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?
- 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!
- You’re courting new readers – Many 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?