Sunday 13 October 2013

How to find low entry competitions

When you enter a competition the likelihood of you winning is inevitably linked to the number of other entries. In a straightforward draw, it's a simple case of odds - the more entries there are, the less chance any one given entry has to win. It's a bit more complex in a skill competition - your entry may be brilliant, but if there are thousands of other entries it stands a smaller chance of being The Best than if there are only a handful of others. Even in an instant win promotion, if the prizes are being given to the first entry after a randomly selected winning moment, you stand a better chance of being the first person to enter after that moment if you've picked a time like the early hours of the morning when few other people are entering.

So how do you go about finding potentially low entry competitions? Here are some tips:

Rejoice  in Restrictions

Unlike most areas of our lives, competition promoters are allowed to put some pretty tight restrictions on who can enter. If they want to specify the age, gender, home town or county or even marital status or sexuality of entrants, they can. And the more restricted the entrants, the more chance YOU have, if you fit the requirements.

Just imagine two identical competitions, one open to everybody and one only open to men. Only half as many people in the country are allowed to enter the second one. Now imagine those men must be aged over 45 - that reduces the number of potential entrants again. And finally imagine it is only open to people from Wales. If you are man aged over 45 living in Wales, you have a much better chance of winning that competition than one open to everybody in the country, simply because far fewer people are allowed to enter. And if you're a young woman from Wigan, just move on to the next competition, there's bound to be one tailored to you along soon!

Look Locally

Following on from that, there are a lot of competitions around that, although not specifically restricted to people from a particular area, are not likely to be seen by many people from outside the area. Your local radio station, community website, shopping centre and newspaper are the places to look. Do you know that some competitions in local newspapers don't get enough entries for them to be able to give away all the prizes?

Celebrate Complicated Comps

If all you need to do is fill in your name, email address and click "send", a competition only takes a few seconds to enter. And that's attractive in this time-poor age. So lots and lots of people will enter. As soon as even a slight complication, like answering a question, is introduced, entry numbers fall. And the more complexities are added, the more potential entrants will fall by the wayside. If you have to tackle a quiz, crossword or tiebreaker, make a Pinterest board, take a photo, make a video or create a recipe,  the number of entrants will be a tiny fraction of those that just needed the name and email address. The harder a competition is to enter, the easier it is to win.

Avoid Aggressive Advertising

If a competition is flashed on every pack on your supermarket shelf, has full page ads in newspapers and magazine, banners on scores of websites and is even mentioned in commercial breaks, it could get MILLIONS of entries.  Likewise with the survey style sites where you have to fill in a short questionnaire   to enable your entry - they are linked from almost every web portal and lifestyle site, so they have vast numbers of entries. And those ITV competitions with the huge prizes are mentioned all over the internet.  I'm not telling you to avoid such competitions completely - even with 10 million entries, yours could be the one that wins, but you've probably got a better chance of being struck by lightning. Enter if you enjoy doing it and have the time, but don't enter with any high expectation of a win.

Time is of the Essence

A competition that runs for two months leaves lots of time for people to enter. One that only runs for two days will, therefore, only get a fraction of the number of entries. Keep an eye on your Facebook pages feed ad your Twitter timeline for very short notice competitions, often only lasting an hour or two. And add the blogs you read regularly to a feed like Bloglovin (see the Bloglovin button to the right of this blog) so you can quickly check them all every day to see if they have anything new, as lots of blogs have competitions that only run for a few days.

Hail Your Other Hobbies

 .....if you have time for any, that is. Or any other special interests you might have such as politics, your religion or your job. There are websites and magazines dedicated to all kinds of interests and these often run competitions that are really only of interest to people with that interest - people like you! After all, who would want a Widget-wobbler apart from somebody whose hobby is wobbling widgets?

Don't Scorn the Small Stuff

Big prizes are wonderful. I love winning holidays and have had some amazing ones. But a competition with a holiday prize, or any other big ticket item, will be very tempting even to non compers and may well draw in hundreds of thousands of entries. If the prize is small - a book, a DVD, toiletries or a toy, for instance, it won't attract anywhere near as many entries, giving you a much better chance of winning. And small prizes make lovely unexpected treats, or can be set aside for birthday and Christmas presents.

Finally Don't be Confused by the Odds. Lots of competitions, especially on blogs, now use Rafflecopter. Some people running the competitions like to make it look as if they've had a lot more entries than they have - maybe to impress a sponsor or maybe just to maker themselves feel good. So it can look as if there are huge numbers of entries. You might be put off when you see that a competition has 8,400 entries, but if you look more closely you might see that you can enter in 12 different ways,  each of them with 10 entries allocated to it. So entering all 12 would give you 120 entries - and a very attractive 1 in 70 chance of winning.

And don't forget, in any competition, it only takes one entry to be a winner - if yours is the one drawn out of the hat, it no longer matters how many others there were, because they are all left behind and YOU WON!


  1. Morning Jane, from a underwater Essex, i love your blogs, there is so much good advice, in this article, yes we all dream of a biggie, but like you i love anything, i all ways enter prizes, that can be used by our family, and do as you once said, all ways "READ THE RULES",a few seconds, saves a lot of problems afterwards, like you i have won some fab holidays, the latest as you know is a £3000 holiday to Orlando,from one postcard to the Daily Express, so some times, you do get hit by lighting, but not that often, in fact rarely comping is a great hobby, and one that should be enjoyed, thank you "Wise Woman", no matter how long you have been comping, you are still learning, and over the last decade, comp have changed, gone nearly are my fav "Tiebreakers", but good luck all, and heed these words above.

    1. It's rapidly turning into a lake here too. If anybody ever complains that they're never going to win anything again, I'll remind them about you, you'd won hardly anything for ages and then had two lovely wins in the pace of a few weeks. The comping fairy might go on holiday from time to time, but if you keep a space warm for her she always finds her way back!

  2. Very true, ,luck is like that proverbial bus, a few close together, then a wait, but comping is instructive, and your can gain knowledge, researching the answers, ,PS any comps for a boat? have a great week


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