NOTE from the proprieter: This post is my submittalÂ for Blog Project: Blogging Mistakes being run by Daniel over at Daily Blog Tips. If you’re interested in learning from other bloggers, then this is one of the best sites ever! Pop on over and check the project rules, then write a post. Not only will you be able to share the benefit of your experience with others, but you can learn from them, and share the link love as well.
The biggest mistake I’veÂ made (and mind you,Â this is only the BIGGEST one)Â was when I ran my first (and so far, only) contest. Readers here at the Zone will no doubt
remember with anguish throw darts at my photo fondly remember the infamous Let’s be Brief contest, in which I challenged readers to write a complete story – using only six words!
The mistake wasn’t in having a contest (it wasn’t just a good idea, it was brilliant!); oh, nooooo, it couldn’t be that simple! No,Â the mistake was that I announced the contest before I had a clue about how to prepare for it! Having participated in a similar contest over at Ben Yoskovitz’s site in December called What I Learned in 2006, I figured, what the heck, I can do that.
Lucky for me that I contacted Ben and asked for advice! Man,Â was I a rube!
The 3 Main Mistakes (…and these are just the highlights!)
First of all, I didn’t allow myself enough time to advertise the contest. The announcement went up on a Wednesday, and it was supposed to start the following Sunday. Definitely not enough time! I would advise two weeks minimum.
Second, my readership could probably have been counted on both my hands and feet at the time. And I had made no effort to “get the word out” among other bloggers, particularly those with a larger audience than mine (which at the time was practically everyone).
Third, I hadn’t given much thought to execution of the project, how I would handle and publicize entries, etc. I began to get terrified that either a) no one would participate, or b) thousands would! Typical pre-party jitters, no doubt, but still somethingÂ you shouldÂ prepare for, just in case the load is high.
Whew, Dodged a Bullet That Time!
Once I realized the fine mess I had gotten myself into, I immediately postponed the contest by an extra week so I would have some more time (the announcement was already out there, so I changed the date with an apology for the oversight). This gave me some extra time to plan.
Then, I contacted several bloggers and asked them to volunteer as judges. This accomplishes three things: a) it adds legitimacy to your contest, b) it enlists their support, and c) itÂ helps get the word out via their readers. Out of seven people who were asked, three agreed, and we were off to a fine start!
Finally, I sent email announcements to every blogger at whose site I’d ever left a comment, asking them to share the announcement with their readers. Never underestimate the power of networking! Just remember, your network won’t just spring up overnight. It takes time, and patience, and perseverance.
(Allow me to add one more thing: if you’re new in the blogging game, you can’t do any better than connecting with Liz Strauss at Successful Blog. Don’t take my word for it – drop by her site and get to know her and her readers. I believe it’s safe to sayÂ that connecting with Liz is worth 6 months of networking on your own. She’s definitely a peach! Oh, and did I mention she’s the inspiration behind SOBCon ’07?)
And the “Close Call” AwardÂ Goes to…
The good news is, the contest was a great success; once the smoke had cleared, there were a total of 441 entries from 71 people from all over the globe. The contest ran this year, from Monday, Jan. 18th through Sunday, Jan. 21st. The week prior to the contest, my Technorati rank was somewhere around 300,000. The day after the contest ended, my rank had risen to 62,619 (and this was in just a week!), and it has continued to climb since then to around the 44,000 range.
Of course, on March 1, when Middle Zone Musings moved from Blogger to its ownÂ domain, the rank bounced back up to about 1.7 million. (Alas, I had to cut short the celebration when I remembered thatÂ the number is supposed to be going the OTHER direction. Let’s see if I have it straight now: small, low number = good; large, high numberÂ = bad. So, the thing I’m shootin’ for is a “low” number, which is a “high” rank? I’m so confused.) Anyway, it’s recovering nicely now that everyone has found the new location (you HAVE memorized it, right?)
Y’all come back now, y’hear? And don’t forget to keep those, er,Â card and letter coming.