Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Ups and Downs of Winning Sweepstakes

It is easy to get frustrated with sweepstaking as a hobby. It can takes months of entering before you start winning, and it can take even longer to win a grand prize. There are often technological glitches that make online sweepstakes difficult to enter. You can spend hours online entering sweepstakes every day, but sometimes it feels like you are never going to win again.

I am well acquainted with these frustrations. Even though I have been entering and winning sweepstakes for years, I still go through times when I start to wonder if it is worth all the time and effort. I experienced one of those periods this summer, after several months of mostly small wins. My inbox was full of free music download codes and my mail was brimming with shampoo samples and yogurt coupons, but no Grand Prize Affidavits were showing up at my door.

But I have learned one thing from my years of experiencing both the good and bad times of sweeping: as soon as I start to wonder if I have the will to continue entering, a big win will not be far away! This time was no different. After three months of well-below-average winnings, I finally received a grand prize notification email. I can't go into the details yet, but it involves a European vacation!

Talk about a motivation boost! If you are going through a slow period, don't give up - your next big win may be just around the corner!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Overcoming An Aversion to Contests

View From The Front Porch
I have a confession to make: I almost never enter contests. I enter over 100 sweepstakes every day, but I usually pass over any giveaway that doesn't pick winners randomly. Contests take more time to enter, and I don't feel that I have the creativity or talent necessary to win judged contests. But earlier this year I entered a contest sponsored by Anthology to name their new rental home in Seabrook, Washington.

I have always loved Seabrook, a planned resort community on the Pacific coast. When I saw that the prize for this contest was a three-night stay in the Anthology property, I knew that I to enter. While most of the Seabrook properties have beach-themed names, I wanted to come up with an unusual name that would reflect the strikingly different design of this property. I spent some time on the Anthology website trying to get a sense of their company values, and did research on the interior designers, Cortney and Robert Novogratz, to understand their design sensibility. I discovered that they are both focused on the concept of togetherness - families and friends spending time with each other. My next step - use Google to find words that mean "together" while also sounding like interesting and appropriate names for a house. The name I found and submitted ended up being the contest winner: Togadera, which means "together" or "to gather" in Old Frisian.

One Of Three Master Bedrooms
Five months later, I just got back from spending a wonderful four days in Togadera! It sleeps 14, so I took a group of family and friends along for an end-of-summer break. If you are looking for a house for a family reunion or small company retreat, I can't think of a better place. It has gorgeous views of the ocean, a magnificent kitchen, and a long list of amenities that will appeal to all ages (the teenagers in my group loved the four bicycles, the hot tub, the arcade games, and the pool table in the living room!).

Based on this experience, I am going to overcome my aversion to contests! And if you need more convincing, here are some additional reasons to considering entering contests:
  1. Because entering requires additional work, contests have fewer entries than sweepstakes. Fewer entries = a better chance of winning.
  2. If you can utilize one of your particular talents - for writing, photography, design, etc. - you will have even better odds.
  3. If you have a large network of online friends, you have an advantage in online voting contests. Don't be shy about asking them to vote for your submission!
Good luck!

Beautiful Kitchen

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Few More Tips for August Allure Free Stuff

Now that the big August Allure Magazine Free Stuff sweeps have been running for a week, I thought that I should add a few more tips to my previous post to help you increase your winnings. Things seem to be going better than they did last year, when people were frequently unable to get their entries in due to the high volume. Just make sure that you get your entries in quickly for the "First XXX" sweeps, as even 500 prizes go in a blink of the eye!

Also, keep in mind:
  1. Computer entries seem to be faster than smartphone entries, so if you have access to both, I would always go with the online entry form.
  2. Don't forget that three or four of the sweeps every day have winners chosen at random, so you do not need to be among the first the enter - you can log in and enter any time during the hour. These sweeps all say "Log on for your chance..."
  3. Some of the random sweeps also have a size field that has to be filled out, so you to bring up the right form for that hour by clicking on "Enter here" at You have to read the Official Rules to see which random entries have size options.
  4. If there is no size option, Allure will send you the size specified in the rules. You may want to check on the size offered before you enter - you may not want to pay taxes on something that doesn't fit!
  5. You will not know whether or not you have won until the prizes start shipping, usually beginning in October or November. Just keep trying for good times, and cross your fingers!
Have fun for the rest of the month, and good luck!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Top 10 Reasons to Start Sweeping NOW!

  1. The sooner you start entering, the more quickly you will start winning!
  2. It doesn't cost anything to enter sweepstakes, and you may actually make make money if you win cash prizes. How many other hobbies can offer that?
  3. No special equipment required - you only need a computer or smartphone to enter most sweepstakes.
  4. Sweepstakes don't require any skill - winners are chosen at random, so you just need to be lucky!
  5. There are thousands of sweepstakes going on right now - take a look at a Sweeps Directory to see them all!
  6. Do you really want to read another Facebook post about your friend's summer vacation? You can spend your time online more productively by entering sweepstakes (you will find many of them on Facebook!)
  7. The holidays are only a few months away, and you may be able to win presents for all your family and friends if you start entering now.
  8. If you love fashion and beauty products, the biggest sweep of the year is coming in August. See the prizes being offered by Allure Magazine next month and check out my tips for winning in August Allure Sweeps Are Coming Back!
  9. It's fun to dream about winning trips to exotic locations or the next family vacation. Or to ponder what life would be like if you win the next HGTV Dream Home?
  10. There is no better pick-me-up than a surprise Fedex delivery at the door or an email that starts with "Congratulations!" when you are having a bad day.
If you need help getting started with sweeping, check out my book Win What You Want at, and read through my blog archive located on the right side of the page for more tips. Start entering now because you never know when it will be your lucky day!

Friday, July 19, 2013

My Sweeping Pet Peeves

I've written several posts about why I love sweeping - the great trips, the fun things I have won for myself and others, and the savings on grocery store trips. Today I want share with you some of the things that I don't like about entering and winning sweepstakes. These are the little things that make me want to scream with frustration:
  1. Entry forms that require your phone number to be filled out with parenthesis and dashes, so you have to type (123)456-7890 rather than 1234567890 (thankfully Roboform usually solves this problem!)
  2. Sweepstakes that require you to fill out a survey every time you enter. It seems like companies should only need to collect this information once per entrant. My thanks go out to companies that ask for the info once then require only your email address for all subsequent entries!
  3. Tiny, unreadable captchas. I understand the need for companies to make sure that you are not a robot, but why do they have to make them so small and impossible to decipher? And on a related note,
  4. when I type in the wrong captcha, why must I wait 15 seconds before I can try again? There is a large sweep currently accepting entries that suffers from both an impossible captcha and a time delay for re-entry. I have heard of several sweepers that have just given up in frustration, but I persevere and often have to spend several minutes and make several attempts before my entry is complete.
  5. Sweepstakes sponsors that require you to return a signed and notarized affidavit within a few days before they will award your prize, but never let you know that they have received your paperwork. Just a short email would be appreciated, letting me know that I was confirmed as a winner and when I might expect to receive my prize.
  6. Prizes that take forever to arrive. Most of my wins arrive promptly, but a few that have taken almost a year to arrive after the end of the sweep. I am currently still waiting on a prize that I won last October!
Every sweeper has their own list of annoyances, but none of them outweigh the positives of sweeping as a hobby. Let me know your pet peeves in the comments below!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

June Roundup

June turned out to be a pretty good month for winning sweepstakes - not the best I've had, but certainly a big improvement over May! I won 13 prizes worth a total of just under $400:
  • Two Green & Black chocolate bars
  • Two books from a couple of different book giveaway sites
  • Coupons for free Pepsi and Food Should Taste Good chips


  • California Dried Plums gift box from the Dr. Oz Challenge
  • a $25 gift card from Starbucks
  • Almay Color & Care Lip Gloss from Allure Magazine
  • a Bic Atlantis pen
  • a Real Simple Magazine subscription from Dr. Oetker
  • a Goodies for Grad package from Command - great for the students in my family!
  • Two movie tickets, a CD and Graceland tickets from Starz Live Like The King promotion
  • an Affligem beer and pouring tray
  • the Jello surprise pack I wrote about in my last post.
    Dr. Oz Challenge

Command Goodies for Grad

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Life Has Been Funned

 My life has officially been "funned", thanks to Jello!

I've shared some of my biggest wins with you, so today I thought I would share my strangest, "fun"-iest win.

Jello recently ran a Fun My Life #FML promotion on twitter, and my tweet was chosen as one of the winners. I was notified by a tweet from Jello, which included the picture of my prize shown above. I puzzled over what the drawing actually represented - Jello? USB drive? Flashlight? I would just have to wait until the prize arrived to figure it out.

It came last week, and here is what I found when I opened the box:

Red Bull, a flashlight, a coupon for free jello cups, a sticker, and this:

I guess that it is both funny and useful, but I'm not sure that I will be able to get over my squeamishness to use it! I love the originality of the promotion, though, and the fact that the prizes were something of a mystery - makes waiting for the delivery fun, too!