Reverse psychology

When I first started blogging, I read a number of articles about increasing readership. One of the suggestions that appeared in various places was to have “give-aways”. It was an idea that I toyed with, but it seemed to me that unless I already had the readers, no one would know about my give-away and so it could only work with additional publicity. Since I couldn’t work out how to achieve this, I put it to the back of my mind.

Donated squares... I would still welcome more!

Some of the squares you’ve sent me

Then, in December, I had the idea of making my masterpiece blanket. Initially I thought that I would make all the squares myself, but some tentative enquiries via Facebook revealed that some of my friends would like to contribute. And so, I bit the bullet and asked for squares – I put my request out on Facebook as well as here on my blog… and was amazed by the response. I have had offers and received squares from people who I never knew read my blog as well as from existing friends, I’ve had loads of feedback (comments and likes) and traffic on my site has increased in a way I never expected (I’ve just exceeded 20,000 hits).

Admittedly, I have been writing more often during this period, but this cannot solely explain the level of engagement by you out there and the positive comments and support. I am aware that everyone who makes a square is giving me time, but that also they are handing over real money, at least postage and, in several cases, yarn bought specifically for the purpose.

Since I have never run a give-away, I cannot make a comparison, but it is very interesting to see that the converse, i.e. asking my readers to give me something, has had such a positive response. I think this says something about human nature – there are many, many kind and generous people in this world. The project is turning out to be a great way to discover this.

So, I wonder… have you ever run a give-away? If so, did it have a positive impact on your readership? And is it better to give than to receive?

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  1. Always better to give! And without any expectation of return. It’s fun to win things, but as someone who’s never, ever won anything, I have to say that giving produces more pleasure than participating in the hope of receiving, and being inevitably disappointed!

    • I rarely ‘win’ anything either, but the Masterpiece is like having a lottery ticket that keeps coming up! I would certainly contribute if someone else was doing something similar.
      I love knowing that five of my squares are with you in Australia and two of my snails are in California!

      • I think the reason people are so willing to send you a square is that you are inviting them to participate in an act of creation, rather than merely asking for their time or cash. They like the idea of seeing the work of their hands as part of a greater whole.

  2. I have run a giveaway of two of my nooks through Kindle at separate times. There were quite a few downloads each time but no noticeable increase in sales.The feedback has always been good too ( with one noticeable exception).
    This month I’m trying something new via Kindle. An offer for a few days from 13th where my first book can be purchased for 99p, after 3 days it goes to £1.99 and three days later it reverts to £2.99. Hopefully some people will buy it at what I see as a bargain price.
    But, it’s different from the old days when I created causes on FB. The response from generous people wanting to help others was amazing. I see it that people just care about what they spend their money on and to be honest spending it on a worthwhile cause is preferable.
    Be prepared for the tweets on 13th.
    I’m so glad things are still going well for you. It’s coming on a treat.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • That’s really interesting. Mr Snail always get good numbers of downloads when his first book is free on Kindle (he’s done it twice) and it does result in a few more sales of the second, but not as many as we had hoped. I’ll be really interested to hear how your progressive pricing offer works.
      There does seem to be a very positive attitude to things that people view as a ‘good cause’… perhaps that’s what I am!!!!

  3. Your story is amusing and possibly unique. No stranger to study myself I feel a little vicarious involvement in yours by providing my square. I found your information on what constituted an original masterpiece quite fascinating and the principles and ethics of permaculture to be “just what our planet really needs” I love the idea of combining the creative with the practical. I am very glad to have made both you and your masterpiece part of my life. I had a giveaway and it did increase followers. I also subscribe to timethief who assists bloggers voluntarily
    I read an article by her once when she was talking about “the never enough unsustainable bushiness model of unrelenting growth” or something along those lines. How much is enough? I thought. Interesting stuff but I still get a thrill when people like my post.
    I love your blog. 🙂

    • That’s a really useful blog – I’ve started following her straight away.
      I’m delighted that so many people, like you, have become engaged with my masterpiece project and learned a bit about permaculture along the way… the feeling of community is great.
      By the way, your cupcake makes a brilliant pin cushion!

  4. I have never offered a giveaway, nor requested items on my blog so cannot answer your question about whether either improves traffic.
    Personally, I am always looking to increase the number of regular readers, not to just gain a massive spike in my statistics over a couple of days. Although I have entered giveaways, they have not caused me to return to the blog hosting them unless it was a particularly interesting blog. I would have thought that contributing to an ongoing project such as yours would encourage more return visits to see the progress being made.
    I read your blog regularly because I find it interesting, and you share your views on sustainability/re-use/recycling/etc in a way that I find inspiring rather than overbearing (like many other blogs).

    • Thank you for your kind comments about my blog. You are quite right – I want regular readers much more than single visits. I like the way that I get to know people this way too… it makes me feel part of a community.
      I have to confess that I was nervous about asking people to contribute to the masterpiece… I didn’t want to appear pushy and I was concerned that it would be off-putting to some, but sharing the project seems to have been a really positive experience and I have got to know some of my contributors much better than I did before, which is lovely.

  5. It’s really wonderful when things work out like that, isn’t it? I know I always find it thrilling to connect with bloggers and readers, especially when they, as you say, take the time to contribute to whatever (e.g. your squares).

    As for giveaways – I have never run one but have given it serious consideration. It could be a way of giving back to the blogging community (although there would be but one winner! And yes I do prefer to give rather than receive). Just observing other bloggers’ giveaways I noticed some get a few comments on a “regular post” but when the giveaway post rolls around the comments/entries run into the hundreds so it would seem to indicate an increase in the stats department.

    • Perhaps I will give it a go in the future… or maybe I could have a blanket sweepstake where anyone can contribute a square to have the chance to win a blanket made out of all the contributions! Something to think about once the masterpiece is completed in a few months.

  6. I’m new to the whole blogging thing, but I’ve followed a few bloggers in my time. That being said, I can say that I’ve never participated in any “giveaways” even if I were interested in what they were giving away. It just feels so… false. Whenever I follow someone I like to feel as though I’m sitting on their front porch, listening to them tell me about their day, show off their accomplishments, swap stories, etc… By having a giveaway, that changes the atmosphere into something more… I dunno… carnival like.

    “Now that I’ve got you all here ha-ha! We’re gonna have a contest! Now, now, no shoving, everyone has a chance! Tell you friends, and let’s move to where we have room for more people! Come one! Come all!” I’m sure it’s not meant that way at all, but that’s just the way it *feels* to me. I get all uncomfortable when bloggers I follow start trying to pull in readers because then it’s like a business, and I’m not sure I understand the purpose of that.

    That’s my opinion anyway.

    All that being said, I do love your blog, and think it’s fine the way you have it. I love your Masterpiece and don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking your current readers for squares. That would be akin to asking your friends on the porch for a cup of sugar should you need it for a recipe and not the same as having a giveaway at all. Again, that’s my personal opinion.

    • That’s interesting. I have to confess that I have never participated in a give-away either (apart from business-related ones, which are advertising and thus fair-game), despite reading a number of personal blogs who have had them.
      I do feel, as you say, like my readers are my friends and there does feel like there is reciprocity, which is nice.

  7. Nanette

     /  February 7, 2014

    I read a quite a few quilting/crafty-type blogs, and those are the ones I’ve noticed seem to have a lot of give-aways, and this info is spread from blog to blog of the core readers. it seems there’s a regular bunch of readers then suddenly hundreds come out the woodwork. I’m often think about that and wonder if a) they’ve always read the blog but are lurkers and decide to speak up in the hopes of winning a prize, or b) they’ve seen it mentioned on another blog they follow(which happens a lot) and have decided to visit just in the hopes of winning something. Because I like to read all the comments on posts, I don’t really notice a jump in readers following a giveaway, maybe a few new people but most drift off again, perhaps to the next giveaway. Personally I don’t enter giveaways unless I’m a regular commenter and feel I have some relationship with the blog owner. And I have won a few prizes via blog giveaways. Maybe it’s a nice just to have a giveaway for your regulars, a kind of ‘thankyou’ or to mark a milestone on your blog that regular followers are part of and if more readers are ‘gathered’ then that’s a bonus?

    I had to think about why I was keen to contribute to your Masterpiece, initially it was a feeling more than anything……that sense of community building albeit a virtual one, and I love a good community building project……Jude Hill has a wonderful one going, the Magic Feather project that I and hundreds of others contributed to ………
    ……perhaps it’s the sense and the enjoyment of being part of something larger…….our small mark out there somewhere.

    • Yes, the sense of community does appeal to me – I love the fact that such projects create something tangible. I cannot explain how lovely it is to hold in my hands a square that one of my blogging friends made themselves… something into which they put time and love. I feel very privileged that you and all the other people have chosen to give me that. I hope that I can reciprocate in the future.

  8. Glad you’re getting the traffic you deserve. The only reason I haven’t contributed is because the quality of the ones you’ve photographed here puts my efforts to shame. If you’re still looking for more squares…. what are your criteria? And what’s the deadline?

    • I’d love you to contribute… Mr Snail-of-happiness is learning to knit specially so he can contribute a square, so there will be all levels of skill included! I’m aiming for 6 inch (15cm) squares, along with a little piece of writing to put in my accompanying scrapbooksaying why you wanted to contribute (take a look at the Masterpiece page: to see the sort of things other contributors have written). I’m trying to collect all contributions by around Easter, so there’s not rush.
      I’d be delighted if you do send one!

  9. Have neither given nor received anything except likes, comments and follows 🙂 I am working on your square and hope to finish it by this week. Let me know how to get it across to you.

    • I do enjoy all the comments – making connections is what it’s all about! However, I am really touched by all the squares… it is amazing to have something physical from so many lovely people.
      I have e-mailed you about the square…. thank you so much!

  10. Always better to give than receive !
    Re give-aways: it all depends on your reason for blogging. If your blog is a tool for spreading the word about your business, then a give-away serves a specific purpose. I write the blog posts for the NPO I work for, and I try to write more objectively and less like the me who writes Nice Piece of Work. I’ve had a couple of give-aways for NPOW, and I have found that a few total newbies suddenly pop up from nowhere. And if they never come back, that’s also fine with me. Since starting to sell what I make, NPOW has become about that as well, so sometimes the content is both personal and ‘professional’. It’s a fine line, though, and in fact I can no longer differentiate between the two. Ramble ramble…I’ll stop now. Have a lovely Sunday 🙂

  11. The wise words of the former pastor, Bert Keller at Circular Congregational Church in Charleston, SC ( come to mind: “Giving is receiving. Receiving is giving.”


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