I’ve always wondered how many fans you actually need to make a decent living. Well, according to Kevin Kelly (founding executive editor of Wired magazine), it’s around a 1,000 True Fans. Anyone using Patreon or making a living through commissions should give his post a thorough read!

If you’re too lazy to read (lazier than me?!) here’s the gist of it:

  • True fans really love your stuff. Will buy anything you produce. [Shout-out to my patrons!]
  • You’ll need to earn $100 per year, on average, from each true fan. [I think this is way too high, but one can hope.]
  • You’ll need a direct relationship with your fans. And by relationship, they must pay you directly so you can keep the full $100. Compare this to traditional means (publishers, record labels, etc.) which keep a huge portion of that $100 for themselves. This is why you’ll only need a thousand fans, which is way more feasible than a million fans. [Patreon, Paypal, and Kickstarter does have fees, but they’re still way lower than going through a middleman. I also don’t want the fame that comes with a million fans]
  • The 1,000 isn’t absolute. The actual number should be adjusted for each person.
    • If you earn a lower amount per true fan, you’ll need more. If you earn $50 per true fan, then you need about 2,000 true fans.
    • More people in the team, more fans needed. If you’re a two-person team (writer + artist), you’ll need to double the amount.
    • If your living expenses are low, they you can lower the amount of fans needed. [I suggest this for everyone]
  • Another way to calculate the support of a true fan, is to aim to get one day’s wages per year from them.
  • Not every fan will be super. These regular fans may only buy your stuff occasionally, or even buy just once, but they still expand your income.
    • Even then, you should still concentrate on your super fans, because the enthusiasm of true fans can increase the patronage of regular fans, and they’re the chief marketing force for ordinary fans. [Even better, be a true fan yourself! Enthusiasm is infectious. Even was enthused by a fan!]
  • Doing this 1,000 fans thing was hard to do before the Internet, but nowadays is possible with the advent of Amazon, Patreon, Kickstarter, and other advances in technology. [Thanks again Internet!]
  • No matter how obscure you are there will always be a fan. [of cute cat girl comics from the Philippines 😉]
  • It’s not all easy of course, you’ll need the time to cultivate a thousand true fans. And there are many creators that don’t want to deal with fans (and they shouldn’t) since they should concentrate on making their stuff that attracted the fans in the first place. [It’s still fun for me to talk with you guys! I hope that doesn’t change in the future.]
  • A thousand true fans isn’t the only way. Traditional means and selling directly (like in conventions) are always available. And of course, you can do use any number of methods as you wish.