Alister Cameron // Blogologist

Changing the world. One blog(ger) at a time.

Case Study: How to run a great competition on your blog

As an online marketing consultant with a special interest in blogging, one of the ways I tell my clients they can generate a lot of interest in (and traffic to) their site is to run a competition. A competition can generate masses of good (and free) PR for your site, it can “position” you as an online leader in your industry or niche, and it can have tremendous flow-on effects for your entrants as well, in terms of “link love” and exposure, especially.

But a competition run badly can be worse than none at all. So what does a competition run well look like?

Well, wouldn’t you know it, in the middle of looking for one, it came to me! approached me for a paid review (via, so before accepting the review I did some research on their site to see what their competition was all about. And sure enough I fairly quickly realised someone behind the scenes had a pretty good idea what they were doing, and it would make a great case study for my readers (you!) on how to run a successful competition targeting bloggers.

Who Are is about half-way between a resource/tutorial site and a blog, meaning that the team have worked very hard (and quickly) to build on a strong base of high-quality content. And that is a point I keep making ad nauseam: make sure there’s real steak along with the sizzle. You can’t get away with broken promises for long, and a website that lacks quality content is — when all’s said and done — breaking the promises that your marketing is making. Think about it. launched in December 2006 (four months ago) as a “remodeling idea and how-to aggregator,” and with the goal of becoming the authority site on “remodeling and how-to inspiration and information.” Just four months from launch and the site looks a whole lot older and more established than you’d imagine, which is a credit to the team, who have gathered a list of expert bloggers and some attractive how-to video content.

(Note to self to post about the huge value of adding audio and video to your/my blog!)

The Competition: $5000 Remodel, Blog and Win Contest

The competition have launched dangles a very attractive $5000 carrot in front of anyone who reckons they can do a good, creative job of retelling the story of their recent/current remodelling project on their blog. The winner will be chosen both for the creativity they display in the way they present their remodelling project on their blog, as well as for the creativity of the project itself (things like use of space, materials, budget, and so forth).

Actually, the competition promises a lot more than that. There are a range of other prizes and value-adds for competitors which strengthen the overall “value proposition” of the competition for the entrants, and this reflects some sharp thinking on the part of the organizers. In fact, they’ve created a page just dedicated to listing all the benefits of entering (and they’re not just “hot air” things, either).

Paul Marek, one of the team at, explains the benefits like this:

It’s simple. All the exposure we’ll be generating for the contest will be passed on directly to the entrants. It’s really a win-win situation for everyone involved, not to mention the great $5,000 first prize, plus our $1,000 People’s Choice Award and the $250 Random Voters Award. With so many ways to win it really makes sense to “enter now”!

I’m going to quickly summarise the important points (as I see them) from that page, and I’d encourage you as a blogger to be thinking about how these might apply with a competition you might run on your blog:

  1. A first prize of $5000.
    That’s enough money to really make a difference to someone’s remodeling project, but not too much to send broke. My point would be this: like it or not, the prize matters. Many people will make the decision to read on or pass your competition by based on the first prize only. It’s like the lowest common denominator of competitions, and if your first prize doesn’t grab people immediately, they’ll move on. Do I hear someone yelling, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”?
  2. A “People’s Choice” award of $1000.
    What makes this second form of prize such a great idea is nothing to do with the money… it’s the dynamic of peer review. It means a whole “community” experience is engendered on the site as fellow entrants and passers-by cast their votes for or against a given remodeling project, or leave comments. I got tired of saying this in about 1999, but here goes again: information MUST be leveraged with interactivity!
  3. The promise of increased traffic and exposure.
    The guys over at obviously know how to scratch where many bloggers itch, with the promise of more traffic! And I think it’s a promise they can deliver on. Think about it… entrants to this competition can be sure of one thing: incoming traffic from is guaranteed to be targeted!
  4. A promotional partnership with
    This “deal” with will see entrants’ blogs promoted on that website to, I would assume, a much larger audience than may currently have. That’s a very smart strategy. (Quantcast estimates’s traffic at over 66,000 unique US visitors per month.)
  5. A great way to connect with other remodelers.
    If the Joe Average entrant to the competition is mad keen about both remodeling and blogging, then these other entrants are the blogs he/she stands a very good likelihood of getting excited about. “Birds of a feather,” and all that. I would never want you to underestimate the value your blog can be as a meeting-place for like-passioned readers. (Liz Strauss is a guru at making her blog just that kind of place, by the way.)

How To Run A Competition Targeting Bloggers

So what are the take-aways for you, dear blogger? What can you learn from about running a competition on your blog?

  1. Know your audience well!
    It’s clear the team at know their market well. They’re running an online competition targeting bloggers who have done some remodelling and want to proudly display their handiwork. Their competition creates an audience of eyes for each entrant. Even if the entrant doesn’t win, he/she has satisfied that primal desire to “tell the world” about their project… after all, that’s why they’re blogging in the first place, right?!
  2. Set the bar at the right height.
    If I’m a great, creative blogger and only average at home remodeling, I stand as good a chance at winning as the semi-retired cabinetmaker who’s updating his kitchen, but is scared of his computer. In other words, by splitting the judging criteria in this way, have saved people in both camps from the feeling that they probably couldn’t win. Both now DO stand a fighting chance. That’s call setting the bar at the right height, or in other words, designing smart/appropriate judging criteria… that are inclusive, achievable and fun.
  3. Get everyone participating, not just watching.
    The guys at didn’t put voting and commenting in there just because the technology was there to be used. They have recognised what it is that makes social networks like MySpace and Flickr so powerful: user interaction. In particular, the People’s Choice award harnesses this urge to participate.
  4. Get everyone promoting, too.
    The question here is, “What are you doing to help people easily promote their entry in your competition on their site, and in their emails even?” have an entire page of button and banners for this purpose, which is excellent, but they’ve also given the entrants their own “Vote For Me” buttons. This is called covering all the bases well. Of course, there’s another sweetener here for your own blog: all the inbound links from these buttons pointing back to your competition page!
  5. Reward the reader, not just the entrant.
    No matter how good the competition, most readers will not convert into entrants, so what do you have for them?! rises to this challenge with their whole voting system (as well as all the site’s other content), but I’d go further. Perhaps an email alerting system so that every time a new entrant lists, readers can subscribe to be notified by email?
  6. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
    Competitions can run for months. This one does. Which means you need to keep it alive for people who may not keep coming to your site of their own fee will. That means getting their email address and keeping them informed (which is why has registered voting, as well as an unregistered variety). You also need to keep blogging about it regularly with updates, announcements of every new competitor, etc. You might also introduce milestone awards… whatever it takes to have an excuse to keep talking about it!
  7. Do the Social Media Marketing (SMM) well.
    I noticed that this competition page is doing very well on StumbleUpon (I added my thumbs up there too). Is that by design or default, do you think?! I haven’t looked but I assume similar encouragements are being put to all readers and entrants to bookmark that page to the various and most popular bookmarking services too. Why? Because it’s cheap and (can be) very effective marketing for the competition!

I’ll stop at seven points. Do you have more? If you’ve run an effective competition on your blog, what worked a treat for you? If you think I’ve missed an important point here, please drop a comment and let us know.

Step Into an Entrant’s Shoes

The final advice I have for bloggers keen to run good, successful, win-win competitions for their readers is this: be an entrant!

At the end of the day, other than trying to run one, the best way I can suggest to learn how to run a good competition is to be an entrant in someone else’s. Certainly I would suggest this competition as a starting point, if you have recently completed (or are in the middle of) a remodeling project. It would be a great learning experience for you, in more ways than one, I’m sure.

I have has a look at some of the entrants so far, and I’m really impressed. We’re not talking a single blog post here; some of these people have entire blogs covering months of remodeling work and very detailed blogging about it all. But again, don’t be intimidated because the judging criteria are designed to be broad enough for great bloggers, great remodelers and everyone in-between 🙂

The Remodel, Blog and Win competition runs through to August 24, 2007, so you still have plenty of time to take the photos, and get creative!


This is a sponsored post. My policy with sponsored posts is to accept only those products or services about which I can write a (generally) positive review which represents true value for my readers. If I don’t respect the product or service, or if I do not see how I can write a post that (I think) is genuinely valuable to my readers, I will not accept the sponsorship. My sponsored posts are brokered by

blogging, case studies, marketing, seo, remodeling, remodelling, renovations, renovation, competitions, online competitions, contests, blog competition, home improvement, home renovation, home remodeling, blog marketing, blog promotions


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  1. Posted 12 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    what great advice, Alister! It makes me tempted to go after that $5000. Of course, I’m no designer, have no time, and really have no chance of winning, but I’m sure it would be fun! Fun is half the reason for enterring, isn’t it?

    Thanks for the love, my friend.

  2. Posted 12 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    Good stuff Ali C!

  3. Posted 12 years, 3 months ago // Permalink

    Hi Alister;

    Thanks for the great review! I mean, not only as a review for us, but for the educational message you are conveying here as well. This is some great information that you are offering to bloggers.

    As a result of organizing this contest and learning everything I did from it, I’ve decided to put together a white-paper or similar on “How To Organize a Successful Online LinkBaiting Contest”. I’ll certainly make reference to many of your points here. I’ll make it available through you first, too.

    Liz; We’d love to have you enter! Painting a room soon? Make the room beautiful, and make the post funny, and you’ll be providing ideas and inspiration to others – which is what this contest is all about – besides the link bait. 😉 (Psssst… please let your readers know about the contest!) Wink, wink. Enter now! Good Luck!

    Many Thanks,

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