Do you guys love giveaways? Once I won a $2000 gift card (thanks Anthropologie!). I was beyond excited. I actually bought my wedding dress with part of the money. It was such a huge gift and I will forever be thankful to that company. They allowed me to find the perfect dress for one of the most important days in my life. I realize that not all giveaways will have that effect on people but I wanted to at least try and make other people feel the way I felt.
I’ve been having giveaways on my site ever since I found out about rafflecopter but winning that gift card changed my perspective. It stopped being something to do just to gain followers but something that could bring joy to someone’s life. To really make an impact you need a BIG prize and reach a lot of people, so I started hosting group giveaways. I figured that if a bunch of enthusiastic bloggers joined forces we could give away a significant prize and reach more people.
Once I started hosting these giveaways, they quickly become very popular amongst other bloggers as well as our readers. Hosting group giveaways was something that I figured out along the way by trial and error. I haven’t found a place that has a lot of great information about how to host a group giveaway. I’m not one to give advice about blogging but I’ve been getting a lot of questions from my fellow bloggers. I’ve gotten so many questions that I thought it best to put everything I’ve learned about hosting group giveaways in one space.
There are a lot of different ways to run a giveaway but as a food blogger, I’m coming from my perspective on what works best for this specific niche. This post is specifically designed for food bloggers that want to fund the prize themselves and use rafflecopter. However, there is a lot of great information about hosting that can be transferred to other niches and platforms.
Why should I host or participate in a group giveaway? Giveaways are great tools to increase your blogs exposure and grow your audience. Additionally, it allows you to offer a larger prize, which is a big draw to potential entrants.
What are the benefits of hosting a group giveaway? It’s a great way to meet and get to know other bloggers in your niche. I’ve created a lot of great relationships running giveaways, some I would even consider friends. Being a blogger can be isolating as it’s completely online. It’s nice to have a reason to reach out to others that’s beneficial to your business.
Additionally, you’re in control. I’ve been apart of giveaways that I felt weren’t well thought out, professional or organized. Hosting your own giveaway gives you an opportunity to run a group giveaway in an honest and efficient way so that it’s successful.
What are my responsibilities as the host? There are a lot of responsibilities as the host. Some are big, some are small but they all matter. They all help build trust with the participating bloggers and create a community environment that leads to a successful giveaway.
- You’re required to cover all the rafflecopter costs. I don’t ask for any additional assistance as I feel like if you volunteer to run your own giveaway then you should take responsibility for those fees. That being said, sometimes people offer additional funds and sometimes they will send a few extra bucks to help out. I always appreciate those few extra dollars as it does helps take the sting out of the costs that the host absorbs. However, I don’t mind paying for the giveaway, as it helps separate you as the leader. As the host you’re responsible for all the bloggers involved not to mention it’s your rafflecopter account. You need to be able to make decisions that are best for the entire group, not just one blogger. If another blogger paid for the rafflecopter fees then they may feel entitled to make decisions that you’re not comfortable with or are self serving. I run fair and honest giveaways. I’m always communicative and transparent with the entrants and the participating bloggers so I’ve never been in this situation. However, it’s something to consider.
- You have to find the bloggers that are going to participate. Make sure you have good communication with the participating bloggers and they post regularly. You need to be able to depend on them to promote the giveaway to their readers. If they disappear after the giveaway launches or you can’t get ahold of them then they get all the benefits of everyone else’s hard work, which isn’t fair.
- You need to set up the rafflecopter widget and provide the code to your bloggers. This is easy but when you have a lot of bloggers, it can be time consuming. Give yourself plenty of time, especially if this is your first giveaway.
- Decide how the giveaway is going to operate and communicate those guidelines to the bloggers. This is very important that you lay out the expectations in advance. It helps eliminate any confusion once the giveaway launches.
- Pick the winner via rafflecopter, notify the winner and then send the prize. You also need to send the gift certificate receipt to the bloggers so that they know it was sent.
- If you aren’t doing a prize that is emailed or done completely online then you need to cover any expenses as far as mailing the prize. This would also include tracking of some kind. If the prize gets lost in the mail, you’re still responsible to deliver the prize.
- It’s your job to keep the other bloggers excited about the giveaway. You should occasionally send reminders that the giveaway is still going on and gently remind them to continue promoting. It’s a good idea to share or reshare social media posts to show your support. It’s a nice way of letting them know that you appreciate their efforts and encourage them to do the same.
- It’s important to answer everyone’s questions in a timely manner. The bloggers in the giveaway will most likely have varying degrees of experience in blogging and giveaways. You need to respond quickly because you can’t hold onto other people’s money and then disappear for any length of time.
- Everyone runs giveaways differently so you need to answer everyone’s questions no matter how simple they may seem. If you find yourself getting a lot of these questions that just means that you need to do a better job of communicating to the entire group.
- You need to be available during the time leading up to the giveaway and while it is running. If you need to step away from your computer for a certain amount of time, make sure to let everyone know that your responses may be delayed. Although try not to let something like that happen the two days before and after the giveaway begins as well as the day before and after the giveaway ends. The most questions pop up during the beginning and end of the giveaway.
How do I keep track of everyone’s information? Creating an excel document of the information needed helps keep everyone’s information handy and organized. I request and keep track of the following information.
- First Name
- Last Name
- Mailing List Provider
- Subscriber List
- Link to post
It’s a lot of information to keep track of when you multiple this times dozens of bloggers. Keeping everything in one place is essential to being an effective host and running an efficient giveaway.
Do not store mailchimp (or other mailing list providers) passwords. For security purposes, I only hold onto them for the duration of the giveaway. Once the giveaway ends, I delete that information and encourage the blogger to change their password.
What should I giveaway? I’ve run giveaways that were just products but gift certificates were always more successful. Gift certificates in amounts greater than $200 draw the most attention.
Purchase a gift certificate from a company that will appeal to your readers and has a presence in the countries in which your giveaway is running. I’ve done Williams-Sonoma and Amazon in the past. Williams-Sonoma is a wonderful company with great products but more of my readers shop at Amazon. You can send an ecard at no additional cost and Amazon is widely available, even outside the US.
Whatever company you decide to use, make sure to do your research in advance. You can’t make a promise of a certain gift card and then realize that you can’t deliver.
Where do I get the prize money? Each participating blogger will need to contribute the same amount. That amount is completely at your discretion. However, you want to make it somewhat affordable. I try and keep the entire giveaway under $30 per blogger. I also like having a round number so I may look for another blogger or up the amount $5 to get a round number like $700 or $850 instead of $630.
How do I accept funds? Paypal is the most convenient way of accepting funds from all the bloggers. All you need to do is give the bloggers the email associated with your paypal account and the amount. Paypal also offers a direct link to your account that you can send to request exact amounts. It’s called PayPal.Me. You can send just the link and let them plug in the amount themselves or you can send a link requesting an exact amount. Here’s a screenshot of what the bloggers would see when they click the link.
Either way they can visit the site and send the money in just a few clicks. A few things to keep in mind is that money needs to be sent in US dollars to get the proper amount otherwise you’ll be subject to exchange rates. Paypal does charge fees if you don’t make payment from your paypal funds. It’s a minimal fee but it adds up if it happens to a significant number of bloggers within a giveaway. As a host, you shouldn’t have to pay (even if it’s only a few dollars) to include other bloggers. Although I don’t reject the monies unless it’s more than a few bucks. When you let people know in advance, it becomes less of an issue. Additionally, it’s not worth the hassle. To understand more about paypal charges, go to paypal.com.
Be cautious about accepting checks via paypal. It takes longer to transfer funds therefore it could delay the giveaway. I’ve done it in the past but only a handful of times and with bloggers that I’ve worked with multiple times in the past. Again, if you have questions about paypal you should check out their site.
How Long Should the Giveaway last? If you have a group of bloggers with varying levels of engagement and followers then it’s best to have the giveaway run at least seven days and at most fourteen. You’ll see the most activity in the first three days but I usually do fourteen days. Everyone has different schedules and levels of commitment to their blogs. Fourteen days usually gives all the bloggers have time to promote the giveaway on their blogs and social media.
How should the giveaway post look? I highly recommend sharing the giveaway in a post that you know will garner significant exposure or a post that is easy to promote and share by yourself and others. Since this is a group giveaway, you want something that your fellow bloggers can share. Part of being in a group is about supporting your fellow giveaway bloggers. If all the posts from the bloggers are just about the giveaway, then the visuals and message becomes redundant and difficult to share on social media multiple times a day. If your twitter feed becomes nothing but giveaway promotions from yourself and fellow bloggers, it can turn off your readers. People follow food bloggers because they expect you to share food. A recipe post is more likely to be shared or go viral than a graphic about the giveaway. Each social share should have only one message: the giveaway (with giveaway graphic), the recipe (with food photo), and info about the post (recipe and giveaway with food photo). Here are examples.
What kind of images should I share? I always share the giveaway as a part of an already scheduled recipe post. I share images for the recipe and then create additional graphics to promote the giveaway, which goes out to all the bloggers. It’s best to create multiple images in a similar theme in at least three different sizes. The design should grab the viewer’s attention but be neutral enough to fit in any blog design. You can also create a fourth graphic that will pass Facebook’s advertising standards, just in case someone wants to pay to promote their post. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at this point, it’s ok to ask the other bloggers if they would take on this project. People may actually offer to help so this is a way to involve other bloggers in the process. Here are examples of graphics from a giveaway.
Use one of these graphics in the rafflecopter widget. The others can be embedded into the post, your sidebar, header or footer to promote the giveaway.
Will there be spam entries? Spammers are an unfortunate part of giveaways. The larger the group of bloggers, the more exposure your giveaway will garner which means legit entries as well as spam entries. I’ve run many successful group giveaways and have only had an issue once. I’m sure there have been spam entries to some extent in all of my giveaways but it’s not usually a problem that needs to be fixed. Mass amounts of spam are not something that happens with each giveaway and there is nothing you can really do to ensure that your giveaway is clean of spammers.
The main issue would be if they overwhelm your mailing list. Sending out an email to a list full of spammers could mean that your email provider could see you as a spammer yourself. The good news is that your email provider may send you a notification that your mailing list is full of spam emails. Mail Chimp is good about letting you know via email about a potential spam problem and then pausing any previously scheduled emails from sending. They also send you instructions as to how to handle ‘cleaning’ your list.
How can I be a good giveaway host?
- Transparency. Be up front and honest with your readers and the bloggers in your giveaway. These bloggers are entrusting you with their money, you need to be honest with them and prove yourself trustworthy. If you’re not, then you will appear shifty. They may not trust you and won’t want to come back for your next one. Even worse, you’ll loose a friend and risk them spreading their poor experience with others.
- Stay organized. The larger the group of bloggers, the more information you will need to manage. If you’re not organized, you’ll end up making a lot of mistakes.
- Communication. You need to clearly communicate expectations and be available to answer any and all questions. As the host, it’s your job to set the tone for the giveaway. Setting expectations is apart of that and helps the giveaway run smoothly. As far as questions, be prepared to answer a lot of questions. The bloggers participating will most likely be of varying levels of experience in giveaways and blogging in general. Questions can range from very basic to complicated. I find that if I haven’t clearly communicated the parameters of the giveaway then I get a lot of the same questions. At that point, I will make sure to share the answer with everyone. If you’re going to be away from your computer for more than a day, especially at the beginning of the giveaway then you should let everyone know. You don’t want to go MIA when everyone is relying on you to answer questions and make sure things go smoothly.
- Enthusiasm. If you signed up to host a giveaway be happy about it. Be excited that so many people want to be included.
- Be professional. Working with your blogger friends is great and can be a lot of fun. However, don’t forget to maintain your professionalism. It’s important to treat this as any other business transaction. You can’t forget that you are responsible for other people’s money. It will help build trust and build a good reputation as a blogger.
- Don’t panic. If something goes wrong, everyone is going to turn to you for a solution. If you panic, then so will everyone else. Take a moment to consider the situation and the best course of action before responding. Remember, you’re the host and you set the tone. If you are calm and collected when dealing with a sticky situation then it keeps it from turning into a nightmare.
- Respect everyone’s privacy. If you have an issue with a specific blogger, then you should contact them directly. You never know what someone else is going through and you don’t want to embarrass the other person by putting them on the spot in front of everyone else. Additionally, delete any passwords after the giveaway ends. You don’t want to risk exposing someone else’s personal or business information
- Stick to your guns. You’re going to get a lot of questions and opinions from the other bloggers, especially in the first few days of the giveaway. Sometimes the opinions can be helpful. They can help shift how you run the giveaway to make it more successful. Other times, if can feel like bullying. As the host, once you make an educated decision, you need to stick to it. You need to gently tell the other blogger that if don’t agree then they don’t need to participate. No hard feelings, but everyone needs to feel comfortable. As the host, you need to run the giveaway based on your knowledge, experience and best interest of all the bloggers involved. If someone doesn’t agree, that’s fine. Not everyone will agree you but you need to feel confident in your decisions. You’ll sleep better at night knowing that you’re decisions are your own.
Where do I find other bloggers? The Food Blogger Pro Community forum has been a great resource for gathering like-minded bloggers. Bloggers in this community are all driven and have the same education from the FBP videos. Although Twitter is a great way to strike up a conversation and ‘meet’ other bloggers.
After you host a few successful giveaways then you can start your own contact list of potential bloggers. Once you have a few bloggers that are willing to join the giveaway, you can ask if they know anyone that may be interested.
How should the giveaway be promoted?
- Regular shares on social media. I usually recommend sharing 1x a day on twitter and facebook, 5x days on pinterest, 3-4x on instagram over the course of the giveaway (sometimes just a mention under a recipe is enough). It’s important to use #giveaway on instagram and twitter as it gets a lot of attention. That hashtag can be used on other social media platforms but if you’re using good keywords you should be fine.
- Share your own post as well as the post of other bloggers. If you keep sharing the same giveaway post over and over again, you’re social media will look obnoxious. It’s great to share the posts from other bloggers. You’re sharing relevant content while also promoting the giveaway. It keeps your feeds interesting.
- Share the post in social media in a variety of ways. You don’t need to mention the word giveaway in every post. You can just mention the recipe that’s included in the post so you don’t overwhelm your readers. Constant giveaway posts looks a little spammy.
Why rafflecopter? I recommend using rafflecopter to manage the entries of the giveaway. There are other companies that have this same function but this one of cost effective, easy to use and the standard for bloggers.
What subscription should I purchase from Rafflecopter? Rafflecopter offers multiple monthly subscriptions. I’d recommend the Basic subscription plus adding on the email integration versus going straight to the Premium subscription. This combination is half the price of the Premium subscription and is a great starting point for a giveaway. However, if you’ve got the funds then the Premium option does offer viral sharing and analytics, which could be helpful in making your giveaway even more successful. It also includes the ability to remove the rafflecopter branding on the widget, which is nice if you’re very particular about your own branding.
Rafflecopter only offers monthly subscriptions. That means you need to remember to cancel the subscription at the end of the month or will be automatically billed every month until you remember to unsubscribe.
How do people enter the Giveaway? Rafflecopter provides a lot of options as far as how people can enter. The most beneficial ways to enter are following:
- Mailing List Sign ups
- Following on Twitter
- Leave a blog comment
- Tweet a message
- Follow on Pinterest
These are the most important because they are the most important to your blog. Mailing list sign up is an upgrade that is necessary and worth the additional cost. Mailing lists are crucial to staying in regular contact with your readers and letting them know about important events or products.
Twitter has great engagement and after pinterest, is most likely to lead people to your site. Additionally, tweeting a message is great because it allows entrants to promote the giveaway for you.
If you’re interested in additional signups, then I’d also include the following:
- Visit a facebook page
- Follow on Instagram via Invent Your Own
Rafflecopter doesn’t offer a ‘follow a facebook page,’ only a ‘visit a facebook page’ sign up. You really have no way of knowing if entrants actually visited your site because it’s not trackable. You just have to trust it’s been done. Sometimes those visits turn into a follow but unless it’s required to enter, it’s not guaranteed. When you are expecting thousand of entrants or more then it’s worth it because a lot of times people will like what they see and follow your page. I like to include it because not all people use all social media platforms. If your entrant prefers facebook then they may be more inclined to follow or even enter your giveaway if they see that facebook is an option.
Instgram doesn’t offer a lot of options for clicking over to your site, which is why it’s on the optional list of ways to enter list. Instagram is great for a food blogger since you’re most likely focused on high quality (mouth-watering) imagery. I always have a lot of entrants via instagram. However, rafflecopter doesn’t offer an easy option for instagram. It requires a little more work which is another negative. You need to enter a specific code so that your entrants can easily link from the giveaway to your instagram page. Here’s an example of the code with a screenshot below.
Click on the following link and follow account: [foodfashionandfun](https://instagram.com/foodfashionandfun/)
How does the mailing list integration work? You need to enter in the name of the mailing list provider and then follow the instructions for each provider. In regards to mail chimp, you need to enter the username and password then pick the subscriber list.
Rafflecopter works with multiple mailing list providers. Each has different requirements but I’ve had the most experience with MailChimp and can only speak to their rafflecopter integration. However, I’ve discovered that Aweber has a very similar integration.
You will need to receive all the bloggers Mail Chimp username, password and the name of the preferred subscriber list. Unfortunately, there is no way around this, as you need to be able to access each account’s subscriber list. Even if the blogger (account owner/admin) creates a new user, it would have to be a manager according the Mail Chimp user access levels. A manager user still has significant access to the mail chimp account and mailing lists.
As a host, you need to protect each blogger’s password. They trust you with very personal information. It’s important that you do not access the mailing list outside of rafflecopter and then you make sure to delete the passwords after the giveaway ends. You should also recommend that each blogger change their password after the giveaway ends.
If you don’t feel comfortable having this level of access to other people’s accounts, then do not include mailing list sign ups in your giveaway. If a blogger doesn’t feel comfortable, don’t be offended. They are just protecting the privacy of their subscribers.
The mailing list sign ups are considered imports so when someone enters, you won’t receive any notification from Mail Chimp.
For a list of mailing list providers and how they integrate with Rafflecopter, go to their website.
How do I include terms and conditions? Rafflecopter automatically generates a basic template for terms and conditions. You should fill in all the blank spaces that rafflecopter offers otherwise the terms and conditions won’t make sense.
The main points that should be filled in are that you are independent bloggers and have no affiliation with the company from which you purchase the prize. Also, you need to let everyone know which countries are eligible. For example, I generally work with bloggers that are English speakers and get the majority of their readers from the US and other English speaking countries like Canada and the UK. However, you should know that other countries have different rules regarding giveaways that the US. If you decide to take on the additional risk, you need to understand that it’s your responsibility if something goes wrong. If you don’t want to take on any additional risk, keep the giveaway to the US only.
Read the terms and conditions after you’ve filled in the template. As the host, you’re responsible for the mechanics of running the giveaway. You need to understand what you and the entrants are agreeing too. If you don’t share the terms and conditions with your fellow bloggers, then you should be well versed on what’s included. You need to be able to let them know the main points so that everyone is on the same page.
Just fyi, the terms and conditions are public once the giveaway goes live so they can actually access it on their own. However, most people don’t.
Where should you post the rafflecopter widget? A group giveaway is meant to promote your blog, give back to your readers and gather new ones. It’s best to paste the rafflecopter code directly into a post on your blog. Giveaways with a large group garner a lot of attention and it’s best to have that attention directed towards your site.
Why shouldn’t I host the giveaway directly on my Facebook page? If you only host the giveaway on your facebook page, then it really limits who will see the giveaway. Facebook search is such that it’s really hard to get your posts in front of your followers let alone new followers without paying. There’s no point in paying for exposure to attract people to a facebook post. You’re literally paying facebook so facebook can get more pageviews. That defeats the purpose.
Why shouldn’t I host the giveaway exclusively in my email newsletter to my mailing list? It’s great to send an email to your mailing list and let them know directly that the giveaway is happening. However, I wouldn’t host the giveaway in the email.
Emails get deleted so if your reader doesn’t enter the giveaway immediately, it may get forgotten. That means you would need to send the same email multiple times to get your readers attention. Additionally, not all the people on your mailing list are going to be interested in entering in the giveaway. That limits the number of people you are drawing into the giveaway as well.
Additionally, it’s really hard to gather new readers if you’re in a closed system. Your mailing list is limited but social media has an unlimited number of readers.
Hosting the giveaway in a mailing list makes the giveaway seem exclusive to those readers. However, it’s not. It’s available to everyone through the other bloggers websites. Also the prize is mostly from other people’s money, it doesn’t make sense for the rest of the group to fund your ‘exclusive’ giveaway. It’s not fair that the rest of the bloggers are hustling to get more exposure by promoting their posts but you can’t by default. A group giveaway is a great way to bond and support your fellow bloggers. A mailing list hosted giveaway very anti-social. You’re just not contributing to the group in the same way.
Why shouldn’t I host the giveaway using a link that directs people directly to the rafflecopter website? It’s important to direct people to your giveaway post to enter because the post will include additional information about the giveaway. 99% of the time, entrants won’t read the terms and conditions but they might read your post that contains some important information about the giveaway. If you host directly on rafflecopter, everyone is completely bypassing your site and confusion may ensue.
Additionally, a group giveaway is supposed to attract new readers. If they don’t see your site then they are just entering the giveaway. You’re not even giving them a chance to see what your site is about and will most likely loose them as a follower after the giveaway ends. It’s important to give them that choice in advance. If they see your site and it’s not the right fit for them, let them go! That’s ok. It’s nice to see your email signups or social media followers rise but not if they don’t care about your site or content. You don’t want people following you that aren’t engaged. They will most like stop following you after the giveaway ends and you’ll see a mass exodus of social media followers and email subscribers.
You really want to keep readers on your site so they can enter the giveaway and then get lost in all your wonderful content. Don’t direct people to your site to enter the giveaway and the immediately direct the away from your site to the rafflecopter site either. The only caveat to this rule would be to include the links of your fellow bloggers in the giveaway post. Group giveaways are about supporting your fellow bloggers. These giveaways are the most successful when we work together as a community and build each other up. Sharing the names and link backs of the other bloggers is a great way to do this although not something I require.
How do I choose a winner? Rafflecopter will automatically generate a winner with just one click. It will give the winners name, email address and how they won. Double check to make sure that the winner did what they said they did to enter.
For example, if they win by following you or another blogger check and make sure they are still following. If not, then they would be disqualified and you will need to pick another winner. The next step would be to email the potential winner to ask for their mailing address (to confirm they live within the eligible countries) and make sure the email address isn’t spam. Here’s an example of an email that was sent to a potential winner.
If they don’t respond within the time given in the email then you will need to pick a new winner and start the process again. Once you can confirm the email address and everything else checks out with the potential winner then you can send the gift card and announce the winner.
Notify the other bloggers in the giveaway that the winner has been chosen and check the box to announce the winner in the widget. Some bloggers will announce the winners but it’s not required, as the widget will automatically do it for them. Sometimes winner’s will be excited and grateful and post a thank you on social media. It’s great to encourage this as it shows the other entrants that the prize is real. It may encourage them to enter the next one.
Do not announce a winner until you have made contact with them. You need to make sure that the potential winner is legitimate and fits all the requirements in the terms and conditions. Additionally, this helps weed out anyone that may be trying to scam you.
Recently I had someone send an email to one of the participating bloggers in a group giveaway. They were posing as the winner and asking to send the gift card to a specific location. They went to a lot of effort to try and pretend to be the winner. They even created an email account with the winner’s name. It didn’t take long to figure out that this person was not the winner and was just trying to con us into stealing the gift card.
I’ve done almost a dozen giveaways and this has only happened once. However, it’s important that you take steps to protect yourself, the other bloggers and the actual winner of the giveaway. If I hadn’t communicated with the actual winner and announced the winner sooner, then I could have sent the gift card to the wrong person.
I learn something new during every giveaway I host. If I have any other new advice, I’ll be sure to update this post. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your questions and comments below.