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Great Barrier Reef Competition Winners Have Been Notified #QldBlog

I’m really excited to announce that the ten winners of the Great Barrier Reef Competition that we’ve been running here on ProBlogger the last couple of weeks have been chosen.

Over 700 entries were received. It was no easy task to shortlist them and choose the final winners because there were some amazing bloggers. As I looked through the entries I just kept saying to myself, “I’d love to have them on the trip!”

In fact, my wishlist of winners probably numbered over 100 so the job the team at Tourism Queensland had in selecting the final ten was a huge challenge.

But only ten can win and I received the list last night from the judges at Tourism Queensland. I simply can’t wait to meet all of the winners in June.

As outlined in the Terms and Conditions of the competition, winners will have received an email in the last few minutes letting them know that they’ve won and asking them to confirm that they are accepting the prize (so if you entered, check your inbox now!).

Winners have 72 hours to confirm that they’re coming and on Friday (Aussie time) I’ll publicly publish the names of those winners so we can all see who is coming on the trip!

If you’ve won, please don’t celebrate publicly yet. We’ll do the big announcement Friday (Aussie time) where you can share the news with your own audience.

If you were not selected, I can only say that I’m sorry you won’t be joining us and that I hope we might do something like this again in the future (tell @Queensland) if you do, too). I also hope you’ll follow along with us as we blog/tweet the trip in June.

Thanks to everyone for entering. This has been one of the most fun things I’ve done so far in my almost ten years of blogging … and the best part is still ahead!

24 Hours Left to Win a Trip to The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland Australia #QldBlog

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Update: this competition is now closed to new entries. We’re now narrowing down to find our 10 winners who will be contacted and then announced here on ProBlogger on 23 April. Thanks to all who entered!

Ten days ago I excitedly announced an amazing opportunity for ProBlogger readers to enter a competition to win one of ten trips to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

As I write this post, the deadline for entering this competition is less than 24 hours away, and those of you considering putting yourself in the running for this once-in-a-lifetime trip need to get your skates on!

Since launching the competition, we’ve had hundreds of entries from some wonderful bloggers. Hundreds is a lot, but considering we’re giving away ten trips, those who have entered currently have a one in 50 chance of ending up on the reef with me in June. They’re pretty decent odds!

Since announcing the competition I’ve posted the full five-day itinerary—there are some amazing experiences included in the prize:

  1. meet and get up close to some of Australia’s cute (and not-so-cute) native animals
  2. eat at some of the finest restaurants in the region
  3. participate in two blogging workshops with me (with just ten participants, I’ll be able to give your blog some personal attention)
  4. sail, snorkel, and explore the Great Barrier Reef
  5. experience one of the world’s oldest rain forests
  6. on the last day, you can choose your own adventure and explore an aspect of the region that relates to your own interests and niche.

Plus much more!

While this is a working holiday of sorts, as you’ll be creating some content based on what you see, there will be plenty of time for fun, adventuring, and a little relaxing.

All in all, this is a trip I can’t wait to go on and I’m particularly looking forward to sharing it with ten wonderful ProBlogger readers.

This competition isn’t a popularity contest or just for big bloggers, and it isn’t just for travel bloggers—we’re looking for entries from a range of blog niches and from bloggers from around the world.

Pitch us your ideas for how you’d cover the trip in the entry form, and you might just find yourself winging your way into Queensland (all expenses paid) in June.

Important links:

Please enter today, and if you know of any other blogger who might enjoy this trip, please do share it with them—they’ll be indebted to you forever if they win!

Blogger Correspondant Great Barrier Reef Itinerary: #QldBlog

Update: this competition is now closed to new entries. We’re now narrowing down to find our 10 winners who will be contacted and then announced here on ProBlogger on 23 April. Thanks to all who entered!

Last week I excitedly announced a competition to fly 10 ProBlogger readers into the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. The response has been amazing. We’ve had hundreds of entries and there has been some great interest in the promotion.

With just under a week to go to get your entries in I thought today I might whet your appetite a little by revealing the itinerary of the trip. It’s still being finalised so this may change a little, but here’s what we’re planning to do on the trip so far.

Day 1: Tuesday 5 June

Ten of the world’s most imaginative bloggers arrive in Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and our northern-most frontier city.

Tonight we start our adventure with some up-close-and-personal time with the locals. We’re not talking about the two-legged kind here; we are talking about Australia’s quirkiest and cutest native animals.

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After that, we’ll be zipping around the corner to one of the coolest restaurants in town that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Unsurprisingly, the nosh on the menu is fresh Queensland seafood!

Day 2: Wednesday 6 June

At 2600 km long, The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s biggest living organism, and the only natural object that can be seen from space. It’s also on the bucket list of just about every person on the planet with a heart for adventure.

This morning we are getting one step closer to the reef by sailing to a nearby tropical island for a little Crusoe Time—with full Internet access and a private blogging workshop with me. I’ll do a little teaching (based a survey of the winning bloggers’ needs) and we’ll also spend some time workshopping the winners’ blogs together.

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After lunch, you have free time to explore the island and get inspired. You may wish to go for a sail, snorkel with the aid of a fun underwater tow jet, take the plunge in a mini-submarine, or laze around the pool with a cocktail in hand. Whatever your story line, the creative juices are sure to be flowing.

Back on the mainland and a little drive north is Palm Cove (one of my personal favourites of the towns along the reef), and the location of tonight’s twilight meal, served with box office views of the Great Barrier Reef through a palm fringed shoreline.

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Day 3: Thursday 7 June

Pack up your bags, because today we are trading the world’s most loved reef for the world’s oldest rainforest. This morning we venture north to Mossman River and a stunning rainforest retreat in the middle of the Daintree Rainforest. Here we will conduct our second blogging workshop surrounded by the sounds of cicadas and running water. It will be one of the most exotic locations for a blogger training workshop the world has ever seen!

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Afterwards, explore the Mossman River with an indigenous guide and then chill out by the water’s edge. You might even like to take a dip if you’re daring!

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At night we change our location and head to Port Douglas, a former fishing village turned star-spotting holiday hot spot that has kept its laid-back, beach town heart. Tonight’s dinner is a special occasion sure to be remembered, held at a secret location.

Day 4: Friday 8 June

After all that brain-flexing over the past two days, now is the time for us to relax and head out to experience the Great Barrier Reef in style.

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Whether you’re a passionate diver or more of an above-the-water kind of explorer, there will be an option to suit you. We’ll have the choice of a relaxed day of sailing and snorkelling a pristine coral cay, an adventurous outer-reef trip to discover the glorious Agincourt Ribbon Reefs, and the option to take in everything from diving, to fish feeding, and simply marvelling at nature in the underwater observatory on a floating outer-reef platform.

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Back on dry land, we’ll mingle with the locals at an iconic Australian pub and enjoy some delicious tucker (that’s dinner to you and me).

Day 5: Saturday 9 June

Today you have the chance to really choose your own adventure!

With four itineraries to pick from, you might find yourself:

  • learning ancient art techniques and hunting and gathering skills from local Indigenous tribes
  • kayaking along pristine coastline and zipping through the trees in the World Heritage Listed Daintree rainforest on an adventurous tour like no other
  • coming face to face with Australia’s cute (and not-so-cute) native animals, and enjoying a true Australian country experience
  • really getting the blood pumping as you take to the skies, saddle up a wild steed, and finish off with a trip down the river rapids.

Note: on this 5th day we can attempt to tailor what you do to the type of story you’d like to cover. For example if you’re a photographer you might like to spend the day on location somewhere to capture a shot or if you are looking to see something specific or interview someone about some aspect of Queensland we’ll try to set that up for you.

There will also be some flexibility and free time on most days for you to create content or see things relevant to your niche. We’ll do our best to tailor the trip to those on it (no guarantees).

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They don’t call Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef “Adventurous by Nature” for nothing!

Make sure you save some energy though, because tonight we’ll enjoy a final celebratory meal together at one of Port Douglas’s most iconic restaurants.

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Sunday 10 June

Is it really time to say goodbye?

Enter today

I still can’t quite believe that we’re running this trip—it really is my dream to take some blogging friends to this destination. We’re going to have an amazing few days together.

This trip is open to all bloggers over the age of 18 from around the globe (including Australia). We are looking for bloggers in all kinds of niches. While some have commented that it is a travel blogger conference, we’d love to receive entries from all niches. You can cover the trip from what ever angle you choose. For example:

  • Food bloggers: food will be a big part of this trip. Why not review the places where we eat, and talk about the Aussie food you come across?
  • Parenting bloggers: Queensland is a great family vacation destination. Write about the trip for prospective parents looking to visit.
  • Photography bloggers: You’ll see some of the most beautiful scenes in the world over this week, and they’re ideal for anyone with a camera to document.

There’s no end to the angles you can take as a blogger correspondent on this trip. So get your creating thinking going and include the angle you’d take in covering the trip in your entry.

There is less than a week to get your entry in, so you do need to act now to make sure you’re in the competition.

To enter simply read the terms and conditions of the competition and then fill in the entry form here.

Win 1 of 10 Trips to The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland Australia #QldBlog

Update: this competition is now closed to new entries. We’re now narrowing down to find our 10 winners who will be contacted and then announced here on ProBlogger on 24 April (note: I previously wrote 23rd of April but this was my mistake. As per the terms and conditions it is 24th April). Thanks to all who entered!

As a blogger, I get pitched to a lot by companies and organizations asking me to endorse their products. The problem is I have limited or no experience with many of them, and to endorse them would feel like selling out.

As a result, two years ago I created a list of things I would feel comfortable endorsing.  It was a dream list of products that I would love to promote because I genuinely feel a love for them.

The list was short and was made up of companies and products that I’d drop everything to work with. On the top of my list was something that I have a lot of experience with—something I promote at any opportunity and something that I’d always dreamed of showcasing on my blogs.

That thing was Australia

107421-634.jpgI’m an Aussie and I am regularly asked if I’ve considered moving overseas to further my business. While the idea has occurred to me a few times, I can’t imagine ever leaving Australia for more than a short trip.

One of my favourite parts of this enormous country is Queensland—Australia’s holiday playground, and a regular vacation destination for my family. It’s also home to one of the world’s natural wonders: the Great Barrier Reef, a 2300+ kilometre stretch of 2900 individual reefs and 900 tropical islands. It’s over 350,000 square kilometres in size, and the only living structure on earth that can be seen from outer space!

Aside from this natural wonder, Queensland is known for many things. It has a tropical climate, beautiful beaches, a casual atmosphere and the options to either relax or do something adventurous (check out the 5 regions of the reef here). It’s the antidote to routine and it’s one place that Aussies go to recharge and rejuvenate.

My dream came true

105823-634.jpgA year ago I was in Queensland for a conference and, sitting at the airport, I had the crazy idea that we should run a ProBlogger Down Under competition. The idea was simple—we run a competition to bring a group of bloggers to Australia to see the Great Barrier Reef and also do a little blogging training. I tweeted the idea and was inundated by people wanting to enter. I also received tweets from some tourism organisations.

To cut a long story short, today I’m ecstatic to announce a competition to bring ten highly creative bloggers from all corners of the globe to Queensland to become Queensland Blogger Correspondents. Lucky winners will not only experience the destination first hand, they will get to blog about it plus become a guest blogger for Tourism Queensland’s own blog later this year.

Win a trip to Queensland (and get some personal ProBlogger training)

From June 5 to June 10 this year, Tourism Queensland and I will bring ten of what I think are the most intriguing bloggers from around the globe to Queensland to meet me and experience the Great Barrier Reef as Queensland Blogger Correspondents. You could be one of them.

The idea is simple: I love Queensland and I want to showcase it to the world. I also believe in the power of blogging and social media. So the best way to get the message out about this tropical playground is to invite people like you to experience it.

As part of the experience, you will be required to report about your adventure on your blog and social networks. The content will later be added to Tourism Queensland’s new blog. It’s going to be fun, but there will also be a little work (if you call blogging “work”) involved. A working holiday of sorts.

Plus—as an extra bonus—during the trip I’ll be running two exclusive training workshops for the ten winning bloggers. We’ll spend four or five hours—perhaps on a tropical island or maybe under the canopy of the world’s oldest rainforest—talking about the principles of successful blogging and workshopping how you can improve your blogs.

Prize details

Ben_Southall_Seawalker_Green_Island-638.jpgTen lucky bloggers will win a five-day, all-expenses paid trip to Queensland, Australia including return economy-class air tickets, accommodation, excursions to some of Queensland’s bucket-list attractions like the Great Barrier Reef, meals, and two close-encounter workshops with me. The event will run from June 5 until June 10, 2012, not including travel time.

In return for seeing some amazing sights, tasting some modern Aussie tucker (food), and meeting some wonderful characters, we’ll put aside time for you to create content (a minimum of two blog posts complemented by tweets, videos, photography, status updates, or podcasts) for you to share with your audience. The content will later be featured on the Tourism Queensland blog.

Please note that this prize is open only to bloggers over the age of 18 and I can assure you that we will be busy! As such we will be unable to cater for partners, family, or friends. For more information about the Tourism Queensland ProBlogger Great Barrier Reef Event prize and the terms and conditions, click here.

UPDATE: here is the 5 day itinerary for the trip.

How to enter

Palm_Cove,_Tropical_North_Queensland-638.jpgFor your chance to win a spot on this exciting trip we want you to tell us why you would make the ideal Queensland Blogger Correspondent.

We will choose ten winners based on how you would cover the experience. How you would get the word out about what you’re doing. What kind of exposure you could bring to the destination. What creative methods you would use to share your story.

But hurry, the competition closes at midnight April 17, 2012 (AEST—that’s Australian Eastern time) with the announcement of the winners on April 23, 2012 (AEST). Please note that Australia is a day ahead of some parts of the world!

To enter, please read the competition terms and conditions and then head to the competition entry form.

There you will find a form that asks you for a range of information about you, your blog, and how you’d cover this trip.

106395-634.jpgWe need some basics like your name, blog URL, traffic, your social media accounts, etc., but also want you to tell us how you’d approach covering this trip as a blogger correspondent.

Note: This is not just about finding the biggest blog to award the prize to. We will consider audience size, but we’re also extremely interested in hearing about your audience, how you’d cover the trip, and how the trip relates to your audience, as well as reviewing quality examples of your work.

This competition is open to bloggers anywhere around the globe (including within Australia) and we’re interested to hear from a range of bloggers from different niches.

Please ensure that you carefully read the terms and conditions of this competition before using the entry form.

Good luck to everyone – I look forward to spending a few special days with 10 of you on the Great Barrier Reef in June!

UPDATE: we’ll be using the hashtag of #QldBlog on Twitter to track this conversation.

Titles That Work on ProBlogger—And Why

Darren recently highlighted some of the posts that attract clicks at Digital Photography School. Many readers were interested to see the kinds of titles that do well here at ProBlogger, so today I thought I’d show you the posts that garnered a lot of traffic here in April.

The top titles

Here are the top seven, in order of their traffic levels:

  1. Win 1 of 10 Trips to the Great Barrier Reef in QLD, Australia #QLDBLOG
  2. 19 Essential WordPress Plugins for Your Blog
  3. 9 Facebook Marketing Tactics That’ll Triple Your Fans
  4. 3 Reasons No One Comes Back to Your Blog—And How to Fix It
  5. And the Winners Are… #QLDBLOG
  6. Attract 100,000 Pageviews in 1 Month Using SlideShare
  7. A Systematic Approach to Writing Successful Blog Posts

Why they work

Looking at this list, a few features immediately jump out at me—I wonder if you found that, too?

  • Titles that quantify the post’s benefits work well: Facebook tactics that’ll triple your fans? 100,000 pageviews in one month? 19 Essential plugins? Win one of ten trips? Quantification of benefits is a theme among these titles. I know people say “list posts do well,” but I think the issue—at click—isn’t the list so much as the perceived payoff. And all of these post titles promise a big payoff, up-front. Of course, to be shared, the posts need to deliver on that payoff, and these ones obviously do.
  • Natural language speaks volumes: The title 3 Reasons No One Comes Back to Your Blog—And How to Fix It quantifies a benefit, but it also speaks in natural language. It’s a slight exaggeration—you’re probably not getting zero repeat visits to your blog—but it’s one that we’d use in conversation with our blogging friends: “Man, no one comes back to my blog!” The same goes for “tactics that’ll triple your fans.” Bloggers seem reticent to use contractions in titles, but they can work really well—especially in keeping the rhythm of the title swinging along. They also suggest that the post will be written in language that’s approachable and on the level.
  • Titles that speak to “you” have cut-through: Three of these titles refer directly to the reader: your blog, your fans. While you’ll want to mix your titles up a bit, bringing the message and the benefits home to your audience by speaking to them directly is a good way to pique readers’ interest. Using “you” and “your” can give titles personal relevance.
  • Unique ideas grab attention: We see titles about Facebook marketing and WordPress plugins all the time, and they’re basically essential reading. But some of the other titles in this list communicate unusual ideas, and get attention for that very reason. Get 100,000 pageviewss a month … using SlideShare? That’s going to make a few people stop and sit up. Similarly, systemizing writing is a bit of a foreign concept for many: just how do you systemize what’s seen as an unruly, unpredictable creative task? So topics are important to the success of these posts, too.

How we tweaked them

Finally, I wanted to show you how we’d altered these titles, so you can try similar tweaks on your own post titles.

  1. Win 1 of 10 Trips to the Great Barrier Reef in QLD, Australia #QLDBLOG: This post was originally called “Queensland Competition” but Darren updated it before publication! Smart move.
  2. 19 Essential WordPress Plugins for Your Blog: The only change I made here was to the ending. The post’s original title was “19 Essential WordPress Plugins for 2012″ but I thought the content would have more longevity without the time-limitation. I also like to use “your” in titles where I can, because I think it gives some titles more cut-through: “Essential plugins for my blog? Really? Alright, I’ll take a look.”
  3. 9 Facebook Marketing Tactics That’ll Triple Your Fans: This post was submitted with the title “9 Facebook Marketing Strategies to Triple Your Fans”. I changed “strategies” because, well, they weren’t strategies. I also wanted a stronger sense of causality between the tactics and the results, so I used “that’ll.” Altogether, these changes alliterated well and gave the title a strong natural rhythm, too.
  4. 3 Reasons No One Comes Back to Your Blog—And How to Fix It: This post was originally titled, “3 reasons no one comes back even after a huge spike in traffic”. The problem was length, and context. Comes back to where? When I see titles in my Twitter feed or RSS feed reader, keywords jump out. I wanted to get “blog” into this one. Also, since Alex had included “The fix?” headings for each of the reasons he’d identified in the post, the “—and how to fix it” part of the title basically wrote itself.
  5. And the Winners Are… #QLDBLOG: Again, Darren wrote this one and, within the context of the blog, there was no need to change it.
  6. Attract 100,000 Pageviews in 1 Month Using SlideShare: This one was submitted with the title, “How to get 100,000 views in 1 month using Slideshare” but I wanted to get that big number closer to the start of the title. Also, we have a lot of “how to” posts on ProBlogger, so I try to vary them a bit so the blog doesn’t come across as one big how-to post. Finally, the full word “pageviews” seemed a bit more Google-responsive than “views.”
  7. A Systematic Approach to Writing Successful Blog Posts: This post was submitted with the title “How to write a successful blog post,” but on reading it I saw that it presented a system for writing, and I’d just scheduled another post on systematized blogging. I thought this post would be a nice follow-up, so I scheduled it for the same day and gave it a title that tied it to the theme of systematized blogging. As I mentioned above, this title was a bit more of a head-turner, since the whole problem with creative tasks like writing is that they seem so slippery and difficult to manage.

How do you go about creating good titles for posts on your blog? Share your secrets with us in the comments.