Growing Your Blog: Hosting a Giveaway

Friends, I was overwhelmed by all the positive feedback on the Growing Your Blog series.  It seems like a topic that’s of interest to many of you, so I decided to try and do some sort of blogging tips post once a month or so as a follow-up.  If you have a topic you’d like me to address, I’d love to hear your suggestions!
Grow Your Blog
Today, we’re going to talk about giveaways.
Here are the things you need to keep in mind to have a successful, fun giveaway on your blog.
When choosing prizes, try and think of things that will appeal to a large audience.  You can provide the prize{s} yourself, or ask another blogger/shop owner to donate something.  Some of your options are:
– Handmade items
– Shop credit
– Gift cards
– Ad Space
Handmade items like jewelry, purses, accessories, art prints, home decor, and other kinds of original things are always fun to win.  You can make and offer a very specific item, which makes it easier on you, or you can allow the winner to make choices.  For example, if you’re giving away a pair of earrings, you could let her choose a bead color.  For a handstamped necklace, let the winner choose what she wants stamped on the pendant.  You’ll get more entrants if they feel certain they can end up with a prize they really like.
Custom Handstamped Pendant: One Word
Shop Credit is appealing because it allows the winner to choose his/her favorite thing.  Once again, you’ll get more entries if readers feel like they have the ability to choose something that is useful to them and matches their taste.  Make sure that the credit amount is enough to cover some of your more inexpensive items completely so that readers don’t feel like they’re being tricked by having to pay something no matter what they choose.  You could also just offer “one item from the shop” rather than specifying a dollar amount.
Gift Cards tend to get a ton of entries because people know they can and will use them!  Places like Starbucks, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, etc. are usually a good draw for the audience we craft bloggers tend to attract.
Ad Space is a tricky one because it can be a turnoff to readers who don’t have a blog or shop they want to advertise; they feel like it’s irrelevant to them.  However, if you have a sizeable blog following, offering ad space can be VERY attractive to fellow bloggers.  It can definitely be a good prize, just make sure that non-blogging readers know they could choose to have you advertise a charity or organization that means something to them in lieu of a blog or shop.
I’ve heard from several different sources that it’s illegal to have any action as a mandatory action other than leaving a blog post comment.  I don’t know if that holds up in court, but take it for what it’s worth.  You can basically come up with whatever additional ways to enter that you want to.  Here are some ideas you may want to consider:
-following a blog, liking a FB page, following a Twitter user, following on Pinterest, hearting an Etsy shop/item, visiting a site and coming back to report on a favorite item, pinning a favorite item
If you’re working with another blogger who donated an item, make sure you ask them what their preferences are too so that you are promoting them and their blog/site/shop, not just your own.
The two main ways I’ve seen and run giveaways are:
– readers enter by leaving comments
After having done it both ways, I’ll tell you that hands down, I love Rafflecopter!  All you have to do is create a free account, then each time you want to make a new giveaway, it walks you through the steps.  You give it a name, add the prize, then add each specific way you want people to enter.  For each action, you can embed a link so that people can easily follow and complete the task, and you can also choose to make it worth 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 entries.  You can even allow readers to do certain things each day for more entries.  Once you’re satisfied, you enter the start and end dates and times for the giveaway, as well as any other fine print {ie: open to ages 18 and older, open to certain countries only, how the winner will be selected…}.  Then, it creates the widget for you and you copy and paste the code into your blog post.  The commenting method works okay too, but you have to be certain all readers understand that they need to leave separate comments for each action they perform or else it’ll be a nightmare counting them all up.  Plus, some people don’t leave their emails in the comments so you don’t have a way to contact them.  To this day, I have a bird nest necklace that I made for a giveaway winner who never claimed her prize about a year ago.


Birds' Nest Necklace with 3 Eggs: Pink, Purple, and Blue
You want to ensure that your selection process is always completely random.
For my first giveaway, I had Little Crafter choose names from a hat.  It didn’t take long, though, to realize there was a better way.  I started using to generate a winner.  I’d count up the comments, assigning each one a number, then the one corresponding to the number generated was the winner.  Now it’s even easier when I use Rafflecopter because when your giveaway is over, it uses to choose the winner for you when you click the button.  You’re provided with the winner’s name, email, and what task he or she performed.  Rafflecopter will even announce it on the original widget for you…I’m telling you, I love it!
Some bloggers choose not to notify their winners because they want to make sure readers are really checking back in either on their FB pages or blogs.  Personally, I like to notify people via email as well so that they don’t miss out on a prize.  I know that there’s no way I myself can read the latest post of every blog I follow every day, so I can’t expect others to do that either.  I always send an email letting winners know they’ve been chosen and requesting whatever information I need from them, like their shipping address and any specifications/choices regarding the prize.  If I don’t hear back within 48 hours, I send a follow up, and if I don’t hear anything within another 24 hours, I choose a new winner.
Here are a few super-important tips if you’ve asked someone else to donate a prize!
– Give a deadline for them to submit a photo of the prize as well as a short bio if you want one.
– Ask them what things they’d like readers to do for additional entries.
At the end of the giveaway, YOU are in charge of choosing the winner and telling the donor who it is!
You can simply provide the donor with the name and email of the winner and let her handle the contact from there, or you can find out all the winner’s information and forward it to the donor, who can then ship the item {which is what I usually choose to do}.  Do not just assume that the person donating the prize will go to your blog and discover the winner.

Another great tool I’ve found if you’re coordinating a series or a bunch of giveaways is to create a spreadsheet in Google Documents, make it public, then post the link.  People can just click the link and submit their information, which saves you from having to play individual email tag with all of your participants!  Kara and I have used this for Shine on Fridays and it’s working great.

Ok, what questions/topics should we tackle next time?
Happy Blogging!

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  1. Could you give us some ideas on how to advertise that you are hosting a giveaway–
    how to drive traffic to your blog so that they will want to enter? Thanks for all your tips.

  2. I agree with you on this. However, I’ve been surprised at the lack of interest in some of the giveaways that I’ve done. I can see that a lot of people have viewed them but, not many people enter and that’s surprised me. For example, I’m doing a giveaway for a Seventh Generation Green Your Home prize pack and hardly anyone has entered. Surprises me! Oh well…your advice was good!

  3. Amy, what do you suggest for determining how long before offering a giveaway? Obviously my blog is very new but I’m curious how long I should wait. Thanks for these great tips!
    Barbara @ Chase the Star

  4. great advice. I am soon considering doing a giveaway and I love to hear about the best way to put one on. Stopping by from Hope Studios link up 🙂

  5. Thanks for sharing this! I have been thinking about hosting a giveaway since I know I get a lot of daily views but not many followers. I would love to know how to add linky friends and bloglovin’ to my sidebar to give people more options on how to follow my blog.

  6. I notice that most giveaways are usually done because the blogger has an online store or Etsy shop and by offering a giveaway it gets your blog and shops noticed. However, if you blog to share your creations and offer free tutorials and really don’t sell anything online or at Etsy, then why would you have a giveaway? If I were to give something away it would have to be something I made and then I would have to also pay the postage to send it to the winner. While I wouldn’t mind offering a giveaway, it cost me money and I don’t have an online shop, so what would I gain? More comments and maybe more followers? Again, I don’t have a store to sell stuff, so is it really just those who have store that do giveaways? I see all the time these blogs mentioning their sponsers who re offering somethign to give away, and well I have no clue as how to obtain a sponser. I guess you need an online store and I don’t have one. So would you address if giveaways are even something a blogger should do if they don’t sell anything.

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