1000 True Fans Is Enough to Make a Living as a Creative

What Does It Take to Create 1000 True Fans?

When I reported the analysis of my Medium stats, some of my readers suggested to analyze the number of claps as well. I didn’t follow that advice back then. Unlike views, reads, and fans, claps cannot be downloaded.

I received a comment a few days ago, that made me reconsider analyzing claps. My reader wrote that one of her posts received a low fans to reads ratio, but a high claps to fans ratio.

A Small, Engaged Audience vs. Wider Popularity

She asked me whether she should cultivate a small audience that liked her style or go for a wider popularity. My gut reaction to that question was to stick to that small audience.

Before explaining my point, let me mention that I’m writing from my intuition. I didn’t make a comprehensive statistical analysis on this.

The Goal of Copywriters, Bloggers, and Marketers

Copywriters, bloggers, and marketers try to get their readers to take certain actions. In my case this is to follow me on Medium and to sign up to my email newsletter.

Here’s a sample funnel of a Medium writer:

  • View the post
  • Read the post
  • Clap for the post as much as possible
  • Respond to the post
  • Follow the writer’s Medium account
  • Sign up to their email newsletter
  • Purchase their products and services

The number of people on each level is lower than the number of people on a higher level. That’s why we call this sequence a funnel.

The More People at the Top, the More People at the Bottom?

We might expect that the more people there are at the top of the funnel, the more people would be at the bottom of the funnel. This might not be the case.

A blogger could be wildly popular on the level of post views, but they might have a difficult time getting their books sold.

Another blogger might have modest post views, but they could be successful at converting those views to premium program purchases.

Who would you rather be? The popular blogger with modest book sales? Or a modest blogger with high premium program sales? Honestly, I’d like to be the second blogger.

How to Have Higher Conversion Rates

In order to be the second blogger, we might need to sacrifice popularity. Instead of trying to appeal to a broad public, we need to be ourselves and double down on what makes us unique. If that is an odd sense of humor, we need to cultivate it.

The idea is to polarize the public. That way, a portion of the public wouldn’t want to consume our content at all, but the rest would love it.

This discussion reminds of “1000 true fans” who are ready to purchase whatever product a creative puts out. I don’t think that we can create 1000 true fans by trying to please everybody.

What Do the Numbers Say?

In order to back my ideas with stats, I made an analysis of my last 111 Medium posts. I calculated the clap to view ratio of these posts. Then, I calculated the correlation between the views and the clap to view ratio. This correlation was -40%.

This doesn’t mean that we have an inverse correlation, but it doesn’t show a positive correlation either. What my reader suggests might be true.

The most engaging posts aren’t necessarily the most popular ones.

I can see this relationship clearly in my most engaging and least engaging ten posts. By most engaging, I mean the posts with the highest claps per views ratios. The least engaging posts are the ones that have the least number of claps per view.

Table. 1. My most engaging posts

My most engaging posts aren’t the wildly popular ones. On the other hand, most of my least engaging posts have above average views.

Table. 2. My least engaging posts

When I look at my least engaging posts, I see that some of them are among “my most hated posts.” I already wrote a post about why those posts had low fans to views ratio.

What Makes a Post Engaging?

I’m intrigued by the most engaging posts. Even though I analyzed all kinds of stats, these posts didn’t show up in my radar.

I suspect that a high read ratio contributes to engaging posts. I’m going to analyze what made these posts so engaging and report that in a future post.

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I thank Michael K. Spencer for recommending me to look at the average claps per article and Catherine Turner for her question that inspired me to write this post.


As copywriters, bloggers, and marketers, our aim isn’t necessarily to be wildly popular. Our aim is to get our readers to take action at the bottom of our funnels. This can be following us on social media, subscribing to our email newsletter, and purchasing our products.

If you want to create 1000 true fans, you might want to let go of trying to please everybody. You might want to be unique in your own way.

As a result, you might be less popular with the general public, but you might end up with 1000 true fans who are in love with your work and willing to support you in every way possible.