It seems every time I get online, I find some sort of writing or blogging contest I could enter. If I search around, I can find many more. Sometimes, I receive blogging awards out of the blue for contests I don’t even know about. Are these contests worthwhile, and should writers, authors and bloggers bother to enter them?
As many of you know, I created Write Nonfiction in NOVEMBER! as a personal challenge to writers, not as a contest, because I don’t really like contests. Contests have winners and losers, and when it comes to meeting writing goals, I believe we should challenge ourselves and not compare ourselves to others–only to ourselves. However, putting our writing up against other writers can be a good thing in some cases–especially if we win an award.
We must remember, though, that contests that involve judges are always subjective. Judges have personal opinions and preferences. Just because one panel of judges does not give you a prize, doesn’t mean your book is no good or you are a lousy writer; it may mean someone else’s book is better or that another author writes better–or it may simply mean the judges preferred that authors book and writing style over yours. Another panel of judges might have chosen the winners quite differently.
So, which contest are worthwhile?
- A contest that judges writing–and that is judged by outstanding, expert and qualified judges.
- A contest that judges books, blogs or articles in your genre.
- A contest run by a well-respected organization.
These types of contests will give you and your work more credibility. This will make it easier for you to sell more articles and books, make more money for your articles and books and get another traditional book deal (if your first book was traditionally published).
Lots of contests exist for bloggers. Some of them are fun and require no entry; you’ll find yourself with an award without having done anything. This is like a nice pat on the back, except many of them require that you stop your serious blogging for a day and write a blog post that consisting of the answers to a bunch of silly questions. You must then tag your favorite bloggers and ask them some fun or silly questions right there in the same post. If this fits into the scheme of your blogging, the links to these other blogs can prove helpful to your ranking. Otherwise, you may find the whole thing a nuisance or a burden (because you simply can’t return the kindness)–although a nice thought by a fellow blogger and fan.
The types of blogging contests worth entering are those “top 10″-types in your genre, especially if judged by industry professionals. If the contest has judges, the winners will not be the result of which blogger promoted more or had a bigger and more responsive list. That said, one sign of a successful blog is, indeed, a big list and an engaged and responsive readership. So, if you see certain bloggers gaining many nominations or votes after they ask their readers to nominate or vote for their blog, don’t feel like they are stuffing ballots. You may have a phenomenal blog and work really hard at your blogging; you just may not have enough readers yet to qualify as a top-10 blog.
Winning blogging contests helps bloggers gain more readers. So, entering and winning a serious contest hosted by a well-respected site can be worth your while.
In general, whether you are a writer, author or blogger, winning a contest serves as good promotion. Honestly, just entering one can increase your readership–especially for a blogger. Although it’s better to win, you’ll gain readers even if you lose. So, contest entries can simply be good promotion and platform building strategy.
All that said, if you’re going to enter contests of any type, you have to remind yourself to not get into an elementary school or middle school mindset about it. Be a grown up. Play fair. Don’t get overly competitive. Don’t run off and pout if you don’t win the award or get less votes than someone who you think doesn’t write as well as you. Shake it off. Be a good loser. Figure out how to write or blog better. Enter another contest. Or don’t. The whole contest thing can be quite time consuming and distracting…and frustrating.
If you win, be a good winner. Feel proud. Feel happy. Congratulate the other winners and the losers. Don’t rest on your laurels, but use your award or winner’s status to help you progress as a writer, author or blogger. Enter again. Or not.
And if others ask you to support them in contests, know it takes a lot to ask. Most people don’t like to ask for help. Bloggers, in particular, must ask for votes or nominations in most contests. If you like their work and read their blogs regularly, help them out. They deserve it. Most write for free.
On that final note, I’d love t if you would nominate this blog, www.writenonfictionnow.com, as a Top 10 Blogs for Writers. If you find the posts here interesting, educational, helpful, it would mean a lot to me. I post three days a week 11 months out of the year. And in November, I provide you with 30 days of expert guest posts during Write Nonfiction in NOVEMBER! I hope that does, indeed, provide you with some assistance on your nonfiction writing and publishing journey. To nominate this blog, click here. (Entries close Dec. 10.) Thank you so much.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles|freedigitalphotos.net