In case you haven’t noticed, we ran a giveaway here last Friday.

It was a pretty sweet deal, too: leave a comment (or follow us on Twitter, or tweet about it, or all of the above…) and enter to win a copy of the premium Anatomy theme for WordPress. The contest is still running throughout the week, so make sure you enter as much as possible until then!

It’s been going well — really well. Here’s a look at the traffic results:

 (That last day on the end was Friday!)

Essentially, we had a ~20% jump in traffic on Friday alone, and the high traffic continued throughout the weekend. This is great news, but it’s not about us.

It’s about you, and your author Home Base. 

I’d always known giveaways were a great idea in theory, but I didn’t understand a few things:

  • How do I find “good” things to give away, that people would want?
  • How do I manage the contest, to make sure things are going smoothly and kept fair?
  • How do they manage to drive traffic?

After this little experiment, I feel like I have some of the answers.

Here’s what I learned:

How to run a great giveaway that generates traffic: 

First, you need to make sure there’s something worth giving away. To me, this is crucial. I’ve entered giveaway contests before for things that are high-dollar items, things I want, or things that help me solve a problem. I’ve ignored the giveaways that are scammy/shady, don’t give me anything helpful, or are simply irrelevant to my needs.

Seek out the things that your readers will love — a book that will help them figure something out (or is just really entertaining), a product or service that helps them solve a problem, or something fun that they’d like.

This first step really is crucial — since the marketing for your giveaway is indirect (you’re probably relying on the people who already visit your site), you want to make sure that your current audience will respond positively to the contest.

Set up the contest

After you’ve chosen your giveaway prize, get it set up.

I used Rafflecopter, who managed the entire process from choosing the methods of entry to choosing a winner (with the help of Random.org). They give you a simple Javascript widget to place on the page of the giveaway that asks people to sign in using Facebook or an email address in order to enter.

It’s a breeze, and I’ll probably use them each time I host a giveaway.

After that, you’ll want to make sure you write a solid blog post about the giveaway, so you have a place to direct your visitors but also so you have a place to drop the Rafflecopter widget (if you choose to go that route). I used a guest post, but you can write up a simple description of the contest and the rules for entry as well.

Market/promote the giveaway

I used Rafflecopter’s “tweet” option to perpetuate the auto-marketing magic.

What this means is I set up a method of entry worth 3 points (3 separate entries) each time a user tweets about the contest. They can do this once a day, and the widget automatically includes the link back to the blog post or giveaway page.

I included this option because I wanted to use the power of my Twitter network to market the giveaway for me. Every time someone enters the contest they’re promoting it as well.

Finally, I sent out an email to my mailing list mentioning the contest — this was a key aspect for me, as it “launched” the contest and got the ball rolling. If you don’t have a list, I recommend starting one for different reasons anyway, but you can also tap into our list here as well.

Other than those two marketing ideas, you can do any number of things to promote the giveaway — even offline advertisement. The sky’s the limit — be creative, and try to set things up in a way that it’s self-perpetuating.

Stop reading — get started!

As with all “advice,” it means nothing until you take action on it. Setting up a giveaway on your own site is probably easier than you think, and the only thing that can guarantee its failure is not marketing it at all.

Spend some time brainstorming the promotion strategies you’ll use, and then follow through with them — it really will pay off in a big way!

If you’d like to get a little help with all of this, I’ve set up a pretty cool resource — check out the all new Giveaways page of the site!

We’ll work out a giveaway contest with your chosen prize, and you can choose to write a promotional guest post to go live with it. The rules (more like guidelines!) are up on the page, and the contact form you’ll need is there as well.

Most of us are authors — that gives us a really obvious way to run a giveaway. So what are you waiting for?