1,000 True Fans

River Scene
Title: River Scene

As much as I usually deny it, making money off of photography is something that’s usually rolling around somewhere in the back of my head. I’ve managed to make a little here and there off of the occasional print, but in truth if I tabulated my revenue against what I spend on photography, I’d be terrifyingly deep in the red. Actually making enough money from my hobby that I could afford to quit my job seems like a pipe dream.

Which is why this strategy for Long Tail content creators (such as myself) to actually make a living out on the tail must seem so appealing:

Other than aim for a blockbuster hit, what can an artist do to escape the long tail?

One solution is to find 1,000 True Fans. While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.

The numbers are simply. Find 1,000 people who’ll spend on average $100 on your content annually, and you’re making a six figure income. When put like that, it seems very doable.

Of course, I don’t think I have one such fan, and only a handful of my photos have even managed to accumulate 1,000 views, let alone fans. But hey, it’s a target to shoot for, and a realistic one at that

On another note, I’m making a couple of changes to the format of these posts. Notably, the post titles will no longer (necessarily) be the photo titles. The photo title will instead be captioned under the photo itself as it is above. (And I’ll be left justifying everything, as the title looks silly otherwise. I’m also going to drop the exposure/aperture settings from the bottom of the post. I don’t think they were doing anything for anyone – and you can always check out those details (and more) over on Flickr anyway if you’re interested.

Finally, on the  photo above – it’s simply a wide angle with a close focus to get the depth of field. Pretty spot no?


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