Monday, December 3, 2012

10 Tips To Becoming a Rafflecopter {& Giveaway} Pro

If you ask me, Rafflecopter is the only way to host a giveaway.  I know there are other bloggers out there who may feel differently.  And that is okay.  We all have our preferences.  
But I am pro-Rafflecopter all the way. 
Here are a few reasons why I feel this way...
  •  It makes it easy for the blogger hosting the giveaway- keeps track of all the entries, does the random choosing of a winner for you, and makes it simple to verify winning entries. ;)  
  • I  don't believe in making my readers jump through hoops to win a little something on my blog.  Why would I want to make entering a giveaway a pain in the arse for my loyal followers?  Rafflecopter can make it super easy for the entrants too.
  • It is free to use.  They now have an upgrade option available that you can pay for, but I find the basic Rafflecopter is great for what I need it for.
  • It is easy to install in a blog post or to a Facebook page.
Want to become a Rafflecopter old pro even if you have only used it a few times or maybe never?  Never fear.  I think I have hosted enough Rafflecopter giveaways at this point to have gleaned a little wisdom.  Below are some basic giveaway hosting tips as well as some good pointers that are Rafflecopter specific

1.  Include more than one way to follow your blog.  Not everyone is on Google Friend Connect.  Make sure you have an email option to follow, and then maybe another third party way to follow like Bloglovin.  If you make a mandatory entry to follow your blog via GFC, you are automatically isolating a nice chunk of your {potential} readership.

2.  Let's talk about mandatory entries.  It is my general philosophy to say just don't do them.  I typically do not include them in my giveaways unless the individual or company sponsoring the giveaway I am hosting has specifically requested one.  Mandatory entry=forcing someone to follow your blog or another's in return for an entrance into a giveaway.  You are wanting to build a solid follower base, right?  More than likely, those that you "force" to follow by way of a mandatory entry will drop you as soon as the giveaway ends.  Not always.  But usually.

3.  Include an entry for tweeting in your top 5 entry choices.  And give it a higher entry value than the rest of your entries.  Why, you ask? You want people to tweet out about your giveaway!  9 times out of 10, I hear about a giveaway and go enter it because I saw someone else's tweet about it. :)  Why give it a higher entry value?  Because you want people to tweet it!  Some people may be reluctant to tweet your giveaway because they may not want other people entering to make their own chances better.  Making a tweet worth more encourages them to tweet for the additional entries.  Keep in mind, most people have hundreds of followers. ;)

4.  After your giveaway has gone live, go enter your own Rafflecopter.  I mean, don't really hit Enter on your entries.  But go in and make sure ALL your links work and that none of them are broken.  ESPECIALLY if it is a sponsored giveaway or a group giveaway.  It isn't fair to your sponsors if some of their links are working, and others are not.  Yes, you could say that if people really wanted those entries they would figure it out.  But I don't think it is fair that some of your sponsors' entries will be easier to use than others'.  Right?  
*One further tip on this (thank you to my friend Kim from Singledou[b]t for commenting about this below!)- Make sure you are using the hyperlink option that Rafflecopter provides for you when creating your entries.  What am I talking about? 
See that little globe up there?  You click on that and it will give you a format- [ ]'s for telling the entrant what you would like them to do & ( )'s for including a link to where they can complete that entry. As long as you have the text between the [ ]'s  and the link between ( )'s, you should have clickable text in your Rafflecopter widget that will go directly to your Pinterest page, your sponsor's etsy page, a certain page on your blog, etc.  The key though is to go in after the Rafflecopter is live to make sure all these hyperlinks are working properly and they link to the sites they are supposed to be going to.  

5.  If you are going to offer multiple prize packages, I would create a Rafflecopter for each package.  That ensures that people get to enter to win just the prize packages that most interest them.  You can easily include multiple Rafflecopter widgets in one post. 

6.  Once you have hosted a few Rafflecopter giveaways, take advantage of using the Duplicate option.  By duplicating a past giveaway, you can maintain all your social media link entries without re-doing them all.  You can easily delete or edit options that do not apply to your new giveaway, and then add the additional entries you may need.  No need to reinvent the widget wheel. ;)

7.  Take advantage of the Invent Your Own Option entry on the Rafflecopter.  You can create the entries that Rafflecopter says you need to upgrade for!  You can still have someone follow you on Pinterest or join a mailing list.  You just need to include the wording and link yourself.



8.  Terms and Conditions.  Do them.  Take the time to include the fine print.  There is nothing worse than choosing your winner only to find out they live in Russia, and your sponsor will not ship there.  If it is open only to U.S. residents, include that in the terms and conditions.  If you only give the winner a specified amount of time to reply back to you, put that in your terms and conditions.  


9.  Make verifying entries as easy on yourself as possible.  And you should always verify your winning entries.  You will be surprised how shady some people who enter giveaways can be.  Trust me on this.   Use the option to have the entrant leave additional info to verify the entries whenever you can.  For instance, I instruct my entrants to leave the URL for their pin if I have asked them to pin blog posts or items to their Pinterest for entries.  Then I can easily click on the link they provided and instantly verify the that they have indeed pinned something.  No hunting, no searching on my part. :)

10.  goodness sake, notify your winner!  Email them at the very least.  Don't expect them to come back and check your giveaway post vigilantly to see if they have won.  We all have busy lives, right?  We may forget when a giveaway was supposed to end because life happens.  Cut your winner a break and let them know the good news, okay? ;)  I usually email twice and try one other social media outlet before counting them out and picking a new winner. 

How about my other Rafflecopter knowledgeable bloggers out there?  What tips and pointers would you share with a giveaway newbie?  ;)  Please share them in the Comments section below!