Kevin Kelly over at The Technium put forward an argument that artists on the interwebs really just need to develop 1,000 True Fans to make a living (and avoid ending up at the end of the Long Tail). It’s certainly related to the repeat customer business model, but tailored to artists in the digital age (regardless of the medium).
Assume conservatively that your True Fans will each spend one day’s wages per year in support of what you do. That “one-day-wage” is an average, because of course your truest fans will spend a lot more than that. Let’s peg that per diem each True Fan spends at $100 per year. If you have 1,000 fans that sums up to $100,000 per year, which minus some modest expenses, is a living for most folks.
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.
Some food for thought for any artists. It doesn’t hurt for retail and service businesses to learn this lesson either. Establish great relationships with your best customers and give them reasons to keep coming back to you.
I originally picked up Kelly’s post from Jonathan Coulton’s blog (who makes his living following this model).