Tag Archives: Sweeping

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!

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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).

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?

Selling Prizes for Fun and Fixing

Sold!

In past blog posts, I have talked about some reasons for sweeping other than just winning prizes for yourself.  These included gifting to friends and family and donating to local charitable causes. But there is another advantage to winning prizes: selling them to buy something else you want or need.  I have two examples from this year where I won large prizes and sold them for one thing I wanted and something else I needed.

A little over a year ago on July 21, 2016 I was fortunate enough to win a regional contest for a Yamaha Waverunner and trailer worth around $9000.  At first I couldn’t decide whether to keep it or sell it. So, I kept it unused in my garage through the winter, and in the spring decided that it was best to sell it.  I took it back to the dealer that distributed the prize and negotiated a fair price.  I then took the money to do something I have always wanted to do!  I registered myself and a friend for the National Sweepstakes Convention Cruise, which happens this fall.  I had been wanting to attend the convention for several years, but was never in a financial position to do it.  Selling the Waverunner connected me to my dream goal (and quite a nice vacation opportunity!)

Earlier this year I won a $5000 pinball machine.  When I got it, the key was missing and though I tried hard to track it down from the sponsor and distributor, I had no luck.  I had a machine I couldn’t play.  Knowing this, the distributor put me in touch with a local businessman who was looking for a pinball machine. We negotiated a price, and the buyer paid me and picked it up. The very next day, our hot water heater broke.  It was an unexpected expense, and due to other priorities, not one we had set money aside for.  How fortunate that I had just sold the pinball machine!  We used that money to get a new water heater.

So now I don’t just enter sweepstakes where I want the prize.  I enter sweepstakes for prizes I perhaps could not use, but I know that I could sell for money.  Then I can treat myself to my true desires!

Sweepstakes Resolutions

newyearpop

While 2016 was my best sweepstaking year yet, I’m still not sorry it’s over.  During the year I was diagnosed with melanoma, but it was successfully removed.  In fact, tomorrow is my first three month check up since the surgery.  Last year I also submitted a proposal to teach a class on sweepstaking for community education, but it was denied.  So I have some strong resolve for 2017 to accomplish the following:

  • Schedule monthly meetings of the Boise Sweepstakes Club. If you live in Idaho and want to check us out see our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/boisesweepstakesclub
  • Enter even more sweepstakes
  • Reapply to teach my sweepstaking class, and if my proposal is still rejected then hold a free public class at the library
  • Last year I was rattling around some thoughts on writing a sweepstakes memoir. I hope for 2017 that I will finally put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and get it done!

How did 2016 turn out for you?  Do you have any new sweepstakes resolutions for 2017?  Please let me know in the comments.  Hopefully we can help keep each other motivated this year!

Your Timeline or Mine?

A few weeks ago, in an online sweepers forum that I check every once in a while, someone complained they were not getting their prize in a timely manner.  They had won close to the beginning of summer and here it was almost October. Their main question was will I still have to pay taxes on a prize I haven’t yet received?  Responses to this post assured the prize winner that he would get his prize before the end of the year.  That it was normal for very large companies to take a long time to fulfill the prize.  Others suggested that the prize winner contact, and continue to contact, the prize fulfillment company until he got a clear answer to his question.  Still others said that bothering the fulfillment company does not speed the process along.

I actually didn’t think much of this post because such a situation had never happened to me.  I could not relate to the original post and I could not deliver any advice on the matter.  Until shortly after that when it happened to me!  I won a prize and sent in all my required paperwork.  After not hearing anything, I followed up two weeks later to verify they had received my documents.  I was assured they had and was told I would be hearing from someone soon.  More than a month went by and I got a little concerned.  I reached out one more time, afraid they would see me as a pest but also afraid I would not get my prize.  At this time, I was told that everything was in the final stages and I would be receiving it “soon.”  I have my fingers crossed that I will.

There are some things to remember however.  When you win a large prize from a large company, first the company must verify your eligibility through the paperwork you filled out for them.  Then, the matter is likely passed to a prize fulfillment company, who will have quite a lot of prizes to fulfill from various company’s sweepstakes.  You might not be first in line. But it is usually not the sponsoring company’s fault if things are not fulfilled in a timely manner.  Also, in the case of a big prize, the procurement department of the prize fulfillment company may have some hoops to jump through, paperwork, etc. in order to fulfill the prize.

All this is not to say never follow up.  If done in a polite and well-timed manner, following up on a prize taking a long time to receive can be a good idea.  But don’t necessarily jump to the conclusion that you will never get your prize from a sweepstakes.  We are very excited about our wins and want things to happen on our own timeline, but unfortunately it happens on theirs.

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder…

announcementimage

If you’ve been following this blog, you probably noticed that I took a hiatus for about a half a year.  As often happens, life events get in the way.  However, I’m pleased to say that I am back at it, and re-committed to making this blog at least a weekly habit. And just because I haven’t been writing doesn’t mean I haven’t been sweeping.  In fact, this summer I won the most valuable prizes yet, and had three big wins in a row!

You may remember that one of my sweepstakes resolutions for this year was to teach a community education course on sweepstakes.  Well, I applied to do it but got a gentle rejection that such a class was not what they were looking for at this time.  My mind went wild with why not!  Was there not enough interest in the community?  Was there a problem with how I phrased my proposal?  Or my biggest concern, did they have the wrong Idea about sweepstakes (not understanding they are free or thinking it is a form of gambling).  Because I was notified by letter, I never had the opportunity to speak with them or answer any questions they may have had.

As luck would have it, I noticed that for their fall programs, the community education program was offering a class called Learn to Teach What You Love.  I figured if the problem lay on my end, this would get me organized and ready to teach in the future, so I registered.  The class is happening tomorrow night and I will let you know if it is helpful.

I look forward to hearing from you, my readers, about how your sweepstakes hobby is going, whether you have any questions, or suggestions for future blog posts. I look forward to getting reacquainted with you as summer turns to cooler weather, sports themed sweepstakes, and the mad race toward the holidays!

Book Review, Interview with Tyneisha Fondren, and GIVEAWAY!

After reading – and loving – Tyneisha Fondren’s first book on the hobby of sweepstakes called Winning Is Not For The Lucky: A Friendly, Creative, And Unique Guide To Entering Sweepstakes (reviewed in my Dec. 24, 2015 post), I went in search on Amazon for more incredible sweeping advice from her.  Luckily, I did not have to wait long!  In January, Fondren published her second book on sweepstakes Tweet Your Way To Prizes: How To Use Twitter To Find, Enter, and Win Sweepstakes.

One thing I like about this book is that whether you’re a beginner or a more seasoned sweeper, there is information in it that will be valuable to you.  Let’s take myself as an example.  I would consider myself a more seasoned sweeper in that I have been entering sweepstakes on a regular basis for about 5 years.  However, most of my entries are the forms on sponsor websites and to some extent Facebook entries.  My working knowledge of Twitter was minimal, and certainly not enough to effectively find and enter sweepstakes.  I had a Twitter profile, knew the basics of retweeting, and because I didn’t really understand how hashtags worked, I had unsuccessfully entered to win through one Twitter party.

Tweet Your Way To Prizes was a game-changer for me.  This book will both show you the basics of Twitter and teach you how to locate and enter sweepstakes using this popular social media platform.  If you think you may not need to utilize Twitter to win prizes, think again!  Fondren shows you the growing importance of Twitter in hobby sweeping today, and the sheer number of additional sweepstakes you could be entering through this method.

Step-by-step Fondren’s book will help you optimize the set-up of your Twitter account to be the most successful at sweeping, while also showing you how to use your account effectively.  You will learn fast and simple methods for finding sweepstakes for things you want to win, techniques to avoid scams, using retweets and hashtags, participating in Twitter parties, and much more!  As a bonus, the book also offers an interesting interview to offer another point of view.

So no matter if you are looking for a complete guide to using Twitter to help boost your sweepstakes hobby, just need a few tips and pointers, or want a refresh on an important social media platform, Fondren’s book will have what you are looking for.  You can pick it up on Amazon HERE.

author interview

I was fortunate to be able to ask Tyneisha Fondren some questions about sweeping, her books, and life as an author.  Here is my interview with her:

Q. How long have you been entering sweepstakes and what brought you to the hobby?

A. I first started sweeping in October of 2012. I was actually on the hunt for freebies and coupons as I was looking for a way to help my family save money. I ran across an article about this sweepstakes hobby so after a little more digging I joined one of the main sweepstakes sites and started entering. I was an unorganized mess but I won a Puma gym bag that first month and there was no looking back!

Q. Your first book on sweeping, Winning is Not For The Lucky: A Friendly, Creative, and Unique Guide To Entering Sweepstakescame out in December 2015.  What initially inspired you to write books on the hobby of entering sweepstakes?

A: I wasn’t sure I should write anything about sweepstakes at first, to be honest. I’ve been sweeping less than 4 years and I’m still learning so much every day. But I love to write, and I love this amazing hobby, so I thought, why not combine the two? I really feel like there is so much out there for everyone to benefit from entering sweepstakes so if I can help people find the same excitement that I’ve found by sweeping, that’s what I want to do!

Q. In your second book, Tweet Your Way To Prizes: How To Use Twitter To Find, Enter, and Win Sweepstakes  (published Jan 2016), you hone in on one method of sweepstakes entry.  Was there a personal experience that inspired you to focus on Twitter?

A. I’ve been pretty successful on Twitter when it comes to winning. I’ve won gift cards, electronics, beauty products, clothes, and so much more. I’ve found sweepstakes that literally had only a single entry, and I’ve won them. I’ve seen people say that they avoid Twitter because it seems complicated but my experience has been the opposite. There is GREAT potential to win amazing prizes through Twitter so I wanted to get more in depth and hopefully show people how they can better utilize it to win.

Q. What was the hardest part about writing your books?

A. I didn’t use an outline to write my first book, so that one was harder. I prefer to write as I go but it’s an easy way to get writer’s block too. When that happened I would take a break and do a few sweeps. For the second book I outlined everything first and ended up finishing 2 weeks ahead of schedule. So I guess staying organized and focused was the most difficult part.

Q. Did you learn anything while researching and writing your books?

A. I learned that there is still a stigma associated with sweepstakes. Many people look upon them negatively or think that they are all scams. It kind of makes me sad because I’ve won some amazing prizes for my family and I wish people would try to get informed on what this hobby is about instead of immediately looking at it in a negative way. I have friends and family that I know could really benefit from entering sweepstakes if they would just give it a chance.

Q. For both sweepers and authors, it is often hard to feel supported by those around us.  Other than family members, is there a person or place you go to for support?

A. One of the best parts of this hobby is interacting with other sweepers! I have a very small group of sweeper friends and we all support each other. Those ladies were nice enough to read my books and give me feedback. I TRY not to complain too much when I’m not winning but if I really need to, I talk to them. And of course my hubby and kids are my number one support system. Especially my hubby- he believed in me first.

Q. What is your latest news or current projects?

A. I’m hoping to have my next book out by my birthday, March 23rd. That one will focus on running an online business while taking care of small children. As a stay at home mom of 3 kids aged 3 and under, I can tell you that there is an entirely different set of challenges when it comes to being a small business owner and a parent of little ones. It won’t be a sweepstakes book per se, but I WILL be talking about how sweepstakes can help get your online business off the ground through gift cards and such, so stay tuned for that!

Q. Do you have any bottom line advice on entering sweepstakes for your readers?

A. If this is something you want to do, first set any doubt aside. You are a winner, and you will win. If you can’t accept that first part, don’t expect to be successful. Next, have no excuses. Through the Internet, you can learn anything you need to win; there is no “I can’t” or “I don’t know how”. I will Google the heck out of something if I don’t know it! Get organized, make friends, maximize your time, and of course, enter, enter, enter!

Giveaway graphic

This giveaway is now over.  Thank you to all who participated!  The winners have been contacted.

Sweeping Resolutions

This year I have made five very specific resolutions in regards to my sweepstakes hobby.

  1. I have decided to re-brand myself as America’s Sweepheart. I think it is fun to have a playful nickname while working toward my 2016 goals in sweeping.  I wanted something catchy that people would remember when they think of me, my blog, or my local sweepstakes Facebook page.

 

  1. I want to meet other sweepers and help people learn how to become a sweeper. To accomplish these goals simultaneously, I have applied to teach a class for beginning sweepers through my city’s Community Education program.  If my suggested program is chosen, I would begin teaching this spring.

 

  1. Win more trips. That may seem like an obvious resolution for a sweeper, but to present I have not been trying that hard to win a foreign trip because I did not have a passport.  But because I knew I was going to make foreign travel a 2016 resolution, I finally applied for a passport at the end of last year and received it in the mail this week.  Now to work toward this resolution, I am going to enter as many trip sweepstakes as possible!

 

  1. Write a sweepstakes memoir. Until now, I have been a fiction writer.  You may have read my novel The Debt Collectors: A Lucy Vaughn Mystery in which the main character is also a sweeper.  This year I want to branch out with some nonfiction, but as they say, it’s important to write what you know.  I figure I know my life pretty well, especially in regards to how sweeping has helped me through some difficult times.

 

  1. My final sweepstakes resolution is to build more readership for this blog. You can help!  If you know any fellow sweepers or aspiring sweepers, please refer them to the blog!

 

What are some of your resolutions for the 2016 sweeping year?  Do you have a wish list of the top items or experiences you would like to win this year?  How do you plan to make it happen?

Incoming!

Presents

By this time of year, most sweepers are waiting for incoming wins!  It’s a bittersweet time.  The holiday sweepstakes are ending, and most of the year’s contests are coming to a close by December 31.   On the one hand, it’s very exciting to imagine that in the coming weeks those win notifications you’ve been working so hard toward may arrive!  On the other hand, your list of sweepstakes to enter will dwindle until the 2016 sweepstakes start up over the next year, and you can bulk your entry list up again.

Do you like to be surprised by wins or do you prefer a heads up?  Oftentimes sponsors will send a prize via postal service, UPS or other method to your door without notifying you in advance.  While I find this can be fun, I also like the anticipation of waiting for a prize to arrive that I know is on its way.  Because of this, I recently signed up for UPS My Choice.  This is a free membership that, among other things, allows you to be notified if a UPS package is headed your way.  You still have the element of surprise in that the contents of the package are a mystery, but you at least know to expect a package and who it is coming from.

One more word of advice as 2015 winds down and 2016 greets us.  I have been reading many different articles lately that list some of the top scams of the year, and scams to be on the lookout for in the New Year.  Sweepstakes scams and scams involving claims that you have won prizes or money are rampant and top off many of the lists.  So please use caution when giving out information or accepting prizes.  Reviewing my November 16 post entitled “Don’t Fall Victim to Scams” is a good starting point for keeping safe.

Good luck as the 2015 sweeping year comes to a close.  May many prizes come your way!  I’ll let you know if I win anything, and you can do the same in the comments section of any post!

Happy New Year!