Now don't be NERVOUS about the Group Effort Pay it Forward! This will be easy and fun, you will see! And don't be worried that you will throw a contest and no one will show up: I will be linking to all the contests here, and I suspect that large masses of people will be clicking right down through the list, entering one contest after another; at least, that's the PLAN.
Here is what you will do if you want to participate and you have a blog:
1) You will begin to write a post. You will write that you are doing a Group Effort Pay it Forward contest. You will say what that is. You can copy and paste my description, or you can write something that's shorter and makes better sense. Up to you.
2) You will spell out the rules: you will mention that the contest ends on Friday July 4th. You will say that the way to enter is to leave a comment. If you feel like it, you will come up with a thing people can say in their comments ("Do you prefer Coke or Pepsi?" "What do you think is my most charming quality?" "Who's cuter, Hugh Grant or John Cusack?").
3) You will post the post, either Monday June 30th or Tuesday July 1st.
4) You will email me at swistle at gmail dot com, and you will send me the URL of your contest post so I can include it in the list.
(If you want to participate but DON'T have a blog: Email me at swistle at gmail dot com and tell me you want me to draw you a random winner from MY Pay it Forward drawing. And I will say yes.)
And then you are done with the first leg! See? That was not so scary! And now you have plenty of time to work on the second leg. The second leg is even less scary, because there are no deadlines. But the second leg has more words, because it has more interesting things to discuss. People with blogs, start with step 1; people without blogs, start with step 3:
1) Sometime after the contest ends (maybe within minutes, maybe not until you return from vacation), you will assess your comment section. Open a random number generator. Tell it to generate 1 random integer, with a value between 1 and the number of comments you have that came in before the deadline, and format it in 1 column. Click "get number." That's the number of your winner.
2) Write a new post. Announce the winner. Say that their prize will be going out soon. Make a little joke about how long it will probably end up taking you. If the winner left an email address, email the winner and ask for his/her mailing info. Otherwise, in your post instruct the winner to email you with his or her mailing info. Mention your email address.
3) Decide what to send as the prize. The prize can be anything. Anything! It can be something you made, or something you bought. It can be an assortment of random stuff, or it can be things on a theme. It can be something from your regift shelf. Whatever is most fun to you.
4) Ship it. I'm only familiar with U.S. shipping, but if you're in the U.S. and you're mailing something heavy but small, flat rate is a great option. You can also consider ordering something from a site that will ship it for you for free: if you have Amazon Prime, for example. If your winner is from a different country than yours, talk with them ahead of time about what they might have to pay customs on, or what things shouldn't be shipped.
There! It is a lot of words, but that is only because I am so wordy! The steps themselves are easy: (1) say what you're doing, (2) pick a winner, and (3) mail them something fun!
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