How many clients do you need?

Today’s topic asks a very practical question: how many clients do you need? (Spoiler: not that many!) Video below, scroll for the text.


  • Why an Ideal Client profile is important
  • The idea of 1,000 True Fans
  • Perspective on the number of clients you need to succeed

Want to market successfully? You need to know who will buy from you!

But Patty! If I only focus on people who want and can afford my services, I’ll miss out on….oh…never mind.

One of the most important things you can do for you business is to create what I call an Ideal Client Profile where you get super specific about exactly who you work with.

You may have heard this described as a target market or a niche or a client avatar. Yesterday I described it as a green circle.

It’s important because when you know WHO – specifically – is going to buy from you, you can customize your offers, your services and your marketing materials to fit their exact needs.

Almost invariably, when I suggest this idea – I get pushback.

But, but, but Patty! My services can help everyone! I don’t want to limit my market! I want to cast a wide net!

When you don’t have enough clients, it can be really scary to think about narrowing your focus. It can feel like you’re going to miss out.

But here’s the thing to keep in mind.

You are not physically capable of serving EVERYBODY.

Even if everyone in the world needs what you do, if they could afford it, if they want it…there’s no way you can serve 7 billion people.

Or even 1 million for that matter.

A really good question to ask:

How many clients do you need?

This was a whole lot easier at karaoke. Maybe it’s a good thing there’s only 3 people here!

I often direct my clients to an article that Kevin Kelly wrote 10 years ago called 1,000 True Fans

He wrote the article with artists and musicians in mind, but the concept applies to those of us with creative and original YOU-Shaped Businesses as well.

It spells out the reality of the world that we live in today.

We have superstar celebrities with enormous followings: millions of fans, making multi-millions of dollars.

Rock stars and movie stars – those kids making millions on Youtube – and the tippy top of the pyramid in your profession.

Then we have the rest of the people. All of the wannabes, all of the people with stars in their eyes trying to make it “big time” – and those who would simply like to make a good living doing the thing they do.

Statistically – the vast majority of won’t make it to superstar level. 99.99% won’t make it. Hitting the big time is akin to winning a lottery.

In the article, Kevin Kelly presents a different opportunity – the idea of simply aiming at attracting 1,000 True Fans.

True fans are the people who love you.

They’ll travel to attend your concerts, they’ll buy all your albums, they’ll tell their friends. They’ll stick around for the long term.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”You don’t need a huge number of clients to make a good living as a self-employed professional.” quote=”You don’t need a huge number of clients to make a good living as a self-employed professional.”]

1,000 True Fans = $100,000 per year (and you probably don’t need 1,000)

If I charge $100,000 per year for my services…I’ll need one client to make 6 figures. Hey, wait a minute, that can’t be right. Let’s do that again.

His premise? If you can make $100 in profit per True Fan – you’ll have a salary of about $100,000 per year.

1,000 True Fans is doable – you can get there one person at a time. Get 3 new fans per day and you’ll get there in one year. One per day and it will take you 3.

And here’s better news for YOU-Shaped Businesses: most of us don’t even need 1,000 True Fans.

If you sell something for $100 profit and people only ever buy it once, you’ll need 1,000 people to buy each year.

If you sell it for $500 profit, you’ll only need 200 people to buy.

$1,000? You only need 100.

$3,000? Now you’re down to 33. And a third. 🙂

$5,000? 20.

It’s really easy to get caught up in promotions and courses that talk about getting 1,000s of fans and followers, about reaching millions and making millions.

But if your goal is to make a really nice living doing the thing you do – you don’t need that many clients.

Maybe you only need 20 or 30 or 50.

Even if you do need 1,000 – it’s a manageable number, something you can wrap your head around.

When you realize that you only need 20 or 50 or even 500 clients – and you have the entire world (or at least your neighbourhood) to find them in – you’ll see that the idea of narrowing your focus to Ideal Clients isn’t so scary after all.

And it will make your marketing a whole lot easier!