No. I'm not going to offer any housecleaning tips! (That's no fun!) After my last post someone asked me how I win so much and if I have any tips. At the risk of losing some prizes to you (my readers!) I'll share my story.
About 3 years ago, I started visiting Online-Sweepstakes and entering a few sweepstakes. I just kind of played around with it. But I didn't enter very many (and I didn't win any). My first win was a Veronica Mars prize pack, followed by some slippers from Redbook. In May 2007, I joined OLS for their premium membership ($30 a year). About half of my wins last year were premium. My online wins were about $500 (plus about $400 won locally).
But my winnings picked up last February. When I discovered blog giveaways. I found a Bloggy Carnival where hundreds of bloggers were giving away stuff. I won 4 things that time. Before this, I would skip blog giveaways because I had look around and post a comment. But I realized that they often took less time than filling out a form.
This year, I have won over $2700 in giveaways. I've had about 90 wins. If you do the math, you'll see my average win is about $30. (They range from $5 to $250.) I haven't won any big prizes (cars, trips, cash!) but I've won most of what I put under then Christmas tree. 75 wins were from blogs, 2 wins were from the premium membership, and 11 wins were from the free listings at OLS. (Most of the blogs are listed on OLS too.)
So, I've decided to focus on blogs. I didn't renew my premium membership. I've recently starting using Sweepstakes Advantage because they list Blog sweeps separately. Slick Deals , Just Free Stuff, Cashnet, and Winning Ways are some of the other sites you can check out. (I don't know anything about these sites.)
Here's why I like entering blog contests.
1. There is less competition. I had one where there were only 3 people who commented. Normally there are 100 or more. (Sometimes a couple of thousand!) But in other sweeps, there are thousands of people entering the contest.
2. The quick turnaround. Most of my blog wins are received within 2 weeks. I had one that was a custom order and I had it in my hands 4 days after being notified of the win! With traditional contests, I have waited 6 months or more to receive a prize.
3. Meeting new bloggers. I have found some really cool blogs. Many I check out regularly---even if they aren't giving stuff away!
4. Dealing with a real person. When I get a blog win, I am e-mailed by a real life blogger. I have a direct person to contact if the prize doesn't arrive (and to thank when it arrives).
Tips for success:
1. READ the rules. Each blogger has her/his own set of rules. Some just ask you to post a comment. Others ask you to do something. If they ask you to look at another site--go there. If the requirements look like too effort for you---then skip it.
2. Get a blog. You can set up a blog easily at blogger.com. If you log into your blogger account, it makes it easier to post comments. (There are other options for logging in, but this is what I use.)
3. Don't be anonymous! If you have a blogger (or other) ID, make sure your profile is set to be viewed by anyone. Or, put an e-mail address in your post. If they cant' find you, you won't win!
4 Put buttons on your blog. I started adding buttons to my blog. Many bloggers give an extra entry for putting their button up. Once you put it up, you can get an extra entry in every contest. I've put up 3 scroll boxes with buttons. One is for seasonal "parties"; one is for blogs I've won from; and the last is for other blogs I've added.
5. Extra entries. Many bloggers give extra entries for using Twitter, Digg, Technorati and other social networking sites. I do these sometimes. If it's a really cool prize. Or if I have some extra time. But I don't do it every time.
6. Be polite. Send a note to the giveaway host when the product arrives. And if it doesn't arrive, be nice. Many times, the company sends the prize directly to the winner. I had a recent win (3 bottles of cleaners). When they didn't arrive within a month, I contacted the hostess. (I let her know I realize it sometimes takes a while, but I didn't want her to think I was just ungrateful and didn't send a note.) She was surprised, but offered to contact the company. A couple of weeks later, she checked with me to see if it had arrived (it didn't). But the next day it come--with 8 bottles instead of 3!
7. Tell people about the products you like. Whether you blog or just tell friends, spread the word. Companies give out free product to put it in our hands--hoping we will love it. Word of mouth advertising works well!
8. Have fun! If you aren't having fun (whether you win or not!) then it's time to take a break!