Let’s talk about blog giveaways today, shall we? They are becoming more and more popular, and the rules for compensation more and more vague. Some bloggers are being paid huge sums of cash to run giveaways on their blogs, while others are expected to promote giveaways on multiple social media platforms without even the offer of a free sample product. As usual, my advice is to not bother with giveaways at all unless you are absolutely certain a giveaway is something your readership will enjoy (and “enjoy” is not the same thing as “not be annoyed by”). In order to ensure this, the payoff has to be pretty high and the annoyance factor pretty low, and keeping those things in mind, below are my other set of recommendations for why you absolutely must insist on being paid for doing a giveaway on your blog.
1. Most readers assume you are being paid for them anyway.
There is so much ambiguity in the blogosphere right now about the status of giveaways and how they are compensated that readers are assuming that they are all compensated, even though they are not all compensated. People who are familiar with how the mommyblogosphere hierarchy of power works can look at a blog and a campaign and make a general guess at how a post might be compensated, but the general public (and most readers) have no way of doing this. Therefore, they are assuming that all giveaways are sponsored posts. They might realize that you’re not making Dooce money for your coffeemaker giveaway, but they don’t have a concept of how much less. You can, of course, choose to tell them that you are not being paid at all, but then that bears the question of why you are doing it at all, because then you are doing a paid placement except for the fact that it is not paid, in order to give your readers a free product, which is fine — again, only if you really really think your readers will appreciate it. But only in that case.
2. They read like paid posts, even if they are not paid posts.
Giveaway posts read like ad copy. I hate reading ad copy. Even if it means I can enter a giveaway for a free product at the end of it, I hate reading ad copy. You know why? If I want a product, I don’t even read ad copy. I just go buy the product. You are now asking me to read ad copy in exchange for the chance to win one free product at the end of the post. No thanks. Bye.
3. You are using up some of your trust capital to run a giveaway, and that has a market value.
I touched on this with numbers one and two, but I come to your blog to read what you have to say, not what the product makers have to say. When you let them rent out your content column, that annoys me. If I am your target market, that is not good. Now, if you have a different target market that doesn’t mind this so much, maybe it’s not as big of a deal, but you never know how your market will react. Every time you let somebody else into your content column you are taking a risk. Is it worth it if you’re not getting paid? I don’t think so. Maybe not even then.
4. A giveaway promotes a product on your blog. That means it is an advertisement.
Why would you run an ad without being paid? That’s silly.
5. There Is Definitely Somebody Else Who Is Getting Paid.
Regardless of what the PR company or the brand is telling you, you can bet there is somebody on this campaign who is getting paid. If they aren’t paying you, they may not have enough money to pay you, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t paying somebody. Pass on a campaign that hasn’t allotted enough to pay you. When you have been around long enough, they will.