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Let’s face it – people love to win free stuff and hosting a contest on your blog or website is a great way to create excitement and increase your traffic. Large companies understand the value of holding contests and sweepstakes because they know it can introduce products, services, blogs and websites to new readers that don’t already know about them. Pepsi and Coke are prime examples of how using promotions such as “Coke Rewards” with an optional entry to win trips and cash can spike a use in their product and create a buzz.

As a small business or blog owner you don’t have the resources to implement such large-scale promotions but you can use contests to drive traffic to your site and also increase your readership. My personal experience with contests has shown me that using them can generate a spike in traffic and increase your readership. I successfully turned a PageRank0 blog into PageRank3 and doubled my readership in 2 months just by using weekly contests.

When you set up a contest you can decide if you want your visitors to add a comment to enter, visit the sponsor’s site, sign up for your feed or blog about your contest which builds up your backlinks. You can also decide what prize(s) you will give away and for how long the contest will last.

Once you figure out what you want to give away and how long you want your contest to last, how do you implement it? You could write a post and require that readers post a comment to enter but a free Web App called ContestMachine has made it much easier. ContestMachine will also make your contest look like it was setup professionally.

From their site:

“We saw an unserved need – a wide gulf between the promotions run by big companies like Ford and GM, and the small businesses trying to achieve the same promotional objectives with comment forms on blogs.”

Setting up ContestMachine on your Blog or Website

There are 3 easy steps to setup ContestMachine on your site.

  • Create: Create the contest or giveaway and set entry requirements and rules.
  • Customize: Add prizes and match the widget colors to your site.
  • Embed: Embed the widget in your site and collect entries from your users.

If you’re interested they have an interactive tour on their site that will walk you through each step.

BONUS! You don’t even have to own a blog or a website to use ContestMachine. You can email out a link to your contest page which is hosted by ContestMachine on their site.

Here are some other things you can do with ContestMachine.

  • Track the progress of the promotion through an overview page on their site.
  • Disqualify entries that don’t meet your entry requirements or follow the rules.

Contest Machine does all of the work for you once the contest is over.

    1. The entry form stops automatically and won’t accept new entries when it reaches the date and time you specify as the end of the contest.

    2. It randomly picks the winners if you chose a Random Giveaway (or lets you pick the winner if it is a judged contest).

    3. Notifies the winners by email and collects their contact information so you can send out the prize(s)

    4. Lets you track whether winners respond to your email in case you want to pick alternates.

On of the best features I think is the fact that it is all hosted on their site, and of course, that they have a free plan! You can easily go in and change your settings at any time and your completed contest data is saved in case you need it in the future.


At the moment, there are 3 plans at ContestMachine. However, here at Make Use Of, we only cover the free options so at ContestMachine, the free option is the Basic Machine.

The features of the Basic Machine:


  • Free!
  • Allows you to run up to 2 promotions a month
  • Unlimited entries (special promotion, usually 1,000 entries a month)
  • Customizable widgets
  • Customizable hosted page
  • Customizable winner emails

I was able to create an account, which only requires your email address and a password, and setup a contest in 5 minutes.

This is definitely one Web App that is worth taking a look at.

What do you think? What contests have you set up using ContestMachine? What success has it brought your blog or website?

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