Hi, my name is Maria, and I'm a blog giveaway addict. (Pt. 1)

Since the subject of giveaways is still fresh in my brain, I thought I'd take the opportunity to talk more in-depth about them. A little backstory: I enter a lot of blog giveaways. Not surprisingly, I win a lot of stuff, as well. Here are some of the cool things I have won in the past few years:

-A Best Bottom diaper (just came in the mail today! I'm SOOOO excited to try it out!)
-$100 gift card to The Vintage Pearl
-$25 for Groupon (I am just WAITING for a massage deal to show up! :-D)
-A pair of stylish Crocs. 
-Two Little Scholastic board books-- Baby's D's favorite!
-A wet bag, a reusable Swiffer wand filler, and 4 handmade bars of soap, among other things!

There are some amazing prizes to be had out there! So, as a veteran giver-awayer-enterer, I thought I'd share some tips on how to maximize your giveaway endeavors and minimize wasted time.

-Enter only for items you really want. This probably goes without saying, but sometimes, it's easy to get so caught up in playing the bloggy lottery that suddenly you find yourself entering contests for mechanical pencils and wart remover. Ask yourself, "Do I really need/want this? Can I just buy this fairly inexpensively at the store? Will I actually use it?"

-What would YOU do to win a Klondike bar? Most giveaways give you a plethora of ways to gain extra entries: follow the blog, like something on facebook, follow on twitter, subscribe by email, etc. Sometimes these are mandatory entries. You'd be surprised by how seldom I do them! And that is because I have a problem with selling my loyalty to win junk. I can see how offering free stuff should entitle a blogger to demand a following in return, but the little voice within me asks, Don't you want to know that people are following you because they genuinely like your blog, and not because they just want to win crap? So I don't follow blogs unless I love their content. I don't "Like" things on facebook unless I've actually tried the product and truly do like it. Actually, I usually follow after I win something, as a thank-you. But otherwise, if a giveaway requires that I follow in some way, I just walk away.

My one exception is Twitter. Maybe I'm just dumb, but I don't understand Twitter, so I never use it. But would I for the chance to double my chances of winning? Heck, yes! So I opened an account for the sole purpose of following sponsors and regurgitating tweets. And that is literally all I do with Twitter. And somehow, even with my limited and horribly abusive use of Twitter, I have nearly as many followers there as I have for this blog. Hmmm, maybe I ought to rethink that whole well-crafted and thought-out blog post thing. ;-)

All this to say, think about what you're willing to do for a couple extra entries. If you have no problem with spamming your friends' facebook feeds or having a cluttered blog reader, then be my guest! I hope it wins you something!

This came up in Google Images for "giveaway".
Who wouldn't want to win candy?

-Enter only giveaways that will email you if you win. Since I rarely follow these particular blogs, it doesn't make sense to enter a giveaway that will announce the winner on the blog itself. I don't keep track of the giveaways I enter, so one of the first things I look for is whether or not they will email the winner. 

-Leave an email. Make it ridiculously easy for the giveaway host to contact you. Even if the comment section has a slot to enter an email, I always additionally leave my email in the comment itself. Spammers like to pull email addresses from giveaway comments, so I enter my email in this format: myemailaddress at gmail dot com. And then don't forget to check your email! Most sponsors give 24 or 48 hours for the winner to respond, so be on the lookout-- even in your spam folder. I actually almost missed a prize recently because I wasn't checking my spam folder.

I love Picnik.com.

So now you know how to do giveaways the smart way; I talk about where to enter them in Part 2!

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