True Fans

Profitable Podcasting: Build Your Nation of True Fans

The following excerpt is provided by “Profitable Podcasting: Grow Your Business, Expand Your Platform, and Build a Nation of True Fans” by Stephen Woessner © 2017 Stephen Woessner All rights reserved. Published by AMACOM Books Division of American Management Association 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019

Downloaded more than 100,000 times, Onward Nation has listeners in nearly 200 countries around the world. These metrics are gratifying to my team and myself. I feel blessed and honored to have the opportunity to do what we love to do.

However, these metrics—as fun as they are to see in a data dashboard—do not represent the true economic engine behind Onward Nation, just as the number of countries, downloads, etc., will likely not represent a driving force of revenue into your business either. Instead, the way your podcast can potentially generate millions of dollars in new revenue is through creating and nurturing long-term relationships with your podcast guests. These relationships are what Wired magazine founder Kevin Kelly calls “True Fans.” True fans represent your ROI Scorecard’s ultimate vital metric.

To paraphrase Kelly, any business owner can create a solid revenue stream around a community of approximately 1,000 people when they are “True Fans” of what the company sells and when there is a connection between the company and its fans based on the value provided.

Even if you didn’t generate any direct or indirect revenue from your listeners through advertising, sponsorships, or offering up programs for sales—and focused only on converting guests into clients—you would reach 1,000 true fans in just three and a half years by airing one new episode per day. Onward Nation is already halfway there; in less than two years of airing, our podcast has generated approximately $2 million in revenue for Predictive ROI over twelve months.

But the outcome would not be possible if we had not invested the time—and continue to invest the time—to build a nation of fans who share their insights on how we can continually improve and move onward to that next level.

Your nation of true fans will be fans of you, fans of your message and fans of your business. Your fans will support you because of the sacred bond you have built with them and because you consistently delivered massive value through your podcast content.

Whether you air a new episode every day or every week, no matter what airing schedule you decide upon, no matter the rhythm, the fact that you are consistent is the critical piece.

Now, let’s get dialed in on building your nation of true fans: a sense of community, collaboration and profitability around the purpose of your business.

We’ll begin by breaking down the phrase “Build a nation of true fans” into its three core components: (1) Build, (2) Nation and (3) True Fans.

Ingredient #1: Build (as in Your Platform)

How would you begin to “Build” a nation of true fans? You’d begin with a platform, such as:

  • Podcast
  • Speaking
  • Blog
  • YouTube channel/vlog
  • Instagram stories
  • Facebook Live

The platform you choose is irrelevant from a tech perspective. Any or all of the above can help you build a nation of true fans. The tech behind it is relatively easy. Is there a learning curve? Sure there is. How does Facebook Live work? What time of day should I create a story on Instagram? What kind of camera and microphone are best if I want to become a serious YouTuber?

All of these are tech questions that can be answered in an afternoon with your old friend Google. You can solve those problems and find the answers as long as you don’t let the fear of the unknown paralyze you.

So, let’s shift our focus away from the tech and toward the value you will be providing through those channels. What’s your story? How will you serve your audience? How will you make what you are doing so valuable to their businesses or their lives that they actually consider you indispensable?

How will you become so consistent in over-delivering help, advice, recommendations and value that you begin to build deposits in their emotional bank accounts, that your guests and your audience trust you, and then like you, and then get even closer as they begin to actually know you?

Your first step in building your nation of true fans has nothing to do with the actual content delivery platform, and everything to do with the value of what you will be delivering, because your nation of true fans is built on value. And if you get that recipe right, then the actual platform, or the “conduit” through which you share and distribute your value, will fall into place. The entire process will begin to feel less stressful because the value you were called to create and deliver will then be in the driver’s seat. You will become unstoppable.

Related: Wired Magazine Co-Founder Talks Major Artificial Intelligence Breakthroughs

Ingredient #2: Nation

Now let’s shift our attention to the word nation and break that down. And I want to make sure we address this because we live in a world where bigger lists, bigger subscribers, massive downloads, huge customer lists, etc., etc., etc., are what attract headlines and massive attention.

You don’t need an email list of 100,000 people to build your nation. You don’t need to have a podcast that gets a million downloads a month. You don’t need to have a list of 20,000 prospects.

Nope. You don’t.

That’s not your nation.

What you need—depending on the size of your business—is somewhere between 100 and 1,000 highly qualified prospects. In fact, your knowledge with some of your prospects should be so deep that you can boldly claim them as your Dream 50 prospects.

To take this point deeper, I want to share a tangible example of a company that grew from zero to a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business. Yes, billion with a capital B.

Earlier, I mentioned my mentor, Darren Hardy, former publisher of SUCCESS Magazine. A while back, he decided to interview my friend Cody Foster, cofounder of Advisors Excel, and share the interview on the March 2014 edition of the SUCCESS CD that rides along with the magazine.

During the interview with Darren, Cody shared several personal stories of very humble beginnings—stories that helped shape the kind of company Advisors Excel has become.

Advisors Excel is packed full of incredible people. The team’s sole aim is to deliver more and more value every day to financial advisers around the country. The Advisors Excel team does it masterfully well. They built their platform on a solid foundation of value.

But, did they build this platform by trying to serve the 60,000 financial advisers located in the state of Florida alone? No. How about all of the financial advisers up and down the West Coast? Nope.

Did they focus on spending large amounts of advertising dollars trying to reach everyone they could with their message of value, value, value? Not at all.

Instead, they meticulously selected 1,000 of the very best financial advisers whom they wanted to earn the opportunity to serve. Cody shared with Darren that they built a list of 1,000 financial advisers and then went to work to deliver more value than the other insurance marketing organizations in the industry to those 1,000.

The 1,000 advisers became their nation, and the advisers outside of their nation ceased to exist. Advisors Excel dedicated themselves to being the best they could be for this small group of prospects.

The outcome? Advisors Excel reached more than $4 billion in revenue by the end of year six in the business.

When they are the right prospects, you need only a small, passionate group of fans to make your business amazingly successful and profitable. Highly qualified prospects—whom you can support, and to whom you can add value—will be excited to do for you some of what you already did for them.

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Ingredient #3: True Fans

Let’s take the number 1,000 deeper, because it is a magical number and a vital priority in your business.

According to Kevin Kelly, if a business created a base of customers who were more like fans—1,000 true fans—then that business could become sustainable and profitable by simply focusing on the needs of its true fans.

The full text of Kevin Kelly’s blog post as well as the long tail curve he created to illustrate the 1,000 true fans strategy can be found at

Kelly describes true fans as customers who will help you mobilize and move your business to that next level. They are true fans of you, true fans of your message, true fans of your business.

As I mentioned earlier in this chapter, they will support you because of the sacred bond you have built with them, a bond that was built upon—and continues to be built upon—the foundation of the value you consistently create and deliver.

Whether you do that every day or every week—no matter what the schedule, no matter what the rhythm—the fact that you are consistent is what is important.

According to Kevin, “A True Fan” is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. True fans will drive 200 miles to visit your location. They will buy the super deluxe version of your product even though they already own the standard version.

They have a Google Alert set for your name. They have bookmarked your website.

They come to your product announcements or your ribbon-cutting ceremonies. They come to your book signings and ask for you to sign their copies.

They cannot wait for your next webinar, your next podcast episode, your next event, or your next release.

The best way to increase sales for your company is to connect with your True Fans directly. All you need is a podcast built on value. See? I keep coming back to that foundational truth.

A nation of 100 true fans is a reasonable number. As Kevin explains in his brilliant blog post: “If you added one fan a day, it would take only three years. True ‘fanship’ is doable. Pleasing a True Fan is pleasurable, and invigorating.”

The key challenge is that you have to maintain direct contact with your 1,000 true fans. And you do that through building your platform—delivering value—and making sure you are using the right conduit so it reaches your 1,000 true fans on a consistent basis.

Again, it doesn’t matter if you use a podcast, blog, robust LNKD profile and LNKD publishing, long-form posts on Medium, Instagram stories, Facebook Live, or any other format. What’s important to identify isn’t the platform on which you are most comfortable, but the platform your fans use the most. What is the best conduit to them?

For me, it’s our Onward Nation podcast, my LinkedIn account, email campaigns, and webinars.

But there’s another element to the recipe for building your nation of true fans. You will also build concentric circles of “lesser fans.” Lesser fans might not seek out direct contact with you or your business, nor will they buy everything you produce. But they will buy much of what you produce.

The content, offerings, products and processes you develop to feed your true fans will also nurture your lesser fans. As you build your nation of 1,000 true fans, you will also add many more lesser fans.

Lastly, as you are building, don’t miss or avoid the opportunity to go deep—to develop intimacy with your audience. In fact, intimacy is one of the reasons why I ask for feedback in each of my Onward Nation “solocasts” (a solocast is an episode without a guest—just the host) and share my email address. My team and I legitimately want to get better, but I also want to hear from our audience and learn from them so that we can deliver even more value.

You now have a tangible recipe for building your own nation of true fans—and when you do, your nation will become this amazing, awesome, wonderful, beautiful, incredible community of people who are generous with their feedback and help guide your business in the right direction to deliver value.

Consider Kevin Kelly’s lesson as you build your podcast. Ask yourself how you can continually add more and more value like Cody Foster and his team at Advisors Excel. Because when you build your nation, your business, your team and your life will move onward to a completely new level.

“Profitable Podcasting” is available now at fine booksellers and can be purchased via

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