Giveaway Tools and Making Giveaways Work For You
Today I thought we would talk about Giveaways, making them work for you, the publisher, author and great tools to make it simpler to track entries and verify them. Giveaways can be a lot of fun, generate traffic to your blog, get a book/author noticed and build your presence in the blogging community. Before running them though it is important to follow state and federal guidelines.
The first thing we need to do is understand the terms associated with giving away things on our blogs:
- Sweepstakes *Giveaways* -are prize giveaways. The winners are chosen by the luck of the draw. No purchase/consideration is required.
- Contests– choose a winner based on some merit. The winner is chosen based on some criteria.
- Lottery– is a prize drawing where people must pay money/give something of value in return (like a follow) to buy a chance to win. I do not recommend EVER doing this on your blog as there are many mandatory state and federal guidelines to follow.
Many of you host Giveaways (Sweepstakes) but aren’t always compliant with FCC regulations. You must always include a free entry in your giveaway (no purchase necessary) or you are in essence hosting a Lottery. While no money changes had, you are requiring likes and follows. For a blogger they are worth their weight in Gold. Now don’t panic you can still ask for all of those, but you must have a free entry.
When hosting a Sweepstake “Giveaway”
Be sure to Include Terms & Conditions:
- Who can enter (residence and age)
- No Purchase Necessary
- Dates of Giveaway Start and End dates
- Value of Prize & Its description
- The Sponsor
- How and when winners are selected. You must include a date by that winner will be selected and how long they have to claim prize
- What you will do with winner’s address. (mail package, won’t be sold, not kept on file)
- Liability. (not responsible for lost or stolen packages)
- State/Country where Blog is hosted
- Void where prohibited by law
- If your prize is valued at more than 600.00 US dollars who is responsible for taxes.
Remember if the prize is provided by anyone other than yourself it is a sponsored giveaway and FCC Disclosure rules apply when sharing. Be sure to disclose that in your post and any entry requirements like Tweet this giveaway.
Example tweet: Caffeinated Blogoversary Giveaway #sponsored #win prizes
There are numerous guidelines provided by the FCC and some are vague, so I encourage you to read through them, understand the laws of your state/country and proceed from there. Here are some helpful links:
- Social Media Promotions and the Law: What You Need to Know
- Blogger Confession: FTC *New* Rules and Review Books UPDATED 5-12-13
Tools for Hosting and Regulating Giveaways
There are several tool available for free on the internet: Random.org, Rafflecopter and Giveaway Tools
Random.org -I used this when I first began, but no longer recommend it. For regulation purposes the other tools I mention better protect you the blogger. You need to manually assign #’s to entries and then fill out tool. You will need to manual post the terms and conditions.
Rafflecopter is a great tool and has a free version. Unless you are a tour host there is really no reason to add the premium version. This is by far the most popular tool on the market and it allows you to inspect individual entries, search IP addresses, and manually verify entries. Terms and Conditions link right in giveaway.
Giveaway Tools offers both free and premium services and is my preferred method for giveaways. I utilize the free version and love that it verifies emails, follows, likes and IP addresses for me. It takes longer to set up, but allows for greater control of the giveaway from start times to questions. For example I can do follow and likes for more social media. I also like that it keeps the participant on my blog. When they tweet, it is just the click of a button and no hunting down the tweet and copying the URL is needed. It also does a two step verification. Terms and Conditions are linked right in giveaway tool. When someone follows or likes it verifies and then at the end it verifies that hasn’t changed. I also notice that blogs using Rafflecopter bounce as the pages loads and I don’t experience that with Giveaway Tools. Once you have set up a few giveaways it saves things like terms, and entries so you can use established format and tweak it. Since I have a lot of entries, I feel this most meets my needs, but ultimately it is up to you to decide your preferred tool.
Tips for a Successful Giveaway
- Limit the entries to just a few. Unless I am doing a huge giveaway, I like to limit entries to 4 or 5. Don’t forget that free entry.
- Verify each link for follow, like and share are working correctly.
- Have more than one follow option (if you only request follows for email you will limit entries)
- Avoid mandatory follows
- Include a share this giveaway another way (get the word out and let those entering help spread the love)
- Utilize the tweet this entry..use #win or #giveaway and highlight key points such as prize or event. (allow for daily tweets)
- We cannot always do International giveaways, but try to mix in few to reward and recognize those followers.
Prizes for giveaways can be costly and revenue from ads and links don’t always cover them. Here are some prize ideas
- Love a book you are reviewing? Reach out to publisher/author about hosting a giveaway for it.
- Did you receive books for review consideration and time doesn’t allow for a review? Spotlight them and host a giveaway
- Get crafty. Make swag like book covers and book marks.
- Clean out your bookshelf.
- Buy kindle deals for gifting. Save them and use as prizes when they are no longer a deal. Gift them to your email address, set up a folder in your email and then when you host giveaway forward the gift email to winner.
Giveaways are a fun way to spread the love, gain new followers, promote your site, authors, and novels. I hope these guidelines and tips help you run a successful giveaway. Remember I am not a legal expert and I recommend you read the laws in your state./country.
Thank you so much for this post. It’s just what I need. I have been shying away from giveaways/lotteries/contests because I haven’t really thoroughly researched how to do them. Had NO clue about the free entry requirement, and I’m a lawyer…lol. Going to bookmark this and print it out!
A Voracious Reader
Great post! Giveaways just seem like too much work for me at this time. I may do them in the future though and I like knowing I can swing back by to read this post again. Thanks! 🙂
Thanks for the kindle gift info. That is great information. Thanks for sharing.
What a great post Kimba 🙂 Thank you for sharing your wisdom and tips with us!!
I just tried a new Giveaway tool called PunchTub. I like some of the features, like being able to put the giveaway itself on the widget area and seeing the the picture of all the entries, but unfortunately I’m getting complains that is taking too long to load 🙁 so I don’t think I’ll be using it again. 🙁
Great post Kimba!
Oy, I do NOT miss hosting giveaways! This is a great post though — I come across so many giveaways that aren’t following the rules.
You have a lot of excellent points here. I think a lot of us (myself included) get lazy and sometimes don’t add things we should. Or we forget (also guilty). I have had issues with the terms and conditions on rafflecopter disappearing on me, so maybe I should try the Giveaway Tools and see what I think. I like that you don’t have to leave the page for it too.
I just bookmarked this post to refer back to in the future-I haven’t done giveaways on my blog yet but I’ve been thinking about doing one soon 🙂
Great post, Kim.
These are all great. I always forget about the sponsored giveaway thing. Although I haven’t done one in awhile…
Holy cow! What a helpful post! Definitely need to bookmark this post, as I didn’t realize I was doing some things incorrectly. Your clarifications were very enlightening. Thanks!!!!
Fantastic Post Kimba! Great distinguishing between the kinds of giveaways and contests and you have so much great information on FCC rules. Every blogger needs to read this post.
Lawyer Approved :p
Love these ideas. We just have a big giveaway ending today. I might have to adjust the terms for couple things like “no purchase necessary” and not responsible for lost packages. You’re awesome for sharing this!
Great post. Very informative. Thanks so much.
Thanks for all the tips! I feel like the rules are constantly changing, and I do my best but I’m sure I miss things I should be including. I don’t really host a lot of giveaways these days, but it’s nice to know where to go to learn more!
Braine Talk Supe
Mandatory follows – my stance on this is I’m putting the work from the post itself to promoting (which takes a lot of time) down to the postage so I think it’s only fair that I ask them to follow me. Plus the way I see it, winning the prize is an incentive for following the blog and suffering through my opinions. LOL
Great discussion 😉
Great post, Kimba! I always include a free entry, because I know how annoyed I get when someone doesn’t — but I didn’t realize that not including a free entry turns it into a lottery and could get you into legal trouble. As for the tools, I’ve been using Rafflecopter, but I will check out Giveaway Tools; I like the pros you list for it.
Also, it probably doesn’t need to be said, but some folks might not realize: When purchasing Kindle Deals to give away, make sure to buy them as a gift and have the email sent to you, so you can forward it to the winner, who can then download it. I set up a folder in my inbox for giveaways, where I keep those emails until I need them.
Great post Kimberly, I had no idea about the Kindle gifting…good to know. Thanks for sharing!
Super informative and helpful to probably most or all of us. Thanks so much for sharing this. I’m klutzy at figuring out how to do giveaways so I don’t do them often, but I’d like to. I’ll try Giveaway Tools next time.
Great tips!! I also didn’t know about the Kindle deals so that is a great idea!!
I L-O-V-E this blog! Thanks for all the information!!
Completely awesome and invaluable information here!!! I used Giveaway Tools for the first time last week and I really like it! My favorite part is that they allow you to adjust the time on the giveaway – Rafflecopter doesn’t (unless it’s premium).
I’m going to try the Kindle gifting, too 🙂 Fantastic!
thanks for your patience with my question: realized after 3 people had already asked it!!!
another question: how do you buy a kindle and then give it to someone??
You gift kindle ebook to yourself. Keep them in a folder in your email box. When ready to giveaway forward email to the winner.
thanks, I also use Giveaway Tools now, though for some things I do some basic Google Forms. I have a question with Giveaway Tools: I asked them my question, but they never answered, so maybe YOU know! I notice a discrepancy between the number of entries it says and the number of rows I see these entries. why is that?? Any idea? do you experience the same thing?
The tool eliminates multiple entries from same IP address and email, or any that haven’t authenticated their share, like, tweet.
Great tips Kim!
Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf
Love the idea of snagging kindle deals for later giveaways! And I am going to check out Giveaway Tools
Great post! I loved your idea for kindle giveaways, I am so gonna start doing that! I also wanted to mention PunchTab. I used it on a recent giveaway, it is free and simple to use.
These are such great tips Kimba, thanks for sharing! I have a question about the Kindle deals – how long do you have to send them as a gift? Will they expire?
I have not run into that issue. I do not believe they expire.
*grins* I usually use the free entry as mandatory. 😀
Though… if you buy a book on Amazon and then save it, you can give it away later? O_O
I hope you don’t mean the physical version. Apparently I can’t exactly make book swag… (can’t give out address) :p
On the bright side… maybe I should mention those Terms and Conditions next time. Whoops. *fail*
Hmm, guess I need to read up on all this. I didn’t know that you had to give a free entry. I have been doing that but mainly because I see other bloggers do it. I also never would have thought about gifting myself a good deal and then forwarding that gift on to someone..didn’t know it would work that way..cool. 🙂 Great post, I learned a lot about the laws of giveaways that I didn’t really know.
Great information! There’s so much here I’d never thought about. I do love the idea of gifting myself Kindle copies so I can use them later. Great idea!
Great post, especially on the Terms & Conditions! I always tend to forget to mention half of them.
Interesting post, Kimberly. I usually run giveaways with Rafflecopter except for a few times when I run a contest with interviews, in which case I select the winner(s) with the Random generator (always verifying the validity of the entries first, of course). I honestly didn’t think the ‘free entry’ was something to pay much attention to, since I never use mandatory tasks I thought that was it. I’ll have to give this some thoughts…
Thanks for explaining the differences between the different types, I didn’t know that. And good idea about buying Kindle Deals for gifting. I never thought about that. Out of interest though, If you buy the book, how would you then send it on as gift from your amazon library to the winner?
You email them to yourself as a gift. Create a separate folder for them. I like to buy deals like a first book for 1.99, then save it and use as a gift when it is full price. When you are ready to gift it just forward the email.
That’s so simple! I’m definitely going to experiment with this. Thanks for explaining.
Omg, so much to mention!
Difficult and complicated thing. I don’t really know how it is exactly in France. I tried to look about it but it’s mainly for big marketing giveaways. It’s stressful lol. I just hope that what I’m doing is quite ok. Thank you for the really interesting post.
I didn’t know you could purchase kindle books and gift them at a later date! Great info!
Gift them to your email, and then forward as a gift.
Great suggestions Kimba!