If there’s one generation-defining skill that creators need to learn going forward, what will it be? My bet: The ability to make, then monetize fans.

The same way how years ago we talked about “googling” as a now-essential skill, the creators that have the highest engagement and return-per-follower are those that…

  1. truly understand how to convert a follower to a fan through the right engagement and constantly optimize that funnel,
  2. find ways to learn from their fans what they can sell to them
  3. create valuable additional content or services on top of their free offering
  4. become very skilled at talking about the additional stuff their fans could get from them

Koji has a creator making more than $40k per month selling pdf cookbooks with this strategy, freeing them from the chains of ads and brand deals (and of course, Patreon and co have their own great case studies).

A proven path to success for many creators is the audience-to-fan funnel.

But how come this isn’t the “mainstream” creator monetization model yet? Lots of reasons, but here are the ones I’ve observed:

  • Lack of education. Many average creators I’ve talked to have never heard of the 1000 true fans strategy, and just assume the only path to success is getting millions of followers and monetizing with brand deals and ads.
  • Stigma around taking money from fans. Easy to overcome once you make creators realize that it makes their work more honest – now they have a direct relationship with their fans, similar to how a musician sells their fans albums and concert tickets. Previously their customers where the advertisers.)
  • Lack of marketing skills. Many creators loathe the idea of becoming a marketer because it feels like “selling out”, but they need to at least be skilled enough to promote their additional value they create. And once they realize fans appreciate the ability to buy more of them, they realize that there’s nothing dishonest about it.

The slides here are from are from a creator conference talk I’ve created with my friend Yaya (who’s been creating for decades and has a lot to say about the topic), and I’m planning to turn a lot of these and more insights for creators into accessible videos and creator accelerators/multi-week bootcamps. Stay tuned!

How about your own observations? What do you think are the most important skills for creators today and in the future?

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