Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How to Host a Great Giveaway

I've been entering giveaways since last year when I discovered the YAmazing Race (an uber-trek through the blogosphere for the primary purpose of sharing YA stories), and I've thought about doing my own giveaway (or participating in a blog hop), but haven't worked myself up to it yet (lack of money/time issue, primarily).

I have, however, given a lot of thought to running a giveaway smoothly and what not to do if you want people to enjoy your giveaway and come back for more.

I offer this sage advice (from one weary blog-hopper to the next) and hope it gives you a headstart when you decide to join the ranks of The Blogs That Give Awesome Stuff Away.

General guidelines:

1. Give something away that you'd like to win -- please, please don't offer up a worn-out copy of a vacuum cleaner manual.  No one wants that.  Also, don't offer up your own writing  unless it comes with swag and signatures.  It looks desperate.  (This also protects you from feeling sad when only a few people enter your contest)  If you can't think of something to give away, look through the hot titles list at your local library or on Amazon and Goodreads.  Or ask your readers with an easy, one-question poll.

2.  State rules and prize clearly (preferably at the beginning of the post).

3.  Hold yourself to deadlines -- post the giveaway when you promised, end it and choose the winner in a timely fashion, alert the winner, keep in contact as necessary, and ship as soon as possible.  You want people to keep visiting your blog.  Be professional.

4.  If you are using images in your giveaway, make sure the photo quality or image quality is high.  Label them (with the title or series title) and link to their Goodreads or Amazon page.

5.  If you are using Rafflecopter, there are a few suggestions I have after entering more than a dozen giveaways and bemoaning the complicated entry possibilities.  Either assign all the options 1 point, or assign them points based on the time involved for each activity and how much exposure you'd potentially get.  Also take into consideration what you'd like more of -- Twitter followers?  Blog followers?  Goodreads friends?

I'd set up a Rafflecopter as follows:

  • Follow via e-mail or RSS
  • Follow in one of these ways: Networked Blogs, Linky, BlogLuvin', GFC, etc.
  • Follow on Twitter
  • Friend/follow on Goodreads
  • Follow on Pinterest
  • Like Facebook page (or share contest)
  • Comment -- ask them a question they can answer in the comment section

The reason I've only put one Twitter option on there is because some people don't have smartphones and therefore don't have a Twitter account (can you imagine Twitter on the computer?  Maddening).  I also think you should group similar things in one option - would you really follow someone three different ways via your own blog?  Also -- it's nice to get comments, but if I have to go through your reviews and post a thoughtful comment, I probably won't do it.  For ease and a sure entry, ask them a pertinent question (tie in the theme of the giveaway!  Ask for recommendations!).  Another thing I've seen is only allowing one option to show until completed.  What if you only let people who have a Twitter handle enter?  You've just lost part of your audience.

If the point of a giveaway is to enlarge your readership, do yourself a favor and make the giveaway fun and easy.  People will appreciate it and might even tell their friends to enter your next giveaway.

Let me know in the comments if you can think of anything else to add, or if you agree/disagree with my giveaway rules.  Those of you who have hosted giveaways -- what was your experience like?

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