Help Needed: Running a Successful Blogging Contest

Hands in Sand

If I had to name my biggest frustration with blogging up to this point, it would be that I have yet to launch a really successful contest.

According to more experienced bloggers, hosting a contest is a wonderful way to generate traffic for your blog and expand your writing network. I can testify to the truth of this: each time I launch a new contest I see a spike in how many people have viewed or shown interest in my site. But while the idea of a contest seems to pique the interest of the blogging community, so far I haven’t been able to design one that encourages a great amount of participation.

I do feel like I’ve learned a great deal about contests from trial and error. I’ve launched three contests now, and each has been more successful than the last.

Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way:

Get A Little Help From Your Friends

Most of the successful contests that I’ve seen on other sites have all been collaborative. Several writers join forces to design a great contest, and they all work together on spreading the news, generating excitement, providing feedback, and judging the results. This is probably the biggest reason my contests have remained so small… I’ve attempted to do it all on my own.

When a contest starts out as a group project there will be obvious activity from the get-go, which will encourage other writers to jump in and participate.

Make It a “One-Stop Shop”

My first contest was a pitiful flop, and I blame it on trying to redirect my readers. In the post introducing the contest, I tried asking readers to click a link which would take them to the main contest page, where they could leave their comments and enter the contest. But in today’s fast-paced society, it simply didn’t work. I realized that redirecting readers to a separate page was killing my contests.

Instead, allowing readers to comment directly on the post they’re reading at that moment encourages greater participation. If you advertise your contest several times, it means the comments won’t be all in one place, but as the host you can find a way to work around this problem.

Make Everyone a Winner

More established blogs can get away with offering one coveted Grand Prize, which hundreds of writers will clamor for. For beginners, however, we need to think of creative ways to make everyone who participates feel like a winner. Offering a Grand Prize is not a bad idea, but also let every participant have access to something like a wall badge or group advertisement where they know their blog will be featured. This way they know that they will get something in return for their effort, and walk away from your site feeling like winners.

Help! I Need Somebody!

These are the things I’ve learned along the way, but I’ll be the first to admit that I have a long way to go in learning to design successful contests. If you’re reading this and have a helpful tip to share, please share it! My spring contest is looming on the horizon, and I need your help in making sure this one makes it off the launching pad!

What Tips Do You Have for Running A Successful Blogging Contest?


This post was submitted as part of IWSG, a fellowship of writers dedicated to gathering on the first Wednesday of every month to encourage one another, vent their frustrations, and share helpful tips for writers.


15 thoughts on “Help Needed: Running a Successful Blogging Contest

  1. If I could get feedback and learn something from a contest I would be more likely to enter. I did a few Yeah Write events and met some interesting writers but would have liked to know what they thought of my writing, what I could have done better in their opinion. I always wondered if I didn’t win votes because my stories weren’t interesting or because they weren’t racy enough, or use edgy language (not that I would change that).

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Shirley – that’s a great idea! By promising to offer feedback on each entry, I could encourage greater participation and offer each participant something valuable at the same time. I am really going to put this to good use!

      And I applaud you for steering clear of racy stories and edgy language… good storytellers don’t need those distracting elements!


  2. I haven’t really figured this one out quite yet either, but I have seen a lot of bloggers run successful contests. Perhaps one of the things that could net some ideas would be to go looking through lots of blog contests and see which ones garner the most participation—for instance, some rewards or topics may work better than others on particular types of blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that’s an idea I hadn’t thought of… that different types of blogs reach different audiences, and therefore would create success with different types of contests. I should look at other artistic and faith-related blogs and see what’s working for them….

      Thanks for helping me think through this, Diana – I’m going to take your advice!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. John Mark, I think you simply need an interesting writing prompt to allow other bloggers to make their entry in the comments. Then let others vote with the like button.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I will be reading with interest. While I didn’t consider my first (and only) blog contest a flop, I didn’t really consider it a success either. At one point, I felt like I was bribing closer friends to enter. I think I got 3 entries from people who were not family or local friends. While I certainly enjoyed their entries and even encouraged them to participate, that wasn’t my goal. Thanks for asking a question I have been wanting answered as well.


  5. I really like the idea of giving feedback on the entries in the comment section. And not only from the person running the contest. I think this would spark good interactions that a writer could learn from


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