Meet the compers: Nikki Hunter-Pike
Welcome to another Q&A – this time I’m chatting to super helpful comper Nikki Hunter Pike! Nikki tweets about family life and comping at @GlamandGeeky, and she’s also a gamer, K-Pop and comic fan! Though we’ve not yet met in real life, I did meet Nikki’s son Chase when he and Ryland were Arsenal mascots together at the FA Cup Final in 2017. Chase, who has cerebral palsy, was wheeled onto the pitch by none other than Alexis Sanchez, a magical comping moment which I’ll never forget.
Thanks for joining me for a Q&A Nikki!
How and when did you start comping?
The idea of entering competitions to win prizes filled me with excitement from a young age. I remember entering competitions in the local newspaper and bugging my Mum for postcards and stamps so I could enter the competitions in her women’s magazines from around the age of 10 I think! Some of my favourite first prizes I received were a giant Jelly Baby filled with Jelly babies and a Planet Hollywood leather jacket which was clearly designed for an adult and not a small child, yet I still loved it. I wish I still had that jacket, I think my Mum threw it away because I never wore it (thanks Mum). These early wins instilled the view that entering competitions could yield good results!
When I was 18 and broadband first became available I decided it would be a great idea to look for competitions online. I entered the odd few that I could find but didn’t win anything in particular. This half hearted effort of just going to magazine sites and entering their competitions carried on for a few years until after I gave birth to my first child, Chase. I suddenly no longer had time or the free hands to be able to spend my free time doing what I usually did online (playing World of Warcraft and running a guild). I realised though I had time to enter competitions as that could easily be fitted in with my new life.
I saw an article online about a woman who had entered 100s of competitions a day and won £20K worth of prizes in a year. I thought if she could do it then so could I. I started looking online for more competitions, and I stumbled across a blog called SuperLucky. I finally discovered that there were others out there like me just wanting to enter competitions and we had a name – compers! By all accounts I realised my earlier comping attempts paled in comparison to what compers at the top of their game did. I joined your brilliant Lucky Learners Facebook group, read all of the information I could on the blog and started doing my own research too on to how to find and win competitions – and the rest is history!
I would say I became a proper comper in 2014, I didn’t even record my wins that year (not that there were many!) but year on year I learnt more and improved my competition entering tact. Each year I’m winning better prizes and more of them. In 2015 i won little over £3000 worth of prizes, but in 2017 I won over £20,000. You can put as much effort or as little as you want into this hobby, I’ve found as I’ve put more effort in I’ve been a lot more successful!
Which comping websites, forums, magazines or resources do you use?
There is a wealth of resources out there but I have a few favourites which make up part of my main comping routine. I’m a big fan of Competition Database for when I want to just chillax in the evening and get through a lot of entries quickly. It can lack the volume of competitions that MSE or Prize Finder may share however I simply love the format of it. With the use of keyboard shortcuts to quickly open and close windows as well as Google Chrome’s Auto-fill feature this means most simple form filling competitions can be completed in only 5 seconds per comp. Of course not all entries are this quick – when you factor in checking complex T&Cs and other entry methods like Gleam and Rafflecopter these can take a bit longer.
I’m a subscriber to Compers News which has a great magazine with competition listings as well as the Chatterbox forum to help find competitions I may have missed. I have an admission to make though – I am super rubbish at actually doing the competitions in the magazine *hides behind hands*. I tend to use my subscription mainly for browsing through Chatterbox looking at the purchase necessary competitions!
Facebook groups are an invaluable place to find competitions for comping, as well as make comping friends. The first ever comping Facebook group I joined was your Lucky Learners group! Although I actually started entering competitions quite some time ago I wasn’t aware that there was a comping community or the extent of competitions that I could actually enter. I actually felt kinda stupid when I realised I had been missing out on this whole community for such a long time, there was me with a handwritten list of websites (mainly click to win magazine sites) and I thought I was doing an amazing job!
On top of all these resources I regularly look for my own competitions. This way I can search out prizes I am specifically after as well as increase my chances of winning by finding lower entry competitions that no one else has entered.
You have three kids of your own and two step children – plus husband Dan! How involved do the family get with entering competitions?
Everyone loves to get involved in a competition in our house – thankfully! I’m usually the one organising and sourcing competitions to be entered and everyone just seems to happily go along with it. Maybe because they’ve all been lucky enough to win some lovely prizes from their comping efforts this keeps them motivated and eager to join in with the silliness of my ideas. Both Olivia, 16 and Brooke, 5 are extremely keen compers and will actually look for competitions themselves to enter.
Chase likes to make videos but has a very short attention span. A lot of kids competition entries can prove difficult for Chase as he has a fairly severe form of Cerebral Palsy which affects all of his muscles. Chase uses a computer to communicate and a wheelchair to get about but due to the lack of control over his muscles he can’t hold a pen or even smile on command for pictures. If you ever see a picture of Chase smiling that’s because he’s truly happy, fake smiles for a camera are impossible. We don’t let his disability get in the way of joining in with comping though and you will often spot him joining in our entries!
Last year my husband surprised me by making a video of himself for Crunchy Nut’s search for the Ultimate Crunchy Nutter. I had only mentioned it in passing to him and the next thing I knew I was being told he was going to London to film and battle it out to be the Ultimate Crunchy Nutter. He only ended up winning and was all over YouTube and in cinema adverts too. Never in a million of years would I imagined that he would put himself forward for something like that, it was all completely surreal and amazing to see him put himself forward for it and then win.
What’s your favourite prize, and why was it so special?
By far the best prize I think I have won is one you have already mentioned – Chase being out on the pitch during the FA Cup Final as an Arsenal Mascot. To enter you had to show a video of you giving a pep talk to your team. It took him absolutely ages to type in what he wanted to say into his computer for his entry and it was pretty basic compared to the other entries – but for Chase it was a monumental effort. I didn’t even think we would stand a chance as all of the other entries were so amazing and had so much more to them. Then there was the worry would they even let him be a mascot given his care needs? I was beyond excited when we received the message to say he had won.
The FA bent over backwards to accommodate him and his additional needs, letting him have a carer with him at all times during his FA experience – apart from going out on to the pitch itself. I don’t have a clue about football and neither does Dan, so Chase’s Grandad (the source of Chase’s love for football) took him. It was amazing to see him being wheeled out onto the pitch, I’m told Alexis Sanchez is a big deal but I was just so happy to see him experience something I never ever thought he would get the chance to do. I was so thankful to the FA for being so inclusive, all I want for Chase in life is to be able have as many amazing experiences as possible – and this is definitely one of them!
Do you have a winning entry that you’re particularly proud of?
Probably my first ever major creative judged entry. I had stayed away from creative and effort competitions because they just took up so much time – a commodity of which I am always short on. After seeing so many others win amazing prizes I thought I’d give it a go. I had been carefully looking over the last few months at what type of entry won when there was a creative competition so I had an idea of what level of effort I would need to put in to have a chance of winning one of these competitions. The competition i found was for a VIP family trip to Rome for 4, flights, hotel, transfers, insurance and a £200 meal allowance included with no blackout dates. To enter you had to visit a Cineworld and take a picture of yourself with The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles promotion display. It turns out there wasn’t many entries but more importantly most of these entries were just bog standard photos of people who had grabbed a quick snap on the way out from watching a film. Upon reading the T&Cs it turns out the photos were to be judged and the best one as set out in the judging criteria would win.
So I set about making myself my own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume out of old clothes I had at home and took along a pizza box and a fake slice of pizza. I got to my local Cineworld all dressed up only to find they didn’t even have the cut out! Rather than give up Dan suggested we drive for an hour to our next nearest Cineworld and luckily they had the very cut out we were looking for! I was so excited when I got the message to say I had won. It cemented my belief that creative and effort competitions are worth the extra time.
Which prizes are top of your wishlist at the moment?
In all honesty I’d love a massive cash win – but then who wouldn’t? Top of my search lists at the moment are a Fitbit Versa/Apple Watch, Men’s trainers, a new smartphone, a ladies bike and any type of games console to move into Chase’s bedroom. I tend to focus on what I most need at any given time. I’d also love a family holiday win, but ideally one that’s all inclusive and includes spending money as sometimes winning competitions can be expensive. Once you factor in additional costs such as travel, spending money and paying for extra children what seems like an amazing win ends up costing a fortune. For previous holidays competitions we have won we have had to rota who we take as we simply can’t afford the additional expense to take all 7 of us at once.
*To note as soon as I finished writing this paragraph I got a message to say I had won a prize from my wish list from a judged creative entry, I can’t release details yet but just wanted to say whatever is on your list keep going and persevere, it’s taken me months of trying to win this!
What do you think the future holds for comping?
Comping has changed so much since my first forays as a child and teenager. The advent and growth of social media has shaped it to be what it is today. Promoters are becoming increasingly savvy with creative competitions and a lot are using them as a way to cheaply promote themselves and in some cases even generate new advertising material by harnessing the creative thinkers of followers or the brand. I think we are likely to see an increase in both the number of simple entry social media comps as well as the number of large companies asking for creative entries that in turn they can use as advertising. If this is the case though hopefully without all the difficulties like those seen in the Quaker Oats ‘show us your oats’ competition earlier this year.
What’s your favourite type of competition?
The type that I win! To be honest this varies a lot. I do love a creative competition either via video or photo, especially one where you can dress up. I love Halloween spooky selfie pictures and have become a dab hand with the facepaints. Nothing beats taking the time to make an effort with a competition and then being rewarded by winning. On the flip side though spending a lot of time entering creatives and then winning nothing can be pretty deflating. I find if I’m ever feeling deflated taking my time to switch up my entries and do something different such as Gleam and Rafflecopter comps helps a lot to start feeling motivated again.
What would be your top comping tip or piece of advice?
Get some comping friends! They are probably one of the most important things to have; not only do they make the hobby more enjoyable but having comping friends to look out for you means being tagged in a competition or winning notification you may have missed. Seeing that my friends are winning keeps me motivated to keep on comping when I’m having a dry spell too.
One extra little piece of advice that I want to share is that it’s impossible to find and enter every single competition that there is. If you ever find yourself spending too much time comping (yes there is such a thing!) then start setting your self a time limit and prioritize what you want to enter. Comping is a hobby and hobbies are supposed to be fun, if it’s taking over your life then that’s not a hobby – and neither is it fun!
You’re a big fan of Tweetdeck. What are your top tips for using it?
Tweetdeck looks so busy and horrifically complicated when you first look at it but don’t be intimidated by it, find a guide (try mine – How to find low entry competitions using Tweetdeck!), take some time to learn the basics and then make sure you are doing the following things:
Use Lists – Using Lists within Tweetdeck is an amazing way to find competitions. It’s so much more than a simple list like you use directly in Twitter because you can actually filter your lists. As a comper this means you can filter a list to only display tweets with the word ‘win’ a great way to quickly and easily find competitions from your favourite brands
Use Tweetdeck advanced search – Want to see tweets that only have photos with them? ( a high percentage of competitions always have a photo attached the tweet), or tweets that originate near your location to find local competitions? Or tweets since a certain date? Tweetdeck can filter ALL of these things. This makes is a super powerful tool for finding your own competitions!
Prioritize your columns – I currently have 50 columns on my Tweetdeck – that’s 50 saved searches/lists that I use to find twitter comps. I do not have time to go through them all every day and some are more important for me to check more often. So I have prioritized them, placing my most wanted prizes at the start of my Tweetdeck.
A word of warning with Tweetdeck though. If you have a very slow running computer and wish to set up 50 columns of saved searches you may find your computer will struggle with the processing and as a result using Tweetdeck won’t be very productive. You may get the urge to throw your computer out the window if this is the case….
When did you decide to start blogging – and why?
I’d toyed with the idea of starting a blog for a few years, mainly because I had friends who had told me I should set one up. In all honestly the main reason I set up a blog was because I wanted to be able to enter competitions exclusively for bloggers. These type of comps aren’t regularly hosted but I hated the idea of missing out. I also thought it would be a great way to share our families story and to be able to share my comping journey with others. In the first year of blogging I was lucky enough to win an amazing Olympus Pen camera and my choice of £500 worth of books from blogger exclusive competitions.
I’ve found the blog to become an identity for myself. After having to quit work to be able to meet the demands of Chase’s care needs and constant medical appointments I felt lost and a bit of a failure. I previously worked as a Dispensing Optician and optical trainer and my job title and what I did was a big part of my identity, having to give it up hit me a lot harder than I thought it would. I only run my blog as a hobby as I don’t have the time I would need for it to be a business but it has allowed me to reinforce my identity and find strength in other areas of my life.
What are your own favourites blogs to read?
Being a comper I naturally pop over to read comping blogs regularly, SuperLucky, Gary Wasabi’s Golden Luck muscle and Mission Competition probably being my most frequented. For an unfiltered look at parent hood Whinge Whinge Wine is my blog staple. I also read a lot of frugal living and money saving blogs too, I can’t say I have favourites in particular, I follow so many blogs on social media channels that when I see an article I like the look of I just go ahead and read it right away.
And finally – a geeky question! If you could win the costume of any superhero or comic book character, which would you choose?
If it was a costume that had actually been used in a film it would have to be the original Darth Vader costume worn by David Prowse from Star Wars. I’d set it up on a big stand in our living/dining room. Star Wars is a big deal in our house, my husband in his spare time is a Storm Trooper with the 501st legion (an international fan-based organization dedicated to the construction and wearing of screen-accurate replicas from the Star Wars Universe). Who wouldn’t want the Dark Lord residing over you whilst you eat your dinner?
If it was simply a costume for me to wear I would actually pick a video game character called Lightning and all her wardrobe options from the Final Fantasy gaming series, but for the purpose of picking someone who your readers have probably heard of I’d go with Poison Ivy from Batman. She looks amazing and who doesn’t love playing a villain. I’d love to cosplay as her!
Thanks for the super in-depth answers Nikki!
Don’t forget to follow Nikki on Twitter at @glamandgeeky.