Thursday, June 23, 2011

how I organize and keep track of online giveaways I enter

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I've posted previously about how last year, I made a pretty decent "income" from the giveaways I've entered.  I've not been entering a lot of giveaways over the past few months, but with a new baby on the way, I'm giving a go at winning some of the replacement gear that I need and/or would like for baby Cakes.

I have a tendency to approach things methodically. You know, create a system for things. Whether I follow through with my systems is a totally different post, though.

When I first started entering giveaways, I knew I need to a way to track what I've entered and to find out if I won.  I've created a system for my giveaways that has evloved over time, and here's what I do currently:

I use Firefox for Mac and I use NetNewsWire as my news reader.

In Firefox, I set up a bookmarks folder, that I call "giveaways I've entered." Every time I enter a giveaway, I drag the URL of the giveaway post to the folder, which I've placed in easy access at the top of my navigation bar in my browser.

After placing the URL in the folder, I can make notes about it.

I use tags to keep track of any daily entries that I may be eligible for. I use the keyword area to indicate the giveaway prize. I use the visit date to let me know when the last time I visited for the purpose of tracking extra daily entries. I also have a column for visits and date added to the folder, which I don't really need, but I just like to have available. the date added column gives me a sense of how often I enter giveaways. I use the description column to add the date the giveaway closes.

Once I have confirmed who a winner is for any giveaway, or if it's been a few weeks for blogs that don't announce winners, I move the bookmark/URL to another folder called "expired giveaways" if I didn't win, or "won" if I did.  Doing this helps me track the giveaways that might require followup if I win, or that I need to check back to the blog for the winners if they don't automatically email the winner. (Some just announce it, and it's up to the winner to initiate contact to claim the prize.)  Using the expired and won folders helps me keep track of how many giveaways I've entered over time, which is how I calculated my earnings last year.

This is really a pretty easy process, although it seems like perhaps a lot of steps. Drag URL to folder, enter close date, tag any daily entries, and enter keywords describing giveaway.

I use NetNewsWire as my feedreader. Every blog I visit for giveways is added to my newsreader. Then I have immediate notification of new posts, giveaways, and winners lists. I recently upgraded from NetNewsWire Lite, which was being buggy and bringing up old posts from many of the blogs I follow, and discovered a host of additional features that help me track my giveaways better.  I can now "flag" a post if I want to go back to it later to enter, instead of having to enter it right away, or mark it unread. I can also see when a post was published, which helps me know if a giveaway is old and likely expired.

If you enter giveaways, how do you track them?


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