Writing for an InfoBarrel contest is one of the most strenuous events a writer can participate in. InfoBarrel is growing rapidly, and each month it seems like the contest is harder and harder to win. It is likely that the winners in 2011 will have to post scores over 500, which works out to a minimum of 100 articles, if you write 1000 words per article.
It takes a lot of planning to be able to write this much in a month, as you don't want to burn yourself out. You also want to make sure you're writing articles that will still earn over the long run, as the $100 Amazon Gift Card that is the first place prize, pales in comparison to 100 or more well optimized articles. In terms of return on your investment, while the Amazon prize is alluring, but it generates a much lower return.
InfoBarrel Contest Rules/Details
Every contest is open from the 1st day of the month, until midnight on the final day of the month (eastern time I believe). Whoever has the most points at the end of this day wins, so don't keep your articles saved in draft form! Points are given as follows:
500 word article: 1 point
800 word article: 2 points
1000 word article: 5 points
As we can see, writing 1000 words is many times more effective. We can best see this if we look at the numbers in a different way:
500 word article: 1 point every 500 words
800 word article: 1 point every 400 words
1000 word article: 1 point every 200 words
Clearly, if you want to win the InfoBarrel monthly contest you will have to write 1000 word articles, or an absolutely extraordinary number of shorter articles (more than twice as many). Given the time committment it's going to take to score the roughly 500 points you will need to win, it makes sense to write 1000 word articles, right?
Additional thoughts about the IB Contest, and some unwritten rules
Every month things heat up near the end. In October 2010 DKRunner and aidenofthetower each posted around 100 points in the last couple days. DKRunner ended up scoring the second highest contesest total to date. So, if you're writing in the contest and have built up a sizeable lead - it's NOT safe.
This month, going into the final day I had a 60 point lead on MayaTenney. I thought I had the contest in the bag, but she posted 15 articles (at the time of my writing this) to score another 75 points. You might say sure, I only have to overcome a 15 point deficit - but that's assuming she doesn't post anything else, and I was not prepared to write today. In any case the lesson is this - keep writing like mad until midnight on the final day rolls around, or you might find a month's worth or hard work washed down the drain.
Big unwritten rule that everyone should abide by is: don't save up your articles and post them all at once. I still post at the end of days, but I haven't saved up until the weekends to post (I normally only post on Sundays, sometimes Wednesdays or Thursdays if I have a ton of articles). It's a competition, but we're all friends here and sneaking up on people and posting 100 articles on the last day is a good way to lose community support. The $100 Amazon gift card is not worth your reputation (and you'll probably feel badly afterward)
Time taken to Write a 1000 word article versus shorter articles
For me, it takes much longer to write 1000 words on a single topic than it takes for me to write a couple of 500 word articles on the same, or similar, topics. So much so, that in terms of my time investment, it actually doesn't make sense for me to write 1000 word articles. I pride myself on writing good quality *stuff* - and while I don't always succeed, I sure try my best not to publish anything I wouldn't be proud to show my family, friends, or dog.
Most people are probably similar, the amount of research that goes into a 1000 word article is exponentially more time consuming than with shorter articles. This is because we run out of "general knowledge" after a certain number of words and have to get very specific - therefore, more research.
Fortunately, thanks to the magic of batching, we can actually do both.
How to Write 1000 word articles...Without writing any 1000 word articles
As you may be aware (if you've followed my InfoBarrel progress), I'm a huge proponent of batching. All batching is, is taking a task that will be repeated and breaking it down into the individual tasks. Then, instead of doing each task in order, you do task one 50 times, task two 50 times, task three 50 times, and so on. You'll find that you can get through each task, and therefore the whole job, much more quickly if you focus on one task for a long time, and then the next task, and so on.
I use this approach with article writing. This is why I usually post on Sundays and not throughout the week (plus it's fun to see 30 new articles put up in "one day"). I can post articles quickly when I get into an article posting "zone." Same deal goes for keyword research, niche research, backlinking, optimizing, and anything else.
So, in order to write 1000 word articles, I would write a bunch of 750 word articles in a niche - which is about my limit without taking far too much extra time - but I would not include commercial data: prices, where to find items etc. Instead, I'd end up with 3-5 articles within a niche in a short period of time. Then I would go back, do some product research, and write that part of each article. Writing 250 words of product info is fairly easy, and doing this for 5 articles in a row is incredibly time effective. This article, which is just 1000 words, is only the second article I've written start to finish this month that is 1000 or more words. It took me about 45 minutes to write this - but I can probably do average 30-35minutes an article by batching - AND I don't get as burned out.
Hope this helps your contest aspirations!