Why should I bother with contests?

posted on 12th of june, 2014

Another contest? should I enter? should I even bother?
Contests are very interesting... they are created for a lot of different reasons, the biggest most likely being that they give manufacturers a wonderful data base of names and addresses and data about you, which is worth it's weight for marketing. it also makes giving away something like a trip or a car worth more then the prize might actually cost.
There are small contests that give away a book or a movie pass, larger contests that offer prizes such as a trip or cash, and even nationwide sweepstakes that offer things like cars and even a house! So do people win these things? yes! actually they do, and over the years I have won toys, shoes, cash, trips, and once, even a mini van-which they did not give me... (so sad.. long story for another time.)
Biggest words of advice for contests are, 1: follow the rules. if it says you can only enter once, then only enter ONCE! if it says a 3x5 piece of paper, then use only that size. and most of all, watch the deadlines!
2: don't enter a contest where you do not want the prize. sure, perhaps you could sell it,

but sometimes the taxes you have to pay on a win is more of a hardship. One company gives a home away every year, however only one person in the last 10 years has been able to actually live in the home. trips are great to win, but can you afford to take time off to use it? sometimes travel is NOT included.

3: read the fine print. yes. that can be a tricky part! There are a lot of contests out there, especially photo contests, where you enter and give up all rights to use your photo again! Not such a good thing if you make a living selling images.
So today, lets look at the dreamstime assignment contests.
every month or so, dreamtime offers an assignment idea, and by entering an image you can win $300, $200 or $100. another benefit is it also automatically brings your image up to a level 5 image, which means better placement of your photography, which also helps buyers find your work. (you can also choose to take a $25.00 pay out instead and then I believe your image becomes the property of dreamstime. at least thats how I read it, so dont shoot me if im wrong!)

I dont know about you, but winning cash is always something I like to do! So I try to enter the assignment contests whenever I can. A lot of the time I do not get accepted, which is frustrating. I think I have a wonderful idea and then i'm shot down, which sure doesn't help the ego one little bit. But, there are huge advantages to trying.

you get motivated. Also, one idea may lead to other images that are perhaps not right for the contest, but ARE right for stock sales. (see the top 3 images at the start of this blog, one is in the current contest, the other two became good stock images while I was creating the assignment image)
you put on your thinking cap and brainstorm new ideas, and this often is just what we need to get off our butt and get out there to try something different.

you get creative: well we are all here BECAUSE we are already creative people, but an assignment often turns on that bright lightbulb over my head and gets the juices flowing.
You become a better photographer. really, you do! all our friends and family are wonderful at telling us we are the best photographer in the world, but sometimes rejection is a needed wake up call to make us try harder, take a course, watch a tutorial, or just do it better next time.

The dreamstime contest has one small DISADVANTAGE if you are NOT an exclusive contributor: By entering your image, you agree that you can only sell THAT image on dreamstime. a tough call when you work with other agencies, but it is something to think about.

HOWEVER... there is one HUGE advantage that I think is important and what motivates me to enter this contest: and that is... you get discovered.
ok, not hollywood movie star discovered, but I have noticed, every time I have been accepted in a Dreamstime assignment contest, all of a sudden I have more sales of my models, and more images from my portfolio in general. why? well this is easy! because the buyers can find me! having the best images are good for sure, but if your images are not found, then who can buy them? there are 22 plus MILLION images on this site alone, people, so you need to do more to help your images become recognised.
post on facebook when you have a sale, pin your image on pinterest (dreamstime lets you do this right from the site with the copyright on the image.. so awesome!) Blog!!!! and add your images of course, and add images to popular collections. the more times your image is seen, the better the chance your image is BOUGHT. (Yes, and key word keyword... but a different blog!)
And most of all, take amazing photos and enter the dreamstime assignment contest. fame and fortune could be just around the corner...(ok, maybe not, but cash prizes and more sales make it worth it) AND, it IS lots of fun!

Comments (7)

Posted by Dleonis on June 19, 2014
Nice article Susan! Good luck in contest to you....
but agree with Angelaostafichuk ....
Posted by Inyrdreams on June 14, 2014
oh I agree Angelaostafichuck, that is why I said read the fine print! There are a lot of contests I DONT enter because of that, and I rarely enter anything where you have to pay to be in. (lottery.. yes.. but I never win that! hahaha) years ago I heard about someone who made caramel apples for her kids on Halloween, and the bag of caramels promised a game piece inside. But in the frantic moments of making the treat and getting the kids out the door, she threw it in the trash with the wrappers. later that night she thought about it, pulled it from the trash, and discovered a $10,000 winning game piece! this winter, my partner Gary and I entered a local photo contest, and when his canvases came from the lab, he didn't like the color and didn't have time to have new ones printed. It DID cost $15 I think to enter 2 pieces and I told him well maybe they will sell and you wont have to look at them again and all you lose is the $15! instead, he won $250 for one of them as best in show for still...(More)
Posted by Angelaostafichuk on June 13, 2014
Dreamstime contests are fine to enter, but I would be very careful about other ones. They can have exclusive rights and you could lose a lot of money on your photography!
Posted by Perstock on June 13, 2014
So right Susan! Nice article.
Problem is that time is not always there...
Posted by Alexstork on June 13, 2014
Great article Susan!! Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom!
Posted by Msalena on June 13, 2014
Good article, Susan, quite reflecting my thoughts on this matter as well. Good luck!
Posted by Elianehaykal on June 12, 2014
All the best in all contests you enter :)

Comments (7)

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Photo credits: Susan Sheldon.

About me

Gary and I are a team that enjoys travel and fairs and beaches and any excuse to get out and play with our cameras. both of us are also artists, working in oils, acrylics, pastel, glass, and digital. life should be fun!

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