What is a contest business?
With an online contest business you’ll be competing with others online to win cash prizes, typically by providing a service to clients who pick the winners.
You do the work upfront and get paid if your performance is deemed good enough.
Some contests are considered “spec work” and are controversial.
Contests are one of 19 types of online business and considered a Level 1 online business, according to our framework.
6 Levels and 19 Types of Online Business
Level 1 = Novice
Okay for side income or beer money, but hard to earn a living.
Level 2 = Intermediate
Best for earning a living online when you’re starting out, but hard to scale.
Level 3 = Advanced
Easier to scale and higher income potential, but you usually need significant investment of time and/or money upfront.
Level 4 = Superior
Even more scalable and even higher income potential, but also more complex / difficult / expensive.
Level 5 = Distinguished
Most complex / difficult / expensive, but the rewards here can be massive.
Level X = Wildcard
These are the misfits. Many aren’t even considered businesses in the traditional sense, but they are all ways to make money online. You typically need a lot of time, money, or luck to succeed with anything here.
How can you make money online with contests?
Here are the legit ways I’ve found to make money online with contests…
Enter Naming Contests
Come up with a great name for a business on Squadhelp and you’ll get paid…
- Naming Creative at Squadhelp
- $100 – $300 per contest won
Enter Branding Contests
Squadhelp also hosts branding and identity contests. The prize money for these can be even bigger…
- Branding & Identity Creative at Squadhelp
- $100 – $500 per contest won
Enter Design Contests
If you have some web or graphic design skills, a design contest might be right up your alley.
99designs is the most famous site for design contests…
- Design Contest Participant at 99designs
- $271 average per contest won
DesignCrowd is similar but the prize money’s a little less…
- Contest Participant at DesignCrowd
- $215 average per contest won
Pros and Cons of Contest Businesses
- Can help you build a portfolio.
- The prize money for some contests can be significant.
- Flexible schedule. Work when you want.
- Some contests have an entry fee.
- Highly unlikely to earn you a consistent living.
- Most people competing in a contest don’t win any money.
Are contests a good way to earn a living online?
You might earn some pocket money and build up some good work samples, but I’ve seen very few examples of people earning a significant and consistent income via online contests.