In his article 1,000 True Fans, Kevin Kelly introduces the concept that you only need 1,000 true fans to make a living. He defines a true fan as “someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce.”
When someone tells you, “I’m your biggest fan,” they are a true fan. If someone comments on your blog, “I’m a long-time reader, first-time commenter,” that person is a true fan. When someone buys your entire product line, they are a true fan.
A true fan will pay you, on average, $100 per year. When you have 1,000 of these types of fans, you will make $100,000 a year. That is a living.
But what is the opposite of 1,000 true fans? It’s not 1,000 fake enemies.
It is what entrepreneur Jason Zook did. He sold his future. If you bought his future, you got everything he had ever created, and everything he ever will create. You owned his future, so you never have to pay him again.
In the 1,000 true fans concept, you first create products, then you get true fans, then finally you get paid. If someone buys your future, you get paid first, your customers become true fans, and then you create the products. It’s the difference between having your true fans pay you at the end or up front.
Let’s assume that a true fan will pay you $100 per year. Let’s also assume that Jason Zook would have 30-50 more productive years in his working life (he was in his 30’s at the time of selling his future). Using the 1,000 true fans theory, you can estimate the value of Jason’s future to be $3,000-$5,000. And that’s after you disregard his past products. Using this line of thinking, the $1,500 he charged for his future was a real bargain.
Jason Zook no longer sells his future. He has since gotten married and joined forces with his wife Caroline. Now they sell a monthly subscription to their creations called Wandering Aimfully.