One blogger I’ve been mentoring over the past year asked me the other day, “How can I ever win one of those blogging awards? I see some blogs get award after award and they aren’t that good. Their traffic isn’t that high and their content isn’t very original. Yet some sites have much better content and never win anything. What’s your secret for winning an award?

I thought about his question for a moment and answered, “First of all, we have a tendency to think we are better than we really are. Second of all, I’ve actually never won a single award in my five years of writing online. This is despite writing the majority of my content, coming up with new concepts, shying away from sponsored posts, and receiving a decent amount of visitors a month. Unfortunately, you’ll probably never win an award and neither will I because 1) we aren’t self promotional enough and 2) we don’t do enough to promote those in control of giving out the awards.”

We all know that people tend to hang out and support folks who look like them, talk like them, and share their same values. It’s just the way we humans are. My central thesis in “How To Get Paid And Promoted Faster At Work” has to do with spending at least 50% of your time selling yourself internally in order to get ahead in the workplace. The same theory applies if you want to win awards online. It’s understandable that the same type of people and blogs tend to win over and over again. We like what we know.

But as someone who left Corporate America to do my own thing, I’ve got close to zero desire to network for the purpose of winning an award. Networking for friendships and fun, yes. But for an award, not so much. And for this simple reason, no matter how good my content is or how large I grow, I don’t think I’ll ever win anything. It’s not that I don’t enjoy accolades, because I do. It’s just that the biggest accolade is simply site traffic.

The internet is as close to a true meritocracy as there is. Anybody can grow their sites with enough effort and good content because the search algorithms are much less biased than humans. I also like that I can’t buy my way to success by spending lots of money on Adwords to rank higher for organic keywords.

We aren’t blogging for other bloggers unless that is your niche. Most of us are blogging for the greater community based on our site’s genre. Of course there is some overlap, but if your site grows large enough, bloggers as readers should make up less than 5% of your daily traffic.


Let me play Devil’s Advocate here for a little bit as there is definitely merit for being including in “top sites” lists and winning various online rewards because you never know who’s following. Based on my experience of getting ahead in the workplace by making VP by 27 in a brutal industry, here’s the strategy I’d take to start winning some awards if you are interested:

1) Join the awards committee. It’s important to join an awards committee which allows for voting for committee members. That’s when it really gets good because the committee will tend to just vote for each other and themselves. Most awards committees cannot vote for themselves, so you’ll have to do your due diligence.

2) Develop relationships with every single person on the committee or who does a “top bloggers” list. If you can’t join the awards committee, or even if you can, start e-mailing and commenting on all the awards committee’s sites. See if you can help them out in anyway possible to get in their good graces. The time to lobby them is well in advance of when the awards will take place. Nobody knows who is on the Yakezie Membership Committee in order to create a more natural relationship building environment. Of course Yakezie Challengers know who I am, but I’m not making unilateral decisions when it comes to Yakezie Membership. Any Member can object to a Challenger’s entry, in which case they will not pass.

3) Write for a large publication and then enter a competition. You can have a small following on your blog, but if you are a staff writer for a big organization, you can use their community to help you win. The next time you write a post for the big organization, simply include in the post how you’ve entered XYZ contest to get the readership to vote for you. You might think this strategy is unfair, but life is unfair and I’ve seen this happen for many years in a row. The reason? Publicity. The more publicity and link backs the better. In fact, the easiest way to make it to the top is to write for a large publication. Trying to build your own brand from the ground up is infinitely more difficult.

4) Ask for votes. Your blog’s community should love you enough to vote for you so long as you’re not asking them for favors all the time. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” as they say. Asking for a vote a couple times a year shouldn’t kill you. Those who win make it a priority to aggressively sell themselves. Most of you will probably feel uncomfortably with so much self-promotion, but self-promotion is what is required for glory.

5) Write posts highlighting your greatness. Posts such as “10 Things You Don’t Know About Me” not only help your audience get to know you better, it also serves as a way to highlight all your amazing accomplishments. To make sure the post doesn’t make people want to vomit, definitely highlight at least a couple failures – especially if you are daring enough to include a selfie of yourself in the bathroom mirror. The clearer you explain why someone should vote for you, the more likely they will vote for you.


You can either rail against the system or cherish the system. It’s not enough to just write good content on a consistent basis if you want to win an award. You must network with those in power who decide on such awards just like how lobbyists convince Congress to give certain businesses government contracts in order to prosper. The same thing goes for getting ahead in the work place. Good work alone is not good enough!

Winning an online award feels fantastic (I hear). But take it from a guy who has run a site for almost five years and has never won an online award; it’s not the end of the world if you don’t win! Not winning an award or not making it on some “top list” is just an indication that you aren’t as good a networker as others. I’m terrible when it comes to self promotion. I’m also terrible at just letting peculiarities be. As a result, it’s likely I’ll never win anything online, but there’s still hope for you!

If you’re still finding yourself in my bucket of never winning anything after following my five steps above, take solace in the fact that the most important metric is traffic growth, community growth, and then perhaps revenue growth if you’re treating your site like a business. In the meantime, don’t forget to put up your “As Seen In” banner on your homepage. Those large organizations have spent years and millions of dollars building their brands online. Not bad if you can get mentioned by one of them.

Readers, have you ever won an online award? Do you think online award systems are fair or biased? Has an award helped you? Any tips on how to get an online award? Is there correlation with self-esteem and the desire to win an award?

Note: I’m currently reviewing the Yakezie Theta Class applications. I’ll be sending an e-mail later this week.