Blogging Tips: Should You Host Giveaways to Increase Traffic?

Blogging Tips

Yesterday I posted ways to increase blog traffic.  Today we’re taking a closer look at using giveaways to promote page views and increase followers.

Cons of Hosting Giveaways

  • They can be expensive.
  • They can be time-consuming and take away time you would otherwise use to generate new content for your blog.
  • The new “followers” you get (if following is required to enter) probably aren’t actually interested in your blog.
  • People cheat, so you’ll have to verify the entries.

Pros of Hosting Giveaways

  • If the giveaway is properly publicized, you’ll get new visitors to your blog.
  • Some of these visitors might stay and become followers.
  • You’ll increase your stats.
  • More people will continue to follow your blog if they know you post giveaways frequently.
  • You give back to the book blogging community and your followers.

My Opinion on Giveaways

If you have the money and the inclination, go for it.  It’s true that giveaways don’t necessarily attract invested readers and may just inflate your stats. (Read more on this at Nose Graze.)  That itself could be useful if you  need higher stats to attract publishers and get ARCs, even if it’s disingenuous.  However, I think most bloggers have inflated stats since readers naturally drift away,  so the main goal is to not actively try to get fake numbers.  The real benefit of giveaways is that they get people to visit your blog and get some people to follow your blog.  Even if those people never intended to actively follow your content, you’re ahead if your posts are coming up in their Facebook or Twitter feeds.  You’re now on their radar, and something you post may catch their attention in the future.  This is great news, particularly for newer bloggers or bloggers who have a goal of increasing their followers.  Giveaways won’t get you dedicated fans, but they’ll get you some attention, which is the first step to finding real fans.

The reality at pages unbound

Pages Unbound has hosted giveaways in the past (list here), and I even made a concerted effort to increase giveaways in 2015 because I felt I should give back to a community that has given me so much (including lots of giveaway prizes!).  However, giveaways are not a major feature of our blog, partially because huge giveaways aren’t in the budget for either me or my co-blogger.

I don’t think the increase in giveaways increased our traffic or followers.  This is attributable in part to the fact I hosted one-book giveaways that were US-only, in order to limit costs.  This means if people weren’t interested in the particular book on offer or were interested but didn’t have a US mailing address, they couldn’t enter.  Most of our followers didn’t enter, and we didn’t get many new followers; what we did get was a few non-follower cheaters using giveaway-only Twitter accounts and providing fake URLs to get more entries.

So what would I do if I wanted to use giveaways for the specific purpose of increasing blog traffic and followers?  Offer book gift cards, so people could buy whatever they wanted if they won, and make sure the giveaway were open internationally.  A big box of books would also be a more attractive prize than a single book, though shipping internationally would be difficult.  Finally, I would cut down on entry options and only allow people to tweet about the giveaway once, instead of once per day while the giveaway was open, in order to cut down on the cheating.

Do you host giveaways on your blog? tell us why or why not in the comments!


18 thoughts on “Blogging Tips: Should You Host Giveaways to Increase Traffic?

  1. Geraldine @ Corralling Books says:

    Yeah, I’ve heard a lot about how giveaways aren’t the best for driving new followers before – but I was really intrigued by how you mentioned that you wanted to hold a couple of giveaways to give back to the community, I think it was? That’s a really interesting concept, and I think a great way to look at giveaways! I’ll be thinking about this for sometime…I’ve been wanting to hold a giveaway, but yeah, not quite sure to try it, because I don’t want followers who don;t care about my content you know? But looking at it as if I’m giivng back to the community…I like that viewpoint so much more! 🙂


    • Briana says:

      Yep! I figured I’ve won a few books from the book community in the past couple years, so it would be nice to give some back, even if I don’t currently have the budget to do large or frequent giveaways. I’m pondering doing another giveaway with our Tolkien even in March, just because it’s an event that has gotten fairly popular, even though it’s been every other year, and I think people would enjoy a giveaway with it.

      So far I’ve always offered a free entry with giveaways. No one ever had to follow us to enter. You just get extra entries if you do, which I think is to fair to reward the readers who have been following for a while and actually read our blog. But that doesn’t stop people from fake following for extra entries either. :/

      Liked by 1 person

  2. saraletourneau says:

    I’ve only had two giveaways on my site so far. One was for an author’s new book; and while it drove traffic to the site and ran smoothly, the cheating and “fake entries” irked me a lot. For example, it was pretty clear when some Twitter users weren’t fans of the author and only wanted free stuff. So, from now on, I’m limiting the number of times entrants can Tweet the giveaway links. (In other words, I agree with your last point about Twitter and giveaways.)

    The other was a blogoversary / thank-you giveaway. 2015 was an amazing year for the blog statistically as well as exposure-wise and content-wise; and I wanted to show readers how much I appreciated their visits, shares, comments, etc. So I offered three prizes based on the things I cover at my site (tea = samples of tea blends I’m making for my WIP; writing = critique of the 1st chapter of a winner’s WIP; reading = a book via The Book Depository). That drew a lot of interest from the right people, and was a lot of fun and not too expensive. (I had a price limit for the book prize.) So, I think it depends on what’s being given away, the purpose for the giveaway, and how readers benefit from it.


    • Briana says:

      The “share on Twitter” option is so much worse than it sounds. Theoretically I like it because if people share, more people will know about it, more people will come to your blog, etc. And that’s part of the point of the giveaway, right? To get people to know about your blog? But then people just take advantage making fake accounts and tweeting to their audience of five followers every day for the entire month the giveaway is open. So I think in the future I’ll have sharing by tweet as an entry, but it will be capped at one entry. No one will be tempted to tweet 25 times with their fake account that way.

      I like your blogoversary giveaway! I think that’s what people are really looking for in most giveaways, the option to get something they actually want. Giving away a single book will probably work if it’s a super-popular event everyone wants, but people will usually be more interested if they can pick among different prizes offered.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Valerie says:

    To be honest, I feel like people are drifting away from blog giveaways and moving to Twitter giveaways? Because in that case, you’ll probably be getting more followers that will be willing to follow you for a longer time, and because everyone goes on Twitter, they will actually see your tweets. And in contrast, if you have a blog giveaway, you would be asking for followers to enter by following via Bloglovin, which some people don’t even use as a feed. So there’s less likely of a chance that they will see your content. So it probably is good for upping your blog stats (and gaining more followers), but only for when the duration of the time the giveaway is hosted.

    I have yet to host a Twitter giveaway. Maybe I will just to compare?

    Awesome post Briana, as usual!


    • Briana says:

      That’s a good point. I have seen a lot of Twitter giveaways recently. I think it is easier to get followers for them because it’s just a click and a retweet to enter. The only downside is that I think sometimes I enter, then realize two months later I’m following someone and have no idea who they are or why I’m following and I just unfollow. Maybe that’s just me, though. :p


  4. travelingwitht says:

    I LOVE giveaways and host quite a bit. I don’t really do it for the boost in traffic (sometimes there is a bump in traffic, sometimes not). I like giveaways because I like to put people and books together- and have managed to find a few publicists who are generous with giveaway copies. I do host a giveaway for my blog anniversary- I buy signed books and other things all year long- it’s a thank you to my followers! 🙂


  5. opinionsofawolf says:

    I host giveaways on my blog but only of indie books that I’ve accepted for review and rated at least 3 stars. I feel like vetting the book and offering up a free copy really helps both the indie author and the readers out. It gives the indie authors a review and a voice saying hey this is a good book. It gives readers overwhelmed with indie books a good place to start with a voice saying hey you can trust this is a good one. I enjoy hosting them but I definitely consider them a labor of love and not a way to increase followers.


    • Briana says:

      I like this idea! I’ll admit I don’t read a ton of indie books, but I would certainly be more likely to if a blogger I trusted reviewed the book well and like it enough to give a copy away.


  6. Allison @ The Book Wheel says:

    What I’ve learned is that no one enters my giveaways, although it does bring a spike in temporary traffic. That said, other people have incredible successes with both entires and traffic and I have no idea how they do it!


    • Briana says:

      I’ve had a similar issue with hosting giveaways that no one was interested in–even though I give FREE entries and you don’t have to do anything to win. :p That’s why I think giving a book of choice might be more useful.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Inge | The Belgian Reviewer says:

    I hosted my first (and so far only) giveaway a few months ago. My goal at the time was getting more likes for my facebook page but that definitely didn’t work. I had two options and the second one was to give a comment and almost everyone only did that… I know now that I have to make ‘both’ options obligatory to get what I want. I hope to host another giveaway soon.


    • Briana says:

      That’s definitely something I’ve noticed with giveaways, too. (And also the way I personally enter some giveaways.) I’ll just do the options that I like better or that are easier for me. :p

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Nicole Melanson says:

    I don’t do giveaways on my blog. I kinda feel like they make more sense for authors to promote their own titles than they do for bloggers. On WordMothers, I try to feature a wide range of books and I take an international approach, so I feel like it would be misleading or overly niche to just do, say, a picture book giveaway that’s open to only readers in Australia (where I’m based). And yes, budget comes into play too. I don’t monetize my blog so I don’t have cash to ship free gifts to followers on a regular basis.


    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I do giveaways occasionally just because I’ve been blogging for seven years now and I like to give back to the community a bit, but I certainly don’t do a lot of them, maybe two a year tops. And I agree that international shipping is tough. If I’m giving away a physical book I have and not ordering the book from the Book Depository, I do US only. I know people don’t like this, but, honestly, I’m not obligated to give people free stuff, and shipping costs internationally can be really high.

      Liked by 1 person

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