Can 1,000 true fans make a living for journalists?

Journalists and niche sites looking for a revenue model are just a peek around the corner from what looks like some workable answers. If you are conversing with your audience in a way that is relevant to them, and you ask them for support they will be there. That is if the principle of 1,000 true fans proves true for news as for other kinds of bloggers, curators and synthesizers.

Obviously, the power of passionate followers is not news to folks like Maria Popova and her Brain Pickings as Felix Salmon points out in his recent post for Reuters. And Andrew Sullivan, in a much reported move, recently went public with The Daily Dish. My colleagues in the indie news world are adding “Support Us” to their already heavy toolboxes, as I wrote here.  Even though much remains to be sorted out – including transparency about material connections between creators and the products they discuss – there’s hope in the air.

Read this article from Rolling Stone and then compare the loss of “advances” in the music industry with the loss of “salaries” in the journalism/news world. A lot of what these musicians have learned is what independent news sites and niche news sites are adopting with some success. It’s hard work but these musicians, just like the independent news world, are making a go of it with the support of their fans.

To make a living

Think about Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans from 2008

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

That goes for journalism, and community news, too, which I am increasingly defining as community development work – it’s really about bringing people together over information that they crave to share about the amenities and issues in the places where they live. These places reside both on our blocks — our neighborhoods—  and in our hearts – the passions we share.

A living, not a killing

I predict [fingers crossed] when the dust settles, the online market will have defined for the first time the working wage for a writer, journalist, community developer  – those creatives who plumb the public mind to serve deep dish ideas tied to our places and our passions that tighten our ties with each other.

Thank you to Northwestern University Journalism professor Rachel Davis Mersey for pointing out this article. Mersey does a great talk on branding and audience engagement that was the highlight of my digital entrepreneurship training at the Poynter Institute. In it she describes important matters of civic importance as getting folks to eat their “vegetables.”

How to serve up vegetables – deliciously

“If we only give what people want, we will badly neglect what people need,” Mersey says in the video above. But, as journalists, “if I understand that audience well enough I can help that audience understand issues that are incredibly important,” she concludes. First thanks go to journalism undergrad Kelly Agon Salves. You’ve got it right, Kelly. Passion is the fuel.

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Sally Duros believes good writing is a superpower. You can connect with Sally on , and on Twitter.