How I Came in 2nd Place in the MyBlogLog Contest

It has now been just over a week since the MyBlogLog Become A Problogger Contest officially ended, and as many of you know, SEOlogs came really close to winning (2nd place), but in the end, I just couldn’t catch up with the leader.
MyBlogLog Contest
For those who don’t know about the contest, here’s a little snippet from the official contest page that explains a little more about it:

… in this contest, community owners will compete against each other to see who can grow their community the most between November 8 – 30.

As is stated above, the MBL contest started on November 8th, but I wasn’t actually aware of the contest until November 14th or 15th, when I logged into MBL, and noticed the contest announcement. I then clicked through to the leader page (top 100) to check out the competition so far. I can’t really remember how many points the leader had at the time, but it didn’t look like it would be terribly hard to at least break into the top 100, so I went ahead and entered SEOlogs into the contest.

At that point, I had already made up my mind that I was really wanted to win this contest, and I knew that I’d have to come up with a good idea to do it.

Starting With (What I Perceived to be) an Advantage
Up until this point, I had enjoyed using MyBlogLog, and had added some of my sites, but never really actively tried to network and gain members. I mainly just liked the idea of being able to see who was visiting my sites, and also really liked the fact that in the statistics part of MBL, you get to see the top 10 links for “What Readers Clicked”
What Readers Clicked

So when I entered the contest, the seologs mbl community only had around 57 members. Now, I know that is a pretty meager number, but I actually think that having very few members from the start of the contest was a big advantage for me. Communities that already had tons of users may have been sort of maxed out, without much room for improvement. With only 57 members in my community, I felt like I had a lot more potential to gain higher numbers of members.

Coming Up With an Idea
I did a little bit of brainstorming, and had a few ideas that I considered using to get members to join, but the idea that I was leaning toward the most, was having my own contest to promote my community and get users to join. This was sort of inspired by the success of Shoemoney.com’s recent contest, which helped his blog to gain thousands of new RSS subscribers.

There was also the 2006 Redscowl Bluesingsky SEO Contest. I remembered just how much fun that was, and also how much SEOlogs.com benefited from the contest, so I decided to go ahead with the contest idea. I decided to go with a format that was really similar to Jeremy’s contest, where I would give away one prize every day until the end of the contest.

Getting the Word Out
A contest can be a very powerful marketing tool, but without some publicity, it’s not going to be very successful.

Started Here:
The initial announcement was from this site (seologs.com).

Moved on to Forums
I had the advantage of actually running a fairly active webmaster forum, dnScoop Webmaster Forums, so I started there. I made an announcement on the forum, and then sent out an email to all of the members of the dnScoop forum.

Next, I went to all of the other forums that I am active in. I modified my signature on each forum, so that they linked to the contest page, and invited members to join.

I started threads these forums as well (in the appropriate categories) , announcing the contest, and inviting members to enter, and I made sure to actively participate in those threads.

Networking With and Messaging MyBlogLog Members
MyBlogLog allows you to send messages to individual members, or to all your community members at once. My dnScoop MBL community already had around 250 members, so I sent one public message announcing the contest, and inviting everyone to join and support SEOlogs. I also sent a public message to all SEOlogs MBL community members, asking them to share the contest with their friends. Since these messages were public, and displayed on the public profile pages of all of these members, they ended up being seen by a lot more than just the members I sent them to.

I also joined a lot of new MBL user communities that were related to SEO and Search Marketing and made thoughtful comments on their profile pages. Not just “hey, join my community”, but would check out their sites, maybe give some relevant comments or feedback, and then invite them to check out SEOlogs.

Submitted My Contest to Contest Blogs
Here’s a list of contest blogs that accept submissions of blog contests. I submitted to a lot of these.

MySpace
I’m not really sure how effective this one was, but have 2 myspace accounts,here and here (how’s that for anchor text), with a few hundred friends, and I posted bulletins announcing the contest there a couple of times. I tried to keep those announcements simple, since most of my friends on MySpace.com probably have no idea that I even have a blog, let alone what myBlogLog is, but I figured it was worth a shot.

A Lot of Help and Support From Friends
The contest was definitely working, and was a great tool for getting new members to join, but I really don’t think I would have gotten as far as I did without the help of a few good friends. So being active in several communities was definitely helpful, and I was lucky to have some friends who were in a position to help me out.

The Payoff
There were a lot of prizes for the first place winner ( A great competitor, and really nice guy ), but there was no official prize for 2nd place.

Since I was at Pubcon Vegas though, I had the opportunity to meet Ian Kennedy, the MyBlogLog Product Manager, and a few other folks from Yahoo. I think he felt a little bit sorry for me, so he gave me a sort of unofficial 2nd place prize ( some sweet poker sized playing cards from Caesars Palace).

Ian also invited me out to dinner that night at the Bellagio Buffet, with him and some other folks from Yahoo, including Jerri Gillean of RightMedia. Just really really cool people. I really had a great time (Thanks again!)