“You should follow me on Twitter”

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Eric Barker  -  
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As the forcefulness and personal identifiability of the phrase increased, the number of clicks likewise increased. “You” identifies the reader directly, “should” implies an obligation, and “follow me on twitter” is a direct command. Moving the link to a literal callout “here” provides a clear location for clicking. I tried other permutations that dulled the command, used the word “please” in place of “should” and made the whole sentence a link. None of them performed as well as the final sentence.

At the very least, the data show that users seem to have less control over their actions than they might think, and that web designers and developers have huge leeway for using language to nudge users through an experience.

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Unique like everyone else

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Eric Barker  -  
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You’ve probably heard of the many cognitive bias studies where the vast majority of people rate themselves as among the best. Like the fact that 88% of college students rate themselves in the top 50% of drivers, 95% of college professors think they do above average work, and so on.

In light of this, I’ve just found a wonderfully ironic study that found that the majority of people rate themselves as less susceptible to cognitive biases than the average person.

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The Technium: The Reality of Depending on True Fans

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Eric Barker  -  
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Robert Rich was one of the first professional musicians to start dealing directly with his fans via his own website, which is why I contacted him. He wrote an extremely candid, insightful and thorough reply to my query. He tempers my enthusiasm for 1000 True Fans with a cautionary realism borne from actually trying the idea. The summary of his experience is so pertinent and detailed that I felt was worth posting in full.

via kk.org

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The Technium: The Case Against 1000 True Fans

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What my research tells me: there are very few artists making their entire living selling directly to True Fans. The few that are, are selling high-priced goods, like paintings, rather than low-priced goods like CDs. But there are many that partially fund their livelihood with direct True Fans. However, most of these artists make it very clear in their notes to me: It takes a lot of time to find, nurture, manage, and service True Fans yourself. And, many artists don’t have the skills or inclination to do so.  The fact that very few creators wholly sustain themselves with direct True Fans may be because it is a job few want to do for very long.

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The Technium: 1,000 True Fans

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Eric Barker  -  
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The long tail is famously good news for two classes of people; a few lucky aggregators, such as Amazon and Netflix, and 6 billion consumers. Of those two, I think consumers earn the greater reward from the wealth hidden in infinite niches.

But the long tail is a decidedly mixed blessing for creators. Individual artists, producers, inventors and makers are overlooked in the equation. The long tail does not raise the sales of creators much, but it does add massive competition and endless downward pressure on prices. Unless artists become a large aggregator of other artist’s works, the long tail offers no path out of the quiet doldrums of minuscule sales.

Other than aim for a blockbuster hit, what can an artist do to escape the long tail?

One solution is to find 1,000 True Fans. While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply:

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.

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