How to Run a Blog Giveaway
If you own a blog or website you are probably looking for ways to get more internet visitors, more email subscribers, and more Facebook or Twitter followers. All of these are ways to gain visibility for your site.
One way to help get this type of visibility is to run a giveaway to promote your website or blog.
What is a giveaway?
When I refer to a giveaway, I mean a sweepstakes that has some sort of prize given free of charge or other consideration to a randomly selected giveaway entrant. For instance, a $25 Amazaon gift card might be the prize in the giveaway.
A giveaway sweepstakes is different than a lottery (highly regulated) or a contest (where entrants have to do something and the winner is picked based on the merit of what they do). Lotteries are generally illegal unless run by the government. Lotteries have a prize, chance and a consideration. Giveaways only have a prize and a chance. Considerations can be purchase of a product, payment of money or some non-monetary expenditure of significant time or effort.
Why give something away?
People love getting something for nothing. People love winning a prize. Offering something for nothing on your blog or site and then letting lots of people know that you are doing so, can drive more temporary traffic to your site and may win some permanent readers.
When do bloggers or website owners hold giveaways?
Many bloggers give something away to celebrate milestones such as the anniversary of the blog’s birth or the achievement of a certain number of posts, or to help promote a new product.
What can you giveaway?
You can giveaway just about anything you want (as long as it is a legal substance). It may be helpful to give away a prize that is relevant to your site because if new visitors come for the prize you are giving, they will most likely be interested in the content of your site.
Money and gift cards are always popular with entrants, and they are easy to give electronically.
What laws must be followed?
You can get in big trouble if you don’t follow federal, state and local legalities related to giveaways. If, for instance you decide to giveaway lots of money, but you make entrants jump through hoops to enter, your requirements may be held to be ‘consideration’ – making your giveaway into an illegal lottery.
Sara at Saving for Someday goes through some of the laws you need to consider in “blog law – is your giveaway legal”.
Sweepstakes must have rules – these are a contract between you and the consumer. They CANNOT change once the giveaway has started! Make sure that your giveaway rules are thorough and that you follow them to the letter. Include at least the following, but consult a lawyer for other things to cover:
- A no purchase is necessary
- start and end dates
- eligibility requirements (age, residency, also specify exclusions)
- method to enter – be sure to also include a “no purchase” method of entry
- any limitations on the number of entries by a signal person or household
- odds of winning
- description and value of the prize(s)
- how and when the winner(s) will be selected and notified
- restrictions on receiving the prize and
- and sponsor’s name and address. Additional disclosures are required depending on the type of promotion and the jurisdictions and channels in which it is offered. Internet promotions may trigger other additional requirements.
I try to keep mine simple by making the rules include age over 21, US residency (because I live in the US and don’t want to have to follow every country’s laws), and enter from a place within the US (again so I avoid the need to follow every country’s laws).
How do you set up a giveaway to achieve your promotion goal?
What are the goals you have for your giveaway? Do you just want more exposure? Then make the entry requirements super simple to get the most entries. Do you want more subscribers or followers? Then offer multiple entry methods, a basic one just to enter (make it super simple to make sure you are not requiring a ‘consideration’) and then offer additional points if the visitor subscribes to your newsletter, likes you on Facebook and follows you on Twitter (one additional point for each action they take).
Pick the length that will work for you and your site. Keep in mind that you may want to promote the giveaway each day and that can take some time. Most entrants will show up the first week. If you have a small prize, consider a week long giveaway – two weeks at the most. If you have a large prize or set of prizes, get maximum exposure by holding a longer giveaway.
As a giveaway sponsor, you will need to keep track of the entrants, their various entries, pick the winner and notify them.
A relatively new tool that will do all of the above for you is Rafflecopter. This is currently still a free tool to use. Sign up for an account by giving them a handle and an email address. Then create your ‘widget’ by filling out a form that is super simple to use. Name your giveaway, describe the prizes, tell all the ways people can enter, state the start and stop dates and the terms and conditions. Rafflecopter then creates some html for you to cut and paste onto your site and you are done – the entry form shows up.
You could also use Google forms to create a form that will back fill into a spreadsheet. If you do this, you need a way to randomly pick the winner. One way is to use Random.org. Their site explains how in the FAQ.
I’ve always used Rafflecopter for my giveaways. Folks doing the tracking manually sometimes find it pretty onerous.
Make sure your rules cover all the legalities to prevent the government authorities or individual lawsuits from coming after you. Don’t change the rules once you start the contest! Follow the rules as set up!!!
Prizes to give.
Most people like money and gift cards as prizes. You may get more entrants if you include these. Consider giving prizes that relate directly to your website content to increase chances of attracting new visitors and subscribers that will actually hang around after the contest is over.
If you have never done a giveaway, you might want to start small with cash or cash-like prizes. Lots of people seem to enjoy Amazon gift cards and they can be given electronically. If you do want to give away a non-electronic prize, remember that the entrant will need to provide a shipping address and that it will cost you some bucks to mail the prize to them.
Be careful if you are giving away large prizes or if you have multiple sponsors with a combined value that is large. There may be more legal requirements and more attention on giveaways with large prizes.
How do you promote the giveaway to get maximum entrants?
Of course you will announce your giveaway on your site or blog, mention it on your social media outlets, note it in your newsletter and promote it in any networks or forums in which you participate, but what else can you do?
There are numerous sites that are dedicated specifically to giveaways and contests. List your contest on as many of these as you can. Here are a few of them:
There are also many, many sites that use the “Linky” tool. This is a service that allows websites to host lists of giveaways. There are sites that aggregate the sites that allow you to list your giveaway. A lot of the sites let folks list giveaways that occur on a specific day of the week (like Monday). So, what you do each day is go to the list of sites, find ones that allow you to enter your giveaway that day, then go to each site and plug in the information about your giveaway. Some require an image, others don’t.
Here are two of the aggregation sites:
How do you pick the winner?
After your contest ends and within the timeframe you specified in the rules, you need to pick your winner and deliver the prize to them. As described above, use a tool to randomly pick the winner. After you have a winning entry, you need to make sure that they meet all the qualifications in the rules. I usually send an email asking for written verification of each of the rules.
Once they respond, I send the prize (keeping all email correspondence in case of issues) and announce the winner to the public. I do this using Rafflecopter, buy you could do it however you want – for instance by writing about it on your site. Make sure that you announce it according to your rules.
Tracking your results.
Once the contest is over you should analyze the results obtained. Check to see how many entered each period, how many did each action and etc. Over time, track numbers on retained visitors, subscribers, followers and etc to see if your giveaway had short term or long term results.
Disclaimer: As noted, I am not a lawyer and giveaways are governed by many regulations. This post is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to all of the requirements needed for a giveaway. Always check with your area’s regulations and possibly your lawyer to make sure you conform to legal requirements.
Chime in if you have held a giveaway! What worked for you? What results did you get?