The reason reality shows like Survivor and American Idol work isn’t because somebody wins a bunch of money in the end.
It’s because everyone who’s in the running is just a regular person like you and me, and everyone becomes famous, even if it’s only for 12 weeks.
Let’s take a look at how this applies to your blog.
I haven’t watched one of those reality shows for a while but I do know that none of them pays enough money to get me to eat a live spider.
Not even if I was guaranteed to finish in first place and win the prize money.
However, if I were looking for a way to be in the limelight for 13 weeks, watched by millions of people, I’d grab a bottle of catsup and ask for a fork.
I also know there are plenty of people who feel just like me.
They sit there and watch those reality shows week after week because those are real people competing, not celebrities.
It’s a “reality” show and people watching from home believe in the very real possibility that they could be one of the next contestants and become famous, too.
To the millions of at-home viewers, it’s not about the prize money.
It’s about being in the spotlight and becoming famous.
When you make your readers famous it produces the same effect.
Everybody loves to see their name in print and the fact that you’re featuring real readers, not just other bloggers or celebrities, makes being famous, no matter how fleeting, seem like a real possibility.
And now that fame seems just a step away, your readers are willing to do whatever it takes to get their moment in the spotlight.
They’ll start leaving comments, valuable comments that add something to the conversation.
They’ll start asking questions so they look like a contributing member of the community. They’ll go comment on other blogs if you want them to, they’ll submit a guest post, or they’ll share your content all over the Web.
Here’s the thing about Fame.
It’s a much more powerful motivator than money or prizes.
Offer your readers a prize for submitting a guest post or leaving a comment a day for a month and most won’t even give it a second thought.
Because there’s no lasting value that makes it worth the effort.
The $200 bucks will disappear as soon as they get it and if they wanted an iPad they’d buy one.
But if there’s a chance they might become famous, see their name up in lights on your blog, then that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Your readers look at you as the expert, someone to look up to.
If your blog is large and well-known, they might even look at you as a celebrity.
Seeing their name on your blog is almost as rewarding as being a contestant on a reality show.
They can send their friends and family to your blog and say, “Look! He said I asked a very good question and he used it in his blog post!”
And for most people, the respect they earn from their family and friends is worth more than any amount of prize money you could ever offer.
Now just try it: make your readers famous.