Creating a giveaway can be great way to attract people & increase your email subscribers if you really think through what you are giving away and plan to promote it like it is a big deal (it is!).
However, they may not be for everyone. Giveaways will cost some money + whatever you decide to give away + a lot of time.
The good news is, if done properly, you will gain more followers than you would with other advertising dollars. And once they are on your email list, you can start building a rapport and selling your art.
How to Pick a Giveaway Item To Attract People
What will your audience love?
It doesn't make sense to give away your work for free unless you will see a significant increase in followers for your efforts. For that reason, we want to make sure that your giveaway is something that people will really want. But not just any people. We are looking for the kind of person who is interested in your style and the products you offer your customers.
Consider your target audience. What do they want from you? What excites them? If your main offering is watercolor pet portraits (I'm looking at you, Bren Sparling), you will probably want to offer a free commission of their favorite pet. You could throw in a professional photo session and/or a frame to make a complete package. If you offer painting parties on how to destress and overcome anxiety through the creation of art (Justine Kowalski), you might offer three free sessions as a giveaway and include a set of art supplies they would bring to the class.
Exclusive and special
If at all possible, make your giveaway item something that is only available through your contest. If they can go to your website and buy it, they won't feel as urgent a need to sign up and share.
I recommend originals usually, but if that isn't something your audience wants, act accordingly.
How much is it worth?
Don't forget to add how much your prize is worth to the giveaway copy! Adding a concrete number will increase the value in the viewer's mind.
PRO TIP: Don't make up a pretend number. If they go to your website later and find out your originals are only selling for X, but you put a value of Y, it will create distrust.
Team up with some other artists you know to up the ante and lower the price. Ask them if they would be interested in adding a piece of their art to the giveaway and split the cost of the contest with you. They will have a different audience than you and you'll end up with a wider reach.
Try to stick with artists that have similar work or a similar target audience to you. Otherwise you might end up with followers who aren't really interested in what you have to offer. If you don't know any, try searching Instagram for artists with similar work and reach out to them.
The Easiest Tools to Run a Contest
Rafflecopter is the gold standard when it comes to running easy, email-collecting giveaways. There are other options out there to explore, but I couldn't find any with the same simplicity, email-collection and viral sharing feature for more than a few dollars cheaper.
To run the most effective campaign, you want to enable viral sharing. This means people can share the link on social media for the chance to get extra entries if their friends sign up through that link. This will give you a much wider reach than if you just share to your followers only. (Again, this only works if the audience really wants to win - so make your prize good!)
To use viral sharing, you will have to choose the Premium Plan which is $84/month. I recommend signing up right before you are ready to launch, running a campaign for three weeks, then choosing a winner. You can then cancel your subscription if you like for a sum total of $84 in advertising. If you split with one artist - you pay $42, two artists - $28 or three artists - $21. Even broke, you can make it affordable.
Use the Kingsumo plugin for email collection with viral sharing. You can buy a license for one site for $198 as a one time payment. I found a 30% off code by doing a coupon search.
How to Create a Giveaway
Create an account with Rafflecopter. Choose the Premium Plan.
Create your giveaway & add a title
STEP 1: Login to Rafflecopter. Click "New Giveaway".
STEP 2: Click "Add a Prize".
STEP 3: Title your giveaway. Tell what it is and how much it is worth. Add the name of your piece if you like. It might look something like: Original art: "Title of Piece" ($450 value).
STEP 4 (optional): Fancy up your title by pressing enter where you want a line break. You can add [ ] around a line to increase the size, or _ _ around a line to make it italic.
Add an image
STEP 1: Click "add an image" while you have the "add a prize" box open.
STEP 2: Drag your image to the upload space or click "choose file" below it.
STEP 3: Once it uploads, drag the dashed box on your image to crop where you want.
STEP 4: Scroll down and click "save this prize".
Add the details
STEP 1: Click the checkbox by "People can enter by... referring their friends". Then click "Add an entry option".
STEP 2: Choose "Subscribe to a mailing list". Choose your email provider and login with your username and password. Make sure you have the right list in the drop down menu if you have more than one. "Save this option". Click the "This option is mandatory" check box.
STEP 3: Choose your start and end date and time. I recommend a 14 day timespan so it is not so long that people stop caring about it, but long enough that you have time to promote it. Click "Preview and install", UNLESS you want to add some rules to your giveaway.
Add Some Rules (aka Terms and Conditions)
You might want to think about including some rules in your giveaway. This will set the stage for protecting both you and the people that sign up for your contest.
You might want to include eligible countries depending on what you will be sending. A large canvas sent internationally is going to run you way more than you probably want to spend.
Eliminating any countries other than your own also limits your audience. That may be ok with you. Just something to consider.
Do you want to set a minimum age for your prize? Remember, you only want to collect email subscribers who fit your target audience. If a 13 year old fits that requirement, great! If not, you might want to consider something like 18 and older.
It is a good idea to say up front that your email address will be shared with any artists participating in the giveaway to be used for their purposes. It might look something like this:
How do we use your information?
We (the artists hosting this promotion) may use the information we collect from you when you register for this giveaway in the following ways:
- To personalize your experience and to allow us to deliver the type of content and product offerings in which you are most interested.
- To send periodic emails about the giveaway up to 36 hours after the promotion has ended.
Add your Giveaway to Squarespace
Create a giveaway page in Squarespace
STEP 1: Under "Main Navigation" (or "Not Linked" if you wish... I think either location is fine), click the + button to add a new page.
STEP 2: Title the page "Giveaway!" then click "Start Editing".
Insert the Rafflecopter code
STEP 1: Copy the code from Rafflecopter under the "Installation" tab.
STEP 2: Add a new code block to your Squarespace page. Paste the Rafflecopter code into the popup box and click "apply".
Show it off with images
(Yes, the image in my giveaway and the images I am adding to Squarespace do not match. The giveaway image is from homeyohmy.com and after writing this monster of a blog post I didn't feel like remaking any of the videos. Just pretend I did it right the first time.)
STEP 1: Add a new "stack" block to your page.
STEP 2: Click "upload images", choose the correct images from your computer, then click "apply".
Include multiple shots of what you are giving away so it can be fully visualized. Make everyone start drooling! If it is an original, include:
- a straight on shot
- a shot from each side
- a shot from the back
- a close up of the texture
- a shot that gives a good idea of the size in relation to another object
- how it looks hanging on a wall with furniture (make sure to straighten up first if you are using your home as a prop)
If you are giving away a commission, include several examples of past commissions and a link to your commission process.
Change the location of your slideshow gallery
STEP 1: Drag the gallery block to the right-hand side of the code block.
Add a description of your giveaway
STEP 1: Add a new text block below your code block.
STEP 2: Add the text "Description:" and change the text format to "Heading 1".
STEP 3: Press enter for a new text block and add your description.
A description should include:
- What the winner gets + the value of the prize(s)
- Why it is special
- Ways to get entries
- The rules
Preview your giveaway and make any necessary changes
Make sure everything is saved, then go to your website and view the page from a customer's view. Look for any tweaks you can add or change till you are completely happy with it.
How to Share + Checklist
I highly recommend writing your emails, creating your graphics, scheduling your posts and having your entire giveaway planned to a T before launching. This will save you a lot of stress and make your contest more effective.
Content Creation Checklist
- Main giveaway graphics & text
- Tell your friends for extra chances to win graphics & text
- Why you want this giveaway graphic & text
- Last day graphics & text
- Any additional angles you would like to add
- Intro to the giveaway email
- Why my giveaway is great
- The story behind my prize
- Last day to enter
- Thank you for registering! Share with your friends for more chances to win.
- The winner is... (can you add a consolation prize that won't cost you anything for all your entrants?)
Facebook isn't my favorite platform for businesses, but in this case you will probably gain the most traction from posting to Facebook.
If you have a personal page and a business page, post to both. Facebook business pages are heavily geared towards promoting using ads, and won't be seen by many people unless you do so. However, you know that your FB business page fans already like your work so you should post there. Most likely, you will get a further reach from your personal page, so post there as well.
I recommend posting to Facebook three times in the first week and four times the second week. Two of those posts in the last week should be the day before closing and a final call before the contest ends. A mix of videos and photos is a good idea. Don't worry about being too annoying, most of followers won't see more than a few of these.
Your email list (even if it is small!)
Yes, the people on your list have already signed up (duh), but remember... the people that are on your list are also your biggest fans! Our goal is to get the giveaway shared as much as possible. Since these people are already fans of your work, they will want to win and will share. Don't discount them!
Post the link to your giveaway in your bio as long as it remains open. This is the only place on Instagram you can include a workable link and will give you as much exposure as possible.
A video or slideshow of your giveaway would be a great intro post to your giveaway. I recommend posting about three times per week.
Don't post the same image every time. Try to use different mediums. Videos, slideshows and images will all work. See which type performs best for you then create another post of that type for your finale "last chance" post.
There isn't a large chance of link sharing going on in Instagram, but that doesn't mean your followers won't register... and they can still share to their other networks.
Add hashtags to increase your exposure!
On Pinterest, you can create a pinnable graphic that shows an image of what you are giving away. Make sure you include the link to your giveaway page on the pin!
Repin the graphic to a relevant board up to once per day. You can delete your older pins if you don't want them cluttering up your boards. The more boards, the better. Most people only follow a few of your boards so you will want to spread it out.