In 2007, 2008, and 2009 I won a lot of small prizes — all because I spent some spare time every week entering sweepstakes I found on a website called Online-Sweepstakes. I never won anything huge, but I have to admit that the prizes I did win came in handy. I got several gift cards I used for different things — $50 to Best Buy, $100 to Foot locker, $50 to Applebee's, for example, for doing nothing more than filling out a short form.
I won't lie — there were a lot of forms I filled out too where I didn't win anything at all! But, the excitement of “what if?” kept me going, and with every little win I became more and more motivated and determined to keep entering so I could win again. When I started getting disheartened with no wins for a while, I would visit the Hall of Fame section on the Online-Sweepstakes forum so I could read where other people had won big. This usually got my optimism back up so I could keep going with it.
Do you have to use Online-Sweepstakes to do this?
Of course not! There are tons of other sweepstakes directories. I just personally think that Online-Sweepstakes is the best organized. They have a free and premium membership, and I chose to go the premium (paid) route because they had features that were very valuable for helping me keep my sweepstakes well organized (daily entries, monthly entries, expired sweeps, etc.) Plus, just about every sweepstakes that existed on the web seemed to be listed there, very easy to find, with the premium membership. I paid for it, and what I won in prizes more than paid back the $3 or so per month the premium membership cost. Once I got seriously into entering sweeps, there were very few months where I didn't win at least $50 worth of prizes. But if you don't like Online-Sweepstakes, another one that's good is Sweepstakes Advantage.
Do you have to enter sweepstakes every day to win?
No. Some people only do it a few times a week. In fact, some people don't keep up with it at all. They might spend one day entering and never bother with it again and win something huge, like a car. But the fact is that your chances of winning often are best if you enter regularly and keep it up.
Is it hard to stay motivated?
Very. Most people start doing this with all kinds of enthusiasm and lose it quickly when they don't win anything right away. It took me about a month of entering sweepstakes for at least a half an hour five days a week before I won anything at all. And then after that first month, it did seem that the wins started coming in much more regularly. But if you can get through those first several weeks of no wins, you'll probably win something (however small) and that will give you the motivation you need to keep it up. And by then, your name will be in enough drawings enough times that you'll be pretty likely to keep having wins come in on a regular basis.
After doing this regularly for a few years, here are some things I learned:
- Use Roboform. Trust me, it will make form filling MUCH easier for you! You can download a free version that will work perfectly.
- Watch the retail value on everything you enter for. You may want that sparkly, $6,000 diamond necklace, but you're going to have to pay taxes on that, too, if you win it. Do you want it bad enough to do that? Same goes for a trip or a car — you've got to remember the taxes. The more expensive the prize, the more the taxes will be.
- Set up a separate email just for sweepstakes. It's inevitable that you're going to get some spam emails from doing this, no matter how hard you try to just stick to the legit sweeps. You don't want that stuff cluttering up your personal inbox, so make a separate sweeping email and clean it out at least every other day so you don't miss out on any wins. Sometimes the spam emails will also make it easier to miss the “You've won!” emails.
- If you win something, take a minute to thank the sponsor. They will appreciate this!
- You have the best chance of winning sweepstakes hosted by blogs. While these are often more of a pain to enter, it also means less people enter overall — thus, the better your chances.
Now, your turn to share. Have you ever done this as a hobby? Do you have any questions for me about getting into this that I didn't cover above? I will be happy to help if I can 🙂