1000 True Fans for Writers: Making a Living with Your Writing Without Being a Celebrity | Rebecca Livermore | Skillshare

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1000 True Fans for Writers: Making a Living with Your Writing Without Being a Celebrity

teacher avatar Rebecca Livermore, Microsoft Office for Creatives

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Determine Your Income Needs

    • 3. Create Great Content

    • 4. Do the Math

    • 5. Maximize Income

    • 6. New Math

    • 7. Income from Non-Fans

    • 8. Identify True Fans

    • 9. Nurture Potential Fans

    • 10. Set Mini-Goals

    • 11. Practice the Golden Rule

    • 12. Your Project

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About This Class

 In 2008 Kevin Kelly wrote an essay on the concept of 1,000 true fans.  

The basic concept is that you don’t need to be a celebrity with a huge audience to make a living with your creative work. All you need are 1,000 true fans. 

What are true fans? They are people who buy everything you create, without exception. This enables you to make a good living. 

But the big question is, does 1,000 true fans work for writers?  

I’m Rebecca Livermore. I make a full-time living as an author, blogger, and online teacher and in this class, I dive into how writers can make a living with just 1000 true fans.  

  • I’ll first of all show you how to determine how much income you need so that you can create goals that work for your specific situation.  
  • I’ll then demonstrate how to determine your earning potential, as I crunch some numbers to show how this concept works even if you sell low ticket items such as books.   
  • I’ll explain how to recognize your fans (or potential fans), nurture relationships with them, and potentially bring in more income from each true fan.  

By the end of this course, you’ll have a solid foundation for creating a plan to increase earning opportunities as you focus on quality relationships with the people not only who love what you do, but also love how you do it.  

Meet Your Teacher

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Rebecca Livermore

Microsoft Office for Creatives


Hi, I'm Rebecca Livermore, also known as The Office Creative. I'm a bestselling author, blogger, and the owner of Professional Content Creation. I've been a freelance writer since 1993 and have served as a content manager for top bloggers such as Michael Hyatt, Amy Porterfield, and Marcus Sheridan.

I've always loved PowerPoint, but it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I began to discover the many ways to use PowerPoint to create content. I use it for everything from blog and social media images, lead magnets, low content books, printables, videos, digital planners, and more. The more I use PowerPoint, the more amazed I am by the many types of content you can create with this one powerful tool.

I'm constantly learning new ways to use PowerPoint and other Micro... See full profile

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1. Intro: In 2008 Kevin Kelly wrote an essay on the concept of 1000 true fans. The basic idea is that you don't need to be a celebrity with a huge audience to make a living with your creative work. All you need are 1000 true fans. So what exactly are true fans there? People who by air, everything you create without exception. The idea is that if you have 1000 true fans and they each spend $100 a year on your products, you'll make $100,000 a year, which is a respectable income for most people. But the big question is, does 1000 true fans work for writers? Hi, I'm Rebecca Livermore and I make a full time living as an author, blogger and online teacher. And in this class, I dive into how writers can make a living with just 1000 true fans. I'll first show you how to determine how much income you need so that you can create goals that work for your specific situation. I'll then demonstrate how to determine your earning potential as like crunch some numbers to show how this concept works, even if you sell low ticket items such as books, I'll explain how to recognize your fans or potential fans, nurture relationships with them and potentially bring in more income from each true fan. By the end of this course, you'll have a solid foundation for creating a plan to increase earning opportunities as you focus on quality relationships with the people who not only love what you do, but also how you do it. So what are we waiting for? Let's go ahead and dive in. 2. Determine Your Income Needs: in this video, we'll get into determining your income needs and how that relates to 1000 true fans. First of all, I want to say that overall, the 1000 truth hands concept is sound and should encourage all of us who make a living. Or perhaps I should say, attempt to make a living with our writing. However, the biggest problem with concepts such as 1000 True Fans is that there are a lot of variables to consider. The first variable is how much income you personally need in order to make a sustainable living. For instance, a writer living in ah, high cost of living areas such a San Francisco or New York City needs a higher income than a writer that lives in the hills of Kentucky. Ah, single writer may need less than a writer who is married and has several Children to support. Some writers want to live in a big home in a prestigious neighborhood, and others enjoy the adventure and the low cost of living associated with living in a van, retirees or stay at home. Parents who simply want to supplement their household income likely need far less than $100,000 a year. So the thing you want to figure out is, how much money do you actually need to make it with your writing? And from there you'll know how much income you need from each of your 1000 true fans. The second variable is whether or not as a writer, you produce enough products to even give your fans and opportunity to spend $100 per year on what you create will dive deeper into this topic in just a bed. For now, just keep in the back of your mind that the amount of money you need to make coupled with the type and price point of products you have will impact the number of true fans you actually need. So now let's get into how to grow your fan base and how to increase the amount of income you receive from each of your fans. 3. Create Great Content: the first thing you need to do to grow a raving fan base is to create great content. Now. I considered leaving out this entire point because we all know that if we want to grow a solid fan base, we need to create great stuff rather than just putting out a bunch of crappy things right. But I decided to include it because there is so much content out there. So unless the things you create stand out in some way, why should anyone care, much less become a true fan? Having said that, I don't want you to get hung up on the concept of creating great content. After all, what exactly is great content? Is it 100,000 page book or a 10,000 word blonde post? Is it a 10 hour course related to your books? Or is it simply something that you created with your unique voice that meets the needs of your fans and is polished to the best of your ability? As you can probably guess, I lean toward the latter definition of great content. The key thing is to serve up the best version of yourself to your readers with this in mind . It's important to not just do your best work, but to focus on constantly improving as an example. For me, a big thing is working on the quality of my video content. Writing has always been my strongest area, and for the longest time, I avoided video altogether. Video moves me outside my comfort zone, and I know for a fact that my videos aren't as good as they could be, especially when I compare myself to other people who put out amazing videos at the same time. Since video content is a good complement to my written content, it's worth creating. Now. Maybe you can relate. I'm sure that you have some aspects of content that you want to do or do, but are not as good as they could be. And for that matter, even those of us who love to write are writing can always improve as well. So if you're aware of weakness with whatever it is that you're creating, here are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, don't wait until you're perfect or even good enough to put your stuff out there. If you're waiting until your content is great, you'll never ship. And even though videos aren't my strong point, it's clear that my video quality won't improve unless I create videos. The same is true for other types of content, such as blood, post and books. The only way to improve is to practice now. You might think, Well, gosh, I could do practice in, you know, in private. And in fact, I've hurt from some people who let me know that their biggest challenge with blogging is they've written all the stuff, and they haven't published it yet. So I just want to say that as tempting as it is to practice in private, where no one can see, improving your skills in front of an audience will stretch you and move you forward faster than if you practice in private. I recommend that you set up a plan for gradual progress. Try to make each thing you put out a bit better than the one before. Invest in training yourself, so buy books, take courses and that type of saying, try new techniques, get better equipment and so on. Do things that stretch you a bit. But focus on one small area at the time that you'd like to improve and implement a tiny change in quality with each thing you put out there, whether that be a block post, a book or some other type of content, the improvements you make may not even be noticeable to others. And that's okay. The key thing is to be intentional about how you can grow your craft and take baby steps toward being the best version of yourself you can possibly be. 4. Do the Math: at the beginning of this course, I posed the question of whether or not the concept of 1000 true fans works for writers. In regard to that, let's just deal with the elephant in the room. It's certainly not impossible, but it can be tough to make a living as a writer with just 1000 true fans. For example, let's say that you're a writer and you publish one new book per year, and you make, on average $2 in royalties for each book you sell 1000 times $2 equals $2000 for an average of $166 per month. Now, if you're simply looking for supplemental income as a retiree or if you're a stay at home parent and you want some spending money, no problem. But for most writers and that's not enough, that's the bad news. The good news is there are a couple of ways to deal with this. One way is to write more books. This is a common and effective approach for many independent authors. For example, my co author S. J. Scott has to date written somewhere between 75 100 books. Some are part of an experiment he did a few years back, and a few were bundles or books that have been translated into other languages. He currently has around 35 books in his line of habit related books that have done well in recent years, Steve has made multiple six figures each year through a combination of e books, audiobooks, print books and foreign rights translations. Needless to say, he's prolific. Once he completes one book, he starts on the next one, and he didn't do this for just one year. He's kept this up year after year and as a result, makes a very comfortable living as a writer. $12 royalty at a time. Another thing that I've learned from Steve is to constantly analyze the results of what you do and then to pivot and make changes as needed. This will look different for everyone, but as an example, if you're a writer, you may experiment with book length and see how that impacts sales. Interestingly enough, I found that my books that are only 10,000 words sell for $2.99 just is easily as my books that are 30,000 words are more now. I don't recommend limiting yourself to super short books. It could be that your readers demand longer books or your topics require longer books. The thing is, is to be mindful of the fact that you can experiment and see what works for you, regardless of what you determine you need in terms of the length of your books or block post. If you want to make a comfortable living as a writer with a small fan base, as soon as you complete one book or block post you like, we need to start the next one. 5. Maximize Income: next, it's important to maximize the income from each book or block post you write. For several years, the bulk of my income came through writing content for other people. The plus of that was that I was on retainer and made a decent monthly income. But with that arrangement, I traded time for money. This is the main reason I no longer do client work. The opposite is true. When I write my own content, I can look at each piece of content, and since I own it, I consider what else I could do with that content to bring in additional income. The same is true for the content you write. For example, be sure to put your books out in multiple formats such as Kendall, print or Audio, and consider putting the book on multiple platforms such as drafted digital or smash words . Remember in the last video I mentioned my co author, Steve Scott. Not only is he prolific, he makes a point of even pursuing things like foreign language rights. I get into the topic of maximizing income from your books in more depth in my class, how to build a book based business so be sure to check that out for more ideas, by the way, Always be on the lookout for new opportunities. But don't spread yourself too thin. Here's an example of what I mean by that. I've seen some authors create work books, journals or planners to go with some of their books, and I'm just now getting started with that myself. The bottom line is that I won't know until I try, so I plan to give it a shot with a couple of my books. But it would be overkill to try it with every book and could take time away from working on my next book or online class. So I need to choose each opportunity carefully. Another thing I want to address here is that well intentioned people may give you suggestions that will distract you from your main thing. For instance, they may say you really need to be on instagram or you need to sell your writing on X y Z platform and for that matter, maybe you dio. But the key thing to remember is that there are limited hours in a day, and while you want to be open to new opportunities and ideas. It's important to do a few things well rather than a bunch of things poorly. With this in mind, create a plan and maintain focus on that plan for a specified period of time. This specified period of time can be a year or a shorter period of time, such as 1/4. The main point of that is to set some goals related to that and stay focused regardless of ideas that you have or things that people present to you and in the meantime, jot down ideas that you have or things that others present to you and review them quarterly or annually. 6. New Math: earlier in this course, I presented a bit of Matthew, which was a $2 royalty per book. Times 1000 Fans on Lee equals $2000 income from each book. But let's say that you put your book in multiple formats such as print and audio and make an additional $4 per book. That way, your income from that one book is now up to $6 per fan or $6000 with very little additional work to expand on this idea further. One of the tips in my class on how to build a book based business is to turn your nonfiction books into classes to keep things simple. Let's stick with a $2 amount, which would bring us to $8 per fan or $8000 income from each book Now. Obviously, I'm using low figures to keep things realistic, but if you bring in more than $2 per spin off product, your numbers could be much higher. Everyone's numbers will be different based on what you have to offer. But as you write more books and or create more products and provide other ways for your fans to support your work financially, it's possible to go from $2000 a year in revenue to 10,000, 25,000 or even $100,000 beyond one baby step at a time. Another thing to consider is that you may need mawr or less than 1000 true fans. Let's say you do the math, and there's just no way you could make $100,000 or whatever amount you need to make with 1000 true fans. For instance, if you sell nothing but products with a $2 profit, you either need to create a massive amount of products. Or you need more than 1000 true fans to make $100,000. But let's say that in addition to your books, you sell high end products that go for $1000 a pop. In that case, if you put out just 1 $1000 product a year, you'd need just 100 to fans to bring in $100,000. Also, looking back at what I mentioned earlier about everyone's needs being different, you may not need $100,000 a year annual salary. Maybe you just need $50,000 or $25,000 a year. You might even just need $12,000 a year to supplement your retirement or family income, regardless of your circumstances. When you combine the knowledge of how much money you personally need with how much you can bring in through various products, you can better figure out how many true fans you need. The main point to keep in mind is that you don't need celebrity status to make a good living as a writer. All you need is a solid growing base of true fans, combined with a growing catalogue of books and other products. 7. Income from Non-Fans: Another factor to keep in mind is that you'll also so books and any other products you create to people who are not true fans. Those are the people who, for example, may purchase only one book. You may even have a large number of those people, and whatever they purchase adds to your bottom line, even though they aren't true fans, you can use things such as Amazon ads to sell more books to those people who, up until that point had no clue you even existed. The great thing about this is that purchases from people who aren't true fans reduces the amount of money you need from true fans. Because of that, one approach you can take is to think in terms of the minimum income you need and focus on getting enough true fans to cover that revenue from people who buy your product sporadically is like the cherry on top that makes your earnings that much sweeter. This fits with my overall philosophy when it comes to goal setting, and that is to create at least two levels of goals. I'm more often choose three minimum moderate and stretch when it comes to income from my books and related products. My minimum goals are enough to cover my basic living expenses, along with some money for savings and retirement investments. My moderate goals not only cover my basic living expenses, they also cover more for my savings and retirement investments. My stretch goals cover my basic living expenses, maxing out all retirement and savings accounts and extra things such as making extra house payments and perhaps luxury items such as funding a dream vacation or a kitchen remodel. So when you initially calculate how much you need from true fans, think in terms of your minimum or at the most, your moderate income goals, knowing that other sales will bring in money for the extras. This approach isn't at all extravagant, but knowing you have a solid enough fan base to meet your basic needs, provides financial stability and reduces stress. 8. Identify True Fans: before we go further, I want to make it clear that not everyone that follows you on social media or subscribes to your YouTube channel or email list are true fans. So, for example, sticking with the number of 1000 true fans if you have 1000 email subscribers, when you look at the facts, it's pretty obvious they aren't all true fans. Consider this. Let's say, of those 1000 people, 25% or 250 of them open every email and of those 25 maybe two or three, by whatever it is you're promoting every time you pitch something, this is just a example. And there's nothing scientific about the numbers I shared. The point of them is to illustrate that, at least in this example, out of 1000 subscribers, there were only two or three true fans. That's the bad news. The good news is that many of the people who are not yet true fans have the potential to become true fans, particularly if you nurture those relationships. So let's talk about how to identify and then how to nurture those withdrew fan potential. Since I've already mentioned email subscribers Let's start with that. Depending on the email provider you use, you can filter subscribers based on how they respond to your emails. For instance, you can sort your email subscribers by those who always or never open your emails. Digging a bit deeper, you consort by those who not only open your emails but are also the ones who, quick on the links in your emails the majority of the time and with some more robust email service providers, You can even track the people who purchase your products after clicking on the links in your emails. Now let's talk about people who leave positive reviews on your courses, books or products in your online store. They also have the potential to become true fans. People who comment on most of your block poster videos that you upload to YouTube, particularly those who do so the same day you upload them. All of those people also have true fan potential, so each of these are examples of people with true fan potential. And in the next video we'll get into how to nurture those fan 9. Nurture Potential Fans: Now let's talk about how to nurture people with true fan potential. Once you've identified people with the potential to become a true fan, take the time to nurture those relationships. For example, you may send special offers to those people who you've identified as your top subscribers. You could send a coupon for one of your online courses or an autographed copy of one of your books just to the people who are the most responsive. Going even further, you can take the time to reach out to people personally to get to know them, better get feedback from them and offer help to them in some way. For example, since I have a lot of authors on my email list and since authors always need book reviews, I reached out to my most active subscribers, who have identified as authors and offered to purchase, read and review one of their books. Now you might want to do something that is less of a time commitment or a time commitment that has spread out over time. For instance, you can follow those you've identified as potential true fans on YouTube or your favorite social media platforms and comment on or share their most valuable content. This goes with the adage to have a friend be a friend or, in the case of this class, to have a fan be a fan. Another way to put this is to treat others the way you want them to treat you, which I'll get into Mawr in another video in this class. Now let's talk about how to keep track of your interaction with your fans. While a sporadic, haphazard approach to nurturing relationships with your potential true fans can work to some degree. Ah, better option is to keep track of your interactions with people. You can use a customer relationship management tool or crm such a SoHo to keep track of your interactions. You can also use a simple Excel or Google spreadsheet to make a list of those you've identified as potential true fans and to record your interactions with them. You can also add people toe a list using the tools Such a suit sweet. So you never miss their social media post. If you use this method, block out a bit of time each day or week toe leave some comments and thumbs up, regardless of how you go about it. The main thing is to make a point of nurturing relationships with people that are either already true fans or have the potential to become true fans. Next, we'll get into setting many goals for growing your fan base. 10. Set Mini-Goals: as you can imagine, identifying, nurturing and growing 1000 true fans takes time. While it could happen quickly, it's more likely to build gradually over time. So rather than feel discouraged by that, enjoy the benefits of the small numbers that are there at the beginning. For instance, with the example that I gave of offering to read and review books of my fans that are fellow authors, can you imagine what it would be like to offer that to 1000 authors all at once? No way, right. But you can reach out toe 15 or 10 authors, and even if they all want to take you up on your offer to review their books, it's doable. Naturally, your audience may not be made up of authors like mine, but regardless of your audience, appreciate the fact that while your fan base is small, you can do more for those few but important fans. One of my favorite Bible versus is Zechariah 4 10 which says do not despise the small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin. I love this because it's human nature to feel discouraged when things start off slow and this verse is a reminder that starting is a reason to rejoice, since it takes time to grow your fan base to keep discouragement at bay. Set many goals for your 1000 true fans. For instance, if you have zero true fans right now, celebrate your 1st 10 102 155 100 true fans. Keep in mind that even Maiga celebrities at one time had no fans. So if that's where you're at right now, don't be embarrassed or discouraged. As I mentioned earlier, not everyone that buys your book will become a true fan. That's the bad news. The good news is, has I shared earlier? Even your non true fans bring in some income, which supplements the income from your true fans. The even better news is that your true fans can help spread the word about your books and other products. For instance, if you have 1000 true fans and they each by your new book the first week or two that it's released, that helps us set things in motion so that Amazon starts promoting your book that can lead to more sales, even to people who have never heard of you before, and those new readers have the potential to become true fans. On top of that, you can ask those you've identified as your true fans to support your work in other ways. For instance, they might want to join your review team and may be more willing to share your work with others, particularly if you give them images to share and other creatives such as tweets to share. 11. Practice the Golden Rule: Before I bring this class to a close, I want to encourage you to practice the golden rule. Treat your true fans the way you'd want to be treated. Don't take them for granted or do anything deceptive or be unkind to them in any way. Look at them as more than dollar signs and always seek to serve them well. In addition to that, be the type of person that you want to attract. For instance, if you want to have true fans, identify at least a few people whose work really resonates with you and be a true fan to them by what they produce and share about their books and other products with others. Leave book reviews, interact with them on social media, hoping their emails and quick on links. In short, jot down what you want from others and make it a practice to be that person to other people . 12. Your Project: as your project for this class. I want you to crunch some numbers to figure out how much income you need, how much income you can realistically bring in from each fan. And then how maney True fans You need to make a living wage as a writer, I've posted some questions for you to work through in the project area of this class. Specifically, I want you to get out a pen and paper or open a word or ever know document and answer the following Number one. Determine how much income you need to make as a writer. Ideally, you'll set minimum moderate and stretch goals. Number two list three ways that you can make income as a writer. For instance, you can include affiliate links in Block Post, published multiple books a year in Kendall print and audio format and use your book content as scripts for courses. Number three determined how much you can make from all of the items you listed in Step two and number four. Finally, based on all of the above, determine how many true fans you need. Since much of this information is personal, feel free to share the answers to just number two and number four in the project area of this class. Thank you so much for taking this class. If you have any questions or need help with anything, feel free to post your questions in the community section of this class. I wish you the best in all your writing endeavors.