Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Talk It Out Tuesday: The Pros & Cons of Giveaways + Tips

This like the previous this may be a controversial topic. Just keep it respectful. :)

Like the other topic, these are my own opinions. These are just my observations, experience, and thoughts on giveaways. I am not extending these as collective thoughts for all bloggers or as any rules.



Giveaways can be one the most fun aspects of blogging, for the blogger and for the readers. I really enjoy having giveaways, but with everything it has it's pros and cons. Here is my list below. I also will be adding in my tips on having giveaways too at the end.

PROS:

  • It's nice to give back to your readers. It truly makes me happy to have a giveaways for this reason. It's nice to know I can make someone's day, and show them appreciation for reading my blog.
  • They're fun to shop for.  Personally, I like getting a bunch of smaller things so it truly seems like a little prize pack. For example: I'd rather get 4 or 5 China Glaze polishes for a giveaway than 1 Butter London. This is just me.
  • They bring traffic to your blog, however this should not be the reason you have them.
  • They're fun to create, especially if you add fun extra questions like "What is your favorite polish" etc, or ask for feedback on your blog. These are fun and helpful ways to learn about your readers and how to improve your blog. 
  •  Simply put, they're just fun to have!

CONS:

  • Be prepared to spend a long time forever verifying entries. It seriously takes me hours to verify entries for a giveaway. It is very time consuming!
  • Be prepared not to receive a "thank you" from your giveaway winners. This happens on the rare occasion, but it stinks. A "thank you" should be a given. 
  • People who have giveaways for the sole reason of popularity or for some type of personal gain. I think giveaways should come secondary to blog content. A year ago I saw a blogger immediately start off their blog with a giveaway. Come on now...:-/
  • Be aware that sometimes things are too good to be true. I've entered a giveaway where I won, and was strung along for months about my giveaway prize which was never shipped. The blogger eventually closed their blog, and I never heard from them again. This is rare, but it happens. :-/ 
  • Greedy people. When you have a giveaway you should expect that people who just want something for free will enter. These people may not read your blog, care about your blog, or anything, but they care about getting something for free. It stinks, but that's how it works.
  • Unfollowing once your giveaway ends. This is similar to the previous point. You'll get people to start following your blog once you start one, and a few people may unfollow your blog once the giveaway is over.
      I think overall, even though my cons section is more extensive than the pros, giveaways are great. I think a few of the cons I listed are rare occurrences, but they needed to be mention. Giveaways can be a great experience for the blogger and their readers.

      Giveaway Tips:

      I decided to add a list of tips for people who may interested in having a giveaway. I hope these are helpful.

      • Set a giveaway budget. It is very easy to go overboard on a giveaway. You want people to like the stuff. You want them to be happy. You want them to like you! You have to be realistic though. You should not feel pressured to spend beyond your means for a giveaway. Trust me, people will enter if you have one thing or ten things. Stick within your comfort zone.
      • Be aware of shipping charges. I only do giveaways within the USA, but if you do international be aware of how much you're going to spend on shipping. It can get expensive, so it's better to know prior to shipment the ballpark amount something will cost to ship. I know for me doing USA giveaways, I try to fit my giveaway prizes in small-flat rate boxes these are $5.20 to ship. I've gone overboard a few times and ended up spending way more than I would of liked to ship. Be sure to check to see if your prize fits in the packaging material you expect to provide for it. 
      • Delivery Confirmation is your friend. I do this as a safety measure for me. The people who win my giveaways tend to not be my personal friends or people I know through blogging. They're strangers. I like to have delivery confirmation added to my packages, so I know they arrive to the location I sent it to.
      • The more giveaway entries you have the more work you're going to do. I know it seems cool to add in all these extra entries,  but that is extra time you'll be spending validating entries. Trust me, validating entries takes a long time. If you do not have that time or do not want to spend time doing that keep the number of entries small. 
      • Keep in mind the longer you run your giveaways the more entries you will receive, and the more time you'll spend verifying them. I run giveaways typically 2-3 weeks. I think this is doable, but it's still a lot of work.
      • Ship your giveaway prize in a timely manner. I usually ship mine within in 5 days of the giveaway ending, but I think within a week is reasonable. Keep in contact with your winner(s) and let them know when you mail out their prize. 
      • Be mindful of the reasons you're having a giveaway. I do not see any harm in a having the occasional giveaway to gain a stronger following, especially if you're at a 75 mark or a 150 mark. Sometimes you just want that edge to get you to 100 or 200 followers.  That being said, be aware that giveaways though they get you followers, don't always get you loyal readers and commenters. With giveaways you do get people who just want freebies, not people who are really interested in your blog.
      • You don't have to have a giveaway every milestone.  It is only logical with every giveaway you host you'll naturally get more followers and reach milestones quicker. This is definitely more true now than a year or two ago. There are more nail bloggers and more people following nail blogs than before.  Do not feel pressured to have milestone giveaways if you don't want to or do not have the budget for it. Your readers will love you anyway giveaways or not!
      These are all the tips I can think of at the moment, but if you have any more questions or anyone has any additional tips you can add them in the comment section.

      What are you thoughts on giveaways?

      Happy Tuesday!

        28 comments:

        1. All great points Steph! I have given several giveaways and have encountered all the points that you made. I liked my last giveaway though. It was really short because of the nature of the giveaway. I did a Subscribers only one and only gave a 24 hour notice. I wanted to give back to those that have stuck with my blog and not someone who just signed up for it.

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        2. That is a great idea! I've always wondered how to do a giveaway ONLY for the people who really do read my blog. That way you know that people don't have time to follow just for a chance to win something!

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        3. These are wonderful points that you brought up, and points that I think every nail and cosmetic blogger should know!  Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

          -Ashesela 

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        4. All great points.  I haven't had enough coffee yet to write coherent paragraphs, so here are my responses in bullet points.
          -Personally, my least favorite thing about giveaways is the whole "post about this on your blog!" part... especially when several of the younger blogs I'm reading all go into a giveaway-re-posting frenzy. It usually doesn't make me want to visit the blog that's hosting the giveaway anyway, since I'm annoyed with all the re-posts.  
          -On the other hand, I love it when extra entries end up being for things like commenting on the blog in the past... I think that's a good way to reward active readers.-I actually avoid entering giveaways if I already have the polish being given or it isn't something I really like... I'd rather leave the field open for people who really want it.-As the author of a little blog with low readership (56 followers/almost 1 year of blogging) I've been tempted to do a giveaway to thank the people who do actually read my blog.  However, I don't want to give polishes that everyone already has and would re-gift or sell anyway, and shipping is expensive, and figuring out who gets entries and how seems logistically annoying.

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        5. Rafflecopter is a GREAT help! they have a way that you can delete entries that were verified false and then you ask them to pick a winner and they do via random.com and easily announce it!

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        6. Agreed 100% with what you said.

          When I had my first giveaway I admit I was bummed when some followers dropped after it was over. I have never followed a blog just to win something, so it hadn't even occurred to me then that some people were only in it for the prize. Oh well. At least they are only a teeny tiny fraction of the people out there.

          I am doing my first Rafflecopter giveaway, so hopefully that makes the process easier.

          I don't really have any tips. I have had to modify my terms or rules or whatever you call it so that international people know they are responsible for any customs fees (though no one has ever told me they had to pay them).

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        7. I agree. Giveaways are a lot of fun, but a lot of work. I've also started doing flash giveaways on Twitter for the holidays. I'll give 24 hours notice (sometimes even like 30 minutes notice) and it's followers only.. where they just answer a question. It's a nice way to give back with instant gratification on everyone's part. Plus, the prizes are much smaller so I can do a couple of them in a week.


          Granted, I wouldn't say do them all the time.. but as a nice random little way to give back, they're a lot of fun! :)

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        8. Like Amanda, I totally love this idea!

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        9. LimitedAddictionNailsDecember 13, 2011 at 11:53 AM

          I needed this! :) I think you're right about a lot of things. Especially because I kinda recognize myself in it. I already did a giveaway at 25 followers. Because I was proud of myself to get to 25 followers, because I wanted to thank my followers, but maybe also to gain some followers. I didn't know that many people would enter! I should've known better; most people don't even look at your blog anymore.

          My second giveaway is actually a good reason. My birthday is coming and I want to share that with my followers. I love giving something to someone else, it makes me feel good :PYou also gave some great tips! :) Now I know how to do it next time. But that might be months from now though xD

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        10. Wow, Steph! You pretty much covered it all with this post. I really like what other people had to say about this post. I never even thought of quickie Twitter giveaways until Mandy mentioned it below. 
          I think one more thing I found annoying is when a giveaway has a billion "here's what you need to do to enter!!" I can understand additional entries for a few optional things to improve your chances.... but when on top of that there's like me on Facebook!, add me to your blog roll, comment on a FB status, follow the company that sponsored the giveaway on Twitter and FB, etc... it gets overwhelming and I'd rather not enter at all!

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        11. you're right... i wish i could do giveaway every week, it makes me happy when i know i made someone happy to :-D

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        12. You know, I have never entered a giveaway, may never enter one for that matter, but I just want you to know that there are the ones like me that read yours and some others blogs every day and I may never comment but am very loyal and love your blog, just an FYI ;)

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        13. Thanks for writing this Steph! I am about to do my first giveaway and your giveaway tips are amazingly helpful. I think giveaways are a great way to thank your readers, but I agree that the negative side is that some people will follow and unfollow just to win the prizes. Kitty's idea about hosting a super quick giveaway seems to be a great solution to this problem. Again, all around great info! 

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        14. Awesome idea!

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        15. Nice post. I am on the fence about giveaways right now. I've had one. But like you said, I would like to know I have followers who like my content. Not just what I'm giving away. 

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        16. This is a great post! I completely agree with you! I've found giveaways to be helpful as a blog just starting out, and I've just stuck with the mindset that as I hit certain milestones, I want to reward my readers! I also agree about the more entries, the more difficult to verify etc. I figure- you can't expect a reader to follow you on twitter, facebook, tumblr, etc. and your blog...so just choose the one you care most about and ask readers to follow there. I get the idea of having many platforms, I'm guilty of it too (tumblr, twitter, and blog) as I know different people spend more time on some platforms than others. I just don't think it's realistic to have a follower across all of them.

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        17. I hate that some blogs do giveaways just to earn followers.  Every milestone another giveaway just seems like you are buying followers.  I have personally only done two.  And yes they are time consuming-it irritated me that so many people signed up to just enter that I know never read my blog.  My second giveaway I actually gave two extra entries to my frequent commenters and that's who won my prize.  I can always tell if you look at the list of popular posts on blogs that if they are all giveaway posts-you have a problem.  I would rather stay small and have fewer followers but know they are there cause they want to be and comment.  Maybe if I ever hit 500 or 1000 I may do another-but for now-it's just not worth it to me.

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        18. Love this - it really got me thinking.
          Cause to be honest, in the beginning I followed your blog because of a give-away, but I've stuck around since because I really love your blog.
          I actually think that i how I've gotten many of the blogs I have on my follow list and only one or two blogs I've un-followed again ... mainly because after following for a few months found that the blog was not me.

          It feels a bit weird to admit that most blogs I started following has been because of a giveaway, but then again you don't often hear about a blog unless someone post about the giveaway.
          And I don't really feel bad about it - I found gems like you :)

          Personally I have a small blog with few followers and even fewer comments and I guess I've considered several times to have a giveaway and get my numbers going - always stopped myself though.
          I want people to like me for being me and tell myself that numbers are just that, numbers :)

          Thx for a great blog and some thought-provoking posts.

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        19. When we had our very first giveaway, the winner was from Romania, and she was so thrilled to receive her US polishes. She wrote the nicest email when she received her package. It made is so happy that we had made another polish lover happy. That's the main reason we do giveaways--share the polish love! ; )

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        20. MakeupWithdrawal hit my pet peeve with giveaways below - when you have to jump through 40 different hoops to enter. I don't understand why, if it's a *blog* giveaway, I have to have Twitter and Facebook to enter. (I don't do either for personal reasons.) If it's a Facebook or Twitter giveaway, well, that's different then :). If the list of things you have to do is too long, I just skip it.

          I think giveaways are like an extra cookie that bloggers give their followers - they're nice to do and very kind of the blogger, but not necessary.

          I only enter giveaways that are actually on the blogs I already read - I admit to being fundamentally lazy, and adding a blog just to enter a contest I probably won't win anyway sounds like a lot of extra work to me.

          What flabbergasted me most was that people don't say thank you. How rude! Seriously - I was taught that you always say thank you when you're given a gift, and a giveaway win IS a gift. I'm really sorry you ran into such impolite people.

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        21. I totally agree with you Steph... I see a lot of bloggers doing constant giveaways and I know it is a great way to drive traffic to your site. With my nail page it's more of a hobby than anything else. I really don't want people to follow me if they don't really want to see my nail posts. I just ended my first giveaway and I did it for the holidays. I love to gift-give at the holidays. I wanted the giveaway to be within a $15 budget but to be something that only fellow polish lovers would really appreciate, so I went with Lynnderella's Happy Holo-Daze. The only change I would make is I would do it internationally other than just the US, but I'm not familiar with shipping to other countires and I've heard horror stories of packages getting lost, taking forever to arrive, and getting damaged without the shipping entity taking responsibility. So, I will be researching international shipping options for future giveaways (as few as I will have).

          Now, on my Business Page I'm thinking about doing a giveaway to get more traffic but it's hard to think of something Tax Related that people really want (and that I can afford!)...LOL

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        22. Agree with the other comments here and your thoughts above, Steph. I just ended a really small giveaway yesterday and it took forever to verify entries (there were only 80). I would add one more huge pet peeve - I know one blog that I finally had to stop following because every single post was about a giveaway - not even her own - and she would do a giveaway for every 50 followers. While I don't have a problem with the Facebook and Twitter entries (so long as they are not mandatory) I have a huge pet peeve about the "blog about this and gain 20+ entries." It is not my job to blatantly advertise the blog of the giveaway host. That one action signals to me that the giveaway host really isn't interested in her readers and really just wants to drive blog traffic. In other thoughts, I had not considered asking fun questions as part of the giveaway. I will have to do that in the future.

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        23. I've pretty much quit entering giveaways. The majority of the time the prizes go to other bloggers.

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        24. Great post, I just started my own blog just over a month ago and was just thinking about giveaways today. I'm no where near that point and dont intend on posting giveaways just to drive traffic either, but I was curious about how it all worked and your post gave me some insight. :)

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        25. I agree with everything you said! Thank you so much for posting this, I thought it very helpful :) I wish I could do more giveaway (my last one was at 50 followers and I am at 429) but I simply can't afford it and it's so much hassle! I am for sure going to have one at 500 followers though. 

          But that's besides the point, ANYWAY, thanks again for posting this! :)

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        26. I have to agree with you on all points. There are bloggers out there that have giveaways solely for popularity. I prefer to have quality over quantity. I have noticed that with each post, there are those people who always comment. When I posted a giveaway at 100, I gained quite a few followers. Those people have not commented once on any of my nail posts. 
          Delivery confirmation is a lifesaver!!

          Thank you for posting some giveaway pointers!! They are super helpful!

          xoxox

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        27. I really think these Pros & Cons posts of yours are such a great idea; you bring to light many things that people don't stop to consider, you display great thought in the way you present your points, and the ensuing discussions are so informative and enlightening - thank you, Steph!
          As to giveaways, I have to agree on every single point you stated, both Pro & Con. Verification takes FOREVER - I only understood that when I did my first ever giveaway for my blog's 1-year birthday...and decided to stretch it out over 6 weeks! The reason it went on for such a long time, is mainly due to the overly generous prizes that were contributed, and so I jumped in without knowing anything about the process.  Shipping fees can be almost criminal, especially sending packages of any size from Canada (where I am); we are made to pay significantly higher rates than you do - a factor to consider if you're a Canadian blogger.
          While I wasn't all that surprised to find that people started following simply for the prize, then promptly unfollowed once it was over and they hadn't won, I still thought it was just, well, rude. Giveaways for the sake of popularity are not a problem per se, as long as you're honest with yourself about that fact. It's when people try to make it seem like something it's not, but the rest of us know it, then I take issue.
          All this to say that I will be very selective about creating giveaways in the future, as I prefer to spend that time working on quality posts (and living life, for that matter!) than immersed in entries!

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        28. Thanks for all of these tips!  I have yet to do a giveaway and this is very helpful.

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