Sunday, June 14, 2009

Blog Contest

Don't get all excited. I'm not holding one ... not right now anyway.

Though, I do have one brewing in this beautiful brain of mine.

What am going to tell you is HOW to hold a blog contest. Or at least things to keep in mind / the way I do it. This blog post idea stems from what I think qualifies as an unfair win by someone in a blog contest I recently entered. I had to write a post and link back - which has now been deleted because I don't want those fools getting any links from ME. Anyway, a blog contest is a great way to increase readers to your blog - hopefully ones that will come back! I also like them because I tend to find good blogs to read myself - because I usually pay a visit back to anyone that enters my contest.

Blog Contest How To:

Give something away.
I recommend some thing that people want. Lets face it. No one is going to want that white elephant gift you received last Christmas. Save it for the garage sale - and when it doesn't sell... throw it away or give it to charity!

Now there are certain ways to get items to give away. Some people use the money they get from advertising on their blogs to fund their contests, and some just pull the money out of their own pockets. Another good way to get something to give away is by talking a company to give you a product to review/give away... or offer advertising in exchange for something to give away. Which is what I did for this previous contest.

It is also important to take a snap shot of what you are giving away - that way people know what they are getting themselves it to - plus it will make people want it more.

Tie It In
Now this isn't mandatory but I like to tie my contests into my blog some how. It just seems to make more sense. For example the swag bag giveaway tied into my blog nicely because at the time I was constantly writing geocaching posts and a lot of geocachers were coming to my blog. The Best Buy contest celebrated a milestone on my blog (sort of). Again this isn't mandatory for a contest, but it just goes with the flow if you have a reason or explanation for giving something away.

Decide Who is Eligible
Can people outside your country win? Meaning - are you willing to ship whatever you are giving away internationally? Is this the type of contest where anyone can enter? Or do you have to be a blogger, or member? These are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself and make clear in your blog post. Clarifying will keep everyone happy - no one likes put effort into entering a contest hoping they are eligible, but not knowing for sure. Personally, I don't care if you are a blogger or not - and I will ship to anywhere. I tend to state that somewhere on the contest some people are not discouraged.

Decide who is not Eligible
Awarding prizes to family and blog contributors, in my opinion is in poor taste. This is a problem I actually ran into in a contest I recently entered. Sure the person had nothing to do with the contest - but in a subjective contest, I can not help but feel favoritism played a part. The person who held the contest read her entry with previous knowledge about the person - as she was a contributor to the SAME blog that was holding the contest. Even if the decision was a random draw I probably still would have been upset. My point is, it wasn't about who should have won (it certainly wasn't me), but more about who shouldn't have won. It's just shady.

So moral of the story make clear in your contest that no family or contributors are eligible. I always do this on my contest posts so my readers don't feel like they are being cheated. It lets people know upfront that you are holding a fair contest.

Enter
This step and the next can be done in any way you would like. I just want to stress how important it is to be CLEAR with your instructions. I personally like to have one way to enter the contest, and then ways to earn EXTRA entries. Entry could be as simple as having people who wish to enter leave a comment. Leaving a comment is something anyone can do (depending on your comment settings). If you want them to visit another site first and come back and comment with a certain word or something they saw that is fine to - again anyone can comment so you won't be limiting yourself.

Enter Example:

To enter your name in the drawing you MUST:

*Leave a comment to this post telling me what you would do with this SWAG bag. Yes it is that simple!


Additional Entries
After someone enters the contest, I usually then give them the opportunity for additional entries. Again, these can be done however you like - just be clear. Usually I like to give at least 3 ways people can earn extra entries. You can have them twitter a link back to you, have them link to you on their blog, have them subscribe to your blog ... or whatever else you can think of! I usually like to think of things that you can double check - I always make it a point to make sure people actually DO what they say. I also have people comment to tell me they did these things - otherwise you won't know!

Additional Entries Example:
To earn extra entries in the drawing you can do any or all of the following:
Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each of these the entries to count.

*Twitter about this contest. You must link back to my blog and mention a contest in the tweet.
To make it easy you can use the following if you would like:
"Check it out @airrikajswan is holding a blog contest! www.erikajean.com #geocaching Hurry! It Ends April 23rd."

*Subscribe to this blog, and tell me what method of subscribing you chose. If you are already a subscriber please tell me the method of subscribing you use - and you will earn this extra entry as well.

*Blog about this contest on your blog! You must link back to my blog and mention a contest in the post.


Deadline
Make a deadline for you contest and clearly state the date. You will also want to make a time cut off as well. Midnight in Arizona is not the same as midnight in Ohio. If possible specify time zone. It wouldn't be fair to give someone on the west coast a few more hours to get those entries in! Oh yeah. Adhere to your deadline!

Picking a Winner
Picking a winner is the most important part. In your contest rules, please state HOW the winner will be determined. Random by far is the best in my opinion. More people are willing to enter a contest with a random winner - if I was being judged on my writing or answer to a question I would be WAY more hesitant on entering something. However there is no shame in that kind of contest - just make it clear that you will be judging and selecting. In my book - it is important to document the picking of the winner if you are doing a random drawing. If you are using some type of random generator on the internet - you can take a screen shot. This again proves, the best way that you can, a fair contest. If you are picking out of a hat - you could take a picture or make a video.

WHEN is just as important as how. In your contest announcement, be sure to say WHEN the winner will be picked and announced. You also should state if the winner will be announced on the blog - or contacted by e-mail. I always opt for a winner announcement post, followed by an e-mail to the person if they don't end up seeing the post in a day or so ;-) An announcement shows your readers that you actually are giving something away to someone! If you don't announce a winner - I'm assuming you are keeping the goods and just wanted blog traffic >:-(

Sticky!
Make your contest post a sticky post. Meaning it is at the top of your blog until the contest is over. In Blogger it is as simple as changing the post date after posting it. Making the contest a sticky post will allow people to see it right away when coming to your blog. Be sure to put a notice on the post so people will read new posts below.

Sticky Example:

*STICKY POST*MORE POSTS BELOW*

I hope that was informative in some way!
The End.


_____________________________________ This is a scheduled post. Originally written 6/9/09

3 comments:

  1. great info... i have to hold another contests sometime soon again.

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  2. Ugh, that sounds frustrating with the other contest. :(

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  3. Great informative post. I'm bookmarking it for future reference. I'm not really the type that enters or offers contests/giveaways but you almost made me consider it! You never know -- maybe someday...

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