How I run a #Bookstagram Giveaway.

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Hello my lovelies. It’s been a little while since we talked.

Today, since I’ve just finished running one, I thought I’d talk about giveaways with you and share some details of  how I organize mine. I’m always receiving DM’s in Instagram asking me questions about this, so I figured I’d write a post that hopefully will help some of you if you’re thinking of hosting one and don’t know where to start.

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I have to say, I just LOVE running giveaways, and I am always on the lookout for fun bookish merchandise when I’m shopping . I pick up bits n’ bobs all the time, and squirrel them away ready for the next one.

I hosted my very first giveaway about six months after I started my Bookstagram account. I’d already been on Instagram for about five years with a personal account, so I knew my way around the site, but I was new to the whole Bookstagram corner. I hosted my first giveaway with the hope that the people who entered would find that they enjoyed my feed, and would stick around!

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When you first start your account, it’s difficult to get new followers right away, and running a small giveaway is a fun way to direct people to your feed and have them notice you. Not everyone who follows you will stay, but it’s a super way to start making new friends. Fellow readers  will follow for a chance to win, but will hopefully stay because they enjoy your feed and find they have common interests with you. My first giveaway only attracted about fifty entries, but it was exciting for me and I
made many new friends.

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So, my first and most important piece of advice for you if you are considering hosting a giveaway of your own is to  please only spend what you can afford. Please do not get yourself into debt by purchasing giveaway gifts that you will leave you broke. In fact you don’t even have to buy new. Many Bookstagrammer’s offer giveaways for books that they have recently read and want to pass on. This is a wonderful way to pay it forward!

 

If you are buying new, then I’d suggest that you try and buy things that are universally liked in the bookish world (hello Harry Potter) and/ or can be associated with your feed (if you want to get technical we can say ‘your personal brand’). My signature giveaway gifts started off as always including a book, a cup and a candle, to underline my instagram handle of @bookscupsandcandles . As time passed I started including extra goodies as I spotted them, and my giveaways have now grown to multiple choice ones as I try to find something for everyone. I love to make people happy!

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I’m blessed to life right next to the ‘happiest place on earth’ -Disney, and also Universal studio’s here in Orlando. I’m also very aware that many people may never be lucky enough to visit these places, so I try to add something special and unique to my choices so that the winner can have a piece of Disney or Authentic Harry Potter gifts, for example. Likewise, I know how popular Funko Pops are, as
I’m a constant collector myself. I try to include an exclusive funko pop in most of my choices, so that the winner can have something extra special and rare in their prize pack.

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I started offering multiple choices simply because I wanted to provide something special for everyone. It may be hard to believe but not everyone is a Harry Potter fan (only 99% of the bookstagram world is, lol). So I try to cover as many fandoms and age groups as I can.

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Similarly, in my giveaways you may wonder why I ask you to repost the particular picture of your prize choice, on your grid. The reason I do this is not to lock you into a particular choice- you can always change your mind if you win- I actually do this to gauge for myself which fandom and prize pack will be the most popular. I want to see what you want. It gives me a sense of direction for future giveaways, so I know what to look for, what you guys really want to see offered in a giveaway. Because I do this, I now know for sure that I can never run a giveaway without including something for the Harry Potter fans. I think I’d be lynched if I didn’t include him!

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So, you have your giveaway prize pack ready and you’re eager to begin it. WAIT! The first thing you need to do now is factor the shipping/ postage costs into your equation. First decide how much you can afford to pay for shipping. If your budget is around twenty dollars/pound etc, then keep it as a national giveaway. Shipping around the world is expensive. Before I start my giveaways I always make sure I have the shipping costs set aside. As a rule of thumb, when sending from the United States internationally, it costs between $70-$100 for a package if you’re sending books, mugs, candles. So always be sure you have the funds if you want to go international.

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The way I send my prizes out these days is so much different to when I first started. I send the book part of the prize pack separately now and use Amazon global shipping to purchase it, and they send direct. This way I avoid the huge costs that are incurred with a heavy weight in my parcel, and also customs costs . Similarly, I’ll often send the cup/mug part of my prize pack seperately too. I buy them from either Society6 or Redbubble and they ship internationally free!

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Finally, I then make up a cute prize box of the remaining items and send them off of their merry way to the lucky winner. In most cases the winner is thrilled to receive their prizes and are eager to share on a post of their own. I’ve only had one case where the winner didn’t seem to care. I’ll be honest, it broke my heart, They did not appear grateful at all and only  eventually reposted a half hearted response after I asked them to. I do hope that my winners repost  when they receive their gifts, because I want the other entrants to know that my giveaways are authentic. So many companies host giveaways and you never find out who won. I don’t trust those at all.

And besides, if you share a picture of your giveaway winnings, I’m going to repost it and that too will draw more people to your own feed. Win/win!

 

Drawing the giveaway is definitely my least favorite part of the process. I’m sure there are much quicker ways to do it, but I’m a creature of habit and I wait until the closing date and then I input the names into a word document. I start by going through the comments where people have tagged their friends. I ‘like’ the tag to show that I’ve seen it, and then I go onto their feed/grid to be sure that they are following me and that they have taken the time to repost the prize pack picture. When I see it, I ‘like’ it and we’re done. The entry is in and the picture can now be taken down.

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Now let’s be honest, nobody really wants to repost any of the giveaway pictures on their beautiful feeds. But its a small ask. You can easily edit them to fit your feed. The way to look at it is that the host of the giveaway has spent a long time searching for the perfect items, paid for them out of their own pocket (in my case anyway) and has to ship them too. My philosophy with this is that: If you care, you share! We are helping each other after all.

 

I hope this post has helped you if you are thinking about hosting your own giveaway. I’m by no means suggesting that my methods are perfect- far from it,  but I did want to highlight why I run them, how I choose what to offer, and how I count the entries.

 

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As I said earlier, I LOVE hosting giveaways, its fun, its exciting and I really believe that it brings the community together a little. I can’t tell you how often I smile when I see you all tagging each other and getting excited about it. And YES, when people take the time to thank me along with the tag, it always warms my heart. xxxx

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Another Fabulous Giveaway for you!

 

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Hello Peeps, and a huge ‘Welcome’ to my latest giveaway!

I’m really excited about this one,This time around, I decided to give you more choices of prize packs. There will still be one main winner and a handful of consolation prize winners, but you now have the choice of which one of three themed packages that you would prefer!

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I know everybody always loves Harry Potter, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t? so I guess he’ll be included in almost all my giveaways, but I thought it would be nice to add a Bookish themed choice too, and also a Horror themed pack. That hopefully covers a larger proportion of my followers different tastes and will hopefully encourage more of you to join in. So here’s some more details:

hydrangea 5The reason I chose the ‘Bookish’ themed pack is that I noticed that some of you live in places where it is quite difficult to find cute props for your #bookstagram habit. Here in the U.S. it seems that we have a ton of places to rummage around in and find crafty props for our photo’s, but in other countries, I’ve heard that it’s not always so easy.

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So if you live somewhere where it is difficult to find faux flowers and shells etc, then perhaps you might like this themed pack the best. I’ve chosen as carefully as possible. You will see below that I have picked several faux long-stemmed flowers that can be placed as a lovely frame around your pictures. I’ve also added some scatter style packs of flowers in different colors that can be placed strategically too.

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I picked up some beautiful butterfly props (and you will see that I’ve been using this type lots lately) and I’ve added some starfish props for any ocean themed pictures, for those of you who may not live near the water.

 

Seashells_15I’m also including a fun notebook and a cute sleep mask. Some of the items in my giveaway were exclusive to a particular subscription box, that are now sold out, but I’ve added them here and there, so hopefully you may see something that you missed out on!

Whichever package you choose, you will receive some battery operated string lights, which look gorgeous on pictures.

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The second pack is a ‘Horror’ themed pack.

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I’m including two freaky funko pops from the hit movie ‘It’, a fabulous ‘It’ themed mug (which I personally love) some horror themed pins/ badges and a patch.

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The winner will also receive a copy of the latest Stephen King books.’The Body’ is a paperback and ‘The Outsider’ is hardback. Here’s the best bit; if you live in the U.S, I will include a U.K copy and if you live in the U.K I will  send you a U.S copy! How amazing will that be?

I’ve included a ‘Decomposition notebook, some ‘hocus Locus’ themed items (bookmark and bracelet), an ouija board photo print and some fabulous witchy art cards by @Terrifoss . There’s a 10×8 horror print, and a bracelet which is unisex. If something else catches my eye, I’ll be adding it!

 

And that brings me to the Harry Potter option.

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Included in this pack is an adorable Christmas themed HP mug by Nerdy girl designs (because it’s not that far off you know) A hardback anniversary copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone’ in the Slytheryn edition, with a paperback copy in Gryffindor house. A Gryffindor patch,

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There’s also a wand book, some themed snitch earrings, some muggles socks and a Quidditch themed Ron Weasley funko pop. Even better, I’ve found a fabulous tree that looks just like the Whomping Willow!

 

And what about the book pouch, the badges, and the candles which were in the Christmas candle box from A Court of Candles. I’ve even included some notebooks. So much in this giveaway, whatever theme that you choose. I hope you love it.Harry.png

 

So, here’s what you do. On Monday 11th June 2018 my giveaway will go live. Expect this to be around 12p.m EST or 9a.m PT. That’s 5p.m U.k time and 6p.m for France, Germany Etc.

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All I need you to do is:

** like the post**

**Follow me**

**tag two friends who may be interested**

**repost the picture of your choice of themed pack  on your main feed(swipe through the giveaway post pics for the pack of your choice) with the tag: #bookscupsandcandlesga

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Closing date is midnight Florida time on Sunday 24th June 2018!

FOR EXTRA ENTRIES:

**Follow this blog**

**Like this post**

**leave a comment (and don’t forget to add your Instagram name) **

 

You can also gain extra entries for sharing the giveaway on your story. Each story share is an extra entry!

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RULES:

**Must be a public account**

**no giveaway accounts**

**must be over 18 or have parental permission**

**not affiliated with Instagram**

**must leave repost picture up until closing date when you will see me ‘like’ your picture. This means it has been counted!**

**winner will be announced within a week of the closing date**

That’s it! Good luck everybody. I can’t wait to see what you choose!

 

Lots of love, Sally xxx

Instagram: Accepting the new Algorithm?

 

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Hi Bookworms!

Today I’m daring to dip my toes into some pretty dangerous waters- those of that touchy subject in the bookish community, namely the new algorithm and how it’s affecting us all on #bookstagram. In the next couple of weeks I’ll be talking about some of the highs and lows that we bookworms have experienced while feeding our addiction, and what we can do to keep our feeds relevant and entertaining.

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In today’s post I want to focus on what we can do about the new algorithm that we all love to hate; and later I’ll be sharing a post on the subject of how the #bookstagram addiction can easily run away with you if you’re not careful. So pop the kettle on (if you’re British) or crack open a soda (if you’re not) and snuggle down in a pile of bookish pillows mugfor a while because this is a long post.

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So… The algorithm. I don’t want to just moan. There’s been so much of that already. I’ve been churning this over in my mind for some time now about how it is affecting us and how we can head it off, and I think I’ve now gathered enough information to feel confident to finally comment about it.

 

Like many people, my feed was hit hard after the introduction of the new algorithm, as my follower count and likes first began to drop, and then levelled out but became pretty stagnant. When reading through the posts of the people I love to follow, time and again the algorithm was cited as being the cause of this, and so many ‘instafriends’ felt like they no longer wished to be part of this fabulous community, because their  posts were  going unrewarded with the likes  that they expected. I could see their point entirely. It sucked. After all their hard work to build up their feeds, it appeared that the rug had suddenly been pulled out from beneath them, and they had to start all over again.

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Along with feeling a little despondent like many of you, from time to time; I wondered what I could be doing wrong, and how I could remedy it. If it’s broke you fix it right? So I sat and pondered, how best I could approach the issue. I’ve been reading many articles from other unhappy ‘grammers’, and interviews with the Instagram staff, and what I’ve gleaned from it all is that we are basically stuck with the algorithm as it stands. Instagram seems to think that it works and they’re not in any rush to change it back again.

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So what can be done to work with this problem?

We need a solution.book girl glasses1

 

It breaks my heart to see some of my favorite feeds comment that they’re stepping away from the site because they’re not getting the interaction and growth that they are working so hard for.

So I’ve been closely monitoring the feeds that I love to follow, and also those that have huge growth in spite of the new algorithm and I’ve picked up a few clues that could help us to do the same.

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Firstly, the most obvious one is that the feeds that are making the best growth are those that are already well                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                established, and have follower counts in the tens of thousands. Because they are already so well established, many of them feature lots of different product endorsements  for companies that they may or may not love, and they in turn, are featured by those companies, which has a domino effect. Call it compounding. Unfortunately there’s not much we can do if we ourselves are late to the show, except to turn up everyday and keep trying. And of course we should continue to  pat our friends on the back for the success that they have achieved with their tenacity. After all, a rising sea lifts all boats.

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Secondly, we have the feeds that really pull out all the stops. Feeds that use photo shop and are extremely creative, are doing amazingly well. Flying books, miniature people in bottles, reading while hanging upside down from a tree, you name it! You have to applaud these guys.

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These feeds are so impressive! I love to see these pictures and I eagerly await each new photo just to see how astounding it will be. In short, the bar is being raised higher and higher every day. I realize that unless I make an effort to understand my photo shop software, I’m never going to be able to keep up. These feeds deserve all the likes and follows that they gain, because they make such a huge effort to entertain us. Many, many hours of set up and editing are invested before they post such impressive content.

Now let’s look at another tool that the most successful feeds use: their Instagram stories. Every successful feed that I’ve researched, posts an Instagram story on a daily basis- many post several times per day. I don’t know about you, but I love to see these glimpses of people’s lives. What’s going on behind the scenes? The irony is that we don’t REALLY want the full picture, but a candied version of the poster’s life. At heart we all love nosing into other peoples  windows at night.

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You don’t have to make yourself vulnerable in order to do this. We don’t need you to share EVERYTHING. You can pick and choose, but definitely give us SOMETHING. For example, I usually choose to post videos on my story of my picture set ups. I do this so that my followers can see close up details of what’s in the picture, that may not be prominent in the post. I tag everything that I can think of, but I leave out what I know my followers don’t want to see- all the mess behind me. Let’s face it, we say we want to see behind the scenes, but really we just want to lift the curtain just a little. We don’t really want to see that pile of books and props that are strewn around you. For goodness sake don’t break the spell! You can protest but you know deep down that it’s true.

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So, to sum up: Work harder, be more creative, and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Here’s a funny story: Yesterday I woke up with the most ridiculous thought- what if I posted about the book ‘Rumplestiltskin’ and photographed my messed up bed, with my hand holding the book, and captioned it : ‘Rumpled sheets Skin’  (oh my goodness, this obsession is really getting to me! ) I didn’t act on it, because after I’d woken up completely, I dismissed it with a laugh and got on with my day. THEN, later my instabuddy (the lovely @oasisgirlmd) posted a beautiful picture themed on the fairy tale of Rumplestiltskin, and I just HAD to tell her about my waking thoughts. She laughed too but thought I should definitely create the post. Maybe I should. Just to be ridiculous. Just to step out of my comfort zone and do something different. The truth is, do what you feel in your gut. It may work out, and if it doesn’t, then you can just hit that delete button.

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I haven’t mentioned interaction yet. This is very important. To me, this is the best part of the community. I love the friendships that I have made through Instagram, and being able to share my love of the written word with likeminded people. My real life friends and family unfortunately don’t share my love of everything bookish, so I have to contain myself around them, and then fangirl with my bookstagram buddies. slippers

 

New accounts especially need the love. We’ve all been there, so please get to know the newbies. Follow and comment and refer. Build each other up. We all started with a zero follower count and hoped that people would take a chance and follow us.

 

When scrolling through my feed each day (and sometimes several times per day- lets be honest) , I may have lots of time or my time may be limited. I ‘like’ the pictures and comment on as many as I can, enjoying being able to cozy up in my little world of books. Sometimes, I can only have time to post one word or a couple of emoji’s, but I’ve interacted and it means something. It’s impossible to see every new picture that is posted each day, but I try to see as many as possible. I scroll as many as I can, but when it’s time to leave and enter the real world, I try to like at least another ten pictures before I step away. Every little helps.

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Lately (doing my research) I’ve been checking who likes my pictures. It’s usually the usual suspects, with one or two new ones in between. Thanks guys, you know who you are!!! But so many people follow and never like. Why is that? It confuses me. I’m personally very trigger happy. I suggest you look into your own feed and see who regularly makes and effort to show love and who doesn’t. It’s quite an eye opener.

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Finally, and this is very important- acknowledge the comments. Please. You may not be able to answer everyone right away, but try. I’m just as guilty of giving late replies sometimes, when life gets busy; but I try to go through my feed later and respond to everyone. It’s my pet peeve when some of the accounts that I’ve been following for a couple of years and used to love, begin to grow and then stop replying to their followers. They post and ask a question but then never respond when we answer. They want the followers but not the work. Soon that will show in their numbers because nobody wants to be ignored. There’s two accounts that I follow that have become like this, and I have just stopped trying to interact with them, after making the effort for so long with no acknowledgement. I still love their content, but I know I’m wasting my time answering their questions because they won’t respond. It’s so sad.

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So there you are. Lets just end this on a positive note, You absolutely CAN continue to gain likes and followers, but you need to switch things up a little sometimes and put some effort into not only your own account, but in the effort that you make towards those whom you follow.

To sum up. In short, we can complain about the algorithm as much as we want but it isn’t going to change anytime soon. So we need to suck it up and play our best game, because the field is full of talent and we need to push ourselves harder and give it our very best shot- otherwise we’ll be benched, and that’s no fun, is it?.

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* Post more creative content,

*post more often,

* post regularly on your stories,

*comment on other people’s posts

*respond to comments made on our own posts

*support the newbies

*share a little of your world behind the scenes

*pull yourself out of your rut

*take creative risks

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I can’t wait to see what you do. Tag me please!

Lots of love, Sally