Personally, I'd be quite happy if I only ever had a small following - so long as they have taste!
Some creative types simply don't have taste, visual taste, and are ignorant or disinterested in the work of others and the broader arts. They might have the 'urge to create', they might be productive, but I think everyone agrees that's not enough. You can make a prediction about potential here I think, mostly based on that personality type - the comfort they find in simple productivity and validation - it really is like a child with crayons. I won't mention her name, but there is a popular photographer on Flickr, whose work still has the same tremendous following, but hasn't matured at all in the 4 years since I left that website. It's quite odd really, considering she clearly did have a natural artistic soul and showed promise to begin with. It's also strange to recognise that I loved a few photographers on Flickr when I started out, but now see much of it as naive, visually illiterate even, as my tastes and knowledge of the art have developed. Some people clearly don't move beyond 'the Flickr stage', shall we call it. They will never be serious photographic artists.
I'll say that I've had encouragement from talented artists, but I still think "what do they know?". Because they've only seen what I've done, rather than what I *think* I'm capable of! I won't say that mentality separates the creatives from the artists, but I am surprised how many don't harbour that need to keep pushing to new heights. But desperation can set in when the summit is always obscured by fog, and sometimes you have no choice but to set up camp for a while! That's where I'm at. The clear headed comments here have helped me recognise this. I'll probably head back to basecamp if it doesn't clear, but I'll say I have seen glimpses, which is why I keep going.
Please watch this to understand.
(and oh, it's Yosemite in the video too! Quite aptly )