I have always loved contests. And while the random chance (will my name be picked?) ones are fun, the competitions that involve skill are my favorites.
When I owned my marketing business, Cat’s Eye Group, my most meaningful award ever was a special little one I got from a Chamber of Commerce in a mid-sized city outside Seattle.
It was the Business Committed to Kids Award. We were recognized for our volunteering in schools and pro bono design and copywriting work for education projects that were near and dear to our hearts.
So the awards don’t have to be huge national or global ones.
They just need to be what you are about. What means the most to you.
What can winning a contest for bloggers do for you?
At the very least, it brings you more visibility and credibility. And often it gets you more readers, more subscribers and more business, whether you sell services or products, like your own books.
How to find contests and award programs
If you google “best blog contests,” you’ll find a variety of competitions, some with several categories. I saw one with everything from “Best Animal Blog” to “Most Obnoxious Blogger” (though I’m not sure why anyone would want that one).
Don’t overlook publications you subscribe to and industry associations you belong to. Look carefully because sometimes they will be called “Best Social Media Sites” or something that doesn’t have “blog” in the name.
Two major types of contests
I have found two major types of contests. The first one, I call the popularity contest. There is one goal: it’s a frantic race to see who can get the most votes, the most Twitter RTs, the most likes on Facebook. While they are easier for the contest organizers (because they don’t have to do any judging and analysis of the entries), they can become a test of merely how many people you can convince to vote for you. (Can you say, “arm twisting”?)
The second kind may start with reader involvement, but final decisions are not based on the number of reader votes. A panel of judges, experts in your field, will narrow the nominations down to a list of finalists, followed by the list of bloggers who came out on top.
It is your call on which of these types are right for you.
How to find the right ones
Look for contest and award programs that will help readers see that you know your topic, you know your field and you have excellent content. Read the contest guidelines thoroughly and think twice about the ones that require an entry fee.
Look for signs of credibility. Decide which ones you want your name and brand associated with. If it’s a spammy site with ads for Viagra, maybe that’s not the right one. Looking at past winners can give you clues. You might even contact one of them from a previous year by email and ask a few questions.
How to market your nomination and leverage your win
Remember one thing. Your readers are never obligated to nominate or vote for you (nor should they be). When you look for reader support, consider these five tips:
1. Don’t whine.
Approach it with a clear, objective head. Never assume that because they are a reader, they will want to do this. And don’t make them feel obligated in any way (or guilty if they choose not to).
2. Ask for the vote, but don’t expect it.
Offer it as an opportunity to express their support of your blog if they feel comfortable with that. And don’t phrase it as a question (“Will you vote for me?) because they will feel that you’ve put them on the spot and that you need an answer either way.
3. Thank the people who took the time to nominate or vote.
You can do this in a post or in individual emails if it’s a smaller number. But let them know how much it meant to you.
4. Let them know the results, even if you lose.
I look at every award opportunity as a fun and truly helpful experience. It gets my name out there and even if I don’t win I always walk away learning something. Your readers took time from their busy schedules to show their support and they deserve to know what happened.
Compare it to someone who gives you a business referral that doesn’t work out. You still want to thank them for that and let them know how it turned out. Same thing with your readers.
5. If you win, make it count.
Many competitions have cool badges for the winners. If they allow you to download the code to place the graphic on your blog, make it prominent in your sidebar.
Make your win part of your email signature line and consider using it in your bio and other promotional marketing materials. It isn’t showing off. It’s just good marketing sense.
Oh, and one more thing. (Reader smiles here, waiting for the other shoe to drop.)
I am in the running this year for a Writer’s Digest “101 Best Blogs for Writers” award. If you feel that my blog has helped you become a better blogger and writer, I’d be honored if you sent an email on my behalf. If you choose to, it’s easy.
Just click here and write a line or two in the body/text of the message, nominating www.catseyewriter.com for the award. It starts with nominations, but, based on their judging criteria, a panel will select the winners. (I just nominated Krissy Brady (www.krissybrady.com) because I think she cares about helping writers and her blog is such an excellent resource.)
So what about you?
Have you entered any contests? Have you considered it?
Do you have other questions?