Have you ever seen an advertisement for a fantastic sweepstakes at a local mall or grocery store and then just walked on by, because no one really wins those things anyway? Have you seen a dream prize in an online sweepstakes and heaved a sigh of regret that it was so impossible to actually win?
If so, then you’re cheating yourself out of some amazing experiences. People really win sweepstakes every day – and with a little bit of knowledge, so can you! Here is what you’ll need to do to get started winning fabulous sweepstakes.
1. Get Ready to Win
Prepare to start entering sweepstakes by gathering the information that you want to use to enter sweepstakes. It’s a very good idea to take the time to set up a separate email account to use just for entering sweepstakes. This will help you to manage the amount of spam you receive and to notice winning emails more easily. You might also want to use a telephone forwarding service for sweepstakes entry to help manage telemarketing calls to your home number.
2. Set Aside a Time to Enter Sweepstakes
If you want to really improve your chances of winning sweepstakes, you should set aside a block of time to enter sweepstakes every day. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time – 15 minutes to half an hour would work nicely. You can enter in the morning while having a cup of coffee, on your lunch break at work, or in the evenings while watching television, but you should try to enter regularly.
3. Find Sweeping Buddies
Sitting at home filling out entry forms on your computer or 3×5 cards to mail in to sweepstakes can be a lonely hobby. It’s much more fun if you have friends to share your triumphs and frustrations and to cheer you on when you begin to lose hope. An online sweepstakes forum or an offline sweepstakes club can provide you with the support that you need to keep plugging away at sweepstakes, as well as winning tips, hints to help you find sweepstakes, and additional ways to win through referrals.
4. Don’t Give Up Too Quickly
OK, this is the hard part about entering sweepstakes. It can take quite some tips – I’d say an average of about three months after you start entering regularly – to see your first wins. Even once you have become a regular sweeper, you can go through long dry spells where the wins appear to have disappeared. Don’t give up! If you keep entering, you will start to win, especially if you choose your sweepstakes well.
5. Recognize and Respond to Win Notifications
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in entering sweepstakes that you miss noticing the win notifications when they arrive. Some wins are really easy to notice – such as a certified envelope in the mail (or even better, a prize that just shows up on your doorstep). Others may be more difficult to find, like an email with a innocuous-sounding subject line. It’s important to watch your sweepstakes email and your regular mail like a hawk, though, because most sponsors place a time limit on receiving your acceptance of a win. Don’t let your hard work go to waste by responding too slowly!
Sandra Grauschopf is an expert in the sweepstakes industry and the Guide to Contests and Sweepstakes at About.com. She also offers an informative e-course, Start Sweeping in Seven Days to help introduce people to the sweepstakes hobby.
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