The Mechanics of Hosting a Blog Giveaway

Bloggers host giveaways on their websites for a variety of reasons: increasing blog traffic and providing readers the opportunity to try products you have enjoyed using are two. Having a well-established plan for orchestrating a giveaway will help you to feel more confident and will help your readers to understand the required steps to participate.

Let’s dig into the mechanics of hosting a blog giveaway:

The mechanics of hosting giveaway |

Identify the Prizes

What are you giving away? Is it a product, like treats, shampoo, a type of food? Are you providing a credit to a store for the winner to select their own prize? Or is it a donation to a rescue organization that will be given in the winner’s name? All of the options listed are fantastic, and sometimes the prizes can be a combination.

I’ve also seen prizes that are less tangible (more often on social platforms like Instagram) that include “shoutouts” by accounts with a large following. That is a fine option, although I normally find that I get increased traffic if the winner receives something a bit more concrete.

Determine the Length

It’s a delicate dance to determine the length of time your giveaway should run. If it is too short of a window, potential participants might not know about it in time to join in. If it’s too long, you run the risk of having reader burnout if you continue to post giveaway information and images. Everyone’s readership is different, so there’s no cookie cutter answer to the question of length of time. You’ll probably have to try a few options to gain an understanding of the “sweet spot” for your particular page.

I have found that a week is too short, and much longer than two weeks tends to result in a drop off in participation. I normally have my giveaways last a little longer than two weeks (17 days to be exact). I try to spice things up when it comes to choice of images and descriptions in my posts, which we’ll talk about more in a bit.

Select Your Platform

First, and in my opinion, most importantly, you do not need to pay anything to host a giveaway successfully. I’ve seen successful giveaways that simply asked for participants to write a comment that answered a question, shared a story, or indicated what prize the reader would prefer. It’s up to you how you select your winner, which we will discuss in further detail later.

If you elect to utilize a platform that includes a widget to help with your giveaway, there are free options and paid options. Common platforms include RafflecopterGleam, and Woobox. Obviously, the more you pay, the more you get. Advanced analytic results and additional methods for contest entries (such as different platforms like Pinterest) are some reasons why you might consider paying for a platform. That could also be a reason you provide to brands when negotiating compensation for a sponsored post and giveaway.

The mechanics of hosting a giveaway |

Iron out the Rules

Do you want people to follow you on Twitter? Are you hoping to get an increased number of comments on your posts? If so, require (or at least strongly encourage) participants to perform these tasks in order to be eligible to win. Remember, the more requirements you institute and steps you implement, the more muddlesome it is for your readers. I have had instances where I’ve started to perform the required steps for another blog’s giveaway, and I abandoned the mission if there were too many tasks that were mandatory.

The other factor to consider when making this decision is, while it may be hard to believe, not everyone who’s stopping by your website may have things like Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest! Be aware that you don’t want to actually alienate your readers by requiring things that they cannot (or don’t want to) do.

The only thing I require for my giveaways is for readers to make a comment that is thoughtful and is normally responding to a posted prompt. Beyond that, I provide optionsfor additional entries, such as visiting my Facebook page, but it is not a requirement.

Other rules to be sure you determine:

  • Is your giveaway US only or can international participants join in? Brands who are sending prizes will likely be a part of that conversation so you can assess their comfort level with shipping costs.
  • What length of time will you provide for the winner to reply? I normally stipulate that winners have 48 hours to reply via email with their mailing information to claim a prize. After that point, a new winner is chosen.

Method for Selecting a Winner

The world is your oyster for how you select a winner. I’ve seen winners chosen based on the creativity of their comment or their response to a specific question. More commonly, I find that winners are randomly selected. It helps to reduce claims of a competition being unfair if the method for choosing a winner can be viewed as subjective.

If you use a widget for your giveaway, you can use that tool to randomly select a winner. You will have to check to determine if the individual you choose has performed all of the required steps. For example, if I require a person to comment, and their note simply states “Nice,” or, “I like this,” I don’t view that as the person upholding their end of the deal and their entry is disqualified.

If you don’t use a widget, I recommend using a spreadsheet and a random number generator. I’ve used that tactic multiple times. I copy and paste entry names into Excel, and use a random number generator equation to determine a winner.

Plan Your Posts

Reader saturation is a real thing. If you post the same message, with the same images, over and over, your audience will lose interest or worse, stop following you. Spice things up when it comes to the images you choose and how you’re sharing information about the giveaway.

You can share blooper reel photos that didn’t make the cut for your actual post that make your reader giggle and want to click through to your site. You can share “calls to action,” like specific questions that you’ve answered in your post content like “What’s the best way to keep your pet’s paws clean? Find out here!” When a few days remain for entries, add “time is running out,” to your posts. Varied content and social platforms will reach a different audience each time. If you’re getting bored, or your posts feel like a chore, your readers probably feel the same way. Variety is the spice of life!

Have Fun!

I mentioned it a second ago, but it bears repeating: If it seems like a chore for you, your readers will pick up on that. Share genuine stories and experiences with your readers, and make sure it’s a product that you truly enjoy and feel your readers would value experiencing, too. If you’re having fun, that energy will transfer to your reader and make them want to return.

Bryn Nowell is a blogger who loves dogs and drinking equally, which is why her blog,, focuses on both! She is a passionate photographer and animal rescue advocate. Join her photography adventures with pups Bean & Yoda on Instagram at: A Dog Walks Into A Bar. She will be speaking at BlogPaws 2017 about knowing your worth when working with brands. 

Images: Courtesy of the author

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