Why aren’t I winning?

“I’ve entered thousands of competitions, and I’ve not won a thing!”
“Everybody is winning except me!”

Sound familiar?

If you read my blog or interviews in the media, it might seem like winning prizes is easy. But the truth is, it’s not easy – successful comping requires persistence, patience and positive thinking. People are rarely good at it straight away – if you wonder why I’m successful, it’s because I have 20 years experience and know lots of tricks of the trade (and that’s why I’ve published a book of comping tips!).

If you’re new to the hobby, it will take a while to get in the swing of things. Most new compers will enjoy comping for a few weeks, then when they don’t win – they give up. It’s the ones who keep going that will eventually be successful – and remember, some promoters take months to notify their winners, so be patient!

Over on the MoneySavingExpert competition board, the members reckon on average about 1 in 1300 of their competition entries is a winner. I don’t track the exact number of comps I enter, but my own ratio of wins to entries is about 1 in 60. So why the difference?

From chat over at MSE it seems the majority of users focus on quantity of comps entered, using Roboform and clever keyboard shortcuts to fill out entry forms rapidly.

For me, it’s about quality of comps entered – I enter fewer comps but spend more time on finding them. I spend an hour or two most days finding and entering around 30-40 comps, a mixture of purchase, Twitter (replies, rather than RTs), Facebook (comments rather than likes/shares), Instagram, Pinterest, photo, Gleam, Rafflecopter, postal, local and radio comps. I try to do a quick daily search on Twitter and Google for my wishlist prizes – I do this on my iPhone while walking to/from school. I only use listings websites like Loquax, PrizeFinder and MSE to search for effort/creative competitions, or to look for wishlist prizes. I simply don’t have the time to commit to a daily trawl through a competition listings site. I find it dull, and I also know there’s a low chance of a win because thousands of other compers are entering those same easy prize draws.

If you’re struggling to win anything, here are some suggestions:

How to start winning

  • Join an online forum, local comp club or Facebook group (try a local compers Facebook group) to keep yourself motivated. Add comping friends – you’ll find lots of comps if you watch what they’re up to on your Facebook news feed or ticker (the scrolling feed at the right of your screen, only available on desktop)
  • Check the SuperLucky Facebook page and Lucky Learners group daily, as this is where myself and members share comps with low entries or lots of prizes.
  • Search for local business pages (restaurants, venues, shops, salons etc) on Facebook and Twitter – lots of them will be running competitions.
  • Search on Google or Twitter for the prizes you want and competition types you enjoy most. Do you have a smartphone? Use it for Twitter searches when you have a spare moment (in a queue, on the bus, waiting at the school gates) – enter right away, or like/heart the tweets to look at later on. You can find some great low entry Facebook and Instagram comps via Twitter searches!
  • Enter radio comps (particularly on your local station) – if you win, you’ll know straight away so it’s great motivation to keep going!
  • Avoid entering any comps on survey/tick box websites like MyOffers (see my List of Competition Websites for the ones that will spam you!) – stick to the websites and social media pages of companies you know and trust.
  • Make sure you’re entering properly – read the rules and check the closing date, and be sure your Twitter and Instagram accounts aren’t private.
  • Get out and about – stop shopping online and go to your local High Street and supermarkets. Keep a look out for entry forms, posters and magazines – if you’re discreet you can take photos of email comps in magazines and newspapers, without having to buy them!
  • Try a few effort comps – for many of them, a winning entry is chosen at random so your photo or comment doesn’t need to be the best – these are usually very low entry!
  • Instant win comps with thousands of smaller prizes are great to keep your spirits up – look for the word WIN on packaging in supermarkets, and check out my tips for winning purchase-necessary comps.
  • If you love books, Goodreads, World Book Day and Toppsta (kids) have loads of easy prize draws to enter!
  • Cut down on the sharing. Most new compers I see on Facebook have a profile full of Like & Share comps – these are exceptionally hard to win, as they are seen by thousands of people! If you find a comp where you don’t want the prize, definitely share it! But if you really want to win, don’t go posting it on Facebook, Twitter and forums so everyone else can join in. It’s nice to share, but it reduces your chance of a win significantly. You’ll have more success with the like/comment comps on Facebook, or the ‘reply with…’ comps on Twitter.
  • Sometimes new compers miss news of a win because they don’t know where to look! Search your email inbox and junk folders for ‘congratulations’ or ‘winner’ and if you enter Facebook comps, search for your name in the Competition Winners group.

Stuck in a dry spell?

It’s not just new compers that struggle. If you’ve been comping for years and haven’t been lucky for a while, that’s a ‘dry spell’. Losing your comping mojo isn’t unusual, and it happens to most long-term compers at least a couple of times. A new hobby or a life-changing event like a wedding or baby comes along and suddenly you don’t have that spare time to dedicate to your comps.

Here’s a few ways you can stay enthusiastic:

You will start winning again, it’s just a matter of time!

Are you a new comper struggling to win, or stuck in a dry spell? Or maybe you have some tips for new compers?  Leave a comment and let’s come up with some ideas to get you winning again! 

40 Responses

  1. Barbara Wood says:

    I used to do competitions years ago then found I didn’t have much time. I have recently started again but everything as changed it is all facebook and twitter which I don’t fully understand but will get there I am sure I will persevere. Any tips will be gratefull.

  2. Gail Weisblat says:

    I just started last Nov. Thank you for all this great info. I have no wins yet. But hoping for them to start soon with listening to all that you have to say .

  3. Marie Booth says:

    I was comping ‘full time’ last year but since I’ve got a term time job I’ve gone through a long dry spell even though I have kept up entering lots of competitions. I don’t understand why the same few people seem to win everything! Are there any tips on email addresses (for example do hotmail and gmail addresses get picked less thinking it’s spam?). I’m really starting to feel that there is no point entering when the same few people win all the time!!

  4. sarah gray says:

    I’ve been comping for almost 3 years. I have hit a real dry spell of late. No idea why – not doing anything different, and always had small – medium wins quite regularly. Any tips to kickstart me? x

    • Sorry to hear that Sarah. It might well be that your dry spell means there’s something fabulous coming your way soon! The tip I’d most recommend from this blog post is Googling for prizes you want, particularly smaller prizes like tickets and meals and local events which will have much lower entry numbers.

  5. Georgina Nicol-James says:

    literally started comping in the last three days. i’ve entered loads, nut i’ll be looking for quality over quantity now, makes so much sense! thank you, really excited.

  6. JB says:

    Would love know how to go about searching them out myself on google. Does anyone want to offer me any tips please.

  7. Jacqueline Roberts says:

    I actually won 2 tickets to centre court & hamper by purely googling a question asked by my son. He asked how many balls do they use at Wimbledon? Did this and lo and behold on a 10 facts about Wimbledon was a competition. Thanks HSBC

  8. Olivia Kirby says:

    I don’t ever get any signal/reception around school, it’s most disappointing!! And I am far too anti social for the purchase comps. I actually think I’m a terrible comper. I have become fairly disinterested in ‘things’ too, I hate presents (giving and receiving) so don’t really enjoy comping for gifts (but I do do it). It always surprises me how many compers aren’t interested in tickets/trips/holidays! They are what I REALLY want. I don’t enter comps for a buzz any more, I just do it to save money and dream about cool holidays!

    • That’s what I love about compers – we’re all different, and what works for one of us doesn’t work for another. Sometimes I think I try too many things at once and flit all over the place, but if I focused on one prize or one type of comp, I would be more successful. I like the variety though! What holiday prizes do you have lined up for the rest of the year Olivia – any swish weekends away? 🙂

      • Olivia Kirby says:

        Hi Di! I’ve got the jury’s inn night away to book (Friday freebie Twitter win) and a night in Birmingham with dinner and VIP tickets ago the symphony hall (prize draw from Flybe mag) Also I won the Galvanina bottle reuse comp after hosting the Come Round party. I made a bird feeder and we won a 2 night break to Rimini in Italy! Flights, taxis and hotel. It looks great and the bird feeder took less than an hour and a tenner to make! X

        • That’s great! I did a Come Round ironing party (!) and won a £500 Red Letter Day voucher with my video review of the iron afterwards – only a few of us entered. I’m looking for a weekend in Birmingham, I’ll have to check out that mag! 🙂

  9. Christina Curtis says:

    I used to use MSE religiously! But then the forum started to fail and the search function stopped working meaning I was unable to check if a Competition had already been posted, So I then stopped sharing Competitions and spent more time trying to look for them and I Have to say I have won much more since.. Many of the ones I won recently only had 1 or 2 entries – Infact one recently only had myself and my best friend enter..so they let us both win as the only people bothering to enter.

    I find MSE miss out on lots of great Competitions! Great Blog post and very helpful.. I used to find lots of low entry ones on Twitter but since it changed I have found it harder to find as many as before.

    • I find searching Twitter more effective using several columns on http://www.tweetdeck.com and hope to do a video about that soon! I also enjoy just browsing – for example, I find a local company I like and see who they’re chatting too, and click on their feeds, and then see who’s recommended… you can find some nice little comps that way!

  10. Carroll Marsh says:

    Oh thanks Di,You are very Inspirational and just what we all need when things slow down!When is your book being Published!Big Hugs x

    • Thanks Carroll! I’m hoping ‘SuperLucky Secrets’ will be available by the end of July – I’m going to have to stop comping and start editing to make sure it happens though, and that’s the tricky part! 😉

  11. Plastig Ffantastig says:

    Play to your strengths – I really enjoy the easy entry (goodreads for example, I usually win around 5 books a week) comps, I find it relaxing to do them in the evening when watching TV or whatever. But if you find it boring, there’s no point in forcing yourself when you could be entering more creative comps. Same with the type of comps you enter – I don’t have a wishlist as such, but I don’t enter for holidays, events, trips, etc because it’s too much hassle with work and now the baby… If you know what you *don’t* want to win it’s easier to focus on what you do want.

    • Great tip about the Goodreads giveaways – I always forget about that site as I don’t do much reading, but of course the books make great gifts for family and friends! Definitely agree about certain prizes – much as I’d like to win nights out in London and the like, the hassle of arranging childcare and travel is a pain!

  12. Heather Crowe says:

    I needed this to spur me on, Thanks Di! 🙂 xx

  13. emmasfabulous says:

    Spot on as usual, Di. My spreadsheet isn’t looking great! Two cravendale glasses for June is a bit disheartening. My personal rule is to never give up. I worry if I did I might not start again. As you say, life events can dictate and I’ve spent this year retraining for a new career so that has taken over. But mixing things up does help, I’m enjoying wamo at the moment and doing a lot of purchase comps. Sometimes it’s harder the more experienced you are as it seems all your peers are winning and you know you are capable. Everything seems so elusive! But it does pay to be patient as once you’ve been comping for a few years you get to enjoy the spoils and the memories through those rotten dry spells!

    • It’s also nice to save a few prizes – for example, Red Letter Day vouchers, free meals out or or gift cards can perk you up if you’re not winning, and remind you what a great hobby it is! And you’re reminded me – I’ve yet to win with Cravendale, must try harder!!

      • emmasfabulous says:

        I agree, this is one benefit as a long term comper that obviously newbies need time to discover. Very rare I have nothing in the bank. Got holiday & paultons park tkts plus some vouchers to spend. I spent the last of my Debenhams vouchers yesterday, that was painful ! Dry spells are tough though , constantly checking the inbox.. Funny how u feel will never win again when evidence points to the contrary! X

  14. Natalie Crossan says:

    In my experience, the people that say they’re entering “thousands and not winning” are entering about 2 comps a day and hoping for miracles. I am one of those that enters an excessive amount of competitions, if I told you the figure – you’d think I was exaggerating but I tend to win at least one prize a day, some days I win up to 10 prizes and I average around 70 a month… If you enter thousands YOU WILL WIN! So, up your game compers! (I mean this in the nicest possible way… even though I know it sounded bossy. I’m a bossy comper….)

    • Nat, you work incredibly hard at your comping – your Twitter feed is a delight! – and deserve every one of those prizes. I know you also hunt for a lot of those comps yourself on Google, and have great techniques for rattling through the blog giveaways quickly. In fact I still have plans to secretly come and film an evening of comping at Natty’s house! 😉

      • Natalie Crossan says:

        LOL there will be a fee Di if any such video of me comping presents itself on youtube 😉 haha xx

  15. rebecca beesley says:

    This is a great post Di. One of the things I really struggle with (and I know it sounds a silly) is when I’ve put a lot of effort into a comp and don’t win (i mean tons of effort like giving up a whole weekend to make a video or spending several weeks working on something), I tend to feel really low on the day I realise I haven’t won. I know that there have been so many highs and buzzes of lots of other wins to make up for it and I often feel happy for whoever the winner is so it’s not a jealousy thing, but just a feeling that I shouldn’t have spent so much time on it. But then if I don’t give it my best shot, then I won’t feel happy with myself either. The feeling is usually short lived – just a day or so usually – but I hate feeling that way when i really don’t want to as I know life’s too short to get upset over such things. x

    • Great point! I dedicated a week of my life in 2009 to winning a VW Tiguan, driving it all over the UK and filming (see the trailer at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsMxp4isZak) – it was my first experience of a voting competition though, and of course I didn’t win! There was also the time I stripped in a car showroom and again, didn’t win the car. I think my biggest disappointment was when I recreated the Mamma Mia video dressed as both the Abba girls, and didn’t even get into the gallery! But I only spend time entering comps that are fun to do – if I think it’s going to be stressful or not a good chance of a win, I just skip it and move on. I also consider entering the comps where you can get several entries out of one idea – so if I’m down at Brighton beach I take lots of shots of picnics, products, paddling, Ryland – so I have a good stash of summer snaps too! I also think if I lose with a great entry – I can always put it into my annual ‘Lose Some…’ post! As you say, at least your disappointment is shortlived – and you can always think back on all those amazing effort comps you DID win! 🙂

      • Charlie says:

        Love the video! 🙂
        Do you ever think sometimes when T&C’s say they are judged on creativity that they are actually chosen at random or not much thought put into the judging process? Sometimes, I notice creative competitions have winners that didn’t completely follow the rules and people with really talented entries don’t get acknowledged. It is obviously down to opinion what someone thinks is the ‘best’ entry and deserving but it does appear random at times. I love seeing winners that are really creative and original 🙂

        • Yes, that’s the problem – ideally it should be a ‘panel’ of judges as people have very different ideas on what constitutes the ‘best’ entry. Also, they forget to have the terms, conditions and judging criteria in front of them when they judge!

          • Charlie says:

            I really agree, do you think there is a way it might improve in the future?

          • I think the best we can do is report promoters to the ASA – they only really get told off (they don’t get forced to re-award prizes or anything like that), but in many cases the telling off should be enough for an agency to realise they’re at fault, and do it properly in future.

      • rebecca beesley says:

        that video is fab! x

    • emmasfabulous says:

      You’re not the only one Rebecca, I’ve yet to have a good return on creative comps but soldier in as happy with my entries and as di says u can use for later on. But same as u do feel gutted for a day afterwards!

      • rebecca beesley says:

        glad im not the only one emma. Im glad to have found some great friends through this hobby – helps keep us positive xxx

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