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SHAPE Magazine Courts Blogger Attention through Awards

SHAPE’s online magazine announced a 2011 Best Bloggers Awards last week, with public voting courted in six different categories throughout the month. The 120 blogs they showcase are the tip of an incredibly powerful industry sector, and it’s actually surprising it has taken SHAPE this long to court their attention.

It is SHAPE’s first foray into blogger awards, but most bloggers will be familiar with the set-up.  SHAPE has named their picks for the top bloggers in different categories, and those bloggers are asking their readers to vote them to the top.

The six categories are:

20 Healthy Eating Blogs That Make Us Go Mmmm…

20 Beauty Blogs for Active Chicks

20 Top Blogs for Fitness Junkies

20 Awesome Blogs for Sports Nuts

20 Inspiring Weight-Loss Blogs

20 Blogs that Keep Us Happy and Sane

SHAPE describes the prize as follows:

The Prize: One finalist in each of the six categories (beauty, healthy living, food, sports, fitness and weight loss) will receive a $100 American Express gift card. From there, we’ll choose a grand prize winner, who will shoot a paid video series with SHAPE, which will be featured on SHAPE.com and possibly in an upcoming issue!

Quite a few bloggers who are mothers made the cut, including Ree Drummond of Pioneer Woman,  Mir Kamin of Would Should Coulda, Rebecca of Does This Blog Make Us Look Fat and Babble Voices blogger Sarah Braesch whose group blog Draft Day Suit is honored in the section for Best Sports Blogs

The description of Draft Day Suit in the SHAPE listings hits on the way that some of the best niche blogs have roots in the personal blogosphere:

Sarah and co. used to blog about parenting before they decided that they needed another outlet through which they could talk about their favorite sports teams. Hence, Draft Day Suit. Even if you’re not a sports fan, you can’t help but laugh at the witty commentaries.

I like the way that SHAPE cast a wide net in selecting blogs. The sports category is an interesting add that shows how important women who appreciate participating in and following athletics are as an advertising market.  The fitness and weight loss categories favor blogs that are rich with personal narrative. The “Blogs that Keep us Happy and Sane” is a novel category that sweeps up many different types of blogs. You can even vote for Big Fat Deal here, which was an unexpected nod to the fat acceptance movement’s role in promoting fitness for women.

Bloggers can benefit from exposure to new audiences from contests like this, though when soliciting support and publicity they need to remember that the lion’s share of the postives pile on the grand prize winner. The ultimate winner is SHAPE itself, because the site is reaping the intended inbound links and promotion.  

As far as a first blogger award program, SHAPE’s contest suffers from very typical deficits. chanisms are want to. Some diversity of bloggers was represented, but there’s plenty of room for improvement. A big problem is that the open period for voting of several weeks is much too long.  There is no way for bloggers to sustain support for that long without being incredibly spammy, though requests for support are easier for niche bloggers to manage than for personal or parenting bloggers, so SHAPE has that going for them..

Are you interested in the health, fitness and sports blog niches?  How did SHAPE do jumping into the blogger Olympics? Did they medal, or should they drop and give us 20?

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