Were I ever to start a new tech blog—and for the record, I’m still quite happy writing for Howard Forums—I’m fairly confident that the fastest route to building an audience would be through device giveaways. You would, of course, have to then maintain that audience with decent content. But getting your website traffic and followers on social media up to the point where people will take you seriously is, I should think, easily accomplished through prize draws. It’s pretty much standard practice across blogs of all kinds, and I see no harm in it, so long as your audience understands that they’re promoting you for free in exchange for a chance to win cool stuff.
What you don’t want to do is renege on that cool stuff—that is, hold contests for giveaways and then not actually ship them. But it appears that this is exactly what Android Authority has done.
This post about AA made the front page of the Android reddit over the weekend:
Basically, there are more then 15+ giveaways since January, and no winner has received [their] prize yet, if you try to contact them they just ignore you, look at the comments here:
The worst thing is that you have to share your social media accounts and advertise them through reposts, tweets, etc. and you don’t get anything.
The redditor later updated his post with proof that he was the winner of an Android Authority LG G6 giveaway, and in a second update indicated that someone from the blog had been in touch. But by this point the hate had already been piled on, with claims that AA had disguised paid promotions as reviews, along with accusations that r/Android mods were themselves being paid off by the site, having censored previous criticisms of it.
Even the eventual mea culpa by a managing editor at AA was roundly rejected, with redditors asking why prizes are purchased only after a contest has ended.
TL; DR Giveaways to build an audience are perfectly okay, but if you don’t actually deliver on your prizes then you’re in for a bad time.