Sweepstakes Experiment: Days 11-13

and-the-winner-is-envelope

May 25th: Day Eleven

On my eleventh day I entered sweepstakes for 6 hours and 15 minutes and entered 128.

First thing today I won a HUGE prize!  However, until all the paperwork has been submitted and confirmed I’m not going to reveal more about that. Stay tuned!

Today, desperate to find additional contests to fill up the hours had me thinking outside the box.  I did a search for “low entry giveaways” in hopes of both finding new sweepstakes and finding easier to win ones.  This brought up two sites I found useful:

https://www.giveawaypromote.com/

http://airplanesanddragonflies.blogspot.com/p/low-entry-giveaways.html

According to an article in The Balance:

“Some sweepstakes have an astonishingly low number of entries. When you have a 1 in 50 chance of winning as opposed to a 1 in 50,000, your odds are obviously much better.”

In the afternoon, I got word that I won a Facebook contest where I had to post a picture in the comments to win.  My prize was a $100 shopping spree to an online pet product sponsor.

The main reason I failed to make it to a full eight hours of sweeping today was my pure excitement over my wins!  It made me amped up and I had difficulty concentrating on the task at hand, even though this is surely evidence that my experiment to increase my amount of time entering in order to increase prize quantity and quality is a success!

May 26th: Day Twelve

On my twelfth day I entered sweepstakes for only three hours and entered 56.

Today was the most difficult day I had finding sweepstakes to enter.  I attribute this to it being a holiday weekend and sites not being updated because of that. Today I was also suffering a lot of shoulder pain, due to sitting awkwardly for so many hours in my chair entering contests.  This made it difficult for me to continue sitting at my chair until it felt more comfortable.

May 27th: Day Thirteen

On my thirteenth day I entered sweepstakes for only 3 hours again and entered 61.

Today I had full out exhaustion and burnout from entering sweepstakes for so many hours over the last couple of week.  Trying to reach my daily goal of eight hours felt more like a chore than choosing a delightful hobby. Because of this, I decided to end my experiment a day early and not attempt a fourteenth day which would have brought me to the 2-week mark.

For me to conclude the success and prize value accumulated during this experiment, I will have to wait until the sweepstakes entered have concluded.  Many end in June or July.  However, there are some that will not end until September or even December.  If more prizes roll in, I will write more experiment updates! But it is likely I will not know the full impact of entering for so many hours until the end of the year at which time I will post a grand total!

If you’re curious, during the experiment time period, I entered around 1,000 sweepstakes!  That sounds like a lot, but it is less than I would have entered normally (entering dailies just 1-2 hours per day).  The difference is that I entered new sweepstakes I normally would not have at sites I normally don’t visit.  It will be interesting to see if this has an impact on winning!

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Sweepstakes Experiment: Days 5-10

Enter-To-Win-Contest-And-Sweepstakes

May 19th: Day Five

On my fifth day I entered sweepstakes for eight hours and entered 257. Why did I enter so many more today? Having trouble finding enough sweepstakes to enter (after doing my dailies and finding as many new ones as possible), I resorted to entering amazon giveaways at https://www.amazon.com/ga/giveaways.  Prize values on these giveaways are smaller, but there are a lot of them and they are easy entry, so you get much more entered in a smaller amount of time.

If you are curious about some of the websites I’ve been using to find sweepstakes, here is a list of some of the big ones I rely on daily.

http://sweetiessweeps.com/ (I am a paid member of the Secret Site)

http://contestgirl.com/

https://www.thebalanceeveryday.com/contests-4161941

https://www.sweepsadvantage.com/ (I am a paid member of their Plus site)

http://www.sweepon.com/

https://us.coca-cola.com (Once you sign up click “Rewards”; You can enter codes or AMOE)

https://www.sweepstakestoday.com/

and I follow a Facebook Group called Sweeping Together where links are posted

May 20th: Day Six

I was ill today so I took the day off from sweepstakes.  I will try to extend the experiment by one day to compensate!

May 21st: Day Seven

On my seventh day I entered sweepstakes for eight hours and entered 259.  Entering seems to be going faster now that I have a longer list of dailies created in my spreadsheet, where I just have to click the link and form fill the entry forms.  While I am doing less searching because I realize many of the best sweepstakes aggregate sites list the same sweepstakes, I again entered many Amazon giveaways.

I also won a small prize today in a Miller Lite instant win game of a “cannypack.”

May 22nd: Day Eight

On my eighth day I entered sweepstakes for 7 hours and entered 123.  For the 8th hour, I watched and participated in a Facebook Live Q&A put on by Tom, the owner of https://iwincontests.com/.  I am not yet a member of this paid sweepstakes site, but I am definitely considering joining.

Here are some of the things I learned during the Q&A:

  • Tom has won 56 trips!
  • He mentioned an app you can use for text-to-wins, but I did not catch the name (maybe Future Text?). The idea is, if you want to submit the text at a time when less people may be entering, such as the middle of the night, you can schedule it.
  • His thoughts on free sites versus paid sites were that too many people were entering the contests on free sites. With paid sites you often get low entry or lesser publicly known sweepstakes, increasing your chances.
  • He said that there is a difference between entering to enter (not being selective) and entering to win.

I did submit a question ahead of the Q&A about how to find enough contests to enter if you are entering all day, but this was not chosen to be addressed during the Q&A.

May 23rd: Day Nine

On my ninth day I entered sweepstakes for 8 hours and entered 207.  This included receiving a mailer with a number to bring into a local car dealership for the chance to win up to $20,000.  My number got me a $5 Target gift card and the opportunity to hear their shpiel.  I also won a Kindle book from Amazon today.

And here is a great daily sweepstakes to enter because it has a lot of prizes: Marlboro Find 27 Sweepstakes.

May 24th: Day Ten

On my tenth day I entered sweepstakes for 8 hours and entered 152.  The reason my entering total dropped today may have been due to entering a lot of contests where you are required to watch a video.  The videos on Sweepon are usually brief but they were being choppy and sluggish today.  The videos on gleam contests can be as short as a few seconds or even 20 minutes or longer!  I am not sure yet whether it is worth watching them to enter or get additional entries.  Hopefully it will pay off and I will win some prizes from these!

I also spent part of my time entering Coke sweepstakes.  Although each one has an AMOE (Alternative Method of Entry), I have been collecting cola caps for some time and so I spent time entering codes.  What I noticed in general today is that I have been avoiding Facebook or Instagram giveaways where you need to post a comment, as well as skill contests.  Perhaps when I hit a wall in searching for new sweepstakes, I should give these a shot!

Another thing I noticed today was that for many smaller sweeps by smaller companies I am having difficulty locating rules and determining end dates and entry frequency.  Does anyone else run into this problem?

 

Sweepstakes Experiment: Prep and the First Four Days

girl at computer

May 14th : Prep Day

My initial concern about my two-week experiment (entering sweepstakes eight hours per day to see if the quantity and quality of my prize wins increases) was how to find enough sweepstakes to enter for that many hours.

So, I made a brainstorm sheet of locations I could look for sweepstakes when I started the following day.  These included local television stations, local radio stations, giveaway and contest searches on Facebook, sweepstakes listed on aggregate contesting sites, and consulting with a book I bought on Amazon called Just Your Luck by Wayne Brown (2017). Brown’s book lists sweepstakes sites and rates each one by giving them a 1-5 star rating.

May 15th: Day One

On my first day I entered sweepstakes for eight hours and entered a total of 126.  Now, let me clarify that when I already have a list of daily contests created and can just click the link and autofill the forms, I can enter that many sweeps in about 2 hours.  Why was I working at a slower pace over a longer time?  Here are my theories.

  • I was searching for new contests and had to add each one into an XCEL spreadsheet so that I could properly track the data I’m collecting.
  • Even with my prep list, finding new contests to enter can be challenging. I noticed that many different sites listed the same contests, so finding unique ones was time-consuming.
  • Many of the new sweepstakes I entered used Gleam forms, on which you can get additional entries into the contest by completing various social media actions. A form fill will not work on these, and often the sites require you to visit each social media link for a minimum of ten seconds.

But overall, I did not feel like it was an eight-hour day.  Since I was on a mission to find sweeps, I was busy and concentrating on my goal.  I even won one instant win prize on my first day – a Coke FIFA World Cup beach towel!

May 16th: Day Two

On my second day I entered sweepstakes for eight hours and entered a total of 108. On this day I realized that Sweepstakes Advantage has a great list of Facebook sweepstakes, so I did not need to spend as much time searching for them myself.

Some Facebook giveaways use forms that allow you to use your form filler.  Others are individual posts where you need to like, comment, and share. I have not read it, but I know that Wendy Limauge, the woman behind Sweeties Sweeps, wrote a book called Learn How to Win Cash and Prizes on Facebook (Social Sweeping 101). If you are not comfortable sweeping using Facebook, perhaps this book will help.

Again, challenged by finding enough sweepstakes to enter, I ended up finding an article that looked promising called ”100 Websites to Submit and Promote Online Contests.”  The article was geared toward sweepstakes promoters but did have a comprehensive list of sweepstakes sites.  But, much to my disappointment, upon further investigation, the article had many links to non-working sites or sites that were up but had not been updated in years.  Most of the more current ones it listed I already knew about.

May 17th: Day Three

On my third day I entered sweepstakes for eight hours and entered 150.  This was the first day sweepstaking felt more like a job than a hobby.  I was not as excited to be entering them and beginning to feel tired from fitting these extra eight hours into my schedule.

I also got some unwanted results from my increased sweeping.  Normally, I enter sweepstakes just 1-2 hours per day and I’ve been doing that about nine years.  In all that time I’ve only gotten one scam phone call and one solicitation phone call as a result.  But on this day I had an increase in both spam calls and e-mails.  I got five or six unwanted phone calls.  But since I use a Google Voice number as my sweepstaking phone number, I can easily block numbers from calling again.  And this seemed to work because my phone was very quiet on Friday!

May 18th: Day Four

On my fourth day I entered sweepstakes for 5 hours (I had a personal situation that took me away for a large part of the day) and entered 98.  My largest challenge was again finding enough sweepstakes to enter.  However, I noticed over on the Facebook page for Contest Queen that she was asking for people to submit questions for a live Q&A happening next week on sweepstaking.  So, I submitted a question about how to find enough sweepstakes to enter if you do it all day.  Hopefully I will have my answer soon!

The Two-Week Sweepstakes Experiment

experiment

In the past couple of days I have re-watched some old documentaries about sweepstakes enthusiasts.  These include the TLC pilot show High Stakes Sweepers and the Canadian-filmed Winning for a Living.  The subjects of these shows range from those who are simply serious hobbyists to those that literally earn their living by sweepstaking.  One common theme all the subjects seemed to have was that they were continually receiving prizes!

Now, I enter sweepstakes faithfully a couple hours each day – every day.  Yet sometimes days or even weeks will go by without winning high-value packages or letters in my mailbox or e-mail.  So, I wondered what would happen if I stepped up my game.  What if, like some of the documentary subjects, I entered sweepstakes for 8 hours per day?  Would my number of wins go up?  Would the quality and value of my wins increase? Will I be able to find enough sweepstakes to enter to fill all those hours?

I am going to take on the challenge for 2 weeks and see what happens.  My plan is from May 15 – May 29 I am going to enter sweepstakes for eight hours each day.  I am going to keep track of which sweepstakes I enter. Then I am going to wait a month or two to see what and how many prizes roll in from the sweepstakes entered during the experiment time-frame.

Do you have any guesses as to what the experiment results might be?

*For comparison’s sake, from May 1-14 I won 15 small prizes (mostly instant wins) with a value of around $145 total (averaging less than $10 value per prize).

Sweepstaking with Vision Impairment

not_true

I am severely visually impaired.  In fact, I have only about 10% of my sight remaining.  Fortunately for me, that 10% is central vision, so I still manage to get around and to use a computer. Recently I was attending a support group for the blind and visually impaired in my city.  When some of the attendees found out I entered sweepstakes, they were very interested in learning how they could also enter and whether someone with visual impairments was able to pursue this hobby.  They invited me to speak about this at their next meeting in May.  This lead me to do a little research, so I decided to write this post to encourage those with visual impairments to give sweepstaking a shot!

People in my support group have varying degrees of blindness from total blindness, to some peripheral vision, to blurred vision, and like me, a small bit of central vision.  These conditions are not correctible by wearing glasses. This means that, depending on the extent of the disability, different people would have different options available to them for entering sweepstakes.

The first thing I researched was website accessibility.  According to Wikipedia, “Web accessibility refers to the inclusive practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to websites, by people with disabilities. When sites are correctly designed, developed and edited, all users have equal access to information and functionality.” Do all websites currently comply with web accessibility?  Not yet.  Are they supposed to under to the ADA?

According to www.computercourage.com:

“Over time, the ADA legislation has evolved to include access to spaces in the digital world. And there have been serious consequences imposed by the courts for sites that fail to do so.

Since the intent of the ADA is to provide “full and equal enjoyment” for people with varying disabilities, this has wide-ranging implications on websites. These digital spaces must be accessible to individuals using assistive devices such as screen readers and speech recognition software for vision impairments. Users must also have the ability to interact with a website without using a mouse or touchscreen.”

If you find it difficult to navigate online sweeping — for instance if your screen reader software has difficulty with forms — sometimes sweepstakes have entry options other than online entry. There are a good amount of contests that you can enter via telephone.  These include both national contests and local radio call-in contests.  You might also try to enter some local giveaways in person. A friend or store associate can help you fill out a ballot and put it in the draw box.  If you use speech recognition software and are the creative type, you may try to enter some essay and writing contests. There are also a number of contests specifically geared toward the blind.  For instance, in the past there was a “Blind Sight” Photography Contest (https://www.oh-i-see.com/blog/2013/02/07/see-differently-blind-sight-photography-contest/).

So, as time moves forward, sweepstaking is becoming a hobby that any sighted or visually impaired person can participate in.  I think progress is being made in web accessibility compliance, and hopefully in the near future, it will not even be an issue.

Are Sweepstakes Gambling?

to pay or not to pay

When people find out that I am a sweepstaker and have been lucky enough to win some great prizes, I inevitably get asked if I play the lottery.  And I always reply that I don’t because I never pay to win.  Playing games of chance by betting money is gambling.  And many people are surprised to find out that sweepstaking is not gambling.  Sweepstakes always have a free method of entry.  You never have to pay a fee to play or to collect your prize.

Yesterday I came across an interesting article in the news that questioned whether someone opposed to gambling is a hypocrite for entering sweepstakes.  But the issue was a little more complicated than that

The article (found here) discussed vocal anti-gambling “crusader” Kathy Gilroy, who has been responsible for shutting down charity raffles that do not have proper licensure.  Gilroy entered a $25000 sweepstakes at a sweepstakes café and won.

According to the Chicago Tribune, “Gilroy has a history of playing and winning sweepstakes. She said she’s landed prizes including electronics and trips to the Bahamas and California. She once won a big-screen TV from a mechanic, but asked instead for $1,000 in service. A week later, her transmission went out, and she quickly got her money’s worth.”

In a video included with the Tribune article, Gilroy explains that sweepstakes are not gambling because by law you do not have to pay to win.  But what I found interesting about this case, was that the large sum of money won by Gilroy was from a sweepstakes café.  A sweepstakes café, according to Wikipedia is “an establishment that gives away chances to win prizes with the purchase of a product or service, typically internet access or telephone cards.”

The Tribune uncovered that: “After every fifth visit to a cafe, [Gilroy] got a scratch-off card, which occasionally won her a $5 card to play the machines or entries for the grand prize.”

But it seems to me, that even if the cards are free every fifth visit, she still had to pay to play the other four times.  It was this pay to play that won her entries into the grand prize.

So was it really free entry into the sweepstakes? Her opponents call her a hypocrite.  Yet Gilroy does not differentiate between sweepstakes café wins and conventional sweepstakes wins.

What do you think?

A Winning Playlist

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It can be easy to get discouraged when you’re in a prize dry spell.  This can especially happen around the winter holidays time, when so many contests are ending, but you haven’t yet received any winning notices.  And you may not until after the New Year, since people at the prize-award agencies may be on vacation until then.  One way I find to keep my spirits up is to play music that celebrates winning while I’m entering contests.  It helps me to visualize recieving the prizes I entered for, and to keep a positive attitude during dry spells and long notification waiting periods.  Check out this song list “80 Songs About Victory, Celebration, Success, and Winning.”  Did this list miss any? Let me know what songs most motivate you when entering sweepstakes!

Sweepstakes and the End of Net Neutrality

You may know the broad basics of the problems and first amendment threats of ending net neutrality.  But what does this decision mean for the hobby of sweepstaking?

  • Sites not favored by the internet provider could see slower speeds. Waiting for you sweepstakes websites to load may become time consuming, cutting down on the total number of sweepstakes you will be able to enter in a day or an hour.
  • In order to get faster speeds, sites may now pay money for that privilege. This could mean that smaller sweepstakes sites, such as low entry sweepstakes and those run by individuals and small companies, will start to disappear.  If only large companies with money can afford to run sweepstakes, your entries will be put in a larger pool, cutting back your odds of winning.
  • For sweepstakes conglomerate websites and blogs to keep up, free sites will likely no longer be free. They could be forced to charge in order to pay the higher rates for faster speeds.  Sweepstakes secret sites for members that already charge a fee, may need to increase fees to keep up. And even after doing this, small sites may still not be able to afford to offer sweepstakes, and smaller sweepstakes sites may disappear.
  • It will now be legal for internet providers to block certain tweets. For instance, if someone criticizes them on Twitter using a hashtag, the provider may block that tweet from ever reaching its intended audience.  This may eventually trickle down to sweepstakes tweets, again allowing tweets for the larger, high-paying companies, and blocking tweets about smaller companies.
  • Maybe one of the scariest parts of ending net neutrality is that Internet companies may now monitor everything you do online and sell that information to advertisers. If you think of how much junk e-mail entering sweepstakes creates, you could now be bombarded with advertisements from companies that bought your demographic information used to enter sweepstakes.

I don’t what to say, except this is a scary time for internet users, whether you are a sweepstaker or not. What are your thoughts?

Reflecting on Sweepstakes Resolutions

Reflections

Since the end of the year is approaching, I looked back to my January post “Sweeping Resolutions” to see what I have accomplished and what I still have left to get done.  In that post, I had set out four sweepstakes items I wanted to accomplish before the close of 2017.

The first was to schedule monthly meetings of the Boise Sweepstakes Club.  I already had a dedicated Facebook page for the club where I post local and regional sweepstakes.  But I wanted to build a community in my town around sweepstaking where we could meet every month to talk sweeping, support each other, enter sweepstakes together, and make the hobby even more fun and social!  So, in July I started a page on meetup.com for Boise Sweepstakes Club, and in just 3 months we have 15 members.  This does not count all the folks who like and follow Boise Sweepstakes Club on Facebook.

My second resolution was to enter even more sweepstakes.  To help achieve this goal, I decided to attend the National Sweepstakes Convention this year. It was held on a cruise and introduced me to many more resources for sweepstaking.  You can read a bit about the convention and the entire adventure on my other blog here. I am utilizing a lot more online sweepstaking information sites than I was before the convention, which has allowed me to find more sweepstakes to enter.

Next on my resolutions list was to reapply to teach a sweepstaking class through my city’s community education program.  You may remember that the first time I applied to teach the course, my idea was turned down.  However, I am happy to report that I was selected to teach the class earlier this month, and the class, entitled Sweepstaking: Fun & Free, was held October 9. Six people registered for the course, but only three showed up for the class.  I still had a lot of fun teaching it, and my students seemed excited to learn.  I am awaiting feedback, and to hear whether I can teach this course again in the future.

My final sweepstaking resolution for 2017 was to write a memoir centered around my years doing this hobby.  It is the only resolution I have not taken steps toward, so to ensure I would push myself to complete it before the end of the year, I signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  A memoir is not a novel, however, if you write in the nonfiction genre they simply call you a “rebel” but you can still participate via their free website for writing support. The idea of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word book in just the 30 days of November.  It is not meant to be a publishable piece at the end of one month.  It is more to encourage you to get a draft down.  You can edit it later after the month is over.  As of right now, I am registered at the NaNoWriMo site with a working title for my memoir, a brief synopsis, and my husband is working on creating a book cover for me.  If I do complete my 50,000 words in 30 days, I’m considered a “winner” – and I love that word!

ANATOMY OF A SCAM LETTER

scam bulldog

Just this past week I received a tricky scam letter telling me “CONGRATULATIONS” because I had won the Sol Pacifico Cerritos “Great Giveaway” Contest.

I looked at all aspects of the notification letter to conclude that this was a scam.  Here are some of the things to look for.

  • Does the sender’s e-mail address (or name) exist at the company it claims to be from? Either a Google search or visiting the company’s website and doing a search should yield an answer. In the case of my letter, while the company existed, the name of the person it was sent from did not.
  • Check the date of the e-mail against the date the contest ended. If the contest ended quite a bit in the past and you are just getting notified, it should be a red flag.  While it is possible to receive notification months after a sweepstakes ends, it is just one of several things to consider together with other clues.  Checking the rules for the contest end date and drawing date will help decipher the answer.
  • Does the letter address you personally? Usually you must provide your basic information, including your name, to enter a sweepstakes. If the letter merely refers to you as “winner” then that is a red flag.  But again, this should be taken with all other clues.  Today I received a win notice that referred to me as “winner” but turned out to be legitimate.
  • Does the contest exist and did you enter it? Search for the name of the contest online. If you cannot find it referenced anywhere, it probably does not exist.  Also, if you did not enter the contest, whether it exists online or not, then you did not win it. In the case of my letter, I could not find that any such contest existed.
  • Does it cost money to claim your prize? On my letter, the prize description was for Free Roundtrip Airfare Tickets from certain airports.  However, upon closer examination, the redemption instructions included having to buy a 5-night minimum stay at their resort.  IMPORTANT: You never need to buy anything to claim a legitimate sweepstakes prize.
  • If the letter has an option that says, “Click here to leave mailing list,” that is a sure sign that it is not a personal letter, but rather a pitch that has gone out to an entire mailing list.
  • Are there links? Please do not click any links in the e-mail until you have verified that your win is legitimate.  These could be used by scammers to verify your personal information.