Monday, January 27, 2014

Contests, Giveaways, Promo codes, etc.

This post is inspired by two groups of people: 1. the people who think I'm crazy for entering contests all the time 2. the people who ask about how I have won things/which contests/giveaways are worth entering.

First of all, I haven't won the lottery or anything (minus marrying my husband...haha ok that was too much) so you're on your own with that kind of luck. However, I have a pretty good streak for winning contests and giveaways, and I don't think it's just luck. I just enter the right ones. So, I thought I'd share some tips and things I've learned about contests and giveaways!

There was a news segment about online contests and giveaways, and they basically just told people not to enter after all sorts of "statistics" they found. However, after firsthand experience (and being successful multiple times I might add) I beg to differ! You just have to know which ones to enter.

Ok, so why enter contests or giveaways at all, you might ask?? Well one easy answer is, there is always going to be a winner (except I don't believe in those "free car" giveaways at the mall..), so why not have it be you?

There are some contests totally worth your time... and then there are those definitely not worth your my opinion. You just have to keep a business-like mind in store: if your expenditure is more than your profit, it's not worth your time...Meaning, if the hassle you're going through to even get an entry is worth more than what you get if you even happen to win, just go buy the item up for grabs if you really want it.

I'm going to explain the things I consider before entering a contest on social media (or the radio....I've won 3 times!).  Again, I'm not a rocket scientist, but my guidelines have led to be successful so it's worth a shot!


IF IT'S A BIG BLOG GIVEAWAY: First of all, giveaways are HUGE right now in the blogging community. Heck, I'm going to be doing some for my Etsy shops soon. One reason that they're popular with blogs is that it can help the blogger and the sponsor gain followers and essentially gain more customers. That being said, keep in mind what they are asking of you in order to enter. Is it a big hassle? Your chances with blogs that have thousands of followers are already kind of slim because of the number of people entering. But that shouldn't keep you from entering under certain conditions. For me, if there is not a list of 10 or more people I have to follow in order to have a valid entry then I'll enter (I seriously saw a contest once where you had to follow like 30 people to enter---on each of their social media accounts...yikes). If my chances are already slim, I don't really want to be a slave to 10 different people's Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. after the contest is over if I didn't even win (ok, all you have to do is unfollow them, but who has time for that, right??). The point is, if I just have to leave a comment on the blog and follow the blogger on Insta, I'll enter. I won a contest once and I was like entry 2000 or so. This is the only BIG giveaway I've won because I normally don't enter the big ones, so this was mostly just luck. But if I hadn't won, all I had done was commented and followed the blog--no big loss. Moral of the story, if it's just two easy clicks, I enter. But if it turns into a hassle, I don't. Also, the more entries you're allowed, the more entries everyone else can get as well, so keep that in mind as well. If you can see the number of entries (for example if the giveaway is run through Raffle Copter) and it's not an outrageous amount, enter multiple times because not everyone will take the time to do so.

IF IT'S A NEW/SMALL BLOG GIVEAWAY:  enter!!!! First of all, support new blogs! My blog is by no means big at all, but when I started blogging I felt so nervous (and still do) putting myself out there with my thoughts and sharing about my life--so help a sista (or a mista) out! Second, if it's a small blog, the number of followers is small, and if it's not a blog that is an everyday read for many people, chances are not as many people will even see the giveaway or enter. So enter!


FACEBOOK: 'One click' contests are usually found on FB. If all you have to do is 'like' a post, share it, or comment, you should enter because you never know, and it's not a hassle to enter. Even if it's a Facebook of a company with lots of followers, if all you have to do is click once to enter, you might as well! Yesterday I found out I won a free dress and necklace. I was scrolling through Facebook and the company said something like "we've announced our winner on our blog" ... I didn't even think I had entered, but figured I'd just check out the blog post anyway cause they had some really cute jewelry. I remembered possibly entering, so I scrolled down to see the winner. I seriously couldn't believe I won because I hardly remembered entering, but that's because it was one of those "one click" contests so it was easy and I totally forgot about it because it wasn't a hassle. It was a smaller-ish company and it was easy to enter, so my chances were good!

IF IT'S A NEW BUSINESS FB: Same with new blogs, new businesses on Facebook generally don't have too many followers compared to large companies, let alone a large number of people their posts actually reach. Usually new businesses are trying to gain exposure so their contests are 'user friendly' (AKA what we like: no excessive requirements!), and not too many people enter. Because they're new, you basically have the advantage because their contests are easy in order to entice people to enter and follow them. I just became a 'fan' on FB of the jewelry store we bought my engagement ring at. They just recently started vamping up their page, and they started out by doing giveaways. In December they had several giveaways, and you could 'like' their post for one entry, and 'share' for another. I personally don't feel bad 'sharing' giveaways on FB because it helps others find out about the contests (that's how I usually see them, from others entering), and there's so much garbage nowadays on FB (hello, JBiebs' mugshot...hideous) that my pic of a cute outfit being given away isn't hurting anyone! Anyway, I entered several of the December contests, and I actually won one! I entered  this one because not many people entered (you could tell by number of likes an shares), so my chances were good. So, if you like free stuff and you have nothing to lose, and a good chance to enter, you should enter!

3. ENTER ON INSTAGRAM: After doing a social media internship with a large clothing company, I was able to see the average customer activity on social media. For this company, customers were least active on Instagram, and I've noticed the same for other companies' Insta accounts that I follow. That being said, when there is a contest on Instagram, ENTER! Fewer people enter these for whatever reason, so your chances are good! Usually all you have to do to enter Instagram contests is repost a photo and use a certain hashtag. Again, if I have to tag or hashtag 10+ people, I don't enter. Other than that, Instagram contests are great to enter if you want to try to win some freebies, so follow your favorite companies on Instagram---guaranteed they do contests/giveaways!

4. CHECK BACK!!! As mentioned, sometimes when contests are so easy to enter it's easy to forget you entered (as mentioned!). Many contests will have a 24-hr claim policy where you have to contact the sponsor to claim your prize within 24 hrs or else they'll choose another winner. Many people don't check back because they assume there's no way they could win. I mentioned before that I won a contest and was entry #2000. I had used a junk email address (see next point) to enter and only found out that I had won that contest a few weeks later when I was cleaning out my inbox. Luckily they didn't have a claim time frame, but the point is I didn't check back on the contest and I  could've missed out! So make sure that you remember which contests you enter and check back!

5. CREATE A JUNK EMAIL: If you're like me, you probably already have an embarrassing email address name from when you were 13, but the account still works and you don't use it for much anymore. I use this email for giveaways and contests (and when websites make me sign in for stuff!) so that if they make me leave an email address to be added to their mailing list as part of entering, I can just give that email address (is that rude??), unless I really do want to receive their emails.

**RADIO CONTESTS: Ok so nowadays I know everyone just plugs in their iPod or plays CDs (ok, I still listen to CDs but not sure others do). HOWEVER, there are still radio contests all the time! I haven't entered or won one in a while, but here's the types of contests I entered and how I believe I won.

TIME OF DAY: This one is important. Just like businesses always have deals on Tuesdays (Tuesdays are one of the slowest days in retail) (also, did you know if you have a Gap card you get extra 10% off on Tuesdays??) ANYWAY, just like businesses have deals on Tuesdays to up their sales when they're slow, radios often have contests during the 'slow' hours of the day when people might not be as interactive with the show hosts. All of the contests I've won have been at a random time of day like 11am, 2pm, etc. when most people are most-likely at school or at work. So if you happen to be on the road during non-traffic hours (which is when most people would be prone to listen to the radio), turn up the radio and see if they have anything going!

IF YOU KNOW YOUR STUFF:  One contest that I won said that the first person to call and name 6 songs by a certain band (my fave at the time) would win tickets to their show. That being said, I entered because I didn't have to be caller # whatever to win (those are a little trickier). I called and waited until they answered and could name six songs by that band right off the bat, so I won! So if the contest has nothing to do with calling at the right time, just knowing the right answer (and you happen to know it), you should give it a try! Another I had won was the same thing. They asked how far you have to run to burn off an M&M. I had randomly learned this fact in 7th grad health class (you have to run a football field. Sad, huh?) so I called in! They had multiple answers to choose from so even a lucky guess was worth answering.

BE CALLER #...  As I said, if you have to be caller # X to win, it's a little harder because you have no idea which phone lines they pick up first and when everyone else is calling. I normally don't bother to enter these unless they're giving away something REALLY cool. So normally I steer clear of these.

OK this might seem random, but as I mentioned I interned for a large clothing company working with their social media. From this I learned that many companies send products to bloggers and websites to review the item on their blog or site. As a part of this review, many times companies will give the blogger a promo code to feature for their readers to use on the featured website. So whenever you are shopping online, try Googling the company and add 'giveaway' or 'blog giveaway' and see if any features on blogs pop up because chances are there is a promo code offered for that blogger's readers. I've been shopping online more often recently and I cringe when I go to pay full price for anything. I ALWAYS Google to find promo codes whether it be on a random site or a blog, and generally I'm able to find promo codes to save a little mulah.

Companies to follow for contests/giveaways (and just cute stuff :)): Groop Dealz  (I might add that aside from giveaways I LOVE Groop Dealz's stuff. gooood deals) , Urban Peach , Sassy Steals , Nest on MainSimple Addiction , Splash Designs

Let me know if you have any questions! And, if you've entered contests before and think you have a method to the madness, share below!!
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