Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Using Google Docs For Contests - & Badge Contest!

We've all seen them, those handy little forms that people are using to run their contests. But what are they and how easy are they to use? Let's just say I am a BIG FAN.

The Pros
  • Emails are hidden to keep people from getting spammed
  • Entries are collected in a handy-dandy spreadsheet for easy contest winner picking
  • Very organized collection
The Cons
  • Users can't see if they have already entered the contest, so you might get double entries
  • Users are used to the comment and win contests so they might think they entered just by commenting

I really think that the Pros very much out-weigh the Cons, so I'm going to go over how to use Google Docs to run a contest, and tricks that I've found that work well for me.  Sound good??? Let's get started.

What is Google Docs?
Google Docs is a service offered by Google, where you can create spreadsheets, databases and documents, from scratch or using a template.  The main thing I use Google Docs for is the forms.  Very hand function, and something that before you would need a web developer using ASP & MySQL to create. Something way over my head. Now all you need is a GMAIL account - which everyone seems to have.  Don't have one, go get one - Google is taking over the planet, jump on that gravy train, because everything is Free.

Got your gmail account? Good run over to http://docs.google.com to get started.  Sign up, sign in.
You will be brought to your ALL ITEMS page. This is where you start and where all your forms will be listed. A blank one will look like this:

Let's make our first form for a contest I'll run at the end of this post. This contest will be for a FREE Blog button/badge design. (Scroll down for deets)

1. Go to Create New in the upper left hand area

2. Click on FORM

3. You will be taken to the form dashboard

4. Lets Title this form.  Where it says Untitled Form lets I'm calling it PJD Contest Entry.  You want this to be rather original because if you have multiple forms, you need to be able to know which one is which.

5. Type NAME where it says "Sample Question 1"

6. Make sure Make this a required question is checked off (used this for all questions that you want people to HAVE TO answer.  This is called form validation

6. Hit Done - Yeah! You have your first form entry!

7. Now there should be a Sample Question 2, move your mouse over that question, it should highlight yellow, and settings will appear. The pen is to edit. The boxes are to duplicate.  The trash to delete that question

8. Change Sample Question 2 to Email, make sure to check off the required question box.

9. Go to ADD ITEM in the top left corner. We are now doing a check box to validate that they are a follower - which is the usual reason for a personally hosted contest. So click on the item CHECKBOXES

10. Change Untitled Question to Follower? 
  • I'm going to add help text, this is small text under the question to help the user answer the question.  My help text will be: You must be a follower to enter this contest.   
  • Question Type is Checkboxes.  
  • The first checkbox - change Option 1 to +2 Old Follower 
  • Click in the blank second option - change Option 2 to +1 New Follower 
  • The make sure to check off the required question box. 
  • Click Done

11. Extra Entries!
  • Go to Add Item - Click Checkboxes 
  • Change Untitled Question to Extra Entries 
  • Help Text:  Please provide proof of extra entries with a link below. 
  • Let's give them extra ways to get contest points:
    • +1 Tweet
    • +2 Sidebar
    • +3 Post
    • +5 Parajunkee Design Button
  • This question does not have to be entered, so do not check off make this required.
  • Hit Done

12. Space to provide links
  • Go to Add Item - Click Paragraph Text 
    • This Item is for multiple entries  
    • Use this if you want to collect paragraphs of information or multiple lines of text
    • Change Untitled Question to Links for Extra Entries 
    • Help Text:  Please provide proof of extra entries here.
    • This question does not have to be entered, so do not check off make this required.
    • Hit Done
 13. To save my bad addition skills I provide an area to add up the points.
  • Go to Add Item - Click Text
    • This Item is for a single line entry
    • I usually just use these for name, email, url entries
  • Change Untitled Question to Add up your entries please +1
  • This question does not have to be entered, so do not check off make this required.
  • Hit Done
  •  Hit Save
    Your entries for the form are now done! 
    This is what mine looks like:

    If you don't want yours to be plain white we can style it.  Go to THEME: Plain in top menu bar. By clicking on it will take you to a list of different themes. I'm going with a Theme called Blue on the last page that matches my style. You pick your theme just by clicking on the image. Don't forget to hit APPLY.

    Now it is time to EMBED.  Oooh scary.
    1. Go to More Actions in top menu.  Make sure your form is saved.
    2. Click on embed.
    3. A menu pops up with a string of code. This is what you need to copy and paste in your post.
    4. I'm working with Blogger so I'm going to walk you through using your blogger dashboard.
    5. Create your post with all your contest details
    6. Go to Edit HTML
    7. Scroll Down! At the end of the post - recommended to do this at the very end - copy and past that code.
    8. OMG it is huge and doesn't fit in my post column!
      1. Let's fix that - it is time to code
      2. Go back to Edit HTML
      3. This is what the code looks like:
      4. What you are looking for is the width & height tags these can be changed without any problems.  I like to change mine to a percentage, so I don't have to figure out pixels for my columns.  So change that width="760" to width="95%"
      5. My personal preference is to use 95% instead of 100% because it usually doesn't have buggy problems.
      6. The code should look like this:
      7. Go to Compose it should show up better now.
    You now have a form!

    Publish your post and wait for the entries.

    How to view those entries?
    1. Go to Google Docs
    2. You will see a list of your forms that you created
    3. Click on the form you just created
    4. It will show you the spreadsheet with all the entries
    5. It is that easy. 

    Tips & Tricks
    1. To battle the Cons I usually encourage contest entrants to comment on the posts so they can look in the comments section to see if they entered the contest.  This is also good practice if you enter a lot of contests.  Make it your practice if you fill out a form to make a comment in the post.
    2. People comment thinking this is how to enter.
      1. You really can't battle people that don't read and just enter a contest.  There are people that don't pay attention to rules and details.  If your rules are stated plainly it is their fault they didn't read the post and enter correctly.  It is your choice whether you count their entry or not. I usually don't, because I find it insulting that they didn't take the time to read over the instructions. 
    3.  Counting your entries

    Now for the Contest! Win a Blog Badge/Button like the ones on the sidebar ---->
      Contest Deets & Rules 
      2. You must be a follower of Parajunkee Design
      3. You must have an existing blog
      4. Winner will receive 1 badge and the code to enter into an HTML/Java widget
      5. Contest is open to EVERYONE
      6. Contest ends January 12th
      7. Hint* - so you can know you entered this contest, comment in this post!

      Extra Entries:
      • +1 Tweet
      • +2 Sidebar
      • +3 Post
      • +5 Parajunkee Design Button

              36 Responses so far.

              1. JG says:

                I'm all entered! Thanks for posting this! When does the contest end?


              2. I entered!! I would love to win a blog button designed by you :D

                Here's my links:

                Sidebar link and grabbed your button

              3. Missa says:

                I entered! I tweeted: http://twitter.com/hunniebee724/status/7224322515

              4. Thank you for thisr post I did my first google doc form giveaway. It was big you #8 was very helpful I am going to try that in the morning.
                I also love how at the end of the form you say number of entries. I have just been counting and adding up Great idea!

              5. I entered. Thank you so much for this post. Hopefully I'll be able to have a contest soon that I can use it for!

              6. I entered, while i am a new follower to this site I am an old follower on your book blog. Your designs are amazing I honestly may have to get one soon.

              7. Stacy says:

                thank you for posting this! i just finished doing my first contest and my FIRST google docs thanks to you! you ROCK!

              8. I have entered! I hope I added the link for the tweet!

                If not-- I don't want to upset your sheet so here it is


              9. Jessilyn says:

                I thought i entered already but guess not here are my links. I would really love to have my own button fro my blog Please count me In!! ;)

              10. I entered. I would love my own button! :)

                I have a blog already, heres the link:



              11. I love you.
                My form was too big and I couldn't figure out how to resize it through the Google Doc's Help. I said, "Screw it! Parajunkee had Blog 101 post about Google accounts, I betcha she has what I need." (That is a direct quote.)

                You rock!

              12. Accidentally discovered something: You can embed the HTML code without switching over to the HTML view. I was in the normal compose view, I pasted the code where I wanted the form, adjusted the size, then quickly switched back and forth through HTML view, and there it was. You might not even have to switch views, it's just what I had done and it worked.

              13. Chrystal says:

                This was a very helpful guide as I just setup my first giveaway tonight and this made it so much easier to do. :)

              14. Tyhada says:

                YOU so rock Rachel. I just posted my first contest on my blog. The form turned out awesome. Thanks so much for the tips on how to set it all up.

              15. Anonymous says:

                Hi Rachel! I tried using Google Doc's form for my contest. After copying+pasting the embed code into my HTML edit window, I saved my post. All I got was the word "Loading...". What do I do?

              16. sugar - unfortunately iframes don't work with wordpress. This tutorial was for blogger.

                Try this: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/google-document-embedder/

              17. Anonymous says:

                Oh okay, thanks!

              18. Bean says:

                Thanks SO MUCH for posting this tutorial! I've just put together my first ever giveaway, which I'll be posting in a couple weeks. I knew there had to be a simple way to make these forms I see all over the blogosphere.

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