Cultivating Superfans

August 24, 2020

It’s not as difficult as you think to make a living doing what you love online. Superfans are the key.

The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns have hit the creative industry hard, putting 409,000 jobs at risk in the UK alone, making it especially difficult for cretors. In response, many creators are moving online, seeking alternatives to gigs, tutoring and other work. Some are contemplating a complete shift to online working, where they can be their own boss and make money doing what they love.

It’s a tantalising but daunting prospect; many who want to make a living sharing their skills and knowledge have no idea how to go about it. On the internet, you can reach millions, even billions, of people across the world. The biggest creators have hundreds of thousands of followers each, but developing such a huge fan base seems like an overwhelming task, out of reach for most creators.

Except, you don’t actually need millions of fans or followers to earn a living online – a few hundred ‘true fans’ will do. If you can assemble a base of very engaged fans that spend $100 per year on various forms of personalised, premium content, you can create a sustainable business selling your expertise.

Finding your niche

The internet allows you to establish truly personal connections with people throughout the world. Topics that, at first glance, might seem too niche to generate enough interest may actually have a fairly large potential audience when looked at from a global perspective. As a creator it's important to establish your own niche, where you can assemble a group of very engaged people from across the world. This involves:

  • Defining your unique set of skills and knowledge. Dig deeper to  find what you're really good at. For example, if you’re a piano teacher, is there a particular genre that you excel in? Determining your particular area of expertise can help you establish a space for yourself in the market
  • Distinguishing yourself from other creators. Assess how widespread demand for your speciality is. You should also scope out your competition and see how they market themselves. Determine whether there are any gaps in your particular niche, which you can capitalise on. 
  • Working out who your audience is. Test things out by producing focused content, directed to people who have shown interest or might be a good fit for your audience, and observe their reaction. Focus less on the number of people in your audience and more on their level of engagement.
  • Building and refining your audience. At this point it's very important to observe how your audience, particularly its most engaged members, interact with your content and refine your content accordingly. This includes anything from your tone of voice to the type of content you produce.

Establishing and engaging your superfans

After you have found your niche and established an audience, the next, most important step is to engage your fans in a meaningful way and convert them to superfans. Authenticity is key, as is offering a sense of participation; this creates a connection and inspires loyalty. Your most loyal fans will keep returning and will engage with all that you offer, whether that be content, teaching a skill or specialised advice. Retaining just 5% of your existing customers increases your profits by at least 25%, so it makes sense to focus on this small, loyal group of high value customers, who return to buy your services over time and keep your customer acquisition costs low.

Retaining just 5% of your existing customers increases your profits by at least 25%

Ways to keep your superfans engaged:

  • Answer each meaningful comment personally - if someone genuinely praises one of your posts, respond personally, referring to them by the username or handle, and say thank you. If a fan asks a specific question, it's ideal to give a more detailed response.
  • Create a space where your fans can chat, for example,  a Facebook or Whatsapp group, Discord or a Slack channel. Pick just one of these channels, as you don’t want to spread yourself (and your fans) too thinly.
  • Conduct polls and surveys – these are not only a great way to engage with your audience, but also a valuable source of data.
  • Ask your followers questions that they can answer in the comments section - use this when you want to ask more in-depth questions , although bear in mind that this will require more commitment from your followers.
  • Respond to any tags and like/acknowledge any reposts.
  • Use video whenever you can - viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it, but only 10% when they read it.
  • Provide an opportunity for your fans to talk to you one-on-one – offer paid consultations where you can make money whilst cultivating the connection between you and your audience: one that may  lead to further purchases in the future.

Quality is more important than quantity here, so establishing and cultivating a personalised connection with each of your super fans is the key to success. Pensight can help you manage such interactions; it’s a free tool that facilitates personal paid one-on-one consultations over live video. Such sessions help grow the connections between creators and their fans – our data show that 70% of people who book a session on Pensight return for another session. Pensight also enables flexibility by letting you set your availability and takes away the stress of managing bookings and payments. You can then concentrate on what you do best – enriching the lives of others with your knowledge and skills.

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