Liked and Shared

I want to talk about Facebook for a moment.

I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Facebook. Actually, I don’t really like it, to be honest. I’m 28, so I’m old enough to remember when people didn’t have Facebook. It wasn’t a requirement like it seems to be today. For example, I have a diary, and I write down my friends and families birthdays in it. Recently, I messaged a friend to say Happy Birthday and all that. And she replied ‘Thanks Em! But how did you know it’s my birthday without Facebook?!’ I mean….what?!

I didn’t have Facebook for a long time, but once I got into entering competitions I realised it was a necessity and signed up. It remains something I use as a tool to enter competitions rather than a social network for me.

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Most Facebook competitions simply require a like and a share to enter them (although it’s worth bearing in mind that requiring a participant to share a competition post to validate their entry is not allowed – but many promoters will require this regardless. And also why share when you don’t need to – all it means is that more people will see the competition and enter it)! The majority of people that like and share will also write a comment on the post, whether it’s required or not, for visibility’s sake.

But say a company gave away a car in a Facebook post – imagine how many people are going to be liking and sharing that?! If a company only makes one Facebook post promoting their competition, they could end up with tens of thousands of likes and shares. If they make the competition international, even more. And say if they use more than one post to promote the competition – how are they going to tally up all those likes and shares? How can they ensure they pick a winner fairly? Is there a person whose job it is to put all of those likes and shares into a spreadsheet? More to the point, is there a person who would be willing to do that for a job?!

The answer is – unless you run your Facebook giveaway using an app, or you receive very few entries, then picking a winner is not an exact science. Promoters may try and be un-biased, but the reality is that they may just pick one of the more recent people who have commented on the post, someone whose comment they deem to be the wittiest or most appropriate, or a profile that catches their eye.

It’s not right and it’s not okay. Some people boycott Facebook competitions because of this. Others choose to call out promoters who are clearly biased or ask entrants to share their promotion. Me? I’m a no-drama sort of person so I just carry on entering. (Sorry bout it).

With all this being said – I’ve been having a think about the type of comments you can might see on a competition post. Here’s a couple of examples of the type of comments you might see around the Facebook world. I mean no harm by copying and pasting some of these – it’s all in fun – plus anything on Facebook is in the public domain, so it’s fair game:

The Oversharers

I’m pro-oversharing in real life. I love telling all and sundry about my various health problems etc. But on competition posts? Please don’t. I’ve read things about hysterectomies, infections and saggy skin complications through losing weight that coupled with a less than enchanting profile picture – I never want to read again. I guess you might get a win through sheer lack of self respect, plus get the promoter rolling with laughter – but you have to bear in mind that a large company will want to pick a winner with an appropriate comment. Boden won’t want to treat someone to a new £1,000 wardrobe if their comment is about having Gout and a secondary infection caused by surgery that’s got really nasty and the only thing that will make them feel better is a new pair of gorgeous wellies. Right?

 

The Sob Stories

This sort of thing gets a lot of comments on competition chat forums, because it’s just so tasteless. If it’s appropriate, I might mention my close family in a competition. Or if they specifically ask about some personal difficulty you might have recently experienced (although hopefully most promoters keep things more positive than that) then I could be persuaded to talk about a problem that has affected me specifically.

But read the comments under any giveaway nowadays and you’ll find people talking about how their dog has recently died so they desperately need a new widescreen TV to take their mind off of it, how their grandma has recently gone into care and they so need a new dishwasher so they have more time to visit her in her care home, or how their child has cancer and so they need to win a tube of strawberry toothpaste to cheer said child up as they are having chemotherapy AS WE SPEAK.

Personally I value my friends and family too much to whore them out on the off chance I might win some piece of tat. I think I’ve heard to it referred to as ‘grief porn’ which is quite a good term for it. And whether half of those stories are even true, who knows?

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Some inspo for your next sob-story post

With the most blatant, horrific horror sob stories, usually involving the word cancer, you’ll often see other commenters on the post ‘bowing out’ of the competition and commenting things like ‘Poster above me deserves to win, promoter you should give the prize to her, she deserves it’. I don’t understand this weird form of Facebook martyrism and it’s my cynical belief that the only reason people do this is because they think the promoter will be saying ‘Oh – that person is so kind! They’ve SACRFICED their entry so that person whose kid has cancer can win! Wow – give them a prize too! And make it an amazing one’!

I know I’m awful, but still.

Promoters will probably be ready to top themselves by the time they’ve read through a couple of those – so try and keep your comments positive. And if you’re mentioning a friend of family member in your comment just take a second to think – would they like their situation to be used in that way? Sob stories can win prizes – but try to keep entries like this few and far between, and in an online form shared between you and the promoter, rather than in a public forum like Facebook.

The Poets

Correct me if I’m wrong here but it seems to me that old-school compers love a rhyme. I do too – nothing beats the joy of coming up with a brilliant rhyming couplet and thinking yep, this competition is IN THE BAG. However, I don’t believe they hold as much weight with promoters anymore and they’re seen as a bit twee. Nevertheless, you’ll still find some Facebook compers commenting with their four liners in the hopes of winning.

I have no complaints about this, I think it’s cute and I love it. But I’m not sure how many prizes it’s going to win.

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The Over Enthusiasts

Want to win a cheese string? Sure you do.

Want to win a pack of straws? Naturally!

Want to bag yourself a 20% discount at a restaurant in Aberdeen? It’s all I’ve ever wanted.

The competitive aspect of competition seems to turn some people a bit mad, and they’ll enter for literally any freebie going. We’ve all done it – I entered to win a Troll Doll with the Plenty kitchen roll promotion because I got caught up in the whirlwind of it all, and when I did eventually win one and it arrived I thought – why did I do this? I don’t have kids, don’t really know that many people with kids, don’t know if those few kids in question like Troll dolls…so yeah. Waste of time.

Sometimes I’ll see a prize like ‘Win a 20 pack of crisps’. And I’m thinking, yeah that would be useful. But lets get it into perspective – I’m not going to spend 4 hours crafting a hilarious, thoughtful and tailored Facebook comment to win them. At most I’m going to write ‘Would be great to win, thanks!’ and that’s pushing it.

Don’t become like one of these people, who are desperate to win a cushion:

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The Above and Beyonders

Sometimes Facebook competition posts specify what comment they would like you to make. For example, ‘Comment WIN! To be in with a chance of winning some hair straighteners’.

I know this is just the pedant in me, but I absolutely HATE it when people comment with more than what is asked. Jokes on me because promoters probably don’t care and won’t be quite as anal as me, but I feel like some people try so hard to get the promoter to love them…I can’t deal with it. Yeuk.

The Complainers

We’ve all been in the place where we want to complain to a company, but we can’t seem to get hold of anyone. People love to use competition posts as a place to vent their frustration about this, and I suppose that’s fair enough. British Gas is a prime example of a promoter whose competition posts are always over run by complaints, and their poor social media person, like a lamb to the slaughter, has to wade in and tease out the complaints from the likes and shares. Not fun.

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The I Didn’t Read the Competition Post

Liking and sharing, liking and sharing, liking and sharing, drinking tea, liking and sharing, watching youtube video of someone popping spots, liking and sharing. We’re all guilty of sometimes going into autopilot when browsing the internet, but it’s obvious when compers do so and it invalidates their entry. For example, a promoter might request a certain type of comment which requires a little bit of creativity on the part of the entrant. A promoter might say ‘We’re giving away a Love to Shop voucher so you can shop til you drop this weekend! For a chance to win, like this post and let us know your weekend plans. They’ll still be overrun with responses that are simply ‘Thanks for the chance’ or ‘Thanks for the comp’ with no mention of weekend plans. Embarassing.

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This is a competition to win a privacy tent for your camping toilet….yup.

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The Emoticon Lovers

Some people just seem to love emoticons. I thought they kind of went out with the MSN era apart from the odd passive aggressive smiley face, but they are alive and well on Facebook posts, believe you me.

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The Copy and Pasters

You might get to recognise some people who comment on every single Facebook post out there. And that’s fine. But these people seem to use the same comment for every single post, just copying and pasting as they go. They’ve usually put a lot of thought into their single comment, making it pretty conspicuous by the second or third time you’ve seen it.

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The I Never Winners

Self explanatory, this one. If you’re going to make the effort to comment, make it a good comment, not just a complaint that you probably won’t win!

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I’m not saying any of the above comment styles are wrong – you keep doing you guys. There must be some masochistic promoters out there who enjoy reading endless sob stories, or even some bored social media officers who just can’t get enough of emoticons arranged in different formations. Everyone’s brains work in different ways and free speech is a beautiful thing. And they’re good for a giggle, too.

Personally, I try to just do what the promoter has asked for, maybe add a little witty (in my mind) comment, and hope for the best. I think keeping your comment short, appropriate and funny is the best way forward for Facebook and that one day regulations around competitions and sweepstakes will be tightened up to make it fairer and more fun for all.

Until then XO FiNgErS CrOsSeD fOr A wIN eVeRyOnE! XO

10 Competition Websites You Should be Using

When I tell people about comping, their first question is usually ‘Where do you find all these competitions’?

For most people, the competition world can be a hugely crowded and confusing place. Finding competitions that are:

a) Offering a prize that you would like to win

b) Still in date

c) Not spammy

can be difficult for a total beginner – and especially so if you are not tech-savvy!

And once you’ve found a competition, the entry mechanism can often be far from straightforward. On social media, there can be many, many ways to enter a competition. Rather than just filling in a form or throwing your name into the hat, you may have to follow a treasure hunt, buy a 24 pack of toilet rolls or remember a secret word and be the first one to tell someone – and you have to be prepared to embarrass yourself!

Luckily, there are some wonderful competition resources out there that will help you to find lots of competitions in one place. I’m going to list them in two sections – groups that are open to anyone (but you may need an account to get the best from the website) and subscription only services.

Open to Anyone

This is the most comprehensive of all the competition databases online. Each competition is listed by a user of the forum – and there are some amazingly generous users who submit thousands and thousands of competition each week and are responsible for a lot of joy in the comping world!

I subscribe to the Competition Time forum on MSE, so I then get a daily roundup of all the competitions added each day. On a bad day, I’d say there’s 190 or so. On a good day, there can be more than 400!

I disagree with those who say that the format is difficult to navigate. I absolutely love the Tick/Cross options on each competition, so you can cross off what you don’t want to enter, and tick what you have entered.

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Must…do…tickboxes

Duplicate, spam or out of date competitions are usually flagged quickly and removed. If the competition has a particularly difficult qualifier or quiz, you can’t beat the teamwork on MSE and you’ll almost always find someone willing to help you with a question you can’t answer.

In addition to the Competitions Time board, I also regularly take a look at the Compers Chat Corner for a bit of idle comping chit-chat, the I Won I Won I Won! sub-forum for a bit of Winspiration, and the wonderful Take a Break and Puzzler threads, where lovely people post up the answers to these magazine questions so that you can enter without having to buy the magazines.

PROs: Number of competitions and community spirit. Tickboxes! I use this site daily.

CONs: Not many in my eyes – can be a bit overwhelming for a beginner.

The Prize Finder is another database of competitions which boasts a much more powerful search function – you can sort these by date added, date closing, type of prize, value of prize or entry method.

I find the site a little bit too colourful and has too much going on (such a grandma), and I don’t feel it has the same interactivity as MSE or range of competitions.

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It’s all a bit much

The site also includes links to third-party referral sites. I’m not sure why. But these are the sites I used to sign up to when I first started comping and received lots of spam – as they share your details with others. These listings are tucked away amongst all the other non-spammy competitions on the website, so to me it feels a bit unfair for beginner compers as they might not be able to pick them out. For that reason I wouldn’t recommend The Prize Finder to beginners.

As of February 2017, The Prize Finder has undergone a makeover and is supposed to have improved usability. However, not all functionality is working at this point, so time will tell if the changes will improve the site or drive users away. At the time of writing the competition tracker on the website isn’t working – so it’s a no no from me!

PROs: Easier on the eye for newbies, easy to search different types of competitions

CONs: Includes third-party referral sites, narrower range of competitions

This user-friendly site relies on user submitted competitions which can be crossed off or ticked once entered. Once this action is completed, the page refreshes and the next competition is shown.

Competitions on this website can be displayed by prize type, value, and by date closing – but all of these categories are added by users so they aren’t always totally accurate.

Competitions Database seems to get an abundance of competitions run by bloggers or hosted on personal Facebook pages, which is great for their exposure and some small, niche prizes you might not see on other sites such as handmade cards.

The site developers are also very responsive to suggested website improvements and there is also a chat function.

PROs: User friendly, interactive, good for beginners

CONs: Basic interface, competition information can be inaccurate

Although I know some people love Loquax, it’s not a site that I use. I believe that it’s similar in format to MSE, in that it’s an interactive forum where users can tick or cross what they have entered and discuss competitions. In that way I see it as a bit of a duplicate of what MSE offers. But I might be wrong in that. Does anyone use it as their preferred method?

Also, I remember back in the day (OK so like 3 or 4 years ago) when Loquax was totally different. There was something called a ‘Competition Tracker’ where you could choose which promoters competitions you could see, and not view those that you didn’t. So for example, I would choose not to view competitions from Golfing promoters, as I have no interest in winning a golf caddy or whatever you call it.

The competition tracker also allowed you to view all of the previous competitions you had entered with that promoter and make notes on them. I really liked that format, and was disappointed when it changed.

PROs and CONs: It’s probably not really fair that I list these as I don’t really use Loquax. However, I might come back to this post in future and update it if I start using the website more.

Everyone’s got Facebook, right? Well – be aware that you can’t have two Facebooks. So you can’t just set up a separate comping one.

As Facebook is so popular, there are absolutely LOADS of competitions that can be found there.

For a start, you might like to search for some relevant terms in the Facebook search bar, like ‘Competition’ ‘Giveaway’ and ‘Win’.

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Little known fact – Mark Zuckerberg loves to comp

You may then like to join a Facebook Competition group. There are loads out there – some are specific to your area, with local competition listings, others might be UK-Wide. Some might be dedicated to one type of competition only (e.g Holidays). There are even some lovely groups out there that exist just to tag competition winners so they get a notification that they have won – as some promoters forget to tag when they announce.

As you start to navigate the Facebook competition world, you might then like to start making friends with other compers and seeing what competitions they’re entering and winning. You might start to cherry-pick some companies you want to follow because you love their products, or because they run lots of giveaways.

There are lots of ways to find and enter competitions on Facebook so it’s down to you how you use it – but make sure you don’t compromise your Facebook friends by clogging up your feed with constant comps!

PROs: Everyone is on Facebook, so many, many competitions

CONs: Finding a balance between using Facebook for social/comping purposes

If you don’t have Twitter, get it! It’s wonderful for quick to enter competitions that can be entered on the go, if you have the mobile app. Many competitions simply require you to follow the promoter and retweet one of their tweets, which takes a matter of seconds. This can mean that these types of promotions receive a lot of entries, but with a bit of clever searching, you can find some nice low-entry Twitter competitions.

I would suggest searching for search terms in the first instance ‘Competition’ ‘RT and Follow’ etc. But then much like Facebook you can follow active compers and be notified of all their tweets, allowing you to enter what they enter (but make sure you retweet the promoters tweet, not theirs, or they will be notified each time you do this)! You can also compile lists of promoters you’re interested in.

There’s also several apps that will link to Twitter, such as Tweetdeck. These will allow you to schedule timed tweets and save your lovingly crafted competition searches next to one another.

PROs: Quick and easy to enter, huge number of competitions

CONs: Volume of entries can be high, can be hard to navigate for those not familiar with it

Google alerts allow you to monitor the web for new content, tailored to your interests. It’s free, and you can choose the frequency of your notifications, the region the results come from and from what source: Web, News, Blogs, Videos or Books. For example, I have about 50 searches set up and receive a daily content update on these. I rarely get time to work through them, but it’s nice to know they are there. Some examples might be ‘Competition Time’, ‘Enter my Competition’, ‘Winners Picked at Random’.

PROs: Once set up, Google Alerts run in the background so require no maintenance

CONs: Alerts are only as good as your search terms

This seems to be an equivalent kind of website to MSE, but for the US. However, there is an option to sort competitions by ‘Open to International’. I’ve never won anything from this site but I think it’s best to exercise caution with regards to postage and shipping charges. For examples – if you were lucky enough to win a small item of furniture from this website, it might not be worth the cost to have it shipped to the UK!

PROs: An extra source of prizes for the dedicated comper

CONs: Shipping charges may not make winning worthwhile

Subscription Based

You’ll probably have heard of Compers News, a subscription based monthly magazine full of competition listings, news and subscriber only puzzles.

I’ve been a subscriber for several years now, and I love it. A subscription costs £59.40 (£4.95 per issue) and when I get my issues I always read it cover to cover so I think it’s well worth the money! Some of the listings can be found for free online, but Compers News is invaluable for finding those funny competitions that you wouldn’t otherwise come across in the Odds and Ends section at the back. They also have an AMAZING purchase necessary section which is my bible when I go to the supermarket!

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I also find Compers News makes me feel part of the comping community. I love reading winners stories and being part of that world. And it’s my little luxury. I keep a tally of the total £ of my wins throughout the year, and I ensure that I take away the cost of Compers News from that. And with the subscription comes access to Chatterbox, the online part of Compers News which is a great forum full of low entry and user to user comps.

PROs: Access to competitions you wouldn’t otherwise find. And I like the paper format!

CONs: You have to pay – but I think it’s worth it!

Run by the same people who produce Compers News, this is now an online subscriber only source of short-life, potentially low-entry competitions. I find this less useful than Compers News, but it compliments the subscription nicely, and it costs slightly less.

PROs: Does point out some short-life competitions 

CONs: You have to pay – I’m not sure if it’s worth it.

There are numerous other sources of competitions –

  • Blogs
  • Apps – Wamo, CheckoutSmart, Snatch App, O2 Priority, Wuntu – new apps are being released all the time, and many will incorporate competitions or giveaways
  • Purchase necessary promotions that you can find in online retailers, your local supermarket, independent shops, restaurants – anywhere, really!
  • Magazines and Newspapers
  • High street promotions – Actimel were at Kings Cross this morning giving away a free Mini!

Mm, Danone

Basically, competitions are everywhere. You just have to keep your eyes open.

Don’t waste any more time on this stupid article. Get comping!

Weekly Round-Up

This week we celebrated Valentines day early and took a day trip to London to see the hilarious Book of Mormon. I’ve seen it before but I had to go again. It’s such a lol-fest and the cast are amazing. If you can get your hands on cheap-ish tickets I definitely recommend you go!

This Weeks Wins

  • Sweeties! – Ok, not so much a win, but a really generous freebie from my phone network, 3. If you’re a Three user they have their own app, Wuntu, and new offers are rolled out every Thursday. If you’re quick enough you can grab some great freebies. Last week they had a few £20 Deliveroo codes, but I didn’t manage to get one! I did manage to get this lovely box of sweets from Handy Candy though which contained Wham bars, Blackjacks (NO thankyou), Fruit Salads, Maoam’s and loads of other sugary treats. We’re catching up on Taboo at the moment and they’re currently serving as our TV watching snack. I also have the o2 Priority app on my phone which gives you access to more competitions and offers, even though I don’t have o2. Bit of a cheeky one, I’ll tell you about that in another blog post!

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  • A Go-Pro – unexpected one, this! I often enter purchase comps, but I won’t buy things I won’t use. So when Original Source Shower Gel launched a purchase comp and I saw them on offer at my local supermarket, how could I resist? I love Original Source – such a great, ethical brand. And their shower gel smells amazing. So I picked up a mango scented one and entered my details online here to win an ‘Intense Experience’ (sounds…intense). I really want to win the Flamingo experience – you get to go to Africa for two days and watch the migration of 100,000 flamingos! Not sure how they’re going to time that one but what an amazing prize.

Anyway, it turns out that there are weekly prizes with this promotion, which I didn’t             even know about, including 12 Go-Pros and 240 1-years supply of Original Source. The             promotions open until the 25th of April so go and grab some now!

Not sure what I’m going to film with my go-pro. A day in the life of an office worker?

  • A football – Thanks to the brilliant current #WalkersUnited promo, another purchase comp, I managed to snag one of the daily prizes on twitter. Apparently it’s a UCL Finale 16 Capitano football. Fancy. If I’m honest, I was in this for the big prize of a PS4 but it’s still always nice to win, even if it’s a small prize! I think I will be giving this to a small relative or perhaps I should join a local team and get practising?! The brilliance of this promotion is that you buy one relatively cheap bag of crisps, take one photo of yourself, and you can then enter that same photo throughout the length of the promotion, so it’s great for lazy compers who can’t be bothered to do a different hilarious pose everyday with a bag of crisps they’re dying to eat.
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Ball ball ball, footy footy footy

If you only enter one…

It’s FREEZING outside, literally. The snow is rubbish, but it’s still snowing. I can see the pathetic little flakes falling outside the window. Stupid snow! Roll on summer!

Anyway, it’s soup weather isn’t it. So I think you should enter this Crosse & Blackwell competition, and you might win a free tin of soup and a lovely portable soup mug. You don’t need to buy anything or keep any receipts, just enter your details and enter up to five times a day. There will also be one grand prize winner of £500 Asda vouchers. There’s also a Tesco version running here.

Mm, soup. Whats your favourite? I like carrot and lentil, personally.

Prize Weekends

As I mentioned, we went to Book of Mormon matinee performance this week. Laughs were had. This was all thanks to the wonderful TheatreDeals.com who ran a competition last year to win a £50 theatre voucher for you and a friend for simply re tweeting and tagging on Twitter. As tickets are so expensive we booked well in advance. But for anyone interested in going, we had seats J2 and J3 in the stalls – the cheap seats – and they were perfect. We couldn’t see the top of the stage, but we didn’t need to, and we had prime position for when the ice creams came out in the interval and to leave once the show was over!

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Great minds

I also finally got round to ordering some items from the fabulous What’s Your Tale Nightingale? Ebay shop who sell vintage goods and little old-fashioned treasures. This was a £30 voucher won back in December 2015, so I was very lucky that the owner let me redeem it! Have a look at their shop – I think it’s very reasonably priced and you’d probably pay triple for the kind of items she sells in London.

I bought this little beauty for those retro-feel office days, along with a few other little bits. It’s very Mad Men. £14.99!

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My 80’s office fantasy

This was won from the brilliant Retro Chick Blog during an advent competition. Check her out!

What did you win this week? What did you enter? Let me know!

Have a look at my wins last week here for more inspiration!

The Cringe Factor

Comping can be an amazing hobby. Full of surprises and unexpected treats – but those nice things can come at a cost. Sometimes you have to like and share a Facebook post. Sometimes you have to spend half an hour thinking of  a hilarious tiebreaker or pun, only to overthink it and realise your entry is one of the worst. But sometimes, just sometimes…you might have to lose your actual dignity.

As someone who finds many things in life embarrassing, this has been a hard one for me to accept. I blush and squirm at the mere thought of standing in a room full of people who I don’t know. I don’t really enjoy making phone calls to people I don’t know. And definitely don’t encourage me to draw attention to myself in a public place. But the comping urge is strong, and there are sacrifices to be made!

I’m well aware that you don’t have to enter every competition out there, and actually, it pays to be quite choosy so you can devote your precious spare time to the ones that really do matter. But the reality is that to really get a good rate of return in the competitions world there are only two options:

1) find low entry competitions that no-one else has discovered –  and this is getting harder and harder as people get more and more savvy, or

2) go for the effort competitions that on occasion require you to do something that most people wouldn’t do.

I’m someone who doesn’t even like taking selfies, so when I won a holiday to Florida last year courtesy of Experience Kissimmee and P1 Powerboats and I had to go to the World Travel Show at the Excel Centre and accept my prize, I was DREADING it.

Obviously, to be able to take my whole family to Florida for 2 weeks free of charge made the embarassment of having lots of staged pictures worth it. And in hindsight, it was really lovely to meet the people who were providing such a generous once in a lifetime prize.
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Finally making my mum proud

Sweaty pit moment, though, for me. Especially when one of the people there asked how I’d heard of the prize draw.

 

‘Oh…my dad likes powerboats! So he told me about this!’ (Absolute lie)

So, you’re not one of those people who just enter competitions all the time?

‘HAHAHAHAHA of course not!’ (Even more massive lie)

 

And although I haven’t done anything particularly embarrassing in public in the name of comping as of yet (although I’m 100% sure the time will come), I’ve become immune to posting cringe-worthy photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I don’t think I have any shame left anymore.

Take for example the recent Itsu #noodlesandchill competition to win a trip to Japan. I really like Itsu, I really like instant noodle pots, and I really like Japan – so this one was a no-brainer for me! I bought my noodle pot, and planned my entry – making a diary note of the deadline so I didn’t miss it! First on the list was Ebay – I wanted to find one of those cheap sexeh satin look kimonos. No expense spared on this one. The I got myself some chopsticks – actually, from Itsu. Then I did my makeup kind of like a geisha. So oriental! Not in the least bit racist!

Then I recruited my beloved boyf to manage and run a photoshoot of me in my Japanese gear, legs crossed, having a great time eating my noodles.

That was only the start of the fun, though! I then had to try and Photoshop the background out of the photo, so I could place my lovely self on an image of a zen garden. This was way, way more difficult than I first thought and eventually I just had to give up and post a zoomed in photo of the top half of my body. I physically cringed when I posted it but luckily most of the people on my Instagram are fellow compers so it’s not too embarrassing. And I didn’t win – but if I had, it would have been SO worth it!

This was the result of my photoshopping:
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#Noodlesandphotoshop

Does anyone have any examples of good free Photoshop programmes? Or any advice on how to remove backgrounds? I have no idea,clearly.

Actually, our Itsu winner was announced today and was this wonderful entry. Really well deserved win and not a floral kimono in sight – I think about 50% of people who entered thought that was a good idea!

Actually, even starting this blog is a demonstration of just how much more confident I’ve become in looking silly in front of people. And at the end of the day – who really cares?!

It definitely pays to have a few comping golden rules that you stick by. I’ll talk about them in another blog post. Obviously it’s not worth dressing up as MC Hammer and recreating the entire music video for Hammer Time just to win a book of 2nd class stamps. I mean…is it?! But at the same time, if a promoter is offering a generous prize and asking for some fun entries, it might just be worth rummaging at the back of the wardrobe for the metallic harem pants.

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Do you get embarrassed creating or publishing your competition entries or do you embrace the cringe? What do you think when you see effort entries posted for tiny prizes? Do you simply not have time, and have to comp on the go? And whats the most effort you’re prepared to put in for that special prize?

Weekly Round-Up

The first week of February is complete and commuting/working life is still preventing me from entering too many competitions. However, all of that may change soon enough (I’ll update you in another post)!

It’s always nice to spend the weekend catching up with things, but I’ve had a stonking cold and no energy to do anything so I’ve basically been sat watching Homes under the Hammer and eating brownies the whole time rather than comping. Oh well, there’s always next weekend!

This Weeks Wins

  • 3 months membership to Trumpington Sport in Cambridge – It’s always good to enter local competitions, and this was a win from Facebook with Star Radio 107.9 Cambridge and Ely. There were 3 lucky winners, which is very generous. And even better, this gym is just down the road from me! I do already have a gym membership (not that I’ve been in the past 2 months lol) so this is the kick I need to cancel my current membership and start going to Trumpington a few times a week. I’ve just spied they’ve got exercise classes and tennis courts too. Ooh!!
  • £1, yes, £1 from Quidco – Quidco have a Valentines promotion running at the moment where you guess the retailer based on a cryptic image. They reward you with an instant win which is usually ‘one entry’ into a grand prize draw, so I was actually quite chuffed with a quid!

If you only enter one…

Some kind person has listed this amazing competition in the Compers News Chatterbox forum this week, and all I could think was WOW. We’re currently trying to get our first foot on the property ladder, so the chance to win a £650,000 country house is just…out of this world!

This competition has actually had quite a lot of publicity around it, so no doubt there will be many, many entries. You might notice that you have to pay £2 to enter, but there is a ‘free’ to enter route if you send a first class postcard. It looks as though if the house is sold in the interim, the accumulated cash pot of all the entries will be awarded to a winner, minus a 20% admin fee. So it’s still more than worth a shot! Enter here for the chance to be Lord of the Manor.

Prize Weekends

So I was one of a few people lucky enough to win 2 free Byron Burgers in a Christmas themed promotion run in conjunction with Mr Hyde. For the competition, you had to submit a photo of you in your best Christmas jumper and use the hashtag #mycheesyxmasjumper. There were some amazingly, amazingly ugly entries out there. Imagine all the little kids making Xmas jumpers out there in sweatshops just so we can win free burgers? Anyway. Luckily I have a pretty special novelty Xmas jumper that always makes an appearance at Christmas, and won us the prize this year:

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Sexy as

This is the best kind of win as well, because actually, this jumper was a prize at Christmas last year last year – I think a simple RT and Follow twitter affair. I literally love this jumper and I bet it’s got a bit more winning potential yet!

Now I’m looking at the photo, I feel like it was a bit harsh I didn’t treat my sister with this meal seeing as she’s the one looking silly in the photo with me. Oops. As it happens, the boyf and I visited our local Byron in Cambridge for our free burgers.

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Now, I get kind of embarrassed talking about wins in public. I know I should embrace it but I can’t. I feel like a grandma. So when I asked the waiter if I could scan the code for our 2 free burgers and he looked a bit confused and said he’d never seen this code before, I had to say ‘Um yes..that’s because I won a competition. It was on Instagram. I had to wear a Christmas jumper’. Then he clicked and all was fine but ugh – I hate that part!

Given that it was a busy Saturday lunchtime in Cambridge the service was second to none, our food was delicious, and the best part was that when the bill came, they had taken the cost of fries and a Freak shake off of the bill (if you don’t know what a freak shake is, see below – OMG SO GOOD), so our meal was free! I’ve messaged them on Facebook to say thanks as it’s always nice to give companies a bit of recognition when they treat competition winners so nicely, and I’ll certainly be going back! Thanks Byron for the eats.

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A freakin good shake tbh

 

What have you won this week? Any cash prizes over the value of £1? Let me know!

A Comping Commute

Contrary to popular belief, many people who comp do have full time jobs and manage to successfully juggle the demands of a full working week and the non-stop competition calendar. Not to mention those who have to look after children or other family members at the same time (I have no idea how they do it)!

For a long time my commute into work was just a half an hour bike ride, so my day was relatively short, and I could comp away to my heart’s content in the evening. I also used to live alone, so I didn’t have any distractions, giving me about 3 or 4 hours comping time.

Now, I’ve moved in with my lovely boyfriend which is wonderful, but I currently have a 50 minute commute to and from work – so much less spare time to devote to the hobby. Instead, I get a 6am start every morning, a train that smells like wee, and the delights of Kings Cross every morning.

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Gorgeous sunrises – the upside of getting up at 6am!

So how do I solve this comping conundrum? The comping commute, obviously!

I’ve got an amazing phone plan through Three, which I think is this one.It means I get unlimited calls, unlimited texts, and most importantly – 4GB of data! For £9 a month! Honestly, this plan is like the holy grail of phone plans. I never understand why people pay £50 a month or something for their phone plan when you can get a cheap plan like this.

I’m on my phone almost constantly on my commute (poor, poor phone), and I never run out of data before the month is out. Honestly, if you can find a phone with a decent amount of data, it’s so helpful for comping on the go.

So once I’m on the train (7.14 from Cambridge – Hi fellow commuters!), I have a look at messages and emails, and then I settle down to this list everyday – unless I fall asleep, which is a real possibility:

Gmail

  • I check my Google alerts to see what competitions Google has found for me overnight whilst sweeping the interwebs. I get a daily digest of these, and I have about 20 set up. Some of the stuff they throw up is genuinely interesting, low entry competitions. Other stuff is along the lines of ‘Win a Motorbike with The Ghana Enquirer!’ – I guess I need to sort out my search terms!
  • I also subscribe to the Money Saving Expert competition forums, so that means a receive a daily email from the Regular Competitions, Competitions Time, I Won! and Compers Chat Corner boards. Reading about wins first thing in the morning is a really great way to start the day and motivate yourself to look out for comps.

Money Saving Expert – Competitions Time Board

MSE is my preferred comping portal. It’s great. You can’t beat it for sheer number of competitions and the amount of discussion and help that goes on! I think I might be addicted to the Tick/Cross aspect of it, too. I’ve saved the front page of the board to my phone home screen, so it’s a little icon I can just click on. I have the board sorted by new competitions, and every morning I run through and cross off competitions I don’t want to enter.

I also have the board set up so you can see 200 competitions on one page at a time, so using this method clears quite a lot of comps.

Only crossing off comps rather than entering them might seem a bit counter-productive, but comping on the go isn’t particularly easy using MSE, so this method means that when I do sit down at home and comp, I don’t have to waste time crossing off those I don’t want to enter.

It also means I can sit and get excited about all the competitions I’m going to enter at a later date!

Facebook

I check Di Coke’s Lucky Learners group. It’s so useful, and you always come across comp advice you wouldn’t have otherwise thanks to loads of lovely, helpful people! Any I can’t do on the train, I save for later. Then I check the group ‘Facebook Comps‘ and try to enter at least five on there. They’re usually just like, share and comment competitions,so they’re easy to do on the go!

Instagram

I try and have a search for comps on Instagram, but I usually just pull up photos of people doing muscle competitions covered in fake tan using #win #winner #winning hashtags. Does anyone have any other Instagram searching tips? If I can’t find anything, I quickly review my pics and delete any obvious ‘competition’ ones where a winner has been chosen.

Twitter

YES. The ultimate comping on the go app! There’s loads of hashtags you can use to find competitions on here. #WinItWednesday, #TreatTuesday, #FreebieFriday etc etc! There’s always something going on. I’m also a member of the Lucky Learners List on Twitter (can you see a theme here?), which collates the tweets of all of it’s members who are all compers, so you get a constant feed of competitions. It’s brilliant!

Wuntu

This is the official Three UK ‘reward’ app, similar to o2 Priority. They often run giveaways and freebies, so it’s worth a look!

Compers News

In this digital age, comping from a magazine seems like a huge luxury and I really enjoy subscribing to Compers News and doing the puzzles on the go.

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Definitely got this one sussed

So, does anyone else comp on the go? How do you manage? What are your tips and tricks?