Contest Blogger Taps into Growing Popularity of Online Contests, Sweepstakes

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With sweepstakes and contests becoming more widespread online, one webmaster is attracting big crowds with a popular new forum

When Cleveland-area web designer Phil Van Treuren got an idea last year to start a blog that would review online contests, he never dreamed it would someday become one of the most popular places on the Internet for people looking to win prizes. Less than nine months later, Van Treuren's site, Contest Blogger, is visited by thousands of web surfers a week and has proven to be a solid income source for its webmaster, as well.

Van Treuren said that he knew Contest Blogger would be a unique new theme in the Blogsphere, but didn't expect its popularity to soar so rapidly.

"The idea was to write free reviews about contests that people were running on their blogs and websites," Van Treuren said. "I noticed that a lot of bloggers had started using giveaways as a way to get new visitors and links to their sites, and I thought that a blog that focused on these contests might interest a few people."

"A few people" ended up being something of an understatement. Fueled by Van Treuren's tongue-in-cheek writing style and no-holds-barred reviews of online contests, within a few months Contest Blogger became one of the top 5,000 blogs in the world as ranked by the Technorati blog-tracking service (Technorati currently tracks more than 50 million blogs).

"I was never afraid to tell my readers if a contest was a rip-off, and I think they appreciated that," Van Treuren said. "It's easy to get new readers on a blog if you have a unique voice, and I tried to make sure that my reviews were fun to read, no matter what the topic."

Originally, Van Treuren wrote reviews about every contest that was sent to Contest Blogger, but the amount of submissions became too large for him to handle. After experimenting with charging for reviews, Van Treuren decided to transform Contest Blogger into an online forum where people could post about their own contests for free.

"Putting a forum on the Contest Blogger homepage for people to share their own contests with each other made it easier for me and my readers," Van Treuren said. "I still have a blog on the site where I ramble every so often, but for the most part I've given Contest Blogger over to the readers themselves."

Today, the Contest Blogger Forum allows visitors to search and post about contests and sweepstakes as well as free samples, online coupons and gift certificate offers from across the web. But the visitors aren't the only ones who have found a benefit from Contest Blogger: Van Treuren also generates income by placing advertising on the forum.

"It's really a great feeling to build a project from the ground up and watch it become popular," Van Treuren said. "Maintaining and promoting the site is a lot more work than people realize, but it's rewarding, as well."

You can visit Contest Blogger online at http://www.contestblogger.com.

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