The Blog Issue – Giveaways

Posted in Blogging.

I recently ran a 12 day Christmas giveaway on the blog. Over the course of the 12 days, the weeks I spent planning beforehand and the weeks I’ll spend tying everything up now it’s over, I learnt a lot. And in the spirit of The Blog Issue, I’ll now tell you aaaaall about it.


I first decided to host a Christmas giveaway in early November. I wanted to do something really special for my readers to celebrate Christmas and to thank them for their continued support, but I also wanted to boost my readership and visitor stats. Giveaways are a great way to encourage new people to visit your blog – the chance of winning a prize draws them in, and hopefully your regular content will make them come back.

Planning and prizes
When I’d chosen the 12 Days of Christmas theme, I started thinking about brands I genuinely love and wrote a list of companies I thought would be interested. This was a really important part of planning the giveaways – my blog rule is to only feature brands I truly admire, so why should a giveaway be any different? And although it’s important to be realistic about the kind of prizes you’ll be able to offer (I love Tiffany but doubt they’d donate one of their stunning key necklaces… but if you’re reading this, Tiffany PR person – how about it?), it’s also important to remember what your blog’s all about. When I started posting the giveaways, a few beauty PRs got in touch asking if I’d like to offer some makeup prizes. I politely declined as makeup’s just really not my thing, and it very rarely features on my blog.

With my 12 brands decided, I started contacting PRs.

Working with PRs
Many bloggers are regularly contacted by PR people. All those press release might clog up your inbox, but building relationships with brand representatives is an important part of professional blogging. And if you’ve taken the time to talk to a PR in the past, you might not feel so cheeky sending an email asking them to donate a prize.

There were a few brands on my list that I had no relationship with (apart from the one-sided, slightly obsessive love I felt for them), so I used Twitter. Twitter is a fantastic tool for connecting with brands, but be careful – there’s a fine line between cheeky tweeting and spamming. I sent short, informal tweets asking if I could speak to someone about a possible blog feature, and in most cases I received a direct message with an email address in reply.

Generally, the PRs I spoke to were lovely, friendly and more than willing to help. Some didn’t reply, sure. Some replied once, full of enthusiasm and ideas, then seemingly disappeared into the PR response black hole. And some politely declined. Waiting for replies that never arrive or receiving a negative response is frustrating, but always remain professional and be businesslike in your communications – you’ll make a great impression and it’ll help you keep your distance, so you don’t take any disappointments too personally.

Entry and rules
With prizes in place, a schedule ready to go and custom designed graphics, my uber giveaway was poised for launch. I used the simple set of rules most bloggers implement for their giveaways – follow the blog, leave a comment with an email address and tweet for an extra entry.

 I don’t like giveaways that force entrants to jump through hoops, so did away with the ‘post a blog about this for another entry’ and ‘like me on Facebook for yet another entry’ conditions. No matter how clear and detailed your instructions are, it’s inevitable that some won’t read or understand them properly. And to top it off, running a competition through Facebook that uses Facebook’s unique elements (asking people to ‘like’ you, tag themselves in a photo, comment on a post, etc) as entry is against Facebook’s Ts&Cs, so it’s best to avoid that completely.

Choosing a winner
Like pretty much every blogger running a giveaway, I used to choose my winners. First, I added all the names to a spreadsheet. Yep – it’s time consuming, dull and there will be people who put their extra entries in with their original comment, meaning you have to read every comment to make sure you don’t miss any. But even if a handful don’t quite get the entry mechanic right, they still took the time to enter. I hate to see people bellyaching about giveaway admin – if you choose to host a giveaway, see it through to the end and approach it like a professional. Your newly acquired readers will respect you for it.

When I had all my winners, I emailed each one individually to let them know, then announced the results on Twitter. Another thing about Facebook giveaways – you can’t alert your winner through Facebook. Email first, social networks second!

When things go wrong…
If you’re hosting something big, bold and beautiful, something WILL go wrong. Hopefully not spectacularly wrong, but definitely a little bit wrong. One of my prizes fell through the day before the post was due to go live, so after a 5 minute freak out, I went and bought the prizes myself. The damage control cost me money, but ensuring things ran smoothly was more important. The show must always go on, right?

Giveaway posts are so popular with bloggers, and it’s easy to see why. They offer us the chance to show how much we appreciate our readers. We get to build relationships with PRs, feature products we adore and improve our search rankings (the WAH nails nail art pen led lots of Google searchers to my blog). The long lasting result of a good giveaway, though, is an increased readership. Attracting a new audience can often be the hardest part of blogging, so a giveaway can act as your own form of personal PR. And if you keep on top of your regular posting alongside your giveaway you’ll hold on to those new readers, who’ll soon turn into loyal followers.

Have you hosted a giveaway on your blog? Did it help increase your visitors? Did you stumble across any problems or issues? Share your experiences in the comments.



I have to say well done Jen, the giveaway for 12 days was really well organised and well planned. And with great gifts.

I think you have to be dedicated to doing something and seeing it through. I have done a couple of little ones before, and I don’t like the whole “write a post about this, jump over the fence backwards whilst reciting Shakespeare” stuff either. 🙂


Fashion Junkie

Have liked and thoroughly admired your blog for a while and what I love most is your integrity.

Another really well done blog post and the 12 days was amazing. Can’t wait to see what 2011 brings.

Em x

This is a really good post. I’ve done a few giveaways on my blog and like you don’t make people jump through hoops to enter, just a simple follow me and leave a comment.
I bet you’re glad its over! xx

Pearl Westwood

I think you giveaway days have been really fun and congrats to all the winners! I often have giveaways for clothes and make from PRs but also things like limited Chanel nail varnishes which I buy myself, I think they are a great way to give something back to your readers. Ive never had any problems, hope I don’t in the future either!


I was so looking forward to this post after you announced it on Twitter & it really didn’t disappoint. I didn’t have time to see all the giveaways so I’m quite wowed to learn that you funded one of the giveaways yourself. Props to you!

Miss Lucy

Well, with that all said, what an achievement your 12 days of Christmas has been. Well done, you! I have been tempted so many times to hold a giveaway but am aware of how much time, effort and expense they involve. Time for Christmas now so you can relax! xx


This is great advice Jen. Even after doing lots of giveaways, I’m not 100% clued up with what to do and this was such a help.
You did a wonderful job with running your 12 days of Christmas giveaways, so I’ll definitely be taking notes from this post.

pip a la chic

Great tips there. Will be keeping them in mind. I’ve hosted one giveaway with all my hand made accessories from my online store and it created more visitors which was great.


This is an absolutely great post, I think every blogger should read it before hosting a giveaway.

I have done two giveaways ever, but entered a ton so I knew the score, and I hate the ones which make you jump through hoops to enter, it feels like the blogger is getting more out of it than the reader.

The first giveaway I did was with a random company I didn’t really know, and was only open to US readers, per their Ts&Cs, which was fine, but I probably wouldn’t work with a company I didn’t know that well again.

The second was with the lovely Sarah from EssBeeVee which was great because I genuinely love her jewellery and was very pleased to have the opportunity to share it with my readers.

I think your giveaways were very well run, it’s so good of you not to let a donee falling through derail the whole thing.

Sophie says...

Wow! I’m fairly new to blogging, so I haven’t done a giveaway yet. I never actually realised all of the work that goes in to it! You’ve really opened my eyes. I just thought you have a prize and choose a winner – simple. Obviously not. Well done on all the hard work, and hopefully I’ll speak for all your followers in saying that although I didn’t win anything, I really appreciate of your commitment! 🙂


As always, a fantastic and insightful post. I loved your 12 days of Christmas giveaway, it clearly was a lot of work for you but all the prizes were lovely and really suited you and your blog.
I’m planning a giveaway at the moment as I’ve been blogging for over a year and want to say a little thank you to all my followers. I’ve bought the prizes from my own money but feel like I want to give something back to the blogging community as I’ve won a couple of giveaways in the past (including one of yours!)
I may get myself some extra followers by holding a giveaway but I hate to think of it that cynically and my prizes are quite modest so I don’t think it’ll draw in the crowds too much – it’ll hopefully just be a nice way to say thank you to everyone who’s supported and read my blog 🙂 x


What you said about building relationships with PR people was really interesting – do you build relationships with all who contact you? I’ve had someone contact me regarding a product that I had actually said was awful on my blog, their email didn’t address that, they just wanted me to sign up to a mailing list of people who could ‘potentially’ get a review copy of their game. And I’ve had another asking me to review their products just based on some pictures. I didn’t like the look of their products, so I didn’t get back in touch, and I do feel a little insulted when companies ask me for free advertising without offering anything in return. Do you feel the same way, or do you cultivate a relationship regardless?

Emma at Daily Clothes Fix

Great information. I have run one giveaway on my blog where I bought the prize. It was important that it was ethical as that is what my blog is about, so I picked something from a local Fairtrade company. I did pick up new followers, some of whom now regularly follow me and it was a great way of giving back to my readers.


Hi Nicola – I get sent lots (and lots and lots!) of press releases and just like you, I feel a little put out when PRs want free advertising for nothing in return.

If I genuinely and truly love the brand, I’ll email back and ask if they can send products for me to try out and write about after. I don’t believe you can give your opinion on anything without experiencing it first, and I would never promote something that I had no experience of.

I don’t try to build relationships with every brand or PR who contacts me – just the ones I feel will respond well. If someone sends me a chatty, friendly, personalised email that shows they’ve read and understood my blog, I’ll happily pop them a reply to thank them for taking the time.

I wrote about promoting products and working with companies in an earlier Blog Issue here – Hope you find it interesting! 🙂


I really enjoyed your giveaway and found it nice that you had gone to all the effort you had for your followers. As a new(ish) blogger, in the future i, of course, would love for my blog to become as popular as yours and to be able to give my followers the chances to get to test products they might not buy themselves. This is why i enjoy reading blogs like yours, and when you run these giveaway’s (prizes) i always enjoy joining in. Thanks very much (and merry xmas!) 🙂 xxx


I have to admit, I have never taken up any of the PR contact i’ve had through my own blog, it’s only small and the kind of things I have been contacted about just don’t intrerest me. That said, I wouldn’t make an outward effort to contact PR in brands I am interested in either, as I don’t want the purpose of my blog to be for reviews or free things, like some.
I have done one giveaway in it’s time, and am in the process of planning another, as a thank you for my followers and regular readers, the thought of people who have never read it before winning kinda negates the point ot me, which is why i wouldn’t want to advertise is all over other people’s comments etc like some you see.

I think the way you handle your blog, and the recent giveaway is very well done, and it shows that you put a lot of time and effort into it, Jen!
I also love that you address a lot of issues which people can relate to.


Oh this was really interesting Jen. And as a winner, I must say another THANK YOU for all the hard work you put into it. I love my prize so much – shall blog about it today in fact 🙂

I did my own 12 Days Giveaway but it was a lot lower key than yours. I don’t have your PR knowhow or any real relationships with brands so I took a different tack and bought all the prizes myself. With it being themed and running over 12 days, it was a lot more work than the usual one prize giveaway but it was totally worth it.

I’d definitely think a bit harder about timing before doing it again though. I made a conscious decision to try and post properly and add the giveaway to it, rather than just plain giveaway posts, and as it came at my busiest time of year, it took up a LOT of time. I got some really lovely emails from the winners though and it made my day to realise how happy people were with their prizes. And that’s what the point of it was – as a thank you to all my followers. Yes, it got me a few more but that really wasn’t my reasoning for running it in the first place.

E is for Eleanor

I’ve just got around to reading this post and I am so glad I did. It really is a such a truthful and honest post.

You organised the giveaways perfectly and there was no over-promotion of any of the brands which is always nice to see. You are a total pro Jen! Thank you for all the tips. xx


I agree with your post and I really love your blog! 😉 So don’t get me wrong.
But why was your Christmas giveaway only open to UK readers?
I understand that some of the prizes / products required to be in the UK, but clearly not all. If you really want to increase your readership you should have at least included one or two gifts for international readers / or at least European readers.


Hi Anon!

I decided to make the giveaways open to the UK only mainly because the majority of the brands I worked with were unable to ship prizes overseas, or the prizes were not redeemable outside the UK.

Also, quite a few of the prizes were sent directly to me, and I’m now responsible for posting them out to the winners. I know it sounds a little selfish, but I didn’t want to burden myself with the cost and organisation of international postage so close to Christmas!

I do want to do something to say thank you to my overseas readers though, so will be holding a special giveaway just for you guys some time in the New Year.

Hope that explains things a little. Thanks for your comment! 🙂


Really useful post jen, thank you for breaking it all down and explaining it to us 🙂 I think you executed the whole thing brilliantly! everything seemed really clear and concise, and all the prizes/brand were appropriate to the kind of styles i associate you and your blog with. Your blog issue posts are always bloody brilliant to read and make so much sense 🙂 xx


Great post Jen as always. I’ve never hosted a giveaway, it’s something that’s never interested me, but I must admit I do love taking part in other peoples x


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