Running a Blog competition

With the growing popularity of Rafflecopter.com, I thought this an ideal time to outline how you can host a successful giveaway on your blog. 

Running a contest, prize draw or competition on your blog is a great way to attract new visitors, whilst giving something back to your readers, and it will improve your blog’s rank in Google search results. Often a company or PR agency will approach you with a prize, but you can also keep an eye on Twitter for requests, and if there are specific companies or products that you like, contact them directly. And of course, if you’re crafty or have a shop, you can give away your own handmade goodies! I like to offer the winner a prize of their choice, such as something from Amazon or the Book Depository

Prize photos
Incorporate a photo of the prize that will appear when your link is shared on Facebook. If it’s a handmade prize then take a couple of good photos of it, in daylight if possible. If it’s something else then do a Google Search on large photos of that product – you could even design a graphic that adds ‘WIN!’ to a photo of the prize.

Entry requirements
Many blog competitions require one or two compulsory methods of entry, and then optional extra entries. 

The most common entry methods are: 

  • Leave a comment below (almost always compulsory)
  • Follow on Google Friend Connect (usually compulsory)
  • Follow on Networked Blogs
  • Subscribe to your blog via email
  • Follow you on Twitter
  • Follow (prize/product) on Twitter
  • Tweet a link to the competition
  • Like your Facebook page
  • Like (prize/product) page on Facebook
  • Share the competition link on Facebook
  • Tag the blog page in a Facebook status

Note: Although Facebook Promotion Guidelines aren’t clear on this, I also think it’s fine to ask fans to LIKE a page, tag your Facebook page in a post, or comment on your wall as an extra entry, as long as entry into the draw is not conditional on doing so. 

For more complicated giveaways you might ask the entrant to:

  • Blog about your competition
  • Add a badge to their blog linking to your competition
  • Comment on any of your other blog posts

My favourite giveaways require the entrants to answer a question, for example:

  • What will you buy if you win?
  • What’s your best cleaning horror story?
  • What’s your favourite bedtime story and why? 

Asking a question should ensure that the entrant would really like the prize, rather than someone who is passing by and quickly wants to pop their name in a comment and then scoot off. Asking them to choose their own prize from a website is a good idea – this will increase traffic to the company’s website (the company or PR agency will be pleased about this!) and also encourages a bit more interaction with your readers.

There are three ways you can add your giveaway to a blog post.


1. Ask people to leave each entry as a separate comment
This is the traditional method of running a blog giveaway. To use this method, manually list the entry requirements as bullet points to make it easier for people to follow, separating the compulsory actions from the optional ones. Don’t ask people to do too many; if you run regular competitions then perhaps you could rotate the requirements and pop a couple of different ones on each giveaway – Twitter for one, Facebook for another for example. If you use Blogger, try not to ask people to leave their email address in their comment – spambots can pick this up. If you set up Disqus commenting on your blog this will make it easier to monitor and reply to posts – Disqus involves much social interaction with Facebook and Twitter which will result in more exposure for your blog. IntenseDebate is another commenting option. After the closing date, you can use random.org to choose a winning comment – when you’ve selected your winner, do check that that person has completed all the steps they claim to have done before announcing the results!


2. Using Rafflecopter
The free Rafflecopter web application makes it easy for you to add giveaways to your blog – once you’ve done one, you can base future competitions on the same template. Advantages of Rafflecopter are that every entry includes contact details (without email addresses being published), and that it chooses and publishes your winner for you. Many bloggers have trouble contacting their winning entrant – they don’t use Twitter, or have no email on their Google profile – and as Rafflecopter requests an email address for every entry, this solves that problem. Rafflecopter is still invite only at the moment, but you can put your name on a waiting list, or contact me for an invite code to use. You can see an example of a Rafflecopter giveaway on my blog here, and here’s a handy video on how to set up your promotion:


Rafflecopter Demo from Rafflecopter on Vimeo.

3. Setting up Entry forms using Google Docs

Google docs are really useful for promotions – you can set up simple competition entry forms which can be used on blogs or on Facebook (see my post about running a Facebook competition), and Google will update a spreadsheet of entries for you. You can check out some great step-by-step instructions for using Google Docs to set up a form for your giveaway at Family Friendly Frugality – this is a useful method if you want to run a simple email prize draw rather than restricting your competition to entrants with Twitter, Google or Facebook accounts. 


Rules
It’s essential to have rules. You should explain:

  • Entry restrictions, eg. This giveaway is open to UK residents only. I would also recommend adding  ‘Automated/bulk entries and entries from third parties are not permitted’.
  • Closing date and time, eg. 31 October 2011 at 11.59pm GMT
  • How you will choose the winner. Explain whether you are choosing the winner at random. If you want to judge the competition then you can’t ask people to make ‘extra’ entries, as these won’t have any influence on the outcome. You should ask an independent judge to choose a winner to a tiebreaker question, rather than choose it yourself, to make it fair.
  • How you will contact the winner. Will you post it on your blog and ask them to contact you, or will you contact them via Twitter or email? If it’s the former, state in the rules how long you will give them to contact you before you draw another winner. If it’s the latter, you will need to ensure every entrant knows to leave a method of contact – if they don’t use GFC (or haven’t added an email to their profile) or Twitter then they will need to leave an email address in the comment.

Promoting your giveaway

  • If your competition is open to UK or worldwide entries then you can add it to my SuperLucky Linkys, the current ones can always be accessed from the top right of my blog – remember to add the closing date!
  • Submit competitions to a competition listings site – in the UK, you can use The Prizefinder
  • Post up links to your blog giveaway on Facebook – tag the promoter/prize if possible
  • Tweet links to your competitions
  • Network with other bloggers and ask if they will retweet you, or if you can share it on their Facebook walls. 

After the competition has ended
When the competition has closed, add ‘CLOSED’ to the end of your blog post title, as people may still find it in search results. Announce the winner in a blog post or a Tweet. Check with the company when the prize has been posted, and ask the winner to confirm receipt.


Thankyou for reading, and good luck with your giveaways!
This is an expanded version of my guest post at A Bit of this and a Bit of that.

8 Responses

  1. Such great advice Di! Yours is my go to site for any competition related questions! Such a great set of resources.

  2. 1978rebecca says:

    This was just what I need as hoping to run a competition soon. Have bookmarked it for future reading. Thanks!

  3. love the blog very infomative well done

  4. Bex says:

    Would love a Rafflecopter invite please – sounds fab and much easier for giveaways!
    rebeccajlsk[at]gmail.com

  5. Could I get an invite too please? Great post. clare[at]clareandvernon[dot]co[dot]uk

  6. Nickie says:

    Would love a Rafflecopter invite please. Thanks

    typecastblog [at] gmail [dot] com
    @nickie72

    Great advice as always too. Have bookmarked this to read at home properly later. Have a comp running next week.

  7. This is really helpful as I’ll be running my first comp in the next few weeks and it had only just crossed my mind that I had no idea how to go about it and make it fair. Thanks so much. x

  8. Popped my name down for Rafflecopter. Thanks x

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