PTM 021 – Making Extra Money with Online Video Contests

Listen to PT's interview with Matthew. Matthew has used Tongal to make extra money and pay off his student loan debts. If videography is something you enjoy and are good at, listen to find out how to enter your work in contests to win some cash.

In this podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Matthew Fletcher, who uses Tongal to compete in online video contests.

“Tongal offers creative people the unique opportunity to work with brands and companies that need new and original video content, which means you can get paid to do what you love.”

Part Time Money PodcastSo far, Matt has paid off 1/3 of his debt, just from contest winnings on Tongal. He has also used these contests to build up his portfolio, which has helped him stand out in a competitive job market. Being able to show the Barbie commercial he made as well as including these big brand names in his portfolio, he has actually landed and booked jobs.

Matthew also runs Contests for a Year: a year long experiment where he shares his commitment to entering a contest everyday for a year. So far he's earned more than $12,000 which has helped him pay down even more debt.

Listen to the Podcast

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Matthew's Story: Finding a Way to Pay Down Debt

Matthew Fletcher had been carrying a load of debt for much of his adult life. No matter how much money he made in his career, his debt seemed to increase alongside his salary. He began considering ways to bring in extra money to apply specifically to his debt.

A few years earlier, Matthew had entered a video contest for Sabra hummus and won. He received a Mediterranean cruise and a year’s supply of hummus. Because of that, Matthew got the contest bug and decided to do more research. He found out about Tongal, a site that has ongoing video contests for really big brands like Benjamin Moore Paint, Mattel, Nordstrom, etc.

What makes Tongal different from other video contests is it’s a “creative democracy.” People can weigh in at any point in the creative process to try to win money. The end result of Tongal projects is creating a commercial, but there are ways for all kinds of creative types to make money. If videography is your thing check out my post about starting Vidzuno, a video production company.

The first step is for a company to send a creative brief. For instance, Matthew entered a contest for Mattel’s “I Can Be” Barbie campaign. In the first round, writers could submit a creative concept for commercial in 250 words or less. The top 5 concepts won money. In the second round, videographers could take any of the top 5 concepts and submit a commercial based up on it. Matthew shot a commercial and won the contest and $10,000.

After winning over $11,000 in various contests, Matthew has paid down 1/3 of his debt. He entered 220 contests and won about 10% of those. He freelances as a creative director, producing corporate events for various companies, and when he’s not working on a project, he’s looking for contests to enter.

Finding Contests to Enter

Tongal is not the only site he searches. There are a number of different websites that aggregate contests from all over. Googling contests or sweepstakes will result in individual contests, but the aggregate sites will break down contests and list them by reward categories such as “cash” or “dream vacations.”

Matthew prefers contests where there are skills involved. The prize is always a key factor in his determining whether or not to enter. With Tongal, the contests always award cash, and since the goal is to pay off debt, cash is always preferred. If you're looking to pay off debt, be sure to read this article about making extra money to pay off debt.

He also weighs the amount of time it would take to fulfill the contest demands. The Mattel commercial he won took him about a month to execute from concept to final product. Since he won $10,000, he figures it was worth it. Balancing the level of the prize with the level of effort is key.

Matthew's Tips For Getting Started

For people considering making extra money via contests, Matthew offers these tips:

  • 1. The ones that have a little bit of skill involved are the ones that are more likely to pay off.The pool for video contests is fairly small, anywhere between 30 and 80 submissions.
  • 2. Companies are not always looking for the most highly produced videos, either. If they wanted that, they would pay professionals. Often, they’re looking for user-generated content that can go viral and create a fun splash, or they’re using the contest to outsource ideas that they can take to an agency and get the video done professionally.

Here's what Matthew and I cover:

Matt Fletcher - Online Video Contests

Matthew Fletcher of Contests for a Year – photo by Mark Menke

  • About Tongal
  • Who Should Use Tongal
  • About His Project: Contests for a Year
  • How He Manages His Full Time Job and Contest Work
  • Websites to Use to Find Contests
  • What Makes a Contest Worth His Time
  • The $5,000 “Pay Yourself First” Video Contest that I Won

Full transcript coming soon.