Giveaways: Can you attract more readers without losing cred?

Jody Brettkelly, the glamorous blogger behind About Last Weekend, is back to offer more ideas for your blog. Here Jody suggests fantatic ideas to get started with giveaways on your blog.

Have you ever thought about hosting a giveaway but had no idea how to start?

You like the idea of a giveaway – creating a buzz while rewarding your present readers and attracting new ones. But you might have thought your blog was too small to attract a ‘sponsor’ (the name given to companies who provide giveaways on blogs).

It’s true that many sponsors look for blogs of at least 10,000 unique visits a month. But I’m nowhere near that (nowhere near!) and I now hold one giveaway a month. And I’ve been totally chuffed by what local business friends have provided for my giveaways: a $310 (£202) pair of gold and silver earrings, an $80 (£52) chain necklace and a $225 (£146) designer dress.

Getting Started: Consider buying something yourself for your first giveaway. It doesn’t need to be expensive: jewelry and scarves are perfect as one-size-fits-all and are light to send. Your readers could be merchants, artisans and marketing bods in their other lives and they will start thinking of you in a different light.

Please note: There are laws surrounding giveaways and offers but thus far small bloggers have not been subject to examination. (I’m not suggesting you break the law in any way.)

Finding sponsors: Then you could mention casually to business friends and stores where you shop that you are now doing giveaways on you blog. But don’t pester. You will be surprised by how much people want to support you and value being on your blog.

My friend Donna manages giveaways for a small, thriving clothing designer and a Fortune 500 company. She says: “We will look at the style and tone and comments on your blog and whether you’re enthusiastic about our product. We’ve worked with a smaller blogger and she drove lots of traffic to us.”

“We’d rather go for a smaller blogger if they have the right audience with a great feel and vibe.”

Some sponsors look for very niche audiences. Be able to show who your readers are, whether they are mums with young children or even more specifically, say, parents who go to Spain twice a year.

The benefits: A giveaway will attract more readers if you, your sponsor and entrants Facebook and/or tweet the offer. Or it can give you the impetus to visit more blogs and comment, thereby attracting more comments and traffic yourself. Some say many of the new readers will be once-off “freebie takers” who won’t come back. But you could also gain some great new readers.

What to expect: Your sponsor should not expect you to write a profile on them. I voluntarily wrote about two local designer-friends because I am fascinated by how women juggle business and family.

You can’t expect the winner to post a picture of themselves say, wearing the dress. It’s a bonus if they do. The sponsor could send a nice note with the goods saying: “Congratulations! Hope you like the dress! Feel free to post a photo of yourself wearing it on our Facebook page.”

Keep it real: Only offer things that you use and can stand behind and are relevant to your blog. And be honest if the company gives you anything free. When I was a consumer and financial journalist in London I wouldn’t think of mixing copy and promotions. It’s a different world in blogging, you can do what you want but you should always be transparent.

Keep it simple: Don’t make your readers jump through all sorts of hoops to enter. How many times have a clicked out of a blog because even the first stipulation makes my head hurt. These days I only ask entrants to be a follower or subscriber and leave a comment. For extra points, they may choose to Facebook or Tweet the offer. I make the draw random.

Have fun! Keep the offer breezy; don’t make it your whole blog post. It supposed to be a reward to your readers, never a drag.

Jody Brettkelly–About Last Weekend

Jody Brettkelly, 49, was brought up in the surf mecca of Ohope Beach in New Zealand. She never learned to surf, too busy perfecting her tan. How could she know that skill would fall from favour as quickly as her favourite duo, The Captain and Tenille? She worked as a journalist in London for 15 years writing for, amongst others, The Mail on Sunday, The Times and the London Evening Standard. She also appeared as travel and consumer expert for TravelTV and TalkRadio. She now lives in California’s Bay Area – where she has written newspaper columns such as “Wineau” – with her husband and four kids, ages 14 to eight.

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8 Responses to Giveaways: Can you attract more readers without losing cred?

  1. Expat Mum 25 January 2012 at 14:38 #

    I currently have a fantastic giveaway on my blog – the first I’ve ever done. I have Tweeted it, and it’s been Rt’d to thousands, and still not much of a bite. I’m not getting anything out of it, nor am I doing it to attract more followers, I just genuinely want people to hear about a great group of singers and to have a good night out at the same time.
    Sigh.

    • Jody Brettkelly 30 January 2012 at 16:58 #

      Expat Mum, that is disappointing. You know one thing I didn’t mention was that friends told me later that they didn’t leave a comment because they didn’t want me to think that they just came because they wanted the giveaway…I let them know it was a reward.

  2. Lisa 25 January 2012 at 15:38 #

    I have done a few giveaways on my blog, featuring Etsy sellers, with varying degrees of success. I am yet to approach a larger company though, I daren’t!

    • Jody Brettkelly 30 January 2012 at 17:05 #

      Hi Lisa,
      Good on you for doing giveaways, everyone loves Etsy and they are great relationships to have! Yes it’s a tricky one when to approach a larger company but you have a track record already, so no harm trying! (Plus re the Giveways I have been surprised by what people are enthusiastic about and what they are not…)

  3. Michelloui 27 January 2012 at 11:42 #

    This is such a useful post, Jody. I’ve done a couple of giveaways with some success. But I have a question–how long is a good amount of time to keep a contest open? I had one once that was open only for about 6 days and a day after it closed I received a comment from a reader telling me off for making it so short! I felt terrible but I didn’t know if it was too short after all. Everything moves on so quickly in blogland, I just thought interest in the contest would fade after a week. Any suggestions?

  4. Jody Brettkelly 30 January 2012 at 17:00 #

    Hi Michelloui, I think a week, or three days. I post on Friday and do the announcement on the next Friday.( I notice really huge blogs only do a day, but I am definitely not at the stage where I would I could get enough comments in one day!)

  5. Expat Mum 30 January 2012 at 17:09 #

    With the ones I’m running at the moment, I put a date by which the winners would be picked. That way I can move on and put another post up, but people interested in the give-away could still enter. Hard work though!

  6. Babes about Town 10 December 2012 at 12:03 #

    Great post! Giveaways are a tricky one, some people have the knack down pat and I think if you’re known for doing good giveaways then you might attract a good following that way.

    I do giveaways sporadically and the response always varies, although some comps I’ve run annually I always know will be successful. Don’t know that it’s brought me loads more readers though.

    I’m doing a very last minute 12 Days of Xmas giveaway on my blog kicking off from this week – did it last year and enjoyed the feeling of spreading joy so much that thought I’d do same. Also some really great prizes, feel free to stop by and enter! 😉