Since I have my own blog about contest for the last year, I started to slowly write this post on how to organize a successful blog contest. I see all kinds of methods, good or bad, being used. Some methods could even be very negative to a blog's traffic. I will write about each points and btw, they are not in any specific order.
1. Don't game the systemDon't ask people to Stumble, Digg or anything like that. In most cases, it goes against the Terms Of Service (TOS) and your blog could be banned. If banned, don't count on getting traffic from those.
2. Keep it shortMake it last for 2 weeks maximum. If it's too long(1 month), a lot of readers will not participate or forget about it thinking they have the time. You can always do another post to remained people it's still on 2-3 days before it end's.
3. Make it simpleNo matter the value of the prizes, most are lazy or lack the time to participate. You can go with the more tickets per task method. This way, the longer tasks are more worthwhile to do and everyone has at least one chance. 1 - Subscribe to RSS by email 25 - Make a post about the contest 50+ - Make a video about the contest
4. Give back to sponsorsOne simple way is to let bloggers post about the contest itself by listing all the sponsors at that time. Also, don't demand a minimum of words for that post. If you demand something more, do give extra tickets.
5. Don't "force" RSS subscribing by emailYes, it does make it easier to contact the winners but It does not mean that you can't give 1 ticket to subscribe to the RSS feed by email. A person might still like to get the RSS feed via a reader. The same person can always make a post while losing 1 ticket. After the contest, most readers will simply unsubscribed giving you a false sense of new readers. If you want them to stay because of your content and not for the contest, have some content ideals in mind.
6. Have an end dateDon't over extend the contest unless you have a good reason. You may had been sick or had family reasons and people will understand that. Not enough participants is not a good reasons.
7. Promote The ContestYou should promote the contest to contest blogs. Be aware that most are doing it for free and are not full time. So, the contest might appeared a few days later. Make sure that the contest is already active/visible. Depending on the value of your contest, you could make a small donations or pay a fee to promote it better. I discovered that many contest blogs are now "dead". I started with a old list of 22 blogs and ended with 10 blogs that were still around. I added 7 more. The list below are blogs that made a contest post since June 2008. Being summer, some might be away on vacation. In the Contest blog only category or
- Contest Blogger
- The Prize Blog
- Blog Contest Site
- My Blog Contest
- Contest Beat
- Blog Contests on the Net
- About Blog Contests
- Link Right Contests
- Blog Contest Central
- An Island Life
- Blog Paradise
- Submit Your Contest
- Laura Williams Musings
- Contest Canada
- Contest Bytes
- International Freebies & Contests
- Contest Live Blog
8. Give the prizeSome were giving big prizes but failed to deliver them or something "fishy" occurred when the winner was announced. Your reputation will suffer so don't be tempted to give it to your friend.
9. Contact the sponsorsIf you go with sponsors, you should contact the sponsors ahead of time like 2-3 weeks before the contest start. Some might take longer than others to reply to you depending if it's a company or another blogger. Btw, I'm sponsoring contests via 1coolfile.com.
10. Don't have too many sponsorsHaving too many sponsors will diminish the benefice for every sponsors. When contacting them, tell them you have limited spots(10-12) to maximize their exposure. Also, give them some info like readers(RSS), type of blog, type of contest...The sponsor might give more prizes depending on those numbers. If you did a previous contest, link it to them if it was successful.
11. Contact the winners/sponsorsWhen the winners are picked, contact the winner and the sponsor of the prize since you have the email. For example, I won but was required to claimed my prize in the comments of the new post about the winners. Unfortunately, my email was Askimet(bad luck) so could not claimed it. Also, a company might have forgotten about your contest. Write a simple template to make it easy for you and them.
Subject: blog name Contest Prize Winner's Message: Hi, You participated or was a sponsor in this contest below: Contest: URL here Contest's winner's post: URL here Prize: The prize description The winner(email here) won that prize. The sponsor(email here) will contact you about the prize soon. Thank you both for participating in my contest. Your name here
12. Use the commentsOnce the person did the task(s), tell them to leave a comment in the contest post with the task(s) performed. Backlinks might failed and it's simpler for you to track what they did. Think of it as a backup for both you and the participant. Plus, if the person did not subscribe to the RSS by email, you will get their email.
13. Link to winnersWhen you do the winner's post, link to the blog if it's a blogger that won a prize. Don't publish the email of the winner. Yes, I even saw that. Example: Prize A was won by URL here Prize A [URL here] I mentioned this because the winner of a prize I gave recently had the same name of a blog that I knew. It was not the same person.
14. Be fair(Enkay)Be fair with contestants by applying the rules for all. I once had to change the rules in one of my first big contest but I was fair in the way I did it. Nobody cried over it.
ConclusionThe ideal is to make the whole process fun, easier and give a good return for all involved. Edit 2008-08-28: Added 2 new contest blogs
Keywords: bad, Contest, Contest, good, prize, sponsor, tips, Traffic