About a month ago I finally took the advice of many self-published authors and decided to run a giveaway on my website. I had done giveaways before on places like Goodreads and at live events, but I didn’t have a good option for running a giveaway on my website. There are lots of options out there like Rafflecopter, Heyo, and Gleam. My issue with some of these is that they require you to pay monthly which is silly if you’re not running a giveaway every month. There are some free options out there but most people either a) don’t trust their layout and think it’s a scam or b) think they look really ugly on your site.
My recommendation is that you use King Sumo Giveaways. It allows people to enter the giveaway and share it easily to get more “entries” so their chances of winning increase. It’s not cheap by any means but if you wait until Black Friday (like I did) you can get it for a fraction of the price. The nice thing about King Sumo is that you pay once and you’re done. You can run as many giveaways on your WordPress site as you want without extra fees. And of course, it’s customizable and has a sleek design. Lots of bloggers use it very successfully and it seems to help your conversion rate too.
So what’s the big deal about giveaways?
Well I find that they help you target your audience very effectively. You know those people that supposedly exist but are really hard to find? A giveaway will expose them to you and your books. And with King Sumo get their email address which allows you to directly communicate with them about your books. But if you don’t target your ideal reader you’ll just have lots of unhappy contestants who immediately unsubscribe from your mailing list.
Here are three ways you can optimize a giveaway in your niche and get an engaged fanbase:
Choose Prizes That Your Audience Finds Irresistible
For some reason iPads became THE prize of choice for online giveaways. They certainly attract a lot of attention to giveaways and if you decide to offer one you will certainly get lots of interest. Everyone wants an iPad but does everyone who enters for that prize also want want to read an epic fantasy novel? Not really.
So while a free iPad will be highly desirable, it’s not the best choice for finding your audience. Sure there might be a few contestants sign up for the iPad that might have an interest in your books but you have to weed through lots of chaff to find them.
For my contest I wanted to find readers who liked epic fantasy so I chose three of my favorite fantasy books as prizes: The Hobbit, A Wizard of Earthsea, and the Chronicles of Narnia. Most fantasy readers probably own these books already so I looked for collectible editions that would pique interest. In the future I will probably offer signed copies of books that my ideal readers would get excited about owning. Alternatively I could have offered memorabilia related to properties like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, but I wanted to zero in on readers specifically. Not saying those kind of prizes can’t work, I just chose to be laser-focused on my targeting.
Choosing prizes that resonate with your ideal readers will both garner interest from them and eliminate people who couldn’t care less about your books.
Don’t Run Your Giveaway For More Than Week
This is kind of a big deal. You want to criticize of urgency about your giveaway. People forget stuff all the time. There may be people who click on your giveaway page, fall in love with the prizes, click on another tab to check their Facebook feed, and completely forget to enter. If you have a nice big countdown displaying when the giveaway ends it grabs people’s attention. It demands action. Something like this:
But why a week specifically? Why not just two days to create urgency? I’ve read somewhere that anything less than a week doesn’t get you as many entrants. Plus it’s really hard to promote your giveaway under such a tight deadline. A week is the sweet spot for creating urgency, generating interest, and getting a good number of contestants signed up.
Promote Your Giveaway Like Crazy
It goes without saying that if you want people to come to your party, you need to send out some invites. If you have a mailing list send your subscribers an email with all the details about the giveaway and encourage them to share it on social media. Even though your subscribers are already fans and will likely enter, their willingness to share your giveaway with their friends is invaluable.
Speaking of social media, you’ll need to tweet, post, and pin everything you can about your giveaway for the whole week it’s running. Yes it may sound obnoxious but it’s the best way to get people talking about it and signed up for it. You also need to go outside your circles and promoted on sites like Reddit. The cool thing about Reddit is that there are subreddits specifically for contests and giveaways. So all you have to do is post a link to your giveaway page with a description and you’re good to go.
Some other places that I found useful to promote my giveaway were sweepstakes and contests sites like FatWallet.com and Slickdeals.net. You’ll need to register for the sites in order to post on their forums and follow the guidelines. But it’s well worth the time and I gained several entries from these places.
So here’s the results for my first giveaway:
- 208 entries
- 36 unconfirmed entrants
- 14 unsubscribed entrants
I’ll be honest and say this is a pretty modest result from my giveaway. It’s not mind blowing like those giveaways that net a blogger 10,000 subscribers. But for an author who is not well-known and only has two books published (one of which isn’t in the fantasy genre), I was pretty pleased with these numbers. Especially with only 14 people who were completely uninterested after the giveaway was over. Those who stayed on got a free copy of my book and I’ve had a few people finish reading it with positive reviews!
Needless to say if you’re an author who’s considering a giveaway I highly recommend you do one soon. One of the best things about a giveaway is that you immediately go from zero audience to hundreds of eager readers. I’ll definitely be running these quarterly to increase my mailing list size and to find more eager readers.