Meet the Compers: Di Coke surprise edition

So, last Wednesday I had planned a day out with my comping friend Natalie – a trip to Crawley to spend my £100 Wilko gift card, and do a quick scout round Sainsbury’s B&M, Poundland and ASDA for any new comps. It was supposed to be a low key event, but little did I know that Natalie had something special up her sleeve…

On meeting Nat at Sainsbury’s, she took out her phone and informed me that she wanted to record my reaction. “Reaction to what?” I thought… then she told me to check out the latest post in my Lucky Learners Facebook group! My group admin Chris Buso had posted a Surprise Surprise message for ‘Di Coke Appreciation Day’ – and Natalie and Chris had been working together to organise a special Meet The Compers Q&A for me to do LIVE from Crawley! I was truly shocked!

In Crawley we settled into a sofa in Caffe Nero to do our live Q&A broadcast to the Lucky Learners – it’s a little noisy and chaotic, but you can watch the video below.

I’ve also written up all the answers here in this blog post – and also answered a few of the questions we didn’t get chance to respond to at the end!

Later in the day Natalie added me to a secret Facebook group with my best comping buddies (old and new!), where there were the most wonderful messages and even donations to say thank you for everything I’ve done for the last 14 years with SuperLucky, Lucky Learners and BootCompers. I was really touched by all the kind messages. I love doing what I do and don’t really expect anything in return but to read all the stories made me really emotional.

I’d like to thank Natalie, Chris and everyone who was in on this big surprise – it was such a special day for me, and I appreciate every one of you! I will be using your generous donations towards a fridge-freezer for our new basement room conversion (…unless I win one first of course!).

So, onto the Q&A – I hope you enjoy it!

Meet the Compers – Di Coke Edition

You have won so many prizes over the years – but what has been your favourite prize over the years that has stayed in your memory?
It’s definitely when my son Ryland was 7 and a mascot at the FA Cup Final back in 2017! It was a video entry competition which he did (so not officially my win, although I recorded and edited it he did all the talking). Ry was a big Arsenal fan at the time – his Dad is a lifelong supporter – and when he was 4 he wrote a letter to his favourite player, Per Mertesacker. At the FA Cup Final the smallest mascot got to walk out last with the team captain – Mertesacker was the Captain, and of course the smallest mascot was Ryland. I cried so much when I saw him walk out with his hero! For me, that day was what comping is all about – those magical experiences!
(Read more about this prize in A Day as an FA Cup Final mascot)

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve put in your mouth for a competition?

Thanks Nikki – this question had me stumped! I was thinking of all the awful food and drinks I’ve either won, or bought as a qualifier. But – how about a flute? I bought a flute for a 12 Days of Christmas photo competition entry, but I didn’t win!

What’s the one thing you wouldn’t do to win a prize?
I could never eat anything that’s alive, and I would never jump out of a plane. Initially I thought that I wouldn’t get a brand tattoo… but thinking about it, if I could win a lifetime supply of Tesla cars I would consider getting their logo tattooed somewhere discreet. When it comes to fancy dress costumes and making a fool of myself in public though – pretty much anything goes!

Has there ever been a competition where you’ve won a prize you’ve never tried before, and you’ve gone on to be a regular buyer?
I’ve gone on to buy lots of foods regularly as a result of competition wins – I’ve had a couple of Alpro wins, and love their milks. Ry loves the GoGo Squeez yogurt, and I’m enjoying My Sweet Chickpeas! I’m fussy with handbags – years ago I won an amazing huge suede handbag from a company called Beck Söndergaard, it was the perfect size for all my comping stuff (and a football, which I had to carry round with me full time when Ry was younger!). I’ve bought three handbags from the same company since then (always in the sale though – never full price!) Unfortunately I never see them run any comps to actually win a bag…

What’s the one competition that you worked so hard on and didn’t win that you’re still bitter about?
One of the things I’m still annoyed about was a TV gameshow I went on in 2009 called Divided, where we had a huge prize fund of £120,000 then the three of us argued through the end game, while our prize pot reduced and I ended up leaving with £2,700 – of course it was still a nice cash prize, but it should have been £40,000+! I’ve not applied for any ‘mean’ gameshows since then as it was really traumatic. There were also two car competitions where I put a lot of thought and effort in – stripping to a WonderWoman costume in a car showroom, and turning a VW Tiguan into a mobile disco which I drove round the UK (see below!). I’m not bitter about losing, but I did think my entries were the best and most fun. I think all car competitions that require effort should have at least one runners up prize!

If you could travel back in time, what’s the one piece of comping advice you would give your younger self?
I only started comping when I was 24 but wish I’d got into it when I was a student, because prizes like beer, gig tickets and snacks would have been so useful back then. So if you know any teenagers, do everything you can to encourage them to start comping. And definitely get into radio comps, there’s a lot of music and cash prizes perfect for youngsters.

Do you think Ryland will follow in your comping footsteps?
He’s certainly not that bothered at the moment! I do think children of successful compers tend to take things for granted – amazing holidays, VIP treatment at sports events and having the latest gadgets just seems totally normal to them, they don’t fully appreciate the work that goes into winning these things! But I do hope that when he gets a bit older and leaves home he might consider comping as a way to add that bit of luxury to his life.

Do you have any superstitions or lucky charms?
I don’t believe in superstitions or charms, I think you have to make your own luck. So although I might have lucky socks and pants, I think luck comes from yourself rather than from objects.

Which actor would you choose to play you in a biopic of your life?
It would have to be Drew Barrymore – she’s so much fun and does loads of daft things, and has good music taste. Even at 48 I feel like a big kid, and she’s just the same!

If you were on a TV game show, who would be your ideal host?
Jordon Cox! He has appeared on several game shows – plus he hosted my own mini ‘Di’s Prize Buys’ game show at my SuperLucky Live event. He’s a regular on TV now (on Steph’s Packed Lunch) and I think he’d make a wonderful host.
(read my Q&A with Jordon)

Would you ever give up comping – and do you get fed up of constantly having to look for new comps?
I recently had a chat with my husband about retirement age. I said I hadn’t thought about when I might retire and he pointed out that because my job is my hobby, there wouldn’t really be any reason for me to retire as I love what I do. There’s always something exciting happening in the world of comps, so I could never give it up. Plus I love the thrill of spotting a new comp when I’m out and about (I just don’t like reading complicated T&Cs afterwards!)

You’ve got a beginners guide to comping book coming out this year – how are you getting back into the mindset of a new comper, and what are the main changes you’ve seen since you started?
It’s proving quite difficult after 25 years of comping to imagine what it must be like for new compers in 2023. When I started, it was all postcard, tiebreaker and radio comps and very little else, but now the majority of comps are on social media. I’m communicating with new compers and asking what they’re struggling with – avoiding scams, trying to keep accounts private, using a new email address, etc. I have plans to do a new comper survey soon in Lucky Learners to find out what their main challenges and concerns are!

What reaction do you get when you tell people what you do for a living?
If I’m at a party then I tend to avoid the whole ‘what do you do?’ conversation as it can turn into a 45 minute chat where I actually have to show them how to enter instant win and Instagram competitions! But the usual response is ‘Hang on – people actually WIN those competitions? I thought they were all fake!’. One of the funniest encounters was when I was in a Holiday Inn in Manchester and started chatting to some guys at a bar. One guy asked ‘What do you do?’ – I told him I blog about winning competitions, and the other guy said ‘You’re Di – I have a copy of your book!’ – the first guy looked totally bewildered!

What comping superpower would you like?
It’s not a superpower, but I’d like to have my own ‘Robin’, like Batman does – my sidekick would be a spy who could go into all the big brand marketing agencies and could let us know about on-pack and in store promotions six months before they hit the shelves so we have all the insider info. Getting in early can be really beneficial where it’s an instant win, or weekly prize draws! I do have a lot of contacts at agencies but they don’t always want to give compers a heads up.

So many compers look to you for inspiration but who do you learn from?
In the late 1990s and early 2000s I was very inspired by Brita Bevis – she wrote a book about comping, and in particular she had some awesome advice on writing tiebreakers and slogans. These days I get a lot of inspiration from creative compers on social media like Sophie Cowling, Kaz Weedon and Nicola Stott. Their photos and videos are fantastic!

How far would you go in a competition to meet BTS?
Ah, I love BTS! What a fab prize this would be. I would definitely put a lot of work into a video comp to win this prize, and would definitely involve Ryland – we would probably recreate one of their MVs, choreography and all!

You win a competition. The prizes on offer are … a year of free grocery shopping, a small family car or a weekend staying with the lads in the BTS house. Which prize would you choose?
Hanging out with BTS of course! I would always go for the money-can’t-buy experience – those are the ones that have meant the most to me over the years, and give you the best stories and photos to share with your friends. But which member would I sit next to on the sofa, that’s the important decision….

What’s your favourite thing about building a community?
The great thing about having an online community like Lucky Learners is that there are always friends online. It can be lonely working from home on your own so it’s good to know there’s always a comper available for a chat or to perk you up. I’m trying to do more Facebook Lives and video calls this year too, so people can feel more involved in the Lucky Learners and BootCompers communities.

Do you still get a buzz every time you win?
Of course! Even the smallest prizes get me super excited. During the Covid lockdown we were all stuck in such a rut, with nothing exciting happening – and the comping and little wins were what helped people get through the day. Compers are very lucky people – it’s the only hobby where you genuinely have no idea what your next message or notification might be, so each day we have the mindset that literally anything can happen!

If you could run a competition what prize would you love to give away, and what random term would you put in the T&Cs?
I’d love to be able to give away big cash prizes to people – and if ever win a huge lottery prize this is what I would do. I’d ask people to do a creative and daft video entry and in the T&Cs I would stipulate that they must record it with a Birmingham accent. That would certainly make me laugh while judging!

Do you enjoy comping as much now compared to 20 years ago?
I enjoy comping now because I get to meet so many new people all the time! Although it was much easier to win competitions back in the 2000s when there were lots of entry forms and tiebreaker competitions, plus the online comping forums weren’t as well known. I still get dry spells where I’m not as enthusiastic, but even when I’m not winning myself there’s always someone else I know who is doing well and celebrating their wins will perk me up again. I’ll read through the weekly winners posts in Lucky Learners, see what prizes people are winning (and where from) and that will motivate me and give me some ideas!

What makes you super lucky?
Strangely enough, I came up with SuperLucky as a name for my graphic design business originally (before I even considered starting a blog about comping!) because I thought it would be a fun logo. But now it’s my brand I realise it’s more about feeling lucky inside – don’t let the things that happen to you define whether you’re lucky or not. Own it, believe you are a lucky person, stay positive and make the effort to do things that will make you super lucky. Whether that’s going to an event, entering a competition, texting the radio or just going to a new town on a day trip – you never know what good luck your actions might result in!

What’s the best thing about the comping community?
Comping karma – if you share and get involved with the community, then you will be rewarded! And of course, the more competitions we enter, the more that promoters will run. It’s good to have a group of like minded people who can help each other out. Comping is one of the most amazing hobbies you can do for free, too – and with such fabulous results.

What’s the prize that Rob or Ryland won that you were most jealous of?
My husband Rob won a day at The Fat Duck restaurant, and the chance to cook with Heston Blumenthal – it was a judged tiebreaker competition that we both entered, and he won but it was a prize just for one person! He got to cook with Heston, then got the full Fat Duck tasting menu and an overnight stay. Just to rub salt into the wound, Rob asked Heston to sign a menu with ‘Better luck next time Di’ which we have framed on the wall!

What is something you want to win but rarely see it as a prize?
There aren’t too many trips to Asia as prizes (although I’ve won two holidays to Japan in the past!) – it’s my favourite part of the world. I’d love to go to Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal or Laos. I’d also like to win a trip to space, which has only come up as a competition prize once or twice!

What competitions do you find difficult to enter?
I find TikTok infuriating and fiddly trying to edit videos and get the sound right, but am slowly getting better with it. There are more brands on there now, and I really want to do a good beginners guide video for YouTube so I’m persevering. I actually just won a £200 Dune London voucher on TikTok in a simple like & comment competition so I really should spend more time on there!

Is it detrimental that you’re a well known comper – do you win less prizes?
A lot of brands and particularly PR agencies won’t pick me because I’m a comper, and would rather choose someone in their representative audience. On the other hand some brands will choose me as they know I have a lot of followers and can spread the word easily about them – especially if it’s a long running competition which my followers are still able to enter. Over time I think it all balances out, although there have been some creative competitions where I’ve been convinced my entry was the best and it’s been completely overlooked! But you never really know what goes on at the judging table do you? Maybe I could send my superhero spy in to find out!

Natalie didn’t ask the following questions in our Facebook live broadcast, but I didn’t want to miss them out, so here are my answers…

What is the longest prize you’ve ever won?
I won one of those giant Toblerone bars that was a metre long – but I my Vileda mop was definitely longer than that. And my paddleboard is long too – but it didn’t arrive inflated! I love it when a weirdly shaped parcel arrives…

Do you remember the lightbulb moment when you thought I am getting quite good at this and what made you think you could make a living out of it?
In the 2000s when I first got into comping, I shared my tips with some of the girls I worked with at an ad agency. When they started winning holidays and even a car I realised I was onto something! People I met told me I should write a book but I thought it would be much easier to simply start a blog – and so in 2009 the SuperLucky website changed overnight from my Graphic Design portfolio into a comping blog! I worked freelance from home as a designer and social media manager while Ryland was a toddler until about 2014, when I decided to move to blogging full-time and started writing my SuperLucky Secrets book.

Amazingly, 2022 was the first time I matched the same annual income from my blogging as I was making 14 years ago as a graphic designer! It’s not as easy to make money from blogging as some people make out, particularly with a very niche blog like mine (I refuse to promote any gambling, bingo or paid raffle websites which means my ad revenue is low) – but I honestly love my job! Writing the books helps, as that gives me something my followers can buy – I certainly don’t want to start charging for a forum or Facebook group membership when I know many compers have no budget at all for their hobby. Luckily I can top the blogging income up with the tax-free prizes I win – but again, making a living out of comping is pretty much impossible. The combination of blogging/writing and comping works well for me though!

How do you define success – is that a good month, good year, one great win you were chasing or your comping channel and publishing books?
If I look back on my life now then I would definitely be happy with what I’ve achieved! We have a poster in our home that says ‘Make your mark on the world’ and I like to think that I’ve managed to do that on a small scale with SuperLucky – I hope I’ve made a difference to people’s lives by introducing them to this hobby. In terms of successful comping, if I can win a holiday each year (or the money to pay for a holiday) I’m happy – although sometimes I do feel the pressure is on to practise what I preach, so I do need to be continually winning prizes to justify my ‘comping queen’ status in the press!!

What’s the prize someone else has won because of the group that’s meant the most to you
This would have to be Kirsty’s Party Plane trip to Majorca! I remember when she convinced me that Lucky Learners should do an entry, even though it was a voting competition. When the group put so much effort into their photos and videos I really thought we were the worthy winners. I’ll never forget the day that Kirsty phoned me to tell me that we had won – she was so emotional. As for the trip itself – it’s sometimes hard to believe it happened. I remember on the Saturday night standing in the middle of the party, looking around and realising all those people were there because of the Facebook group that I started! It was something really special.

Thanks again to Natalie for organising this and for all these great questions – it was such fun, and I felt very much loved and appreciated! Don’t forget to check out the rest of my Meet The Compers Q&As – there will be more interviews coming later this year.

10 Responses

  1. Brita Bevis says:

    Hi Di, googled my name for fun and up popped your article mentioning the good old days and my book! Just had to stop by and send you my congratulations on all you have done…. and are continuing to do for the comping world. Well done! I enjoyed your article and reminiscing. I don’t really comp much any more, but can’t resist making the odd entry. I guess the addiction never really dies, does it? Love Brita xxx

    • Di says:

      Ah how lovely to hear from you Brita! Good to hear you’re still sneaking in a few entries. I’m still in touch with the old Midlands crew – Marie, Julie and Vic! x

      • Brita Bevis says:

        Do send them my best wishes Di. Lovely to hear you are all still in touch. The years seem to have simply whizzed past! Can you believe I’ll be 73 this year!

        • Di says:

          No way – I refuse to believe that! I’m just starting to look at venues for my 50th birthday party next year… but I think comping keeps us young at heart!

          • Brita Bevis says:

            Hard to believe that you are reaching the big half century soon, too! Perhaps comping keeps people young!

  2. Michelle Smailes says:

    Aww I loved reading that. Thanks for all you do Di, you have helped me win lots of wonderful prizes x

  3. Andrea Goodheart says:

    Wow! What a day that was for you! I woke up that morning feeling really excited & couldn’t wait to see how the day panned out! Kudos to Natalie & Chris for carrying it off & I wonder if there’ll be another Di Coke Appreciation Day next year? (It deserves the capitalisation!)

  4. KelleyP says:

    You have made your mark on the world Di and you have brought joy and fun to a vast array of compers, including me and opened up a world that I didn’t know existed before I retired 7 years ago. You’re right it’s the money can’t buy experiences that stand out, mine is appearing on the Lions’ Den You Tube programme during this last World Cup and asking Marcus Rashford a question, notwithstanding that I have won trips to London, sporting trips and holidays too. Thanks to comping , I’ve got trips to Windsor, Blenheim, Norfolk, Florida and Vienna coming up this year and tickets to England v Malta at Wembley in November. Thank you for the inspiration.

  5. Finn says:

    Thank you for this interesting and inspirational interview!

    Good to know, that some brands and pr agencies can really reject compers.

    I have been taking part *years*, many times in a week, to one pr agency’s competitions and never won (I don’t live in UK). I have been constantly wondering, that they are excluding me, because I’m a comper. Statistically there’s no chance me not to been a winner, especially when many of their competitions have low entries. I find it really unfair, especially when their T&C says the winners are chosen randomly.

    Do you know why they do that?

    I’m annoyed, when some companies think we are some greedy people and don’t deserve winning.

    Thank you all of your great work and sorry my complaining!

  6. Kazzy says:

    Ah that is fabulous – couldnt have happened to a nicer gal <3 Oh and I hope you run that Comp for a crazy video done in a Brummy accent as The Husband would do a grand job ha! <3

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