There is no doubt that running giveaways is one of my favorite things to do; not only when I feel the need to grow my blog, but also when I just want to do something nice for my readers, the giveaway sponsor, and sometimes myself. It makes me feel great to give, and I love seen the responses as people enter as well as the excitement when a winner is drawn. It’s comments like “Thank you! I never win anything!” or “This is going to be so helpful because I lost my job and needed this so much!” that really make my heart melt and keep pushing me to do these things.
Don’t be confused, giveaways aren’t entirely fun and games, they take a lot of work and there are a lot of rules to follow if you want to do it legally. However, at least for me, it’s all worth it in the end.
- Value. Your prize should be something that someone really wants to win. Chances are that no matter what you put up for giveaway someone will enter, but the more value the more entries you get!
- Topic. Your prize should be something that goes along with your blog. This is easy if you’re a lifestyle blog, but not so much if you have a niche (see also, New Blogger Series: Finding Your Niche.) If you’re a beauty blogger and you’re giving away cleaning products, or a fitness blogger giving away candy-it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
- It’s OK to turn prizes down. You don’t have to accept every company giveaway offer you receive. It’s perfectly fine to reply with a simple “Thank you for your offer, but I really don’t feel like this fits with my blog” or “I don’t feel that I can properly support this product as I’ve never tried it” etc.
- Shipping. If you are providing the item or mailing it yourself, keep in mind how much shipping will be. You may want to go for lighter items, or items that you can ship directly from the seller to avoid extra shipping costs. This may also influence where you want the giveaway to be open to, as your price is going to be greater if you ship outside of your own country.
- Gift Cards are great. Everyone loves to win Gift Cards, and you can easily have certain gift cards open worldwide for sites that can be redeemed or shopped with anywhere. Virtual gift cards are awesome also, as you don’t have to do any mailing-you just go to the company’s website, buy the gift card, and email it to your winner! (This is often why I give away Amazon, Etsy, or Starbucks gift cards-they make it so easy!)
Getting Your Giveaway Started
- Who is it open to? U.S. Only? U.S. & Canada? Worldwide? There’s no doubt that the more people you open it up to the more attention it will get-so Worldwide is often the best for gaining entries-however as mentioned above, Shipping can be an issue. Sometimes if it’s a sponsored prize the company/sponsor may already have decided where they’ll ship. If it’s not, you have to decide where you’re willing to ship, or where you can ship to.
- When will it go live? Research shows that giveaways do better when they are posted during the first part of the week, and when the end on a Monday night/Tuesday morning.
- How long will it run? I generally like to leave mine open anywhere from 1-2 weeks. Too much longer feels like eventually it just stops getting attention (unless it’s a month long giveaway, like my monthly Musical Mondays Giveaways that I repost every Monday so it’s still fresh all month long), and only a few days doesn’t give it enough time to get the attention it deserves.
- How will people enter? Personally, I prefer giveaways that run through a service such as Rafflecopter (no they didn’t pay me to mention them, I just prefer it) for both hosting and entering. There’s always the old fashioned “leave a comment for everything you do” method, but it takes so much more work on both your part and the person entering. You have to gather all the entries, make a list, and use something like drawing out of a hat or random.org to do all the work, where the Rafflecopter (or other services like PromoSimple) requires the setup and then it does the rest of the work for you and even creates reports with the information. Personally, I also wont do much to enter giveaways that don’t use a widget-it just takes too much time and a lot of page refreshing I’m not willing to do…
Setting Up Your Giveaway
A few key points:
- Your disclosure about it being a sponsored giveaway/post needs to be at the top of the post and needs to be at least as large and noticeable as the rest of your post-it needs to be clear to your readers.
- Your mandatory entry cannot cause consideration. Meaning you can’t really get anything out of it-you can’t require them to buy anything, to follow, etc. At this time it appears that leaving a comment to as the mandatory entry is still OK, otherwise it’s recommended you have a “free entry” where they don’t have to do anything. Your optional entries can be anything though-this is only for your mandatory entry. This also can’t be “go to so and so’s site and tell me what you’d buy) as that’s still consideration-if you do this, make sure you have a free entry before it and that is not mandatory.
- Entries need to be the same value. You can’t make something worth more than something else as that’s considered giving unfair advantage. If you make 1 entry worth 5pts, they all have to be 5pts.
- NEVER extend your giveaway. It’s illegal to change the end date you’ve already announced-even if you only have a few entries-you have to honor what you have already stated.
- Tax Information. If your giveaway has a combined total prize over $600 you are required to provide a 1099 form to the winner with your prize, and you have to collect their information like SSN to do it. Try and make sure your prize is under that amount to make life easier on yourself.
- Be aware of what your blog giveaway really is. There are three different types: sweepstakes, contests, and giveaways. Make sure you’re running yours right. For more information, see: Sweepstakes, Contests and Giveaways-Laws Bloggers & Brands Need to Know by Sara H. Hawkins.
- Know the Terms for any sites you plan to use as entries. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. all have their own T&C (Terms & Conditions) for what you can do with their product, so be aware of what their rules are in order to not violate them. Using a service such as Rafflecopter also makes this easier because they do a lot of the research for you and have set their options up to make sure they’re in line with that.
- Know the laws for various states/countries: If your giveway is open to other countries or has prizes coming from different states, you need to be aware of the laws for each of those locations.
- Terms and Conditions. You NEED a Terms and Conditions when running a giveaway, and it has to include a few key facts:
- “No Purchase Necessary” must be included.
- Must state eligibility requirements such as name, location, age, etc.
- It must include how to enter. “enter via Rafflecopter”
- Dates and deadlines, such as the exact date and time it starts and ends.
- The odds of winning. This can be tricky, so put something like “The number of eligible entries determines odds of winning.”
- Prize Description (be specific) and where the prize is coming from.
- What you will do if the prize is forfeited or unclaimed.
- Who is responsible for paying taxes. I put “Winner’s responsible for all taxes related to the winning of this prize.”
- Include a liability release “My So-Called Chaos is not liable for loss, shipping issues…” etc.
- How and when the winners will be selected.
- That you have the right to obtain and publicize winner’s information.
- ALWAYS put “Void where prohibited by law!”
There are a lot more rules and guidelines than I mentioned above, so make sure you do some further research if you’re nervous. For more information on this, please see these posts by the brilliant bloggers I learned a lot of this from:
- Sh*t You Should Know About Blogging: Giveaways by Busy Being Jennifer
- Blogging Edumacation: Blog Giveaway Rules by Pink Heels Pink Truck
- Blogging Edumacation: Blog Giveaway Rules Part 2 by Pink Heels Pink Truck
- You Me & The FTC by Pink Heels Pink Truck
- FTC Blogger Guidelines & Rules by Rafflecopter
- .Com Disclosures by the FTC
- Sweepstakes, Contests and Giveaways-Laws Bloggers & Brands Need to Know by Sara H. Hawkins
Promoting Your Giveaway
- Share it on your Social Media sites. Let all of your readers followers know what’s happening on your blog and where to go to find it! Tweet it, Pin it, Stumble it, etc. Don’t just do it the first time, do it several times throughout the course of the giveaway.
- Use your newsletter. Do you have a newsletter with subscribers? Shoot them a quick email letting them know it’s live and they can enter!
- Reach out to people you sponsor. Are you sponsoring other blogs? They generally will help you share your post too! Ask them to share it with their followers on Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
- Include share options in your giveaway. If you have an additional entry be “Pin this giveaway” or “Tweet this giveaway” that makes it so every person who uses that entry shares it with their followers too, making your reach much larger.
- Put a link or button in the sidebar on your blog. That way, even if you are posting other posts and that giveaway is getting pushed down, people can still see it and go to it.
- Promote giveaways within your giveaway. If you’re running more than one giveaway at a time, have entering the other giveaway an optional entry in the giveaway you’re setting up.
- Share on other sites. One of the absolute best resources I’ve ever come across is the Blog Giveaway Directory on Squidoo. I use this nearly every time I run a giveaway, as it has links to hundreds of sites you can go through and list it on, link it up with, and email and have them list your giveaways for all of their followers as well. Also, if you’re feeling lazy, you can hire them to go through and list it everywhere for you!
Sites to Promote Your Giveaway
Words of Advice from Someone Who’s Been There
- Have fun. I know that with all the information and rules above it seems daunting, but giveaways can be a lot of fun. Get creative with the comments-ask people who enter to answer a question or introduce themselves. I’ve seen so many fun things this way!
- Double check your facts and dates before posting. Make sure you have things properly listed before you post, so you don’t have to go back and edit things.
- Create a giveaway image. Having a photo of what your’e giving away with details can really make sharing it easier, as well as make it easier for people to pin it and notice it.
- Make your links open in a new tab. If you’re using Rafflecopter it already does this (as long as you properly link-check your links in the widget, if you’re using it, before posting.). If you’re not using it, blogger already has a setting you can check when adding a link to make it do this. This makes sure they stay on your giveaway post even if they go check out another sponsor or something.
What do you like/dislike about blog giveways?
The Better Your Blog Series is a series of posts written by myself, Angie of My So-Called Chaos, from my own personal experience as a long-time blogger, small-business owner, and as someone who’s worked with technology and customer service for many many years. They are written with the intent of sharing the knowledge I’ve acquired through years of practice and education (both self-taught and school-taught) with others in the blogging community.
In this collection of posts you’ll not only find tips for maintaining your blog, but also for anything that goes along with being a blogger and/or small business owner-like design tips and tutorials, social media, tools, and more.
The posts in this series are constantly being updated to make sure they stay current, and the series is constantly being added to. Please contact me if there’s something you’d like to learn.