally could change her business model within a year.

Of course, there isn’t one magical solution that fits everyone.

But take a good hard look at your revenue model, your True Fan base and how you want to spend your time.

Embedded in that trinity is your path to delighting your True Fans and creating a business you love.

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  • First thanks for the direct link to Kevin Kelly’s commentary. Very interesting. I really like this context. I can understand monetizing for some of the Rock acts I love to this day that did not quite achieve superstardom but do tour. In some cases I approach True Fan status; others somewhat short.
    Keeping in touch with project clients is always key. Some cases just will not convert or just remain hard to convert to retainer; others may convert for awhile but not long term. Social media helps some. Calls. Meetings. Information sharing helps. Many of the clients overlap in certain circles and support each other; ditto some client connectors; and I do try to connect them to each other.

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