Pros and Cons of Using Rafflecopter to Host Giveaways
Pen and Parent
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Hosting a giveaway can be a great tool for the writer. But what service to use? Check out this great article on the pros and cons of Rafflecopter.

Beginners Guide to Using Rafflecopter to Host Giveaways

Rafflecopter, a well-known giveaway site, helps businesses and individuals promote their products and services. The main way they do this is through hosting giveaways. When I first began to run giveaways to promote my writing, I had no idea what service to use. The first one I stumbled upon was Rafflecopter.

Below is an honest review of their services.

Pros 

1. Free to host a giveaway

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Features of Rafflecopter Free Account

The free hosting capabilities are basic but do get the job done. I highly recommend going with the free option for your first giveaway and then decide later if you want to upgrade.

Also, all of the giveaway linky sites know Rafflecopter and this makes sharing your giveaway information easier.

2. Relatively easy to navigate

setup_raflecopter

Hosting your first getaway is pretty easy to understand, although there was a learning curve that I’ll get into later in this post.

Rafflecopter’s website is split into three sections – setup, installation, and entries.

In the setup section, you add the prize description, decide how people can enter, add the terms and conditions, and start/end dates.

In the installation section is where you find the links and code to embed the Rafflecopter widget on your blog/website or preview on your Facebook fan page.  

The last area is the entries section. You can view a report showing who has entered the giveaway and what options they chose. You can also download the report into an excel spreadsheet. Another great feature is that you can add a widget to pick a winner at random when the giveaway ends.

3. Integrates with Facebook

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I found this to be a huge benefit because once it’s setup, the changes you make to the giveaway on Rafflecopter are automatically updated on your Facebook fan page. Also, you can boost your posts on Facebook to reach more people. Not to mention there is always a direct widget to your giveaway. You can also schedule posts on Facebook to remind people of the giveaway as it goes on to increase traffic.

4. Good Q&A Articles

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Links to Q&A Articles

As I mentioned before, there is a learning curve when using Rafflecopter, but they do provide a field manual about a variety of topics concerning in the ins/outs of using their services. I found them clear and to the point.

5. Ability to copy the settings of a giveaway

I found this feature really useful because I hosted three similar giveaways in a short amount of time. Basically, I copied the setup from one past giveaway to a new one. This made it easy and quick.

Cons  of Rafflecopter

1. Free account has limited features

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You can easily host a giveaway, but some key features aren’t included. The main one for me was that you can’t customize your entry form by adding a picture of your prize. A good quality photo really boosts traffic to your giveaway and the free account doesn’t include this option. After my first giveaway, I upgraded to a basic account for $13 per month to have this choice.

I also wanted to integrate my mailing list with the giveaway and have the ability for the entrants to refer a friend. Integrating your email list is only included in the Grow Plan. Being able to refer a friend is only included in the Premium plan. 

2. Setup is pretty easy, but there are a few confusing areas.

The first one is deciding how people can enter. For my giveaway, it was critical that the entrant nominates my novel, to enter the giveaway. To do this you need to invent your own option and make this mandatory.

If you read about giveaways they recommend not making an entry option mandatory because it can dissuade people from entering, but since this was the whole purpose of the giveaway, I ignored this advice.

I did read that adding more than one option is a smart way to go. Some other options include: tweeting about the giveaway, visiting a website or commenting on a blog post. I added a few of these as well. I was confused by the number value you can give each option. 1-5 are the choices. I instinctively knew to give the Invent Your Own Option a higher value and the others a lower value to make this option more attractive, but it wasn’t until later when I looked at who entered the giveaway that it became clear that the numbers represented the total number of entries each person can earn for completing the different entrant options. So it looks like you’ve had a lot more entrants than you’ve had.

I was confused by the number value you can give each option. 1-5 are the choices. I instinctively knew to give the Invent Your Own Option a higher value and the others a lower value to make this option more attractive, but it wasn’t until later when I looked at who entered the giveaway that it became clear that the numbers represented the total number of entries each person can earn for completing the different entrant options. So it looks like you’ve had a lot more entrants than you’ve had.
ways-to-enter

Another confusing area is the terms and conditions section. For the free account you don’t have access to a template that creates your terms and conditions for you. And for a giveaway newbie, I had no idea what my terms and conditions should state. I had to do some serious research to find the right language and to include all the necessary terms and conditions. Once you upgrade to the basic account you have access to a template. But if you don’t want to pay for this, you need to figure this out yourself.

The last confusing area is that you can set your start/end dates but the start/end times must be at midnight. Being able to change the time your giveaway starts is a feature of the basic account, not the free one. I found this doubly annoying because I read on a Rafflecopter’s Q&A article that there are better times to start and end a giveaway to increase traffic. And midnight is not one of those times.

3. Rafflecopter Uses JavaScript

Usually, this wouldn’t be a con unless WordPress hosts your website. WordPress doesn’t support JavaScript when you have a free account and use a free theme. At first, I wasn’t sure why the embedding code wasn’t working on my website until I read multiple articles about this on WordPress and Rafflecopter. JavaScript is what makes the giveaway look slick and professional. Otherwise, you have to create a link to a photo or tag in your post. This is what I did, and is a good workaround, but I like things to be perfect, so I found this a downside.

4. Integrating the Facebook App

There is a learning curve when integrating your giveaway with Facebook.

First, you need to create the connection on your Facebook page. Basically, link your Facebook account with your Rafflecopter giveaway. Once this is in place, you can then create a post advertising your giveaway on Facebook. But you have to use the Facebook generated link, not the one given by Rafflecopter. This took time to understand. However, once the parameters were clear the procedure easy to execute.

Overall, once I learned the basic ropes of using Rafflecopter, I decided it was best to stay with them for further giveaways.

The widget is great overall. I highly recommend it.  

Let me know what your experience was like with Rafflecopter below. I would love to hear them.

Check out  How to Host a Giveaway. This informative blog will help you get started in hosting a giveway. 

 

 

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