Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blogging 201 ~ Lesson #4: Hosting & Entering Blog Giveaways

Since I began blogging I have found dozens of great blogs and found that many of them regularly host giveaways. Giveaways can serve many purposes from rewarding your faithful readers to bringing in new traffic.  Part of entering the blogging community is entering and hosting giveaways.  Giveaways can be as simple as something you can personally
offer to a large prize offered by a major company.

I have asked FrugalMom, from Frugality is Free, to substitute teach again and share her experience with entering and winning blog giveaways and with hosting giveaways to give you insights into blog giveaways.  She has experience from entering hundreds of giveaways to hosting dozens over the last year.

Tips From A Giveaway Insider:  Entering & Hosting 

When Cheryl asked me to tell about the great possibilities of blog giveaways, I was very excited, because as a giveaway host and a giveaway winner I personally know just how fantastic blog giveaways are.  From my own experience, and from analyzing the giveaway winners at my own giveaways at Frugality Is Free I have come to a few conclusions about the best way to win blog giveaways.

1. Enter! If you don't enter, you cannot win!
2. Use those extra entries!
3. Check your odds!

Since my time is very limited I have to be very choosy, when I decide to enter a giveaway.  I rarely enter giveaways with more than 1000 entries, but anything under 500 entries is great, and less than 100 means I have a great chance of winning. The one reason why I enter blog giveaways is that they are possible to win. Compared to giveaways hosted by big brand companies, where they might get thousands and most often more entries, the odds of winning blog giveaways are fantastic.

Most blog giveaways have bonus entries, make sure to take advantage of these. Some bloggers complain about the extra entries, but I love them! Why? Because if I can get in 10 - 15 entries into a giveaway with 200 overall entries, my odds of winning are great. Sure, I could just do the mandatory entry, and maybe an extra entry or two, but if I do more my chances increase. If I enter a giveaway, it is because I want to win it, and I would rather put in 10 entries into a giveaway that I really want to win than 10 separate entries into 10 different giveaways that I am not completely excited about winning.

There is a very simple reason, why most bloggers have lots of bonus entries. It is because of giveaway entries that bloggers are able to host giveaways! To provide readers with great giveaways, bloggers have to give an incentive to potential sponsoring companies. If the companies know that they can get more twitter and facebook followers, more people to sign up for their newsletters and of course visit their websites, they are more likely to offer you (the giveaway winner) a great giveaway prize.

The same thing goes for the bloggers' own giveaway entries. As a blog giveaway host, I can tell you that I put a lot of time into the giveaway posts. In most cases I get a product to review in connection with the giveaway, and in fact I rarely accept a giveaway without a review product. The only exception is if the giveaway product(s) is awesome, and if I think my readers will love it. Just recently I accepted an offer of giving away 10 x $25 grocery gift certificates to my readers. I put in a lot of my own time into the giveaways, my own postage, and although I did not get any compensation for my time, I knew that the giveaway prizes would mean a lot to my readers.

If you find a great giveaway blog with lots of giveaways, it is most likely because they are trusted by their fellow bloggers and by the companies. An honest giveaway blog will have clear rules, show you proof of the winners, have a place where people can talk about their giveaway prizes, and work with several reputable companies. The best proof is if the blog post a screen shot of the winning drawing.

Now, as a giveaway host and giveaway winner I know that the giveaway process is not always smooth. In fact I have recently had a couple of giveaway prizes not arrive to the winners, and after a bit of back and forth emailing these issues usually resolve themselves pretty fast. Most giveaway prizes are shipped from the companies directly to the winners, so things can go wrong, but dealing with the companies is a part of the bloggers job. Having to deal with these issues can be a nightmare, but as a giveaway host I know how important it is to get the issue resolved.

Where to find current giveaways and places to link up your own giveaways:
So from JR's experiences we can summarize a giveaway friendly blogger in the following manner:
  • Offer the company offering your readers the prize a good article with extra entries for readers who visit their sites or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Offer the readers bonus entries for various activities--from following the host company to following your blog.
  • Promote the giveaway thru linkies, on Twitter, Facebook, and other Social Networks.
  • Follow up if the prize is delayed.

To get an idea of blog giveaway practices, check out the linky collections above and visit several giveaways. If you see a giveaway on another blog that you think would be a good fit for your readers, contact the blog owner and ask for contact information to the company providing the prize.  Until you have been blogging a while it may be hard to find companies to host a giveaway on your site, until then enter giveaways and become acquainted with common practices and offer little giveaways of your own.

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