Question for you: Do you like giveaways?

The more we blog, the more offers we get from people willing to provide goods for giveaways that we host–we’re talking new books, gardening tools, seeds, that sort of stuff. (Although we have been endlessly spammed by an antique replica sword company who is desperate that we share their information with you. Their marketing focus is obviously rapier sharp.)

We’re of two minds on this. We like free stuff, and are happy to be a conduit of free stuff for you. Why not? But then again, we hesitate because we don’t necessarily want to be anyone else’s marketing tool, nor do we want to subject you to marketing if you’ll all find that annoying. Yet….there’s all that free stuff. And we’d do our due diligence on the companies, of course, to make sure they pass muster.

What do you think?

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  1. I’m of mixed mind about it, too. While it’s nice to get free stuff and nice to give it away, I’ve chosen to avoid the advertising aspect of it on my own blog. I’ve turned down offers to be sent free stuff for companies, although I have passed along discounts a couple of times when reputable companies set them up with my blog name as the “coupon.” I’ve also done a few giveaways with items I purchased or made myself, but found the postage costs were so high that it wasn’t something I could do often.

    Now, should you do it? Can’t tell you. Would it make you feel like a company shill? Or would it help you let people know about great products and make a few people happy with free goodies? Tough call. I’d go with whatever your gut reaction was when you first thought about it.

    Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

  2. I like free stuff, too. I would suggest you offer the products with the caveat the winner do a critique via your blog and their’s, too. That way, you haven’t given the *stamp of approval*…you’ve past that responsiblity on to the winner…I do think you’d need to weed out the weird stuff (swords?)…or not…maybe my weird is someone elses *garden art*.

  3. I think that if you’ve vetted the product and are comfortable giving it to people, then feel free to give it to people. I don’t see a problem providing marketing for a product or business I support. I do it anyway by word of mouth, particularly in regards to local restaurants or other small businesses. I’ve learned over time that I’d rather the businesses I like to succeed so that they can be around long enough for me to enjoy them and if that requires me spruiking for them, then I’ll do it and have done so as long as I’ve felt that the business still provides that which I grew fond of them for in the first place.

  4. I vote that you give away experiences and things you yourselves would enjoy and use – think of it of another way of spreading the love & word of what you do.

    Loving the new look, and the comfort I take in knowing I am not the only nosy neighbor spying out my windows, through my knotholes, etc. to keep law, order, and thrift in balance.

  5. My policy at PATSP is that I’ll do giveaways if I’ve used/read/whatevered the product and liked it, if it’s relevant to the blog (for a fairly loose definition of “relevant”), and if the marketer who contacts me gives the impression of having actually looked at the blog before and knowing something about who I am and what I do there.

    Those three innocuous-seeming criteria have, so far, eliminated all but one product from consideration.

    I don’t mind when other blogs do giveaways, though there are certain blogs that seem not to do anything else, and that’s kind of annoying. Also annoying is the fact that I haven’t won anything from any giveaways yet.

  6. Giveaways, whatever. I’m hear to read your distilled knowledge. Seems like that would only be watered-down by product placement posts.

  7. I mostly worry that the postage costs could be burdensome or at least inconvenient for you. Do the companies ever offer to compensate you for your trouble (something I would prefer over you taking the time to advertise for them with no compensation)? Otherwise, giveaways seem fine to me as long as you continue to unsheathe that wit in your free stuff posts!

  8. I feel that giveaways put even more unnecessary emphasis on acquiring new “stuff” rather than acquiring new experiences/living more. We are hammered enough about our lack of material possessions. Material things are not exactly congruent with simple living.

  9. Frankly, I’m quite sick of all the giveaways on blogs these days. It seems my Google reader sometimes gets congested with notices of upcoming giveaways, and then notice of the winners. I’d rather just see the quality content that brought me there in the first place.

  10. Unless it’s food, I often don’t end up using what I get for free, including gifts. There’s a temptation to bring home free stuff, a temptation that blinds me from the serious question, “Do I need it?”. Which is why, on occasion, dumpster diving gets me in trouble with the spouse: “Who needs 20 loaves of bread?”

    I suppose the reader of the blog can choose to participate or not and responsibly gauge their own consumption. If you start doing it, it’ll probably just end up being a few extra delete clicks for me.

  11. Depending on the content of the giveaway every so often I think it is ok. But there are some blogs that I think go over board and are more giveaways than what they started out as.

  12. I love blog giveaways, but I only enter the ones that are open to any commentor. I won’t enter a contest that says that to enter a person much blog about the company or product that is being given away. Or tweet, or post to Facebook, etc. I won’t go that far because I haven’t even tried the product out myself!!!

  13. I think people are realizing what a marketing tool blogs can be, which has shown an uptick in offers for giveaways. I think that if it is a product/store that you support/have tried, and want to share it with your readers, go for it! Also the idea of having the winner do a post on their blog or guest-post on yours about the product would be excellent.

  14. I’m mixed about it. Sure, I like free stuff, but I don’t like all of the hoops some people make you jump through (post this to Twitter with the following, like this on Facebook and share with all of your friends, etc). Maybe I’m just lazy, but I’d like to throw my name into the proverbial hat and be done with it.

  15. I am not a fan, there have been blogs in the past that I liked, but ended up spending more time promoting giveaways than blogging about the subjects I am interested in.

  16. In theory, the idea is OK. I’ve actually won at least five or six blog giveaways, and most of the prizes were things I was really excited about.

    With that said, I find it obnoxious when blogs give away random crap that has nothing to do with their topic but is very clearly just advertising for the company (and is happening because the writer of the blog got some free crap from them). It’s always really obvious when the bloggers have no connection whatsoever to the product (and therefore no good reason to be talking about it).

    The other thing I really hate is when someone does a giveaway, and you get one entry, but then you can get multiple extra entries by

    1. Liking them on facebook
    2. blogging about the giveaway
    3. tweeting about the giveaway
    4. becoming a follower
    5. becoming a subscriber
    6. renting billboard space to advertise the giveaway
    7. running naked through Manhattan screaming about the giveaway
    8. producing a feature film about the giveaway
    9. having the product tatooed on your forehead

    Ugh. So, so tiring.

    To sum it up–sure, if it’s a product you might have some reasonable reason to be giving away on your blog, and if you don’t use the giveaway as a means to come one step closer to world domination, then they’re fine.

  17. I do blog giveaways and have a lot of fun with them – although I will admit that I’ve never been approached by any company to endorse their product ;). My giveaways are usually things I’ve used, and the post is rarely about the item, but rather how I’ve used the item. So, I don’t feel like I’m doing commercials; although some may disagree. My favorite thing to giveaway are books, because I find so many of them that are fantastic and enriching. Most of us don’t have the benefit of a grandparent or other relative to teach these skills we will need in the future, and books are how we’re going to learn.

    I think if the product is something that supports and keeps with the spirit of what you are trying to do that giveaways are a nice way to thank your readership and pass along a product that might be useful to them.

  18. Only occasionally I get annoyed with bloggers that every other post if a give away or review.

  19. Personally, I can’t stand giveaways, especially on blogs like yours that give a lot of great information. It makes everything else on the blog suspect. I no longer feel like I can trust the bloggers opinion, because it could be motivated by a kickback. Never underestimate the power of advertising and capitalism.

  20. that is a decision you have to make. ive given away soap that ive made to followers to encourage them to have a go themselves (promoting frugalness) and i would agree with one of the commentors “aquiring more stuff” over experiences. I follow to learn about things that i might be able to apply to my own life.(mmm trying to write without implying a “tone” lol) i wouldnt join in with a giveaway because i live on the other side of the planet, but if it was something really worthy then i might be inspired to recreate it myself if possible so in that way it can be positive and a learning experience

  21. I don’t come to the blogs for the giveaways.I want the information. Most of them I just ignore. I did enter one and win but it wasn’t for a product just some seeds.

  22. Heck yeah, I like giveaways (not that I ever win), something for free…BUT there is that aspect that you are advertising for some company. You guys have to be the ones to decide if it is something you want to promote or not. Big help, huh? I am like one of the other posters, I ignore the advertising aspect.

  23. My blog has been repeatedly spammed by random advertising recently. It can be frustrating. However, free garden stuff is fun.

    If you feel strongly for an item you approve of then go for it.

  24. My philosophy on this is that I will host a giveaway for a sponsor if I truly believe in their product. If I don’t, I turn them away and say no thanks.

  25. I follow a lot of craft blogs, and I’ve seen one of them turn into nothing but giveaways and product reviews. I’m not saying you’ll follow that route, and giveaways can be a fun way to reinforce a connection with readers. The best way I’ve seen a blog handle it is to have a separate page for the giveaway. Share a normal post with relevant information that ties in the freebie and lead them to the other page to participate in the contest. The readers get to read, and the people interested can go sign up to win!

    Just don’t stop talking about your subject matter all together. You will lose readers! (Real news flash huh?)

  26. I don’t mind occasional giveaways if they’re not annoying like what Jaime wrote, and the prizes are in spirit with the blog.

  27. Giveaways are cool, who doesn’t like free stuff? But can assure you that if YOU are doing the giving, YOU will bear the burden of the work – from figuring out who to give it to, to sending it, to having to listen to folks complain if they don’t like it! If you want to do giveaways, provide a link to the company and let them do the work . . . .

  28. I think occasional giveaways of products relevant to a blog’s purpose and low key promotion are fine. Anything beyond that can turn me off a blog, but I don’t think that’s something you’ll fall into.

  29. Giveaways is really a way of promoting a business. So, be sure you believe in the company/product and there is no harm done. If its marginal or not something you’d use/buy/love, then don’t do it with that particular company. I’ve learned about a lot of obscure, family-run, homemade, etc companies from the giveaways at other blogs. And I’d so much rather do business with one of them than a big box store. So, bring it on!!!

  30. Giveaways that are relevant to the mission of your blog would be great. If you don’t want the work of the actual giveaway, merely provide a link to the makers of the product and let them do their own giveaway. If you take on the work of the giveaway yourselves, I wouldn’t mind making the condition that the winner needs to do a review of the product won.
    Readers can skip over the giveaway posts, just as they’d do with any other post of lesser interest. For instance, I don’t live in California, so I skip over the posts related directly to local goings-on. Anyone else can skip the post about giving away insecticidal soap products just as easily, and come back for the next post on beekeeping.

  31. Blogging at all is already a giveaway of sorts; you are giving away your opinions and recommendations without any expectation of direct remuneration, so I don’t see the problem, categorically, unless your giving away your integrity. If suppliers insist you lie, or withhold criticism, then I wouldn’t get involved. Why not start a shameless commerce division and call it as such?

  32. I like free stuff, but I also hate being inundated with marketing. If you know that the company is good and you would buy the product yourself, then I think there’s no harm in passing off a free one and giving some PR to a company that’s making a good product. Since there’s so much bad crap in the world, it’s nice to feel *good* about something you buy/use/receive free from an internet giveaway.

  33. I think an occasional giveaway is fun. I usually only enter those in which the blogger has actually used the product and it is something relevant to the blog posting the giveaway. For instance, a financial blog I read recently gave away a notebook computer.The sponsor gave them one for their own use and review and one to give away. Obviously, I would not expect to find that kind of thing here. I would more expect seeds, food storage or other gardening items. Usually, I also see a disclaimer at the bottom of the post saying that the sponsor had no influence on the content of the review.

  34. I trust you guys. I expect you’d have some cool things to offer, but I love the things I learn from you! I’ve gotten valuable info here. But because I trust you, I expect that you won’t be one of those WIN A FREE IPAD!!!! shills. Seeds, gardening stuff, etc. is all not so bad. I don’t mind if you review something here or there, and I think that the winner should do a review of the product also. But I much prefer your content than other companies’!

  35. Great discussion all! I’m inclined to do few if any giveaways if just because they blur editorial content with commerce. If we do any they will only be something that we actually use and bought ourselves.

  36. As long as you get one plus one to give away. That way you get to test it. If it’s good use it. Feel free to send them to my site too.


  37. I love hosting giveaways. But, I only like to offer the ones that allow me to give one away to my readers. I rarely just do a review and that’s it. I feel like if my readers are going to read my review of the product, they should be rewarded with a chance to win one themselves! 🙂

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