Today's question is: How do you conduct a Giveaway?
1. Plan on what you will give away. It could be:
- Something from your online store and/or something you have made
- A gift certificate to your online store or to your favorite online store
- One of your favorite products (a new one, of course!)
- Something your regular readers would love to have - perhaps a hobby or lifestyle item?
- Something related to your blog topic or something you frequently blog about
- Advertising space on your blog
- A one-year membership - like a pro account from Flickr.com, for example
- Entrecard credits, if you use them
2. Take clear, well-lit pictures of your item on a simple background, then write up an irresistible description of the item. At this point you could package up the item and get it ready to be mailed. Include any promotional material you have for your shop, if applicable. Just make sure you label the outside of the package so you remember what it is.
3. Calculate your cost to host the Giveaway, including shipping. Since this will cost you some money, you'll need to decide if this is a hobby or a business. If it might be a business expense, you may want to consider how to categorize it. I am not a bookkeeper or accountant, so I recommend contacting yours to check on the best way to calculate the cost of the Giveaway into your accounting method, whether it's part of your advertising budget or belongs in a different category.
4. Write out your Giveaway rules.
a) Do you want people to perform specific tasks, such as visiting a certain website and/or leaving comments about anything in particular? Several Etsy shops require contest entrants to visit their shop then leave a blog comment about their favorite thing in the shop. Some bloggers ask contest entrants mention the Giveaway in their own blogs. Others ask for everyone's answers to a specific question. Requiring a specific action, while not necessary, can make the giveaway fun for everyone.
b) What are your Giveaway dates? Note the time zone of your start and end times.
c) How will you pick the winner? There are a few online places that will randomly pick a winner, such as Random.org or Contest Machine. Actually, Contest Machine collects entries, then randomly picks and contacts the winner for you. If you're really into hosting Giveaways, you may want to look at Contest Machine to help. At this time, use of the widget is free for up to two Giveaways per month.
d) Write up your entire Giveaway announcement and doublecheck it for clarity.
I am also not a lawyer so I cannot give you legal advice, but I recommend you look into any laws that your Giveaway will need to follow.
e) Where do you want people to put their Giveaway entries? You could have them leave comments on your blog or if you're expecting a lot of traffic you could install a Mr. Linky widget to take care of that for you. (You'll have to register to use the Mr. Linky, but there are two basic Mr. Linkies for free with a basic membership.)
5. Just like sending invitations to a party, invite people to your Giveaway.
a) Make an announcement on your blog at least a week prior to the beginning of the Giveaway.
b) Include a signature line in your outgoing emails with the Giveaway dates and a link to your site. (Be careful not to spam people with emails about your Giveaway, though.)
c) Get the word out. Notify all the blogs and other websites that announce Giveaways a day or two in advance. (Keep in mind it may take them up to a couple days to announce the giveaway, so you may want to consider running your giveaway for up to a week. Experiment and see what works best for you.)
Please follow the submission rules of each site, of course. Some places to start are:
Blog Events Dex
Blog Contest Station
If you look at my sidebar you'll see a "Giveaway Toolbar" where I will continue to list these Giveaway announcement blogs as I find them. If you host a Giveaway blog not listed here, please comment below and I'll add you to the list!
d) If you advertise via Project Wonderful, The Indiego, or through other sites, run an ad for your Giveaway. Schedule your ad to end a couple hours before the Giveaway ends.
6. Get ready for traffic. Giveaway time is like tv sweeps, where you are offering something fantastic to encourage new visitors to stop by and check you out. Clean up and spruce up your blog, if needed, and schedule some great blog posts for first time visitors to read. If you don't have a "Subscribe to this blog" button or a "Follow Me" widget (available on Blogger,) add one near the top of the page to make it easy for new visitors to become a regular reader.
7. Unleash the hounds! Post your Giveaway announcement with the picture of your item and watch the traffic zoom in. When it's over, announce the winner to everyone, thank your visitors for stopping by, and send the prize to your happy winner.
Related post: A Brilliant Giveaway Strategy