Getting 1000 Fans Is Easier Than You Think

I’ve recently become a fan of quitting. Despite the age-old adage that says, “quitters never win,” there’s tremendous value in throwing in the towel. Sometimes, the best thing to do is not persevere, but give up.

That’s how I found my first 1000 fans.

1000 Fans
Photo credit: Sreejith K (Creative Commons)

Quitting my blog and starting over was the best thing I could have done for my writing career. It wasn’t easy, but it was right.

Last December, I reluctantly dropped a blog to which I had been contributing for nearly five years. Late one night, I was frustrated and started all over.

This blog is the result of that one, frustrated decision.

How I grew to 1000 subscribers in 6 months

I was scared and unsure of myself. It had taken me years to build a small, but steady tribe of regular readers.

Part of me was excited to start something new, and part of me was not looking forward to all the work it was going to take.

But something weird happened…

Six months later, my blog’s daily traffic quadrupled that of my old blog (which was about 250 visitors a day). Since then, it’s continued to grow.

How did it happen? Well, I hate to disappoint you, but…

It wasn’t an accident

From Day One, I was intentional about how I built my blog. Although the rapid growth has exceeded my expectations, I’m not altogether surprised. In other words, it wasn’t magic.

I did the work; I saw the results. And, if you want, you can probably grow your blog in the same way. But you will have to hustle.

Earning your first thousand fans (or your next thousand) isn’t easy, but it doesn’t take a ton of time, either. It just takes work.

For me, it took an hour or so a day. So I got up a little early, stayed up a little late. I focused, stayed the course, and saw the pay-off.

I also stopped worrying about being heard and paid more attention to the needs of others. In doing so, I learned a valuable lesson:

It’s not about waiting for your audience to care about what you have to say; it’s about earning the permission to say it.

Too many writers and creatives think we’re entitled to a fan base. We want people to read (or listen to or watch) our work for the sheer brilliance of it.

But it doesn’t work like that. If “content is king,” he’s a fat, lazy despot in need of a PR campaign.

What matters is relationship. What matters is trust. You either have it, or you don’t. And once you do, there’s no limit to what you can accomplish.

I’m nobody special

I’m humbled by how my blog has grown so quickly. But my story is nothing remarkable.

There are plenty of bloggers who have gotten a lot bigger in a fraction of the time it took me. And there are those who haven’t. The difference, I believe, is work. (And maybe a little luck.)

What I’ve learned from this process is that if you do the work, you (eventually) see the results.

Some of us may have to work harder than others, but the principle is the same: Those who do the (right kind of) work, win. And those who don’t, don’t (unless your last name happens to be Hilton or Trump).

So,I hope you do the work. I hope you grow faster than I did — because you worked harder. And I hope struggle a little, so you stay humble.

Today, the choice is yours: Get to work, or wait. And if you wait to be picked, well… good luck with that.

64 thoughts on “Getting 1000 Fans Is Easier Than You Think

  1. My accountant told me that, due to the way the tax code is written, I could end up making a lot more money with a flop than with a hit. So I set out to build the most unsuccessful blog ever. Unfortunately, I messed up along the way and accidentally racked up almost ten—nine, to be precise—subscribers in less than three years. So I guess I’ll have to start over as well. Sigh.

        1. hmmm in that case, perhaps you could revamp your blog and ask your friends to tweet about your blog. 
          If you like cooking then put it up on tastespotting.com. That usually does the trick. When people visit your blog via those sites, if they find it interesting they tend to click on other posts and who knows, they might even follow and comment 🙂 
          For starters, I have started following your blog 😉 

          Good luck! 

          1. I’m not into cooking, but I like trains.

            You’re my tenth follower! Looks like I’ve hit the double digits! If the trend continues, some day I may be having trouble remembering all my subscribers individually.

            Admittedly, I’m one of my own followers (to make sure my posts are being mailed out as scheduled). Also, another one of my followers never confirmed their email address.

            So, excluding myself, you’re my eighth confirmed follower. Still, not bad.

  2. Slow and steady wins the race.
    Or as the Bible says, “little by little”. God is a God of the supernatural, but often chooses to work with us in the journey.

    Today my blog has been up one month. Thanks for the encouragement to plod along slow and steady, with a focus on people not merely growth

  3. This is a great post.  Thank you.  I’m amazed that you can write every day about writing. 🙂

    Question:  how do you know when you should quit and start over?  I feel like I’m putting in the right amount of work (without going crazy  – you know, about 1-2 hours each day on average), and I have some steady traffic, and loyal readers.  But the growth is S L O W.  So when is the time to say, “Ok.  We’re starting over,” and when is the time to just stick with what you’re currently doing?

    1. In my opinion, you should RARELY quit. I’m a fan of perseverance. Most people quit blogging before they gain traction. Keep in mind that I was nursing a dying blog for four years before I moved on. It was just time. I had outgrown my first real blog. It’s not about growth; it’s about voice. Sometimes, you need a new place to express yourself. But the general rule is the first year or two of your blog is mostly a building phase. Don’t get discouraged by slow growth. Growth is growth.

  4. I struggle with the slowness of building a following on my blog. I’m only two months into my blog but it still feels like slow progress.

    I know I have readers. I have a few email subscribers. I have some RSS subscribers. I get comments on almost every post.

    I’d like to see my readership increase from 30 or so a day to the 1000’s. Guess I’ll continue on a 20 mile march and see what results it brings.

  5. Those who do the right kind of work win – I like that. That’s been the process for me. It’s not about the actual amount of effort or time involved – it’s just figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t. And how I even go about defining what “works.”

  6. “And I hope struggle a little, so you stay humble.” 
    Jeff, my humility is growing exponentially, negatively correlated to my subscriber list!

    Do you have a previous post or comment regarding, “…paid more attention to the needs of others?” What did/does that look like for you in practical application?

      1. Yes. I did a few things:

        1) I built a newsletter list where I test ideas and experiment with things before they hit the blog. (You can sign up here: https://goinswriter.com/subscribe/newsletter).

        2) While I believe in writing for the love of writing, I stopped using my blog as my own personal soapbox. I just started writing about ways to help people and when I started seeing positive response, I kept going down that path. You will have to experiment. Then once, you build trust, you can just straight-up ask people what they want. Then give it to them.

        3) I built an inner, casual circle of 5-10 people whom I trust. They keep me honest and humble. Whenever I doubt myself or my direction, I go to them (not the masses) to get a gut-check. They are always encouraging and affirming, but also honest. I think every communicator needs a close-knit group like that. For me, it’s just people I’ve met online and in real-life whom I trust.

        Does that help?

        1. Interesting…especially #2. Good to know. Having a hard time figuring out how to narrow my overall blog topic without limiting the amount of content I can generate (still learning how to generate enough to post 2-3 times a week 🙂 ), so that’s a helpful thought. thanks!

          1. Likewise. Targeting/narrowing is a challenge, especially at the onset. Not sure of the voice and, yah, you have to experiment, and just do it to flesh that out.

            Also, re #3, it’s the feeling of the solo thing that so easily increases doubt. The inner circle, master mind group, whatever you call it is invaluable, I’d imagine. I need to get one. 

            Sounds like I’m referring to a pet….

            Thanks again Jeff!

        2. I received (what I think is) good advice from a successful, published author who said that if I don’t want to blog about just one thing, that I should make my blog personality driven (about me…me vs. niche).  Once my audience gets to know *me* they will be more likely to want more of what I write (future ebooks), regardless of topic. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, but I’ve yet to hit double-digits with subscribers (and I’m pretty sure I know them all).

          Love your blog. Thanks for your ideas to stimulate my thinking, strategy and writing.

  7. Jeff – I would love to hear about the biggest differences between your old blog and new one. Did you totally change the focus of the content? Love the current blog but wantno know how you reinvented yourself.

    1. Hey Jason. Yep. Last one was more of a personal blog about life and well, everything. This one is mostly about writing and little bit about other stuff. It’s been one big experiment, but I’ve become a fan of niche blogs.

  8. Hi Jeff,

    I love the work angle your talking about in this post. From what I’ve seen, you’re definitely putting the hours in that it takes to create posts worth reading.

    As far as a different angle, what other things are different this time around that you would attribute for this blog being more successful than the last? Does anything stand out to you? Any key differences?

    And last but not least, this post reminds me of something I wrote for ProBlogger: https://www.problogger.net/archives/2011/06/28/is-it-time-to-hit-the-reset-button-on-your-blog

    Let me know what you think of the post. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Joseph.

      See my answer below. Bottom line was I focused on one central topic and put more time in. If you do that, you usually win. I’ll check out that post.

  9. Great post Jeff. I too have found that addressing the felt needs of my readers/demographic has really helped grow my audience. God has taught me a lot about serving others rather than just seeing my blog as a place for self-focused things or even self-focused writing.

    It only took me reading a few of your posts to tell that you care about others and I think that is what has helped you stand out above the rest.

    Blessings and thank you.

  10. Seems appropriate to quote Ghandi (again):
    “First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    It’s important to recognize these shifts in the reception to our digital publishing efforts and to re-frame them appropriately. Initially, each presents increasing reasons to hang it up, but viewed correctly, they can be exciting reminders of just how close we are to success.

    + Believe in yourself and what you’re doing – even when nobody sees it.
    + “Never, ever, ever, ever give up” – even when they make fun of your beliefs.
    + Stick to your guns & press on regardless – even when they try to take you out.

    7Bn people on this planet. You’re 1-in-a-million. That means there are at least 6,999 other people in the world who believe in what you’re trying to do too. And you can find them.

  11. I swear it really is about work.

    There was a time where I spent too much time doing pointless and unrewarding activities. I broke it down to just reading more and writing more, and the results are slowly trickling in.

    I went through a couple changes on my blog, but I finally landed on something that I believe will last. I also love doing it, so it makes perfect sense.

    Great post Jeff, as always.

  12. I really liked this post Jeff.  I read it in the newsletter, and then again this afternoon on here…and as someone who is re-starting out, it was of particular interest to me.  I am going in a completely new direction with my blog, and have redesigned it to be congruent with that.  However, I have archived all my old posts, and retained the domain (which is my name)…do you see more credence to starting from scratch?  

    1. It depends on the content. If it’s similar, then keep it in the archives. If not, you may confuse readers. One of the strong suits of this blog is its focus. People look thru the archives for writing posts and aren’t disappointed. If your archives don’t reflect the focus of your blog, they’re working against you (even if they bring in traffic from search engines). Just my thought, but I’d need to know more to say for sure. Feel free to email me: [email protected]

  13. Did you rename your blog, complete with new URL? Or did you just refab your current situation? 

    I am a new follower, coming over from your guest post at Michael Hyatt’s last week.

  14. Love this … thank you.  I like the focus of intention here … I just started blogging and am choosing to be intentional about it as well as to just jump in and do it, learning as I go … otherwise, I’ll be hanging out at the edge of the pool forever.  Funny … serious stuff doesn’t have to be all that serious and heavy.  It can be light and impactful all at the same time. 
    Thanks for your inspiration, Jeff.

  15. The interesting thing I’m finding with my new blog is I have over a thousand views in just a few weeks, but absolutely no followers. It’s a bit frustrating because for a while I was working hard a posting daily, but now I cut down the days I am writing on it (some of the reason is my full-time job taking up a lot of my time).

    My theory about this is I’m using tags that are easily (and probably often) used in search engines, but my content is not engaging enough to encourage a following.

    1. Interesting, Chris. Time to focus on content, not visitors. The fans will come and go; the followers will stay for the quality of engagement. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Jeff,

    I’ve recently had to
    trim my lists of sites I belong to, how much info reading I do and generally
    organize my life, especially my writing life. Due to several disabilities, I do
    not write as I once did but I cannot cut it out of my life completely. At this
    point, my goal is to read quality writing from honest people that add knowledge
    to my journey.

    I re-examined your blog
    and saw that you are successful, have many members and wouldn’t miss a
    middle-aged woman hanging out, especially since I do not reply much at all. I
    had decided to unsubscribe to your blog since my membership would not be missed
    (I thought). I have new posts emailed to me and I opened this one up tonight
    and smiled as I read it. I suppose 1 person could make a difference, especially
    if it is the difference between 999 and 1000.

    It was at that moment
    that the Spirit revealed why I will be staying on with you. I need the
    wisdom of Jeff Goins, the writer, idea guy and difference maker! My
    spiritual gift is “bs detector”, emotion reader; a thoroughly exhausting,
    albeit necessary part of the Body. Your writing rings out loud and clear, “TRUTH”.

    Sincerely,

    Joni

  17. I’ve been writing the last several months and subscribers are trickling in. Wish I knew a way to fast forward the process.

    I’m committed to improving my writing. I subscribe to blogs like Jeff Goins, purchased a few books on the subject, and hired an editor.

    We shall see. I’ll enjoy the writing experience more when the subscribers finally find my voice.

    I thoroughly enjoy your writing Jeff. Thanks.

      1. Hi Steve,

        I stumbled to your reply while looking through some of the archives. I’m curious, have you been continuing with this personal mantra? What have you seen happen in the 3 years since you made this post? Have you learned more things since posting?

        My blog is a few weeks old now and amid being TERRIFIED, I’m excited to see what this community has already done. Thank you Steve!

  18. Jeff,

    Great stuff. This has really inspired me to bring the focus to my blog I know it needs. I’ve started getting up early to get more frequent posts out there. I think I wrote my best overall quality post today (in terms of formatting, content, etc.)

    This is the post: https://aparchedsoul.com/?p=601

    Feedback and/or suggestions always appreciated (email: [email protected]). Keep up the good work.

    God Bless,
    Grayson

  19. Very inspiring blog post. It seems that you found your voice and rekindled that passion. Sometimes starting over is the best remedy.

    This quote stood out to me the most.

    “I also stopped worrying about being heard and paid more attention to the needs of others”

    Thank you Jeff!

  20. Wao, what you offer is quite attractive. But really, it’s not that simple, not simple but if there is going to be a remarkable result.

  21. I will look to serve others. I will work hard and help my cat with his writing. Hopefully my cat’s book will help buy more kitty litter.
    We are not waiting. We will pick ourselves.

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