October 10, 2006
Liz published this at 11:13 am
Writing Contests as Edgecraft
Writing contests, I know you’ve seen ‘em so have I. I’m a writer and I don’t have time to enter them. I imagine that most techies and other nonwriters pass them by completely.
If you want my attention, doing two things is important.
Mix something successful from over there to something you have here.
Find the edge of here — be noticed, outstanding, and remarkable.
Seth calls moving out to that remarkable edge edgecrafting. It’s knowing who you are, knowing what business you’re in, and not letting tradition or the perceived risk — that perceived risk that edging out comes packaged in. It’s investing in, inventing, or trying new things to make a mark that will get people remarking about what you’re doing.
A nonwriting blog — say a techie blog — having a writing contest is a remix with posibilities. Curious at the very least, don’t you think? Gotta get past curious to way out there, in order to be at the edge.
I’ve got some ideas . . .
How to Set Up a Contest that Works
Nothing is less fun than a contest where no one shows up. So let’s start with the basics that tilt the balance in your favor.
- Keep the rules few and the task simple.
- Keep the deadline definite and the timeline short, but not too short — a week is good.
- Announce it as many ways as you can. Remind folks daily on your blog. Send out email. Ask friends and colleagues to pass the word. Seek out and list your contest at sites such as competizione.
That being said, what kind of writing context might catch readers’ attention and get them to participate?
I’ve got a few ideas. . . .
Timed Contests Answered in the Comment Box
If your audience is packed with readers who are shy about writing offer a contest in which the idea, not the writing is key. Some of these could actually be Timed Comment Box Contest Answers.
Set a specific time for the contest to start. Post the contest time and rules, and the contest item, but keep the comments off. At the prescribed time, open the comment box. Award prized or kudos based on the first and most clever answers entered in the comments section. Some ideas for Timed Comment Contests might include these.
Use a metaphor. Have readers fill in the blank.
If Technorati is a jalopy about to breakdown, my blog is __________.
If this blog were a brick and mortar building, it would be __________.
In the great Blog Directory in the sky, what will my blog description say?
Go for the Award.
If they made a movie of my blog, it would be called ____ and ___ would play the main characters.
The theme song of this blog should be ____.
The official rock band of this blog should be ____.
In the Genre
If (guru for my genre) game to visit, I should be sure to hide ___.
A post title I never liked _____ what should I have called it?
If an alien found my blog, what would he say about it?
Contests that Folks Post and Send Back the Link
For an audience who has no fear of the keyboard, you can offer a bigger challenge. These ideas get folks into your blog and responding on their own in unique ways. The more creativity you put in the challenge the more fun you’ll find reading their responses.
- Give readers clues to find one post in your archives. Then ask them to write a response to the post they find.
- Have readers describe where they see you and your blog in ten years.
- Give readers 3-5 post titles and challenge them to write a story post that includes those titles in their story text.
- Challenge readers to recommend 1-3 other blogs that your readers would also enjoy reading and to explain why that is so.
- Have readers explain what would happen, if your blog and theirs decided to form a dating relationship.
- Have readers imagine that they are your blog parents and ask them to give you advice on what your blog should be when it grows up.
- Ask readers to write a jingle, tagline, or slogan for your blog and rotate these for as long as they last
- Challenge readers to write a poem or a post in less that 100 words using key words and search strings that might apply to the content of your blog.
- Challenge readers to write what might happen if the totality of your blog became the standard for the genre in which you write.
Think like a kid might about your blog. You can involve your readers in writing contests that don’t require long works of writing and that bring out their personalities in ways that are genuine and genuinely fun!
So many values can come from the experience of remixing an off-the-wall writing contest with your blog niche. Take a risk and you might find yourself with more relationships, more visibility, and an aura of pushing the edge — while the whole time your readers surprised you with what they wrote.
Who wouldn’t get jazzed about an ROI like that? Being edgy has a way of being fun!
Want to do one of these on Successful-Blog this week?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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