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Rated: ASR · Article · How-To/Advice · #2001290
Things you need to know before you open a contest. Includes a contest template.
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So, you've decided you want to start a contest, but you're not sure where to start. Look no further. The first thing you need to decide is what is your idea for a contest? Is it unique? How do you know? This is a critical question and can have a huge effect on your success. You need to know if there is already a similar contest running. Do you want to start a sonnet contest? Before you do, it is a good idea to see if there already is one or you may have a hard time finding contestants. Luckily, "Contest Central Station lists every contest currently running on WDC. Check our listings to see if you have a new idea.

Well dangit! There is already a sonnet contest and you really wanted to run one. Now what? Well it's not over yet. What are the rules of that contest? How can you make yours different? Does it require a prompt? a new item? no awarded items? If you do exactly the opposite you will find you may have some luck. Make your contest as different from the one currently running. Make your contest unique.

Okay, so now you know you have a contest that no one else is running. What next? Now you need to create the actual contest page. To do this you need to 'create' an item using the 'message forum' item type in the second column. When considering which contests to enter, we need as much information as you can give us. I find it best to break this information up into several sections using the following headers:

Rules - Gives an idea of how much work it will require
Prizes - Gives the motivation to participate
Prompts - Helps inspire to put in that work
Qualified entries - Shows the competition
Judges - Gives confidence in the results
Winners - Shows past round winners
Donors - Acknowledges supporters of your contest.

It isn't necessary to use this order, but I find it to be the most fluid. It gives us the information we need as we need it, and keeps us interested. You will find a template at the bottom of this page to help you make sure you've included all the necessary information for each section.

While images are not necessary, it is always fun to get a banner and text images for the headings. To get those you can contact any of the image shops here at WDC. It is a good idea to take a look at the other contest and see how they have formatted theirs. Take note of what appeals to you and feel free to integrate those aspects into your own page as well.

You need to create a contest bank. Why do contests need banks? A contest bank will keep your contest funds separate from your private funds. Although, at first, you may think it won't matter, it does help in the long run. In order to make a bank, you need to 'create' another item. This time choose 'group'. Name it something like 'Poetry contest bank' It will only be a group of 1, but it's just somewhere to house the contest gps. When you award the winners, all the awards will use this group bank to pay out of instead of your own.

So now, you have created your contest page, and your group bank. Now you need to link them together. Whenever you post a message in any forum, you have the option of attaching gps. (like for raffle tickets etc). So, anyone who wants to donate to your contest may make a post in your forum with the gps attached. But you need those funds to go to your group bank. So now go back to edit your contest page. Under Section 6, you need to add the group bank ID#. Now anything posted in your forum goes automatically to your group bank.

Once your page is done you will need start up funds. Ask your friends for donations, post your contest in your notebook and ask for them, or ask us at "Contest Central Station. Many people run auctions and fund raisers often. You can also email them asking to be a beneficiary of their next activity.

And finally, you need to advertise. There are lots of ways to do this such as post it in your notebook, post it in any group forum you belong to, let us know to list it at "Contest Central Station, and post it in the in and out WDC forum at "Writing Contests @ Writing.Com. Another great and little used resource for advertising is the "Newsfeed Highlights. This is a place where you can request a sitewide newsfeed post from the The StoryMaster and The StoryMistress . This means your contest will appear in the newsfeed of every member of WDC and not just your favorites. Don't forget to check that one out.

Good luck and please e-mail me if you have questions.

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If you'd like a banner image place it here at the top. You can get images from any image shop, but if you need a reference, let me know.

This section is one of the most important parts of your page. This is where you will summarize the synopsis of your contest and capture the attention of your intended writer. What is the genre and type of you contest? Short Story? Fantasy? Poetry? You need to give a brief synopsis and tell them why they want to enter your contest. But you want to keep it short and to the point


*Bullet* What is the contest cycle? Begins at WDC time and date and ends on what day every month?
*Bullet* Do you have a rating limit?
*Bullet* Do you have a length limit?
*Bullet* Do you accept old or awarded items or must they be written specifically for this contests
*Bullet* Bitem format or can they post directly in the forum?
*Bullet* Do you allow editing?


In my opinion, contests should not start out with high prizes. Prizes should be commiserate with the size of the entries. You don't want an item to get an awardicon by default. However, that's just been my experience. Once you see the type of participation you get you can raise them accordingly. People love getting awardicons so my suggestions are below.

1st Place ~ 10K Awardicon or Merit Badge or10K gps
I would choose only 1
2nd Place ~ 5000 gps
3rd Place ~ 2500 gps
Honorable Mention ~ 1000 gps

it is common to add the sentence below.

If there are fewer than 5 entries, only First place will be awarded. If there are fewer than 8, only 1st and 2nd will be awarded. Honorable mentions may be given at the judges discretion.



I recommend 2 judges so that entries are judged on different aspects and not just in one person's opinion. But I admit that judging is hard enough when you're doing it alone and adding someone else can make it harder. If you want to add a guest judge, you can find qualified volunteers in the "Invalid Item. Everyone judges their contests differently. Some go on entertainment value, some use a scored system, and others only look for specific techniques. You can judge however you want, but I also recommend you decide ahead of time what your standards are going to be. It is easy to choose your favorites, but trying to rank them is a different story. Having your priorities for placement ahead of time helps you stay focused.



You can list entries by bitem or item #. I find people like to see their competition.



Donations of ?K or more will receive an MB. Donations can be made in the forum or at {item:Bank item number}.

Well, hopefully you now have what you need to know to get started. I hope you have found the information you were looking for and that your contest finds a lot of success. We at "Contest Central Station are here to help you in any way you need. Please email me if you have any specific questions. Good Luck!

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