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Yes i have and it was a very good thing for my traffic. Last year around "back to school" time I contacted the ladies at Momagenda about offering one of their planners in a contest they agreed, I held the contest and I got tons of traffic. Since then I don't guess I've done many or at least nothing as big. I'd love to make this a part of my newest venture though, the Review site, http://lifefrommylaptop.com/reviews. I think it'd be neat to review something and then give one away.
Yes. I knew I wanted to but also knew I had to ask, which is hard. I picked something that I loved and emailed the peeps, BNL record company. I stated my case why it would be good for them and myself. I gave in detail how the contest was going to be run and a guarantee link on my post as long as the contest ran. Then I followed up 2x's I was persistent and it worked. I think giveaways offer more then just a sidebar ad it more upfront so making that case helped.
Funny that you asked this question I actually have a poll up on my blog asking about contests. I want to do a contest but am only offering some "gently" used books of mine. I will pay shipping. I wasn't sure how it would be received. I put up a poll to see what others thought. Still not sure if I will do it or not.
The occasion...I have/had a children's book collection that was out of control and decided that since my kids are getting older it was time to get rid of them. I wound up with more to get rid of than I could post on freecycle, or garage sale so I thought I would share the love with my bloggy friends!
I have never done any contests on any of my blogs. I am definitely thinking about doing one on at least two of my blogs. Of course I would love if the product were donated for the contest, but I know that not everyone wants to donate items, so I may need to breakdown and just by the items I would like.
I never have offered a contest but I often think about giving away gift cards (no big shipping and handling costs!) And it would definitely be a 'leave a comment as entry' type of contest. I can't stand contests that make you jump through hoops to enter.