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Tips for Hosting a Blog Giveaway

One thing that I hear over and over again in the debate about blogging – especially when it comes to whether bloggers should be paid – is that giveaways take countless hours more time than it took to create the universe too much time. Some bloggers insist that everyone hosting a giveaway should receive a fee, while others believe that a second copy of a product for review is payment enough. I’m by myself in a lonely camp on the outskirts of Bloggerville because I have no interest in receiving payment, be it in product or monetary form, for hosting a giveaway. If I do not have time to host the giveaway or I believe it is not a fit for this site (or you!), I simply decline. Full body human carwash anyone? I thought not. And of course there are definitely giveaways I would have liked to host, but I just didn’t have the time or the space when asked. When the stars align and the giveaway is a fit during a time when there is space on my calendar, I am more than happy to host a giveaway for free. I do, of course, get something out of it and that brings me to my next point…

Why Host a Giveaway?

I began hosting giveaways because they sounded like fun.  I get to connect with these hip professionals known as PR from the comfort of my own home all the while learning about new products.  I’ve always been an enthusiastic consumer (ask me about the mix tape of me singing commercials when I was five), and I take a genuine interest in learning about what will soon be on store shelves and in the homes of all of my friends.  There’s also a lot of joy in sending an email that begins with “You Won!!”  But yes…giveaways take a lot of time from communications with those PR hipsters to posting the details of the contest to following up with the winners….then back to the communications with vendors.  So why, oh, why do it?

  1. You’re rewarding your readers – Let’s face it.  We all write some gems from time to time, some of us more frequently than others, but not every post is fit to be framed.  It’s a nice gesture to offer loyal readers a fun giveaway from time to time to say thanks for reading….here, have a free year’s supply of bread!
  2. You’re courting new readersMany of my now loyal readers (thank you, loyal readers) first found me because a giveaway of mine was featured here, there, or somewhere.  I’ve received many emails that say they came to enter a contest and got lost reading post after post about Walt Disney World.  Like I always say, come for the contest, stay for the content…
  3. You’re building relationships with potential clients – “I scratch your back, you scratch mine,” “Dance with the one who brought ya’,” “Never stick your tongue to a cold pole” – Okay, so that last one doesn’t fit, but you get the idea.  Some of my most frequent and favorite clients first contacted me to host small giveaways.  When they needed a blogger for a paid opportunity, they thought of me.  I’m not about to say that every giveaway I’ve hosted has led to paid work, but certainly enough to make the point worth making.

Giveaway Tips

  1. Be clear about prizing – Did the company send you an image of a stuffed bunny but the prize will be a dog?  Be sure to include those sorts of details in your post or else expect an angry email when the prize arrives.
  2. Set an end date and time – I have given away enough products to fill a home – literally – and yet I still occasionally forget to include a specific end date and time.  Not only will your readers need to know this, but so will any giveaway sites where you may wish to post your link.
  3. Set clear entrant rules – Be sure to ask your vendor ahead of time if there are restrictions.  For example, our lovely Canadian neighbors to the north are not always eligible, and they will want to know that from the start.
  4. Don’t go overboard with entries – If you are asking readers to spend twenty minutes entering to win a $25 prize, you may end up with no entries.  Likewise, if you give readers fifteen choices for how they can enter to win, they may decide not to enter at all.  Keep it simple and relevant.

Wrapping Up a Giveaway

While there is certainly plenty of work leading up to a giveaway, the follow up at the conclusion of the entry period can become just as hectic.  I recommend always using Random.org to generate a winner to keep everything above board and consistent.  I also use Google Docs to keep prize fulfillment as easy as possible.  Before contacting winners, create a form that can be used for all future giveaway winners.  When you email your winner, send them a link to the form to claim the prize.  My form looks like this:

 

You will now have access to a spreadsheet that can be edited or even downloaded in a variety of formats including PDF and Excel.  I created an extra column where I make note if the winner information has been sent to the vendor.  Using this form is much easier than asking winners to email you their information and also keeps their mailing address in an easy to find location should the vendor need you to resend.

What are your tips for hosting blog giveaways, and what else would you like to know?

Comments

  1. 1

    That’s a great tip about the spreadsheet. I try to put the image from random.org and a statement of who won at the top of the post, so it is clear the contest is closed. I still get entries on old giveaways sometimes.

    Oh, and… can you send the contact for the full-body human car wash? That would be PERFECT for my blog!
    Real Life Sarah recently posted..Eye of the Poodle

    • 2

      Sarah, I’ll be sure to send them your way! Their target audience was the elderly. Imagine walking into a box and being hosed down…yeah, that was it. :)

  2. 3

    My only addition is to make sure to close out the comments on the site and post the winner. For those of us who do not have a blog and only enter giveaways (me!), it is sometimes frustrating when you spend time entering contests and never find out who won. I like what Real Life Sarah suggests on her comment above. That is a FABULOUS idea! :)

    Thanks for all that you do!!

    One day I am going to start that blog and have my own giveaways!

  3. 4

    I have done a small handful of giveaways on my blog and each time I wished I had a spreadsheet!! I might actually have to look into that when/if I do another one.

    Great tips, as usual!
    andrea recently posted..summer time woes

  4. 5

    I use Google Docs to create a form for the giveaway, but I’ve never done one for the fullfillment info! Good idea!

    When a giveaway ends, I do a separate post with my Random.org and winner info. I also go back into the original post and remove the code for the form, close the comments, and add a blurb at the top that the giveaway is now closed.
    Charlene @ A Virtuous Woman recently posted..Vintage Thingie Thursday-Pyrex Bowls

  5. 6

    Definitely like the winners form idea. I will have to get someone to help me with that.
    LissaL recently posted..Woot- Winner- Csn Stores Boon Deluxe Frog or Bug Bath Pod Giveaway

  6. 7

    One thing that is helpful for me is to created a dedicated page on my blog for posting winners. It not only helps me keep track of when a giveaway ends but saves me time from finding and editing the original giveaway post.

    Example – http://3kidsandus.com/archives/giveaway-winners/

    I’ve also switched from using random.org to using the wordpress plugin called “And the Winner Is”. It automatically pulls the random comment, their email address and closes the comments on that particular post for me.
    Cat @ 3 Kids and Us recently posted..Almost Wordless Wednesday – Cat Napping

  7. 8

    I love the plug-in idea. I will have to check if there is 1 for blogger

  8. 9

    thanks for the tips! found you from angry julie monday. i love the come for the contest, stay for the content mentality!

  9. 10
    Donna B. says:

    I’d like to add to your 2nd point by saying to add time zone as well. I’m Eastern so it doesn’t affect me as much but I know my west coast friends grumble about this one quite a bit.

    I like RLS’s idea for posting winners, but I also like how Robyn’s World does her winner’s list – she has a main list where she links all her giveaways, active ones at the top, expired ones (with winners’ names) at the bottom. One-stop shopping :)

  10. 11

    This is very interesting! We have just started being contacted to donate to blogs. This perspective is interesting, I thought everyone would just be happy to receive freebies to give away!

  11. 12

    Oh wow Amy, using a Google doc is such a good idea! What a nice way to keep everything organized. I’d never thought to do that. I wish I’d seen this post way back when I started hosting giveaways, good tips! I think I’ll cut down on the number of entry methods I give. While no means as much as some, I once saw over twenty ways and thought it takes too long to read this over let alone enter, I have wondered it was too much work. Plus the new discussion about entry methods has had me thinking, ever since I saw something about it on 5MFM.
    Katie recently posted..C is for Cookie

  12. 13

    I have just used Random.org to pick the winner for my very first giveaway. I see where other bloggers are posting an image of the generator after it picks the number. How is this done? When I use the “blogger” option it gives me html for a link that leads to the image. But I would like to just have the image. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thank you
    Vickie

    • 14

      When you are at Random.org, use your “print screen” button, open Paint, and press Control-V (paste). This will capture an image of your entire screen. Use your select tool on Paint to select just the randomly drawn number portion of the screen and use Paint to save it as a jpeg. You can now upload it just as you would any other picture. Good luck!

  13. 15

    Thank you so much for that last bit of information. I had spent all morning trying to figure out how to get the Random.org results posted on my blog! :) Just downloaded paint and think I’m actually going to be able to post my winner tonight. :)
    Cristan recently posted..And The Pendant Winner Is

  14. 16

    Hi,
    I was thinking of hosting a Giveaway on my new blog that needs some promotion, and I got this. Great..and Thanx..will be commenting back when I start the Giveaway.

  15. 17

    Thanks so much for these great tips! I have never done a giveaway until now/soon and I do not want to start out bumbling

  16. 18

    Great tips, Thanks!

  17. 19

    Thanks for the tips! Needed to know a few details for giveaways!

    Warmest regards,
    Joy
    http://www.PardonMyPoppet.com/PipSqueaks
    Pardon My Poppet ~ Pip Squeaks from the Mummy-verse!
    Joy recently posted..365 Days of Blessings – Day 55 – Those who recorded history

  18. 20

    Hi there,
    I am just starting to offer give aways to our clients and am wondering, is there an agreement that you do between the company offering the items and yourself?

  19. 21

    Also, are there specific sites you find helpful in drawing traffic to your give away?
    Stephenie recently posted..Canine Influenza

  20. 22

    This is so helpful for a new blogger such as myself! Thanks so much!

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