Friday, November 4, 2016

How to Win a Skill Contest


FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

My favorite type of sweepstake or contest is a skills content.  The reason is, the more creative and off the wall I can be, the more likely I will win.  These are usually fully judged.  Sometimes they are judged and then go to voting.  You can read more about how to win a voting contest, but in this post I am going to concentrate on how to win a skill contest.

As we learned in the basic of entering contests and sweepstakes,  be sure and read the rules.  I have seen all kinds of unique rules ranging from no animals may be in a photo to no people may be in a photo to people and/or animals required to be in a photo.  Just make sure whatever you submit follows the rules because if it doesn't you won't be able to win.  If it's an essay contest, make sure you say within the word or character count.  No matter how good your entry is, it will likely be disqualified if you go even one word over the amount allowed.



Think creatively.  What would stand out to the sponsor?  If it's an essay contest, is it possible to write your essay in the form of a poem?  If it is a photo, what is the funniest thing you could imagine the sponsor putting on an Internet or TV ad?  (Likely your entry wont' be used in any advertising, but it's a good starting point.)  What items do you have on hand that would make your entry stand out?  One time I didn't win, but entered a contest where you had to show what you would do with a new vehicle.  I went to a dealer's showroom with a kiddie wading pool and fishing pole and captioned my photo saying that if I had a new vehicle, I wouldn't be stuck fishing indoors.  Another time I waxed eloquent talking about the beauty of a sunrise over the Interstate highway and the sense of adventure it gave me when I was five years old and we were starting our family vacation.  (I did win a smaller prize with that one.)

A good general rule of thumb is never compare the sponsor's product to anything negative.  While I have seen an entry that won in a contest saying someone liked the product because it didn't taste like fish, more often than not these types of entries will not win.  When you are telling your friends why you like something, you don't compare it to negative items, and neither should you a sponsor's product.

Think cute and adorable.  If you are entering a photo contest, children, babies, and pets are always a great idea to include in your entry if it is allowed.  (You usually must be the parent or guardian of children).

Be original.  Not only do I mean come up with something that will stand out but I also mean don't copy someone or something else.  If you are entering a photo contest, take your own photo.  Don't swipe one off the internet.  It's amazing how many times this happens.  Not only will you get disqualified, it's unethical.  There have been cases where a stolen photo have won a contest, and it created a huge mess for the sponsor because they often shared a photo they didn't have permission to use on their social media accounts.  So only enter your own creations.

Two of my favorite books for inspiration for skill contests are The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio  and In 25 Words or Less.  Prize winner gives tips for winning skill contests as well as tells her story.  It's an enjoyable read, and I often leaf through it when I am stumped with a contest I in which I am trying to create the perfect entry.  (The movie doesn't show nearly as many of her entries and give as many contesting hints.)  In 25 Words or Less is
an older book (from 1980) and out of print, but it's an excellent resource for building your creativity with contests in mind.

Finally, be as unique as possible.  I once entered a contest where I had to say why I needed a vacation.  I decided to enter using a photo. I figured most of the entries would be essays.  While I'm not sure what all was entered, I do know I won.  You can never read the rules too many times in a skill contest because you want to make sure your entry follows all the rules so you can bring home a prize!


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