How to Run a Yearbook Cover Contest

a yearbook cover contest is are a great way to get a great cover design

If you really want your yearbook to rustle up some good ol’ fashioned school spirit, you need to run a contest that asks for student artwork to use on your book’s cover.

That’s because a yearbook cover content is pretty much the best way to get people excited about the yearbook, tie your book’s theme to the stuff your school community cares about, and make your book something no other school can replicate. (Ever school has students and every student can make cool art, but no other school has your students or their cool art.) If you’re anything like us, you’re probably so excited at the idea of all those benefits that you’re ready to jump right and get it going.

But… uhh… Where do you even start?

When it comes right down to it, running a yearbook cover contest only requires a few key elements:

  • Picking a theme around which your students can create artwork.
  • Getting the word out about the contest.
  • Organizing submissions.
  • Putting the great stuff you get to use on your cover—and a bunch of other pages.

Inside this post, we’ll walk you through how to run a yearbook cover contest, ideas for what the contest should entail, and what to do with all your submissions.

But first…

Why Should You Run a Yearbook Cover Contest?

We already covered a couple of the reasons on why yearbook cover contests are so great, but here’s another: They’re a way to get every student to feel like they own part of the yearbook process.

If your yearbook team is a bunch of control freaks (and, hey, we mean that in a good way!), hear us out: Getting people to help you is actually a great marketing tactic.

Your team, then, gets some free help (while still having total say over how everything is used) and gets some highly effective marketing. Plus, you’ll end up getting submissions from students you’d never have expected—and that might lead to spotting the next yearbook team member.

Win-win? We think so, too.

Plus, yearbook cover contests are a lot like those “we need photos!” emails you send too many times in a year. Only, this: They actually work. We haven’t met a school yet where the kids aren’t super-motivated to participate.

And because the artwork will roll in fast and furious, your team will have tons of time to figure out how to use it all. That might sound like a headache, but it’s not: It’s an easy way to let your team get creative.

Running a Yearbook Cover Contest

First thing’s first: You gotta know what you’re looking for.

That might sound overly basic, but a yearbook cover contest only works if you have a well-defined set of requirements for the artwork. It might be artwork of your school mascot, it might be a drawing of what the school’s motto means to you, it might be a student’s favorite scene from the school year. Whatever it is, you need a theme.

If you have that, you just need to get the word out.

Posters, flyers, social media: You can use it all. But just remember to be specific about the important stuff, like what, exactly, you’re looking for, when the deadline is, and how students can submit. While we’re at it, here’s a checklist of other items that you might want to include in your requirements:

  • Student name, grade, and class
  • Materials and media to be used
  • Dimensions
  • Any required written theme or saying
  • School logo
  • Color and design parameters

While all of this information might not fit on a poster that can be hung around the halls, you can still promote your yearbook contest through striking, informational visuals hung around the school and in flyers that can be stuffed into backpacks.

And if you’ve never run a yearbook cover contest before, you might want to set some expectations and let people know what’s going to happen with all that artwork you receive.

Not everyone can win a contest, of course, and means you’ll only be highlighting a few pieces of student artwork on the actual cover. Explain the rules of the contest in advance. It’ll save you some tears, hurt feelings, and frustration.

Ideas For What to do With All Those Submissions

Let’s face it: Having a single winner’s only fun for one student.

Instead of hurting a bunch of kids’ feelings, why not make everyone who submits feel like a winner instead? It’s pretty easy to do. Here are two ideas:

  • Use a mosaic design on your cover that incorporates the works of several students.
  • Highlight one contest winner on the front cover, then include winners from the various grades on the back cover.
  • Use the artwork submissions throughout the book: on the front and back cover and as section or class dividers in the portraits section.

This is a super easy way to better represent your school community, showcase the talents of your student body, and improve cover contest participation next year.

While a pretty design or single, striking photo might be the norm for your school’s yearbook, a contest that highlights student artwork can help you create a unique, student-driven yearbook that generates renewed interest in your community.

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