Clients, Customers, and Fans
The ‘client’ is associated with professional agencies and firms who maintain ongoing, tailored professional services. We think of a customer as someone who walks in to a business, buys something, and walks out.
An successful internet business attempts to have it’s cake and eat it too – forge a long-term financial relationship without the expensive one-on-one communication between staff and customers (usually reserved for when something goes wrong).
They’re not clients, but they’re more than customers. A better reference point might be a successful musician who sells to millions of devoted fans she’s never going to meet.
Fans are the best types of customers. They’ll buy (or at least consume) everything you release. They’ll talk about you, they’ll blog about you, they’ll wear your t-shirts. They don’t need to be pandered or pleaded too. The best fans want to be challenged by you. Aim for fans. Not clients, not customers, and definitely not users.