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Run an Awesome Blog Contest in 5 Steps

This guest post is by Kiera Pedley of Binkd.

Running a contest on your blog can be a great way to generate new readership, reactivate stagnant subscribers, and increase the engagement of your readers.

Competitions can be a lot of hard work for little or no results, unless you run them to a plan and have a clear objective in mind.

Here are five tips for running an awesome blog contest campaign.

1. Set a clear objective

As bloggers we love readers, we love engagement, we love community—a contest can help you achieve any or all of these things. When planning your contest, set a goal as to what you need to achieve.

Do you want more:

  • email Subscribers
  • RSS readers
  • social media fans
  • sales of your product
  • comments and engagement?

Set your goals as numbers—if you wish to increase your email subscribers, how many do you want?

The true measure of a successful competition is in its metrics, and without a clear, numerical goal in place, you won’t know if your hard work is paying off.

2. Don’t go it alone

If youíre hoping to attract new readership to your blog, you want your contest to be seen by as many people as possible. You can do this using a few strategies:

Use a third-party social media competition platform to help send the contest viral

Increasing your contest’s visibility is the key to success, and the easiest medium to send your contest viral is social media.

A third-party app helps you to encourage your fans to share their entries on social media. You can either use a blog plugin to run your contest, or use a Facebook based application such as Binkd or Wildfire App. (Full disclosure here, Binkd is my product!)

Joint venture with partner

Leveraging someone else’s list is a powerful way to attract a fresh audience. Team up with a non-competing colleague in your niche and share the rewards of your contest. In exchange for the cross promotion, you could allow them to market to the list generated by the contest.

Approach sponsors

Getting a high-profile sponsor of your contest to assist in the promotion or in the donation of a prize is another way to help market your contest. It also adds credibility to your contest by transferring trust.

3. Choose your contest carefully

If you’re using a competition app, there are several types of contests available:

Skills contest

A skills contest requires your entrants to perform a task to be elligible to answer. Short story contests, answer a question contests, and write a jingle skills contests are popular. Entrants can then either be drawn randomly, or encouraged to share their entries to get their friends to vote. Skills contests are similar to sweepstakes, but the entrants can influence their success or failure in the competition.

You can select to have the entrant with the most votes win, or have each vote count for an entry, and drawn similar to a sweepstakes contest.

Photo contests

A visual form of skills contest, here, your entrants upload a photo, and then appeal to their contacts to vote for the photo. This is a really good way to visually promote your brand. Getting a photo of your fans using your product, or performing a stunt related to your brand spreads the word about you far and wide!

Challenge contests

A challenge contest can send your entrants on a virtual scavenger hunt around your site and social media pages, searching for answers to your questions. This type of contest is powerful for creating engaged and interactive entrants.


Your entrants submit their entry, and the winner(s) are randomly drawn. Sweepstakes are a game of chance, not skill.

4. Build engagement

Increase the stickiness of your contest by increasing the engagement of your entrants.

Multiple entry steps

Statistically, contests with multiple entry steps deliver more engaged and sticky entrants. A challenge contest gives your entrants the opportunity to explore your site, and interact with various articles on your blog.

Achievable goals

Make the contest goals achievable for your entrants to complete. For example, if you’re running an article contest to generate some awesome new articles, don’t set word counts or criteria too high or tight.

Don’t make your challenge contest questions too difficult to answer, or be too cryptic in your clues.

5. Automate the process

You can effectively run a contest just on your blog, or by a forum and email management system, but it’s a lot of hard work and can be an administrative nightmare!

There are several applications on the market that automate running a contest and allow you to keep the list of entrants to market to during and after the contest.

Some of the most popular are:

  • Binkd a contest platform that offers a WordPress plugin and Facebook Sweepstakes and Challenge contests
  • Wildfire App, for Facebook Sweepstakes, Photo Contests, and Vote to Win
  • Bulbstorm, for Facebook Sweepstakes, Photo Contests, and Vote to Win.

Running a contest can really help you build up your readership and drive quality, qualified fans to your email subscriber list and social media platforms. You can simplify the job by using a third-party application to handle the grunt work of administering the contest.

Have you used a contest to promote your blog and engage readers? Share your experiences and tips in the comments.

Kiera Pedley is the CCO (Chief Caring Officer) at Binkd home of the Binkd Promotion Platform.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  1. Hi Keira,
    I have really been putting some thought into adding a contest to my blog. I want my blog to be different than average, you know just writing posts and getting comments from other bloggers.

    I see that your site offers a contest platform so I will be sure to check it out.

    • Hi Justin,
      The trick with any contest is to address the desires of your target market – so if you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ve got to REALLY know your readership.

  2. The point that approaching sponsors is really a good move in order for any blog to show more credibilty and made others feel that this blog is just not an ordinary blog.

  3. To promote a blog contest getting the word around as much as you can would bring in more participants. To attract more people the prize should be really worthwhile the bigger the prize the popular it would be. It can be seen in games telecast nowadays.

    Giving ads on other blogs would really get the word to spread more in the subjected niche.

    • Hi James,
      It doesn’t necessarily stand true that the bigger the prize the more attractive the contest is – going from some of our metrics, it seems to be the more engaged customers are with the brand, the more successful the contest is.

      For example – we have seen contests where customers will go nuts over a T-Shirt for the simple privelege of having a branded piece of merchandise from a company.

      It’s how you build the hype.

      The other side of the coin, we’ve noticed the contests giving away iPads get a lot of traction.

  4. Ive always thought about running a comp, but is there any legal hurdles?

    Here in Aus, there always seem to be some sort of licence number whenever a competition is advertised etc.

    Can anyone confirm?

  5. Now a days, competition is huge in blogging business.
    Contests is a great way to get new visitors on the blog.
    I should try it out.

    • Hi Yatra,
      Yes!! It is a great way to bring in new readership – especially if, as mentioned in an above comment, you’re able to generate the hype and engagement around your brand, to get your readers clamouring to be a part of it all.

  6. I would really love to try these. I’ve never host a contest in my blog before. Thanks for this lovely post!

  7. Kiera, Nice article. “Set a clear Objective!” That speaks out everything. Thanks for sharing the post.

  8. Thanks for sharing Kiera, I have a couple contests in mind for the new few months and will definitely give Binkd a shot for the first one and go from there.

  9. I have hosted plenty of contests and giveaways.. prizes were varied from software licenses to gadgets (the latest one I have running at the moment is the Amazon Kindle 3).

    So far it’s okay to administer them but the hard part is to spread the news around. It is getting better after I get a number of list subscribers (which is really important). I’m going to have a look at Binkd now to find out what it’s about and whether it can help me further :) cheers

    • Awesome Michael!!

      We’ve noticed gadgets like iPads and Kindles get really great entry responses. Let me know how you go, and if you need anything further!!

  10. I have found the giveaways work best with known companies. When I have worked with some great people on etsy that make their own jewelry, have not had as much interest. I also made a page on my blog called Sponsored Giveaways and I list all companies I have had giveaways where they sponsor the product. Then I like to the giveaway and this way, future companies can see who I have worked with in the past. I have had some great ones lately like Keurig, Deborah Lippmann, 11th Street Coffee, Red Maps. My only issue is I don’t want people to follow my blog just for the giveaways but for the content as well. I have not lost any followers, only gained, so it seems to be working well for me.

    • Hi Rosemary,
      Thanks for reading :)

      There are probably a couple of factors that play into it:
      Readership Engagement
      Size of your list
      Preferences of your target audience.

      And you’re right – you don’t just want “freeple” make them work a bit for their prize :) You don’t just have to give something away!!

  11. I meant linked the company name to their giveaway post on the blog…..

  12. Hi Kiera! I’m the Marketing Director over here at Bulbstorm. Thank you so much for including us in your list of social contest platforms. While we typically work with larger brands like Intel and the WWE, we’re happy for the recognition here. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Binkd. Feel free to reach out by Twitter (@scribedevil) or by email anytime. Thanks again!

    • Hi Matt!!
      You’re very welcome – we love Bulbstorm’s energy, and attitude- it’s really funky!!

      I’ll connect on Twitter!

  13. What precautions do we need to take around choosing the prize to give? Can I just give away something like a Vera Bradley wallet without asking the company and I am sponsoring it myself? What if I want to use one of their pictures of the item in the promotion of the giveaway?

  14. Brilliant! I have been contemplating holding a contest on my website for some time now, glad to see I can do this using this easy-to-use app! Thank you.

  15. I recently launched 3 contests using the Blinkd plug in. I love it. One contest is going real well so far and it has generated 649 likes on my Facebook page since October 1st. To generate a fast buzz about your contest try listing it in the forums section in contests.about.com. I also found a few other places where you can list contests online. Just do a search for contest sites. The only draw back I have seen so far is it appears that I have attracted the “professional” contest people to my photo voting contest. The people that are getting the most votes appear to have a full time job trying to win contests. The “contest people” have prior arrangements with other “contest people” that agree to vote when asked. The photo contest is causing a big buzz we are giving away a free electric blanket…but I was hoping the average person would have a chance to win it. On the up side several of the contest people are tweeting my web address every few hours trying to generate votes. They are also directing alot of traffic to our site so it is creating alot of inbound links.

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