#11: Why You Don’t Need 1 Million Subscribers. You Need 1,000 True Fans.

Have you ever wanted to make a living off of your YouTube channel?

If you’re like us, that’s the ultimate dream. Making what you want to make and getting paid for it. However, it also seems like a long shot. It may even seem impossible.

Well, it may be a lot more doable than you think.

On this week’s episode, we unpack Kevin Kelly’s amazing article, “1,000 True Fans” and discuss strategies that you can use to make that dream a reality.

The Article

“To be a successful creator, you don’t need millions….you only need thousands of true fans.”

What is a TRUE fan?

“A true fan is defined as a fan that will buy anything you produce.”
(i.e. Jake with Red Letter Media, Matt with Donald Glover, etc.)
– For every single true fan, you might have two or three regular fans.

  • It’s important to try and connect with everybody, but your rabid, true fans are who you should cater to.
  • You want to focus on the super fans because the enthusiasm of true fans can increase the patronage of regular fans. True fans not only are the direct source of your income, but also your chief marketing force for the ordinary fans.

Why 1,000 True Fans?

“A thousand customers is a whole lot more feasible to aim for than a million fans.”

Aiming for a million people is daunting. 1,000 people is a lot less stressful and obtainable. Please your true fans first.

How the Math Works:

1) First, you have to create enough each year that you can earn, on average, $100 profit from each true fan. 2) Second, you must have a direct relationship with your fans. That is, they must pay you directly. You get to keep all their support without having to give it away to a middleman (YouTube, music distributor, etc.)

The number 1,000 is not absolute. The actual number has to be adjusted for each person. If you are able to only earn $50 per year per true fan, then you need 2,000. (Likewise, if you can sell $200 per year, you need only 500 true fans.)

Another way to calculate the support of a true fan is to aim to get one day’s wages per year from them. Can you excite or please them sufficient to earn one day’s labor? That’s a high bar, but not impossible for 1,000 people worldwide.



  • You can sell directly, peer to peer, with your fans.
  • It’s never been more possible to connect with your fans and interact with them, cultivating them as your true fans.
  • While a direct relationship with customers was the default mode in old times, the benefits of modern retailing meant that most creators in the last century did not have direct contact with consumers.

“As far as I can tell there is nothing — no product, no idea, no desire — without a fan base on the internet. Everything made, or thought of, can interest at least one person in a million — it’s a low bar.”

“One thousand is a feasible number. You could count to 1,000. If you added one fan a day, it would take only three years. True Fanship is doable. Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating. It rewards the artist to remain true, to focus on the unique aspects of their work, the qualities that True Fans appreciate.”

The point of this strategy is to say that you don’t need a hit to survive. You don’t need to a best seller or a video that gets a million views overnight.

There is a place in the middle where you can at least make a living.

That mid-way haven is called 1,000 True Fans. It is an alternate destination for an artist to aim for.

The Magic of Crowdfunding
The average number of supporters for a successful Kickstarter project is 241 funders — far less than a thousand. That means If you have 1,000 true fans you can do a crowdfunding campaign because by definition a true fan will become a Kickstarter funder.

Patreon and your own merchandise are other great options as well. Especially with the recent “Adpocalypse” on YouTube, they may even be better alternatives. Keep in mind, though, that the goal of these platforms aren’t there to necessarily make you rich, they are there as tools to help you make a living.


  • How can you interact with your fanbase?
  • How can you grow a fanbase?
  • Would you spend money on your own content? Be honest.
  • What steps can you take to make your content worthy of fandom?


“Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum bestseller hits, blockbusters, and celebrity status, you can aim for direct connection with a thousand true fans.”

This is by no means a get rich quick scheme for success. As Matt says, if anything, this is a get rich slow scheme.

You still have to put forth the effort and the time. Like Jake and Matt, you may work 40 hour-a-week jobs. It’s difficult enough to make content regularly, but maybe you have kids or relatives to take care of on top of it all.

It’s exhausting.

But it’s possible.

Make sure your content is of the highest quality. If you aren’t taking the necessary steps to increase the quality of your content every day, there won’t be any fans of it, no matter how many videos you churn out.

The first step is to start making stuff.

It may be rough at first, but if you put forth the effort and commit to consistency, you will get those first few fans.

Then those fans will compound on each other and make a few more fans.

Then a few more.

Then a few more.

I think you get the idea.

Want some feedback on whatever you’re working on?

If you’re a new content creator like we are, you may want all the help and feedback you can possibly get!

That’s why we would love for you to message us for some of our feedback! Videos, blog posts, poetry, whatever you’re working on, we would love to help you out like you guys are helping us out.

Just connect with us as sixstarsonly@gmail.com or hit us up on social media!

@sixstarsonly on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

You can hit Matt Woods up on Twitter: https://twitter.com/matopher

Connect with Jake on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jakearenot

And speaking of feedback…

Loved this show? It would make our month (wait, no, our YEAR) if you left us a 5-star review on iTunes. ⭐⭐⭐⭐🌟