The beauty of the 1,000 True Fans model is its longevity.
If you play your cards right, you can make a damn good living, from work you love, for years, if not decades, to come.
Yet there’s a fundamental tension here.
In order to attract and create fans, you’ll need some marketing skills. You’ll also need to build out a proper business model.
Once you start digging into the marketing and business world, however, you’ll spot one cancerous thread running through almost every piece of advice.
Almost everyone is urging you to optimize for short-term wins. To get results as quickly as possible.
- Email marketers build sequences to close the sale as soon as possible.
- Funnel hackers try to maximize the value of every single transaction (often in obnoxious ways).
- Content marketers default to attention grabbing headlines and shallow content.
- Some assholes even make it hard to cancel their memberships, on the assumption that trapping their customers is the most profitable path. (Yes this is a thing, and yes it’s despicable.)
Here’s the problem. Many of these short-term marketing and business strategies work. They will drive revenue, or traffic, or move the needle in some visible way.
But beneath the surface, something more pernicious is happening.
Short term wins often come at the expense of trust. They either leave your fans with a bad aftertaste, or burn bridges entirely.
You may have a few extra dollars in your bank account today, but if you keep it up, you’re sacrificing your ability to build a sustainable true fan business.
It’s the classic “instant vs. delayed gratification” trap that we humans love falling into.
That donut will certainly be delicious, but eat a few each day, and watch as you sputter into old age with diabetes (should you even make it to old age).
But eat a salad a day, and take a lot of walks, and you might find your golden years to be the best of your life.
It’s the same thing with building a true fan business.
So I’d like to offer a proper, realistic set of expectations for the journey ahead.
You’ll encounter short-termism everywhere, and it’ll be sexy and alluring. When you start playing short-term games, it’ll feel like you’re winning, because there’s immediate gratification.
At the same time, it’ll be difficult to keep your focus on the long game. You may have to endure months-long stretches without external validation, even if the seeds you've planted are beginning to sprout beneath the surface.
But please know this. The creators who cherish and nurture the trust of their fans will be the ones left standing in five, ten, twenty years.
So optimize your decisions for trust and relationships. Treat your fans as you’d want to be treated. And play the long game.