In my day job, I’m the Managing Editor of VancouverMom.ca. For the past month and a bit, I’ve been busy running the annual Top 30 Vancouver Mom Blogger search. First there were nominations, and then I had to narrow the list down to just 30 (Not. Easy.). Then I got in touch with all those fabulous ladies, and collected photos and profiles, which I compiled into articles. Finally, we’ve just finished two weeks of voting for the top winner overall. I’ve let the Top 30 know about the results, but everyone else will have to stop by the site tomorrow.
I was on this list myself, back in 2010. I did not win. At the time, I took it kind of personally. It happened that I was nominated for a bunch of these contests at around the same time, and didn’t win or place in any of them. I wondered why people didn’t like me. I worried about voting rules and wondered how some people got so many votes. Eventually, I became jaded and decided that I wouldn’t participate in so-called ‘popularity contests’.
I’ve been on the other side of a number of these contests, now. In my conversations with the people I’m honouring, I see some of the same feelings in them. They’re excited to be included. They’re frustrated when the rules don’t seem to work in their favour. They’re sad when the results don’t go their way – and they’re really thrilled when they do. And all of this just kind of makes me want to give these ladies a big hug.
Here’s the truth, in my experience: these contests typically go to the best networker. You’re not going to win by voting for yourself as many times as possible. You have to get other people to vote for you, and advocate for you. If you’re not comfortable promoting yourself in that way, that’s fine. Many of us aren’t. We don’t want to pester people. I sort of feel that way, myself. And now I know that’s why I’ve never won these contests. Knowing that, somehow, has allowed me to make my peace with it. It’s let me know that it’s not that my writing isn’t that good, or that people don’t like me. It’s just that I don’t like to talk about what I’m doing, or ask people to do things for me.
Of course, there’s also nothing wrong with calling on your network for support. There’s nothing wrong with telling your community that you’re in this contest and you’d love for them to vote for you. There’s nothing wrong with putting it out there, and seeing what comes back. In fact, it’s a great thing to be a good networker. If you enjoy it, so much the better.
In the end, the truth is that your worth as an individual, or as a blogger, does not depend on where you finish in an online contest. The value of your voice is not diminished if you finish dead last, or if fewer people read you. Winning is great, but it’s not a prerequisite to a life well-lived. Losing isn’t much fun, but it doesn’t mean that you failed. That’s what I want to tell all of the members of the latest Top 30 Vancouver Mom Blogger list who didn’t get a special email from me letting them know that they had won. They’re still awesome, just as they are. My wish is that they can own that awesomeness, win or lose.
Have you ever been in an online contest? Did you win or lose? What was it like for you? I’d love to hear your stories of victory and defeat.