One of my favourite ways to generate a little reader engagement and buzz on a blog is to run a competition.
Giving stuff away never fails to create a little excitement among a blog’s community and it is something that creates goodwill among your loyal readers.
I must have run 50-60 competitions on my blogs over the years but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about which ones work best it is this – MAKE THEM SIMPLE.
A couple of years back to celebrate the anniversary of ProBlogger I ran a series of competitions here on ProBlogger that gave away tens of thousands of dollars of prizes to readers. The competitions were a big success in that they generated loads of buzz – but by the end of the week of giveaways I (and Lara who helped me administer it all) were exhausted.
We’d spent time finding sponsors, liaising with those sponsors, coming up with ideas for the competitions, writing posts announcing the competitions, moderating the competitions, choosing winners, announcing the winners, liaising with winners, liaising again with sponsors to arrange delivery and then on a few occasions mediating between sponsors and winners who had disputes.
I remember asking myself at the end of the week whether it’d been worth it? I think it probably was – but for all the buzz we got we had to put in a lot of work.
In stark contrast to this rather complex system of contests that we put in place that week I’ve also run some very very simple competitions on my blogs over the years.
The most recent of these is on my photography blog – a competition where readers can win one of two E-books simply by choosing which one they’d prefer and leaving a comment to let us know their answer. I launched the competition at midnight on Wednesday and by the time I woke up the next moment almost 700 people had already entered.
How much work was involved? Not a lot – I simply asked the author of the E-book if he’d give me some copies to give away (something that costs him nothing and will generate him some sales), wrote up the post and posted it. Next week I’ll choose the winners randomly and let the author know who to send the prizes to.
When I say this is a ‘simple competition’ I mean it on a few fronts:
1. The prize is simple – I’m not giving away anything expensive, it’s not even a physical product! The beauty of competitions with such simple prizes is that
- they cost you nothing
- they’re still attractive to readers (I actually find as many people enter these as do competitions with big prizes)
- they’re easy to deliver
2. The requirements to enter are simple – choose between two options and leave a comment. It couldn’t be much simpler and as a result the participation rate is very high. The more you require people to do to enter the more hurdles you put in front of them (and the lower the participation rate).
Big and spectacular competitions can create a lot of buzz and be worthwhile – but don’t discount the simple competition. They’re less work, less risk/cost and can still generate some great goodwill and buzz among your readers.