It has been a while since my previous installment of From Mary’s Desk, so I thought that it was fine time for this Smorgasbord Sundays post.
Today’s topic is How to Plan and Execute a Blog Giveaway.
I think that this might be especially helpful to those who are new to blogging and have been considering running a giveaway.
Some things I’ll go into more detail about are why a giveaway could be a good idea for your blog, how to choose what to offer, sponsored giveaways, online giveaway tools, how long you should run your giveaway, etc.
No, I’m not an expert on blog giveaways, but I have run a few in the past on Swatch And Learn, and along the way, I’ve learned a thing or two.
Why Have a Giveaway?
Sure, giveaways can be a great way to attract new visitors, but more importantly, it’s a way to give back to the readers who have been loyal.
In order to have a successful blog, I truly believe that you have to give back to those who have been following your blog and supporting you through the months and years.
Of course replying to comments and checking out other people’s blogs is a great way to say, “Thank you!” But if you’re able to go the extra distance and offer a fantastic opportunity for your readers to win something fun, it’ll really drive the message across that you appreciate them and want them to share in your excitement about cool products.
Giveaways also have a way of bringing some of your loyal followers out of the woodwork. There are lots of people who may really enjoy your blog, but they don’t leave comments or get on social-media networks. So having a giveaway gives you a chance to interact with them.
Financially, I’m not able to send something special to each and every person who visits Swatch And Learn, so holding occasional blog giveaways on here allows me to at least make one person’s day…and that’s better than zero.
Also, if you’ve decided to go the sponsored-giveaway route, you’re building your relationship with companies and PR firms.
Deciding on the Giveaway Prize
Face it. If money grew on trees, we’d be doling out lavish giveaway prizes left and right. But most of us don’t have padded wallets.
One thing that I really want to drive home is that a giveaway prize doesn’t have to be huge to be meaningful. Case in point: Hasn’t a single bottle of nail polish or an awesome scented candle made your day? It’s not about quantity. It’s about quality. (If you’re able to offer both quality and quantity, more power to you. But if not, always go for quality first. Your readers will appreciate it.)
Another thing to keep in mind is that your giveaway prize should be something that you would want yourself. If you’re giving away something you don’t care about or even like, how can you expect other people to get excited?
And…it’s a great idea to offer something that you’ve tried before and loved so that you can put your ‘stamp of approval’ on it. Just make sure that what you’re offering is brand new, unopened, and undamaged.
Considering Shipping, Expenses & Participants
If it’s your first time holding a blog giveaway, my suggestion is to keep it relatively small. Think of your first time as the beginning of your learning curve. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with lots of packaging and expensive shipping fees right off the bat. Start small to get a better feel for the work that’s involved with holding a giveaway.
You may want to offer a couple of bottles of nail polishes or lightweight makeup items that are easy to protect with bubble wrap and slip into a plain, padded mailing envelope.
And although you’ll probably want to open up your giveaway to everyone worldwide like I did for my Christmas giveaway, keep in mind that it can be exponentially more expensive to mail items internationally than it does to do so locally.
No matter what you choose, I suggest taking the items to your nearest post office and asking for the shipping cost. You should consider the fees carefully to see what you can afford before announcing your giveaway.
Some people think that sponsored giveaways aren’t as thoughtful as giveaways where the blogger purchased the items herself or himself. I highly disagree.
There’s still a lot of organization that needs to be done behind the scenes to plan the sponsored giveaways with the PR firms and/or company. And no matter where the prize comes from, I think that readers are generally excited for the chance to receive something free and fun!
Also, sometimes bloggers are offered free products to try, but instead of keeping it for themselves, they chose to spread the joy by offering it instead to their readers.
I’ve done this before for my Seche giveaway because I love Seche, but I had bought soooo many bottles of the stuff and had tons of back-ups that if I chose to accept free duplicate bottles from PR, it just seemed like a waste. Someone who hadn’t tried the stuff before could have a chance to get hold of it if I offered it in a giveaway. That was my logic for turning the tables and asking Seche PR if they’d be willing to ship it to my readers instead. Sometimes you just need to ask. A lot of PR firms are very supportive and happy to oblige.
How Long Should You Run Your Giveaway?
I’ve found that this really depends a lot on the size of your following.
When I first started blogging and Swatch And Learn hardly got any visitors, I organized a Brush Guard giveaway. I love The Brush Guard – they produce a very economical and practical product. (I use it each and every time I wash my brushes even to this day!) But because not many people came to Swatch And Learn, there were very few participants.
Today, my blog has regular readers (thank you) and so many people have been kind enough to help me get the word out, so I usually get more participants in a single day than I did back then in a span of a week. (E.g. the most recent China Glaze ElectroPop Collection giveaway)
Bottom line: In my opinion, if you have a small following, consider running the giveaway for a longer period of time so that more people will get a chance to enter. But, if you have a larger following, 7 days is usually enough time to get many entrants.
When to Have a Giveaway
Of course this is entirely up to you. Maybe you want an impromptu giveaway just because. But you may also want to mark a blog milestone with a giveaway.
For instance, maybe hold a giveaway when you reach 100 followers on Twitter, when you publish your 50th blog post, or when it’s your blog’s 1-year anniversary. That way, you can celebrate with your readers! 🙂
Clearly state your giveaway rules so there’s no confusion.
- Start & End Dates: Include the exact time the giveaway ends.
- Who Can Enter: Clearly say residents from which country/countries can enter.
- How to Enter: Make sure to ask for their e-mail address so you can contact them if they win.
- Leave a Comment: You might want to pose a question that they have to answer to be entered in the draw. Or perhaps you want to leave it open to whatever’s on their mind. Sometimes you can also use their answers as a form of feedback by asking them questions that will help you improve your blog. (E.g. “What would you like to see more of on my blog?”)
- Follow via Social Media: Most people state that a mandatory rule is to be a public follower on Twitter, Google+, or other avenues. But I’ve always been very uncomfortable making that mandatory. I prefer to offer a giveaway with no strings attached. Instead, I ask people to support me on those avenues if they want. Of course, sometimes this increases your chances of getting ‘giveaway sweepers’ who only enter giveaways and who aren’t actual followers of your blog. But that’s a chance I’m willing to take.
- Number of Entries per Person: You may want to give each person more chances to enter your giveaway if they leave a comment, tweet about the giveaway, blog about it, follow you, etc.
- Claiming the Prize: Tell participants how they’ll be contacted if they’ve won. Also, I’ve found that it’s best to set a time-frame of 48-72 hours for the winner to e-mail you after you’ve announced the winner. This gets rid of the gray area in the rare event that a winner doesn’t get back to you. You want to make it clear that if you don’t hear from them, you’ll have to pick a new winner so that the ball gets rolling and doesn’t get stuck in a stand-still.
Online Giveaway Tools
To pick the winner, I’ve found that using a random generator like Random.org helps.
And there are also web-form services like Rafflecopter available that ask participants to enter information and answer questions. They keep things organized for you.
Remember, running a giveaway takes time on your part behind the scenes, so make sure that you have that time to devote prior to your announcement.
Hope that some of you found this post useful. And I want to wish you all good luck in running your future giveaways! Have fun! 🙂
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