Every now and then I see people talking about giveaways and how they’re jealous of the “rich” bloggers who can afford to host tons of giveaways, because giveaways lead to more followers. These bloggers feel like they’re at a disadvantage because since they can’t afford to host giveaways, they won’t have as many followers.
Every time I see this, I feel like I need to burst out into an epic song where the moral is: giveaways won’t earn you followers.
What are followers?
Lately the idea of “following a blog” has become the process of clicking a “Follow Me” button. Just clicking the button and seeing the tally go up one. But is that following a blog? No.
Following a blog is checking back regularly to continue reading new posts.
It’s the act of following updates and progress—the act of staying informed. So the key thing here is converting a new visitor into a repeat visitor, meaning they come back again and again.
So how does this relate to giveaways?
Most people who “follow” you for a giveaway just do so for the extra entry, then they leave forever
People who follow you because of an INCENTIVE (like free books) don’t actually care about your content or your posts or your reviews. They care about your free stuff. They want this box of ARCs or this Amazon Gift Card, so they complete all the required actions for the entries, then they leave. Most of those people won’t ever visit your blog again.
These followers aren’t an accurate representation of the people who regularly read your blog
Followers earned from giveaways will earn you some temporary traffic… but that’s all it is: temporary. Here’s an example:
You see the normal page views, then when it hits the yellow zone, you host a giveaway. So your page view numbers go up—maybe even double. But once the giveaway ends, it’s straight back to normal.
Yes your follow numbers will go up, but that’s just the meaningless tally going up. All you’ve done is polluted your legitimate number with fake ones. There are people out there who create bogus email accounts just for giveaways. So when they complete the entry for “Subscribe via email”, they’re just subscribing with their bogus, throwaway email address that they only use for giveaways. Some people even have separate Twitter accounts with no followers just to tweet about the giveaways they enter.
So when you say you have “500 email subscribers”, it doesn’t actually mean you have 500 followers. It means you have 500 people who are subscribed, but maybe only 200 of those actually read the emails they’ve subscribed to. The others just subscribed for the giveaway entry.
Giveaways can help at first, but they’re not a long term boost
Giveaways can be helpful in your first few months of blogging to help get your foot in the door. They will give you exposure and people will become aware of your existence. They help in the exact same way memes do.
But once you become at least somewhat established, the benefits drop off. You no longer need the exposure boost from giveaways, so all you’re left with are the inflated numbers. Now maybe half of your “followers” actually follow you and read your posts, but the other half are from giveaways and will never visit your blog again.
I’m not telling you to NOT host giveaways. I have no problem with the act of giving away books (or other items). I just wish people didn’t connect giveaways to blog success/traffic/followers because that’s not how it works. Being rich won’t make you a more successful blogger. And I don’t know about you, but if I was a “successful blogger” because I hosted giveaways, I wouldn’t really be proud of that. How can I be proud of the fact that people follow my blog in hopes of getting free stuff? (As opposed to because they actually really like what I have to say.)
Who are you more likely to follow:
- Someone who hosts 5 giveaways a week and posts 0 discussions.
- Someone who publishes 5 discussion posts a week and 0 giveaways.
I’m going with option #2. I don’t give a rats ass about giveaways these days. I love and follow blogs for the content. I want interesting and thought-provoking posts. I want posts that will make me want to leave a comment. I want posts that get my wheels turning.
Ask any successful blogger and they’ll tell you the same thing: the best thing you can do for your blog is produce quality content. It’s about the discussions, the reviews, the tips, the tutorials.. it’s NOT about the free stuff. Any blog can give something away for free, but not every blog can come up with unique and interesting posts. That’s why people are more interested in the latter.