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the thing about...

...giveaways

we all love them. don't lie! i know you get all starry eyed thinking that you could win a super huge one (a ticket to haven 2012? i'm all over those giveaways!) or even a small one... or perhaps one where you win a SUPER HUGE HAUL of teeny tiny prizes.

you_won

but honestly? they are kind of a hassle aren't they? asking people to contribute, laying out the actual post, figuring out how people should enter and then carrying everything through.

i really wouldn't be saying all of this but i recently won a huge giveaway over at after nine-to-five. it was awesome. i have so enjoyed getting to know some new women and shop owners and the prizes were definitely awesome. i feel like i should really not be complaining about this. but honestly there were a few issues. nothing that weren't handled (for the most part) quickly and professionally. but at the end of the day part of me wishes either that i hadn't won or that once i did the aftermath would have been easier to handle.

quick edit to add: ashley is awesome. i love her blog and we think a lot alike. she was quick to help me out and she was definitely not the cause of any of the problems. it was just a little overwhelming to have all these emails rolling in at once and i might have gone a tad bit crazy!

so anyways - it got me to thinking about some things that you should consider before both hosting or entering a giveaway. amanda at royal daughter designs and chelsea at sunny with a chance of sprinkles both posted a few general guidelines about these topics (here and here, respectively) recently but maybe there are a few nitty gritty things that need to be covered as well.

and i'm kind of at the point that i want to get it off my chest. so don't hate me but i just needed to say some of these things.

raffle copter

one.
use rafflecopter. amanda covered a great list of reasons why (it is FREE, easy to use for both the host and the entrant, and keeps all of your entries organized for verifying!) why would you NOT use rafflecopter?? i've almost gotten to the point now where no matter how awesomesauce the giveaway is, i won't enter if the host isn't using rafflecopter to take entries. it is too much of a hassle for me (gasp. i know. i do feel like a bit of a snob but it is true so hey.)

say-no-to-the-word-verif

two.
if you choose not to use rafflecopter - PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY take off the word verification. making me enter one (sometimes two) ridiculous words every time i comment is just a little much. and you know what? i'm not going to enter but once. (meaning i probably won't follow the twitter accounts, tweet about it, facebook about it etc. which is really not helping you any is it??)

three.
one thing to really give a lot of consideration to is why you are hosting this giveaway in the first place. do you want to highlight a shop? did someone else offer to give a product to your readers? are you trying to promote a up-and-coming friend? are you just rewarding your readers for being the awesome and supportive folks they are? the intentions behind the giveaways you decide to host need to be clear in your head before deciding to do it or you might be sorely disappointed.

true story. the first two giveaways i did on this blog were big fat failures. i gave away some vinyl from house of smiths (super cute stuff by the way) and some shaklee samples from a friend. my only intention was to gain followers. it was a pretty selfish venture to be sure. but i wanted that number to grow and a giveaway seemed to be the best way to do that.

i was sorely wrong. like - off by a looooong shot. but something good did come of it. i made friend's with cassie. and cassie is seriously one of the best friends a gal could hope for and definitely the most positive experience i had from my first giveaways.

i love my followers

it taught me a pretty awesome lesson too. giveaways under selfish intentions aren't going to work out for me. so i decided right then that if i ever hosted another one (and i was pretty burnt by that one) that it would be because i wanted to hook my readers up with a cool product or introduce a new friend. and let me tell you - that has worked out much better for me.

which kind of brings me around to my next rant.

four.
please don't force me to follow your blog. please. (and this is probably going to piss some people off but i gotta say it...) but making me follow your blog (despite the real intentions behind it) seems like a desperate way to up your numbers. and to me it is lame. i may not follow your blog by the normal way (google reader, gfc, friend connect, etc.) but i follow on facebook and read every post you write. i just choose not to use a reader for your blog. big deal. i shouldn't be excluded from the giveaway for that reason.

part of this stems from my personal experience (see point three) but i think of a giveaway as a reward for the people who already read my crazy ramblings and stick around... not as a way to rope more people in.

five.
this is assuming anyone is actually still reading (tap tap... are you still behind that computer screen? ok - good. whew.)... five is easy but sometimes missed. if you are hosting please follow up with your winner. make sure they were contacted by the people who contributed to the giveaway and that they are happy with their product etc. make sure they GOT their product/service/credit/ad space etc. the winner will appreciate it, remember it and be sure to enter every giveaway you host. :)

050_soap_box6

so that is my big soap box today. and i didn't say any of this because i'm never hosting another giveaway or entering one or i'm just banning them altogether. that couldn't be further from the truth. they are fun! they are awesome! i do love them. i just get a little irritated sometimes and need to rant. and NOW i feel better! :)

ps - if you stuck this far i should remind you that i'm giving away a shabby apple dress. go go go enter for it!! it is gorgeous! ;)

32 comments:

  1. First *Insert huge smile* so glad that you find me a positive thing that came out of one of your giveaways! :)

    Second - I really love this post. I never really thought about making someone follow my blog via GFC as "forcing" because I was doing it for my readers, so i figured most of them already follow my blog anyone - thank you for pointing out that they may not always be following via GFC.

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    1. If it wasn't for my first giveaway we might have never met! How sad would the world be if you and I weren't friends?? ;)

      Thanks for the sweet words - It is good to know that I had a somewhat positive impact on someone with this post! :) xoxo

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  2. I couldn't agree with you more about ALL of these things. And to be honest - most of the time when someone makes me follow them, I end up going through a couple months later and "unfollow" them as bad as it sounds, because honestly, most of the time I find a whole bunch of blogs on my feed that I don't want to read. (sorry, being honest).

    Word Verification - AMEN! I HATE word verification even if it's NOT on a Giveaway. Hate it. Don't want spam? Make sure you set that they have to log in to Google first.

    And the addition I have to this list (and it's just a personal preference)- don't MAKE someone like someone else on Facebook. I don't mind if it's an entry but if it's mandatory, I can't enter because I don't have facebook! (I do know that your shabby apple giveaway is only facebook, but working with them previously on a giveaway I know this is required, no hard feelings! ;) the dress is super cute though!!).

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    1. Hi Mrs Streeter ;)
      does that mean i you change the settings to;
      "Registered Users - includes OpenID"
      that it has to be someone who has an account of some type in order to leave a comment? I didn't want to limit just google users.

      ok,, sorry SKye! now , carry on....

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    2. Kristina,

      I have definitely done the same thing (even sometimes been guilty of waiting until they announce the winner and unfollowing RIGHT after that. Terrible, no?) But I have quit that. It just doesn't "feel" right to me and I don't want to have to follow a blogger because they make me. I want to follow someone because I relate to them and enjoy what they have to say. :) Thanks for the awesome comment!

      xoxo
      Skye

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    3. Aubrey - yes change it to "Registered Users - includes OpenID" - that's what I meant, but couldn't think of what I wanted to say for the life of me when I wrote the post.

      Skye - I completely agree with you, and frankly, sometimes I just don't enter giveaways if it's a requirement. Not worth it to me. Same with link-ups, but that's a whole other thing! ;)

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  3. This makes me happy.
    I have been juggling in my mind a whole post about giveaways as well.
    You thought it out good.
    I think, being someone who often is the shop doing the giveaway, I am more careful who I say yes to now more than I was when I first started.
    This is because of your point that you shouldn't be REQUIRED to follow that blog as an entry.
    It has been an extreme turn off when I am the one sewing up that special giveaway and they are the ones trying to get all the glory. If you put your self out there to host a giveaway for a shop your intentions should be no less of their highest cheerleader. It should not be some sort of unclear feeling to the reader by the end of the post that you are doing the giveaway to share something awesome and want them to know about said shop.
    It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I read a giveaway and end feeling like it was a huge attempt by the blogger to gain more followers and not a way to promote the shop.
    In those cases I'd rather go buy from the shop directly and not ever looking back to that blog for a giveaway. In some cases, for me, it means an immediate unfollow.
    thanks for the thoughts!

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    1. **"It has been an extreme turn off when I am the one sewing up that special giveaway and they are the ones trying to get all the glory."**

      I have never even thought of it in this perspective but I definitely agree with you 100%! As a shop owner I want to contribute to giveaways where I know the readers will get a sense of me in the post and know that I have a relationship with the host. I feel like it makes the giveaway more authentic and less "hey this girl makes cool stuff but i'm the awesome person who got her to give it to you for free!". Awesome points Audrey! :)

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    2. Aubrey, I agree with this so much!! I think its certainly all about the approach, and I also think it has to do with the size of the giveaway. Big group giveaways make it about so many people at once, that really the only one that gets the glory is the blogger hosting it. On my own blog, I try to keep it to one or two people giving things away so I can keep it about the shop/blog and highlighting them. I totally get it as a shop owner, and truthfully I haven't been offering to sponsor giveaways as much as I would like to for this reason.

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  4. I love this post. I never know what to make mandatory for giveaways. I do use rafflecopter because it is so flippin' easy to moderate!! I honestly don't know how bloggers with more than say 20 entries moderate. Especially when they are mega bloggers who get a couple hundred entries. Rafflecopter has simplified things so much that I pretty much won't enter giveaways that aren't using it. That goes for mega Blogger giveaways where the swag is huge too!! I am trying to think of how I am doing things on my Blog. I want to be real and making people follow me isn't right. I want people to follow me because they want to. This is making me think...a lot. And yes...get rid of word verification!!!

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    1. Hey Sarah! :) I totally agree - I don't know how mega- bloggers choose winners without rafflecopter. It is such a lifesaver!!

      I'm glad I made you think a little but I do want to say that I think readers already get the real Sarah when they visit your blog! :)

      I sometimes struggle with what to make a mandatory entry or whether to have a mandatory one at all. Can you have a rafflecopter giveaway and not have a mandatory entry? If you have to have one, I think a safe way to go is to have the reader visit the person's shop and tell you what their favorite items is or maybe pin something from their shop. :) Just some thoughts!

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  5. I understand your points. But to speak from the perspective of the "required follow" I don't use it as a reason to gain followers at all. I did the same thing you did at the beginning of my blog and realized it was stupid and wrong. However, at the same time if I have a giveaway to celebrate a milestone follower number, I think it's only fair to say they have to be a follower since that's what we're celebrating. I don't think it's fair that the prize goes to non-followers when there's a lot of others who actually have shown their support and I'm trying to celebrate my readers, not my blog. It's a way to thank them for sticking by me so I think it should go to someone who is a follower and has stuck by be from the beginning. That's just my reasoning, not to increase my blog numbers but to thank those who have chosen to support me through it all.

    Anyways, that's just my two cents!! :)

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    1. Hey Megan!

      I do agree with your reasoning and I totally respect it! I think it is awesome to celebrate the followers you do have (or the ones you can count!) But the point I was trying to make was that people follow blogs in so many different ways now that requiring them to do it through a certain platform seems constricting... I have lots of in real life friends who follow my blog but they don't use GFC or blog lovin or any kind of reader. They just click over and read up when they get a chance and I don't want to exclude them from a giveaway. They have supported me just as much as anyone who follows through a reader does, if not more. :) That is all I was getting to!

      Thanks for throwing your two cents in! I love getting others opinions too!

      xoxo
      Skye

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    2. Yeah that's a good point. I'm sure there are a lot of others that follow other ways. Maybe by asking "how do you follow/read my blog" would make it easier? Just a thought. I understand what you are saying though. But yeah I think of it more as a celebration and a thank you to the readers more than "please help me grow my blog a million times" because I really hate that too!

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  6. Great post, Skye! I kinda gave up on hosting giveaways myself...they did help me gain a few followers in the beginning, but my sporadic posting erased the benefits. I DID enter yours though!! :)

    For me, I just don't have time or motivation to jump through all of those hoops, so I won't bother to enter a giveaway unless I really love the prize and really love the blog. It's a shame that your big win turned out to be a big headache, too.

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    1. It was kind of a big headache but in the end it really was worth all the work that I did. I have had quite a bit of traffic come to my blog and shop because of Ashley's giveaway and I am really thankful for it. But for those 48 hours or so (along with everything else I was dealing with at the time) I was stressed OUT!

      I decided, after that, to enter giveaways that I really want to win. I agree with you! :)

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  7. So what's the difference in making people like you on fb or follow your blog? Just curious because I can never decide how I want to run my giveaways and everyone seems to have different opinions :)

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    1. It is funny that you said that because I was just sitting here thinking about it... :) First of all (I need to research this) does anyone know if rafflecopter requires to have a mandatory entry? I have only hosted a couple of giveaways through them and each time I have had to have a "required entry" (Shabby Apple requires you like their FB page in order to host.) Secondly, in terms of my current giveaway specifically, I didn't mean to make "liking" me on FB mandatory but I didn't realize it was that was until after I posted it and I didn't know if it would be fair or not fair to change it.

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    2. Rafflecopter doesn't require a mandatory entry, mandatory entries are entirely up to the person hosting the giveaway.

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  8. Your giveaway was the first I had heard of rafflecopter and I am sold!

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    1. rafflecopter is the best thing EVER. I will never host another giveaway without it for sure! :)

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  9. Love this post and LOVE rafflecopter...just set up and foget' about it!!! As a shop owner I have been struggling with which giveaways to participate in and which ones I have to decline. This month I have given priority to the blogs on which I have paid sponsorships because I guess I feel that they of all people should want to support me. However I don't think that these big grouphug giveaways get me very much traffic to my shop... people just do what they have to to win and move along. I think Im going to start participating in a lot less giveaways- your post has made me reflect on this and come to my conclusion.

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    1. I'm with you on the big group giveaways. I think they are fun and a great reward for the readers but they really don't serve the purpose of driving traffic to your blog and shop. I think there is definitely a time and place for contributing to any kind of giveaway but ultimately it is whatever you feel comfortable doing! :)

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  12. Great post, Skye! I don't host giveaways but recently won one from a very big, popular blogger. It was a gift certificate for an online maternity shop. I was 30 weeks pregnant but soon found out they were mailing (!) the certificate and it could take 12 (!) weeks. I waited the 12 weeks, had my baby, and finally contacted the blogger about the missing prize. They never followed up with me or the shop offering the prize. The shop told them they emailed it to me - they did not. It was reissued via email 2 weeks ago. I won't be entering her giveaways anymore because of the poor communication, lack of follow up, and disorganization. Great points, Skye!! Keep up the awesome work!

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    1. I hate it for you that you have gotten jipped so far! It is definitely poor blogger etiquette to not be more helpful in that department. My experience made me realize that I should definitely be checking in with my winner and making sure they get what they won! :)

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  13. Great points! I'm torn about the rafflecopter thing though. I think it's easier to enter and I personally love it, but right before my most recent giveaway, I looked up some reviews on it and found people who said they never enter rafflecopter giveaways and sometimes their browsers don't even display the rafflecopter widgets. I'm pretty torn on the idea. I'm writing a giveaway post tonight and thinking about just trying it out, but I hate the idea of people not being able to enter because of technical problems. Most of my giveaways have more than 100 entries, and I don't worry about verifying any entries except the winning one, so it's pretty easy.

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    1. I haven't ever heard of any browsers not being able to display the widget but that is probably because I haven't really been listening for it too. I do know that you have to click to the specific post for it to show on most blogs and I think that is because when it tweets for you it puts a link to the post in the tweet automatically so it wants to make sure you are on the actual giveaway. This is all just hypothetical though! :) I'd give it a shot and see how it works. You can always decide not too... Also - wordpress makes it a little easier for entering via comment (in my opinion) because it numbers the comments for you and all that jazz.

      PS - I can't wait to see what this *amazing* giveaway is tomorrow!! ;)

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  14. I am so with you on making someone follow your blog (or the blog of the person who is offering up the prize). I hope my readers come to me and stick with me because they want to be there. I want my followers to be reading my posts and getting to know me and interacting. I really enjoyed your ideas here. I haven't really done any giveaways and don't really plan on it anytime soon. I figure when the right opportunity comes along, we will go from there!!

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    1. I'm so glad to know I am not the only one who feels that way. :) Giveaways are fun and they are a great way to interact with and reward your readers! :) Thanks for the comment girl! xoxo

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  15. I'm totally with you - not Rafflecopter, won't enter. Just don't have time. I've also had issues with winning huge giveaways and then having vendors not follow up with sending prizes, but didn't really have any recourse. Great post!

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