Thursday, December 23, 2010

Successful Blogging 101 - Tips For Entering Giveaways

I see these posts all over blogs, but there are still a great number of people who don't follow the rules properly. Lets all work together to make the blogging world as user-friendly as possible! Whether you are a blogger or a giveaway junkie, you might want to read this.

I have been entering contests for a couple of years now. I never had any luck with big company contests. The ones where they have 1 prize and thousands of entrants. Earlier this year, I discovered blog giveaways and after I won my first couple of prizes, I was hooked! It's great odds and great prizes. I have been pretty lucky with my prizes and I believe that it's because I set up an "entering system" for myself to make sure I follow all giveaway rules.

Here is what I learned from entering contests as well as hosting them.

Mandatory Entry
Always complete the mandatory entry first. Usually it will ask you to visit sponsor's website and comment with another item you would like to try. Unless the rules state that you will get what you select, you can put down any item off the website. Do not mention what has been already mentioned in the review. (Tip - I used to spend a lot of time selecting other items I like, now I quickly put down a random item and if I like the company, I bookmark them to check out later.)

Leave your e-mail address with every comment! To avoid spam you can use this format (only on Blogger blogs where comments are visible) - yourname at hotmail dot com.

Many blogs will tell you to get a separate e-mail account for entering giveaways. I use one account for all e-mails and another for communicating with sponsors. I actually liked it better when I had just one. I'm also in favor of Hotmail over Gmail or Yahoo, because you can view e-mails without having to go to another page.

I only subscribe to blogs if I enter a lot of giveaways there. If it's just one time, but I like the blog, I bookmark it first. If I subscribe and the realize that 98% of giveaways are open to US only, I cancel subscription. I try to keep my mailbox tidy and I don't want a million of e-mails. I'd rather have 20 subscriptions and actually look through e-mails.

Social Media
For Facebook bonus entries - leave your facebook first name and initial so the blogger can confirm your entry. Same goes for Twitter, leave your @name. When you tweet, leave the direct link to your tweet (you can do this by right clicking on the time stamp right under your tweet and selecting "copy link location".

Please note, it's against Facebook's rules to use Facebook as an extra entry into a giveaway. It's okay to "like" someone for any extra entry, but not ok to post on sponsor's wall for an extra entry. I would avoid such bonus entries as Facebook can cancel your account at any time. You can read more about it here.

Bonus Entries
When you say you do something like subscribe via e-mail, make sure you do and your subscription is confirmed. Same goes for everything else. If you are not sure if you have already "liked" the sponsor on Facebook, it only takes a second to check.

Always read the rules. You don't have to read every word, but look through to make sure you qualify. If like me you are in Canada (or other country), make sure the rules say that giveaway is open to Canada. If it doesn't say anything - don't enter. You will most likely waste your time, because the sponsor won't ship to Canada.

Quick Tips
Have your information ready so you can copy and paste your bonus entries. I have my information in a notepad. It's basically a list like this -

subscribe via email
myname at hotmail dot com

like you on facebook as Jen M.
myname at hotmail dot com

- this way I never forget to put down my e-mail, facebook name, etc. and it definitely cuts down on  entering time.

For my daily tweets, I have a 'draft' in my e-mail account where I write down all tweets by their expiry dates. If the original tweet message doesn't have an expiry, I add one in. It takes a second, but will make your life easier.

Prioritize your entering time - I only do daily tweets if I really want the prize. I tried doing daily tweets for everything I entered and that ate away 2 hours each day. You might think that it's impossible to win without lots of extra entries - I win a lot of great prizes by just entering once. It's all about luck. If the prize is meant to be yours - you will win it!  

If you really want to win a specific prize, you can do a search on Twitter or go to company's Facebook page. You will find more of the same giveaway and if you enter them, all you chances of winning that prize will really increase.

If a prize is a Gift Certificate - check company's shipping rates before entering. The giveaway might be open to Canada or Worldwide, but shipping might cost you $20. It's not really worth it to enter for a $25 Gift Certificate prize.
Can never say this enough - please leave always your e-mail address when entering giveaways. I sometimes go through all comments on my giveaways and guess what? Out of say 60 entrants 10 won't have their contact info which automatically disqualifies them. Another 10 say they do something like follow via GFC or subscribe via email, and their email is not on my subscriber's list. It's a shame, because a lot of the times it's people who do the bonus tweets every day.

More to come


Nicole weaver said...


I am your newest follower. I also liked your FB page. Please follow back and like my FB fan page. Thanks so much!

Nicole Weaver
children's Author

Felicia said...

Hello! I am following you from ABE! I am so excited! I can't wait to see what you are doing for the give away! Thanks for following me earlier!

tv watcher said...

thanks for all the tips - I, too, use notepad to copy and paste from - but one problem I run into is when I have a long list to copy and paste (for ex., 5 entries for grabbing a button, 10 entries for blogging about the giveaway) - I get 2 or 3 entries pasted, then come up against a wall "you're posting too fast" or "too many accesses from this ip address" etc., and I still have 10 - 15 more entries to paste - I don't know if this is in the control of the blog owner, but it almost makes me want to forget it and move on. But I usually persevere, but it turns something that should take only 2 minutes, into 10 minutes, or even longer!

just wanted to bring that up - it's a personal pet peeve of mine. LOL

Born 2 Be Mom said...

Great tips! I especially like the part about having a word pad doc with entries ready to go, and the daily tweet file in your email. I enter blog giveaways a lot (and I've won a fair bit, too!) but hadn't thought of that. Thanks! :)

Born 2 Be Mom

Jen M said...

@tv watcher, I hate that too! But not as much as captcha, that's my ultimate pet peeve, I absolutely can't stand those things.
15 second wait is a default setting on Word Press blogging platform. Most bloggers don't bother (or don't know how) turning it off.
Here's a tip for you. While you are waiting for the 15 secs to go by, have another tab open with a Blogger blog and start entering a giveaway there!

@Born 2 Be Mom, I have a notepad file, because it's the most light-weight computer program and won't slow down your computer. I used to store my daily tweets in a word doc, but found that slow as well. That's why I decided to put it in an e-mail and that worked like a charm for me :)

I will have more posted later on. So much to share! :)

Belinda said...

Hey! I follow you, and I love reading your articles and entering your giveaways :) I mod at a site, and I was hoping itd be okay to borrow this article, i gave credit to you. It is located here:
linked to you as credit :)
Please let me know if youd like me to take it down. I am going to sticky it, so it will always stay on top of that forum section and figured you wouldnt mind as it links to your blog :)
elliott_gyal at hotmail dot com email me if there is any problem ! Thanks for the great post!

Jen M said...

@Belinda, thanks! I definitely don't mind this at all :) Keep an eye for more posts and if you like them you can add them to the forum post.
I love Smart Canucks!

Belinda said...

Thats excellent, thank you so much :)
And are you a member there? Id add you to my friends list lol.
Anyways happy holidays and have a great new year!

Fiona said...

Thanks for the great tips. Can't believe I didn't think of doing the notebook thing - that will really help.

I always thought it would be enough to post your email address in the first mandatory comment, since the blogger has to look for it anyway to verify your entry. True or false?

Jen M said...

@Fiona, I actually didn't think of this! I think you might be right, it should be enough to leave your e-mail with mandatory entry.
I'm so used to leaving mine with every comment, because most giveaway rules do ask to leave e-mail with every comment. I don't think it would hurt to do it, and by using a notepad with pre-written entries, it doesn't take any extra time.
I never leave e-mail on Word Press entries, because it asks you for one. I see a lot of people leaving their address anyways.

P.S. Just before I posted this, another thought came to me. I think it is best to always leave your e-mail address. There could be other users with the same name as you and it could be confusing to the blogger if there are multiple comments and no-emails. I've come across this as well.

Fiona said...

Thanks Jen! While I'm asking questions, can I ask you this: how can bloggers verify that you subscribe to their rss feed?

I subscribe to blogs via Google Reader, but the email address I use for contests and giveaways is different from my Google one. I don't have the google email public in my google profile because I like to keep my google email address for personal contacts. would this be a problem in verifying my entry?

For example, can you verify that I subscribe to My Secret Home (I do) based just on this comment?


Jen M said...

@Fiona, I'm pretty new to blogging and am still learning how to verify entries.
Guess what? From what I have learned so far - rss is one entry which is the hardest to verify. Advanced bloggers can insert some type of a code into the subscription link and will know if you clicked or not. I actually don't know how to do this yet. Thus, I wouldn't worry about having a different e-mail address, I have different ones as well.
But please do actually subscribe via rss.
The better the numbers, the better giveaways bloggers will bring you. I'm learning this at the moment too, that sponsors really care about blog's followers.

P.S. You can make any e-mail public in your google profile. It doesn't have to be a google one. I use a hotmail one on my profile.

Fiona said...

Thanks, I was worrying I might be missing out if bloggers couldn't verify my subscriptions.

Ryan, Corrie, Max, and Jack said...

Hi! These are great tips!!! I love the entries idea!

Way back when I had lots of time on my hands, I used to enter tons and tons of giveaways on many many different blogs. It got so i couldn't remember who I followed, who I subscribed to, etc. So I set up a Google spreadsheet listing the blogs (alphabetically, of course!), whether I followed them on GFC, twitter, FB, etc., had their button, whether there were extra entries, current giveaways and expiration dates. I know it sounds obsessive, but it made my life so much easier, and it was sooo much fun!

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