How do I host giveaways or sell ad space?

June 4, 2010

You’re a new blogger. You enter with the purpose of changing the world with your thoughts – blowing your readers away with your insights into life. Documenting your daily life, or keeping a journal of your child’s firsts.

Then you realize that on top of this, you can have free stuff, and be paid for ads. It changes everything. You suddenly wonder, “Wait – can I do giveaways? Have ads? Who would send me free stuff if I only have a few followers?”

Read on:

Here’s what Sarah from Sprout Reviews (a great place to find honest opinions on things before you buy them) has to say about starting out – “If you are waiting for companies to contact you, you’re gonna be sitting for a while. At least until you have killer stats, so if you’re interested in a company or product then contact them! I’ve found that a well written letter of interest goes very far. Have a mission in mind and do your research. Show them you know something about the company, let them know why you want to do a giveaway with them, and explain to them why your blog would be a perfect match.”

Here is two sample letters to companies. The first is from Jess at zookeeperjess.blogspot.com (one of my fave bloggers!)
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Hello,
I am an attachment parenting mother and blogger and ran across your website. I always love finding new diapers to try, especially for my 5 month old who is a heavy wetter. I do reviews and giveaways related to attachment parenting and natural living on my blog such as cloth diapers, organic food, etc., and wanted to know if you were interested in letting me review a diaper and giving one away to one of my readers? I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this but you can go here: http://tinyurl.com/25ofw8z and here: http://tinyurl.com/27qb4a4 to see reviews that I’ve done. Those are just a few to point out. It really is a wonderful way to get the word out about your wonderful products. I hope that you are interested and look forward to hearing from you!

Jessi J.
http://www.zookeeperjess.blogspot.com/
twitter @zookeeperjess

And the one I send:
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Hi,

My name is Diana  —, and I blog at www.hormonal-imbalances.com. I am a breastfeeding, eco friendly, cloth diapering new mom of a 6 month old girl looking to talk about (insert how you talk about something related to their product on your blog, or how their product would help you with a problem you have).

The (insert number of readers or unique hits you get per day) people who read my blog each day are mostly new moms who also are interested in baby/mom/breastfeeding (or whatever you talk about) products. I think they would love your product too because it fits in so well with what we all use in daily life. I would love to do a giveaway of your product on my blog.

You can take a look at some of my past and current giveaways and reviews at (insert link to past giveaways OR products/companies you’ve mentioned on your blog before).

Thank you for your time. I hope we can work together!
Diana —-
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As you can see, we have the same type of format with our letters. Sometimes I get a response back, sometimes I don’t. When I was starting out, I got a LOT of “We require X many followers to have you host a giveaway.” I saved those emails and contacted them again when I reached that number if I was still interested in their product.

Think about these points:

  • Is your giveaway open to the U.S. only or Canada/International as well?
  • How many entries will you allow?
  • How long will the giveaway be open for?
  • How will you choose the winner? (random.org is super easy)
  • Will the company be shipping the giveaway item or will you? (best to leave this to them)
  • How many other bloggers have they contacted recently? (You could end up doing a giveaway the same time as 15 other people. Not great.)

Sarah also reminds new bloggers to:

  • Be polite to PR companies but let them know if what they’re pitching isn’t your deal (learned my lesson there!)
  • Stick to companies that have a product that interests you and your readers – if you are a vegetarian you aren’t going to want to do a giveaway with Omaha Steaks. 🙂
  • Seek out new companies because they are looking to get their name out too.
  • Put time and effort into making your review shine (but be honest), the company might offer to do more with you.
  • Be honest. Make sure to disclose if you got the product for free and if you were paid to write the review.

About being paid, Sarah states, “If other compensation was received (and you can be paid to review and still provide objectivity) just disclose.” I put that at the bottom with the giveaway end and how the winner will be contacted.

One main point I want to strongly emphasize – it is so easy to get carried away with entries, to make your readers jump through hoops to win. Most of the time, any giveaway that has more than 3 entries I don’t even bother with. It’s too time consuming, it’s maddening to jump from site to site trying to catch links and remember different things to put in 150 comments. Keep it simple. (You can see my current giveaway to get an idea of what I’m talking about.)

Some companies that work with smaller blogs:

As for ads, well, obviously I’m not going to give you any advice here, but one of my blogging girlfriends, savvy Alyssa from Adventures of the Stay at Home Mom was kind enough to help me out with this. Here’s her words of advice for all of us:

“It can be challenging to get companies interested in purchasing ad space, and it’s helpful to know your target audience. You should know your blog statistics and who you are writing for, such as age group, interests, etc. If you’re a mommy blogger like myself, it’s helpful to know if your readers have children and if they stay at home or work outside the home.

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned with selling ad space is to pursue leads, but learn when to let go. I recently worked with a company who asked to purchase a very prominent advertisement on my site. I was flattered and agreed. I sent a PayPal invoice and waited to be paid. And waited. And waited. I held the ad space for over a month after agreeing to sell it and (to date), despite emailing multiple times and calling, I haven’t heard back.”

What about Google AdSense – it comes built into Blogger for you to use? Here is Alyssa’s, and my, opinion on it – “I didn’t care for their ads because I often found them uninteresting and I’m sure my readers did too!” Yup. I did it for 2 days and didn’t like them at all.

– How much should you charge? I love this article: http://www.mombloggersclub.com/page/988554:Page:52753

– Want to know your stats? (Caution – very addicting!)
Google Analytics
Statcounter.com

However, like giveaways, you have to be careful with ads. Blog because you love it. Really. If you only blog for free products or money, no one will want to come back.

When I click on a blog, I want to read your story! I want to know about you, your interests, your day, see pictures, and get to know your family. Giveaways are fun, and I love when a blogger does relevant ones to what they talk about. Same with ads. Be choosy – it’s ok to say no. Take your time getting there. Have fun with it!

Thanks for reading. Still have questions? Contact the ladies mentioned above on their blogs, or me at hormonal-imbalances at hotmail.com Or leave a comment and I’ll answer back in there to you.
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Next week’s topic? 🙂 How to get your blog name some recognition.

Interested in contributing to this? Have questions on this topic you want answered? Email me at hormonal-imbalances at hotmail.com. Even just a small bit of advice is wonderful to get.

Thank you to the bloggers who helped me this week to put this together. Much appreciated!


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