How to increase your chances of winning competitions
“I’ve entered thousands of competitions, and I’ve not won a thing!”
“Everybody is winning except me!”
If you read interviews with compers in the newspapers, 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 24 years’ experience and know the tricks of the trade (and that’s why I’ve already published a book of comping tips and currently writing a new one!).
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!
Most compers reckon just 1 in 1000 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 70. So why the difference?
The majority of compers focus on the quantity of comps entered, finding comps via listings sites like Loquax, PrizeFinder and MSE, then using autofill and keyboard shortcuts to fill out web entry forms rapidly. Some compers are entering 200 or more comps a day, insisting ‘it’s a numbers game’.
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 40-50 comps, a mixture of creative, purchase necessary, Twitter (replies, rather than RTs), Facebook (comments, rather than shares), Instagram, Gleam, Rafflecopter, postal, local and radio comps.
I only use competition listings websites to search for effort/creative competitions, or to look for prizes from my wishlist. I simply don’t want to do a daily trawl through the MoneySavingExpert forum or The PrizeFinder. I find it dull, and I also know there’s a low chance of a win because thousands of other people are entering those same easy entry prize draws.
Instead, I focus on the prizes I want to win by searching at least once a week for my wishlist prizes, and new creative, purchase or radio competitions, using bookmarked Google searches and saved Twitter searches to do this quickly.
If you’re struggling to win anything, here are some suggestions:
How to start winning
Enter every day
Lots of comps (particularly text comps and instant wins) allow you one entry per day. Even by entering a prize draw for a second time you’ve already doubled your chance of winning – so if you can do an entry every day for the duration of a promotion, your chance of winning will be significantly increased.
Habits are important – get yourself into a regular comping routine. Use Google calendar notifications, phone alarms or even Post-it notes to remind yourself to listen out for radio comps, do daily instant wins, weekly Google searches or monthly checks of your favourite websites. I use the free Asana app to set repeat tasks.
Search for local low-entry competitions
Look for local business pages (restaurants, venues, shops, salons etc) on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – lots of them will be running competitions.
See blog post: How to find local competitions and giveaways
Find comping friends
You’ll find lots of comps if you follow what your friends are up to on your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feed – particularly if they’re kind enough to tag you in comps. Local friends are the most helpful, as they will tag you in low entry comps – find them in local Facebook comping groups, or join a local competition club.
Join an online comping forum or Facebook group
Check the motivational winners posts to see where and how people are winning prizes. If you’re in the Lucky Learners group check it daily, as this is where myself and members share comps with low entries or lots of prizes (be sure to check the Recommended Comps featured post, and see what people are posting on the weekly winners post too!)
Search social media
Search on Google, Instagram or Twitter for the prizes you want and competition types you enjoy most (photo, video, Instagram, recipe, etc). 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 bookmark the tweets to look at later on. Curate Twitter lists to focus on your favourite accounts. You can find some great low entry Facebook and Instagram comps via Twitter searches!
Enter radio comps
Listen to as many stations as you can (particularly local stations) – on-air radio competitions give instant gratification as you find out you’ve won right away, so they’re a great motivator. Check my tips on how to win radio competitions.
Read the rules
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. Check my blog post Top ten mistakes compers make
Get out and about
Stop shopping online and go to your local High Street and supermarkets where you can spot promotions on the shelves easily. 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
Most compers avoid any sort of effort competition, which means the entry numbers are low. For many tiebreaker, photo or video competitions, a winning entry is chosen at random so your photo or comment doesn’t need to be the best! If you’re creating something special for a specific competition, take several different photographs so you can use them for other comps. Be prepared for events like Halloween, Pancake Day and Mothers Day by organising relevant photos into albums on your phone, ready to post.
Enter comps with lots of prizes
On-pack promotions with thousands of smaller prizes are great to keep your spirits up, especially those where prizes are awarded via winning moments.
Check current Easy-to-Win comps and check out my tips for winning purchase-necessary comps
Enter to win books
Cut down on the sharing
Most new compers I see have a Facebook profile full of Like & Share comps, and a Twitter profile full of RT comps – these are exceptionally hard to win, as the shares spread virally and are seen by thousands of prospective entrants! If you really want to win a prize, don’t go posting the competition on Facebook, Twitter and forums so everyone else can join in. Of course 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 that you don’t have to share.
Check for wins regularly
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. On Twitter and Instagram, check your notifications and inbox daily – and look out for hidden message requests! Read my post How do I know if I’ve won a competition? for more tips on finding your wins.
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:
- Update your wish list. Check my post on making a wish list, then spend a few hours dreaming about the prizes – then get searching for them on Google or Twitter.
- Look through your wins folder or spreadsheet – remind yourself what a great hobby you have.
- Join a local comp club or Facebook group to find motivated friends.
- Try something different – if you’ve been entering the same type of easy prize draws, try something more challenging like searching for low entry comps on Google, or learning to use TikTok, Twitter or Instagram.
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!