Publish & Prosper

How to Turn Your Casual Fans into Super Fans

May 08, 2024 Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo Season 1 Episode 24
How to Turn Your Casual Fans into Super Fans
Publish & Prosper
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Publish & Prosper
How to Turn Your Casual Fans into Super Fans
May 08, 2024 Season 1 Episode 24
Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo

Super fans! We know them, we love them, we want them for our own. But how do you turn your casual fans into loyal, dedicated super fans? In this episode, Lauren & Matt discuss strategies like diversifying your products, demonstrating the value of your content, and creating a community for your fans.

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Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [7:38] “I think that in talking about how you might want to go about turning fans and followers into super fans, you do need to look at and think about things like an expanded product portfolio… to create a super fan, you're going to need more than one thing.”

🎙️ [19:47] “Having that opportunity to connect with your fans is one of the ways that you're going to be able to take casual one-time purchasers that came to your website, bought your book, and then left, turn them into loyal, true super fans of yours.”

🎙️ [31:24] “The best marketing values human impressions over digital impressions. We talk about this all the time. And so while the digital stuff can help and these tools can help by automating certain things, nothing will ever garner as much results and success as taking a more human approach to the way that you market and interact with your fan base.”

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
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💀 Sign up for our mailing list.

Show Notes Transcript

Super fans! We know them, we love them, we want them for our own. But how do you turn your casual fans into loyal, dedicated super fans? In this episode, Lauren & Matt discuss strategies like diversifying your products, demonstrating the value of your content, and creating a community for your fans.

Dive Deeper

💡 Read These Blog Posts

💡 Watch These Videos

💡 Read These Articles

Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️ [7:38] “I think that in talking about how you might want to go about turning fans and followers into super fans, you do need to look at and think about things like an expanded product portfolio… to create a super fan, you're going to need more than one thing.”

🎙️ [19:47] “Having that opportunity to connect with your fans is one of the ways that you're going to be able to take casual one-time purchasers that came to your website, bought your book, and then left, turn them into loyal, true super fans of yours.”

🎙️ [31:24] “The best marketing values human impressions over digital impressions. We talk about this all the time. And so while the digital stuff can help and these tools can help by automating certain things, nothing will ever garner as much results and success as taking a more human approach to the way that you market and interact with your fan base.”

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.

Lauren: Hey everyone, welcome back to another episode of Publish & Prosper. I feel like we start a lot of these by saying that we are going to be talking about something that we’re excited to talk about or that we care a lot about in this episode, but perhaps this one more so than most of our episodes. I think Matt and I have been super super very clear throughout this entire podcast that we are both super fans of things. We are both people that get very passionate about things that we're fans of, whether those are overlapping fandoms or very distinct fandoms. I think we've both talked a lot about getting really invested in and passionate about the things that we love. And today we're actually going to talk about how you can go about turning your fans into people like us.

Matt: Well, not people like us necessarily, because that might be a scary thought for some of the listeners, but turning fans and followers into superfans. So, kind of like people like us. 

Lauren: Yeah, maybe people adjacent to us. I don't know. 

Matt: You know what I also just realized? I don't know if for the five people listening and for you and I, you probably aren't old enough to remember this, but there used to be this old skit on Saturday Night Live called Church Lady. 

Lauren: Oh yeah. 

Matt: And so I don't know why, but for some reason, every time you and I hit the start button, I immediately fold my hands - and you do it too, by the way. So - 

Lauren: I do it too. 

Matt: My hands come onto the table and I clasp and you know, interlock and weave my hands and fingers together and rest them right here. It just dawned on me, like that right there was Church Lady. Every time, who was it? Was it Dana Carvey that did, he was Church Lady? 

Lauren: Oh. I think so?

Matt: Every time he'd be at that little desk, his hands would be - her hands would be - folded and I just got this real sort of, this real big image of Church Lady, but I looked over and you were doing it too. 

Lauren: I - yeah. 

Matt: And I was like, why is that the natural? Is it so that we don't do things with our hands and make noises in the recording? I don’t - 

Lauren: I think that is partially it, yes. Like that is one thing that I've noticed no matter how hard I try, I can always at some point during a recording when I'm going back and editing these, hear my rings clicking against something. So I know that is definitely, but I also, um, have a very distinct memory of my fifth grade teacher challenging me to see how long I could go sitting on my hands so that I wouldn't be like gesticulating while I was talking. And I don't think I made it more than like two minutes into a conversation without just completely,I just couldn't talk without moving my hands around. So maybe that is where it comes in. It's like, I'm trying to - 

Matt: Could be. 

Lauren: Hold in.

Matt: I don't catch myself doing that in any other situations, but for some reason I just caught myself and it immediately reminded me - 

Lauren: That’s fair. 

Matt: - of Church Lady from SNL. 

Lauren: It's also so funny because as soon as - I had no idea where you were going with that, and then as soon as I watched you put your hands together, I looked down and saw mine and was like, oh no. 

Matt: I think maybe also I just don't know what to do with my hands otherwise. Normally if we're not recording, we're probably typing or you know what I mean. I've never thought about it, but I guess… Which also reminds me of that scene out of Talladega Nights where Ricky Bobby's being interviewed after he just won that race and he keeps putting his hands up in front of his face and the interviewer's like, he's like, I don't know what to do with my hands. Like, so I guess I'll just keep ‘em clasped like this. 

Lauren: Well, yeah, I think that's, I think that's all you can do is just sit. Eventually we're going to have to figure this out when we start recording video for these. 

Matt: Yeah, no, absolutely. 

Lauren: We're going to be, people are going to be able to see us when we're doing weird stuff like this. 

Matt: We're going to lose our last five listeners. But maybe we'll gain two watchers. 

Lauren: Well, good luck to those people. Although I do actually, I do want to shout out - this episode topic came from a YouTube comment, so…

Matt: Oh, that’s right. 

Lauren: Shout out to people that are listening to our podcast on YouTube without even having the video element attached to it. 

Matt: It's probably a better thing.

Lauren: Yeah, probably for the best. But they did all miss out on my hot pink Barbie shirt last week.

Matt: Yeah, well, they're missing out on your hot pink Disney sweatshirt right now. 

Lauren: I am also wearing a hot pink sweatshirt today. 

Matt: Which, last week, when I was in California at Disneyland, I went to Downtown Disney. They still have that for sale up in the store and people were still just grabbing it off the racks, so.

Lauren: Oh,  that's great. I got it when we were in Orlando for PodFest and I was very convinced that it was going to sell out immediately and I wasn't going to find it. And I was at World of Disney when it opened at 10 o'clock. It's fine.

Matt: Speaking of super fans…

Lauren: Speaking of super fans, this is the kind of stuff that we'll do. 


Lauren: But I do actually want to talk about, you know, a little bit more specifically how you can actually create super fans. There's a lot of different ways to do it. We're gonna talk about a lot of them. We're probably gonna deviate from the outline that I've created very quickly. We actually already started to, even before we hit record on this episode, we started talking about - Matt called me out for an Instagram post that I made yesterday with my Taylor Swift Tortured Poets Department merch haul, which was excessive. I'm willing to acknowledge that. 

But it did kind of immediately just jumpstart our conversation about turning casual fans into super fans, because one of the things that I started to defend in my choice of having this insane collection of merch that I've purchased for an album that I purchased all this before I even heard the album - was the way that she and her team offered these products. Which is one of the things that I definitely want to talk about in this episode. There were four different variants of this album. Each one had one extra bonus song on it. And she offered for sale on her website a CD and vinyl version of each of these variants that were just the normal versions. And then for a little bit extra money, you could get a collector's edition version of it that came with, in addition to the CDs… and I, yes it is 2024 and I am talking about purchasing CDs. But you could get the CD and with it a patch, a bookmark, a magnet, and art prints. Which is really not, like in the grand scheme of merch. That's not outrageous. Those are all things that are like fairly easy to produce, especially something like the art prints or the bookmarks actually were also probably super easy to produce, but they really added value to the content. And were so valuable to me as a super fan that I wound up buying four different versions of a CD. Again, it is 2024. 

Matt: Do you even have a CD player? 

Lauren: Did I have to buy a CD player? 

Matt: Stop. Just stop. Stop. Pause the recording. You went and bought a CD player. You are part of the tortured super fans department at this point. 

Lauren: Well, yes. 

Matt: Is that an accurate statement? 

Lauren: Yes, that is true. 

Matt: So you went and bought a CD player so that you could play these CDs. Well, I'm proud of you for actually opening the CDs and not keeping them plastic wrapped. 

Lauren: Oh, always. I don't believe in the sanctity of keeping things - like all my Funkos I take out of their boxes and stuff like that. 

Matt: I know, that's a whole other conversation. 

Lauren: Well, fine. 

Matt: Okay. So you bought a CD player so you could listen to the CDs. 

Lauren: I did. 

Matt: From this collection of things that you purchased from this artist because you are a super fan for this artist? 

Lauren: Yes. 

Matt: Okay.


Matt: So. I think that in talking about how you might want to go about turning fans and followers into super fans, you do need to look at and think about things like an expanded product portfolio or some of the other things you can do. So whether you're a first time published author or have published only one book or you have a back catalog of 20, 30, it doesn't matter. Ultimately, to create a super fan, you're going to need more than one thing.

It's rare that you see somebody who garners super fans based off of one thing, one product or one, one album or one book or whatever that might be. I mean, it does happen, but it's rare. So you need to think about what are the other things? You may be in the middle of writing your second book, but in between finishing that book and when it's published, there might be something else you could offer your initial fan base to keep them on the hook there. So whether that's an email out to them to let them know, you know, the second book is coming along great. You appreciate their support. And as a token of that appreciation, you're going to offer them a sneak peek at the first chapter or something like that, right? You can do these things and there's so many of them. We're going to go over a lot of them, but the point is to really start creating super fans, you have to be creating more things. So like we talk about in other episodes, if your goal is to write one book and cash out, this episode isn't for you… 

Lauren: True. 

Matt: As well as a lot of the other episodes we've done. So you're probably not even listening, but just in case you are, you can tune out at this point. But I think most people, especially the ones who really enjoy the craft of writing and or being an author or any of those other types of creative activities, the goal is not to be one and done. The goal is to keep creating and to sustain yourself as a creator, whatever your given medium or format is. You got to create other things. And that starts with the first thing. And then you keep moving on, you know? In the case or the example you just gave, right, there were lots of other things that were in there. These are things that really put somebody over that edge. And we don't often think about that, but getting those extra whatever it was, stickers, pens, poster, whatever, that gives you this extra feeling of, oh man, I got this extra thing from them. They didn't have to do this, but they did. Or there are other things that you now have in your life that are related to that creator that will always remind you of that relationship you have with that creator's work, whether it's their music or their writing or whatever that might be. 

My kids are the same way these days when they buy an album from their favorite artists or whatever, the album also has a poster in it. They're almost just as excited to pull that poster out and put it on the wall as they are to play that record on the record player or - my daughter has a Tyler the Creator record that she just got, and inside it is a poster and there's a big sticker of Tyler the Creator's face, which is now pinned to my daughter's wall and all these cool things. And that is the basis of building fandom, it's the basis of building super fans. Anything you can add into that journey, those extra touch points, I think are what are going to put people over the edge. 

Lauren: I think that's so true and I think that's… I think a lot of people have had that experience where it's like anytime that there's a little something extra offered with something that you were already interested in purchasing, like that's going to be the thing that pushes people over the edge. I did this last week. There's a book coming out in May that I'm really excited for, by one of my favorite authors that I'm a super fan of. I don't like pre-ordering books because I don't like getting books in the mail. I like getting to, like, pick them out in the store and making sure that I get one that's in condition that I really like. So I'm normally very picky about that, but I was gonna buy this book when it came out no matter what. And then this author posted on her Instagram last week that there's a indie bookstore local to her that is doing signed pre-order copies. If you pre-ordered it from them, you can get it signed by her, personalized with your name in it. And they're including - it’s a baseball romance, and they're including in their books that you ordered from that store, you can get, they’re little baseball cards made up with the characters on them. And it was like, it's not anything outrageous. Like, I don't even know if I'm gonna display that anywhere. I might just use them as bookmarks in the book and call it a day. But it was still just that little extra thing that was enough for me to go like, oh, that's cute. If I'm gonna buy the book anyway, I might as well buy it from there and get this little extra bonus thing with it. 

Matt: You know where I'm going with this, right? 

Lauren: Probably. 

Matt: What I'm about to ask. Baseball romance? 

Lauren: Let's not look too deeply into that. 

Matt: Well, okay. 

Lauren: I have tried to be vague about the kind of romance that I read on this podcast. Let's not dig too deeply into that. 

Matt: Baseball romance. All right. 

Lauren: Well, in my defense, only one of the characters is a baseball player. 

Matt: Okay. 

Lauren: The other one is a reporter. 

Matt: Okay. Well. I think your story still resonates. 

Lauren: Thanks. 

Matt: The baseball cards were a nice touch. 

Lauren: Yeah, it's a cute idea. 

Matt: Again, just something extra that adds to the fandom and the hype for the content, but something as simple as a bookmark works or any of those other things. 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Matt: So I think, yeah, the idea is still you need to have other things you need to add to your product portfolio. 


Lauren: I do want to parse this out a little bit, though, because I think we're kind of lumping two things together in this part of the conversation so far, where I think that we need to have a distinction between creating other products and creating other content. Because, yeah. 

Matt: For sure. 100%. Yeah. 

Lauren: Because you're going to need both. And I think that's, I don't want to like skate over that. You do want to create both. That is how you turn casual fans into super fans is by providing them consistently with content and products. You're going to need both for sure. It's not an either or. But I do think that there needs to be a distinction between them. 

So when we're talking about creating additional products, that's mostly for you and for creating additional revenue streams and making sure that there's a reason for people to keep coming back and purchasing from you. Especially with something like books. Books are really only a one time purchase product unless there's a reason to buy a different copy of a book that you already own. 

Matt: Yes. And you just hit the nail on the head or the keyword is reason, right? 

Lauren: Right. 

Matt: So again, if it's an author that you're really fond of, I mean, let's be real. If you've got a super fan like Lauren, you could put out the same book with a new cover once a year and she'd still buy it. 

Lauren: Yes. 

Matt: You could have a whole shelf on your bookshelf dedicated to one book from one author with just 15 different cover variants. 

Lauren: Yes. Absolutely. 

Matt: I've actually done it too. So, you know, I pick on you, but the truth is I definitely have multiple copies of The Shining with different covers, right? I think I have a couple different copies of Jaws with different covers, Dracula, the same thing. So you can create variants, right? 

Lauren: Yes. 

Matt: Or, you know, a special edition hardcover a year after the paperback came out and you will get some of the same buyers for that same book because they're super fans and you've offered now a variant. 

Lauren: Yes, absolutely. So while it's easy to say books are not repeat purchases and that if nothing has changed about it, people aren't generally gonna buy the same book over and over again, if you're looking for a creative way to give your fans new products without giving a brand new book, variance of your book, variance in terms of different cover design, different product format. We’ve talked about this before. If you're an established author that has a fan base of Kindle Unlimited readers that are reading a bunch of your ebooks - are you offering those books in paperback? Are you offering them in hardcover? Are you offering them in audiobook? Do you have other ways for people to purchase your existing products from you? Are you maximizing the number of products that you're offering to people? Little things like that can go a long way in getting new readers interested in you, but also in getting your existing readers a little bit further down the pipeline of being real true fans of yours. 

Matt: Yeah, another easy one too is if your book is heavily laden with graphics, right, depending on your genre, but there's a lot of graphics in it. You can offer the standard paperback version with a standard color printing on the inside, which will still look good, but then you can offer a hardcover version with premium color printing on thicker paper on the inside, you know, and maybe a cover variant too. Like just playing around with those different things will not only give you different products to sell, but different price points as well, right? 

Lauren: Yep. 

Matt: The standard color on a standard paperback, that's gonna give you a much lower price point for those people who might just be checking you out. But then that top of the line hardcover with the embellished dust jacket and then full color premium on the inside on thicker paper would be a higher price point, but you know your super fans are gonna be clamoring for it.

Lauren: Yep, we have a creator that publishes a planner with Lulu every year. She always does these really beautiful planners. They're very bright and colorful and cheerful and she always offers these full color versions every year. And then she also offers black and white versions of them for a little bit lower price point.

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: So.

Matt: That's a good one. Yeah.

Lauren: Yeah. Yeah. It's great idea. You can also, though, offer other types of products. So it's not just offering variants of your book, depending on what kind of content you're writing, what your brand is, what your business is considered notebooks, workbooks. If you're doing something nonfiction and that that would tie in with your content, calendars. 

Matt: That's a big one, right?

Lauren: Calendars? 

Matt: Every year around September we see an influx of calendars created by authors. Sometimes it's easier for the authors that have a lot of graphics in their books or create fantastical worlds or things that they do, but it's very easy to come up with 12 images and create a calendar that all your fans would love and yes people still buy paper calendars. 

Lauren: Yes, they do. 

Matt: So between September and roughly the end of January the amount of calendar projects that come through Lulu and in turn are sold is amazing. Like you would just be floored. 

Lauren: Yeah. If you're - if you're listening to us going paper calendars in 2024? First you're talking about CDs, now you're talking about calendars. Like what year do you guys think it is? We see the sales numbers on those calendar projects that come in. We are telling you people still purchase those. And unlike books, calendars are repeat purchase products. If you put out a new calendar every September, people will buy it every year. 

But also it doesn't have to be something like that. If you have a way to create a fun t-shirt, stickers, art prints I've mentioned already on here, any other kind of print-on-demand product that you can tie in, especially if you're selling direct and you have your own website and it's so easy for you to just have right next to your Lulu Direct plugin tool that's selling your book, other POD plugin tools to have people buy mugs and t-shirts and whatever else they can think of. Those are all different products that you can have on your website that you can offer to fans. 


Lauren: So let's talk a little bit more about selling direct. I don't want to harp on it too much because it's the topic that we've mentioned the most throughout this podcast in terms of the benefits of one of the benefits of selling direct is that it gives you the opportunity to connect with your fans. So I think we've made that point already, but I - we would be remiss in doing a whole episode on how to turn casual fans into true fans without talking about selling direct. 

Matt: Yeah, that's fair. 

Lauren: But I think that when we talk about, and we also just, you know, again, not going to reiterate the entire episode, but literally the episode right before this one. No, I lied. The episode two before this one. So episode number 22 was on the value of customer data and how to use customer data to connect with your fans and sell more content. Yes. 

Matt: No, it actually was the last one before this. 

Lauren: No, it wasn't. 

Matt: Are you sure? 

Lauren: Yeah. The one on attending events is going to come out before this one. 

Matt: Oh, that's right. 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Matt: Okay. Sorry. 

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: I just listened to the one that we did on data. 

Lauren: Right. 

Matt: Sorry. 

Lauren: Yeah. This is, we are recording a couple episodes in advance because Matt and I are going to be in Cleveland in two weeks, I think. Next week. I don't know. Time isn't real. But at some point in the next couple of weeks, Matt and I are gonna be in Cleveland for CEX. We're recording our episodes a little bit ahead of time right now, so we're very confused. But if you wanna learn more about collecting customer data and how that's useful for connecting with your customers, go ahead and listen to that episode. But the point of it is that having that opportunity to connect with your fans is one of the ways that you're going to be able to take casual one-time purchasers that came to your website, bought your book, and then left, turn them into loyal, true super fans of yours. 

Matt: Yeah, and I guess to be fair, just in case you don't wanna go back and listen to other episodes and you somehow stumbled across this one, we're basically talking about the tried and true 1,000 True Fans Theory from Kevin Kelly's article. To this day, it's still popular. Jack Conte, the CEO and founder of Patreon, just talked about it a lot in his keynote at South by Southwest this year. It's still a big thing, and the general premise is that the way to sustain the future of creators and ecommerce is through direct relationships and, again where possible, taking control of that relationship between you and your fans that you can create super fans that will help sustain you and your brand or business for years to come. 

Yes, this is all based loosely around that 1,000 True Fans Theory and some of the other things that are obviously trending right now in the world of authors and creators and in general anybody who creates something, some sort of content for fans or followers.

Lauren: Yeah, yeah, that's true. Just to, I guess, summarize that and add to it. I think the important part that we're talking about with the selling direct and connecting with those fans is the part where you're owning the customer journey and it's giving you that opportunity to connect with them in a way that you've customized and in a way that gives you the opportunity to say like, hey, I'm here for you. I'm not somebody that you just purchased a book from and now you're going to go away forever. I’m here to provide consistent content, community, products, expertise, information, whatever it is that you feel like you can offer people. And like, that's where you're coming in with that.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Is through these direct connections that you're fostering with customers, whatever, on your website. That's why when we talk about selling direct and we say like one of the biggest benefits of selling direct is that it gives you the opportunity to connect directly with your fans is because it gives you that opportunity to grow those connections with your fans and to create these unique journeys with your customers that you can say like, hey, here's what I have to offer. Here's how I can help you, stick around, spend more time with me and I will keep consistently offering this content that will help you. 


Lauren: So let's talk a little bit about that because like I said when I was saying earlier that we kind of have to differentiate between adding variety of products and creating consistent content.

Matt: Right. 

Lauren: So let's talk a little bit about that idea of creating consistent content and adding value and providing value to these people that are coming to your website or your social media channels or your blog or wherever it is that you are fostering these connections and making these connections with fans and how to go about making those long term relationships.

Matt: Yeah, and also be very clear about the value that you add. So as a fiction author, oftentimes the value you're adding is almost purely entertainment value, right? 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Matt: You're writing content and stories that are helping people leave whatever is troubling them at the time behind and get immersed in your stories and give them this entertainment value and this feel-good value, whether you write romance or horror, it doesn't matter. For nonfiction, obviously the value you add is slightly different. In many cases, you're providing an education on a particular topic or something along those lines. Your expertise lends itself to the value that you're going to be adding through the content you add. So keep in mind when we say add value and we start talking about some of these points around the content that you put out, whether it's in book form or your social media or those other things that everybody has value to add. Just understanding what type of value you're adding is going to be critical to adding more fans to your roster. 

Lauren: Yeah. Ask yourself questions specifically about what kind of value you can add for your fans. There has to be something unique that you can provide them that gives them a reason to want to stick around. So ask yourself questions about what you want them to do. Do you want them to subscribe to your email list? If that's the action you want them to take, is you want them to subscribe to your email list and that's how you're going to grow and foster that relationship, then what can you provide in your email that will have them opening your email consistently every week or every month or every quarter, however often you're doing it? What can you provide them that they're gonna want to open your email, that they're gonna click through it, they're gonna read it, they're gonna wanna stay on your email list. They might even forward it to friends of theirs and say like, hey, look at this book recommendation I got in this, this looks really cool, I'm excited to read it, I think you'd like it too, you should check it out. Ask yourself what your goals for your fans are, ask yourself how you can get them to perform that action that you want them to perform. What can you do to motivate them to do that in the first place? You know, using that same example, if you want them to sign up for your mailing list, why should they? What can you provide them with immediately to encourage them to sign up for your newsletter?

I've talked about this on the podcast before, for fiction authors - every fiction author that I've ever signed up for their newsletter, it's been because they've offered me bonus content for a book that I liked. Whether it was a scene that didn't make the final draft of the book, but they wanted to share it anyway, or a little bonus epilogue that just reaffirms for me that my beloved characters are living happily ever after, or a sneak peek at a future book to come or something like that. That's always the thing that gets me to sign up for fiction author newsletters. 

The thing that keeps me sticking around in there, updates on their future books, updates on what they're working on, if there's anything. Maybe my book was optioned for a movie, or maybe I'm toying with the idea of working with another author to bring more content in this world that combines two of our worlds together or something. And book recs, those are always, there are a few authors that I specifically open their newsletters to see what books they're reading and recommending right now. 

Matt: The recommendations for sure, I'm definitely with you on that. And the other stuff too, it's always fun to see behind the scenes, you know, for a particular author or somebody, musician, whoever you're, you're a fan of, I think some people would push back and say, well, I'm not totally comfortable providing some of that content or putting some of that out there. And that's okay too. 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Matt: In that instance, what I would say is just turn it back on your fans and ask questions and let them provide the content. And that's also a great way to start building some community around you, your brand, your content, by having fans come together and ask you questions or talk to you about things and make it more of an actual conversation instead of you just talking at them and informing them of things going on in your life. 

If you're one of those who are not super comfortable with talking about everything that's going on or even something, that's okay. You know, ask them questions. What were their thoughts on a particular character's downward spiral in the last, you know, whatever, whatever. I mean, anything that you really want to do to not only solicit some feedback on your work, but just get a conversation going so that you don't have to necessarily be the center or the focus. And in fact, any successful community does not have one person in the center or at the top talking to everybody else. It's just one big circle of everybody communicating. So anything you can do to sort of reposition yourself as not always the center or focus and draw people in, that only strengthens your community and helps to build it. 

Lauren: Yeah, absolutely. Think about any time that you've ever interacted with… I don't want to say a celebrity because that's not even, that's not even correct. But think about any time that you've ever interacted with somebody that you admire on social media. I've been working in situations where I've spoken directly with authors for like… I've been in this industry for over a decade at this point. I've met so many authors. My childhood favorite author was one of my college professors. Like, this is not new for me, but like I still -

Matt: Nerd alert.

Lauren: Yes, thank you. I still, any time that I tweet at an author that I like and they reply to it, I kick my feet like a schoolgirl. Like I am, that is just the most exciting thing that could possibly happen to me. If I try to interact with somebody that I'm a fan of on social media and they actually respond to it, that is just absolutely thrilling. And I know I'm not alone in that experience. I know I'm not the only person that has ever had that experience and gotten excited. And if that’s a little something that you can do, that will just - that'll buy you that much more goodwill from a fan. If a fan liked your book enough to post an Instagram comment or story or tweet at you or something and say like, hey, I really liked this and you reply to it. You just got that much more… 

Matt: Yep. 

Lauren: You just grew that much more in their eyes. 

Matt: Yeah. 100%

Lauren: Which is great. And it's an easy way to like just kind of foster that community and be like, hey we're, we're having a conversation. This isn't a void. We're all, we're all here together. We're having a conversation. We're having a good time in this community. 

Matt: Yeah. And it really is funny when you stop and think about it, just how easy it is to make a fan happy. You know what I mean? It's not like you're trying to convert a hater. That's hard. That's almost pointless, to be honest with you.

Lauren: It is pointless. I would say don't waste your time. 

Matt: Yeah. I mean, that's a whole other argument, but still. To make somebody happy, that's already a fan and even potentially push them that closer to being a super fan. If they're not already, it is so easy. Like you said, something as simple as liking one of their posts - 

Lauren: Yep. 

Matt: Or acknowledging a comment they made, or you know again, at an event, taking the extra time to not only sign their book, but just, how's your day going? Or whatever, I mean, whatever it is, like those tiny little things, I think fans pick up on that. 

Lauren: Yes. 

Matt: Whereas the average person would not. And you might not think it's that big of a deal, but never taking for granted the level of influence and or… I don't want to use any other word. I'll just say influence that you might have over your fan base, I think it helps you sort of get past that hurdle of getting started towards building a fan base. 

Lauren: I think about that a lot with small businesses like Etsy purchases and stuff like that. One of the greatest things that I think any small business creator can do is include a thank you note in any kind of product mailing that they're sending out, if they can. I have that happen all the time where I'll order something on Etsy and then stuck in the package with whatever else I ordered is a little handwritten note that says thanks for your order, really appreciate it. I always think that's such a nice little touch. And it makes me that much more likely to go and leave a positive review on the product, and also probably go back to that person's store again, because clearly they care enough about their products and what they're doing to add that little extra value in there. And that is always going to make me that much more likely to return and go back to them. 

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. Those little things, they just, they go a really long way. 


Lauren: Yeah. I'm realizing as I'm saying this, that a lot of this sounds like work. A lot of this. 

Matt: Well, some of it is, but that's okay. 

Lauren: Well, yes. But you know, a lot of what we're saying right now - if you're listening to this with the mentality of I want a, like, set it and forget it kind of flow that I can put into place that's going to encourage people to become fans of mine. I don't… I don't know if I can really encourage that. I don't know if I can really say that that's going to work for you. I mean, there are some things you can do if you want to do like, a thank you email series, or a welcome email series, things that are going to foster some more communication with people once they've signed up for your newsletter, once they've made a purchase from your store. Like some of those things are things that you can automate, but a lot of these things, a lot of the efforts that you're going to have to make to create organic relationships with fans are efforts that you're going to have to make. 

Matt: That's right. So yes, there are automated things that you can put in place to compliment the other stuff and you should do that. We've talked about this in other episodes, having things like automated email campaigns and things like that. You should 100% be doing those things of course, but the best marketing values human impressions over digital impressions. We talk about this all the time. And so while the digital stuff can help and these tools can help by automating certain things, nothing will ever garner as much results and success as taking a more human approach to the way that you market and interact with your fan base. So yeah, there's some work involved for sure. 

Lauren: It's also, I would look at it as an investment. It's an investment into your business that - because having super fans is what helps your business one stay in business and two grow. I mean, how many times have I said the name the Lost Bros on this podcast that is not about Disney or custom T-shirts or any of the other pop culture things that they've talked about? I am fully an advocate for this brand that has never given me any particular reason to be, except for the fact that they've done the work to turn me into a super fan. And now I am. When people compliment their shirts when I'm out wearing them, I say, oh, my god, yeah, I got this from this brand that I love. They do a bunch of shirts like this. They have turned me into a super fan and now I promote their brand and I create content. And when I go to Disney and I'm wearing one of their t-shirts and I post a picture on my Instagram of me in a t-shirt, I tag them in it. I'm creating social content for them. I'm talking them up. I'm doing whatever. Like you're investing in fans that are going to start taking on your work for you. 

Matt: You have to, right? 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Matt: That's the only way to really scale and build as an individual author or creator. You don't have the marketing budget and the staff and manpower that actual large brands and businesses do, but this is also the best way to do it. So again, word of mouth, being very human centric in your approach to marketing your brand, having others do the work for you because that's what a super fan does. Like you just said, so that really is the only way to scale and build and grow your fan base in a way that is efficient and is not going to send you straight to the poor house or the crazy house. 

Lauren: Well. Maybe debatable. But yes, I think that's the point is that if you're looking at this and you're going, oh, this sounds like a lot of work, think of it as a long-term investment, that it's something that you are putting in to help grow and scale your business. And if you put in the work now, like so many other things with self-publishing, if you put in the work in the early stages, the long-term impacts will just continue to grow. 

Matt: Definitely. 


Matt: So we were talking about building a fan base and things like that. And we've used the word community a few times. And I think some people might have a little bit of aversion to the word or the concept of community or, um, and then others try to embrace it. And community can mean a lot of different things, but I think ultimately the most important thing is that however you do it, whatever your goals are, you do need to foster at least a sense of community amongst your fan base. Give them a reason to connect with each other and not just connect to you. Because again, you know, and we'll take your example, Taylor Swift, whatever, has done such a great job of not only the way that she's sort of reinvented her approach to her fans, but positioning her fans as the center of everything that she does. And that allows those fans to connect. And so that's why you have all these crazy things related to quote unquote Swifties, or you know, that's why they become the butt of a lot of memes or jokes. But at the end of the day, it's such a large, powerful force of fans that feel not only a connection to Taylor Swift, but to each other. 

Lauren: I think that is such an important detail. And it's something that I thought and talked a lot about this weekend specifically because of this album release is that, that idea of creating. Yes, we're all fans of Taylor Swift. Great. But like she's created this community of fans that exists without her. It exists separately from her in a lot of ways. And that's one of the really cool things about that. And I think that's a really fun thing to look at with any kind of… I think. I mean, that's why I love being a fangirl of so many different things. 

I also watch Survivor every week. That is something that I have a community within that community that is all friends that watch Survivor and we all talk about it every week. And we all became friends because we were fans of Survivor that were on the internet looking for people to talk to about the episodes that we watched every week. And that's a really cool way - like, Survivor had enough Jeff Probst didn't create this community of people that are fans of Survivor. We all kind of are independent of that entirely, but that is like kind of the ultimate goal. I think of any creator is to foster a community where your people are saying, like we're such a big fan of, of what you're doing here. We're connecting with each other about this, and we're supporting each other, and we're talking to each other, and we're helping each other grow, and we're doing all that through your community that you've created. 

Obviously, you know, if it's… as an author specifically, I would say you are not interested in the type of community where you're no longer a part of it. I don't think you'd wanna go that separate. But I do think that the goal for any author that wants to build a long-term dedicated fan base should absolutely be to have a community of fans that exist around you. It's not just you talking to people with no response from them, but rather a fully circular community where you are one member in it and everyone is a part of the conversation that is happening in there. 

Matt: Yeah, 100%. What are some of the things authors and creators can do to encourage community to make sure that - and it takes time, by the way, to build a sense of community, an actual community, if that's what you're after as well - 

Lauren: Sure.

Matt: Like an actual destination or place. But what are some of the things we can give our listeners that can help them in this effort? 

Lauren: I think one way that a lot of people find success with that is just starting by sharing the stories that they get from their fans and customers. It's always nice to hear like a brand's behind the brand story or about us story or whatever. But I think there's so much more powerful is to hear a customer's story and hear like, this is how your brand helped me do this, that and the other thing. And this is how I've grown from it. And this is how I've changed from, this is how I've learned from it, whatever, whether we're talking about fiction or nonfiction books, these are both I think applicable to both. So having those things where, where you should - it's beyond a testimonial or review. I'm not talking about like a three sentence, this book changed my life. Yay. Go me. But like giving your fans a spotlight a little bit, and giving them the opportunity to say like, hey, this is, this is something that really helped me in a lot of ways. Let me talk a little bit about it. Let me share my story. I think that's a really great way to both bring new fans into your community because, you know, you're getting people to look at this and say like, oh, hey, this helped this person. Maybe it'll help me too. But also to kind of reward your loyal and existing fans, because I think everybody likes that little moment where they realize oh, I shared this exciting thing that happened to me and the person that made that happen liked it. Or, you know, like I was saying with any time that I tweet at an author and they like or respond to it, I get giddy about it. It's nice to have that little serotonin boost of, oh, yeah, I reached out to an author to tell them how much their book meant to me, and they replied to me and said they were really glad it meant so much to me. And then shared or asked me permission to share my review in their newsletter, and did, and now other people are sharing their reviews too. And like that's exciting. That's generally a thing that sparks joy. So I think that's a great way work on that community building. 

Matt: Yeah, for sure. And then there's the element of exclusivity that comes, right? Being a part of a community, whether that's just a, again, an idea or an ethos, a concept of a community whereby, you know, we talk about fans just being connected through the fact that they're fans. But also have any physical space or digital space whatever that might be, for fans to be and hang out and be a part of. If there's any way to create some exclusivity, that is just another way to create more super fans from regular fans. And so feeling like they're getting again, something that's extra and more exclusive and using a platform like Circle or some of the others where you can actually create a community or, you know, there's a lot of Discord channels out there that are communities for certain authors and musicians and artists and whatever that might be. So, you know, experimenting with creating an actual place. 

I hate to actually promote it, but you could even do something like a Facebook group, which a lot of people do. I only say I hate to promote it because I hate Facebook, but nonetheless. 

Lauren: Fair. 

Matt: Creating a space, you know, even if it's a LinkedIn group, if you do nonfiction, there's tons of LinkedIn groups, right, that deal with whatever topic it is that you create content for or things like that. People love to belong to things, to groups, to places, to clubs, to organizations. And so if you can create some exclusivity and give somebody a place to feel like they belong, where they can discuss a common love or interest with other people, I think, you know, that's another great way to continue building your super fan base. 

Lauren. Yeah. I know we talk a lot about the idea of not building on rented land whenever possible, but also, like, do understand that with something like building a community, you might have to start by building on rented land. Like Matt said with a Facebook group or a LinkedIn group or something like that. If that’s how you start building your community you can always figure out ways to move it off of that platform later.

Matt: Agree. 

Lauren: We gotta figure out ways to make this work. We can sit here and talk about how important it is to own your own customer data and customer information and community building, but also, like, there’s a reason these platforms are so popular.

And realistically, I've seen a lot - I've seen this happen, because I've been through the rise and fall of different social platforms. If you build a strong enough community, if you build a community of people that actually like, come to rely on that community, in the event that the ship starts to sink they will figure out ways - 

Matt: Yep.

Lauren: To move that community elsewhere.

Matt: That’s right.

Lauren: I've watched it happen on platforms before where people have said like, oh no, this is collapsing out from underneath us. Okay, everyone, we're gonna move over here. We're gonna make a coordinated move over here instead. If you wanna stay a part of this group, come with us. Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: It'll happen. 

Matt: And that's how you know you've achieved it too, right? 

Lauren: Absolutely it is. 

Matt: When you have to do so much less work and they just on their own are like, wait, what? Discord's gonna shut this group down? Nope, not on our watch. We're going to move this over here. Everybody that wants to be a part of this, come over here, or your example. Again, however that plays out, the point is they're taking it upon themselves because they get so much value out of belonging to that group or that community or whatever that is that they're vehemently against anything that might interrupt that or remove that from their, their space. 

Lauren: Yep. Which brings us back to the point of figure out what value you can add to your fans, to your community, whether that's individually to your fans in newsletter content or to a community as a whole, figure out what value you can bring and what will make them want to keep coming back over and over again. And that is probably the real answer to how to turn casual fans into super fans: 

Matt: Agreed. 

Lauren: Provide valuable content that will keep them coming back for more.

Matt: Definitely. 

Lauren: Well, that feels like a great place to end it. And also because I'm hungry and I can't order lunch and talk at the same time.

Matt: All right. Well, hopefully you got some value out of this. 

Lauren: Hopefully. 

Matt: And you've learned a little bit more about how to potentially turn fans and followers into super fans. If you have any thoughts, suggestions, dislikes, criticisms, or you just want to tell us to stop talking about Taylor Swift and Disney - 

Lauren No. 

Matt: You can email us at Obviously, this podcast is brought to you by, so - 

Lauren: And also, obviously from this episode, somebody asked a question in a comment on one of our episodes, they said, hey, could you talk more about this? And we did a whole episode on it.

Matt: Yep.

Lauren: So if you think that we're kidding by saying, you know, we want to hear from you and we want to answer your questions or talk more about the things that you want us to talk more about, clearly we're not kidding. So reach out, leave us comments, send us an email, let us know what you want to hear more about, and we'll be happy to talk more about it. 

Matt: Sounds good. 

Lauren: All right. Thanks for listening, everyone.