**(excerpt from over 70+ tips written during a typical week)
1. RULES, RULES, RULES!
Always read the rules. A lot of people waste time entering sweepstakes that they do not qualify for, simply because they didn’t read the rules. For example, if your daughter is seventeen and enters a sweepstakes, she won’t win if the rules say she has to be eighteen or older. It’s a shame to reduce your chance of winning to zero on a technicality.
Also, you might want to check and see which states that particular sweepstakes can be played in. Some sweepstakes games are banned in certain states. If you live in one of them, you’re out of luck. One state requires local filing procedures for contests, even if they’re national in nature. That state, Rhode Island, often gets left out of most sweepstakes. The “void where prohibited” phrase is common on most contests for the other 49 states. You’ll have to check with your individual state’s law.
Finally, make sure you check out all of the little requirements for your entry. Some rules are very specific on what you can and cannot put on your entry form. Again, taking time to read the rules can save you wasted time. For example, if the entry blank requires you to put all information in BLOCK CAPITALS and you don’t notice this rule, you could fill out the form, send it in, and end up automatically disqualified. It’s more common than you think!
Also, make sure you read the fine print for any contest, especially those online. One way to do this to make sure and look specifically for links such as “Terms of Service”, “Rules & Regulations”, “Conditions”, or “Privacy”. In most online games, your email address and other information could be shared with other companies. That means you could be hit with spam! Don’t worry, they legally have to spell it out for you in the Privacy section, so check it before you fill in that online entry blank with your email address.
2. DON’T PAY TO PLAY!
Never, ever send in money for a prize. That’s a sure sign of a gimmick or scam that simply takes money out of your pocket and leaves you with high hopes and no results. There are obviously some games that you can get into that require investment, such as an office betting pool on the NCAA basketball tournament, or some other playoff sport competition. That’s fine. Everybody has to ante up equally, then everyone gets the pot.
But, when it comes to mail in or other sweepstakes, there’s no need to ante up any cash up front. Besides, most big companies that sponsor big sweepstakes already have the cash or prizes arranged at no cost to you. The draw for them is it gets more people familiar with their brand; in return they shell out a measly few thousand in prizes!
In addition, only spend money in the case of paying taxes on winnings, or in the rare instance you have to pay for shipping and handling. But even that should come after the drawing is finalized and your prize is confirmed and legal. Sending in money ahead of time before your prize is officially verified could also be the makings of a scam. One example in particular was a recent scam in the state of Florida, where someone was sending out “official letters” promising thousands of dollars, but requiring verification of information and submitting a small “processing fee” of $10 or $20 up front (www.consumeraffairs.com). Remember, it is ILLEGAL to solicit funds for “free prizes”.
3. Six Sources of Sweepstakes
So you’re anxious to find and enter every conceivable contest out there! Great, but where do you find them is the question. There are seven places you can look to find the most sweepstakes or contests to keep you busy all the time.
Mail. We’ve all received those mailers at one time or another, especially the most famous one – Publisher’s Clearing House. These companies have huge subscriber lists and pour out their entries to households everywhere. But, more entries mean more entrants, and more entrants means lower odds of winning.
Magazine Contests. Go to the local store and check the magazine section. Popular magazines are always good sources for entry forms for all sorts of contests.
Newspaper Contests. While you’re there, grab a newspaper! A lot of local and national companies advertise their sweepstakes in daily papers.
Store Contests. Don’t forget to fill out entry forms at various stores. Chances are, that grocery store that you’ve walked into may be running its own contests for prizes to encourage return shoppers! Stop by a favorite fast food or chain restaurant. Chances are they have a promotion or game going on where the prizes are always good!
Radio & Television Sweepstakes. If you still don’t find your fill of sweepstakes with those sources out and about, remember that you can also use technology right from home to find them. Simply turn on your radio or television and be on the lookout for constant contests and promotions, especially around ratings times.
Internet Sweepstakes. There is one other place right under your nose that you can look – on your computer. You can spend hours and hours searching online on the internet. Plus, you can enter online sweepstakes and fill out online entry forms easily without leaving the house!
4. Five Ways To Pick The Right Contest
As you search for the right sweepstakes to enter, there are ways that you can increase your odds of winning. To do so, you’ll need to figure out the best contests to enter. There are several things to be on the lookout for.
Limited Entry Sweepstakes. Contests that are likely to have less entries offer a bigger chance of winning. Don’t put too much priority on ones that have tons of entrants!
Effort or Skill Sweepstakes. Look for contests that require a little effort or skill or some sort of work to do as part of the entry process. It may sound simple, but sometimes you’ll find entries that require everything filled out in BLOCK LETTERS. Many overlook this and become disqualified instantly. Others will simply ignore entering these types of contests because of the hassle involved. Take the extra minute or two to fill out these types correctly. Your diligence will be rewarded.
Short Deadline Sweepstakes. A type of contest with good odds is one that has a short deadline. If you’re savvy, you can stay on top of the current contests out there and catch a few last minute ones. There will be less entries with this type, which means more chance for you to win.
New and Rare Sweepstakes. If you’re really good, be on the lookout for brand new, little-known or under-advertised sweepstakes. Again, it’s less likely there will be a high amount of entries, and more likely for yours to get picked.
Regional or State-Restricted Sweepstakes. A lot of times, a sweepstakes will only be open to special groups or demographics, such as homeowners, people with pets, renters, etc. Find ones that cater to your specific demographic and you’ll be more likely to win!
Blingo is a relatively easy online sweepstakes that’s free to enter. By using Blingo, you are entering yourself. Blingo is essentially a website that acts as a middleman for Google and Picsearch searches for end users. However, by using Blingo instead of Google or Picsearch, you stand the chance to win prizes awarded completely at random. Bought by Publisher’s Clearing House in 2006, Blingo is now giving away much bigger prizes.
Here’s how it works. Blingo chooses random times of the day to award prizes. There is a limit to your searches. Don’t over-do it early. You have 25 search opportunities per day to use. After that, the rest will not be considered. A good plan is to space searches out over the course of a day. Avoid nonsense-term searches and repeated searches, as they are disqualified.
Is there a trick to winning Blingo? If there is, it has yet to be discovered. Experts say you have just as much chance of winning by normal use of the search engine as you would actually ‘trying’ to win. Just start using Blingo for your searches and you might just randomly receive a prize easier than you think!
6. Five Reasons to Join A Sweepstakes Club
Motivation. When you’re part of a sweepstakes club, your peers become your support group, pushing you to enter regular and online sweepstakes. Plus, you’ll get to hear stories of success from other sweepstakes winners. They can be your support through a slow time when you’re not winning.
Information. Where else can you learn about sweepstakes and sweepstakes websites without help from others? Sweepers exchange information about which sweepstakes are worthwhile, and which ones are worth avoiding. Plus, you can learn valuable information about finding the locations of sweepstakes that most don’t know about, increasing your odds of winning.
Tips, Hints and Strategy. You may know a lot about sweepstakes, or you may think you do. Getting together and sharing collective sweepstakes strategies and sweepstakes tips with others will help you sharpen your skills and improve your winning.
Entry-Swapping. What if you can’t make it in to a certain store to get the ‘official sweepstakes entry’ you need to participate? Others in your club may have been able to. In fact, they can pick up extra applications, bring them to the club, and give them to others who would otherwise not be able to participate.
Group Sweepstakes. If you’re a sweepstakes lover, in a sweepstakes group, chances are everyone else is too. That means they might want to put together prizes internally for the group. Yet another way you can be a sweepstakes winner!