Here are some great tips, tricks and hints for the new "contester" or "sweeper" and even some help for those of you who have been sweeping (and we don't mean with a broom *grin*) for a while now.
1. READ THE RULES!!!!! We can't stress this one enough. There is no faster way to get disqualified. We try to list basic info. (like prizes, times you can enter, expiration date, etc.) so you will know if you want to even bother to check it out. We know that "time is money" or prizes and if you enter a contest and get disqualified you have just wasted time that you could have used entering other contests or sweepstakes.
2. Make sure you actually want the prize offered. This is another time waster. If you enter a contest for a prize you don't want, that's time taken from entering a contest for a prize you do want. I had a friend win a $5,000.00 cosmetic surgery prize and of course she just saw $5,000 and entered. Well, she won and had to turn it down because she really could care less to have a cosmetic surgery procedure.
3. Print out the "WOW, It's Cool Single Entry Contests and Sweepstakes" page and use it as a guide. Check mark the contests/sweeps that you have entered, so you do not get disqualified by entering more than once. Some places will just throw out extra entries but others will disqualify you. You may want to do the same with the weekly and monthly entry pages as well, and instead of check marks write down the date you entered so you know when to enter again to maximize your chances of winning.
4. Which brings us to our next tip, enter the daily entries - daily, the weekly entries - weekly, and the monthly entries - monthly, to maximize your chances of winning.
5. Join our mailing list. This is a notification, sent to all list members, as soon as new contests and sweepstakes are added (usually every week or so * just sign up below). And if you don't mind a little self-promotion related to this topic, we also have a few other mailing lists (free stuff, clearance shopping, friday fun bi-weekly web poll and our genealogy mailing lists - to name a few). You can sign up for those mailing lists at our subscribe/unsubscribe page by clicking here.
7. NEVER, EVER, EVER....EVER send money for a prize. Almost all scams are run this way. We don't care if they promise you a billion (jillion or bazillion) dollars...don't do it. It will be the fastest way to lose your money. (You ARE obligated to pay taxes on your prize - generally on your tax return - but you should never have to send money in order to receive your prize and I personally would avoid entering any sweepstakes that mentioned anything along those lines.) Use your own judgment for shipping and handling requests. Smaller companies may ask for it but I'd be wary unless I trusted the company. My opinion is that they are using this as a promotion and cost of prize and shipping should be something they can write off on their taxes as a business expense.
8. Sweepstakes should never require a purchase to enter. They should ALWAYS list at least 1 way to enter free. (Contests, on the other hand, are allowed to charge for entry)
9. If you have the time to enter more than those BIG contests, consider entering some of the little contests. They generally get fewer entries so your chances of winning are greater. (Just make sure it is for a prize you want)
10. Websites generally run contests (and give away freebies) to increase the amount of visitors to their site, increase subscribership to their newsletter and/or hope to tempt you into buying something. This is a fair trade-off, but don't feel pressured or obligated to do so.
ALWAYS REMEMBER, the more you educate yourself, the more you can protect yourself AND still WIN!