Contest Lessons Learned

I learned a lot from the comment contest as far as lessons learned. Some of the lessons dealt with several assumptions I had, and some of the lessons dealt with things I learned from helpful people pointing stuff out to me. This post will go over the lessons I learned and will hopefully lead to better contests in the future.

Please note that these lessons apply specifically to my blog. Every blog is different, so you might find you have a different experience regarding contests.

Contest Assumptions

Let’s start out by listing out the faulty assumptions I had going into the contest.

A contest will bring more traffic

The contest didn’t really increase my traffic by a whole lot. Yes, my traffic did increase. However, right now my traffic is on an upward trend and that can’t be attributed to the contest alone. December’s figures were good and it only makes sense that January’s are higher since people are coming back from vacation.

A contest will get people to comment more

Again, the contest really didn’t help out in that department. People commented at their usual rate. The contest did encourage me to put out more stuff that people could comment on, however. The contest also inspired me to start Peeve Week, which I hope we can have again sometime this year. Without Peeve Week, I think the contest would have gone on for another month or so.

A prize is a good incentive

A prize is a good incentive. However, this was my first contest. And truthfully, I would be somewhat skeptical if someone was willing to give out cash on a site. Some people commented once just to enter, and others stuck around. I seriously doubt people stuck around just because of the contest prize.

Other Lessons

Here are some other lessons that I learned throughout the contest.

Keep the contest time-driven

I personally didn’t like having a contest where the contest depended on a certain milestone. The contest seemed too drawn out and too long. The next time I have a contest, it’ll be for a fixed time and not be variable.

Keep the contest short

This contest fortunately ended a little over a month after it started. The longer the contest drags on, the easier it is for people to forget about it.

Keep the rules simple

Shawn Blanc pointed this out to me. He said that the rules were a little too strict to be effective. As a result, I cut the requirements.

Make it easy for people to participate

I tried my best to make it as easy as possible for people to participate in Peeve Week and the comment contest. I didn’t hold comments for moderation. My spam filter did identify a few false positives, however.

Have a prize up front

I have seen contests where the prize was to-be-determined or dependent on some users having to “buy in” on the contest. I’m going to either have the prize up front, or not have the contest at all.

The first contest is testing the water

I truly believe that this first contest was me more-or-less getting my feelers out and testing the water. I have never run a contest on my site before. I can imagine that people were wondering about my credibility. Hopefully by actually giving something away, people will realize that I mean business.


It is my hope that the next contest I have on this blog will be beneficial to all who participate. I appreciate any and all feedback you have on this topic. In this case, beggars can be choosers.

Thanks for reading.


  1. I think they do.You get more readers and if you have a good content they will definetly come back.I participated in darrens project and have better traffic now.

  2. A previous contest [like the one you had] shows future contest participants that you are trustworthy and will pay the prize easily without any headaches. Like you said, "people will realize" you "mean business."

    It is like establishing a new niche blog; you slowly build up reputation through contests for people interested in contests until you benefit from them greatly.

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