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05 March 2007

Free Design Contest and Lessons to Learn

This blogosphere is one big family! I'm an optimistic person. Try to see it through my eyes and imagine this. If I were to visualize the blogosphere, it would be like an Utopian place where (legitimate) blogs are hugging and kissing each other all the time! Everyone is trying to help and support each other whether it is through sharing information, ideas or just leaving comments. Hey look, its Techcrunch and USA Today making out.

Who loves to read comments posted on their blog? I do. I love it even more when you comment on my older posts because that means you are reading my blog beyond the latest post and into the archives. However, getting over 50 comments on your posts doesn't happen all of a sudden. It takes time and patience to build up loyal readership. All you have to do is keep producing quality content. If that is not good enough, come up with something better.. and better. If all else fails, try using BitSniff's 7 tips to increase comments on your blog. Notice how there are next to no comments in my early posts? Well, it all changed since I became a power blogger! =D

Who loves to read posts about your blog on other blogs? If you already read the comment I left on the previous link then probably I don't have to mention that I do. It is great to read comments on specific posts but I always wondered what you think about my blog in general. It would be amazing if there was a special comments section on every blog for stuff that become off topic to comment on a post. I think that is where reviews step in. I don't know if John Chow was the one who started this thing but it seems like a good way to get feedback. There is a lot we can learn from the way John encourages his readers to write higher quality content by offering linkbacks and a prize to the blogger who posts the best review. Apparently it also helps increase your blog popularity although contests and prizes are not limited with that.

Who loves to participate in contests and win free stuff? Now John mentioned five contests in a recent post you could eyeball. One of them is easy to participate. Leave a comment on the post and a random winner will be chosen. Others are more complicated, requiring you to get your creative juices flowing and helping a blogger choose a new domain name. But all of them are a lot easier to win than a state lottery. Moreover, the web is full of contests giving away everything from links to movie tickets and even iPods. For example, Kelly at A Yoga Coffee Outlook is giving away a Zune MP3 Player. For more, just search "contest" on Google blog search or Technorati blog posts to find over 1,000,000 contests you can enter!

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Announcing contest number 1,000,001. Actually, it is not a contest (Kelly kind of scared me when she said contests have a lot of legal issues) but more like a giveaway. Since there isn't an amazingly special general comments section on this blog either, I thought I should not give up on my dream of receiving your thoughts about my blog in general.

OK, so here is the deal.
All I want from you is to write a review of this blog on your website, highlighting at least two entries. Don't forget to email me when the post goes live and make sure you are a member of our community. In return, you will have many rewards. Apart from getting a link from the blogosphere's 5,222nd most popular blog, the best review wins a killer blog re-design (aka Facelift). What's more, from the posts that will include links to ten reviews (posts published maximum once per week), the best review of the batch wins a free favicon (worth $20) on top of a chance to win a free blog design (worth $2000) according to your taste.

Announcing the prizes. As a reference point to what you will get, take a look around! Don't like what I have done with my blog? Check out this concept I showed to John Chow. Note that this is just an example sketch I made in 10 minutes on MS Paint and Photoshop to show him my idea. The winner of the best review will get a re-design of much, much higher quality.


Now you have seen how a blog re-design would be like, take a look at the examples of favicons I designed. Although, favicons will be limited to one per ten reviews, there is no limit to the number of blog re-designs.

Let the best review win!

Who thinks it's a good idea to start a contest? As always, one of the main goals of this blog is to stimulate your brain cells and spark creativity among you bloggers. It is not always easy to come up with an original idea but inspiration is abundant on the Internet. You just have to spot the gems among blog posts. Suite101 offers tips on creating a contest for business owners but I think the same rules can be applied to blogs. There are several kinds of contest you could start up but basically this is what's outlined:
  • A poetry contest, writing contest or other related content (for a publication, restaurant looking for reviews, service business in need of testimonials);
  • A coloring contest or baby crawling contest (child-related or family-oriented businesses);
  • An eating contest (for restaurants, kitchen-supply stores or health);
  • A song contest, music contest or modelling contest (for businesses in need of a jingle or spokesperson);
  • A recipe contest or cooking contest (caterers, kitchen-supply, restaurants, organic food delivery); or
  • A photo contest (to display winners on marketing materials).
Have fun and good luck!

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