How to Run a Successful Giveaway for Your Blog
The idea of running more giveaways came to me came to when I was offered some cool travel products to review but wanted to also give something back to my readers. I’ve now run a few giveaways and found them to be a useful way to broaden my readership and increase social media followers. Based on my experience so far, here are some tips for running a successful giveaway:
Why are you doing it?
Before you start salivating over the free gear you’re going to get or chase after the next shiny object, stop a moment to consider what you are going to get out of the giveaway. Is this something that is going to interest your target audience and bring them some value or will it just be a distraction from your core message? What outcomes are you looking for on your blog and will the giveaway help you achieve them?
Here are some of the possible benefits:
- A short term boost of traffic to your blog
- New readers who are attracted by the giveaway and may stick around long term
- A boost in social media engagement such as more Facebook likes or Twitter followers
- Buzz around a significant event such as the anniversary of your blog
- Benefit for your readers such as useful product information and a chance to win something
However there could be reasons why a giveaway isn’t right for your blog:
- A giveaway doesn’t fit well with the normal content and focus of your blog
- You may not have enough time to run a giveaway – in addition to writing the article you will be liaising with the sponsor and administering the giveaway
- You don’t feel that a giveaway will interest to your specific readership
OK, you’re ready to give it a try, so next to consider is…
Where will I get something to give away?
As an established blogger you may well already be receiving e-mails about potential giveaway products, but you may also want to target something specific to give away. The key is to pick something that you can personally feel happy to endorse and that will also be of interest to your target audience.
- Look more closely at any press releases or PR e-mails you receive. They may be telling you about potential giveaway products or the PR agency may have other clients who could offer something suitable.
- Approach PR contacts that you have already worked with or those you have met at blogging events.
- Think about the products that you love and would interest your readers and e-mail the company to request a sample to review and give away.
- Approach local companies or travel businesses, especially those that have a national or international presence or a website where they sell their products online.
- Review products that you own and then send the article links to potential sponsors to demonstrate what they might expect if they support your giveaway.
- If you are just starting and still building up your traffic, perhaps aim for a lower value product such as guidebooks or small travel accessories that won’t cost much for the sponsor to send you.
Anything else to consider in choosing what to give away?
- Stick to giveaways of products and services that are most suitable for your audience demographic and travel style, as well as things that you personally love and can write about with enthusiasm.
- Items that are small and lightweight and can be easily mailed anywhere in the world are best, as are vouchers so that the winner can choose something that appeals to them.
- Items of £100 or more in value will be most attractive for people to enter the giveaway.
- Ideally the giveaway should be open to all your readers worldwide, but sometimes a sponsor is looking to target a specific market, so agree this with them first.
- Be sure the sponsor will agree to mail their product directly to the winner wherever they are in the world, or you may end up bearing that expense.
- I personally try to choose items that I can try out on a forthcoming trip, so that the giveaway is more relevant to my travels and I can get some great photos.
- If you’ve been approached by the sponsor about a product that you don’t know, check for other online reviews before you accept so that you are aware of any problem areas.
Ready to write your article?
Now you’ve got the product to review and you’re ready to write the giveaway article. I would normally ask for 2 samples of the product, one to review and another to give away, although if the article value is quite high you may need to accept one item to both review and then send on to the winning reader. For the best results I recommend the following;
- Combine your giveaway with a product review, which means that you give extra benefit to your readers in terms of information about the features and benefits of whatever you are giving away.
- Include entertaining stories and anecdotes about how you have used the product on your travels – to keep readers hooked even if the product isn’t what they would personally use.
- Give your honest and balanced opinion about the product – this will build more trust with your readers and give the review more value after the giveaway has finished.
- If you don’t have time to write the review yourself, you could always ask around to find another blogger who would like to do this in return for keeping the product sample.
Use a giveaway widget
My experience has been that using a giveaway widget such as Rafflecopter or Punchtab takes the hard work out of running the giveaway. The widget will help you manage the entries and ensure you can benefit through driving social media outcomes. I’ve personally used the free version of Rafflecopter for my giveaways and here’s how it works:
- Go to the website such as Rafflecopter and create an account to make the widget
- Choose which of the different options you want people to use to enter the giveaway e.g. Leave a comment, Tweet, follow you on Facebook
- Embed the widget code at the bottom of the giveaway
- The widget helps to automate a lot of the activities to enter and manage the giveaway
It’s worth considering which of the social media platforms you want to drive people to, depending on whether you and the sponsor are looking to build a presence on a specific platform. Through the use of a widget you can:
- Drive those entering to the sponsor website e.g. Leave a comment about which product on the website you would choose
- Increase likes or follows for both you and the sponsor
- Encourage people to sign up for your newsletter
- Encourage those entering to spread the word about the giveaway by Tweeting about it
Normally I set the giveaway to run for 2 weeks which is long enough to build up some momentum but not so long that everyone gets bored of the giveaway.
Your giveaway is published, what next?
You’ve just pressed publish but there’s still some work to do to get the maximum benefit from your giveway. Now it’s time to promote, promote, promote.
- Of course you can promote the review and giveaway article on your normal social media channels with a link back to the article. I find it’s best to pre-schedule Tweets and Facebook posts at regular intervals throughout the giveaway, so the work is done once.
- Use hashtags such as #win and #giveaway when making social media posts, especially on Twitter and include such hashtags in the Tweet you set up for Rafflecopter. Many people enter giveaways regularly as a hobby and follow these hashtags to find giveaways to enter.
- As your giveaway is likely to run for a week or two, it will probably disappear from the front page display, so you may consider making a small sidebar button to promote the giveaway and link to the article.
- Facebook – you can get the Facebook Rafflecopter widget and also you may consider using your Facebook cover photo to publicise the giveaway with a relevant image or text overlay.
- Publicise your giveaway on sites or forums that specialise in giveaways. This will bring you many more readers although they may only interested in the giveaway, however, if you’ve chosen your giveaway product carefully some will be your target audience and stick around. The leading site for UK readers is ThePrizeFinder and for USA readers I’ve found the following by doing online searches Doubleprizes.com , Blog Giveaway Directory
After the giveaway has finished
- You can use the widget to select a winner at random and be sure to announce your winner promptly
- You can run a report on Rafflecopter that will tell you how many people entered in each way of winning and give you a list of their e-mail addresses (perhaps the start of a mailing list?)
- Let the sponsor know that the giveaway has ended and any details such as the winner address if they need to mail the prize. You can also use the information on the report to let them know the benefits to them of the giveaway e.g. Number of reader comments, number of additional Facebook likes
Examples of Giveaways I’ve run
Running a giveaway could be a great way to get some benefit both for your blog and for your readers. If you’ve tried this approach and have some tips on what has worked for you, we’d love to hear them in the comments.
About the Author: Heather Cowper writes about inspirational travel destinations, sharing travel tales, photos, videos and podcasts at Heatheronhertravels.com and you can read more of her tips for how to build a better travel blog at MyBloggingJourney.com
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The views in this post represent those of the author and not necessarily those of the PTBA or its Board of Directors.