Today we have a wonderful guest post by Marigold Haske. Marigold is a regular reader and commenter on Meylah, and the author of the craft blog Hideous! Dreadful! Stinky! So without further ado, here is Marigold on the 10 Tips for Successful Blog Giveaways.
Hosting a giveaway on your blog is a wonderful way to promote yourself and draw in new traffic to your website, blog or online business. Here are some tips to make your giveaway run smoothly and maximize participation.
1) Pick the Right Item
Be generous and give away an item that makes you proud. Don’t pick an item because it’s cheap, or is something you just can’t sell. You’ll generate more excitement if the item you give away is something of value that truly represents your style. Also, keep in mind that you will have to pay for packaging and shipping the item, so don’t choose something that is heavy or breakable.
2) “Sell” Your Free Item
Believe it or not, even though you are giving something away for free, you still have to “sell” that item. That means that you’ll need a great photo (check out Kelly Hall’s article on The Anatomy of a Great Product Shot for tips on how to do that) and a colorful, detailed description of what you’re giving away. Try to give your item a personality; don’t just blandly list all of the details.
3) Don’t Make Your Readers Work Too Hard
Most blog giveaways ask readers to leave a comment to enter the giveaway. Often, there will also be additional ways to enter such as blogging or tweeting about the giveaway, becoming a follower, or putting a “badge” on your website. Suddenly, one person can enter a giveaway up to ten different ways! Sounds great, right? The problem with this is that some readers will look at all that stuff and decide it’s not worth the effort to enter at all. After all, what’s the point of putting in one entry when someone else has ten entries? In the end, you may have over 100 comments saying, “I’m a fan!” and “I blogged about it!” and “I shouted about your giveaway at the top of my lungs in the grocery store!” but only have 20 actual participants. A better solution is to ask for a comment and then offer one additional way to enter per person, i.e. “Leave a comment to enter, and for an additional entry, become a Facebook Fan!” The faithful will follow, and the rest won’t feel intimidated.
4) Make Your Deadline Soon, but Not Too Soon
About 7-10 days is a reasonable length of time to host a giveaway. Much longer, and your readers will forget or lose interest. Much shorter, and you won’t have enough time to promote it.
5) Clearly State “Rules of Participation”
At the end of your post, clearly state all of the rules of participation. State the deadline and make sure you specify who is eligible, including age limits and whether international participants are allowed. Let readers know when and how a winner will be selected, and specify that you will choose a new winner if the first person does not respond within a set amount of time (i.e. “if the winner doesn't respond within 10 days, a new winner will be chosen.”)
6) Maximize Your Network
Post about your giveaway daily on your Twitter and Facebook feeds while it is open, but keep your posts to once a day, or you risk annoying your followers. Keep in mind that Status Update feeds refresh quickly, so try posting at different times each day to catch those readers who only check in at lunch or after work. Ask friends to post to their feeds, too. Don’t be pushy, though. A simple “Please re-post” is enough.
7) Reach Beyond Your Network
There are a number of blogs and websites devoted to listing giveaways. Try Blog Giveaways and Etsy Giveaways. Flickr groups are another great place to get the word out. Add a link to your blog under a picture of your giveaway item and post to as many relevant groups as you can find. There are specific Flickr groups for just about everything, including Blog Giveaways on Flickr. Also, Craftster and Etsy both have forums specifically for blog contests, giveaways and promotions.
8) Consider Hosting on Another Blog
If you have a fairly new blog or a small readership, you may want to consider hosting your giveaway on someone else’s blog. There are a lot of blogs out there and many of them host giveaways featuring other people’s wares. It benefits both you and the blog author because she gets to offer something fun for her readers, and you get to draw some of those readers over to your blog or online shop. Start by finding a popular blog that attracts your target audience. That doesn’t necessarily mean another craft blog, either! If you make cute onesies, offer a giveaway on a hip Mommy blog. If you make purses, find a fashion blog. Avoid purely “giveaway” blogs, as those often do not target a specific audience. Instead, look for a blog that has great content and a wide readership, and just happens to do a giveaway now and then. Then, simply e-mail the author and ask if she would like to give your item away on her blog. Be sure to include a link to an image of your item (don’t attach an image as many folks won’t open an e-mail from a stranger with an attachment). Even a blogger who doesn’t usually host giveaways might be open to the idea. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
9) Follow Through With the Winner
Once you have a winner, it is essential for you to treat the winner like he is your best customer. Respond to his e-mails quickly, get the package out immediately, and let him know that the item has been shipped. A brief, hand-written note thanking him for participating is always a nice touch. Even though you are giving something away, your winner is still a customer, and you want to leave a great impression.
10) Be Prepared if Something Goes Wrong
Try to consider everything that may go wrong before you host your giveaway. A good rule of thumb is to treat your giveaway item in the same way you would treat an item you sold. It’s a good idea to insure your package against loss or damage, or, at the very least, offer the winner a chance to purchase additional shipping insurance. Communicate with the winner and let her know about your policies and her options.