The Caffeinated Winner

Winner
I’m excited to announce the winner of the $25 Starbucks Gift Card. Sara S. nominated my novel How the Fat Girl Got Thin and won!

Congratulations Sara S! Thank you for your support! 

Closet to 700 people entered the giveaway, making it our biggest one yet. Thank you everyone for entering. You made it a huge success.

My Kindle Scout campaign has officially ended, but there will be other giveaways coming soon. I’ll keep you posted!!

The Morning After

My Kindle Scout campaign ended on Friday and since then I haven’t known what to do with myself. Checking my stats every hour had quickly become a habit and on Saturday I found myself lethargic. Except I have a 1-year-old to take care of and being sleepy doesn’t fly with an exploring toddler. I won’t hear the results for up to a few days to as long as a few weeks. I’ve decided my husband is going to open the email.

Before the results are in, I want to thank everyone for their support. 30 plus days ago I had no idea what the journey would entail, but now that I’ve reached the end of it, I’m glad to have done it. How the Fat Girl Got Thin will be published and this makes me extremely proud.

I’ll post the results as soon as I know.

A million thanks!!

Seagrass Tote Giveaway Winner

Thank you everyone for participating in the Seagrass Tote Giveaway from Seagrass Totes. I’m happy to announce Emily E. has won the beautiful bag. Close to 400 participants entered the giveaway, making it a great success!

Congratulations Emily!!

If you didn’t win the bag, there is another giveaway going on right now. Nominate my novel, How the Fat Girl Got Thin, and enter a chance to win a $25 Starbucks Gift Card.

                                                                     Last day to win!!

starbucks-gift-card

Giveaway Details
Ends: Friday, September 16th at 11:59 pm
Prize: $25 Starbucks Gift Card
To enter:a Rafflecopter giveaway

Starbucks Giveaway

Just when you thought I was done giving free stuff away, I had to blow your minds with another awesome giveaway. This time for a Starbucks reward. Who doesn’t love a nice cup of coffee?

Well, lately I’ve needed a shot of caffeine. My Kindle Scout campaign ends in two days. I need to go to Cancun to recover. It’s been a wild ride. I’ll be writing an in-depth blog post reviewing the process soon.

In the meantime, here our the new giveaway details. Nominate my novel, How the Fat Girl Got Thin, and enter a chance to win a $25 Starbucks Gift Card!

starbucks-gift-card

Giveaway Details
Ends: Friday, September 16th at 11:59 pm
Prize: $25 Starbucks Gift Card
To enter:a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rafflecopter Review

When I first decided to host a giveaway online, I had no idea where to start. I decided to use Rafflecopter, a well-known giveaway site, to host my giveaways.

Below is a review of their services. 

Pros 

1. Free to host a giveaway

free-plan_rafflecopter

Features of Rafflecopter Free Account

The free hosting capabilities are basic, but do get the job done, and I highly recommend going with the free option for your first giveaway and then decide later if you want to upgrade. Also, all of the giveaway linky sites know Rafflecopter and this makes sharing your giveaway information easier.

2. Relatively easy to navigate

setup_raflecopter

Hosting your first getaway is pretty easy to understand, although there was a learning curve that I’ll get into later in this post. It has three sections – setup, installation, and entries. In the setup section, you add the prize description, decide how people can enter, add the terms and conditions, and start/end dates. In the installation section is where you find the links and code to embed the Rafflecopter widget on your blog or website or preview on your Facebook fan page. You can also preview your giveaway.   The last area is the entries section and you can view a report showing who has entered the giveaway and what options they chose. You can also download the report into an excel spreadsheet and add a random widget to pick a winner at random when the giveaway ends.

3. Integrates with Facebook

facebook_integration
I found this to be a huge benefit because once it’s setup, the changes you make to the giveaway are automatically updated on your Facebook fan page. Also, you can boost your posts on Facebook to reach more people and there is always a direct widget to your giveaway. You can also schedule posts on Facebook to remind people of the giveaway as it goes on to increase traffic.

4. Good Q&A Articles

qa

Links to Q&A Articles

As I mentioned before, there is a learning curve when using Rafflecopter, but they do provide a field manual about a variety of topics concerning in the ins/outs of using their services. I found them clear and to the point.

5. Ability to copy the settings of a giveaway
I found this feature really useful because I hosted three similar giveaways in a short amount of time, and basically I copied the setup from one to the other and this made it easy and quick.

Cons of Rafflecopter. 

1. Free account has limited features

raflflecopter-plans
You can easily host a giveaway, but some key features aren’t included. The main one for me was that you can’t customize your entry form by adding a picture of your prize. A good quality photo really boosts traffic to your giveaway and the free account doesn’t include this option. After my first giveaway, I upgraded to a basic account for $13 per month to have this option. I also wanted to integrate my mailing list with the giveaway and have the option for the entrants to refer a friend, but these features are only included in the grow and premium accounts. These were not in my budget, but if I continue to use this Rafflecopter consistently, I can see these two features being a huge bonus, so a further upgrade might be necessary.

2. Setup is pretty easy, but there are a few confusing areas.

The first one is deciding how people can enter. For my giveaway, it was critical that the entrant nominate my novel, to enter the giveaway. To do this you need to invent your own option and make this mandatory. If you read about giveaways they recommend not making an entry option mandatory because it can dissuade people from entering, but since this was the whole purpose of the giveaway, I ignored this advice. I did read that adding more than one option is a smart way to go. Other options to choose from are: tweeting about the giveaway, visiting a website, commenting on a blog post, etc. I added a few of these as well. I was confused by the number value you can give each option. 1-5 are the choices. I instinctively knew to give the Invent Your Own Option a higher value and the others a lower value to make this option more attractive, but it wasn’t until later when I looked at who entered the giveaway that it became clear that the numbers represented the total number of entries each person can earn for completing the different entrant options. So it looks like you’ve had a lot more entrants than you’ve had.
ways-to-enter

Another confusing area is the terms and conditions section. For the free account you don’t have access to a template and for a giveaway newbie I had no idea what my terms and conditions should state. I had to do some serious research to find the right language and to include all the necessary terms and conditions. Once you upgrade to the basic account you have access to a template. But if you don’t want to pay for this, you need to figure this out yourself.

The last confusing area is that you can set your start/end dates but the start/end times must be at midnight. Being able to change the time your giveaway starts is a feature of the basic account not the free one. I found this doubly annoying because I read on a Rafflecopter’s Q&A article that there are better times to start and end a giveaway to increase traffic. And midnight is not one of those times.

3. Rafflecopter Uses JavaScript

Usually this wouldn’t be a con, unless WordPress hosts your website. WordPress doesn’t support JavaScript when you have a free account and use a free theme. At first, I wasn’t sure why the embedding code wasn’t working on my website, until I read multiple articles about this on WordPress and Rafflecopter. JavaScript is what makes the giveaway look slick and professional. Otherwise you have to create a link to a photo or tag in your post. This is what I did, and is a good work around, but I like things to be perfect, so I found this a downside.

4. Integrating the Facebook App 
There is a learning curve when integrating your giveaway with Facebook. First, you need to create the connection on your page, then they give this recommendation of not posting a link to Rafflecopter in a Facebook post advertising your giveaway, but rather a generated Facebook link. This took time to understand. However, once the parameters were clear this became really easy to execute.

Overall, once I learned the basic ropes of using Rafflecopter, I decided it was best to stay with them for further giveaways. And the widget is great overall. I highly recommend it.  The main cons I overcame as I went and my giveaways were successful for my main purpose. There are some key features that I wish I had that are only available if I upgrade. Let me know what your experience was like with Rafflecopter below. I would love to hear them.

I also wrote a blog on How to Host a Giveaway.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

If you haven’t please click on the book cover and nominate my novel! A million thanks!!

BookCoverImage

 

 

Giveaway Winner

Winner
I’m excited to announce the winner of the $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card Giveaway. Sarah O. nominated my novel How the Fat Girl Got Thin and won some awesome book money.

Congratulations! Thank you for your support! 

Close to 700 people entered the giveaway, but only one lucky winner. But a new a Rafflecopter giveaway has only 2 days left, so enter now to win an incredible hand-woven seagrass tote by Seagrass Totes. 

My Kindle Scout campaign is still going strong and this makes me incredibly happy and grateful. So many people have believed in my work and nominated me. But I still need as many nominations as I can get. Please tell your friends to nominate How the Fat Girl Got Thin.

Sea Grass Tote Giveaway Details!
Prize: Beautiful Seagrass Totes 
Begins: Monday, September 5th at 7:00 am
Ends: Monday, September 11th at 11:58 pm
To enter:a Rafflecopter giveaway

How to Host a Giveaway

In the past few weeks, I’ve learned a lot about hosting and executing giveaways. I thought I share some of the things I’ve learned to help the next novice along.

Step 1 – Pick a hosting site 

rafflecopter-home-pageThere are a few sites to choose from. The main ones are: Gleam, Rafflecopter, and PromoSimple.

Kasa Reviews gives a great overview of the three, and based on their information, I chose Rafflecopter. Although, they all seemed pretty similar and offered the same FREE features. However, this will change if you upgrade. Also, Rafflecopter seemed to be everywhere, and I wanted to go with a big brand to start.

Step 2 – Choose a Giveaway Prize

If you peruse any of the giveaway link sites, you’ll find a myriad ogift-boxf prizes ranging from cash to gift cards to dream vacations. I’m financing the giveaway, so I needed to limit my prize in the $25 dollar range, but what to offer? After much research, it became clear that gift cards are the best prize option. First you can pick a store that has mass appeal like Amazon or Target and the exact amount of the card. Also, you can send the winner a link to claim the prize once it’s over – saving on shipping costs.

Step 3 – Social Media Outreach

sm-outreachI seriously doubt that Hemingway would be so keen to dive into the social media web of modern-day publishing because it can seem complicated and time-consuming. The key to a successful giveaway is reaching the right people, so flex those fingers and get started. Since my website is on Word Press I discovered that one post about your giveaway can be seamlessly shared with Facebook, Twitter and Google. This saves a lot of time. There are few problems with this in that your posts on Facebook and Twitter need to have fewer words than a blog post, so you need to make your posts short and visual. You also need to generate interest in your giveaway before it starts, when it starts, during the giveaway, and when it ends. I found it useful to write all my posts for the week ahead of time and save them as drafts. As the week went on, I would publish them. I also scheduled posts on Facebook, so that I didn’t have to think about the promotion at key times. In addition, I enlisted my friends and family to share my giveaway posts to increase traffic.

Step 4 – Giveaway advertisement

This area deserves its own blog post, but I’ll try to keep it succinct. For my first giveaway, I solely used Facebook advertising for the giveaway. I found it hard to determine which tags to use to widen, yet narrow my audience enough to reach the right people. In total, I spent about $30 dollars on advertising and the outreach wasn’t that successful. About 180 people entered the giveaway for an Amazon Gift Card. I wouldn’t discount Facebook advertising though. It does bring people to your page and website and could be more fruitful for an experienced marketer.

giveaway-promoteFor my second and third giveaways, I used giveaway promotion websites to advertise my giveaways. There are quite a few of these sites to choose from. A lot of them are free and easy to submit to online. As mentioned, some are free, yet to reach a wider audience or to be featured requires a fee. The cost can vary from $5 to $100, depending on the site and the marketing. The site I used for my giveaways was Giveaway Promote. I found this site through a google search and then learned it was recommended by Rafflecopter. Once I did this, the number of entrants to my second giveaway increased to almost 700 participants. I spent about $25 dollars. I also advertised the giveaway on as many free sites as I could find, so I’m not sure where all of my entrants came from, but on Giveaway Promote you can pay $15 for a detailed report to find this out. Another site that looks promising, but is more expensive is Giveaway Frenzy. They will submit your giveaway to a 100+ sites for $57. If you don’t have the time to submit to Giveaway linkies on your own or familiar with these sites, this seems like a good option.

Some Additional Take Aways

  • Figure out your main purpose of your giveaway and focus on that to reach the widest audience.The purpose of my giveaways was to increase nominations for my novel and at first it seemed logical to offer a free book as a giveaway, but this isn’t an attractive prize for most people. Unless you can offer a few books with a gift card or a book package that includes multiple books, I wouldn’t suggest this to increase nominations or publicity.
  • Giveaways take a lot of time, but once you get into the rhythm they are manageable and easy to promote. In addition, giveaways quickly became the number one way my book was being nominated, so I highly recommend them for this endeavor. In addition, they will double the traffic on your website and other social media pages. I also met some great people online who came for the giveaway, but in the end really wanted to support my work.
  • If you decide to have giveaways consistently, pay for the report of where your entrants are coming from to increase traffic for the next one.

If you have any giveaway words of wisdom, please leave them in the comments below. I’ll add them to the blog post. 

 

Below is a list of some of the Giveaway sites
that you can submit to:

Giveaway Promote
Giveaway Frenzy
Any Lucky Day
Contest Girl
Julie’s Freebies
Sweepstakes Max
Hypersweep
Sweepstakes Mania
Giveaway Monkey
Sweepstakes Lovers
Contests for Moms
Win Prizes Online

I’m also hosting another giveaway for a Beautiful Seagrass Tote. I know it isn’t a gift card, but this bag is made by a good friend of mine, and she does incredible work, so I wanted to support her in return. Plus, it’s hand-woven in Thailand, which is where my novel is set.

Don’t miss out on this incredible giveaway!

 Giveaway Details!
Prize: Gorgeaous Seagrass Tote
Begins: Monday, August 5th at 7:00 am
Ends: Monday, September 12th at 12:00 am
To enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you haven’t please click on the book cover and nominate my novel on Kindle Scout! A million thanks!!

BookCoverImage