I’m sitting before my laptop and my fellow NFPW members as a 2015 contest entrant.

I’m proud to say that. Proud of our two-tiered contest that starts at the affiliate level, with first-place entries advancing to the national competition.

I’m also proud of myself for getting my entries accepted into our online contest without having to call national contest expert Katherine Ward of Delaware, headquarters contest director Gloria Watson or Nebraska contest director Terri Hahn.

I was smarter this second year of the online contest in how I prepared. I saved newspaper page pdfs and photos into an “options” folder on my work computer throughout the year. After making my entry selections, I relabeled each pdf and jpg with the category number and letter, where applicable, and a word or two describing the topic.

Then, I asked our imaging specialists at the Kearney Hub to merge pdfs so that every story, jump and/or sidebar was in one pdf, representing one entire entry. They also reduced the photo jpgs to the required size of less than 1 MB.

So, I spent some time Saturday morning typing headlines and publication dates into individual entry forms, and downloading files.

I found one photo that hadn’t been reduced, so I just saved everything and uploaded that fixed photo this morning.

I was a little confused when I hit “submit” on the first entry and had a message about paying for the entry. So I went to the “pay now” tab, clicked on the off-payment option for everything.

Then it was “submit,” “submit,” “submit,” “accepted,” “accepted,” “accepted.”

It was a familiar process once I got started, but I had worried that I wouldn’t remember anything about what I did right or wrong during our inaugural contest last year. Yes, I did have to contact Katherine a time or two for help in 2014, and she was very patient with me and my tendency to worry greatly about anything labeled “online.”

Now that I’ve practiced the entry process twice, I expect that it all will seem rather routine next year.

I hope all of you are in the process of joining me as a full-fledged “submitted” entrant in your affiliate or the at large contest. It is a great way to get feedback on the work we do over the course of a year and it’s nice to be acknowledged for some of that good work.

I will end this in the same way I ended my similar blog a year ago with this absolute truth: If I can use the online contest, anyone can.

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