I'm just starting out doing some reviews and would love to be able to offer give-aways to my readers. (I just think they're so fun).
Here's my question, when you want to do give-aways, is it best to go after the companies you like, or let them come to you via PR people?
How did you begin doing give-aways on your blog?

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Most of my giveaways come from sponsors approaching me. That said, there is no reason not to write to them and ask. When I did my 3mth long promotion on my food blog, I approached many advertisers...many said no but a lot said yes. So, I would target the smaller places like the esty store owners, etc;)
I started by reviewing products I already had. I even did a couple giveaways where I purchased the prize. Then I started contacting companies, after awhile PR people and companies started coming to me. I still contact companies, but I'd say about half of what I review (at least) or giveaway is from a company contacting me.
I tried doing giveaways twice - using my own products, haven't used sponsered products or getting companies to promote theirs but it hasn't really taken off on my blog yet. Maybe when the readership goes up I may try again.
I'm diggin' the info so far. I'm very close to hosting my first EVER giveaway and I am stoked. However, any other knowledge/expertise is still extremely sought after. :)
I love being a part of MBC. You gals rock!
My first giveaway was a company that approached me because I'm an eco-friendly mom. It kind of started from there. Now I am up to my 4th giveaway. That's not a lot compared to the people who do one a day, but it's a great beginning :)
My first review was for a product I already owned, no giveaway. Most of my giveaways have been for products I've purchased myself. I have done two sponsored review/giveaways where the sponsor provides the product. I signed up with a group of reviewers that contacts the companies (sometimes the companies contact the review group host), and we sign up for the opportunities from the host as they come available based on our interest in the product. Does that even make sense? I hope so. My point is that I didn't have to pursue the companies myself as the review group host takes care of that. When you commit to the review, then you have contact with the company.
I started using giveaways on my blog about a year ago. I do them each week on Fridays. The number of participants started out small but grew pretty quickly. For the first 6 months or so I had fun with how we chose the winner and I often used my kids and we chose the winner in a fun new way each week and videotaped it and posted it on YouTube and linked to it to reveal the winner (think dropping eggs, throwing rocks, backing cakes and you will get the idea). If you want a fun sampling of the videos I compiled a video for a application I sent in for a reality show that features stay at home mom business owners here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQNqvWx5Ytc I no longer do the video thing as it simply got to be too time consuming but it was fun. We continue to do the giveaways though and I feel it has been beneficial in keeping the interest up for new products that we add and keeping readers coming back. I do them once a week and ask the companies to provide the item to be given away. There is a lot of exposure for the one product given away so it is a good value for them. If you are interested to see how I started out and have progressed with our giveaways, you can click here and scroll to the bottom http://blog.mom4life.com/mom_4_life/4_free_friday/index.html
My first two giveaways were products I bought with my own money. I didn't spend a lot, but enough to get people coming to the site, and both fit perfectly with the theme of my site, GreenYourDecor.com — the first was a Green Your Bath giveaway (organic cotton towels and bath rug) and the second was the Green Your Kitchen giveaway (organic cotton kitchen towels and pot holders and a set of bamboo cutting boards). I wanted to set a precedent for the type of giveaways I would have.

The 2 giveaways I am running now were sponsored by the company who makes the product and the author of the book I'm giving away. They initially approached me thanking me for comments that I made about their products at other blogs (BIG blogs), and I in turn asked them for products to review and give away.

I haven't been approached by a whole lot of PR people yet, but there's no rule against asking them before they ask you. In fact, I need to send out several emails today requesting products to review and give away :)
While my blog is about children's books, toys and media, I only write about things we own or have borrowed from the library -- so I don't accept items for review. In my mental picture of possibly doing contests, I'd consider doing them for items that I have already written about -- I would want to make sure the item given away would fit my blog's theme, etc. Right now pursuing contests or advertising isn't super-high on the list, but I think that a quality contest that fits your blog theme can be a great way to promote a blog.

If you have certain items in mind, you could approach companies. I would think of doing a pitch email with some stats on your blog and why you feel their items are a good fit for your particular audience, plus maybe a promotional plan for how you will promote this contest to get them exposure for their product. Good luck!
I've haven't done a give-away yet, but I'm seriously considering it. This is helpful information for me, too! Great question.
This is very good information. Thank you for posting this Amy :) I am interested in doing this as well, but I have no clue where to begin. I've only been blogging for a month or so :)
The first reply to this question was from Lori. She suggested checking out Etsy and approaching people on that website to do a giveaway. I took her advice, and am working out the details of a giveaway from one of the many, many shops on etsy. Good luck to ya!
Carole Lindstrom said:
This is very good information. Thank you for posting this Amy :) I am interested in doing this as well, but I have no clue where to begin. I've only been blogging for a month or so :)

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