Winning the Creative Competition: Practical Tips for Success
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 10 min read


  1. Know the competition rules
  2. Research past winners
  3. Develop an original idea
  4. Build a creative team
  5. Plan and schedule your project
  6. Execute your idea effectively
  7. Present your work professionally
  8. Prepare for judging and feedback
  9. Learn from your experiences
  10. Persevere and keep entering

Entering a creative competition can feel like stepping onto a rollercoaster. The anticipation, the adrenaline, and the thrill of the ride are all parts of the journey. But how do you go from being a passenger to becoming a winner? The secret lies in dealing with creative competition effectively. In this blog post, we'll explore practical tips that can help you succeed in any creative competition. These tips aren't just about winning; they're about growing as a creative individual, learning from your experiences, and continually pushing your boundaries. So, buckle up and let's dive into the world of creative competitions.

Know the competition rules

Just like how you wouldn't play a game without understanding its rules, dealing with creative competition starts with getting to grips with the competition rules. Here's how you can do it:

  • Read the rule book: It sounds basic, but you'd be surprised how many people skip this step. The rule book is your bible; it outlines what's allowed, what's not, and what the judges are looking for. Ignoring it can lead to disqualification—so read it, understand it, and, if necessary, read it again!
  • Clarify doubts: If there's anything you're unsure about in the rules, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. Organizers are typically happy to help—after all, they want you to submit your best work.
  • Take advantage of the rules: Once you're familiar with what's allowed, use it to your advantage. If the rules permit multiple entries, why not submit more than one piece? If team entries are okay, consider collaborating with others to create something truly unique.
  • Respect deadlines: This is non-negotiable. Turning in your work late is an instant ticket to disqualification, no matter how brilliant your idea is. So make sure you start early and plan your time well.

Knowing the rules of the competition not only helps you avoid potential pitfalls but also gives you the confidence to express your creativity within the defined parameters. It's your first step towards dealing with creative competition effectively—so take it seriously!

Research past winners

Just like how a detective studies old cases to solve new ones, you too can gain valuable insights by investigating the work of previous winners. Here's how to go about it:

  • Understand their approach: Look at what the past winners did differently. How did they interpret the competition theme? What unique elements did they bring to their work? This isn't about copying their ideas—it's about understanding their thought process. You'll often find that successful entries are those that take a fresh perspective on the competition theme and push the boundaries of creativity.
  • Analyze the style: Pay attention to the style of winning entries. Are they more traditional, modern, abstract, or avant-garde? While you don't have to stick to a specific style, understanding what has resonated with judges in the past can help you fine-tune your own work.
  • Learn from their technique: Winners often excel in their craft. Look closely at their technique, whether it's the use of color and texture in a painting, the rhythm and rhyme in a poem, or the framing and storytelling in a film. Pick up on these techniques and consider how you can apply them to your own work.
  • Read the judges' comments: If available, review the feedback and comments from the judges. These can provide invaluable insights into what the judges appreciated and what they felt could have been better. It's like getting a sneak peek into the judges' minds, which can be incredibly helpful when you're crafting your own entry.

Researching past winners can provide a treasure trove of insights, helping you understand what it takes to create a winning entry. Remember, the goal isn't to mimic their work, but to learn from their success. After all, dealing with creative competition is all about finding your unique voice and letting it shine.

Develop an original idea

Dealing with creative competition can feel like a daunting task, especially when it seems like every good idea has already been taken. Fear not! This is where your creativity comes into play. Let's go through a few tips on developing an original idea:

  • Brainstorm like a pro: Start by jotting down anything that comes to mind. No idea is too outlandish at this stage. Once you've got a good list, start to filter and refine. Look for connections, themes, or unique twists that could turn a good idea into a great one.
  • Think outside the box: This phrase might be overused, but it's still valuable advice. Don't limit yourself to the first idea that comes to mind. Push yourself to think differently. Turn the competition theme on its head. Ask yourself: "What hasn't been done before?"
  • Take inspiration from your surroundings: Sometimes, the best ideas come from the world around us. Take a walk in the park, visit a museum, or even just sit in a coffee shop and people watch. You never know where inspiration might strike.
  • Focus on what you love: Passion fuels creativity. If there's a topic or theme you're passionate about, see if you can incorporate it into your entry. Judges can often tell when a creator genuinely cares about their work, and it can make your entry stand out from the crowd.

Remember, developing an original idea is like planting a seed. It might not seem like much at first, but with time, care, and a little creativity, it can grow into something truly amazing. And that's what dealing with creative competition is all about—bringing your unique ideas to life.

Build a creative team

Dealing with creative competition isn't a solo journey. Building a creative team can significantly improve your chances of success. A diverse team brings together a mix of skills, perspectives, and ideas, fostering a rich environment for innovation. How do you form a winning team, you ask? Let's explore:

  • Look for complementary skills: When assembling your team, seek out people with skills that complement yours. If you're a whiz at drawing but struggle with storytelling, find someone who can spin a captivating tale. Remember, a team's strength lies in its diversity.
  • Choose people you trust: Trust is the bedrock of any successful team. Choose individuals who you can count on to deliver their best and to provide honest feedback. Trust also fosters an environment where everyone feels comfortable voicing their ideas.
  • Find the dreamers and the doers: While it's essential to have team members who can dream big and come up with innovative ideas, it's equally crucial to have those with the practical skills to bring these ideas to life. Strive for a balance of dreamers and doers in your team.
  • Remember, communication is key: A team that communicates effectively is a team that works well together. Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding tasks, timelines, and expectations. Regular check-ins can help keep everyone aligned and motivated.

Building a creative team is like assembling a puzzle—each piece is unique, but when they come together, they create a beautiful picture. That's the magic of teamwork in dealing with creative competition. Remember, together, everyone achieves more!

Plan and schedule your project

A well-crafted plan can be your best ally in dealing with creative competition. It's the blueprint that guides your team's efforts and ensures that everyone is working towards the same goal. Here are some tips to help you plan and schedule your project effectively:

  • Define clear objectives: Start by laying out what you hope to achieve with your project. Whether it's to create an innovative design, write a compelling story, or develop a unique product, having clear objectives can steer your team in the right direction.
  • Break down tasks: Once you have your objectives, break them down into smaller tasks. This can make the project seem less daunting and more manageable. Plus, it allows you to assign tasks to team members based on their skills and strengths.
  • Create a timeline: Developing a timeline is critical. It helps keep everyone on track and ensures that you don't fall behind. Remember to set realistic deadlines that take into account the complexity of tasks and potential roadblocks.
  • Factor in time for revisions: Creative work often requires revisions. Schedule in time to review and refine your work. This extra time can be the difference between a good project and a great one.

Remember, a plan isn't set in stone. It's okay to adjust it as you progress and encounter new challenges. Dealing with creative competition requires flexibility and the ability to adapt. So, plan, schedule, but also be ready to change course if need be. After all, creativity is all about exploration and discovery!

Execute your idea effectively

Having a great idea and a solid plan in place is half the battle when dealing with creative competition. The other half, and arguably the most critical, is executing your idea effectively. Here are some strategies to help you do just that:

  • Stay focused: Keep your eyes on the prize. It's easy to get distracted by new ideas or challenges that come up. But remember, consistency is key. Stick to your original idea and plan, tweaking only when necessary.
  • Communicate: Keep your team in the loop. Regular check-ins and updates can ensure everyone is on the same page and moving forward together. Remember, a well-coordinated team can do wonders!
  • Quality control: Don't compromise on quality. Make sure every element of your project, no matter how small, is up to standard. This attention to detail can set your work apart from the competition.
  • Stay motivated: Creativity can ebb and flow, and dealing with creative competition can be stressful. Keep your team motivated by celebrating small victories along the way and reminding them of the bigger picture.

Execution is where your creative idea comes to life. It's the bridge between your imagination and reality. So take the time to execute well, because as the saying goes, "Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard."

Present your work professionally

After you've put your heart and soul into executing your idea, it's time to present it to the world. Here's how you can do it with aplomb when dealing with creative competition:

  • Be confident: Believe in your work. Your passion and confidence can be infectious and can influence how others perceive your work.
  • Know your work: Be prepared to answer any questions about your work. You've spent a lot of time creating it, so you should be the expert on it. The more you know about your work, the better you can sell it.
  • Practice makes perfect: Rehearse your presentation before the actual day. This can help you iron out any kinks and make sure your delivery is smooth and professional.
  • Pay attention to details: Make sure your presentation is neat and well-organized. Remember, the devil is in the details!

Presenting your work professionally is the final step in your creative competition journey. It's your chance to showcase not only your work but also your commitment and dedication to it. So, put your best foot forward and make your presentation count!

Prepare for Judging and Feedback

Another critical step in dealing with creative competition is preparing yourself for the judging process and the feedback that follows. It's not always smooth sailing, but here's how you can navigate it effectively:

  • Understand the judging criteria: It's important to know how your work will be evaluated. Familiarize yourself with the judging criteria and ensure your work aligns with it.
  • Be open to constructive criticism: Remember, feedback is a tool for growth. It may be tough to hear, but constructive criticism can help refine your work and make it even better.
  • Stay calm and composed: Not everyone might see your work the way you do. If the feedback is not what you expected, stay calm and composed. Don't let it dishearten you.
  • Take notes: Jot down the feedback you receive. It'll come in handy when you're working on your next project or entering another competition.

Remember, dealing with creative competition is as much about the journey as it is about the end result. Judging and feedback are integral parts of that journey. They offer an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve. So, take them in stride and use them to your advantage.

Learn from Your Experiences

Dealing with creative competition is more than just a one-time event—it's a continuous learning experience. Here's how you can ensure that every competition becomes a stepping stone for the next:

  • Reflect on your journey: Post competition, take a moment to reflect. What worked well? What didn't? What could you have done differently? Reflection is the key to learning from your experiences.
  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses: Every competition will reveal a new side to your creative abilities. Identify where you excel and where you need to put in more work.
  • Implement the feedback: Remember the feedback you received? Now's the time to put it to use. Use it as a guide to improve your work and approach.
  • Keep evolving: Creativity is fluid, it evolves. So should you. Keep learning, keep exploring, and keep pushing your creative boundaries.

Remember, every experience, good or bad, is an opportunity to learn. When dealing with creative competition, it's not just about winning, it's about growing as a creative individual. So, embrace your experiences and let them guide your creative journey.

Persevere and Keep Entering

Perseverance is the cornerstone of dealing with creative competition. Success might not come overnight, but don't let that discourage you. It's about the journey, not the destination. Here's how you can stay in the game:

  • Don't fear rejection: Remember, every 'no' brings you one step closer to a 'yes'. Use every rejection as a stepping stone to success.
  • Stay committed: Commitment is key. Keep entering competitions and putting your work out there. Consistency breeds familiarity, and familiarity can lead to recognition.
  • Believe in your ideas: Your creativity is unique, and your ideas are valuable. Have faith in them. If you don't believe in your ideas, who will?
  • Pace yourself: It's a marathon, not a sprint. Don't burn out trying to win every competition. Take time to rest, recharge, and then return with renewed energy.

Dealing with creative competition can be challenging, but it's also rewarding. Remember, the key to winning is not giving up. So, keep entering, keep creating, and keep believing in yourself. Your success story is just around the corner.

If you're eager to learn more about achieving success in the creative industry, don't miss Natalie's workshop, 'The Art of Running a Creative Business.' This workshop will provide you with practical tips and strategies to help you win the creative competition and thrive in your creative business.