Your contest won’t receive as much engagement
UGC (user-generated content) submission contests already have a relatively high barrier to entry, so when you also require people to pay to enter or vote in the contest you will receive many fewer entries and votes than you would have otherwise. Furthermore, charging for entries and votes can leave your audience with a negative feeling about the contest – and by extension your media brand.
It will negatively impact the results for paid sponsors
If you have any paid sponsors and you charge for entries and votes in order to drive additional profit, you are doing a them disservice. When advertisers sponsor a contest they are looking for new leads and lots of exposure to your audience. If you limit the amount of engagement the contest receives by charging for entries and votes, your sponsors are less likely to be satisfied with the results and feel that they have achieved their goals with the promotion – and unhappy advertisers are much less likely to want to continue to work with you in the future.
You won’t make nearly as much money
You will never make as much money charging for entries and votes as you would by selling a contest sponsorships. When I worked at the Statesboro Herald in small-market Statesboro, Georgia, I made $8,000 selling sponsorships for my Cutest Kids contest, but when I tried charging for votes instead I only made $400! If you secure 8-10 SMB advertisers, you can make $10,000 from a submission contest in even the smallest market.
You won’t collect nearly as much valuable data
Submission contests attract the majority of their registered users during the voting period, and if you charge for votes this number will decrease dramatically. If fewer people register for the contest, you miss out on valuable customer data and the possibility of email opt-ins.
You can generate much more revenue and build stronger relationships with advertisers in your market (and your audience) by selling sponsorships for your contests rather than charging for entries and votes.