Running a Blog Contest: Learning from the Experience of Others

Contests are extremely popular in the blogosphere right now. A lot of bloggers are using them to reward their readers, gain new subscribers, improve the community environment of the blog, and so on.

If you are thinking about running a competition of some sort you will probably benefit by getting some advice from bloggers who have already had success with contests. I emailed 4 bloggers who have recently concluded contests to get some input from them.

Adnan from Blogtrepreneur ran a competition in August to promote his new blog consulting service, blogLOUDER. Those who wanted to enter the contest could earn points for leaving a comment, writing a review on StumbleUpon, or writing a review on their own blog. Appropriately, the winners received a free blog reviews or blog consulting.

1 – What was your goal for the competition?

The main goal for the competition was to build a bit of buzz about blogLOUDER and to get people talking. I recognized through looking at other contests that Word Of Mouth is essential to a new product/site launch, and that was essential to the rush (no pun intended) behind BlogRush and DealDotCom which launched recently. Other intended effects were for SEO purposes – to get blogLOUDER ranking highly for the phrase “Blog Consulting“, and to sell some Consulting time and Blog Reviews.

2 – What were the results? Were you happy with them?

I was extremely happy with the results. Within days, I ranked highly for the term “Blog Consulting” and am getting some nice traffic with that phrase at the moment. I also received orders for Consulting and Blog Reviews almost instantly, so whilst I gave away 3 free consulting appointments, the sales generated immediately compensated for this twice over.

3 – Would you consider running another contest?

I would definitely consider running another contest, and did do one straight after by giving away an Internet Marketing Book. The results were great again.

4 – What advice would you have for other bloggers who are interested in running a contest?

The first bit of advice for competition-holding wannabes, is to make it easy for your audience to enter the competition. In my contests, a comment on the post counted as an entry into the “draw”, and this only took a few seconds for some people. Other examples could be an entry for Stumbling the page, or bookmarking it at Digg/ The ultimate achievement would be to get people to signup for your RSS feed, however this is a little more difficult and will require great content around the rest of your blog as well.

Sarah from BlueJar just ended a group writing project/competition. Participants posted a “How to” article on their own blog, Sarah then listed all the contestants, and each contestant was allowed to vote for their favorites by linking to their choices. Winners receive free advertising on BlueJar.

1 – What was your goal for the competition?

I had several goals with my group writing project. Firstly, I wanted to start a contest or project that benefited my readers and participants, not just my own blog. Secondly, I wanted exposure for my blog and to gain linkbacks for my blog. I didn’t want to straight out have a contest just about linking, so I figured a group writing project will get me some links and exposure without being too pushy for it either. I am also moving my blog more into a community type of blog, so I felt the group writing project would help create that type of atmosphere.

2 – What were the results? Were you happy with them?

I have charted my stats since I started the group writing project and the results have been amazing. In 3 weeks I have gained over 70 new rss subscribers, my Technorati rank is almost at 12,000 rank, and I am getting a lot more daily visitors than I did previously. It has been one heck of an amazing ride. For such a small subscriber base, I get a lot of comments and I feel that the group writing project defiantly contributed to helping creating a community around my blog.

3 – Would you consider running another contest?

Yes, I do want to do another group writing project in the future, but I want to hold a few other contests too. Group writing projects really are a lot of work!

4 – What advice would you have for other bloggers who are interested in running a contest?

My advice to other bloggers wanting to run a contest is to be prepared to spend extra time on it. Don’t plan other projects during your contest as it does take a lot of work to get back to e-mails. You also need to promote your contest. I spent the first week promoting it all over. I wanted to gain as many entries as I could and knew that if people didn’t know about it, they wouldn’t enter so I spent the extra time promoting it.

Darin from has run several contests and given away prizes such as a PlayStation 3, a Nintendo Wii, and an iPhone. His contests have been run a little bit differently each time, but several of them have involved participants writing about the competition and linking to his blog.

1 – What was your goal for the competition?

For each promo, there was different accomplishments. Exposure, link building and even a Social Networking Experiment they didn’t know they were a part of!

2 – What were the results? Were you happy with them?

I have been happy with the success. Just have to make sure you get a Good ROI to call it a success!

3 – Would you consider running another contest?

I plan on running at least one contest per month! I have even run 2 promos at a time to see the readers involvement.

4 – What advice would you have for other bloggers who are interested in running a contest?

Make your prize something people are dying to get their hands on. You can say Free Widget all you want, if everyone already has one it’s not that compelling!

Daniel from Daily Blog Tips just concluded a contest very similar to Sarah’s group writing project. Contestants sent Daniel a link to one of their posts that contained a blogging tip for readers. Daniel then posted the entire list and contestants voted by placing links on their own blog to the submissions that they liked best.

1 – What was your goal for the competition?

My goal with contests is to improve the sense of community around my blog. The key factor is that contests represent a win-win situation for everyone.

2 – What were the results? Were you happy with them?

My last contest got 122 participants. I was expecting more to be honest, but I think it is related to the “Tips & Tricks” topic. While it is a general one, I think it has been used far too much.

3 – Would you consider running another contest?

Yes, usually I run one every couple of months or so.

4 – What advice would you have for other bloggers who are interested in running a contest?

Do something new. People seem to get renewed interested for things that they have not tried before.

Thanks to Adnan, Sarah, Darin and Daniel for taking the time to answer these questions and share their experiences. As a participant, I can say that Daniel and Sararh’s competitions both brought a significant number of links to my blog (and I’m sure to the others as well), so it was a really positive experience for everyone. Hopefully the information provided here will help some of you with running a contest of your own.

Looking for hosting? WPEngine offers secure managed WordPress hosting. You’ll get expert WordPress support, automatic backups, and caching for fast page loads.

28 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • TyCat, October 3, 2007

    Insightful. Thanks for the info.

  • GnomeyNewt, October 4, 2007

    Great article and responses from everyone! Hope this helps encourage more group writing projects, though they do take more work they are worth it for everyone involved. I do want to try another type of contest too though, I’m thinking about it.

    Thanks involving BlueJar and the link love too!

  • Karthik, October 4, 2007

    Good interview – and I agree with Gnomey Newt – GWPs are a win-win for all, I saw my Technorati zip too.

  • Tibi Puiu, October 4, 2007

    excellent replies, I’ll start a contest of my own soon enough, gotta think of prizes first though :D.

  • Mason from SmallFuel, October 4, 2007

    What a great idea for an article : )

    This was really informative, and certainly got me thinking about how I could run a competition on my site.

    I wonder how much initial traffic to the site matters for the competition?

    – Mason Hipp

  • Adnan, October 4, 2007

    Thanks for including my answers in the post Steven, and I enjoyed hearing how much success everyone else had with their projects!

  • CHESSNOID, October 4, 2007

    This is a great post. I remember seeing that Sarah’s Bluejar contest the day before it ended and meant to participate. I think it was great for both the author and its contest participants because they voted on each others blog posts. Now that I see her contest results here, I am even more amazed.

  • Vandelay Design, October 4, 2007

    GnomeyNewt and Adnan,
    Thanks for participating in this post. Your thoughts are really valuable to all of us. I also appreciate you stopping by to comment.

    I’m not surprised. That type of project is a great idea that really does benefit everyone.

    I think the amount of traffic does play a big role, but you can overcome that if you promote it enough. I think if you emailed other contacts, visited forums, and used community sites like BUMPzee and MyBlogLog you could find some people to participate. If you’re fortunate enough to have a great prize other people will spread the word for you.

  • WarriorBlog, October 4, 2007

    I ran a small contest before and it was a success for a blog my size :-) I didn’t even give away any cash. The requirement was Stumble, Technorati, and Subscribed. Worked pretty well ;-)

  • Tim Nash, October 4, 2007

    Interesting article I actually just finished an article which was quite anti competitions for competitions sake it might provide some balance for those looking at starting a competition particularly those looking to maximise the SEO benefits

  • Vandelay Design, October 4, 2007

    I read your article. Thanks for providing it as an extra piece of info for our readers.

  • Felix Ker, October 5, 2007

    I’m considering to run a contest/event when I have the time. Thanks for sharing.

  • Mason from SmallFuel, October 5, 2007


    I agree. I think as long as you go out of your way to promote a great prize, it could bring traffic for itself.

    – Mason

  • Karen Zara, October 5, 2007

    Thank you very much for posting these interviews. I’d love to run my own contests, but I just can’t decide how to go about this. I do have some ideas, but then my inner censor tells me “this will never work, that won’t work either, no one will be interested etc. etc.” By reading other bloggers’ experiences I may get encouragement… and more ideas. ;)

  • Dee, October 6, 2007

    I love this idea, and as a dofollower I would like to host a contest as well, but I have slight problem. Blogger template that I am using only allows 5 comments per post. Any idea on how to increase it?

  • Vandelay Design, October 7, 2007

    I don’t really know anything about Blogger, sorry.

  • Mike C, October 13, 2007

    I have hear recently that google frowns upon contests that trade something in exchange for anchor text links. Any ideas?

  • Vandelay Design, October 13, 2007

    I wouldn’t recommend any kind of contest that required people to link with a specific anchor text. It’s dangerous right now. The examples of Sarah’s and Daniel’s group writing projects generated a lot of links for everyone with no specific anchor text required. That’s much safer.

  • unTECHy, October 14, 2007

    Holding contests will be a big thing for my website once it becomes established.

    I often find myself frequently returning to blogs which hold contests. I’ll take this bit of info and apply it to unTECHy.

    Another great post!

  • Jim, February 1, 2008

    In the spirit of this posting…

    I wanted to let you know about my new blog I focus on money making on the internet, broken down into stock market advice and get paid to website reviews and tips.

    We currently have a $10 contest running in our new forums, so make sure to check it out!

  • fond.regionkursk, October 4, 2009

    Thank you very much for posting these interviews