Gleam Review: See What a Contest Can Do for Your Blog

February 11, 2016

30 Matthew_August2015_final-12-30Recently, I gave away a new MacBook Air.

(Say whuuut?)

The winner was selected by a random drawing on February 1st. The prize was valued at $899.

Overall, the contest was fun and provided some interesting results that I thought I’d share.

The catalyst behind this contest and the star of this post is a handy tool called Gleam. Get ready to see how Gleam works and what a contest can do for your blog.

Case Study: Using Gleam to Grow Your Blog Following

Gleam Review: How This Widget Helped Run a Contest on My Blog

Running a contest is something you may want to consider.

A contest can bring your blog positive results. Things like publicity. Brand awareness. Word-of-Mouth advertising. Signups for your mailings. Those are the traditional results.

In our modern internet age, a contest more specifically brings in email subscribers, social media traffic and followers, engagement, and positive vibes (which are hard to quantify, but real nevertheless.)

Businesses have been holding contests since forever, and those reasons listed above are why they continue to be popular.

You might be thinking, “Matt, I cannot afford to give away a prize like that.” No problem. You may discover that a $30 gift card creates some good buzz and brings in more results than you expected.

Oh, you need to know that I spent $156 on Gleam. So my cost included 4 months of Gleam at $39 per month which puts  my total for this contest at $1055.

Gleam does have a free version you can use, it just doesn’t have as many features or tracking data as the Pro plan (I chose.) There is also a Business plan that’s the best, but most of you won’t need to spend that much.

So be sure to choose a plan that’s right for you and offer a prize that fits your budget.

Aside from cost, another objection that might be holding you back is “time and effort.” Holding a contest sounds like more work, right? Something that will require invested time and attention…What if I told you Gleam simplifies the process, effectively tracks the participants and helps you get results?

Interested now?

Let’s take a closer look at Gleam.

Gleam review

Opening up a new account with Gleam is really easy. No credit card is needed to get started.

Gleam review

Once you are in the dashboard, you can start a new competition, monitor a current one, or review the results of a finished contest.

Gleam review

You can see I have one finished competition.

Before I get into those results, let me take you back to how I started the competition. (I should have taken some screenshots of the setup, but I didn’t.) I can tell you that Gleam gave me an option to set up six different ways a person can enter.

This is great because giving people more ways of entering brings you more results.

You can choose less than six entries if you prefer, but I thought, why not make the most of this opportunity? So to help people raise their odds of winning (equivalent to buying 6 raffle tickets instead of only 1) and make the most of this event, I set up 6 ways to enter, which is the max.

How does this give YOU more results?

Well in my case, one way people could enter the drawing for a new MacBook Air was to subscribe to my email newsletter.

If they wanted, they could also enter five more times by…

•Subscribing to the BYOB YouTube channel

•Follow @buildurownblog on Twitter

•Follow buildyourownblog on Pinterest

•Comment on

•Follow matthewkaboomisloomis on Instagram

Once I set this in place, I started the contest.

Gleam enables you to embed the contest widget into your blog post (or web page. However you want to use it.)

This post was published on Dec. 12.  As you can see, it generated a lot of excitement in the comments.

I would have liked to of seen more social shares…maybe some folks thought sharing the news would lower their chance to win???

Of course, I promoted this post through all my social channels along with an email blast.

One thing I did not do is spend money on advertising for this contest. Instead, I just let my own free channels do the work.

One reason I didn’t spend money on advertising this contest is because there is a good possibility it could draw some (or many) people who are below the average target audience of BYOB. In other words, a contest like this could attract people not actually interested in your niche, your product or services. They might just want to enter the contest and will not stick around once it is over.

I think that happens on some level with any business contest. Not sure you can prevent that 100%. But I thought perhaps avoiding things like “sponsored posts” on Facebook would cut down on the below average traffic.

Plus I thought I’d wait to see what the results were on the first contest of this scale before spending money on promotions.

So I promoted this post over the next 6 weeks via the BYOB SM channels.

Gleam let’s you change the deadline of the contest mid stream, which is what I did. Originally intending to end at midnight New Year’s Day, I decided to let it go longer, till the end of January.

Another thing I did was made sure not over promote this contest on any of the channels. Twitter is the one where you can post the same things multiple times and not annoy people, as long as you space them out. This did lead to some good tweet and retweet counts.

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(This gives you an idea of the potential Twitter shares a contest can bring. These are not all of them.)

Okay, so now let’s take a look at the benefits this contest provided…

Check out what the Gleam tool can do for your blog!

Gleam Review: The Contest Results At-a-Glance

These are the totals of each contest entry point.

Gleam review

I’ll break down each category and give them a grade:

Email Subscribers

The sign ups for my newsletter were nice but in comparison to my daily sign ups in general separate from the contest, along with the total subscribers I already had, the 395 gained over 6 weeks was not a significant increase. My subscription rates were strong apart from using Gleam, and continue to be steady today.

Grade: C-


YouTube Subscribers

This category turned out the best of all. By adding 319 subscribers to my YouTube channel, I more than doubled the total subscriber count.

You can see on this graph, I picked up 164 subscribers in one day.

Gleam review

Despite the tendency of a contest subscriber to be less engaged than the “organic” users, the uplift in YouTube subscribers created direct and maybe indirect increase in channel views and video watch time.

Gleam review

Grade: A+


Twitter Followers

Another decent return. I picked up over a third more Twitter followers with Gleam.

Grade: B


Pinterest Followers

My Pinterest channel is still a baby, so it was good to pick up 277 followers. That’s almost half of the current total followers. I’m still learning Pinterest, so right now it’s hard to say how many of these folks are repining my stuff or visiting my site.

Grade: B-


Comments on BYOB

This entrance in to the drawing provided a lot of engagement on the contest blog post. Aside from the contest post, I don’t think the Gleam contest generated a lot of comments on other blog posts. I know there were a small amount, which is nice, but long term, the contest itself did not create a ton of consistent, regular commenters. Not surprising, really. They naturally would be excited to comment on the MacBook Air contest post, while a smaller percentage are less likely to comment on a different topic.

Grade: C


Followers on Instagram

I’m grateful for being able to double my followers on IG. The only reason why this result doesn’t get a higher grade is because I do not use IG heavily to drive traffic to BYOB. I’ve still got a lot to learn, and perhaps those followers will continue to engage and visit the blog when I share BYOB related posts on IG, and maybe a few will convert here or there. Time will tell.

Grade: B-


Gleam Review: Contest Conclusions

In my opinion, the MacBook Air drawing was a good campaign that helped BYOB increase its consumer base in the smaller social media platforms of Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube, with YT benefitting the most.

The email list growth was unspectacular (relative to normal BYOB results)

The spike in YouTube subscribers will help with future ads I decide to run over there, leading to a more sustained YT channel.

Not sure I will do a second contest like this one anytime soon, but I do think Gleam could be quite helpful for promoting future projects like an eBook or Course.

Gleam Review Wrap Up: What Are You Thinking About Doing with This Tool?

Got any thoughts or plans on using Gleam? Have you already used it? What did you think? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Author Bio:

Matthew Kaboomis Loomis is the owner of Build Your Own Blog. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter


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  1. Troy says:    •   4 years


    Another great post. What a great idea to run a contest. And for a minimal fee have someone else do the monitoring for you. Brilliant.

    I think it’s time to do a little research into this widget and see how well it will help increase the traffic your advice has already given me.

    Thanks for the tip,


    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Troy,

      Gleam does help make the whole process easier and provides some nice benefits like keep track of everyone, recording who does what, and even gives you some analytics, on the paid versions.
      As you can see, I did get some nice results on social media. And the winner drawn was blessed. I couldn’t be more pleased with Gleam.

      You should think about why you are running a contest, what your goals are, and how to get the most from it beforehand.

      Let me know if you use Gleam and when your contest starts so I can let folks know.


  2. Adrienne says:    •   4 years

    Hey Matthew,

    I know a lot of people who do contests and they’ve benefited greatly from it. Most of them were after more subscribers but also getting attention to their blog is of course something we all would like to have happen along with spreading the word about you and what you do.

    The only reason I haven’t done one of these is the same reason I don’t do giveaways. I believe it brings in to many freebie seekers and I’m not one to pay for subscribers who are only after the free gift. This is one of those numbers games to me and I’ve had experience with it in the past and it just was never a good one for me.

    I say bravo to you though because that has just been my experience and of course we both know it’s not everyone’s. You wouldn’t be having them if they didn’t benefit you either so I’m happy it turned out like you had hoped and you shared with us this handy tool that helped all of this fall into place. Cool!

    Great share Matthew, thank you and you enjoy your week. Another one is here already!


    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hey Adrienne,

      I was happy with the social media leads it brought in, but the newsletter subscriptions wasn’t a big factor. I don’t think doing a contest every month is highly fruitful, but perhaps once in awhile.

      Gleam is the way to go if one does want to run a contest, imo. Maybe there’s a better tool out there I haven’t seen yet. I would use Gleam again.

      I just read your post and left you a comment! Hope your week is awesome!


  3. Stuart @ says:    •   4 years

    Hey Matt, appreciate such a detailed writeup on the process and your results 🙂

    Happy to provide some pointers for mailing list improvement should you run another, you probably have my mail already.


    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Stuart,

      Thanks for offering that! I’ll email you about that.



  4. Lauren Golden says:    •   4 years

    I’m excited to try it out on a Mother’s Day contest I’ll be running on my blog. Thanks, as always, for saving me the trouble of doing extensive research with tried and true resources that I can implement into growing my website.

  5. Julia says:    •   3 years

    Hi Matthew,

    I think you probably didn’t get as many email subscribers because most people who heard about the offer were already email subscribers. That’s how I heard about it. If you didn’t advertise (I agree with your logic), and your main channel is email subscribers, then it would make sense that your other avenues would increase. I wonder what was Stuart’s advice?