Monday I’ll reveal this year’s WRiTE CLUB champion, along with both of the finalist identities, but today I want to discuss a few take-a-ways from this year’s contest and a couple ideas for improving it. I am also open to suggestions from you, so let me know what you liked, didn’t like, general observations, and/or any other ideas that can help me elevate this project to the next level.
Any of you who followed along during the 19 week process should already know what a huge undertaking it turned out to be. Too HUGE! I was unprepared for the 100+ submissions that poured into my wife’s email box (there were only 30+ in 2011). To compensate for the flood of interest, I increased my posting to three times a week and extended the contest by several weeks to fit in as many as I could, and still I couldn’t get to everybody. It ended up running 19 weeks, 63 posts, and provided 69 writers an opportunity to learn something about their writing. This had several ramifications, none of which were favorable for me…and ultimately WRiTE CLUB. First off, I could no longer post anything but WRiTE CLUB stuff (with very few exceptions), which was incredibly constipating…creatively. Second, with my time totally consumed by the contest I could no longer follow my beloved blogs, and since I wasn’t visiting them…they stopped visiting me. This ultimately hurt WRiTE CLUB. And finally, because the contest ran on for so long, and because I wasn’t commenting on other writer’s blogs, people lost interest. The first bout of the first round garnered 91 votes…but the semi-final bouts in the playoffs only boasted 24 and 29 votes respectively. My post during the rest of the year usually average 30-40 comments per, so I was actually doing worse towards the end of the contest.
That doesn’t mean people weren’t paying attention, or that the contest was a bust. The chart below shows the number of votes per post during the 19 week period, and even though you can see a definite decline, the second chart depicts the number of page views per week for my blog in 2012, and you can see how much WRiTE CLUB elevated those numbers.
|Votes per WRiTE CLUB Post|
|2012 Pageviews Per Week|
So what should I do to prevent the problems I encountered from happening next year, assuming I still see the level of submissions? First, I need to find a way to shorten the preliminary rounds down to eight weeks instead of twelve, with a maximum of two posts per week. This will probably necessitate the use of some sort of process that whittles down all of the entries into a pool of thirty-two, and the need to disallow any new entries once the bouts begin. This should allow me time to continue my normal blog reading/posting schedule and help keep others interested. There should also be some kind of incentive for voting, maybe a prize drawing at the end of the contest -- the more bouts you vote on -- the greater your chance of winning?
My wife would also like to see me standardize the way people submit their entries to make her life less hectic, as well as having voters use their linky list number when they vote to make authentication easier.
I feel that WRiTE CLUB is a great concept and I definitely want to keep it going, but without the added stress and voting drop-off. After all, the real benefit for the contestants is the feedback…via vote or critique…that our readers provide. If I can’t generate enough interest throughout the entire run, then I am not delivering on my promise.
So what about you? Have any ideas? I sure would like to hear them, so leave one in the comments below. I'd really appreciate the input.