How to Run a Successful Blog Contest

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Looking for ways to get new readers or increase engagement with your blog? A contest might just be the thing you are looking for. But before you go running to post one, take some time beforehand to think it through to make sure your hard work pays off in the long run.

Step 1: Set a goal.

Ultimately, what are you looking for from this contest? An increase in traffic is a great goal, but you also want people to come back for more in the future, so consider setting another goal, such as:

Newsletter Subscribers
RSS Subscribers
Social Network Followers
Product Sales

Before you start the contest, take a note of how many subscribers, followers, sales, comments, etc, that you currently have, so you can clearly see the impact your contest had once it is over.

Step 2: Find a Partner or a Sponsor.

What better way to find new readers than to make use of someone else’s list? You can find someone who is not a competitor but in a related niche and work together by cross-promoting. Or you can find a sponsor who can donate a prize and may also be able to assist in the promotion. If you can’t find a partner or a sponsor, you can still enlist the help of blogs and websites that you have relationships with.

Step 3: Decide on the Type of Contest.

If you’re working with a partner and sponsor, you may want to get them involved with this step, or you can approach them with your idea. There are many different types of blog contests you can run, such as a:

Photo Contest
Short Story or Essay Contest
Question and Answer
Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Then decide how the winner will be decided. Will he or she be randomly selected? Will you ask for votes from blog followers to determine the best entry? Or will you judge the entrants? You can also have another expert make the decision. You need to be clear about these specifics when you make an announcement. You should also look into tools that can help you automate the process, such as Binkd, Wildfire, and Bulbstorm, especially if you are running a more complicated contest.

If you’re going to be a judge or have someone else judge, be aware of the time commitment that may be involved and take that into consideration when setting the rules. For example, maybe you want to ask people to write essays that are 300 words, not 2,000 words, to ensure you have enough time to read everything.

Step 4: Promote the Contest.

Hopefully you’ve found a partner or sponsor who is helping you with this step, but even if you have one, you should be looking for other ways to promote it on your own. Of course, post about it on your blog and encourage your readers to help you get the word out. Also, make use of your social networks to spread the word (and hopefully make it go viral.) Then, think outside the box. Where are some other venues (forums, websites, even coffee shops) that people might be interested where you can post the contest details?

Step 5: Run the Contest and Assess Its Success.

Now it’s time to let the entries roll in. Don’t forget to set an end date to ensure that people aren’t upset if they come across the details of the contest and you’ve already picked a winner.

When the contest is over, check back on those stats you recorded in the beginning. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Check again in 2 weeks and a month to see if those numbers hold out. There may be a drop-off since some people may only have signed up for the duration of the contest, but hopefully you are still higher than where you started.

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