Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

How to create a GREAT 6 figure income online!

Here is how I generate a great, 6 figure income from my online marketing and how you can too.

Back in 2008, I was introduced to Kevin Kelly’s concept of 1000 true fans and quickly switched all of my marketing online.  Kelly’s theory is beautifully simple and massively powerful.  It suggests that if you sell a product, you can make a good living from having 1000 true fans; people who will buy everything you produce, travel across town to hear you and tell their friends about you.

More importantly to me and most small business owners reading this, if you are a service provider, this number is much, much lower than 1000.  Closer to 100, in fact.

Fans are not followers

It’s easy to get a follower.  It’s challenging to earn a fan.  For example, you can randomly follow 10 people on Twitter and gain a follower, simply because 1 of the 10 people you follow, will feel social pressure to follow you back.  To gain a new fan, you need to consistently practice your craft and figure out how to attract the attention of people who will fall in love with what you do.

Chasing the wrong numbers

The Internet is filled with struggling service providers, who have thousands of followers, yet very few true fans.  They chase the wrong numbers.  They do everything possible to increase the numbers that don’t matter and very little, to earn the numbers that do matter.  This usually sees them spend too little time sharing their craft with people and too much time figuring out how to reach their next, low-value, social networking milestone.

These people love to use software, to automate the people they follow, the links they share and anything else that may attract others.  Of course, they only attract followers, instead of Kelly’s true fans.

The trick to getting it right?

The trick is to stop looking for tricks.  As Seth Godin has been telling us for years, if it can be automated it has little real value because anyone can do it.  If you want to develop true fans rather than followers, you need to show them who you are and what you believe.  Those who get it will love you and what you do.  Those who don’t, won’t; which is perfect.

You see, unless you have people outside your circle, you can’t have people inside your circle and these insiders are your true fans.

The numbers approach gets this all wrong and treats everyone the same – just a number.  The reality is that behind every tweet, blog comment and Facebook update is a person.  A small, targeted minority of these people will have a need for what you do.  These insiders are the true fans you need to connect with.  It takes more time and work to attract these extremely valuable people, but the rewards are enormous.

For instance, in February, I wrote a post offering a single place on my marketing mentor program.  In the following 24 hours, I had 92 people asking for information about that 1 place on my program.  Based on my typical conversion rate, of inquirer to client, if I had enough places, I could have sold almost £100,000 worth of placesYou can read about it here.  Now, compare that approach to the emails I receive weekly, from business owners with more “followers” than me, who are slowly going broke.  People with thousands or tens of thousands of followers, yet too few of Kelly’s true fans.

If you can connect with what I am saying here, it’s a game-changer.

How it works

Sadly, I can’t show you a quick, foolproof way to attract true fans.  I would need to be working with you directly and know exactly what your ideal profile of client is, your industry, your services, your resources etc.  I can, however, give you some general ideas.  This is based on a few of the things I work on with clients, on my Marketing Mentor Program:

Start by reading these 2 posts:  The first is about doing work that matters and the second, is about how to apply your craft.  These will show you how to create the kind of impact, which true fans are searching for.

Stop chasing the wrong numbers:  Instead of measuring your success in “likes” and followers, measure it in conversations.  Measure it in emails from people, who love your work so much that they feel compelled to email you and say thanks.  Measure it in telephone calls from people, who connect with your craft and want to hire you.  But don’t measure it in followers.  If that’s your thing, go and buy 100,000 followers and see how that works for your mortgage payments at the end of the month.

Spend more time creating and less time curating:  Yes, it’s wonderful to share other people’s ideas with your social network, but people need to see your work too. I see people who share hundreds of words every day on social networks, yet their blogs have not been updated in weeks.  True fans need to see YOUR ideas and connect with your experience, as well as connecting with you on social networks.  They need to see value in your work.

Show them who you are, what you think and what you know.  Then, share other people’s pearls of wisdom.  If you simply ping out links and retweets, I can get that from an RSS feed.  Remember, if it can be automated, anyone can do it and it has little meaningful value.

Don’t complain, then stay the same:  If you like the idea of being able to write a single blog post, as I did in February, which generates an avalanche of income, change your current approach.  Don’t keep rowing your boat harder and harder in the wrong direction, complaining you have not reached your destination yet.  If you have hundreds or maybe thousands of followers and wonder why you get so few inquiries, you need to change your current approach.  It’s screaming at you that you are missing the true fans, who are just waiting for you to engage, and educate them with your craft.  These insiders will only be attracted to you and your work, when you stop chasing followers and connect with real people.


Most people will dismiss this concept, because it’s uncomfortable.  It requires courage and conviction.

  • It means an almost certain initial drop in your follower numbers, as you swap from the numbers game, to the business of people.
  • It means having the courage to be the best YOU that you can be; rather than yet another number chasing, social media sheep.
  • It means more than telling yourself and others that you are a people person, whilst using software to build your following or spit out links 24/7.
  • It means being prepared to have outsiders, because that’s the only way you can attract insiders (or true fans.)  That’s frightening.  Too frightening for most to even consider.

But for those with the courage to stand up, get their work out there and connect with the people who “get it,” the rewards are life changing.

Photos: MGM_Photos & AnnieHP

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  1. Another fabulous post, Jim. I hadn’t read Kevin Kelly’s article before although I had heard mention of the theory, so thanks for directing me to it.

    Anyway, enough of reading and finding stuff that’s interesting – I’m off to do something with this info.


  2. Jim, you are quickly becoming the most compelling blogger out there for entrepreneurs and businesspeople.

    This latest piece is a perfect example of what makes you essential reading.


  3. Okay, mate, in general your blog is one of those that are my must-reads, whether I comment or not, because you always bring the goods.

    But this post shines something fiercer! 😉

    It’s so true – you can live well with less, so to speak. It’s not about working the most – it’s about working the smartest.

    Something you do very well, sir.


  4. It’s very true, if you want to succeed in things like social bookmarking, you must be interactive, get in conversations and share your opinion. Make yourself stand out from all those business like social media accounts that are boring and sound like a machine.

  5. Thank You!

  6. I love it! I just started a new blog and while I do have a Twitter page and Facebook, I am spending the majority of my start up time planning a content strategy and writing. You post just validates my choice to focus on that. Then the true number will come :) Thanks!

  7. This post really rang true with me. I am sick and tired of reading online about get rich quick schemes and people worrying about getting those big numbers.

    When I read your post, I read focus on quality, not quantity. Focus on providing value to a target audience of people and not trying to please everyone.

    Keep up the good work on the stellar content. Whenever I meet someone who wants to market online, your blog is always one of the first ones I point them to.

  8. I just wrote a post about how in the gym industry in my experience there are not enough gym owners and professionals who care even a little bit about their customers and offering a great service and experience. It actually drives me nuts because I want a way to make a difference and change people’s lives but these are the guys with the money and big bank accounts who are exploiting other human beings and giving them terrible service all for the dollar. It is amazing what a green piece of paper can make some people behave. One day the goal is to make a TRUE difference to the people via fitness. That day is coming I am going to create that opportunity.

  9. well said! I actually read this post because Chris Brogan shared it, so sometimes its good to share 😉

  10. Greetings from Germany :)

    I really enjoyed reading your post and i agree with you on the most points.
    But although a question ist still open, then when this hit your break-even-point? True Fans means much more work and so you reach soon the point, when it is more work then benefit.



    • Hi Marc. True fans take no more work than followers, because you need far fewer of them.

      The idea is to spend your time nurturing true fans, rather than followers.

  11. SMACKED it right out of the park with this no-nonsense post Jim. Oh yes, right in line with all of the other great content you nurture and feed your audience with.

    You rock n’ roll sir :)

  12. Jim,

    Great post, I found it through Danny Brown, who I also respect and follow, then by Chris Brogan. You’re running with the top crowd, good stuff. I don’t comment that much, and especially with a first time article, but I believe I do get it. I don’t use automation tools and my networks are tiny. I was becoming a bit frustrated, but this allows me to keep my focus. My biggest problem, and it’s one I believe a lot of other people also suffer from, is that I want things to happen overnight. Building that 1000 fans will take time, I need to keep telling myself that, and you’ve just reaffirmed.


  13. I have to tell you – the bit about creating more and curating less has to be one of my favorites.

    People want to know how to make it online – the formula is simple, I call it DMC:

    Do More Creating

  14. Great piece Jim, perceptive, thought-provoking and potentially game-changing.

    If avg customer spends £100 you need 1000 of them to make £100k. If £1000 then only 100. Conversion rate from followers to true/raving fans ( = paying fans ie. customers) is crucial either way.

    High quality (value) proposition and quality of attraction of ‘ideal’ customers will beat ‘me-too’ offer and quantity any day.

    Helpful to review basics regularly to keep on track.


    • Thanks Mark. It’s also worth recognising that 1000 true fans will help you get your next 5000 true fans etc.

      Thanks for the feedback, sir.

  15. Jim – Yours is an interesting post that the follows the long-tail principle. However, unless you offer a high-priced product, 1,000 true fans won’t give you a six-figure income. If your product is priced high enough, 1,000 true fans might produce six-figure *revenue*, but take out your expenses and your not at six figures anymore.

    The promise of six-figures and the reality are often worlds apart, and I am wary of those offering advice on how to achieve income without backing it up with real numbers to demonstrate it.

    • Yes, Maria; if you work for very little it’s hard to earn 6 figures. I assumed people would have taken that for granted. My bad.

      Thanks for the comment and welcome to the blog.

  16. Glad I stumbled on your site. Though I have always believed in authenticity and do not use automation for my posts or Twitter account, the growth has been slow- which is fine because I love engaging with the people that do join to follow my conversation, and we have great conversations there. I may not have 10,000+ followers, but I have loyal fans, and I appreciate that. Sometimes it just takes an inspirational post, like yours, to remind people, like me, of what is truly important. =) Thank you!

  17. Jim,
    I always find your writing compelling–inspiring and often a direct challenge. This one hit my core. Fans versus followers. Conversation. You’ve always been true to your message. Thank you for that. And although we’ve had conversations around these very topics, this writing put sparking light bulbs around my head. Thank you for that!

  18. I am a new reader, searching for information about social marketing.

    I just found your blog and this is a kind of information I was searching for.

    I was seing people with 10000 of followers and other’s with much less fan looking to make more money.

    I will read more soon!!

  19. Jim, This has strange echoes of the person of Jesus. He constantly, by his message, divided the crowd (followers) from his true disciples (“fans”) willing to risk their lives for his cause. He refused to water down his content in order to attract more followers. In fact as he proceeded in his ministry, the crowds diminished rapidly until there were only a small band around him according to how the Gospels portray the story. Some would say he did the most important work that ever mattered. His teaching craft was amazing. An interesting parallel, minus the six figures. As a marketing guy who also has a theological degree, I’m just saying…

  20. Creating genuine fans is not easy to do, but the principles behind it are quite simple; it requires great products, customer service that excels and a brand that they can strongly associate with, but that has been the case since day one. Social media isn’t bringing anything new to the table in this regard.

  21. Jim-

    I stumbled on your blog because a person posted this post on Google+. It is one of the best things I have read lately (there is a lot of crap out there).


  22. Hi Jim,
    I love this – it’s clear, practical and doable! Thanks!

  23. Great insight! You put it into another perspective. Not about the followers, but true fans. I got to rethink the strategy.

  24. Hi Jim,

    I am so glad I found you and your site. I have learnt so much in the past couple of weeks from your posts.

    I am starting to put it into practice. I do find it difficult to find a good balance between building a solid online foundation and progressing the jobs that are currently paying the bills. But I truely believe it’s worth the effort.

    I have one client that I have been working with for over three years off and on and as I practice my craft and learn they gain the benefit and in turn that keeps me in bread and water.

    Here’s looking forward to the telephone numbers in the future.

    Thanks for sharing and have a great day,

  25. I am so glad I found you and your site. I am sick and tired of reading online about get rich quick schemes and people worrying about getting those big numbers.

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