I put together a contest this afternoon (with gift contributed by friends/colleagues) in about 5 hours. A year ago I wouldn’t have known where to start. I wondered if maybe a few people would be interested in a “how to” and the answer was yes!
Step 1 (optional) – Create a clean wordpress install for the contest
Although this step isn’t entirely essential I chose to do it because my contest plugin doesn’t play well with one of the plugins on my main site. Instead of fighting with it, I created a clean install. And I’m glad I did, because it allowed me to pivot & create a “blog page” of the offers. Something that would have required another solution (like updating a page every day) otherwise.
If this is something you want to do, here's a few extra tips:
- Log into your cpanel (if you're using BlueHost, Hostgator or another hosting service that uses cpanel) and choose your WordPress install (mine is in Fantastico Delux)
- Follow the steps to set up your new WordPress installation (be sure to use a username that isn't "Admin" - something more unique).
- I installed mine at LoraleeHutton.com/Contest so that it would still look like it belonged to my site. You might want to purchase a new domain for your contest.
Step 2 – Install a couple of basic plugins, including the contest plugin
I use ContestBlitz but I’m sure you could use any of the other contest plugins out there. I just like this one!
I only have 3 plugins on this site currently:
Other contest options you might want to consider:
Step 3 – Edit Settings in Contest Blitz & Set up mailing List
I went into the settings and realized it would be best if I set up a new list in Mailchimp for this contest. At some point I’ll copy this list into a sub-group within my main list in mailchimp, but for now it’s easiest to have a new list, with it’s own confirmation email.
I went to my Account > Extras > API to collect my API address
Entering this into the settings in the contest plugin allows people to sign up for the contest & immediately get a confirmation from mailchimp.
Back in the plugin settings I edited the following:
- added my twitter URL
- added my Facebook URL
- added the Mailchimp API
- Selected the mailing list I’d just set up
Step 4 – Setup first Contest & Settings in Contest Blitz
I created my “contest” within Contest Blitz just like I would a blog post. This is where some of the hard decisions came in.
I needed to know what time the contest would run from,and to. I wrote some rough draft copy for the main page and added in some extras to the terms and conditions
And then I linked it to my mailing list
Step 5 – Created a logo / banner for the plugin & website header
I used Canva.com to create the images for this contest. I had 3 graphics I wanted to create with the same look and feel.
- The first one was for the header of the contest plugin. They told me in the settings it was best to have a 425 px wide graphic, so that’s what I created.
- The second was is larger 1600 x 230 based on the settings for the “twenty thirteen” wordpress theme
- The third is just the circle you see in the other two images, but with a transparent background. I created it at 400 x 400 px
I added the graphics into their appropriate places (header, settings in Contest plugin and saved the transparent one for the posts I knew I needed to create)
Step 6 – Asking for help
I knew I’d need to reach out to my friends and colleagues soon. It felt natural to send a quick note in Facebook. I wrote the first one, and sort of liked how it sounded, so I copy & pasted it to send to another, and then another. I edited each one with a bit of a personal note.
Step 7 – Adding and scheduling in the content
As each person started to respond I realized I needed to organize the content I was getting. That’s when I installed the Editorial Plugin, because I knew I’d be able to quickly drop in content & then move them around based on their availability & when I had all of the content from them.
It looked a lot like this:
Once their name is on the calendar I can easily drag theirs around to a better date, without having to go into the edit feature & changing anything else. I have posted the first entry & made sure it looks good visually. Then got ready to share it on social media
Step 8 – Sharing on Social Media
I went to some of my favorite groups & mentioned the giveaway. I posted to my own facebook page & timeline & scheduled a few more to go out at prime times (for my audience – which happens to be while I’m normally asleep) I chose to upload the transparent background circle (the 400 x 400) because it shows up nicer on Facebook than the header graphic.
And that’s it! The steps to create a contest in one afternoon. Of course I don’t yet know how it will all turn out. But I’ll let you know.
Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions? Could I have skipped a step or made it simpler? Love to hear your tips too!