What would you do differently if you only needed 10 true fans to have a successful comedy career?
Probably, a lot. And surprisingly, what you would do would probably be a lot more effective than what you currently do in pursuit of thousands of fans.
Here’s a breakdown of what I think you’d do different and why those differences would likely serve you better than an approach that’s based around trying to attract as many fans as possible.
You’d Think More About Which Potential Fans You Targeted
The first thing I think would change if you only needed 10 fans to succeed is that you would spend more time thinking about who you would target as your potential fans.
When you think you need thousands of fans, it tricks you into believing that your comedy (and marketing) needs to be broad in order to reach the masses. But if you only needed 10 fans, that would probably go out the window and you’d focus your efforts on a much smaller (and more targeted) group of potential fans based on people that you already have a connection with based on shared interests, geographic location, or an existing relationship. The reason for that is because you would inherently know that those people will be easier to convert into your fans than the masses.
Ironically, that focus on targeting a specific niche is also a key to building a larger fanbase.
You’d Pay More Attention To Your 10 Fans
If you only had 10 fans, you’d probably get to know them a LOT better. Most likely, you’d know exactly who they were, what your relationship with each of them was like, how you met them, and what they liked about you and your comedy.
You’d also probably spend a lot of time directly communicating with them about their interests as opposed to just promoting your stuff to them.
On the flipside, chasing thousands of fans gives you an excuse to not really get to know any of them or actually engage with them. Because it’s just not practical to be able to actually pay attention to thousands of people, right? (That’s sarcasm in case you can’t tell)
You’d Work A Lot Harder
Here’s an interesting one: Even though there’s a lot more work involved in gaining thousands of fans, I bet most comics would work harder if they knew it would only take 10 fans for them to have a successful career.
That’s because attracting 10 fans seems so much more doable than the daunting task of attracting thousands. The belief that gaining 10 fans is truly possible would likely motivate you to work harder than you currently do at what might seem like an overwhelming task to build a huge fanbase.
Again, a focus on just attracting 10 fans would wind up helping motivate you as opposed to allowing you to use the bigger challenge as an excuse to be lazy.
You’d Communicate With Your Fans In Different Ways
If all that mattered was having 10 fans, would you still be as obsessed with Twitter, Facebook, and assorted other social media platforms? I love social media as much as the next guy (and a lot more than this guy), but I’m guessing that if all that mattered was having 10 fans, you’d be more likely to communicate with them by email, text, phone, or even in person (seeing your actual fans in the flesh – imagine that!).
Social media is a great tool, but it can also be a great distraction. It’s easy to spend all your time broadcasting to the masses on social media instead of communicating with your actual fans in other ways that are more meaningful. Again, a 10-fan approach to your career might help you remember what really matters.
You’d Care A Lot Less About The “Industry”
Comics’ obsession with agents, managers, bookers, and other industry types is really driven by one thing – it’s perceived as a shortcut to reach the masses. But if you only needed 10 fans to have a successful career, you’d probably care a whole lot less about what the industry gatekeepers think and a whole lot more about what your actual fans think.
While we’re not there quite yet, we’re rapidly moving toward a comedy world where what fans think of you is more important than what the industry thinks of you, so again, I see a 10-fan thought process being very helpful to you in terms of who you try to impress with your your time, effort, and resources.
Your Act Would Be Better
I don’t spend a lot of time talking about the actual art of stand up comedy, but I’m guessing that if you knew your act only had to appeal to 10 people it would be a lot different than if you think it has to appeal to thousands. Too many comics shape their material to fit what they think other people want to see – they do what other successful comics do, or they do what bookers want to see, or they do what they think will get them noticed.
But if you only needed to appeal to 10 people, you’d probably be a lot more likely to do what YOU want to do. And that’s really how you ultimately find your own unique voice, which happens to be the biggest key to actually building a successful career and ultimately a huge fanbase.
Now obviously, all of these thoughts are based on a hypothetical assumption of what would happen in a world where 10 fans is all you need to have a successful career. I know that’s not true.
But I also know that if you actually did follow this approach you would likely wind up with a lot more fans than you currently have.