The World of Sweepstakes

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I started entering sweepstakes. It is an amazing world and I have yet to scratch the surface. I will give you a feel for how I started so that if you want to play along, you can.

(NOTE:  I have no idea what I am doing. I will share my adventures but do not take it as “the path to follow”. As with most advice, it is worth what you are paying for it.)

There are a few basic rules.

  1.  Do NOT give anyone money to play a sweepstakes. They cannot charge you to do this.“There is no purchase necessary “is real. It is actually a law.
  2. Read the rules of the sweepstakes. Make sure you are eligible. See how often you can enter and don’t disqualify yourself by entering too much.
  3. Don’t enter for things you don’t want. You will “need” to report winnings on your taxes so don’t win things that you have to pay taxes on but don’t want. 
  4. Maybe this one is just personal but don’t tell your spouse that you entered a contest to win something cool and then say that you are planning to give it to someone else. Apparently, that causes hard feelings. 

So far, I have only been investigating sweepstakes. Sweepstakes are when entries are selected at random. I will move on to contests (judged entries) later.

The first thing that I did before entering any sweepstakes was create a new email address JUST for sweepstakes entries. There are two reasons for this. The first is that when you start getting junk mail because you have entered sweepstakes, it will all be in one place that you can ignore. No, I mean it will be in one place where you can read every bit of it and absorb all that fascinating information. (HA!) The second reason is that you will not be sending out emails from this account (probably) so that if you are “hacked” you will not have any information or friend’s email addresses here.

Think about how often you will be typing your email address when you choose it. Make it easy to remember and quick to type. Think the same way about the password. DO NOT use the same password that you normally use. Pretend this is your new identity and make it different but easy. If you don’t know how to get a new email address, here is my suggestion. Go to https://www.google.com/ and click on the box in the upper right hand corner “Create an account”. (There is no cost for an email address) That will take you to a place for you to fill in information for a new email account. At the bottom of the “create and email page” is a Captcha.

Captcha is a device that is used to make sure that there is an actual person filling out the form. Generally you will see a box with a word or number that you can easily read and then another grouping of letters that are harder to read. (Sometimes it is a word and sometimes it is just letters) (Or my vocabulary stinks and it is always a word but I don’t think so.) IF you cannot make out the distorted letters, there is a little circular arrow button next to the box. Hit that button and they will give you a new set of words/letters. You do not have to worry about spacing. You just need to type what you see.

Okay, you need to get used to Captcha. You are going to find it on most of the contest entries.

Some sweepstakes will give you additional entries if you “like” the company on Facebook, tweet about the contest, or “pin” something on Pinterest. These are options for you to decide what you want to do. You might want to think about them ahead of time to see how you feel about it. If you don’t have social media accounts, then you need to decide if you want to open them or not.  Only you can decided if the additional entries gained from using those accounts matter to you.

You may find that in order to win that you need to “like” a company on Facebook. The entry form will be happy to take you to your Facebook account. Sometimes the company will want to get your approval to grab all your Facebook information. I am not a fan of this. If you need to like the company to be eligible to win, I will go to Facebook separately and “like” the company.  I will tell you that “liking” companies will lead to more ads on your news feed.( After the contest, you can always go and “unlike” the company but I would never tell you that.)

Are you raring to go?  Ready to start winning millions in cash and prizes?

The first day that I started this quest, I swore that I would make a note about the contests that I was entering so that I could keep track of them.  I failed that first day. I will admit that I found it a little confusing. To be honest, I am not sure I entered the Duck Dynasty sweepstakes and it was a one-time only entry. I don’t’ know if I have a chance to meet Willy in West Monroe or not.  So the first day was a bit of a bust just trying to figure out what I was doing.

Hint – on your first day you may want to stick to contests that are “daily entries” rather than “one time” entries. If you make a mistake on “daily entries”, you can fix it the next day. Learn from my mistake – I may never meet Willie Robertson just because I was confused my first day.

I started with two sites that were recommended by “sweepers” either in print or in videos that I watched. The first one that I went to had two levels of membership. There was the free level and then the $30 level. Remember Rule #1? I did not pay for membership. There seems to be some issue with that web site. I then moved to www.sweepstakestoday.com . I have gone to that site every day. I did sign up for the site as it seems that they keep track of your entries.  (It was free, of course) On the site, I have used the opening page of sweepstakes and I have used the tabs on the top of the page. (They are – listed across – Hot, Featured, New Sponsor’s special, etc.) I noticed that if you click on the tabs on the side of the opening page that they open a new web page where you can go to other web pages for sweepstakes. I am a bit paranoid about computer viruses and that seems to be a spot that could be a problem. You may find it just fine but I have not needed to go there yet.

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I think it will be important for you to decide how much time you want to spend doing this a day. I can easily see that you could spend hours on this. It can suck you in because there are so many to enter and with a lot of the daily entry ones, once you enter, it remembers your information and entering seems to go pretty quickly but time is ticking away and will go faster than you ever thought it could. I really suggest that you set a timer before you start. There is a bit of a learning curve so the first few days will take longer.

From what I have read, it can take several months of work before you start to see any payout. You are also supposed to keep a positive mental attitude. While I think that you should believe that you can win (I will probably win a pack of gum), I am not sure that the robot picking the winning entry cares about your positive mental attitude. But then again, you should feel positive about this because when you tell people what you are doing and they look at you like you have lost your mind, you will need to appear positive that you will win.

Next week, I will talk about different types of sweepstakes that you can encounter and give you an update on how I am doing.

Have fun!

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About Carol Early Cooney

CPML Social is a social media management firm for small businesses. We are there to help you - we know that you don't have time to do it all. Whether you are a real estate agent, a musician, an insurance agent, a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker, we can help you.
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