A lot of people have success at starting their websites, but they see a plateau effect as visitors tend to level off at a certain point. Frustration sets in as their old promotional techniques just aren’t paying off as much as they used to. You could run a contest to increase activity, but you may not have a lot of cash and prizes at your disposal. You do however have one thing…Your site!
Goal: To promote your own site so you break out of that plateau effect or simply to boost readership a bit faster then usual. In the long run this should also generate more income from the trickle of new traffic.
The Giveaway: Auction off your ad spots (for a month or however long you deem fit), a link, an entire article/post/review or even all of the above to a lucky winner. If you know your blog makes $100 from an ad-spot in a month you can claim how much your prize is worth. Be honest about what you can give away however. In the end its better to underestimate what a winner can gain from your contest.
Target Audience: Other webmasters with sites. Most of your contestants will likely have sites that perform worse then yours (a good reason why you don’t want to do all of this when first starting a blog) however on a massive scale it can really ad up.
Joining: Ask your participants to get “signed up” by doing any of the following (maybe multiple things for more then one entry per person):
- Comment on your post (You can put a twist on this by telling them they must post some sort of contribution that’s specific to your niche).
- Referring a contestant – count another entry for them if they get another site to participate (make sure that person comments on your post they were referred and by who). Only allow a referred vote to count if that referrer does at least 1 of the the following below. (its easy to spam fake comments)
- Have them mention your site in one of their posts (and trackback) – Give them an example of how you want them to link to you. Just a mention? an entire review? Don’t get too picky though . Also, don’t restrict them to just one site. If they own more then one let them do it on those too!
- Let them guest post valuable information in your niche. This would need to be set up ahead of time and their content would need to be submitted along with a scheduled post date (to show up after the contest possibly). If you go with this option remember to mention they will be able to include their site link along with their guest post. This allows them to take advantage of the extra traffic coming to your site after the contest (even if they don’t win). It also gives you some content to post without any work necessary. Fresh ideas, you just have to approve them.
Whatever combination of the above you choose, make the offer appealing. Its different for everyone however since not all sites get the same amount of traffic. For example, if you’re pulling 10,000 unique readers a day you may only want to offer a weeks worth of your best ad spot for the contest to be appealing. A site only pulling half that might offer a similar ad spot for two weeks.
After its Over: Between submitted content and/or your own, make sure you maintain high quality posts to be sure you’ll keep the interests of those new visitors. I would have a bit of content set up for this in advance. Try to find a way to thank people personally by responding to comments in a timely manner particularly during this phase.
Setup: Find out how much a month’s worth of your best ad spot pays & how many clicks it gets. Also find out your unique hits and page views in a month (or however long you’re planning to offer your giveaway for). Once you have those you’ll have an idea of how much noise you can make about your contest (and get away with before you become annoying ). If your prize only boasts a $5 value you’ll likely become annoying much faster then if you made it valued at $200.
The Outcome: Even if you’re making $5 a day, you could offer 30 days ($150) of advertising as a reward. Encourage your existing users to participate in your contest. Their incentive should be to get more people on your site so they make more during their 30 days. They will also increase their chances of winning by using the referring method mentioned above. The traffic something like this could generate could earn you close to double the following month instead of your typical $150. You just about break even between both months even if you have to give up your ad spot for one month! Assuming you retain most of those visitors (and growth increase from existing links still up, you will then start earning on it – Thus you can reduce your reward time for the same price for future contests.
I can see larger sites doing this like John Chow, problogger, or Shoemoney and having it be a big hit. Frankly I’m surprised with all the contests John Chow has that he hasn’t tried some of these tactics. Common John, you’re still evil, right?
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