How To Host a Giveaway to Grow Your Following

So, you want to host a giveaway on your blog, Instagram or YouTube channel? How exciting!

How To Host A Giveaway

Giveaways are a great way to treat your readers, promote your blog and/or social media platforms, and cement good relationships with brands. They help to build a community surrounding your blog and, if done correctly, can increase your amount of authentic followers on Instagram.

We've got plenty of tips on how to run a successful giveaway here on IFB, including tips on how to do a giveaway for your YouTube channel or Instagram account.

Check them out below and let us know your thoughts in the comments – and good luck with your giveaway!

How To Host a Giveaway to Grow Your Following

What is The Purpose And Goal of The Giveaway?

When it comes to the purpose of a giveaway, ask if yourself why you're doing this. You need to be clear with yourself what you want to get out of it…

  • Do you want to reward current readers?
  • Are you trying to attract more followers or subscribers?
  • Are you celebrating a special event?
  • Do you want to build a relationship with a brand?
  • Do you want more followers for your Facebook page or Instagram account?
  • Are you giving a ‘signal boost' to a marketing campaign?

When you know why you're doing a giveaway and what you want from it, you'll be able to decide your giveaway criteria and have a way to measure the success of your giveaway.

Define Your Giveaway and Know The Law.

“Giveaway” is not a legal term. Your giveaway will fall into one of three legal categories: a sweepstakes, contest or lottery…

  • Sweepstakes – A giveaway where a winner is chosen at random. No purchase is necessary to enter a sweepstakes.
  • Contest – A giveaway where a winner is chosen on merit. For example, if you ask your readers to write a very short story in the comments and choose a winner based on which story you like best, that would be a contest.
  • Lottery  A prize draw where a purchase is necessary to enter and a winner is chosen at random.

Most blog giveaways fall into the sweepstakes category. This is important to know because the laws governing sweepstakes, contests, and lotteries are very different. And in America, giveaway entrants can't pay to enter, pay to win, or pay to receive their prize.

In order to host a legally compliant giveaway in the U.S., you must prominently display the official rules of your sweepstakes.

Parchment Girl has done an excellent job of outlining everything you should take into consideration from a legal standpoint, when you decide to host a giveaway.

Here are seven items that should be included in your official sweepstakes rules below…

  • Prize – Identify the prize and its monetary value. Keep in mind that prizes valued at over a certain dollar value (usually hundreds of dollars or more) may be subject to special requirements in some states.
  • Duration – State when the sweepstakes will begin and end.
  • How to enter – Outline how participants can enter the sweepstakes.
  • Who can enter – Detail any entry restrictions. Entrants must be over eighteen years of age in the United States. If your giveaway is international, make sure that you comply with the sweepstakes laws of the countries allowed to participate. Here’s a quick guide to international sweepstakes laws. Unfortunately, all sweepstakes are illegal in Canada and any contests open to residents of Québec must display the official rules in English and French. Here’s a quick guide to Canadian sweepstakes and contest laws.
  • How the winner is chosen – State how the winner will be chosen (e.g. Random.org, drawing out of a hat, etc.).
  • How the winner will be notified – How soon will you notify the winner after the sweepstakes ends? Will you notify them by email or some other method of communication?
  • How the prize will be delivered – If the giveaway sponsor (e.g. a publisher, online shop, etc.) is responsible for mailing the prize, you’ll want to state that here. You might want to give an indication of the timeframe in which the prize will be delivered.

Make Giveaway Entries Simple And Appropriate To The Value Of The Prize.

Generally speaking, the more complicated it is to enter a giveaway, the fewer giveaway entries you'll get.

I've seen some bloggers basically ask people to write an 5 page essay for a chance to win a $25 gift card. While it's definitely your right to do whatever you want on your blog, extreme entry criteria can result in an unusually small number of entries.

Avoid making your entry system too complex (25 total possible entries – 3 entries for this, 7 entries for that, 15 entries for this other thing, etc.). When people can't figure out your system (or if your system takes too much time too read), they become a lot more likely to just move on.

Stay On Budget and Keep The Cost of Shipping In Mind…

If you aren't being sponsored by a brand or aren't collaborating with a company to give away their free products, you'll need to purchase items for your giveaway. And that can get expensive if you aren't careful.

Before you go out to purchase items for you giveaway, consider setting a budget. It can be tempting to treat your readers, followers and subscribers to a generous giveaway but it's important you don't break the bank. Especially if you aren't earning an income off your blog, YouTube channel or social media platforms.

You also need to keep in mind that you will need to pay to ship the item to the winner of your giveaway. International giveaways mean paying for international shipping, so be mindful of that as well.

Use A Giveaway System To Keep Track Of Entries.

If your giveaway gets a lot of response you might end up with dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of entries.

For managing it all, I highly recommend Rafflecopter. Their free version is perfect for most giveaways, and I've found their paid plans to be well worth the money if you're looking for more robust ad entry options (such as Pinterest or newsletter sign-ups). In the past, I verified and counted giveaway entries by hand, but this is so much easier.

Rafflecopter also has excellent customer support and their blog is well worth reading, if you're looking for more giveaway tips and advice.

Promote Your Giveaway!

You've done all the hard work of the previous steps, so now you need to make sure that people see it.

I recommend giveaway forums like Online Sweepstakes and giveaway blogs like Blog Giveaways.

Of course, your own social media channels are excellent promotional tools, and asking your friends to mention your giveaway on their own social networks works very well too. We've also listed a few tips for hosting an instagram and YouTube giveaway below.

Avoid Spam.

Nobody likes a spammer. Spam drives people away from you, your brand, and your site…and that's the last thing you want when you're hosting a giveaway.

Not sure what counts as spam? Here are some hints…

  • If you're leaving comments on blogs that basically consist of “enter my giveaway!” or tweeting the same at random strangers, you're spamming.
  • If you send a mass e-mail to a bunch of bloggers you've never spoken to before asking them to post/promote/share your giveaway, that's also spamming.
  • If you post your giveaway link to a fashion blogger's Facebook page when they haven't asked you to, that too is spamming.

Spamming creates ill will at best (do you really want to remembered as that fashion blogger who spams everybody?) and can get you banned from certain services at worst.

Just don't do it.

Be Up Front and Clear About Any Terms And Conditions.

You never want your readers or followers to feel tricked.

If the prize is only winnable by residents of a certain country, age, or dress size, say so up front in the giveaway announcement.

Tell your readers when will you choose the winner, how will you choose the winner, how the winner will be notified, how their prize should be claimed, and how soon after notification they must claim their prize by.

In addition, you should have a clearly stated back-up plan in place in case your first giveaway winner doesn't respond, and you need to choose another. Think through any questions someone might ask upon reading your giveaway, brainstorm any what-if situations, and then address them.

Tips for Hosting An Instagram Giveaway

Decide What Type of Instagram Contest to Run…

There are two main types of Instagram contests, that can apply to both bloggers and influencers. We break them down below…

  • Like to Win – the easiest type of Instagram contest. In this type of contest, the participant must follow your account and like the photo to enter. If someone likes the photo but doesn’t follow you, they are not eligible to win. The purpose of like to win is to get both followers on your account and to build engagement.
  • Tag A Friend – Participants must comment on your photo and tag one or more users in the comment section of the contest photo. The purpose of a “Tag A Friend” contest is to increase the reach of your account via your followers. By tagging someone else in the comment section of the contest photo, your followers are helping introduce new follower to your Instagram.

Pick A Theme.

Pick a theme for your Instagram giveaway. It could be based around an upcoming holiday, current season or popular trend. Don't discount events like the award shows, popular film premieres, fashion weeks, or even your birthday. Many people like to reward their followers once they've hit a certain amount of followers. Back-to-school giveaways are also popular (but more so on YouTube).

Once you have your theme, take a creative and original picture of your giveaway prize to post on Instagram. Upload it and post relevant contest information in the description box. Keep it short and sweet, but clearly define all the rules so that people can enter correctly.

You must also acknowledge that the giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by Instagram or associated with it.

Create A Hashtag for The Giveaway.

You may also want consider creating a unique hashtag to post in the description, for your Instagram giveaway.

If the rules require others to repost the picture or post their own original photo when participating in the giveaway, it will help you keep track of entries. It can also help you to increase engagement for your Instagram account and potentially attract more followers.

Make sure that the hashtag you use does not direct participants to irrelevant or negative content. It should also comply with all of Instagrams Terms and Conditions, in order to prevent your account from being shadowbanned.

Tips for Hosting A YouTube Channel Giveaway

Check YouTube's Contest Policies and Guidelines.

Just like Instagram, YouTube has strict contest policies and guidelines creators must follow if they plan to do a giveaway on their channel. Be sure to familiarize yourself with them, before running a contest.

Comment, Rate and Subscribe!

If you're running a giveaway on your YouTube channel, include a comment-rate-subscribe rule for your participants. Essentially, this means your participants need to leave a comment in the videos comments, rate the video with a like (or thumbs up), and subscribe to your channel in order for their entry to be considered valid.

This ensures you're securing engagement and subscribers for your channel. Before you announce the winner, be sure to double check that he or she has followed this rule. If they haven't, pick another winner.

Have you hosted a giveaway before on your blog, Instagram or YouTube channel? What was your experience? Do you have any tips or tricks to share? Let us know in the comments below!

*Editor's Note: This post was originally published on May 23, 2013 and was written by Cora Harrington. It was updated on December 22, 2017 by Laura Kell.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

50 Responses

  1. Filipa

    I think giveaways are a great way to get more readers, but also to reward them. I’d feel very happy if I know that one of my readers got a free gift thanks to me.
    At the moment, I’m hosting an Oasap giveaway on my blog. It ends tomorrow. I think the steps to enter it are very clear and not that demanding. I didn’t use Rafflecopter this time, but I might do it in the future because I think that it really is the best way to count entries etc.

    It also took me a lot of time to promote the giveaway, because I needed at least 50 entries, which I got. I found some nice online Sweeps sites and giveaway blogs, even a Facebook page that promotes blog giveaways. I guess, it turned very good in the end. 🙂

    xx
    Filipa from http://ohmyfilipa.blogspot.com

    Reply
  2. maddie

    Great tips. Giveaways are a great way to build exposure but it’s hard not to cross the line of pushing a product on readers. I have had most success when I relate the product or the service to a personal story. It shows that I am personally involved and not only trying to gain followers, likers, or readers.

    Reply
  3. Kenneth Jacobs

    How do you know when to start doing giveaways for your blog website? I do believe it’s a great way to grab readers onto your site, but if you’re still building your readership (been blogging a few months), is it logical to do giveaways or should I wait?

    Kenneth
    http://www.thefashionatefotobug.com

    Reply
  4. The Science of Happy

    I can’t stand those who can’t hold giveaways properly. Big companies are guilty of this too. I won some much saught after Zaggora hot pants and guess what? They only sent a pair to one winner, myself and the other winner received nothing. They ignored all our emails, including the ones from the blogger who held the giveaway platform!

    http://thescienceofhappy.blogspot.co.uk/

    Reply
  5. Jessica Flores

    Great tips. I just closed a giveaway – three items from the limited-edition bareMinerals Remix Trend Collection. I’ll definitely keep everything above in mind for the next one I have coming up.

    http://www.DomesticatedMe.com

    Reply
  6. runwaymonk

    Thank you so much for this post. Its been 3 days since i hosted a giveaway and i isn’t going well. I am struggling to make it successful. This post gave me few ideas how i can improve the number of entries. 🙂

    https://runwaymonk.wordpress.com

    Reply
  7. Julz

    I want to do a giveaway but I know a lot of bloggers use P.O box numbers and thats pretty expensive plus I honestly dont know if there is any other way than using your street address?

    I dont want no creeper stalking me! :O Thats scary stuff!!!

    http://wardrobeinharmonybyjulz.com

    Reply
  8. Nasreen

    Great post! I don’t spam but I find there is a very fine line between using your social media channels to promote it and spamming. It’s hard because you need to make the giveaway aware to people but at the same time not giving them unwanted things!

    I think it’d be a bad idea to post my giveaway link here, now THAT would be spamming hahaha

    Reply
  9. Julia

    Loved the tips. Quick question: what do you do about the return address? I’m about to host my first giveaway where I mail the prize, as opposed to something digital like tickets, but I don’t want my home address exposed. I’ve heard you need a return address to send a package, so I thought about buying a P.O. box. Any other thoughts?

    Reply
    • Trisha

      You can actually send a package without a return address but if the receivers address is wrong you won’t get the package back.

      Reply
  10. Pamela E

    Great Ideas! since I’m doing My First one year giveaway soon! & I would use a PO Box or use another address? I had another giveaway on another blog & used my home addresses & It was ok.. Nothing happened! Just stay safe!
    if You don’t want to give your address away I would just save money for a PO Box & wait till I get one.
    Xo Pam

    Reply
  11. Bike Pretty

    For my old job, I used to run contests and giveaways on Facebook all the time. It was a lot of fun, but a lot of work sorting through all the entries.
    And just this week, I was contacted by a company about sponsoring a giveaway on my current blog! I’m looking forward to running it through Rafflecopter. I wish that I had known about them before 🙂

    Reply
  12. Musank

    Thank you for the tips! I want to schedule summer giveaway of a tote bag I made myself, but I was hesitating. This post helps building my courage 🙂

    Thank you,
    Musank

    http://www.fafafoom.com

    Reply
  13. Jamie

    Love this post. I just posted a give away and so far I haven’t been getting much response. Hopefully, I can find some websites to share it without spamming haha.

    Reply
  14. Michelle

    I just starting doing giveaways on my blog as well! Please check them out! Thanks for posting these lovely ideas!

    xo Michelle

    Reply
  15. Deonna

    Can you email the applicants who didn’t win afterward and tell them you would love for them to follow by email for future updates and giveaways or follow in other ways or is that not ok?

    Reply
  16. Jean | DelightfulRepast.com

    I just found your post from a Google search on this topic. I do several giveaways every year on my food blog, but I have the biggest one ever coming up in October so I was just checking around for tips. I usually don’t have so many entries that I need Rafflecopter, but I’m definitely going to look into it. Thanks!

    Reply
  17. Jasmin Wholesale

    Really good tip to get new readers by those giveaways . I am glad that I found this post because I didnt know what to do to get more readers for my blogs and for my readers freins who keep coming back to my site.
    Thanks and keep up the good work!

    Reply
  18. julius

    Thank you so much for this post. This post gave me few ideas how i can improve the number of entries. Really loved the tips. Thanks and keep up the good work!

    Reply
  19. Tylin

    Great article!
    I’m tossing around the idea of doing a giveaway, to try and bring some more people to my blog. How long into the blog’s existence would you suggest doing this? Should it have hundreds of pages of content, or will a dozen or so suffice?

    Reply
  20. Patrick

    1. Sign up under http://apple.freebiejeebies.co.uk/1038521 2.Confirm the Email 3.Choose your free Gift 4.choose and complete 1 offer 5.referral Friends 6.wait for your Gift The free Offers are only for europe, America and canada! For the Rest of the World is no Free offer, i’m very sorry guys! Free Offers for Europe – grammarly (to complete this offer sign up to the Free Trail of the annual plan with a valid Credit Card or paypal Account. Users Who Cancel without using the Service will have their offer revoked) Free Offers USA/canada – grammarly (to complete this offer sign up to the Free Trail of the annual plan with a valid Credit Card or paypal Account. Users Who Cancel without using the Service will have their offer revoked) Free Credit Score.com (to complete this offer sign up for the Trail with a valid Credit Card) Protect my id (to complete this offer sign up for the Trail)

    Reply
  21. Maria

    Thanks so so much for this info. I am getting ready to do my first ever giveaway, and was kind of nervous thinking about it. You made it sound like a breeze and definitely took my anxiety level down a notch. Cheers!

    Reply
  22. Becky

    Thank you for this article! I am a new social media associate for a company and we just started a blog and soon we want to do giveaways of our products and for baby products. This will help a lot when that times comes!
    Thanks again
    – Becky @USHealthTests

    Reply
  23. Kimberley Jackson

    I had a look at rafflecopter, but it seems that there aren’t any free plans available. Maybe they changed their offers? The cheapest is now about $8 a month.

    Since I have a still very small blog, I already have to pay for the price and shipping it out, so I really don’t think that it would be worth the $8 yet.

    Do you know of any other options beside rafflecopter that offer their services for free? Or is rafflecopter the only one? (I can’t imagine that it is, after all the internet is huge, and more and more people are hosting giveaways.)

    Reply
  24. Immy May

    Ah thank you so much for this post, amazing tips! I really want to host a blog giveaway and have been collecting little bits and bobs to add to a big goodie bag for months now! Just waiting till around Christmas/New Year to do it! 🙂 Such a lovely thing to do, brings everyone closer and it would be lovely to find some new readers, too! 🙂 Ix

    Reply
  25. MOBASHHIR

    I am also planning to host a giveaway. But I am totally confused. I am afraid of Google partialities.

    Please suggest

    Reply
  26. Camille

    Thanks for the info! We are looking at starting to do giveaways on our site, and this is a great starting point!

    Reply
  27. Raneil Sokhi

    This was a really helpful post! Got me asking myself some important questions! Just getting ready to host my blog’s first giveaway! So exciting!

    Reply