How to run profitable blog contests like the pros

Hey there, it’s me, Danny… welcome to this website!

What I wanna do here is teach you everything I know about blogging, but more specifically, running viral contests that explode your readership, ignite social sharing, spark more interaction and of course, get you more leads and sales.  If that sounds cool, you’re in for a treat.  Before I dive in, I want to give a big shout-out to my personal blog coach (thanks Brad!) as well as Darren of ProBlogger.net, who I’ve learned so much from over the past couple years… especially on the topic of incentivized contests.

So first, some best practices.

Blog contests are best used by bloggers with at least some momentum.  If no one knows your blog exists, then the coolest contest in the world won’t have any effect.  On the contrary, if you have at least 50 readers per day (I’d say), running the right contest and the right time can definitely give you some amazing results.

The next thing I want to disclaim — and this should go without saying, but hey, this is internet marketing, right? — is that this is a two-way street.  I want you doing a contest that offers a true win-win situation; not just thinking about yourself.  “Me-me-me” won’t cut it.  You should want to add more value into the lives of your readers and then deserve a boost in business as a result.  Are we in agreement?  Awesome.

Thirdly, don’t overdo it.  Think of contests as a blowout sale on your core product.  If you always had a major sale going on, how serious would your readers really take the news?  Not very.  We’ve all seen retail stores who play this game.  They’ve always got sales going, so it’s just not a big deal when you get an email or a flyer in the mail with big-ol’ font, lots of exclamation marks and a false sense of urgency, demanding you to “Hurry!” and “Act now!” before it’s too late.  Know what I mean?  You’re like, “Yeah, right… you’ll have the same sale — or better — going next week and you know it.”  In order for these things to be effective, you have to find that happy medium, to where you’re using it at smart intervals.  My personal recommendation is no more often than once every 90 days.

Okay, with the rules laid down, let’s cover the goals you’ll be shooting for with your upcoming contest.

The 4 common end-game goals of blog contests

1. Comments: this is probably the easiest type of competition to run.  All you do is offer some sort of reward (or possibility of winning the reward) for anyone who leaves you a comment on your blog.

2. Subscribers: this is easy as well, although conversion rate will be lower since you’re asking readers to opt-in to your email list.

3. Articles/Videos: this one is way underutilized in my opinion.  Think about it: if you get hundreds of faithful followers to go out and start writing and uploading videos about you and your brand, and then offer them something super cool in return, what’s not to like?  Free positive press is huge.  And what your people come up with might blow you away — here’s a winning video upload for a travel blogging contest:

4. Sales: this is the hardest, and definitely the lowest conversion rate, but has the upside of a much faster (and more substantial) monetary reward for you.

Pretty simple so far, eh?

So what do you want more of?  Make your pick then let’s decide what the prize will be.  To get the wheels spinning, here are some ideas…

Sample blog contest prizes

  • A free copy of your digital product
  • A coupon code for your service
  • A free blogging overhaul consultation session
  • A free ticket to a live event
  • Your favorite business book (hardcopy or Audible download)
  • An Amazon gift card
  • The opportunity to joint venture with you
  • A promotion to your readers of their website
  • Or just cold, hard cash (maybe via PayPal transfer) always works, too

Okay, so select the giveaway prize.  Now that you know the goal and the reward, it’s time to decide on the terms — what will the contest actually be, how will it be delivered, and so on?

All of this will be highly specific to you, your niche, your readers, et cetera, but again… I’ll toss you some suggestions and you can go from there…

Possible ideas for your actual contest

  • Ask for their opinion on something that will help you improve your blog
  • Ask them to explain the number one most valuable takeaway they’ve gotten from your work
  • Do a guessing game (think: how many gumballs in the jar)
  • Have them leave a funny caption under one of your pictures
  • Ask them to write copy for you (a short amount) or come up with a headline for a landing page
  • Have them take a picture on their smartphone and share it on social media, tagging you/your brand in the message

I’m sure the above will spark the perfect contest concept for you.  And when you’ve decided on that, just put the terms in writing.  I usually create a new blog post and use that to promote, explain, run and even deliver the entire contest.  Follow-up on all of your social media channels and link back to this post.  Send an email blast out to your list.  Reach out to other bloggers in your industry and incentivize them to share the contest with their audience as well.  This is not time to get lazy.  A little bit of hustle in terms of self-promotion can go a very long ways in the overall success of this new contest.

There you have it, in a nutshell.  That’s at least the mile-high overview of running profitable blog contests, regardless of who you are, what niche you’re in and what you blog about.  There’s no other strategy I’ve come across that can produce such quick-hitting results.  If this is your first-ever blog contest, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome (as long as you follow every step I’ve outlined above).

Then, I’ll use my blog to fill the in the holes and drill-down on some of the nitty-gritty of this strategy.  Be sure to bookmark it and check in often.  Also, email me your results.  I’m curious to hear how it goes.