Blog contests can bring in some good traffic, but you need to run them correctly, or they can be a total pain. I’ve run countless blog contests, some more successful than others. When I first started holding contests at my blogs I made some pretty dumb mistakes. The good news is that I can tell give you some tips about what you should and shouldn’t do if you decide to hold a blog contest.
Make the rules simple. SIMPLE. I just had a blog contest at one blog. We had 215 or so entries. At least 80 of those entries were disqualified because the people didn’t follow the very basic rules. And believe me, they were really simple. If you get too tricky with your rules, you’ll end up with about five decent entries.
Make readers work a little. While I don’t think you should make things too tricky, it can be hard work to snap up cool prizes for contests, so I’m not normally a fan of having readers simply “leave a comment” to win. If I don’t have a good simple plan, I’ll use an old standby, like, “Visit our prize sponsors website, and tell me an item you like.” NOTE: This is way too tricky for some people, but seriously now, if they can’t read and follow something this easy, well, maybe they don’t really want to win.
You don’t have to pay shipping. I always ask sponsors if they’ll send prizes to my readers, vs. the sponsor sending me a prize then me having to pay shipping to send one or more prizes off. I’ve never had a sponsor refuse. If you have a prize yourself to send, and work for a network, you can always ask if they’ll pay shipping. One network I work for will do this.
Always ask your sponsors where they’ll ship to. I used to forget this little step (back in newbie days), and I could have gotten into a lot of trouble. I didn’t, but that’s just luck. If you don’t ask, you won’t know to note something akin to, “Sorry folks, but this contest is only open to U.S. residents.” Then when someone from Australia wins, and the sponsor has to pay loads of shipping they didn’t count on, that’s trouble. If you’re paying shipping yourself, make a decision about where you can afford to ship as well.
ALWAYS have a notification disclaimer. Note somewhere in your post, “I will draw winners names on June 5th. I will email the winners for their addresses. If you don’t email me back in 5 days, I’ll draw a new winner.” If you don’t put a disclaimer in, you may wait, and wait, and then most likely wait some more. This means you’re tied up with a contest that should have been over ages ago. Also, contest sponsors expect a somewhat timely response. It’s not cool to make them or the winners who respond wait.
Send a quick thank you to your sponsors. Nothing fancy, but it’s nice, and it keeps you in their head should they feel like offering another prize at some point. I always send off a quick email thank you, along with links to any posts I did about their product / company. Often times this works in your favor too, because a company will add you to their press page, giving you an instant link.
There are many more ways to make a contest a success, but these tips above can help you avoid a lot of the obnoxious stuff that tends to come along with a contest.
Also check out: Where To Get Blog Contest Prizes