Using Contests to Promote Your Career

There are loads of reasons for entering contests:

* winning great loot
* winning cool CASH
* knowing where you stand as compared to your cohorts
* getting acknowledgement
* being able to put “winner” in your resume
* helps get you an agent
* simply being a “winner” is fun
* getting published
* getting noticed
* getting your name out “there”

And the reason I am going to concentrate on today is that winning contests can help drive and enhance your career.

Take this scenario.

A well know Canadian photographer, entered dozens of prominent local, regional and International contests for years. He won dozens of contests … including several full blown camera systems, lighting kits, lenses, a boatload of film and processing, trips and more.
He used some of the gear to develop his kit … and sold the rest so that he could buy more of what he needed. He used the trips as a way of adding to his stock collection. Basically he was totally set as far as equipment went. Tens of Thousands of dollars he didn’t have to come up with!

But the best part, was the exposure he received. One of the contests he won (several times) was with one of Canada’s top photo magazine. First he got invited to write for the magazine. Then he got a job as editor of that magazine. He’s had several fabulous books published and is now considered to be one of Canada’s top photographers.

Too cool.

All from entering contests?

No … but the contests sure HELPED!

Another scenario.

A scriptwriter friend entered her screenplay in the Nicholl Fellowship. This is one of the TOP contests for screenplays.

Every years thousands of people enter their scripts into the competition. The competition goes through several rounds.

She made it into the 3rd from the top round. And based on her placement was able to get a top Hollywood agent. That agent put her together with an Independent producer who worked with her to further develop the script and to “shop” it around.

The result? We’ll just have to wait and see.

The point here is, that just “placing” in the Nicholl Fellowship competition gave her career a boost that may otherwise have taken years … or that may not otherwise have happened.

Third scenario

You love cooking and want to write your first cookbook. How can you get an agent? How can you get publishers to even look at your book proposal? WIN a boatload of recipe writing and cooking contests. Do you think an agent or a publisher is going to ignore the $million dollar winner of the Pillsbury Bakeoff? NOT likely.

And the third scenario is not limited to cooks. Artists, web designers, niche experts … can all enhance their “credibility” and calling cards with a few wins under their belts.

OK … you are convinced. Now which contests do you

If you are just starting out … find some of the free to enter contests. For the most part (cooking contests being the exception) free contests come with smaller prizes.
If you are looking for “career enhancing” try to choose contests that are run by writing communities or organizations … such as the Writer’s Digest contests or the Photo Life photography contest.

Look for contests where the judges are “named” and are respected members of the particular community you are wanting notice in. For example, if you are entering a mystery novel contest, having a “well-known mystery writer” as a judge will make a big difference. You can “drop” the name of the judge in your resume or
introductory letters.

Winning a contest from a private website and being chosen by an anonymous judge just because s/he “liked” your work just doesn’t have the same level of clout!

Look for contests with many categories or divisions and loads of prizes.
When entering “fee based” contests be sure the fee you are paying is proportionate to the prizes being given. There are contests that are run by private websites which charge fees disproportionate to the prizes being given. The purpose of these contests is to make money, not to enhance YOUR career.

To get you started there are LOADS of skill based contests at the and the websites.




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The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest Book

How to Enter Screenplay Contest …And Win!, 2nd Edition

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