We all want a big audience — except for the people who have one.
They want a bigger audience.
That desire— whether we acknowledge it or not — colors what we create, how we create it, and how we promote it.
It influences our decisions and combines with a mistaken belief that social media makes it “easy” to attract a huge following to drive us to chase one.
“But chasing a huge audience often keeps us from attracting one.”
Because a meaningful following is the result of connecting with individuals — not the result of broadcasting to the distracted masses.
That’s why it’s helpful to ask yourself this when plotting your content and promotion strategy:
“What would do differently if you only needed 10 true fans to succeed?”
Probably a lot.
You’d think more about your target audience.
You struggle to identify your target audience because you worry about being too niche.
Since you assume you need thousands of fans (or more) to be successful, you aim your work at a broad audience. You don’t want to exclude any potential fans.
But if you only needed 10 fans, you’d narrow your aim.
You’d focus on a more targeted group and wouldn’t worry about alienating the masses.
“You’d create things for a few people to LOVE instead of for a lot of people to like and set out to be the perfect choice for somebody instead of the acceptable choice for everybody.”
In doing so, your creations would become more unique, authentic, and likely to connect with your audience.
You’d pay more attention to your fans.
If you only had 10 fans, you’d know them a LOT better.
You’d know who they are, what your unique relationship was with each of them, how you met them, and what they enjoyed about you and your work.
You’d spend more time communicating with them about THEIR interests and less time just promoting your work to them.
“You’d have a real, two-way relationship with them.”
On the flipside, chasing thousands of fans gives you an excuse to avoid doing those things.
It makes it easy to convince yourself it’s not practical (or possible) to have a relationship with thousands of fans and engage them in a meaningful way.
That kind of effort doesn’t “scale.” so why bother trying, right?
(That’s sarcasm obviously, but it’s a common mindset.)
The reality is what prevents you from a meaningful connection to your fans isn’t the logistics — it’s the built-in excuse you’ve given yourself to avoid trying.
You’d work harder.
Even though there’s more work involved in gaining thousands of fans than a handful, it’s likely you’d work harder if you knew it only took 10 to succeed.
That’s because attracting 10 fans seems more doable than the daunting task of attracting thousands.
“The belief that your goal is within reach would motivate you to work harder than you otherwise might at what can seem like an overwhelming task to build a huge fanbase.”
It would be a less intimidating goal and therefore remove yet another excuse that can hold you back.
You’d communicate differently with your fans.
If you only needed 10 fans, would you still obsess over Twitter, Facebook, and assorted other social media platforms?
You certainly wouldn’t care as much about vanity metrics like your follower count.
“Social media’s great, but it’s more likely you’d communicate with your fans by email, text, phone, or even in person (seeing your actual fans in the flesh — imagine that!).”
Social media can be a huge distraction.
It’s easy to get caught up broadcasting to your followers on social platforms (most of whom don’t see your posts anyway) instead of communicating with them in more meaningful ways.
You could treat them more like friends than fans — something that would dramatically strengthen their connection to you and your work.
You’d care less about the gatekeepers.
Your obsession with the gatekeepers of your industry is driven by one thing — a perception that it’s a shortcut to reach the masses.
“But if you only needed 10 fans to have a successful career, you wouldn’t need the masses the gatekeepers control so you’d care less about what they think and more about what your actual fans think.”
We’re in a world where what fans think of you is more important than what the industry thinks anyway, so a 10-fan thought process can help you focus your time, effort, and resources where they belong.
Your Work Would Be Better
If you knew your work only had to appeal to 10 people, it would be a lot different than if it has to appeal to thousands.
Too many creators shape their work to fit what they think others want — they mimic what other successful people do, do what the gatekeepers want to see, or what they think will get them noticed.
“But if you only needed to appeal to 10 people, you’d be more likely to do what YOU want to do — and then find the people who value THAT.”
And that’s how you develop your own unique voice, which is the key to building a successful creative career and fanbase anyway.
Don’t you still need thousands of fans to succeed?
The point isn’t that only having 10 fans will get you where you want to go. I know that’s not true.
But, making decisions as if you only need 10 will get you a lot further — and a lot faster — than trying to win over the world ever will.