Why I Hate Giveaways and What I Recommend Instead

Every single day, I get at least 20-50 emails asking if I want to host a giveaway and every single day, my answer is no 98% of the time.  I’m not sure I completely understand why companies think giveaways are so great to be honest with you.   The traffic that comes from a giveaway, while plentiful, is not sticky.  It has a very high bounce rate.  Now some may become loyal readers over time or loyal sweepers because you are giving something away nonstop but the majority come directly to enter and leave within 2 minutes, just long enough for them to scan for entry options, do them, and then leave a comment.

BEING THE HOST

Hosting a giveaway is a ton of work, especially when I have to deal with companies who don’t fulfill their obligations at all or in a timely manner.  Or when I have the winners emailing me withing 3 days asking when they’ll receive their prize.  It’s time that I have to take out of my life to reply to those winners or to pinpoint the reasoning a winner hasn’t received their prize.  It’s extremely frustrating to say the least.  Even when a giveaway goes smoothly, I still have to create it, manage entries, pick a winner, email the winner & wait for them to claim, then email the company with the info…if all goes well, they get their prize quickly.

CCC or Custom Creative Campaigns
I recommend custom creative campaigns.  It’s when a company seeks you out to promote their brand/product but tailors the program around you, usually choosing 5 or less bloggers of quality & relevance.  A few PR companies do this very well like Edelman, Malone Advertising, and Weber-Shandwick.  The goal is to find bloggers with a loyal readership, who love that brand/product, and can authentically dedicate their time online and offline for them, all with compensation.  All the companies I mentioned are great at this. They take the time to get to know the bloggers so when a “gig” comes up, they know exactly who to approach.  It’s so nice to see companies like these realizing that we are worth being compensated for out time & efforts because many of us do work very very hard.

Just an example of how they might do it—So if you’re looking for 2 bloggers to promote your very expensive DSLR camera, then you want to find 2 socially active, quality bloggers in different niches.  Perhaps a food blogger who can use that camera for food photography and the other a travel blogger who can snap photos of places they visit or a mom blogger who can capture the sweet moments of her family.  You take those two bloggers and give them a CCC consisting of 2 posts and/or videos a month for 3 months for $xxxx.xx, the click thru & purchase rate will almost always be higher than a giveaway.  Yes, I’ve tested it.  I use affiliate links in any post promoting a product and have measured (which is in my disclosure). Only one time has a giveaway done better and that’s because it was coupled with a MEGA discount.

Why does it work?  Because those bloggers have readers that trust them.  Relationships that have been built over time that it almost feels like family.  Those readers can tell through the blogger’s writing style that the blogger truly likes it.  Those are the ones that will know and will click thru to learn more about the product and possibly even buy.

SPOKESBLOGGER

Much like the CCC’s but you are hiring one blogger to represent your brand/company.  This is usually longer term and it’s with a blogger who genuinely loves the product and who has a very loyal following.

LAST THOUGHTS

Of course with both the Spokesblogger and CCC positions, the PR firm handling must do the job right by picking relevant bloggers and the bloggers need to think through whether they want to represent that brand/company.   I feel like PR should thoroughly investigate the bloggers before approaching so that they know beforehand if that blogger cares a flying flick about that brand.  This helps keep the blogger authentic as well.  By approaching someone who already has a love for the product, their readers will not even notice because it’s something they already talk about anyways on their blog, which keeps the situation real even with money being exchanged.

I’m not saying don’t ever offer giveaways, I like to host a few every so often, especially if they are of significant value or something that we love love love, but if you are really wanting to get the word out about a product, then I recommend one of the alternatives above.  I’m sure there will be a difference of opinion on this post and look forward to hearing what you think, both from a blogger’s perspective and a pr’s as well.

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Comments

  1. 1


    Tara says

    I’m with you on the giveaways; from the retailer perspective, I get approached constantly to sponsor giveaways and it feels like a huge waste of time. I like your ideas about the creative campaigns and spokesblogger arrangemets, but it does sort of change the blogger-to-reader relationship from a woman-to-woman thing to straight up sales, doesn’t it?

    • 2


      A Cowboy's Wife says

      In a way yes but that’s why it’s important for the company to find bloggers who already talk about their product so that it just doesn’t come from nowhere. Or find someone who talks about that type of product. First you introduce them to it, see if it’s even something they like and then decide later if they are a good fit, all by not telling them about a potential CCC. You want it to remain as authentic as possible.

  2. 3

    Thanks so much for this post! This is what I want to do. I would love to read more so I can get smarter about my site and earn more.

  3. 4

    Hi! Thanks for this post. I am a recent winner of one of your giveaways, the Wilton prize pack, and I cannot wait to receive it! I am also going to soon begin a blog of my own, and am in much need of advice. I think I need a mentor, lol! I’m having a hard time finding where to begin. This is really good advice because the giveaways is what I thought I wanted to do the most of when I get followers. I really want to do what is best to earn income to help support my family. We already are on such a tight budget, I think blogging would be a great way to add some extra money. I never really thought about how much time would be involved in doing giveaways. How do you get the CCC started? (Of course, I know I will have to give some time and get my blog up and running with followers first.) If you have any other tips on the best way to make money, I could use as many ideas as you have! I did notice on a lot of blogs that do giveaways, they say at the end that they only received the product to review but no other compensation. Thanks so much! I love your blog by the way! I’m so glad I came across it! The recipes are great!

    Melissa V.
    [email protected]

  4. 5


    Ellen says

    While I have entered your giveaways in the past, I have continued to read and enjoy your posts. But initially, how I came to know you is via a giveaway.

    I think you have a valid point in some ways -there are some who may (or may not) buy based on your reviews, but many bloggers do reviews and like Tara mentioned, it would turn into you get a product and then you ‘sell’ it. You would become a spokesperson much the same as the Frigidaire, WalMart, Sears etc.

    I know that running a giveaway would have to be alot of work- posting it, and everything you mentioned. But- this is how you gain readers, pump numbers, increase traffic.

    For your blog (since it’s established and very good) those numbers and traffic might not be a concern, but for others it is. Without the numbers to back them up, they would never be ‘chosen’ to be spokespeople for products- they couldn’t prove to sponsors that anyone cared to read their blog.

    Giveaways are a double edge sword- you have some that stay, and some that go and some that ‘stay’ on your numbers stats (those that forget to unfollow/unlike ) and appear as if they are still following. Without the people who come here for whatever reason, you have no sponsorships.

    And I do think bloggers should choose wisely as to which companies they choose to hold a giveaway for. You really CAN tell if they are racing willy-nilly through a review just to get a product and those who took the time to test or try it out..

    And no, I am not a blogger, I am a reader, nor am I PR. (plus I ramble alot ) :)

  5. 6

    Thank you for the great info! I have just recently begun being asked to host giveaways but have not done so……not sure I like how a few of the companies go about it and you just justified my feelings. Thanks!

  6. 7


    Elizabeth_n says

    One word…..Amen.

  7. 8


    Jennifer says

    I have been a blogger for almost three years now, 2 solid years of which being a giveaway blogger, with a great following. I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten burnt out doing what I do. It is a ton of work, when companies do not come through on their end I have to deal with mess after mess. I have cut down my workload by a lot and I am a bit more relaxed. But I want to find that one company to be a blogger for, to be a spokesperson for, that is my dream. Maybe just blog for a few companies only, I don’t know I just know that I am done dealing with greedy winners, and rude PR people who can’t call me by my name or tells me to post immediately as if I was only there for them.

    I have gone back to blogging for myself, writing about my kids, my family, my trips and it makes me happy. Plus I have an amazing opportunity to write what I am passionate about for someone who is my idol in the blogging world ;) I can’t tell you how happy I am for that!

    • 9


      Louise says

      I agree with you Jennifer. I haven’t been blogging 2 years yet but I’ve had primarily a giveaway blog and I am so tired of the companies that don’t come through, the demands to post TODAY and all the work that goes in to giveaways. I asked a company about doing giveaways and they said there is hardly any return on doing giveaways with bloggers. They get traffic, but by the time the giveaway is over people have forgotten about the item being given away anyways. She said reviews are more valuable. Which makes me think that a connection with your readers between you and the brand and your readers is going to be much more valuable to companies than a giveaway with a review done as quickly as humanly possible.

  8. 10


    Cindy says

    The problem with being a paid spokesperson for a product (for me) is that you’ve committed to represent these people. Who knows what they might do tomorrow that you don’t like? If you’re careful, that wouldn’t be a problem, though.

    I’m a low-commitment kind of blogger, as far as promos go. I want lots and lots of distance between me and the sponsors of my blog. Not just because I don’t want to appear biased because I’m being paid, or have to speak for a company I’m not intimately involved with, but also (mostly, even) because I’m not running a business on my blog. It’s just a personal thing. I like giveaways, just because I like giveaways! I’ve found most people to be honest, and not greedy at all, but when someone is, I don’t let it spoil my day. Since my vision for my blog (if you can call it that) is not even loosely based on PR, it wouldn’t make any sense at all for me to go the direction you recommend. As it is, I don’t mind answering emails, and I have a pretty low-maintainance way of doing things, so it’s easy for me. Emails only take a few seconds to write.

    I totally understand where you’re coming from, though. If I wanted to make money from my blog in that way, running these low-payoff giveaways would be counterproductive, to say the least. I wouldn’t even consider doing them if I were in your shoes!

  9. 11

    You’re completely right Lori. I gave up on giveaways a while ago and refuse to host them any longer. Yes, my traffic has gone down…but engagement and comments have gone up. I hope my reader loyalty has too.

    Besides being a hassle to manage, I was most disappointed by the fact that they took my time away from writing the content that I WANTED to write. I wanted to write about my city, and my family…now I do and I don’t have to worry about diluting that content with a cookie cutter giveaway post!

  10. 12


    Jenn@FFP says

    I can see why you would hate them! The numbers alone would cause me panic! My stats aren’t anywhere nears yours so it’s not nearly as time consuming for me to host a giveaway. I enjoy hosting them but I’m not sure I would with the volume of entries you get! ;D

  11. 13

    I host giveaways a few times a month, and yes, they are a TON of work. I am also working with White Cloud on a CCC, which is also a lot of work. It is difficult crafting a post that your reader knows you are being paid for, while still sounding (and being) authentic.

    One thing I did want to mention is how gratifying it can be to notify a loyal reader of their win. I have received emails that truly moved me to tears because they were so happy and thankful. I love blessing a deserving reader with a prize they would not otherwise be able to afford. So, for that reason, I continue to host giveaways. :) I do feel it is important to balance giveaways with other quality content as well.

  12. 14


    JoD says

    Like Ellen, I may never have found your blog without coming for a giveaway. I now subscribe and read regularly. Clearly I am not alone. For what it is worth…

  13. 15

    u are correct.

    trisha

  14. 16

    I am a review blogger and do MANY giveaways on my blog. I really enjoy what I do and I enjoy the people I meet whether it is short or long term. It is just fun for me. Some products I love and others I don’t. This is my outlet. I have made a lot of great friends along the way! Great post, but as for me, I would not really want to change anything.

  15. 17


    sommer says

    Okay, I just had dinner with a client last night and pretty much said everything you wrote!!!! I do giveways but they are so much work, like you describe and besides a small increase in my traffic ot increase in twitter followers I do not see much benefit to the company ot blogger.

  16. 18

    I always appreciate your posts like this Lori. It gives me a different point of view to think about. I do a lot of giveaways on my blog and I realize that not all of that traffic is “quality”, but I have definitely noticed a steady increase in actually people sticking around and reading non-giveaway posts, commenting on other things, recommedning my blog to others, etc. Just like you had a lot more giveaways to start with, so must many of the rest of us travel that road. Sticking with products/services that at least fit in with my own family has really been helpful for me I think. I’m able to really relate how the product works for us (or not). I do now also get some bigger assignments which I am tickled pink about! Marketing is not something I spend a lot of time doing, instead I just keep doing what I enjoy and my blog has steadily grown by doing that :-)

  17. 19


    Sommer says

    Okay, one more comment! I think when the PR teams and brands engage the bloggers they are working with on the CC it is an even better project and is more seamless when worked into the bloggers work. It just doesn’t seem like you’re doing something to get paid, it is because you like the product and helped design and contribute to the idea.

  18. 20


    Jean says

    I discovered your site when you were well established. There are 2 things that make me a regular reader.

    1. you are a plain speaking, straight from the hip person, you write in a clear, direct honest way that’s refreshing

    2. Your photography skills -you show this city gal a way of life that draws this city gal right in, each set of pics is better than the last.

    As for giveaways, I’m new to blogging, still trying to find my way, I do a mix of product review/ writing about what’s on my mind. I do enjoy giveaways as they are a way to introduce folks to things I really like. Not to mention as others have said, to build a reader base, gain followers giveaways are a part of that in the beginning, my opinions may change down the road:) I will say the beautiful thing, the best thing about the online community is there’s room for all types of attitudes and approaches.

  19. 21

    Giveaways are hard! Especially if you’re lukewarm about the product. You have to come up with exciting information to get the readers “into” the product that you yourself wasn’t thrilled with.

    I have been working on doing more “personal” posts and not as many giveaways. Stats are down – but I believe the readers I have come because they enjoy my writing and my posts – NOT to get something in return – except a good friendship.

  20. 22

    Can’t believe I’m just now catching up on this. You’re right. I can’t put a moratorium on the asks but I can continue to encourage creative thinking and collaborative programming. Thanks for the shout-out:)

  21. 23


    Angela says

    So what do you do if you’re a blogger hoping to engage brands in a CCC?

    Do you simply wait for them to come around and offer you said wonderful deals, or is there a way you can pitch them?

    What has your experience been?

    Many of us would love to partner with brands we believe in…but what to do if all you’re getting are the review emails?

  22. 24


    Brenna says

    Interesting perspective. I have done giveaways, but primarily with small, mom-owned businesses. I do it because I like to support local, small, handmade, and mom-owned businesses when I can. I don’t do it to get more traffic. I certainly don’t do it for products or companies I don’t believe in. I can see where there is a lot of value in something like a CCC, but I imagine it isn’t for everyone…

  23. 25

    Hi Lori! It was great meeting you in Chicago! I do both reviews and giveaways, as well as talking about personal things, memes, motherhood, cooking…you name it. I have seen sites that are pure giveaways and have stayed away from that myself. I do host giveaways and have actually found quite a few readers who stick around to read my non-giveaway posts and have actually becoming online buddies. I think this is a great article and one that we should all read. I myself have become more picky about what companies I work with and what giveaways I host as they do take a lot of time and energy. You’re awesome Lori! Thanks for being you. :)

  24. 26


    Stephanie says

    Excellent points. I like both of the alternatives that you presented. That said, I also think giveaways are a great way for brands to get the word out about their product…and, aside from that, they’re super fun for readers.

    No matter how companies choose to work with bloggers, I think the most important thing is finding the RIGHT bloggers to work with. Companies need to carefully evaluate the influence of the bloggers they work with…and I’m not just talking about traffic. Factors to consider include: writing style, loyalty of readers, appropriate niche, presence on Twitter and Facebook, offline network, etc.

  25. 27


    Lisa P says

    Thank you for this post, I wish more companies would look at doing this. We all deserve to be compensated and this is a win win way for both us as a the blogger and the companies! When you are picked you dedicated ALL your time to the bran not a bunch of brands at once. Quality or quantity!

  26. 28

    Thank you so much for this information. Although I’ve been blogging since 2007 I have 3 blogs and do product reviews and host giveaways for my readers, I do agree that it is very time consuming to thoroughly review the product and host the contest giveaway. As you indicated, the traffic is not sticky most of the time.

    I wasn’t aware of the concept of the CCC. It is only within the last several months that I’ve been approached to be a Brand Representative and participate in special campaigns. I really feel that this is the direction I would like to continue to take with my blog – apparently hard work and effort is it’s own reward.

    My ultimate goal is to retire from my current position and work online exclusively. I really appreciate the fact that you are so generous in sharing your knowledge.

  27. 29


    Angela says

    WOW! I am very new to the blogging world and started mainly just for photography, to which I am also new. (I had a blog last year, but gave up on it after a month or so.) I had no idea it can actually be a business. I thought it was just a way for people with common interests to sort of share their hobbies. I know it’s been around for a long time now, but this internet amazes me still. There’s a whole new world out there!

    I only have 7 or 8 followers, so I’m sure I won’t be approached to have a giveaway or be a spokesperson for anything, except maybe how NOT to blog (ha!), but this is great information!! Thanks!