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The Dos and Dont’s of Giveaways

So you want to enter an online giveaway? In today’s world of blogs, social networking sites, mass marketing, and personal websites, it seems like everybody is offering something for nothing. Companies use giveaways to promote their products, increase their customer base, and develop repeat and loyal customers. Depending on the company, and the media they use to promote their giveaway, you can often find some pretty amazing free stuff out there in Cyberspace. But it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Whether you are new to the world of giveaways or a seasoned pro with piles of swag in every corner, here are some of the dos and don’ts of giveaways that every person should know.
DO – Set aside some time periodically to find and review websites which regularly host giveaways. Many blogs include links to weekly giveaway sites, and many more sponsor Giveaway Linkies each week where people all over the web can list their special giveaways.   Make a list of your favorite giveaway sites, the days they usually promote new products, and the typical entry methods required by each one. Depending on how committed you are to winning free stuff, you should probably update this list weekly, monthly, or every few months at the very least.

DON’T – Forget to include a valid e-mail address and/or other contact information with EVERY giveaway entry you submit.  In today’s climate of spammers, identify theft, and computer viruses, it can be intimidating to list your personal e-mail address, but this is often the only way giveaway sites are able to contact you if one of your comments is the lucky winner.  Most sites will send giveaway winners an e-mail within 24 hours of announcing an event close, and then you have a mere 48 hours to respond before your winning product is given to someone else. If you plan to enter many giveaways, it may be a good idea to create an e-mail address, facebook page, and twitter account just for your giveaway submissions, that way you can be sure to be available to accept your prize without clogging up your personal e-mail address and social networking sites with unwanted newsletters and spam. There are literally dozens of sites which offer free e-mail services including Yahoo!, Hotmail, Google – just to name a few.  In addition, most sites will allow you to enter your e-mail in the spam free version, fore example: couponmomma2010[at]hotmail[dot]com.

DO – Complete as many entries as possible for each giveaway. Most giveaway sites allow for multiple entries for a single giveaway item. Read the entry instructions clearly and e-mail the web host if you have questions – and don’t forget to visit the actual giveaway site and to leave your entry comments there. Most giveaway sites use a random number generator to pick a random number which corresponds to the number of posts left on each giveaway opportunity. So, if you go through all of the work to follow the blog on facebook, to visit the company’s website and so on, but forget to leave SEPARATE comments on the sponsoring site for each entry, you haven’t actually entered anything (sadly I am speaking from personal experience). Also, most giveaway sites have at least one mandatory entry requirement. Complete this entry before doing anything else or your other submissions will be deleted as invalid.

DON’T –Blindly trust all giveaway sites. Unfortunately there are malicious programs and people out there that would love to reap havoc on your computer and your life. Whenever you are surfing the web you should always run an updated and reputable anti-virus program and you should never ignore a warning about a potential virus or malicious ad or pop-up. In addition, you should never provide any giveaway site with your personal credit card information. Remember, these items are supposed to be free – there is never any reason for any of these sites to need your financial information.

DO: Have fun and celebrate when you win something. Really, there isn’t much better than winning something free!
DON’T: Get discouraged. You aren’t going to win every giveaway every time.  But if you stick with it, and follow my advice, it’s only a matter of time before you luck into some free stuff.