If you’re a regular here on Styling You, then you will know that I’m a huge fan of hosting competitions on my blog. I’ve currently got this one and this one running. My first comp was held in April last year to launch the re-design of my blog and since that time I’ve received 20,000 plus entries for the various giveaways I’ve run since.
A bunch of Styling You readers have been on the receiving end of some pretty fabulous prizes – from new makeup and skincare through to accessories, a beach cruiser bike and a health retreat holiday. The fact that you keep coming back for, keeps me working with PR companies and brands to source prizes that you love.
I also know that you love entering comps where you don’t have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops … you know … like this, follow that, make me a cocktail to drink this afternoon, bring my washing in … and then you’ll get an entry.
But, and it’s a big but. I’ve been plodding along with these comps for some time, doing the random draw thing, knowing that most of you like to just enter, cross your fingers and hope you get a winners’ email from me. But that ease of entry (and ease of prize awarding) gets me potentially into a whole lot of legal stuff should someone decide to get all, well, legal, about it.
Which is why you’ll only find “games of skill” competitions on my blog from now on. I should have been doing this from the start but I had my head in the proverbial sand. Didn’t want to know that there are rules around this kind of stuff.
No matter how stupid I might think they are, the rules are there. And of course, it doesn’t matter that we live in the same country. Yep, you guessed it, there are different rules for every state. So, unless you’re going to run a competition and only allow entries from certain states then you need to look at all of the state’s rules and obtain any necessary permits. Head here for a summary of the laws that apply in different states throughout Australia. For more detail, contact your state’s office of fair trading.
In a nutshell, here’s what you need to remember (and I’m not a lawyer so if you’re unsure, please seek legal advice!):
1. Whether or not a permit is required depends on whether the competition is a “game of skill” or a “game of chance”. It also depends on the total prize pool value.
2. A game of skill is when you ask your reader to answer a question and that answer is judged on creativity, originality and skill.
3. Make sure in the terms and conditions that the value of the prize is described accurately and that you specify the time frame of the competition and when it will be drawn.
4. Keep records of the competition and its entries.
5. If you’re thinking of tying your competition into Facebook, look carefully at Facebook’s regulations too.
Why I’ll still keep running competitions on my blog
If you’ve made it this far in this post, then you’re probably scratching your head and wondering if running a giveaway is actually worth the time, effort and legal concern.
My short answer is: in my experience, yes.
Since that first competition, I’ve been able to build my email subscriber database from 600 to 7000. Yes, I get a handful of subscribers who opt out but the number is relatively small. When I run a multi-draw competition, that post can receive up to 30,000 page views. I promote my competitions in forums such as Digital Parents, through my social media networks and on competitions sites like Win Free Stuff so I attract new readers who might not have found me any other way.
And, I honestly love being able to give something back to you – my readers. I love that you come and visit – every week, every day, once a month. The fact that I can share some lovely things with you is bonus.
What I have done is really get clear on my minimum prize guidelines as it’s so easy to end up “giving” away space on your blog when there isn’t a lot in it for your reader – or you.
It’s about remembering that you are an independent publisher. You can set your own guidelines. They don’t have to be the same as mine or the next blog. They are yours. The main thing to remember is to stick to them.
Here is a summary of my current competition guidelines:
1. The only editorial giveaways I’ll now focus on are multi-draw giveaways. To be a part of these, the prize value has to be a minimum of $150. The higher the value of the prize, the higher up the list the prize will appear. The PR company or brand is also responsible for postage costs.
2. If a brand or company would like an exclusive giveaway, then it will form part of a sponsored or paid post (just like what would happen in a glossy magazines).
3. If I don’t think my readers will be interested in the prize, I won’t run it for the sake of it.
4. Entry in my multi-draw giveaways is via a form. I’ve recently signed up with Wufoo for this as it integrates directly with my email newsletter provider, MailChimp. Previously I was adding the new list of subscribers manually via an upload-able .csv file. This was fine till last month when I was hacked by a robot or an underpaid worker in India who submitted 2000 plus fake entries. Now, if someone opts into the email newsletter via the competition, they are automatically added to my MailChimp list.
5. Entry is now conditional upon answering a question and the winner/s will be determined by skill. Do I expect less entries because of this? Yes. But a my very wise blogging friend, Bree Lawson from The Blog Stylist says this:
The upside is that if you use a question it means you may be able re-use the answers as content. Eg: With a wedding blog, you could ask your best wedding planning tip for the opportunity to win Prize XYZ. Then later on use the answers as a post or series of posts. By asking this type of question you can repurpose it to benefit your blog and your audience. Make sure your the entrants know their tips may be republished.
UPDATE: After almost a year of running games of skill on my blog, I’m returning to games of chance for my monthly multi-draw competitions. How am I able to do that? I’m paying for the only permit required by me in Australia – NSW. Presently this will cost $80 for a one-off competition under $10,000 prize draw. ACT requires a permit if you actually live in ACT. Here is some updated info about the permit laws in Australia.