Books marketing promotion

Hosting a Kids Color Competition

TLDR – Coloring contest wrap up – judging the contest and learnings (I need more followers and further reach in advertising.)

An Idea Sparks

Let me start by saying, I am not a marketing guru; not even a little. As a self-published author, I have been thrust head first into this foreign field. Now, not only am I writing books, I have to promote and market those books as well, *cue big eye roll. One day, while “working” on my website, I thought it would be a great idea to post some of the illustrations from the book, then parents could download them as coloring pages for the kids. Bam! That sparked the idea for hosting a color contest. Who doesn’t love a color contest? I didn’t have a huge budget for prizes, but it would be a great way to get some exposure for my book.

The question now was, “how do you market a coloring contest in the time of Covid-19?” It wasn’t as if I could go out and physically ask local businesses to display the contest for me. Besides, half of Ireland (where I currently live) was in partial lock-down. This contest had to be fully online, from promoting to turning in entries to prizes be awarded. Spoiler alert: thinking this would work my first mistake.

Kids are limited to what they are exposed to on the internet. In order for kids to learn about an online color contest, I had to tell their parents. I took it to social media and I advertised like crazy. My Twitter following was fairly small at the time and therefore, so was my reach. Many of my friends on Facebook either don’t have children or have children who are too old to enter. I tried two Facebook ad campaigns and although the reach and views were great, it didn’t bring in any entries.

Somehow, I ended up with 18 entries at the end of the contest. This was mostly due to my sister, a school teacher. She is reading the book to her class of 1st graders, and she told them all about the contest. Over half of my entries came from these students. Thanks, Sis!


Pros: The contest/competition was a great learning experience. I learned the power and impact of a social media following. I got a crash course in #hashtags, keywords, and SEO (search engine optimization) marketing; the result clearly stating I need more practice in all three areas. 

It also forced me to learn more about GDPR (general data protection regulation), privacy rules, and contest rules. GDPR is a European regulation in which, if you ask for personal information you must state the purpose for needing the information, how it will be used, and how it will be stored. I created a document ( contest entry rules) that ensured I was following all privacy processes as well as GDPR . I can use this as a template if I run a contest or giveaway in the future. 

Cons: I spend a lot of time advertising for this contest with little return on investment. My following on Social Media wasn’t large enough. The response wasn’t big enough. I had a few complaints from friends who didn’t have ways to print the pictures out, or it was a hassle to do so. I didn’t garner any extra sales, there wasn’t a jump in website views, and the whole ordeal ended up costing more than I earned in return.

Final outcome: I learned a lot, but at a cost. I most likely won’t do something like this again.

Judging the contest

The entries we did receive were pretty amazing. The kids put their heart and soul into coloring, which some kids going the extra mile and adding in more detail. I should considering using some of these in my book.

In order to keep the pictures anonymous while judging, the contest entries were saved to my computer with only a number beneath them. I used Excel to keep track of the names and email addresses. Here are the entries in the 5 and under category.

Five and under pictures

My judges were my four children, ages 10, 8, 6, and 4. I called them in separately, displayed the pictures on my computer screen, and let them pick their top three in both categories. The under 5s was simple as only four entries had been received. All the children picked 1st place: #5, second place: #6, and three kids picked #16 as third place, with one child picking #7. Under 5s was sorted.


6-12 year old entries

Moving on to the 6-12 age category proved more difficult. As you can see above, we had some amazing entries. Here is how each judge voted in the first round:

  • 10-year-old: 12, 18, 8
  • 8-year-old: 1, 12, 17
  • 6-year-old: 4, 9, 3
  • 4-year-old: 18, 12, 4

For round two, we picked the entries that had two or more votes. 12, 18, 4…then all kids voted again.

Round 2 came out in a tie:

  • 10 and 8 year old: 12, 18, 4
  • 6 and 4 year old: 4, 12, 18

We needed a tie-breaker and I felt it couldn’t be me, I knew too much. We brought in Dad to break the tie. The final outcome: 4, 12, 18

The Winners

We had our winners. Congratulations to everyone who entered. As you can see, choosing a winner was tough. Everyone did a fabulous job, and each picture showed fantastic creativity.

Big Congratulations to our Winners:

Under 5 winners
  • 1st Place: Gustaw, age 4
  • 2nd Place: Averi, age 4
  • 3rd Place: Halle, age 3
6-12 winners
  • 1st Place: Antoni, age 6
  • 2nd Place: Savannah, age 7
  • 3rd Place: Iolani, age 6

You can view the winner’s pictures and see all our entries here.


All in all, this whole process was a great learning experience. I know I have a lot to learn when it comes to marketing, and I feel its important to always try new things. We take the good with the bad and we learn what works and what doesn’t. I have several more ideas in this head of mine and I hope those further endeavors are more successful.

Keywords – sell books, sell books Amazon, entry form, contest rules, competition, kids contest, and online contest.

Leave a Reply