Monday 1 October 2012

How to win competitions - part 1. Finding competitions

When I write on this blog, I often assume the people reading are already compers. But recently there have been several newspaper articles and at least two radio interviews (I know there have been at least two, because two of them featured me!) about the hobby, so you may be reading the blog for the very first time after hearing about successful winners. From now on, I will include regular articles for absolute beginners too, Do feel free to ask questions, either as a blog post comment or by email to my Grape Vine address.

So, how do you go about joining those successful winners. "I never win anything" - I hear that time and time again from non-compers - but how often do you actually enter anything? The most important rule of comping is


Another thing I hear over and over again is "How do you find so many competitions to enter?" Well, I only enter a tiny fraction of the competitions there are out there. There are tens of thousands of competitions on the go at any one time - here are some of the places you will find then
  • on product packs
  • on leaflets, posters and display stands in supermarkets, car sales rooms, small shops, banks, garden centres, DIY shops, craft superstores, pet stores, fashion stores, pubs, restaurants, works canteens - almost any retail, catering or banking outlet
  • on book jackets
  • in local and  national newspapers
  • in magazines, whether big glossy ones or small circulation specialist ones
  • on websites
  • on Facebook
  • on Twitter
  • on Pinterest
  • on your TV screen
  • on apps such as Instagram, Foursquare and Blippar
Once you start to look out for them, you will soon realise they are everywhere - you just need to tune your eyes into spotting the word "WIN" (and I don't mean when it appears in tWIN pack or WINdow cleaner)

But what if you don't have time to search the High Street and the Internet for competitions? Well, luckily there are lots of services that will do it for you, telling you which products, shops and websites are currently running competitions and, if you need to buy something, telling you exactly what you need so that you don't waste money on buying the wrong thing.

For the competitions you might look for away from the Internet, why not try my very own comping magazine, The Competition Grape Vine ? It is a handy pocket sized magazine packed with news, views, tips and clues - I spend many hours each month searching for competitions so that you will know exactly where to find them, and I go to a lot of trouble to find unusual and hard-to-find ones that will potentially have fewer entries and give you a better chance. The website will tell you how to apply for a free sample copy.

If you prefer a more traditional style of magazine with features and  photos, you might prefer Compers News. Although I have no connection with the production of this magazine, I write a monthly column giving advice and help, along with my great friend and fellow comper Pam Crampton.

Both the above magazines have a subscription charge, as they don't carry lots of advertising and need to pay for the costs of research and production time, postage and printing, as well as being a full time job for the people who produce them. (I'd love to be able to offer my services for free, but until I hit the lottery jackpot that won't be possible!) However if you follow the advice in them, you should recoup your subscription many times over. In fact you may save more than the price of the magazine in petrol and parking charges, as it saves you from visiting so many different shops!

However if you are really short of cash, or want to stick to online comping, you can get lots of information for free. Online comping sites and forums are free for various reasons. Some have their costs covered by income from the adverts they show and affiliate links that take you to some of the competitions you enter, others are hosted on free sites such as forums and all the listings are added by the users, people like you who have found a competition and are happy to share it. Here are some you might like to try. My advice is to try several, then find the one you like best and  stick to it. Trying to work through them all and  remember what you have entered to avoid duplication would be very confusing - as well  as taking far more hours  than there are in a day!

The Prize Finder
UK Competitions
UK Wins
Competitions List
Competition Hunter!forum/uk.rec.competitions
Moneysaving Expert
Hot UK Deals
Frugaller Forum

There are many more out there - dozens of them, but there are plenty here for you to find one you are comfortable with and enjoy using.

Have fun and good luck! Oh, and do come along and say hello to me on Facebook  and Twitter 
 where I share (and enter!) lots of competitions

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