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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Six Figure Writers and my $125K challenge...

An anonymous commenter here led me to the AllFreelancing forum. The forum is a part of the "Six Figure Writers" project.

A group of five individual writers have all decided to do their damnedest to earn $100K each from writing-related projects in 2007--their "Six Figure Challenge." They have a blog, the forum, a MySpace page, press releases and information, etc. It looks like a well-organized and committed effort to improve the participants' individual earnings while supplying other writers and would-be writers with potentially valuable information.

The comment at this blog zeroed in on a discussion at the forum involving the genesis of the Six Figure Writers project. Apparently, someone contacted a member of "6FW" and indicated that they believed the effort was a rip-off of my own "$125K Challenge."

That accusation, understandably, wasn't well-received by some of the folks at 6FW. I took a moment to stop by and offer my position on that claim, which resulted in what I'd consider a fairly pleasant and valuable exchange. You can read the whole thread here, but let me offer a summary of my position.

When I wrote the "Six Figure Me?" post in August, I indicated a goal of earning $100K in a year with Content Done Better. I later changed the "$100K Challenge" to $125K for tracking and other reasons. Although I didn't just pull that number and approach out of thin air, I certainly don't hold intellectual property rights to the idea of making $100K a year. That made sense to me because (a) it seemed like a good number with respect to my own financial objectives and (b) it is a commonly used benchmark that people perceive as evidence of "success" in financial terms.

If you do a little digging, you will find other people who have written books, etc. about being a "six figure writer" or "earning $100,000" before. As creative as I'd like to think I am, I wasn't the first person to think $100K seemed like a good idea. Nor, as the 6FW project demonstrates, will I be the last.

I have no reason to believe anyone was trying to "steal my thunder" or "rip off" my personal $125K challenge.

I happened to post about my plan a few months before they did. It could have just as easily happened the other way around.

As far as I am concerned, it's nothing more than a coincidence.

That isn't all it is, however. It's also great. I think it's wonderful that other writers are going on record with their goals and making an effort to show others that "it can be done."

It's also great because the forum thread I discovered and the subsequent conversation about our two challenges encouraged me to take a closer look at how I'm presenting my $125K challenge and how I might make it more meaningful for those with an interest in it.

There seemed to be some perception that I was using the public challenge, etc. primarily as a means of self-promotion and "bragging." I was actually a little bit offended by that perception, because I don't really feel that's what it's all about (though I am no stranger to shameless self-promotion).

After reading that critique, however, I realized that the information at this blog relating to the challenge could lend itself to that argument. I've commented on the challenge at a variety of blogs that have mentioned it, in an interview with Laura Spencer, and in a slew of non-published emails. I think that the whole body of discussion related to the challenge paints a clearer picture of what it means to me than do the few posts here at the Content Done Better Blog. I can't expect anyone to do the "leg work" to determine that, however.

So, I want to take a second to discuss both my original motivations and my hopes for my own $125K challenge--and to let you know how my interaction with the 6FW people has convinced me to publicly approach it differently.

I started the challenge for a few reasons. First, I wanted to make $100K+. Second, I wanted to create a degree of public accountability in order to push me toward that goal.

Then, the idea received some attention and I realized there was more to it than that. From a selfish perspective, I realized it was a potential marketing and branding opportunity. I also appreciated the support and encouragement--that was inspiring.

I also quickly realized that what I was doing might have an impact on others. I read blog posts from other writers and received emails from them discussing how that decision to publicly announce and track my objectives helped inspire them to set their own goals and to develop their own plans (some of which even went well beyond the realm of writing and finances).

I also found that people weren't just watching what I was doing out of curiosity or to root for/against me, but to learn more about how they could reach their own writing business objectives.

Don't get me wrong, the $125K Challenge hasn't gone completely altruistic here... I still want the earnings, love the attention, want to take advantage of the marketing aspect of the project, etc. However, it does have value to me beyond those more self-serving elements.

I'd like those who track the challenge to be able to get something out of it, too.

And that is where, as Sam Cooke might croon, "a change is gonna come."

I'm marching on with the $125K challenge and will still update the tracker. I will keep those who are interested posted on how things are going. I will be doing a little more, too...

I am going to make a conscious commitment to provide those interested in the whole thing with a better rundown of what I am actually doing to meet that goal, which strategies seem to work, and which efforts fell short. If the $125K Challenge has appeared like an advertising technique instead of an aspect of an ongoing dialog about the online writing industry, it's because I probably haven't made enough of an effort to do that.