One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to increase traffic to your blog is by running a contest or giveaway. Most people are attracted to contests that offer a chance to win free prizes without much effort.

Many top bloggers like Darren Rowse (, Mark Joyner ( and Nick Daws ( run regular contests on their blogs. If you do it right, running a contest is a great way to promote your own products and to reward your blog readers.

Here are nine tips to help you to organize your first contest on your blog:

1. Plan the format of your contest first. It is crucial to make a detailed plan, which should include the timing and length of the contest, ways to promote it and the prizes you will offer. It’s best to start small. After you gain confidence, you can increase the scope of your future contests.

2. Make it easy to enter the contest and easy to judge it. Ask your readers to enter a comment in the blog and choose the winning entries randomly. Another option is to pick responses that are the most imaginative. Try to give at least three prizes instead of just one.

3. Prizes should be relevant to your blog audience and valuable to them. If your prizes are not worthwhile, people may not bother to take part in the contest. As an additional incentive, provide a gift to all participants, such as a free report or e-book.

4. Giving your own products or services as prizes is a great way to create awareness about your products. However if you haven’t created any product yet, choose products that you are currently marketing as prizes. Request the participants to click your affiliate links for more information about the prizes. There is a chance that those who like the prize but don’t win it may buy it through your affiliate link.

5. Try to find a sponsor for the prizes. Usually, it is easy to find sponsors for the products that you are already promoting in exchange for the free publicity. As far as possible, choose digital products as prizes instead of physical products so that you don’t have to spend extra money and time delivering the prizes to the winners.

6. Set a reasonable deadline for the contest. The duration of the contest should be long enough to attract maximum contestants. However, don’t allow the contest to drag on too long and don’t extend the deadline even if you have not attracted as many prospects as you expected.

7. Promote your contest among your blog readers and blogging friends well in advance. Use social media to create a buzz. If possible, create a short promotional video about the contest and post it on YouTube.

8. Another way to promote your contest is to start an email newsletter and provide a link for readers to take part in the contest. If you run regular contests, it will provide an extra incentive to your email subscribers to open and read your newsletter and to stay subscribed. This is a great long term benefit.

9. A cool way to promote your contest is to encourage the participants to spread the word by providing additional entries in the draw if they share information about your contest in their blogs and social media.

Once you have successfully conducted your first contest, you can build on its success. If the results were not as good as expected, analyze the reasons before you plan your next contest. If possible, try to organize a contest every month or every quarter. This will attract new subscribers and prevent them from leaving your blog.

5 October 2011

Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print.

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