Yours for FREE

My top-notch book, "Your Right To Write"

  • FREE tips on writing, blogging, publishing and essay competitions
  • Exclusive offers and inspiration delivered directly to your inbox
Just enter your email now and I'll send the Book to you... for FREE.

Why I Don’t Enter Essay Competitions With Entry Fees – And Why You Too Shouldn’t

Why I Don’t Enter Essay Competitions With Entry Fees – And Why You Too Shouldn’t

Essay Writing TipsIf you care about writing contests enough to have glanced through some calls for entries, you can tell it’s not uncommon to find essay organizers requiring entrants to pay entry fees.

Entry fees – yes, that’s what you’ve read.

You may wonder what’s wrong with it after all. Isn’t it just normal that competitors pay entry fees, field their skills against other writers and get rewarded if they’re good?

Is that practice not even a potent means to scare aware flippant writers who would only scribble trash to while away the precious time of the panel of judges?

Well, maybe there’re some shining sides to charging entry fees. Just maybe. But it’s a practice I find very unprofessional, exploitative and uncalled for. Wait! You have a right to hold a contrary view – but hear my reasons first.

#1: It’s all too self serving

Imagine that an essay contest organizer charges each of 500 entrants the sum of N500 (about $3) and the prizes for the top three winners are respectively N40000, N30000 and N20000. Now the organizer would have realized N250000 while giving out only N90000 as prizes. If we assume further that the organizer expends N40000 on logistics, then it would have spent a total of N130000 and made a ‘profit’ of N120000.

And my analysis uses a very modest entry fee – just N500! I have seen contests which charged N5000 (about $30). Wow! That’s a fortune for the organizers!

Even if we assume that the organizer gets a total of N250000 from the entrants’ entry fees and expends everything in staging the contest, such an arrangement would still be exploitative. Just listen, I have my reasons.

Events like essay competitions are part of a tradition of philanthropic and community service staged to promote literacy, scholarship, give exposure to a subject matter and stimulate rich intellectual debate on issues of concern to the organizers or the target audience.

They come with prizes for the winners so that prospective entrants can be encouraged to put in. They are never meant to be profit-making ventures for the organizers.

And here is an essay contest organizer posing as serving humanity, popularizing its brand and – if it has an online presence – getting more readers and social media followers without expending a dime of its own, simply because some naïve writers are all too willing to get swindled! Mtchew!

#2: Entry fees create ill feelings

Asking essay contest entrants to pay entry fees is a cool way of robbing Peter to pay Paul. The operation is: charge many and reward three! That robs the contest of its healthy rivalry and sportsmanship.

If you’ve paid to enter and did not win, you’ll nurse the temptation to feel cheated, to even despise the winners. You can’t help but feel your valued money has been arrogated to another person.

While it’s wrong to feel so since you entered the contest willingly and the winners are (presumed to be) better writers, you may not be able to help it.

#3: Better alternatives abound

It’s refreshing for essay contest addicts like me to know that there are always so many of them with no entry fee opened at any particular time. You only need to see which contests interest you and write to enter.

This fact makes it all the more extravagant and thoughtless to pay even a token to enter an essay competition.

On Naija Writers’ Coach for instance, essay competitions are posted almost daily. Readers and prospective entrants enjoy the flexibility and ease of searching essay contests by deadline, by subject matter, by level of education and by locality.

And the good news is, no single essay contest requiring entry fee will you find here. Not even one! We post only free-to-enter essay writing competitions that reward with cool cash, valuable awards or travel ticket, not just vague publicity, publication or pay-per click.

Now hear this caveat

What I’ve set out to do is show my abhorrence for the exploitation underpinning the practice of fleecing unsuspecting essayists of their hard-earned cash under the guise of entry fees. I hope I’ve given sufficient justifications to convince you.

I’m in no way accusing such essay contest organizers of being impostors or spammers. It’s a question of choice. They’ve got the right to fix an entry fee for their contest, and you’ve got the right to ignore them too.

But if you’ve got too much cash and wish to squander some, paying essay organizers may not be a bad idea after all.

What’s your take?

Do you think entering essay competitions with entry fees is a game worth the candle? Share your thoughts in the comment and let’s get talking.

If you like this post, you’re welcome to subscribe for FREE to get even more:


website setup banner

About Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

Writer. Difference Maker. Entrepreneur. Author, Your Right To Write & Vertical Writing. Winner, 11 Writing Prizes.


  1. Adebayo Jamiu Oluwashina says:

    Salam alayka prof, how is studies? I always enjoy your insightful information on public enlightement and awareness. I believe this is another jihad not only on Al-Islam but also on human liberation.

    Ride on!

  2. I totally agree with you.

Speak Your Mind