Recently I've been thinking a lot about Kevin Kelly's post 1000 true fans.
There's just so much of everything out there. Sometimes i feel that it's even too much. Way too much.
And the attention of most people seems to circle around the top 1%. The top 1% gets most of the clicks. Has most reads. And sells most products.
Just like in almost every area of our lives the sheer endless amount of choice is so overwhelming that the majority of people gravitates to the stuff they already know. Or they use, buy or read the stuff that everybody else is.
That's why we all buy the same products. The same brands. Why we wear the same clothes. And use the same gadgets.
Nonetheless, I think it's still possible to find your true fans when you start from scratch. It just seems to me that fans these days don't turn into true fans that easily anymore (if it ever was easy). And you have to be super versatile because most niches are already taken.
Even though we live in the digital era none of the available tools really help us in the beginning. Sure, they help us to reach a hell lot of people. But at the end of the day those people will never become true fans.
Because the people using all of these platforms where it's easy to reach new readers, subscribers or customers are already fans of hundreds of other people. They're already following hundreds, if not thousands of other people or companies.
The level of noise is just insane and it gets harder and harder every day to to stand out. To even get noticed. It gets so much harder every single day to turn into that signal. That's why most people aren't true fans. They're just fans.
Just like everyone on Medium will probably never become my true fan. You'll most likely become just a fan. Because you're already fan of hundreds of other people out there. And are a true fan only of the top 1%.
And it's a trap to believe that all of these online tools will help us to escape the direct "non-scalable" way of building up a following. It tricks us into believing that it's easy to win true fans. But it's not.
It's gotten so much harder to find and to turn just a fan into a true fan because of this. Because of all of these tools that are constantly generating more and more noise.
Tools that want to make us believe (because we want to believe) that it's gotten easier to build up a true following. That everybody can build an audience these days. But the truth is not everyone can.
Because most people will try to skip the hard part. Most people will try to skip the stuff that's not scalable. But I think that's exactly what it's all about.
It's about doing things that don't scale in the beginning. It's about going out there and shaking each and every potential reader's, listener's or customer's hand individually. It's about doing the hard work.
The work we thought we could skip because of technology. But this is exactly the work we HAVE to do. Because of technology. Because of technology that ground work has gotten so much more important.
And I think that this is or will probably be the only difference between someone who will find her 1000 true fans and someone who won't.
Just like Paul Graham described it in one of his blog posts called "Do things that don't scale".
We have to do the things that don't scale before we can tap into the potential of technology. Before we can start doing the things that scale. Because before that we have to work on something else first.
We have to work on building up trust first. And only once that trust is there will we be able to tap into the potential of technology. Once people see other people who use, buy or read our stuff will we be able to do the things that scale.
And this doesn't apply to the startup world only. I think it applies to the creative world (writing, blogging, painting, speaking, etc) as well. Maybe even more so..