Successful Blog Contest by Design: Interview with Andrea of So Over Debt

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This interview is part of a weekly series that publishes every Saturday. If you enjoy, please join us next week or check out past interviews.

50% of bloggers earn over $100 per year for their blogging efforts. That was the result of a survey by six-figure earning Problogger. Making a little money from blogging is easy. Smart Family Finance has already earned its first google ad check thanks to the excellent, quality readership (big thanks to you all!). 30 hits a day is all it has taken so far. However, there is a big difference between making a little money blogging and making a lot of money blogging.

Blogging offers the potential to dramatically supplement or even replace your income with online writing, but it takes time and effort. It is the monumental task of the successful blogger to produce excellent content every day and then find a way to direct potential readership to where that great content is located. Some bloggers excel at the Sisyphus-like effort of moving the hit counter up and over the mountain of impossibility into the realm of blogging profit. The masses awe and conspire how to equal the achievement.

The traditional answer to the question “how to get more traffic?” usually leads to commenting on other blogs, linking to other blogs, tweeting other blogs, liking other blogs and begging other bloggers for return links. The blogger aims to give a lot to receive a lot, but in doing so, must focus on advertising not their site, but others’.

There’s nothing wrong with networking through the blogging community in this way; I encourage it! It’s just that I was always taught that marketing is about pushing your own product forward. There must be a method for marketing your blog that allows you and the blogosphere to focus on the greatness of your blog.

Andrea of So Over Debt may have found the answer in Blog Contests. Last week she offered a $25 gift certificate to those that commented on her site and shared a personal experience with financial embracement. Additional entries were given for liking, tweeting and subscribing to her feed. Although I didn’t win the contest, she did graciously agree to the following interview regarding the success of her recent contest:

(Me) How has your contest impacted your blog as far as hits, new readers, page rank, and Alexa rating. I’m particularly interested in how your blog was performing before, during and after.
(Andrea) The contest was a good thing for the blog overall. I noticed a huge surge in traffic on the first day (438 uniques vs about 130 uniques on a normal day) but it was back down around 130 after that. Pageviews stayed the same at around 315 a day, other than a big jump to 637 on the day the contest launched.

My Alexa rank decreased at its usual pace – I’m guessing most of the people visiting for the giveaway didn’t have the toolbar installed. Pagerank is still 3, but I didn’t expect any change there since it was recently updated.

 

The real change was in my reader base. Prior to the contest, I had 95 RSS subscribers, 45 Facebook fans, and 344 Twitter followers. Today I have 163 RSS subscribers, 107 Facebook fans, and 399 Twitter followers. I’m not sure how many of those I’ll retain now that the giveaway is over, but it was thrilling to watch the numbers go up! 


(Me) Has the reach of your contest persisted? Are you still getting an increasing number of readers/pageviews?

(Andrea) Traffic has pretty much returned to normal, though Adsense shows a much larger number of views through feed readers. 
(Me) Was the expense of $25 worth the gains you made in your blog?

(Andrea) I think it was completely worth it. Many people probably won’t come back, but I’m hoping some of them looked around and found something of value. I have another (sponsored) giveaway coming up soon that won’t cost me anything, so hopefully some of the new readers will pass the word to others when that one comes around.
(Me) How does a personal finance blogger cope with the idea of spending $25?

(Andrea) It wasn’t so bad. 🙂 The money I spent came from ad income, so it was in a separate account and didn’t come out of my budget. Just like hosting fees and domain registration fees, I figure it’s part of the price of drawing more attention to my site. Also, every reader I gained was another dollar added to my Friend Fund, which is my way of saving extra money while also (eventually) hosting some cash giveaways to thank readers for helping.
(Me) Is there anything in the way you hosted your contest that helped make it a success? For example your list of ways to enter (tweets, blog links, etc.).

(Andrea) I think the use of a form directly within the post made it easy for people to enter (and easy for me to sort through entries!). I think it also helped to make entering very simple (just comment on the post and fill out the form) with optional ways to get extra entries. I was surprised how many people opted for the extra entries – I had 347 entries but only 112 separate people.
(Me) Could anyone be successful in marketing their blog by a contest, or was your blog uniquely positioned?

(Andrea) I definitely think any blog would have great luck with a contest. The economy sucks, people are broke, and everyone likes getting something for free. The odds are actually pretty good – I’ve entered 10 contests or so since I started blogging, and I’ve won 3 times.
(Me) What suggestions would you have for someone looking to run their own contest?

Keep it organized and simple – figure out ahead of time how you’re going to keep up with entries and what the rules are. Submit to online-sweepstakes.com – over half my referral traffic came from my listing on there. Sign up for Rafflecopter if you want to try a new, high tech way to keep up with contest entries (but do it ahead of time because you have to wait for an invite). Make sure you’re giving away something people want. It doesn’t have to be super expensive!

(Read more advice on successful blog contest design and strategy)

Read Andrea’s perspective on personal finance at So Over Debt.

So Over Debt Posts of Interest:

How Bankruptcy Works

Why Personal Finance is Like Cross Dressing

Triggers for Overspending

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