How Giveaways Build an Audience and How to Plan One (Using Rafflecopter)

I looooove hosting giveaways. From the time I set up the giveaway to the moment I get to notify a winner, I’m excited. Giving away free stuff is fun. Being the one who connects an audience to a company or product I love feels good.

So…should you do a giveaway? How is it done? Why should you consider it? Here’s what I’ve got for you…

Why You Should Do a Giveaway

The why is unique to you, so there’s no single right reason. Maybe you like giving free stuff to people or you have something you want to promote. Maybe you want to grow your Twitter followers. And maybe you’re cleaning out a closet and have a ton of sex toys that really need a home. Frankly, I’ve done giveaways for all those reasons.

My overall why is because I like giving back to an audience. We’re constantly asking for them to click, buy, share, read, listen, and Do All The Things! Giveaways are an easy way to say thank you.

Here are multiple whys — choose any or all of them or use your own reasons:

  • Promote a new book
  • Promote a new product
  • Because giveaways are fun
  • Grow your social media following
  • Get more people to visit your website
  • Give back to your community
  • Work with brands you love
  • Celebrate a special time of year
  • Celebrate your blogiversary

How To Do a Giveaway

There are two sides to how to set up a giveaway: what the prize should be and how to set up your giveaway.

Figuring Out Your Giveaway Prize

multiple reasons to hold a giveaway

These are several giveaways I’ve planned, and as you can see the prizes vary wildly. And, as you can see, the number of entries vary wildly. The last two are the biggest yet, and I hope it continues to grow.

Promoting your stuff. Anytime I have something new to sell (which isn’t as often as I’d like) I give one (or more) away. When Loving BDSM still offered community memberships, we gave away memberships. John Brownstone makes kinky sex toys, and we give those away from time to time. That’s the clear giveaway-as-promotion option.

Working with adult brands. Sometimes, I want to celebrate a time of year like Masturbation Month in May. That’s when I turn to adult brands I’ve worked with in the past and see if they want to participate. My job is to host the giveaway and promote it. Their job is to provide the prize at the end. On this one, you have two options: Receive the toy from the company and ship it to the winner OR let the company send it directly to the winner. Go for option two on this one. It’ll save you time and money.

I like to pair this option with affiliate links and coupon codes. Many adult brands, especially if you’ve done a review for them or are clearly a fan, are happy to work with you on this. I only work with companies I know and like because the winner expects me to offer something of value. And I don’t want my name associated with a product or brand that’s not very good.

Clearing the clutter. And for those of us who receive free sex toys, books, and kinky things in the mail, sometimes, it’s time to clean house. Several years ago, I received (from multiple companies) more lube than I will ever use in a lifetime. It was time for a lube giveaway! Sex toy companies will sometimes send extra products (in hopes that I might do a giveaway) and so a random giveaway is born.

When you do this, you take on the responsibility of making sure everything is safe. Check lube or condoms for expiration dates, and only send sex toys that are new and unused — in the original packaging if possible.

Setting Up Your Giveaway

Some people do a giveaway on their Instagram feed or Twitter timeline only. Sort of a “like this, tag, and share.” Those are popular, and if you want to do that, that’s your choice. But I believe a giveaway needs to bring people to my site so I want the giveaway form to live there. I can promote it on social media (and do) but it’s not my home base.


Because what if Instagram decides to ban me for a week or Twitter won’t let me post for a few days or Facebook puts me in timeout for a month? These are all real things that social media sites do to sex bloggers and creators. Your giveaway is gone and your audience and friends can’t even help you promote it.

So…put your giveaway form in a blog post on your website — and then promote it all over social media.

What Giveaway Option to Use

The two giveaway platforms I know of (though I’m sure there are more) are Rafflecopter and Gleam. I’ve entered contests through Gleam, and it seemed nice enough. But I’ve been using Rafflecopter for years and I’m a creature of habit, so it’s the one I continue to use.

Yes, you can use it for free. And yes, you get more features if you’re willing to pay for it.

Here’s what you can do with Rafflecopter:

  • Set up multiple giveaways in advance. You can also choose what day it ends (but not time unless you pay).
  • Offer multiple options to let people enter. Pro tip: Some options are unavailable unless you pay but if you choose the “Make your own” entry, you can get around this.
  • Set the number of entries (1 to 5) per entry option. If something is easy like “Follow me on Facebook” I may offer one entry for that. But if you tweet a special message or leave a blog comment, I’ll make it worth three or five entries. There are no rules on this, only what you choose.
  • Create mandatory and optional entries. I’ve never made any entry mandatory, but you can.
  • Offer entries that people can do every day. I like to do this with blog comments (to encourage people to find other posts to read) and tweeting a message.
  • Let Rafflecopter randomly select the winner. If they don’t qualify (and yes, people cheat from time to time), you can pick another. You can also show the winner or not on the giveaway after it’s closed.
  • Set the terms and conditions of your giveaway. This is good for declaring the value of the prize, what countries are included or excluded, who can enter (usually 18 and up) and when the giveaway closes.
  • Create multiple options for entries so people have at least one option for entering.

sample entries to set up a giveaway

This is from the last giveaway I organized, and these are the entries I used. I set them up and then dragged and dropped them into the order I wanted. My OCD (clinically diagnosed, tyvm) brain prefers an order based on number of entries (that’s the +1, +3, +5 you see on the left).

Promoting Your Giveaway

Let’s briefly discuss promoting your giveaway. In my early days of giveaways, I believed in the (false) notion of, “If you build it, they will come.” And that’s just not true for most of us. You’re going to have to promote your giveaway.

  • Schedule tweets. Buffer, Hootsuite, and Tweetdeck all work well for this.
  • Make tweeting messages an entry. This lets participants help you promote it.
  • Use Canva to make a graphic for Instagram or Facebook and promote it there.
  • Ask the brand if they’ll help you promote it.

Sometimes your giveaway will get picked up by sites that link out to active promotions, and you’ll get traffic from there, too. In the beginning of a giveaway, I tweet multiple times a week. Towards the end, I share a reminder every couple of days. There’s no exact science to this one…just don’t forget to tell people about your giveaway.

Giveaway Prizes and Adult Companies

Maybe you don’t have a book or product of your own, and you’re not drowning in sex toy products. You’re thinking to yourself, “Yeah, Kayla, but HOW do you get adult brands to donate to your giveaway?!” Fair question.

It’s easier than you think…ask them.

Yep, that’s it. Ask them.

DM them on Twitter. Find an email address on their website. Publicly ask on social media by tagging or mentioning them. But ask.

Sample: “Hey [INSERT ADULT BRAND YOU LOVE], I’m planning a giveaway and would love for you to be a part of it!”

Once they respond, then you can discuss the details.

Those details should include: what country they’ll ship to and what they’re willing to donate.

But if a company is going to give their product (sometimes worth a lot of money) for a giveaway, they’re going to need to get something in return. In fact, they’ll (rightfully) expect it.

  • Social media follow entries in your giveaway — an entry for each social platform they’re on
  • Love and mentions on social media
  • Their logo and/or link on your website — at least in the post with the giveaway

Here’s what I don’t do: 

I don’t give companies the list of entrants or their contact information. The GDPR rule makes this an easier no, and most companies won’t ask for it. But when they do (and someone will eventually), the answer is no unless subscribing to an email list is one of the entries and people can opt-out and still enter.

Could you set up a giveaway where the only entry is an email address on a subscription list? Of course you could. But it needs to be clearly labeled and disclosed so people know exactly what will happen with their information.

Should You Charge a Brand to Do a Giveaway?

Someone out there is wondering if there’s a way to make money on doing a giveaway with an adult brand. How do I know? Because it’s a question I ask myself.

Here’s my take on it…

If the giveaway is your idea because it’s something you want to do, probably not. Unless you’re offering something of value to the company. Make the giveaway part of a package that includes sponsored posts, ads on the website, and mentions on social media, and now you’re selling a site sponsorship. The giveaway becomes one part of the package which you’re selling.

If a company comes to you and suggests a giveaway as a way to work together, maybe. They’re asking for you to do work on their behalf and for access to your audience. There’s value in that. If this option presents itself, I’d make it part of a larger site sponsorship package and not just a random giveaway, though. Make sure this is a company you want to be attached to and promote, though.

If you’re an affiliate with this company, use your affiliate link instead of their standard URL. As long as you clearly disclose the relationship (that it’s an affiliate link), you’re good to go. Everyone wants to win the main prize, but most companies offer multiple products that people may also want to buy.

Why It Matters

Giveaways are another way to form connections — with your audience and with brands. It’s an easy feel-good moment that offers its own benefits. They’re a nice way to engage on social media and grow your numbers. Social follower counts aren’t the most important factor in building an audience, but they definitely increase your reach. Don’t be surprised when a lot of your new Twitter followers are accounts people make just for giveaways, though. (The first time I realized that was a thing I was kind of annoyed but I’ve gotten over it now, lol.)

You don’t have to do a giveaway just because everyone else is, and you should only giveaway a product that you believe in. Believe me, the winner of a free thing will still get upset if they think they received crap.

Connecting with your audience and growing it increases your earning potential. Higher numbers on your website and yes in social media feeds mean you can justify higher prices. When brands know people interact with you and click links you ask them to click, they’re more likely to ask you to promote their product. So yes, giveaways are a warm fuzzy thing you can do to feel good, but they’re also good for business.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think of giveaways? Have you had good experiences with them? Do you use another system to plan your giveaways? Share in the comments below or talk to me on Twitter!

Have you learned something new, been inspired, or moved forward with your goals after visiting The Smutlancer?

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Kayla Lords

Kayla Lords is a freelance sex writer, podcaster, blogger, all-around sex content creating human, and she really likes creating content. As a writer, she focuses on sex and kink primarily on BDSM and power exchange. She works with private clients to write their content and manage their social media, while also co-hosting two podcasts, running a YouTube channel, and managing multiple blogs. Let's just say, she stays busy and wants to keep it that way. Kayla is an international speaker and an award-winning sex blogger. She believes we are stronger together as a community than we are isolated and apart. We all deserve to get paid for the work we do, but until we understand our cumulative power, we'll all wonder if we're "the only one" doing this smutlancing thing.

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