Rebel Uprising Podcast

How Big of An Audience Do You Really Need To Have a Sustainable Business?

You most likely started your business because you love what you do, right? Not because you love spending all of your time on social media. I think most people, especially during the pandemic, have a pretty lousy relationship with social media, and this can be exacerbated for business owners who rely on sites like Instagram and Facebook to grow their business and income.

But here's the thing, social media is a necessary evil, even if you use masterful SEO and external visibility to help grow your audience.

So with that in mind, how big of an audience do you really need to create a sustainable business? My short answer for you is 1,000 and we'll be discussing why this is on today's episode of Rebel Uprising. I'm sharing what it could look like to have these 1,000 people in your corner and your duty to them as the industry expert that you are to make them true fans.

Listen in or read through the transcript below:

Resources mentioned in this episode

1,000 True Fans
Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls
Request to have a chat with Michelle

You know, you want to reach more people with your work, serve more of the right people that you can help, that you can get them to a certain result. And that means one thing -- that you need to grow your audience, which for most of us means social media and ads. Ugh. 

So tell me, how are you feeling about social media these days? For me, it's definitely a fraught relationship. I'm pretty much off of Facebook. I haven't posted in months and I don't really care to. Instagram is my one main social media squeeze. But even being on Instagram sometimes feels super uncomfortable to me. 

And I've realized that I am not alone in my relationship with social media. In the followup series to my quiz What Is Your Rebel Roadmap for Exponential Influence and Impact? I have a question in one of the emails where I ask you to rate how you feel about marketing on a scale of 1 to 10.  Most people who respond to that email are at a five or less.

And when I asked them why it's because they hate social media. Most people started their business because they love what they do. And you didn't start your business to spend all your time on social media or creating blog posts to call in the new people who don't know you -- you started your business because you wanted to coach. You have a great service that you provide. You've created an amazing membership or course that you wanted to sell.

You're not there just to hang out on social all day. However, social media is a necessary evil. But it also begs the question, how big of an audience do you really need to have a sustainable business? And the answer is, it depends. And don't worry. I'm going to give you a way to think about how big your audience should be on today's podcast. So let's get down to it. 

You’re listening to the Rebel Uprising Podcast. This podcast is dedicated to helping passionate business owners become recognized leaders who make more money and impact the world by turning their messy, complicated ideas into thriving thought leadership businesses.

I’m your host Dr. Michelle Mazur and I’ll be your no-BS guide in the art of building a business that gets noticed. Each week I share strategies, tools, and insights into how to turn your complicated ideas into great messaging and solid business structures. 

Are you ready to create an uprising in your industry? Let’s do this.

Have you heard about Kevin Kelly's concept of 1,000 True Fans? If not, I'll link the article in the show notes for you. But in his article, Kevin Kelly basically argues that you do not need a million fans, followers, or subscribers to run a profitable business. You just need 1000. And to him, a true fan is someone who buys anything you put out there. They're the people who pounce on a new workshop, a new offering when you put it out into the world.

And his reasoning is that if you earn $100 profit (emphasis on profit, not gross revenue), you'll earn $100,000 a year, which is a sustainable living for most people. He also tells us that the second requirement of a true fan is that you develop a direct relationship with them, meaning they pay you directly. 

But I also believe that if you're going to have a direct relationship with your true fans, that means you need to have a relationship with them that you develop through your content, your podcasts, your videos, your social media. Because what happens is you put out a message that resonates with them, you show that you stand with them, empathize with them, and they feel seen and heard by your message.

So the goal of your message and marketing should not be to cultivate 10,000, 100,000, a million fans, but really to create those 1000 true fans. And a great example of this on scale is Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls. Several years ago, she started a crowdfunding campaign that raised $1.2 million so she could record for her next album from just 25,000 fans. There is weight and evidence to this 1000 true fan idea.

But here's my next question for you -- do you really need a thousand true fans? 

And the answer to that is also, it depends. It depends on your business model, right? So I want you to think about your business model. This is how people pay you for doing the work you do. So if you have a high-touch, one-on-one business model -- maybe you're delivering a service or you're doing in-depth coaching with people or in depth consulting (this is mainly my business model) -- you need significantly less true fans than a thousand in order to be sustainable.

Because if you're only working with eight people a year or 10 or even 20, maybe you need 200 or 300 true fans to have a sustainable business. I'm just throwing that number out there as a guesstimate. I don't have proof of this, but I would say, yeah, if you're 20 clients a year, having 200 to 300 true fans would probably serve you very well.

Now, if your business model is based off of group programs, you're going to need more people because your work touches more people. Maybe you need a hundred people a year to have a sustainable group program that supports your life. So you're going to need more fans. You're going to need more of those true fans, maybe 500 to 750 of those true fans.  If you have a scaled business model, like a course or a membership, you're going to need those full, 1000 true fans to have a sustainable business.

So I want you to think for a minute about your business model and how many true fans do you need to cultivate? And basically it comes down to this: the more clients you need, the more true fans you need, the more money you want to make, the more true fans you want to have. If you want to make $1 million in your business, then you're talking about Amanda Palmer true fan audience size. So we're looking at 25,000 people at least who are your true fans. 

So here's the rub -- not everyone on your email list or your social media following is your true fan. Now, they have the potential to be, especially if they have raised their hand and said, “Yes, I want to be a part of your email community,” but you have got to build a relationship with them because the reality is that most people, most business owners have 100 true fans, which for many business models will only get you so far.

You need marketing to move beyond your 100 true fans and really expand your footprint. And here's the deal, if you don't have messaging, that marketing is going to be a waste of time. Because you need your marketing to work and what makes or breaks your marketing is not the tactic. It's not if you're on Instagram or LinkedIn, or if you're doing webinars or email marketing, none of that matters. It's the strategic message that powers those marketing activities that gets people to really buy in and feel nurtured and seen so they become your true fans. 

Part of this is really about moving beyond just getting people's attention. Instead, we have to get people's attention and then we have to know what to say in order to keep them paying attention. And your messaging supports that. 

And next week on the podcast, I'm going to be talking about my new model. I call it the ACC way, but those are the jobs that your messaging must do in order to build you to whatever fan true fan base that you need.

So what I would love to know from you -- and you can DM me on Instagram, I'm @drmichellemazur --  is how many true fans do you think you currently have in your audience?  And then the second question is based on what I told you today. How many true fans do you need in order to create a sustainable business?

Cultivating a relationship and finding more true fans is why you market. And to build that relationship with your true fans, your message must be a match because that's how you'll turn a stranger who's never heard about you before into an avid supporter of your business. 

Finally, if you've realized that your efforts to grow your true fan base are stalling out. I'd love to talk to you about creating that message that powers your marketing and sales. A message that demands attention, creates curiosity so clients clamor to work with you faster than before.

I invite you to request a chat with me about the Three Word Rebellion Messaging Intensive and whether it's right for your business. I'm on a mission to help more amazing business owners who do transformative work spread the word about that work and cultivate that true fan base so they can sell and serve more. So let's talk. Get all the details and request a chat with me at

Thank you for listening all the way to the end of the show. Your support means the world to me. Did you know the Rebel Uprising Podcast has a quiz that can help you pinpoint the number one way to build an audience of superfans while staying true to your unique personality? We do! And it’s called What’s Your Rebel Roadmap to Exponential Impact and Influence? and you can take it at

If you’re loving the podcast do us a favor, rate and leave us a quick five-star review wherever you listen to your podcasts. It helps more people like you find the show.

Until next week, remember… your ideas matter. Now get back out there and cause an uprising in your industry. You’ve got this!

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