(Updated July, 2016)
Remember the days of getting writer’s cramp from filling out so many paper entry forms for contests? Folding them in some fancy way you believed would make them more likely to be chosen by whoever would be fishing out the winning entry? Wanting to enter a draw but not having a pen or pencil handy?
If so, you probably also remember going for a walk with your Discman and trying to take light, gentle steps so your CD wouldn’t skip, secretly feeding your Tamagotchi in math class and running home to check if your YM subscription had arrived yet.
Online giveaways are the new normal. And you can totally win them without getting a writer’s cramp… you just might get carpel tunnel syndrome in your clicking finger.
Why are there so many giveaways, all the time?
I’m a super generous person, and I love making my readers happy. But… did you ever see the Friends episode where Phoebe tries to prove to Joey that there are selfless good deeds? Inevitably her good deeds make her feel good too, so they’re not totally selfless… and when she lets a bee sting her, well, she thinks it’s selfless, but then she finds out bees die once they sting. Nineties pop culture references aside, yes, I do like to hold giveaways because I get to feel all warm and fuzzy when I make someone’s day with a prize. But I get more than a warm fuzzy for hosting giveaways: my prerogative as a blogness-woman is to get followers for my social media accounts and traffic on my blog. There’s nothing like giving away free stuff to get people to “like” you! As for sponsors, contributing a prize to a giveaway is simply excellent public relations and inexpensive advertising!
How do giveaways actually work?
Personally, I use what’s known as a giveaway “widget” to run giveaways on my blog. I used to prefer Rafflecopter, but realized as a contest-enterer myself, that it was very awkward to use on mobile. Also, it’s a pain to take the extra step of copying and pasting your tweet URL! Now I use Giveaway Tools and Gleam. I find Gleam to be the smoothest and easiest giveaway widget, and so far that has been the feedback from my fans.
When you enter a giveaway via a giveaway widget, the person designing the giveaway has attributed a number of entries to each possible action on the form. Think of each entry as your name going into the hat. If you get 10 entries for tweeting a message, that’s your name going in the hat 10 times. If you are doing daily entries on a giveaway form, you’ll see your number of entries diminish each day because it refreshes every 24 hours. For example, let’s say there are 15 possible entries, plus 5 extra entries each day for tweeting a message. Once you’ve tweeted, you’ll see you have 20 total entries. The next day, you’ll be back down to 15 again until you tweet your message. Rafflecopter reflects the number of possible entries on a given day, and not the number of total entries you have earned over the course of the giveaway.
Woobox and Fanpage Karma are sites I can use to facilitate a giveaway on Facebook. When you see a contest that says you can enter by “liking” and “commenting” on a given Facebook post, both of these sites let me choose a random liker or commenter by entering the URL of the particular giveaway posts.
Tips for Winning Online Giveaways:
How do I find the giveaways?
1 – Follow Bloggers
Make sure you “like” the Facebook pages of bloggers (like me) who hold and promote a lot of giveaways that are for items in your area of interest. (No point in winning stuff you don’t want!) Since Facebook doesn’t show you everything every page you “like” posts, it’s a good idea to regularly interact with your favourite Facebook pages by liking and commenting: this tells Facebook you are interested in that content, and it will show you more of it. A great Facebook page to follow if you’re in the market for cloth diapers is Cloth Diaper and Babywearing Giveaways.
You can also use Facebook settings to make sure you see a particular page’s posts first, or even receive notifications! (Cloth Diaper and Babywearing Giveaways, of which I am a co-administrator, only posts links to giveaways.)
You can also subscribe to bloggers’ newsletters or simply subscribe to their blog. My subscribers receive an email every time I post something new, and each newsletter contains links to all current giveaways. Other ways to follow bloggers’ posts are via websites like Feedly (my favourite) and Bloglovin’.
My fellow cloth diaper bloggers an I also manage a Facebook group where we will share our promotions. Feel free to join us!
2 – Create a Facebook Interests List
Add all the pages that regularly hold giveaways to that list, then check it regularly. Here’s how to create an Interests List.
3 – Follow the hashtags…
On Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, you can click a hashtag to see all the posts using that particular hashtag. Generic hashtags like #Sweeps, #CanWin (for giveaways open to Canada) and #ContestAlert are good ones. I like to use #BabyCarrierGiveaway, #WinAlltheDiapers and #WinAlltheGoodies.
4 – Visit Giveaway Link Ups
Many bloggers have a page dedicated to listing giveaways. Other bloggers, like me, visit these pages and list our own giveaways. My page dedicated to giveaways is here. <— bookmark it!
Here are the link ups I use every time I have a giveaway:
- Maman Loup’s Den
- Padded Tush Stats
- Living La Vida Eco
- Tales of Mommyhood
- Mom vs. The Boys Great CANADIAN Giveaway Link up
- The Deliberate Mom
- Winning Wednesday on Whispered Inspirations
- Lilac’s Linky
- Raindrops and Sunshine
- A Parent’s Perspective
- The Life of a Canadian Angel
- Hobo Mama Reviews
- Contest Girl
- Online Sweepstakes
- Win Free Stuff (Canada)
- Canadian Contests at AllCanadaContests.com
- Blog Giveaway Directory
- Contest Canada
5 – Subscribe to newsletters
For Canada-friendly contests, sign up here, with Simply Stacie. Living La Vida Eco has an awesome newsletter which sometimes includes bonus entries to giveaways on her page! Giveaway Promote also has a newsletter (subscribe at bottom left of the page.)
6 – Pin it to Win it
If you’re big into Pinterest (aka: the black hole of the Internet), you might want to follow some of these Pinterest boards where bloggers pin links to giveaways!
- Maman Loup’s Current Giveaways
- Living La Vida Eco Giveaway Board
- Shared Cloth Diaper & Cloth Pad Giveaway Board
- Family Friendly Giveaways (<– lots of bloggers on board here!)
- Parenting Patch Giveaways
How do I maximize my chances?
1 – Complete the daily entries! My readers have given some ideas on how they remember to do this. For example, creating a bookmark folder in your web browser with all the giveaways you’re following so that you can go back and complete the daily entries. You can also make a Pinterest board with the giveaways you’re excited about.
2 – Have all your social media bases covered: make sure you have a Twitter account, Instagram and Pinterest along with Facebook in order to get the most possible entries.
3 – Get your partner or a family member (someone who won’t steal the prize from you!) to complete a few entries, too! Some giveaways specify one participant per household, so check terms and conditions.
4- Watch for your two favourite words: “LOW ENTRIES!”
5- Canada Only means more chances to win! It’s just math: Canada-exclusive giveaways garner fewer entries. There’s an open Facebook group for Canadian Giveaways!
What not to do:
1 – Create a fake Facebook profile just for giveaways with a lame name like “Sweep Stalker.” First off, it’s a pain to have to check your own profile and your fake one. Secondly, many bloggers (myself included) will disqualify entries from blatantly phony accounts.
2- Have an email exclusively dedicated to your contest entries… and forget to check it. Most contests have a time limit for winners to respond, and if you forget to check your email for a couple of days, you might have missed your prize.
3- Lie about completing a widget entry. Say you completed an entry on a Rafflecopter form without actually completing it. For example, you say you left a blog comment, but your comment is nowhere to be seen. When bloggers draw a winner, most will also verify the winning entry. For example, Rafflecopter might draw your entry for “Leaving a Blog Post Comment” as the winning entry. If I go back and check to see if you did leave a comment, and you did not, I will draw another winner. Some entries are hard to verify: for example, Facebook doesn’t give me access to a list of all my page likers. In this case, I will go and check other entries a person did to make sure they completed them.
4- Complain to a blogger about not being eligible for a giveaway. If a blogger has a giveaway only open to American entrants, it’s not because she hates Canadians, and vice versa. It has to do with the sponsor’s ability and willingness to ship to Canada, and is out of the blogger’s control.
5- Immediately unlike a page once the giveaway is over. The page gave you a chance to win, now give that page a chance to win you over!
Do you have to respect giveaway etiquette? Well, no, you don’t have to… I just think it’s good karma.
1 – Don’t tag the same person that tagged you when sharing a Facebook giveaway where you get an entry for tagging a friend.
2- Thank the blogger and the sponsor if you are a lucky winner! It’s very appreciated by bloggers if you post a little thank you or tag them in a group if you’ve won something from them. When you receive your prize, it’s a really nice gesture to use your social media accounts to thank the sponsor. (For example, post a pic to Instagram of your child using the item, or write on the sponsor or blogger’s Facebook wall to let them know the prize was received.)
3- Pay it forward. If you win something you know you’ll never use, maybe you want to pass on the chance and tell the giveaway host to draw another winner. Obviously if you have a friend or family member who would love the prize, then share it with them!
4- Pay attention to the fine print. Make sure you’re eligible (particularly, check if the giveaway IS open to Canada).
5- If your prize hasn’t shown up in a reasonable amount of time, it’s okay to politely contact the giveaway host. This has happened to me both as a prize winner and a host! Sponsors should treat their winners as they would customers, but sometimes mix ups happen or your mailing info might have gotten lost in between the host and the sponsor. There’s nothing wrong with sending a polite note to the host to check in on your prize. Bloggers want their sponsors to hold up their end of the bargain, too!
6- Follow the giveaway instructions. If you’re supposed to comment on a blog post with which prize item you’d like to win most and why, don’t just comment “win.” It’s rude and many bloggers will disqualify you!
But I don’t have time for all this!
Then just do a couple entries! There’s no reason why you can’t still win… and you’re 100% more likely to win than if you don’t enter at all. If you already follow all my social media accounts, and you see I’m hosting a giveaway… you’re already totally qualified to win, so just click a couple buttons and your entries are counted! All of my giveaways have at least one completely free entry, you need only click to qualify!