You’re probably sick of hearing it.
You know, the good old one, two, three strategy for after you start your blog and want to grow it.
One – set up an e-mail list.
Two – create a juicy incentive to persuade visitors to sign up.
Three – promote the hell out of it and hope people take the bait.
And the thing is, it’s good advice.
But that’s the problem.
Because it’s good advice, everyone’s doing it.
Which means it’s increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd.
So what’s a subscriber-hungry blogger to do?
Well, when everyone’s doing the same thing, the smart play is to do something completely different.
So what if there were a way to attract subscribers that 99% of bloggers aren’t using?
What if this method could give you a big jump in subscribers, not just a small trickle?
And what if you could learn this method in just a few minutes?
(The exact method I recently used to add 500 new subscribers to my own blog.)
Why Traditional Sign-Up Bribes Don’t Work Like They Used To
Long gone are the days when people would hand over their e-mail addresses simply to get your “latest posts delivered free”.
These days, readers expect much more. And a well-crafted incentive like a free report or an e-mail series can help overcome their natural resistance to inviting you into their inboxes.
But traditional sign-up incentives like these often aren’t as effective as you’d think.
The problem is that readers struggle to truly value something that’s being given away to any schmo with an e-mail address.
No matter how valuable the incentive is in practice, its perceived value to the average blog visitor is low.
In fact, this perceived value has been diluted further by the hundreds of mediocre offerings from other bloggers. Readers have been disappointed before and their expectations are rock-bottom.
So to get their attention, you need to offer something a little different.
You need to offer an incentive whose value is so clear and obvious that handing over an e-mail address is a complete no-brainer.
In other words, you need to give them something so valuable, it feels like cash.
How To Give Away “Free Money” Without Going Broke
I started my blog by giving away $1,000 to strangers. That stood out for a couple of weeks, but distributing free money is not sustainable. Even the most profitable sites would be underwater if they wired cash to your PayPal account just for signing up.
But you can take the value of your giveaway to epic new levels if it’s a one-off prize for a contest.
You can create something so irresistible that everyone in your niche wants it, but you won’t go broke because you only have to give it away once, not thousands of times.
Why does it work?
When the average person weighs the value of their e-mail address against the value of the prize, they usually don’t factor in the actual chances of winning.
Think about entering a lottery. Each week millions of people are happy to hand over their money even though statistically their chances of winning first prize are miniscule. They pay the price to enter for the potential of a huge prize.
Same with your contest – with a desirable prize, people will be attracted by the value of the prize, even though they probably won’t win.
So the next question is, what should you offer as a prize that people will desperately want?
Why an iPad is a Terrible Prize (Even Though Everyone Wants One)
The iPad seems to be the go-to prize for any brand running a contest or promotion.
And it usually works because an iPad is something that most people want, even if just to sell it on eBay.
In fact, I bet you’d sign up to a blog – any blog – if that were the prize on offer.
But just because lots of people would give their e-mail addresses for a shot at winning the latest Apple product, it doesn’t mean they would make good subscribers.
For a contest to be successful, the prize must be relevant to your niche.
And since the goal is to get new subscribers to your blog, what you give away should attract people who are interested in what you write about.
Otherwise you’re attracting the wrong people.
For example, if you ran a contest on your dog-grooming blog giving away an iPad, I’d probably be tempted to enter. But as soon as I received your first e-mail blast of high-quality pet-care content, I’d hit unsubscribe quicker than a greyhound chasing a hare because I don’t have a dog, and don’t care about grooming them.
So you need to set up the contest so that if I’m interested in the prize, I’m likely to be the perfect reader for your blog.
How To Create An Irresistible Prize That Will Have Readers Drooling With Desire
So we understand that the prize needs to be relevant to your blog audience.
But how can you make it incredible? How can you make it so obviously appealing that even the most wary of blog readers can’t help but enter?
Let’s cover the two main paths to an irresistible prize.
1) Offer a prize with a price tag
This means offering something that already has some accepted value out there in the real world. Something that if won, could potentially be sold to someone else. Obviously an iPad passes this test (although it’s still a terrible prize for most bloggers).
However, although this type of prize would normally cost money, you don’t necessarily have to spend money. Think about what you already sell on your blog (or could sell).
What could you provide that potential subscribers would love?
2) Offer a prize that is in limited supply
Humans are hardwired to react to scarcity. Limited time offers and money can’t buy prizes trigger something in our brains that says we must have it.
For most people, creating a one-off product will be too time-consuming, but the easiest way to create this in your contest is to offer personal access to you.
To make the prize truly scarce though, it needs to be something you’ve never done before, or you’ll never do again, or something that’s unique in some way. This might take a little creativity, but it will make a monumental difference in the type of response you get to the contest.
The Sneaky Shortcut to Creating a Killer Prize Without Spending a Dime
If you’re struggling with creating a suitably valuable and scarce prize, then it’s time to enlist help.
Getting one or more sponsors to donate a prize can really up the ante.
As well as making the prize more valuable, sponsors can also help with cross promoting your contest, increasing your reach and providing validation that your contest is legit.
You’re probably saying, “This sounds great, but why would anyone bother to sponsor my contest?”
There’s more in it for a sponsor than you’d think:
- They get free promotion from you and the other sponsors. The contest showcases them and the prize they’ve donated to people who will like what they have to offer.
- They have something new to offer their own subscribers. They can give their subscribers a chance to win something bigger than they could offer themselves, especially if you have two or more sponsors. It also showcases their generosity in donating a prize to you.
- They get the opportunity to tailor an offer to the new subscribers. The people who’ve signed up to win the prize (which includes their donation) are likely to be good targets for the sponsors’ own products and services. They could create a joint venture with you (affiliate marketing) to create an offer for that specific audience.
If you feel your blog is too small to attract sponsorships, think creatively. Who in your existing network might be a good fit? What could you offer in return? Perhaps you could donate a prize back, or even run a contest for them in the future.
The only big no-no is sharing your subscriber list with the sponsor after the contest. This is not the way to treat your cherished subscribers – keep them to yourself and guard their privacy with all your might!
For my contest, I put up the main prize, which was personal coaching and a ticket to a conference, but I also attracted eight sponsors, who each added a different dimension. Some also offered exclusive access to them, which significantly increased the scarcity element of the prize.
The Two Main Types of Contests (and the Pros and Cons of Each)
Once you’ve picked your irresistible prize, you must decide what type of contest to run.
There are two main types: random draw and best entry.
1) Random Draw Contests
For a random draw, people simply need to give you their e-mail address to enter.
And at the end of the contest, you pick a winner at random.
The obvious advantage here is that it’s simple so you should get plenty of entries.
The disadvantage is that the contest is arguably less interesting because it’s complete luck. Also you don’t get any useful information from your audience that could inform the future direction of your blog.
However, if your primary goal is to get new subscribers, this is the contest you probably should choose.
2) Best Entry Contests
Best entry contests can take several forms.
Most commonly you’d ask entrants to provide a short answer to a written question, such as: “Tell me why you think you should win the prize.”
You don’t have to stop there though. You could ask people to submit photographs, jokes, poems – anything you like.
Just be aware that the harder you make the contest to enter, the fewer people who will make the effort.
The advantage with a best entry contest is that it has more built-in curiosity. As a participant, even if you don’t win you may still want to find out about the submission that came first.
You could even design the question so that the answers help you in some way. For instance, if you’re thinking of launching a new product, the aim of the contest might be to come up with names for that product.
How to Set Up Your Contest Like A Complete Pro
I know what you’re thinking.
This all sounds great, but isn’t it going to be complicated?
Don’t worry, the following step-by-step guide will make sure you don’t miss a beat.
7 Simple Steps To Seriously Successful Subscriber Seduction
In the following steps, you’ll discover exactly how to set up a contest, using MailChimp as an example e-mail provider.
However, these instructions will work just as well with other providers, like Aweber, GetResponse, Constant Contact, etc. Some of the details will be a little different, but the overall method is the same.
(If you don’t have an e-mail provider yet, I suggest using MailChimp – then you can follow the steps laid out below.)
Step #1: Sign up for a MailChimp account
Skip this step if you have an account already; if you don’t, you can sign up here.
Step #2: Create a new list
You’ll need a temporary list for the duration of the contest, so that you can treat people who enter your contest differently from your regular subscribers at first.
(You can merge these new subscribers into your regular list easily when the contest is over.)
Here are instructions for setting up a new list in MailChimp.
Step #3: Create a simple sign-up form for contest entrants
To allow people to enter your contest, you’ll need a custom form.
Create a new form and add the appropriate fields according to whether you chose a random draw, or best entry contest.
When you’re done, you should see something like this:
In the bottom right is the code you need to paste into your site to embed the form in your blog.
Step #4: Create a contest landing page
The next step is to create a dedicated landing page for the contest on your site. This is the page that people will be directed to from any promotion, e.g., via social media.
I recommend using a WordPress page, not a post, as it keeps it separate from the regular flow of updates on the front page of your blog, and gives it a more permanent home.
Use power words to write a compelling introduction to your contest, being as brief and clear as possible. Explain what’s on offer and the benefits of entering.
The following is an example:
Once that’s written, grab the code snippet that you created in step 3, and paste it into the page. (Use the “Text” editor rather than the “Visual” editor within WordPress so that the code remains intact.)
Here’s a pro tip to make the form a little nicer: By default, MailChimp will set the button to read “Subscribe” and in the form builder you can’t change it. To make it more appropriate for your contest, after you’ve pasted in the code, search out this section and change value=“Subscribe” to value=“Enter Now!”:
Once you’ve done that, your page should look something like this:
Step #5: Customize the sign-up process for contest entrants
Once you have a contest page, the next step is to change the list sign-up process to confirm that people have entered your contest, not just subscribed.
(Don’t worry, we won’t touch the process for your main list, just the new one we’ve just created.)
Two steps are involved. First is the “Opt-in confirmation e-mail” – which people are sent to confirm their e-mail addresses. You should modify the text of this e-mail to explain that clicking the link will confirm entry to your contest as well as subscribing. This is easy to do:
Second, and more important to help spread your contest, is the “Confirmation thank you page.” This is the page that people see when they click the link in the e-mail you just modified.
We want to be able to customize this page to encourage entrants to share the contest, and for this you’ll need to make sure it’s hosted on your own blog (instructions here.)
The following screenshot shows you the important settings:
We’ll focus on Twitter shares, so head to clicktotweet.com and sign in with your Twitter account.
There you’ll be able to create a tweet which shares your contest. Make sure you add your own Twitter handle to the text, and a link to the contest page on your blog.
Click on “Generate New Link” and on the next page you’ll see a code snippet to add to your thank you page. Adding this will make it easy to tweet a link to your contest with just one click.
Now, if your audience isn’t on Twitter, you could choose a Facebook share button, or some other method for people to share. Get creative, but be sure to make it easy.
Note: You can scale up the social sharing of your contest by using a premium service such as Contest Domination. This gives entrants an extra chance of winning each time they share and simplifies some tasks like picking a winner. However, you can absolutely run a successful contest without it.
Step #6: Set up a conversation with your entrants
The last set-up step is to write a welcome e-mail to your new subscribers.
This should be short and to the point, but you can gain tremendous value from it by asking a simple question. Your e-mail might read:
Whilst you’re here, I’d love to ask you a question:
What’s the biggest thing I could help you with in [Your Blog’s Topic]?
If you could hit reply and let me know, I’d very much appreciate it.
Good luck again,[Your Name]
You might even get some ideas for a paid product you could create. This type of insight into your subscribers is priceless so don’t miss out on the chance to start a conversation.
Step #7: Test, check and click publish
This goes without saying, but check your work before launching it!
Anyone can follow this process, but it’s easy to miss a step or get something slightly wrong. So do a test entry from a second e-mail address and make sure you’re totally happy with it.
Once you’re happy the process is smoother than silk, you’re ready to launch and the real fun can begin.
How To Make Sure Everyone and Their Dog Knows About Your Contest
Regarding promotion, the pros’ rule of thumb is to spend at least as much time promoting your content as writing it.
Since this exercise is all about getting new readers to notice your blog, you should plan to double or triple the amount of time you spend creating your contest as you did promoting it.
Whether you’re a marketing pro, or just getting started, the following methods should be part of your contest promotion plan:
1) Mail your existing list – even if it’s tiny
This is common sense, but it’s often overlooked when the focus is adding new subscribers.
Your existing subscribers are your closest allies, and they likely all have a network of contacts that might love your blog too.
Get them to enter, and ask them directly to share. They will have to enter their e-mail again, so make the sharing bit easy for them – another good time to use clicktotweet.com.
Don’t worry about having their e-mail twice – when you merge the contest entrants to your existing list, any duplicates will be ignored.
2) Advertise the contest on your blog
This is another obvious way to promote your contest that often gets forgotten.
Make sure that you put the contest in front of all of your regular visitors.
A link in the sidebar, header or footer would work – or all three depending on your blog’s design. (Don’t replace your standard sign up form though, as you want to give visitors the maximum number of chances to subscribe.)
It’s also a good idea to write a post announcing your contest, and promote it in the usual way to get your readers fired up to enter and hopefully share the contest.
3) Step up your social activity
If your usual social promotion involves sending out a single tweet when you hit publish, it’s time to get serious.
You need to create an engaging set of updates that people actually notice. If you’re wondering where to even start with that, check out this list of 10 Twitter tips which will transform your tweeting.
A specific tip for sponsored contests is to say nice things about your sponsors and make it easy for them to retweet and share – for example:
Mentioning two or more sponsors in a tweet not only shows how great your prize is, but it also allows sponsors to easily promote each other, as well as your contest – a win for everyone.
This was retweeted by one of my sponsors to her 18.4k followers. Not only is she promoting the contest, but all my other sponsors get a little exposure too.
4) Ask your sponsors to promote the contest
As well as tapping into their social media followings, if you’ve got the right relationship with your sponsors, they may well promote the contest to their own subscribers or through their own sites or blogs.
For example, one of my contest sponsors named Karen Marston from Untamed Writing wrote a great post, mentioning my contest at the end, as well as showcasing all of the other sponsors.
It’s easy then to repay the favor and share again…
5) Reach out to other bloggers
With a great contest to promote, now might be the perfect time to ask other bloggers for a link or request that guest post. If you do, make sure you add a link to your contest in the author bio – you can check the end of this post for an example (and an opportunity to win).
Yes guest posting is hard work, but it can make a huge difference to how many entrants you get. Since you’re doing this thing, you might as well go all out.
Don’t stop at these tactics though. Now is the time to go into promotion overdrive and really maximize the exposure of your contest – after all, you’re giving away an epic prize, so people should know about it.
How To Run Your Contest For Maximum Impact
Your promotion machine is in gear and your contest is getting lots of entries. What else must you do to make your contest a success?
1) Engage generously with your entrants
A simple way to have more engaged subscribers is to actually engage with them. There’s no shortcut or hack; engagement is a two way process.
On Twitter, make sure you thank anyone who tweets about your contest. If they use the automated tweet you created, it contains your @handle, so you should find them in your notifications.
Since you crafted a great question in your welcome e-mail, you should get plenty of responses giving answers. You need to follow up and reply to all of them, being as helpful as you can.
This doesn’t mean you have to personally solve the thing they need help with, but if you can point them to a great link, or offer some of your experience, it will do wonders for your reputation and seriously increase the likelihood of that person becoming a raving fan.
Yes, that means you have to deal with more e-mails than usual, but it will be worth the effort. If Seth Godin can answer all of his own e-mails, you can answer these.
2) Give Them One Last Chance – Then Make Someone’s Day
As your contest draws to an end, you’ll want to do a final set of reminder promotions.
Hopefully you’ll have a late flurry of entries, then it’s time to pick a winner.
If you’ve used a best entry contest, then read through all of the entries, and pass judgment (it’s your contest, so you decide who wins).
If you want to choose an entrant at random, it’s a little more effort, but not too difficult. The easiest way is to export your list from MailChimp to a .CSV file which you can open in Microsoft Excel or Google Docs. There will be a row for every entry.
Select a number at random between 1 and the total number of rows to choose a winner. Random.org has a super easy tool to do this, right on its home page.
3) Write A “Winner” E-mail Your Whole List Will Want to Open
Now that you have your winner, it’s time to let them know by e-mail.
If someone has entered a contest – then gets an e-mail telling them the winner is announced inside – are they going to open it?
You bet they are, so you can expect an insanely high open rate for this e-mail, Make sure you make the most of it.
Remember though, that when they do open it, almost everyone will be disappointed because they didn’t win. So offering a consolation prize to everyone is the best way to turn around that disappointment.
Offering a time-sensitive discount for a product which is closely related to the prize can have the double benefit of providing a consolation prize, and increasing sales of the product. This could be a great win for the sponsor as well as everyone who entered.
Even if you don’t want to sell anything at this point, you need to prove the value of your blog to subscribers. You must be clear about the value you bring to them.
One argument against using contests to grow your list is that subscribers are only in it for the prize and will quickly unsubscribe.
To prevent that, now is the time to provide an insanely valuable piece of content for free, exclusively to contest entrants. This shows people not only the quality of what you provide, but also more detail about the type of content they can expect.
A great option could be to take a group of your best blog posts, add a little commentary and compile them into an information-packed e-book that’s useful to subscribers and gives them a chance to get up to date with your blog archive without trawling its archives.
A simple notification e-mail then might look like this:
Remember you entered my [Contest Name] contest?
You probably want to know who the winner is, right?
Well before I announce who it is, I want you to promise not to close the e-mail if that winner isn’t you, because I’ve got a fantastic consolation prize for everyone that didn’t win.
Ok, drum roll please.
The winner is…[Winner’s Name] [Some detail about the winner, especially if it was a best entry contest]
OK. I guess that means that you probably didn’t win.
WAIT, DON’T CLOSE THE E-MAIL, YOU PROMISED!
Everyone who entered gets:[Follow up offer from you or a sponsor, offering a time sensitive discount or deal on a related product – link to details] [Awesome piece of content created by you to showcase your blog – link to download] [Your regular sign up incentive so contest entrants don’t have to re-sign up to get it – link to download]
Even if you didn’t win the main prize, I hope you agree these are a worthy consolation.
Thanks again for entering, look forward to speaking to you again soon.[Your Name]
By providing awesome free content and a consolation prize, you should have happy subscribers who are eager to hear back from you.
It’s Time To Get Serious And Create A Contest Where Everyone Wins
You know that building your list is essential to creating a successful and profitable blog.
And a contest is a great way to make your blog stand out and give your e-mail list a serious boost.
Do it right and everybody wins: the winner wins, you win, the sponsors win, and all of the entrants win too.
So when will you get started?
Everything you need to run a contest that delivers tons of new subscribers is laid out right here.
Will you drink it in, get inspired, then file it in your favorites list to gather digital dust?
Or will you take action?
Because blogs are like contests. You’ll never win big unless you get in the game.
76 thoughts on “How to Run a Simple Contest & Add 500 Subscribers to Your List”
that is a very powerful distinction: A prize that is relevant to your niche.
Will spend some thinking what this would be for middle managers in the field of controlling.
No problem Alexander. You’re absolutely right that a relevant prize is key. Pick the wrong one, and you may get lots of entries, but then lots of unsubscribes when the contest is over. Good luck with thinking one up for middle managers.
This is probably the number one most important thing you must get right. Nice job.
You’re right Rob McNelis. IT all starts with a good prize. If you get that wrong, the rest of it wont work!
Simply the one that I needed the most at this moment. I have been thinking to launch a contest and thus bring in whole lot of new readers. It’s not the prize that I have been struggling to come up with.
I wonder how one would be able to go through the submissions and choose a best entry when there are whole lot of entries. Any tip?
If you’re going to do a best answer contest, then you need to set aside a little time to go through the answers. My tip is to make sure you’re going to get some insight into your subscribers from reading their entries – otherwise use a random draw.
When you are going through a long list, I would pick the first answer that’s worthy of winning, and then compare each subsequent one to this – if an answer is better, then it’s in pole position, and you compare all others to that. So as you’re reading down the list, you’re only ever comparing two answers and choosing the best.
Truly amazing post!
I was thinking from a past few days about ways to build my email list but suddenly I found this article full of valuable information and tips.
And the line “Humans are hardwired to react to scarcity” taught me a very important aspect about the nature of people, and is revealed in most aspects of their personal lives.
Thanks a lot!
Thanks Vikas. You’re right, we react to scarcity in almost everything. It’s a great thing to be aware of!
Well written with lots of juicy ideas. The sticking point for me is I’d rather have 500 subscribers who genuinely care what I have to say than 2,000 who signed up to take a chance on the prize and never open another email – and please don’t say this never happens because you know that it does.
I totally agree with you that fewer engaged subscribers are better than lots of uninterested ones. There will be some who don’t care after your contest finishes, but if you pick a prize that’s relevant to your niche and follow up with great content, you can minimise the drop off.
Running a contest gets your blog out in front of more people – they may not all like it, but some will, and then you have a great opportunity to turn them into raving fans.
Giveaways are the new black. Tons of bloggers do giveaways. I find out that people sign up and then drop off you list whether or not you have compelling content. I find giveaways simply dilute your email list. Plus you can’t ask people to sign up as a condition to entering your contest. It makes your sweepstakes illegal since it violates the legal elements of a sweepstakes.
It’s definitely possible that your list will get diluted, but this will sort itself out if subscribers do drop off.
One plan is to provide a prominent unsubscribe option in your winner notification email. Then people who genuinely aren’t interested can opt out, saving you money if you have to pay per subscriber, and preventing dilution.
I guess it also depends on what your blog is about. Maybe this works in some niches better than others?
great moving subject you have there.
I am not a fan of war, but I feel, IF you want war, you need to take care of your wounded.
Not so sure if pets are the answer, but it certainly is one great idea, and absolutely better than letting people rot away.
I LOVE the start page where you make the distinction that the warrior’s trauma is not about him, but what HAPPENED to him (or her). That alone is a high gain.
Feedback question: Am I actually writing English sentences or am I another German butchering away at you language? Sometimes I get so carried away by trying to be artistic that I wonder if my writing makes sense to the Natives.
It’s equally important to create a contest that will have popular bloggers drooling over giving away prizes for your contest.
Won’t they want your audience to be big enough to make their generosity worth it? That’s my concern.
I’ve been thinking about alternative ways to grow my traffic for some while. Contests have been one idea I’ve toyed with for a while. But it’s this being able to attract good enough prizes and good enough numbers of contestants to make it pay off that’s stopped my using it.
It’s a valid concern, but my advice would be just ask. Think around in your network if you know anyone who could sponsor something. Talk to bloggers that you have a relationship with. (and if you don’t have, then start one now, and ask about the prize later). If you target people donating digital goods, then the cost to them is usually pretty small.
My advice: Start with putting together one part of the prize, and build from there.
Great tips! You know, I’ve tried a lot of things to grow my mailing list faster, but a contest had never dawned on me.
I may just have to try it out. 🙂
Thanks, Rob. I’ll have to check out your Hundred Dollar Club this weekend when I have some time.
Have a good one!
Thanks Kevin, give it a shot – or even better enter the contest and I’ll set it up for you if you win 🙂
We’d love to have you in The Hundred Dollar Club, jump in when you’re ready.
I’ve been wondering how to set up a contest on a website. This is gold! Thanks so much!
Thanks Ash, hope it works for you.
Great post. I love your win-win-win philosophy and ideas on getting sponsors involved. Thanks!
Yes Amy, done right it should be a win for everyone, which is my favourite part! I hadn’t realised that it could be until I tried my first one. Pick the right sponsor and things should go well from there.
Here’s a modification to the last step you list: email people to tell them the winner.
What I generally do is create a video that gives more information than I could put in the email AND shows them who the winner is. So when people open the email, they click on a video link, go to a website or YouTube, find (hopefully) an amusing video that says who the winner is, AND they’re shown more information on the website or on YouTube.
Want to see the one I created today for a client as an example? Click Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bu208-KAgYA
Charlie Seymour Jr
Great tip – I’ve not done much online video, but this sounds like a great idea – I’ll check out your example.
Great article. I have been using a premium service. With the ideas I can do it without the service.
You could do away with the premium service, it it doesn’t earn it’s corn. The main thing that a premium provider should bring is built in viral sharing. That’s the only thing that’s too hard to track without specialist software.
If your provider doesn’t do this for you, then yep, I think time to go without or swap.
Excellent post, Rob, and PERFECT timing as I am planning to launch my first contest – for music lessons – tomorrow! 🙂
I have two businesses, so since it’s back to school time I was planning to test this out for my music studio, and then later use it on my blog. Great stuff! Thanks!
Music lessons sound perfect for a contest. And tying it to “back to school time” sounds like a good way to get it promoted.
Good luck and let me know how it goes for you.
First thing… Freakin Awesome Post, so much valuable info, I really hope people use it well.
Some real food for thought with getting sponsors involved, I can see how powerful that will be.
To Answer your Question… So when will you get started?
Right Now, off to get started right now!
Thanks Beanie, glad it helped.
And the best thing – you’re starting now! I’m going to hold you to that. Head back here and reply to this comment with your contest when you’ve launched it.
I’ll be following up…
I watched one blogger go from a brand-new site to over 2 million page views in just 2 years – primarily through the use of contests. Her prizes were tightly targeted to her niche, and her contests focused on having her readers “spread the word” through Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and more. The more ways each reader let other people know about her website, the greater chance they had to win. She ran the contests once or twice a month. She had a high quality site, which also really made a difference. It was mind-blowing how quickly her traffic grew using this technique!
YOu’ve got it – that’s the way to go. Tightly focussed prizes, and asking for shares. The sharing thing is the one thing you really need some software to do excellently. I haven’t found a simple way to track peoples shares and increase their chances without some it.
Thank you for this great insight to blog contest and list building. The most astonishing part of it is that you gave out these premium tips for FREE. Thanks for your great work.
No problems, glad you liked it. As for giving it away – I hope it can be useful for more people this way, and generally in blogging I’ve found the more you give, the more you get in the end…
As an owner of a membership website, I can so relate to your advice Rob. I esp. like how you debunk the whole “win an iPad” argument.
Thank you for sharing your ideas.
Thanks very much.
I think you’ve picked out the key part of the the post – a niche prize is absolutely key.
I’d love a new iPad, but not everyone wants me as a subscriber!
This? Is freaking AWESOME!
You were pregnant in the first picture, were you not?
Thanks Mariah, glad you like it, hope it helps you out!
You have the foresight of a genius living in the future. You just confirmed my thoughts on running some promotion to promote my blog.
Thanks for sharing.
Very flattering Osco! Definitely get promoting. All blogs need promotion, go for it!
Great post Rob. I think Leadpages could help with some of what you described here.
I use MailChimp. Do you recommend I merge the two lists once the competition closes?
YEs, Leadpages can definitely help – if you look at the contest in my bio, I’ve used leadpages there, but it’s not essential if you don’t already have it.
As for merging the lists, it’s up to you, but I would merge them, and make sure you create a group in the main list for all those who entered your contest. This article shows you how if you don’t already know: http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/can-i-combine-two-lists-into-one/
I must be doing something wrong because I ran contest almost every month be struggles to get even 50 subscribers
Hey Constance – what are you giving away? And how are you promoting the give away?
One strategy might be to do less regular contests, but focus all your attention on making one special prize, and promoting that one a lot?
Great info! It really shifted my mindset! Thank you!
I have a couple questions.
(1) How long should you run your contest?
(2) We have a parenting blog, and we are fairly small yet. However, we do co-host a local radio show. We are trying to increase traffic, but are having a rough time coming up with prize ideas that aren’t local. We are in the midst of producing our first EBook. We are hitting a brick wall trying to think of sponsors. Any contest or sponsor ideas/suggestions? Thanks so much for your time!
Great questions Jody, thanks. In terms of length, I’d go for 2-3 weeks if you can. You don’t want it to go on forever, but you need enough time to promote it.
OK, for prizes… Well as a Dad to a 3.5 yr old (and expecting #2 any day) I know there are hundreds of innovative companies making products for Juniors – could you partner with any of them? Or for parents of older children, are there any awesome educational toys etc? What’s your ebook about? could you do a “live” consultation via skype on that subject for the winner?
In terms of sponsors, who are your “competitors” in the blog space? How could you help them out? What could they bring to the party?
If you need more help, get in touch, happy to discuss ideas with you.
Thanks Rob! Awesome ideas, especially the “live” consultation idea. BTW — this is Jenni, the other half of Jenni & Jody.
We are just gobbling up the info on your site. We’ve been stagnant for two years, blogging regularly but not really seeing much traffic increase except for the occasional “semi-viral” post that boosts traffic considerably for a few weeks. We know there’s so much that we need to learn and implement to keep the numbers growing.
We’ll be back daily!
Fantastic – if you want some more help from my community, you can join The Hundred Dollar Club’s Clubhouse for free here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/THDCgroup/
just ask and I’ll let you in 🙂
Thanks Rob! That sounds great. You’ll see a request from Jenni Stahlmann and another from Jody Hagaman. We’re looking forward to connecting and growing.
I love the step-by-step aspects of this post and thank you for taking the time to spell out each step. As a writer of historical fiction I have been struggling with all aspects of promotion, especially with how to make my blog (which started out being my journey to publication and beyond and now is morphing to topics interesting to readers of historical fiction) a place to attract readers. Even my free giveaway is aimed at writers. I can think of lots of things for writers but not so many for readers of my genre.
Any thoughts or hints?
Thanks for the comments – I’m glad it was easy to follow. In terms of your prize, it sounds like it might be worth assessing whether your blog is aimed at readers or writers first of all – I know the difficulty you’re having…
If you’re aiming at readers, then I would think copies of great books would be a good starting point, and then if you can, opportunities to get access to their authors. Who are your own favourite authors? Would you relish the opportunity for a 30 minute Q&A with one of them? Or a chance to see behind the scenes of their writing process perhaps?
My best tip is to put yourself in the shoes of a reader, and think what else they’d love to win…
Really great new strategy to get new subscriber, In depth details to make these strategy perfect.Really Gem Points ” Relevant Great Prize, Promotion your Contest” Thanks Rob For Your Efforts 🙂
Thanks John, no problems.
Good one @Rob !! I enjoyed reading the artical espacially I learned to think like putting myself in the audience shoes so that I could understant what they wants and needs rob!
GReat stuff. Empathy with your customer will help with most things.
Nice post. The idea of setting up the contest using a separate list in Mailchimp is clever. Regarding choosing a winner at random: I made a short video on how to to this directly in Excel here: https://exceljet.net/tips/how-to-pick-names-out-of-a-hat-with-excel
Great resource Dave, thanks. I think a separate list is essential, else it’s not possible to make the contest really work.
Thanks for sharing this guide Rob. Do you find that this method of using targeted prizes etc attracts subscribers that are actually going to stick around and don’t just come for the prizes?
Hey Kostas, some stick around, some leave. It will always be that way with a contest I think, but if you get some who remain, it will be worth it.
Picking a niche specific prize, and following up right will minimise the drop off.
Looking at the title, I thought it will be useful for me but I did’t expect such an article which explains everything with screen shots. It was crystal clear to know about types, steps, successful impact, how to run etc.
It was good for me to start a day with a good article like this, which will benifit me to know more.
Thanks Suzy, glad you like it.
Thanks for this. I have a really small list and I find that people don’t like to “sponsor” small blogs because they feel there is nothing in it for them. Which I kind of get. I plan to give away my intuitive coaching session ($399 value) but I’m unsure how to address this and “get the word out”.
Hi There Ty, sorry to miss you comment. Your problem is a common one, but it’s not insurmountable. 2 ways you could go
– use the advice linked in the article about blogger outreach to connect with some bloggers, wait a while and then make the ask when you have the relationship.
– Or, go all out and try to snag one great prize based on the promis of another – so you effectively broker 2 bigger names promoting the contest to each other’d fans…
The other option, is just start small – use everyone you know to promote it, and really push the social sharing…
Rob – Thanks for your comprehensive and very detailed post. Especially appreciated all the creative ideas about networking and collaboration. A terrific way for multiple parties to engage and benefit.
Thanks Joe, glad you liked it. Did you put any of it into action?
This is exactly what I have been scouring the web looking for … I have read a few other posts about contests and they were, well, weak to say the least. Awesome information, thank you so much!
Thanks Zachery – hope it helped you to put something awesome together.
Hi Rob – some great ideas here, I’m itching to try this as I’ve long felt that ‘free offerings’ have had their day, will let you know how I get on!
Thanks Jani – how did it go in the end?
Thanks for laying everything out so clearly. I really love the layout of your winners email especially. I tried to run giveaways in the past with one prize and not much success. I’m still at the beginning stages of this one but there are over $700 in prizes so I’m super excited, having more sponsors on board is already helping expand the reach. I’m still on the “everybody and their dog” step but I’m quite hopeful.
Umm, Thanks you!
How did your contest go in the end?
Really, really awesome and comprehensive post, Rob. Thanks so much for putting it out there and giving us all a framework to go off of. I used the principles here to launch my recent giveaway and have been seeing some pretty good success! Cheers.
Cheers Ryan, glad it was helpful. Here’s to more success!
I’ve seen several people in my niche using Rafflecopter to manage this process – it gives you more chances the more actions you take. It’s really slick, I’m guess I’m just worried that people may use the twitter/facebook option more than the email list sign up – but still it seems effective. Any thoughts on this. Thanks so much – fantastic article!!
HI Nikki, Thanks.
I’m not familiar with rafflecopter, but if it works the same as Contest Domination, then the entrant has to provide their email to enter, so how they share doesn’t matter…
I would like to set up a blog with my daughter, it will be based on Art, I want to run a competition by taking small sections of paintings based on a theme e.g. Dogs. Images showing 10 dogs that appear in paintings will be published.
The idea is that the subscribers enter the name of the painting and artist and submit the results. These results will be collated into a league table showing the winning subscribers and published on the blog.
I literally have no idea on how to go about this, can you help at all?