Joining Contests: Being Fooled for a Chance at Something?

One of the popular misconceptions about most contests on the web is that people are providing something small for a chance at something huge in return. After reading Tyler Cruz’s post entitled “Effects of the Tyler vs Gyutae Contest” [link], I feel a little sick to my stomach with regards to blog contests.

Here is a bit from the article:

I ended up losing the competition and had to pay out $300, but I received 115 backlinks from 115 different blogs within an 11-day period. That works out to only $2.60 per blog, which is an absolute bargain. If you wanted to do this through PayPerPost or ReviewMe, you’d have to pay at least $10 for each post, totalling around $1,150.

And remember, around 95% of the blogs that voted for us were from “make money online” blogs, which means better targeted traffic and more related backlinks. If you tried to target those blogs through PayPerPost or ReviewMe, I don’t think you could get that type of volume within 11-days – it would probably take a few months, if not longer, and be much more expensive.

Basically, they took advantage of a wide audience of their peers, including myself, in order to gain large boosts for their blog in RSS subscribers, Alexa ranking and technorati ranking.

For me, this all leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and reminds me of the things I don’t like about the blogosphere. These guys didn’t do anything new, but Tyler presented the information in a way that my mind could easily digest, and I don’t like what I realized.

In any niche, there are only so many blogs that people will constantly and consistently read, subscribe to, or follow. By linking to the blogs involved in the contest, I am creating a situation where I could lose out readership to another blog in my niche.

I helped contribute to the growth of their blogs, and in return received very little. I might get a t-shirt out of it, but otherwise, what did participating in the contest do for this blog or for my audience other than exposing them to bloggers that I don’t necessarily want to endorse.

It is an interesting problem with contests, and I hope you will all appreciate this rant for what it is: an awakening. I hope that those of you that read this blog, won’t be underhanded with regards to your contests. Foster a community, growth and a positive change. Don’t just do things for your own good.

For those that find it hypocritical that I am writing about this, as I am currently running a contest to get a free domain. My contest is more about rewarding my current readers by creating a contest with a low barrier for entry, where theirs was about search engine marketing, building their brand off the backs of others, and getting links and traffic to allow them to boost their eventual income.

6 thoughts on “Joining Contests: Being Fooled for a Chance at Something?

  1. Lori

    Not trying to be rude David, but if you think people hold contests “out of the kindness of their heart”, you are more naive than I thought. I’m sure their a few (including yourself) that are that nice but that’s just not how it is.

    Every blogger (especially a money making blogger) has a motive when holding a contest, whether we need traffic, backlinks, or just want to be noticed.

    When I started my contest on my food blog, I had 3 subscribers. I now have 260 with an average of 1000 hits a day. While some of those may unsubscribe, I’m willing to bet that more will stay with me than leave me. Had I not had the contest, none of them would never know me or my blog. They are discovering a new GOOD food blog and I am getting something in return as well. I didn’t set out to screw them by any means but I also knew what I would get in return for giving away such a good prize.

    It’s sad to say that, in this day in age, you don’t get something for nothing. I wish it wasn’t that way but it is.

  2. David

    Thanks for commenting Lori. I am not naive but I am an idealist.

    I do understand that there is always an underlying motive for every contest, but it is how far certain people take things that makes me shudder. You can have a contest with the goal to have more RSS subscribers and not be “evil” about it. And I don’t mind if a contest brings success to a blog. My post was more of a warning, saying that people should understand what they are doing for others before they involve themselves in a contest, and that certain people will go too far to get themselves noticed.

  3. Wayne Liew

    Prizes and money can be a great motivation to make someone does something for you. This is why blog contests is all about.

    A grand prize money might bring in a lot of participation but at the end, only a few will actually get the prizes, those who have failed to win it will not remove their posts written for the contest. Really a good bargain for those who hold a contest.

  4. Tay - Super Blogging

    Contests are a perfect way for bloggers to benefit, and those that enter them are motivated to win the prize that’s being offered. Contests don’t just exist for no reason, they are there for more readers, subscribers, links, buzz, and whatnot.

    I have entered contests before where it has been required to link to the blogger’s site, etc. I don’t really mind it at all, because I give links away to my blogging friends all the time without expecting anything in return. A link is a link, and even if I don’t win the contest, I still don’t mind.

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