There are times that I really wish I had a following. You know, an active blog and an email list of thousands. This past Wednesday night was one of those times. I received an email from Tim Ferriss. The email was of his most recent blog post explaining yet another really cool contest that could win you some one-on-one time either in San Francisco or some other part of the world. Five days in Tuscany with Tim Ferriss anyone?
Since his new book, The 4-Hour Chef, was being boycotted by thousands of bookstores, including Barnes & Nobles, he was creating a stint to have his extensive following open up their own “bookstores” online and sell his book themselves. The concept was simple and had a charitable component, which always seems to create further incentive for people to buy. All you had to do was to drive friends, family and as many other people as possible to your fan page created through Rally.org. The real kicker: the contest only lasted two days, one of which included Thanksgiving day where most people sit around in a coma-like state after eating way too much food.
Now, did I want to win this contest? Heck yeah! The problem was I saw this challenge as being impossible without having an engaged following or a large community in which I had influence. If I were to create content to drive traffic it would likely take months before it even had a chance to rank on Google’s first page. I thought about using Adwords, but that could cost a decent amount of money and I saw two days as being too little time to drive adequate amounts of traffic anyway. That leaves Facebook, but again influence and the number of friends you have plays a big factor. Could 250 loose-connection friends get you to a minimum sold number of 250 books to even place in the contest? I find it unlikely.
It is possible I am falling ill to what Tim Ferriss talks about in his first book, The 4-Hour Workweek, where not one of twenty Princeton University students succeed in his challenge of contacting three celebrities and getting at least one to answer three questions. The problem was that they all viewed the challenge as hard, maybe impossible, and therefore, didn’t even try. Tim goes on to talk about how “doing the unrealistic is easier than doing the realistic.”
I still dig my heels in on the idea that I could not have succeeded without an established following of let’s say a minimum of 2,500 people. Now, if I did have that kind of following, when I got that email Wednesday night, all I would have had to do is send out an email or post to my blog sharing the contest I was partaking in and the awesome experience I have had with Tim Ferriss’ other books and content. Assuming I had built a relationship with this community and they trusted me, winning this contest would have been beyond easy. I too could have sat in my food-induced coma on Thanksgiving while also ensuring my upcoming date with Tim Ferriss.
It will be interesting to see how the contest turns out and if anyone actually wins any of the top three prizes. As of today, Friday, November 23, at 3:34 EST, the top contestant has only sold 20 books. In order to win second or third place and have Tim Ferriss time, you have to sell at least 250 books. To place first, you have to sell at least 500. I’m guessing most of the contestants don’t have a large enough sphere of influence and are solely using close friends and family for sales.
In writing this, I’m struck with the idea that one could actually overcome the challenge of not having a following by borrowing someone else’s, but the question quickly becomes “but who’s?” The people who come to mind: Chris Guillebeau of The Art of Non-Conformity, Adam Baker from Man VS. Debt, and Gretchin Rubin from The Happiness Project, but jeez, it’s not like any of these people are actually my friends. I’m just a subscriber of their blogs. What would give them or any other influential blog writers incentive to actually help promote my fan page for me to win some time with Tim Ferriss? Once again, another challenging question is presented.
At the end of the day, it’s clear there is a lot of value in creating a sizable blog following, email list and influential friends online. Loosing another chance to win one of Tim Ferriss’ kick-ass contest serves as just one more reminder to keep writing content and to expand my online affiliations.
One day Tim Ferriss, I will meet you and I will win one of your awesome contests. Until then, thank you for yet another hard kick in the ass.