4:34 PM

I honestly don't know how to begin this blog post. I still feel overwhelmed because I just received an email that I won another blog contest I joined. I was just at the Nuffnang Philippines office last week to claim the Oppo F1s phone I won in their recent holiday getaway blog contest and now I just have to wait for the final email as to when I can claim the Multicooker I won from De'Longhi's Christmas Wishlist contest. Both of these blog contests were in late 2016, so I am going to file this as part of my 2016 blogging achievement and perks.

Nuffnang usually partners with brands in hosting blog contests aimed at promoting brands to blog readers. What I love about a Nuffnang blog contest is that there is a criteria for judging the entries. For me, that is a very clear and fair basis in choosing the winner. I also appreciate that Facebook or Instagram likes are not the basis for choosing the winner. The fairness is pretty much encouraging if you ask me.

My aim in writing this post is to thank Nuffnang and all the brands they have partnered with for all the contests I joined and won last year. I'm also thankful to Nuffnang for encouraging me albeit indirectly to continue blogging. I also plan to share some tips on how I wrote my entries. What I think about when I join is that win or lose I have a content published on my blog and at the end of the day that is what makes my blog alive.

REALITY: I joined blogging contests and not simply raffle contests so I was a bit miffed when someone commented that I am so lucky in raffles. The truth is I only win raffle prizes when all the participants get to take home something. I've never won in a company Christmas party raffle or a blogging event raffle. My luck in that department is next to zero. Some would even say I should start buying lottery tickets because I might be lucky in that department too and I could win millions.

Contrary to what others may think right now, I do not win all the contests I join and I have not successfully cracked the code yet on how to secure a win or a prize for that matter. I also don't join every contest that Nuffnang publishes. I sometimes even have an article ready to publish as entry but if I feel like it just doesn't have the heart or the post lacks the elements that would warrant a win I just keep it in my drafts folders. Winning a blog contest cannot be left to chance because it requires time, effort and a genuine love for writing.

Today, I am going to share tips on how I write my blog entries: (Disclaimer: These tips are what I do and what I keep in mind when I write my blog entries. These may or may not work for you.)


1. I study the brand and the contest criteria.

When I know what the product/brand is all about and I think I can write a blog post that would meet the usual criteria (creativity, relevance, and appeal) then by all means  I join the contest. In my case, I have not personally operated a De'Longhi machine so when the mechanics included an invitation for a workshop, I immediately signed up for it and showed up at the De'Longhi showroom in Quezon City even it was raining and traffic from Makati was horrendous. My aim was to study the brand and try some of their products. The experience made me want the De'Longhi Multifry Low-Oil Fryer and Multicooker so bad that I started writing my entry as soon as I got home. My efforts paid off in the end because I was one of the two winners.

2. I research and read write-ups and press releases about the brand. 

Aside from studying the brand, I also make it a point to research about the brand or to read up on the topic that I wanted to write. In my blog post about the best features of the Oppo F1s phone, I spent hours researching about the brand. I read the microsite and read several tech/gadget blog reviews. I even made an infographic to add to my blog. I wasn't lucky enough to win that contest though. When another contest was posted sponsored by the smartphone-maker Oppo, I decided to join the contest again. It helped that I have already researched about the product when I initially joined so I devoted more time in writing the content and choosing the photos as well as creating the animation.

3. I invest in stock photos, premium fonts and editing tools. 

Yes, I would tell you this upfront - the blog contest world is very competitive and so you need to determine how you can be a notch higher than your competition.  When the #CheersToLife #CheersToEveryday contest was announced and I read that there will only be one contest winner, I know I had to exert a bit more effort that I usually do. I use stock photos quite often when I join contests and I spend money to pay my monthly subscription. My go-to source for feminine, minimalist and modern stock photos is Haute Chocolate and I've been a subscriber for more than a year now. I also signed up for the newsletters of Unsplash, StockSnap and PicJumbo so I always get first dibs on new releases. I buy premium fonts from Creative Market and I'm always excited when they release new script fonts. I mainly use Photoshop CC to edit my blog photos and animation and I pay the monthly subscription fee as well.

Of course, there are free web/online resources out there to edit your blog graphics/animation. I'm a little forgetful though so I tend to forget all the links. I'm pretty bad at organizing my bookmarks as well so I'd rather have stand-alone programs to rely on. For blog graphic editing, you can also try to use PicMonkey and Canva.

4. I write and rewrite until I am satisfied with my content.

Believe it or not but I spend no less than 5 hours in writing a blog post. I write the draft and then sleep over it and then read the saved post and then rewrite or edit the whole piece. I don't have 100% grammar so Grammarly helps me a whole lot. It also helps to have fresh eyes so I let my sister or my uncle read my draft before I publish it. I also try to write as much as I can so that means I don't stop at 300 words - I always aim for 1,000 words or less even if there is no word count requirement. I feel like I would be able to talk more about the brand, about the topic or about the contest goal if I use ample amount of words. In blog contests, being comprehensive just won't cut it unless the mechanics clearly states that you have to write a short product description only.

5. I choose clear, bright and appealing photos. 

Aside from using premium stock photos, I also use my own photos when I have some saved in my portfolio. I try my best not to use grainy photos in my blog entries anymore because I feel like grainy photos just won't make anyone win a contest unless the contest is about showcasing the grainiest photo in your gallery. That's how competitive the blogging world is now especially when your work will be judged, scored, and compared with other entries.

If I don't have photos showcasing the product, I allot some time to have a mini photoshoot at home. In my case, it always helps. If I have to use photos owned by other people, I make it a point to ask permission, link back or credit the rightful owner. Stealing someone else's work will bring you nothing but bad karma. I kid you not!

6. I accept defeat after joining and losing. 

I do not win all the time but of course I join with winning in mind that's why I exert effort in coming up with an entry that adhered to the mechanics and matched the criteria. I do not publish a half-cooked article much less publish an entry with several grammar misses. This is the only mindset that made me win several blog contests that I joined. I do not leave anything to chance or good luck or rely on what a fortune cookie tells me. However, I also train myself to accept defeat when I lose and move on to the next contest. There's just no giving up!

I submitted several entries for the Huawei Live With The King contest and I did not win a single prize. What I did was moved on from the loss and strived to learn how to edit videos better or how to make .gif files using Photoshop. It feels better when you learn something on your own and you get to use it on other projects. Learning how to edit videos also made me start our very own Youtube channel. I plan to relaunch the vlog site sometime soon. For now, I am going to focus on the blog and my growing family.

There were several blog contests that I did not join last year because of several reasons. One, we were on vacation and I just did not have time to write an entry while touring Denmark and Sweden at the same time. Two, I already won a contest sponsored by the same brand in 2015 so I felt like it would be selfish of me to join again. Third, I just didn't have the conviction for the brand or I did not feel like I would give justice to it. Last but not the least, the brand mechanics calls for selfies or OOTDs which aren't my forte at all so I opted not to join.

I like the feeling of winning and winning can be addictive especially when you exert effort to win something. I believe that when you take a step in the direction that you want to achieve, the law of attraction helps you towards the direction of your goals. When you lose however, it is important to learn from your mistakes or shortcomings and try a little harder next time.

This coming year, I plan to still join contests and I also would love to share some more tips to anyone who wants to join blog contests as well. Maybe I could be a mentor or an editor or just critic someone's work. I would love to help and continue to encourage those who are starting to lose interest and almost at the verge of giving up and abandoning their blog altogether. If you know anyone who might be interested to talk about how to win blog contests or if you have more tips that you want to share with me so I'll have 100% chance of winning then please feel free to leave a comment below and I promise to get in touch with you.

Cheers to 2017! 

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