An Open Letter To Giveaway Bloggers

Thank you.  We appreciate you.  Really we do.

There are some things you may not have taken into consideration that we think you should be aware of to build a relationship with us and make us trust your reviews and want to enter your giveaways. 

You may or may not be doing these things, but as both a blogger and a sweeper (one who enters contests and giveaways) I see both sides of the coin and perhaps have a different perspective to offer that can help you get more traffic - and those that continue coming to your site will be genuinely interested in what you have to say, not just what you can give them.


Keep it real
 
What do I mean by this?  You're a person just trying to get your message out and maybe make a few bucks.  Good for you.  Here are a couple of examples of what I am talking about.

If you are a healthy food blogger yet continually run giveaways for fast / processed foods we may come to your site to try to win, but you aren't where we are getting our information on nutrition from.

If you are a baby blogger with a kid or two, or young children, you aren't a maven, a guru or an authority, don't present yourself as such.  You're a parent, and that's cool, but expert you aren't.

Get rid of the pop-ups and pop-unders

Nobody, and I mean nobody likes to be bombarded by crap when they are trying to read an article or fill out a form.  You can have ads on your sidebar or between posts.  Want us to take a survey?  Ask us nicely, we'll probably do it if we have the time, but if we get forms every time we open or refresh your page, we're going to remember and avoid your site in the future.  We may come back for a super special giveaway, but if it is part of a creative presentation, we're avoiding you like the plague because almost without fail, there is at least one other site that won't bombard us with spam.

Lose The Auto-Play

This shouldn't even be an issue, the novelty has long since worn off, but there are still some sites that have auto music.  I know, right?  ANNOYING.

That, along with the new trend of sidebar or between post ads playing automatically.  Don't do it.  A lot of us are listening to music or not using headphones and this annoys the living daylights out of us.  Remember how when the television ads were de-regulated and they got a lot louder than the shows?  Yeah, that's how they feel to us.  We're not coming back, and if we do return to enter a giveaway if we don't know what site it is on, we're exiting immediately. 

Clickable links, people, clickable links

Invest the 5 minutes and learn to make your links clickable.  Really, it's not that hard and a quick Google search and a few minutes of your time will pay off dividends forevermore.  Trust me.  It's aggravating as all get out to try to do your myriad of entries when each one has to be highlighted and then right clicked to open the page to see if we follow you or not.  It will have to be a very, very nice prize - I'm talking worth hundreds here - for me to do more than one or two.  And most likely I'll remember your site, but not in a way that makes me want to return.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

We know you want to keep your site positive, or are afraid that sponsors won't want to work with you if you show life's (or a product or services) dark side, but no one likes every single thing about everything.

Sure, you want to make money and get swag, and most of you even work for it with well thought out reviews and lots of pics.  Great, good for you.  We don't have a problem with this at all, you probably earned it.

What we have a problem with is only posting the positive - sure, every now and then something extraordinary comes along and you'd be hard pressed to find something to dislike.

This is not the norm, though, and we all know it.  Whether it is true for you or not,, what we see is that you are selling out for swag.  Unfair?  Maybe, but it's reality.

Tell us - well I liked 3 of the scents, but that last one smelled like old ladies waiting to die in a nursing home (yes, I did use that actual phrase once).  You can couch it politely, as I did, reminiscing about visiting my girls great gran and the lavender that clung to us hours after we left so it was definitely a personal preference, and that if others don't have those memories they may love the soothing scent, but put it in.

If we see you do balanced reviews, not only will we enter your giveaways, when we are looking to buy (and yes, many of us do end up purchasing when we are in the market) we'll know we can count on you to give a fair and honest evaluation.  Otherwise, we'll come to enter, but we won't believe a word you say because again, everything is not the best thing since sliced bread.  We see your review and think to ourselves - milking the cash cow- this blogger is a sell-out and we'll look elsewhere.  We're going to base our decisions on someone who sees things as they really are, not as who will pay them to promote.  We expect a companies pr reps to focus on the good, not a so-called "honest review blogger".

Clutter, clutter everywhere

Less is more.  Trust us.   Unlike glitter, this is not a case of sprinkle it everywhere and then add more.  It's a blog you want to profit from in some way, whether you host giveaways for traffic, swag or moolah.  We're fine with that.  What it's not, or not supposed to be, is a carnival, circus or sideshow. 

It slows your site down.  If you do creative presentation giveaways, we'll remember and enter on another site, even if we have to dig to find it there.  Combine this with pop up or auto play and it's the kiss of death.  Really.  Maybe your family will enjoy spending lots of time perusing the info you have to offer, but the rest of us, not so much.  Or not at all.

Clean up those sidebars and tops and bottoms.  You don't need to have everything front and center.  If it is worth finding, we'll find it.  Maybe not today, but when it will be useful to us, we'll seek you out.  
If you are writing a blog, basic grammar skills are important

If grammar isn't your strong suit, find someone who can help you.  I have seen blogs with typos, basic grammatical errors and atrocious writing skills.  Sure, we all make mistakes, I am the first to admit you'll probably find plenty on my site, but it is the exception rather than the norm.

Spell-check is your friend.  It's easy, free and fast.  While not foolproof-  it won't tell you if you have used the wrong to, too or two, for instance, it will go a long way towards keeping things clean and easy to read.

If your site is filled with poor grammar and basic spelling mistakes, we're coming for the swag and leaving as soon as possible.  I have seen more than one error in the first sentence of the about me on the sidebar, for instance.  On more than a few blogs.  You are presenting yourself as a professional, you want to represent companies and corporations.  Sure, some come for your traffic, which, let's be real here, is often inflated by getting people to click or like or pin for extra entries into your giveaways, but any reputable company will eventually realize you are doing them a disservice.  Especially when you mistype their name or don't use clickable links to their home page or social media.  Yes, I've seen it many, many times.  If the prize is valuable enough to me, I'll search out the info I need, but for a $25 or $50 prize, I'm gone.  And so are most of my sweeping pals. 

Here's another valuable tip I'll toss in since I mentioned social media-  if you are posting a clickable tweet, make sure it is within the character limit.  Test the thing out-  it only takes a second or two.  Yes, some services add on a bit and make it too long, and if we have to go in and remove things, there is a very good chance it is something you felt was important since you had it in there in the first place.  Do this, and you can be sure to get the keywords and hashtags you think are most important in, because we don't care about those when we just want to win the prize. 

Too many hoops and we're gone.

You are giving away a coupon or small value gift card or toy, for crying out loud we're not spending 20 minutes liking this and posting that for a measly chance to win.  At least not most of us.  a few diehards, who enter every and everything and make it their life's work will, but for the majority of us, it's just not worth it.

We know you do it for the traffic, and we don't have a problem with it.  We'll even enter some, to save money for our families or try new products, but if you are asking for the same types of things for an entry as you are when you are giving away say a laptop or several hundred dollars worth of something, we'd have to be daft to think it was worth the same amount of time and effort.  And if we wanted to post on our own blogs, we'd do our own reviews for guaranteed swag or at least traffic, not give up valuable cyber real estate simply for a chance.  Just sayin'.

Check and double check your giveaways

You use a form to simplify your giveaways.  Yay, we usually like that.

However.  (You knew that was coming, didn't you?)

Make sure you change the mandatory question to reflect the current giveaway.

Ditto with changing the tweet, prize info, etc.

It's not that hard.  If you don't have the time or inclination, or have just been looking at something for too long, trade off with a blogger friend or hire a virtual assistant or ask a friend.  Your spouse or kid.  Anyone.  It's not difficult, and if you want to be taken seriously as anything other than a place for us to win stuff, it's rather necessary.  If you don't care, fine.  But know that we only want the freebies from your site, we don't care any more about the rest of your blog than you care about us or your sponsors.  An occasional mistake, like typos or grammar, it is going to happen on the best of sites.  An all the time thing (yes, we've seen it, on more than one blog), we're remembering.

How Pinteresting

You want us to pin your recipes, crafts, even giveaways.  Okay, if we like the prize enough, we'll do it.  Probably.

It is NOT happening if you try to get us to misrepresent you and what your site/article is about.  In fact, it pisses us off.

Do NOT tell us not to mention it's a giveaway or put it on our important to us boards.  You will still get your artificially inflated likes and pins so the numbers look good and you can charge sponsors more, but we lose our reps with our followers (and sponsors if we have them) by pinning little pre-school crafts or obviously sponsored recipes using pre-packaged products and hashtags galore.

Not cool, not cool at all

Do not, I repeat do not list a giveaway on your site that is not your own and then put it on all of the sweeps sites and social media through your blog without disclosing that it is not yours and you get something for us using your link.  You can put it on your site with a little notice saying - hey I would love to win this and I'll get extra entries if you enter using my link, then we both have a chance, but again do not list it anywhere else while giving the false impression that if we click that link we're going to be entering a unique giveaway.

Unless you run a sweeps site, or disclose to everyone that you get extra entries or paid for people using that link, it's a crappy thing to do.  And not cool at all with all of the disclosure policies.  A shady practice that makes us think you are willing to do anything to win/get paid/whatever.  You know, like a stereotypical slimy sleazeball used car salesman.  If you want that rep, continue, if not, cease and desist immediately.

Mandatory, schmandatory

Facebook has been putting people in "jail" unable to like and removing the last month of likes for 30 days for liking too many pages at a time.  You can maybe, MAYBE, make one or two of the likes mandatory, but to have 10 pages of 10 to 20 likes each for an entry and you have to like all of them for your entry- stop it.

We don't need our accounts jeopardized to inflate your numbers.  Surely the 5 or 10 bucks you get for having that as an entry can be changed to an optional like instead of a mandatory one.

We hate, hate, hate when each like is not counted on its own.  A lot of times we may like say 8 of those sponsors on 7 or 8 of those different  sets, but we can't get credit for it because you require all 10 of them.  No, wrong, this makes us resent you a lot.  For one thing, we're going to get flagged, the powers that be do not like us liking a lot of pages in a very short period of time.  Facebook limits the amount of likes any one account can have, and there is only one account per person.  Let us have the credit we earn with sites and sponsors we actually like and/or have room for before the limits are reached, and stop trying to bully us into liking more.

Also, please keep up with Facebook's current Terms of Service.   For example, it is within their rules to ask people to post on YOUR page, but it is  not okay to ask them to post about the giveaways on their own or their friends timelines.  These are obviously not strictly enforced at this time, but again, we do not want to violate the TOS and risk losing our accounts (which again, many of us already have spent time in FB jail due to having to like too large a number of pages in too short a time) and we just don't want to take any chances.

While we're at it, if you want us to follow you on Twitter, follow us back.  After the initial limit has been reached, Twitter doesn't allow you to follow over 10% of the people who follow you.  When we've capped out we're using a tool that shows us who is following us back and who isn't and guess who is the first to go so we have more room on our accounts?  Yep, you are if you aren't following us back.  And then you are posting and wondering why you are being unfollowed.  This would be the reason.  Remember, you can follow 10% more followers than you have, so it shouldn't be an issue for you to follow your followers back.

Accountability

Yes, we know you posted that little disclaimer saying that you personally are not responsible for shipping the prize and it is up to the sponsor.  Well guess what?  If we enter on your blog, we expect, at the very least, that you will try to get our prize for us if the sponsor bails.

We are not unreasonable, but we worked for that prize, we earned it, and we won it fair and square, and if you ran the giveaway the very least you can do is keep after the sponsor.

We get that occasionally a sponsor will flake out.  But if you haven't done all you can to go after that sponsor and kept us informed of the progress, we're blaming you.  Why do we do this?  Partly because we've been in contact with a number of you who won't bother even trying, just a standard, sorry, not my problem in a snotty way.

We know very few of you are making a killing with your blogs and probably can't send out a laptop if the sponsor bails, but if you don't send us copies of the correspondence with your reps and when that doesn't work call them out on social media then we are going to hold you accountable as well as the sponsor and we are going to make sure you are called out publicly.

If you are at least trying to get a resolution, we won't say don't ever enter on this bloggers site, s/he is on our side and at least trying to work with us and the sponsor.  We don't hold you responsible for the fulfillment in that scenario.

Oh, and several of us, including myself have had back and forth with the blogger and will get all kinds of excuses.  My kid is sick, I'll get to it next week.  My car died, I can't make it to the post office.  I sent it out today - oops sorry no tracking.  The sponsor was the one shipping, not me, not my problem, I wrote to them you are on your own.

Do you see the problem here?  This was all for a single prize - we have no way of knowing for sure, but we're pretty sure you kept the prize, gave it to a friend, lost it or had no intention of awarding it in the first place and just used us to bump your numbers.  Don't lie and you won't have to worry about keeping your stories straight.  If for some reason you can't send the prize just tell us so we know to give up hope and quit wasting our time and yours.

And responding to our emails with you are too busy to keep after a sponsor-  if you are that busy, you are too busy to host a giveaway.  Rather than do 20 or 30 at a time that you can't keep up with, do a smaller number so you have enough time to do your job, which is to make sure we get our prize.  We know, at that point you think my part is done, because there is nothing else in it for you.  Wrong, at least if you want to last long term and be considered someone we want to interact with again.

You would think it would only be the smaller, newer bloggers without much of a following but that's not the case, in fact I personally have been screwed over by bigger bloggers with large fan bases much more often than the parent who is trying to bring in a little extra for the family.  The smaller bloggers have even dug into their own pockets to cover a prize to try to make it up for a bad sponsor.  When we did giveaways on this blog we have sent gift cards if the sponsor refused to send the winner the prize they promised.  

In an ideal world

Sweepers Utopia would have the following present for every giveaway, and we realize it isn't going to happen, but what the heck, putting it out there for those of you who are modeling others and thinking we are fine with how things are.

    *Give us more than 24 hours to respond to a winning email-  we know there are things like deadlines, but really, most of us aren't chained to our computers 24/7

   *Only posting the winner on your page and then having a very short response time for the winner to contact you.
     Really, what's that about?   It takes a couple of minutes to email someone, less to send a message on Facebook or Twitter.  If you are that busy, perhaps you should be a little choosier about what you promote and give those products/sponsors the proper attention.   True or not, we think - wants to keep the prizes for themselves or only pick their friends for winners so they can get around it by saying prize will be forfeited or new winner chosen - because only your friends are stalking your site constantly, most of the rest of us have a real life and this is a hobby we get to when we can.  Supposed to be fun.  Honestly, we'd spend more time setting alarms and alerts for ourselves than we do trying to win the damn thing in the first place if we have to keep checking back.  It's a crappy practice.  Sometimes the prizes are worth it.  Not very often, though, nope, not often at all.

   *Don't buy our votes with extra entries.  We don't mind if you say- hey, my kid is so cute and I'm trying to win this that or the other.  If we have a decent relationship, we will vote for you.  It's what we do, help each other out.  But to say I'll give you 100 extra entries if you vote for my cousin's neighbors exes pygmy goat - well, that just makes us think - cheater-  we who enter honestly won't have a sporting chance.  Not fair. If we're down to our last $10 and desperately need that $1,000 or our computer is limping on our last toe (because the leg was shot a long time ago) and you are giving away a laptop we might vote, but it leaves a very bad taste in our mouth.  And those of us who won't vote on principal are pissed that others can be bought for a chance to win.  Well, we are.

   *No Instagram for mandatory entries.  You have to have a smartphone for Instagram.  Many of us don't.  You can give extra entries for this, but don't make them mandatory.  Yes, my technology rivals the Flintstones, what can I say.   I'd love to enter for a lot of things that I can't.  You say but a computer is necessary to enter all of them, and FB and Twitter are free, so is Instagram, so that is the same.  We say nope, we can use a computer at the library we'd have to pay for a smartphone.  There is no way to get Instagram without one.  So, different. 


This is novel length already, but will be updated if I get any important feedback.  Thanks so much for taking the time to read.

Sherry

For my sweeper pals and anyone interested in the hobby, feel free to check out our series on winning HERE

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