CONFESSIONS OF A COMPETITION WINNER
My name is Rebecca and I'm a 29-year-old comper (person addicted to the sight, sound and smell of competitions). In recent years, I have won thousands of dollars in cash and prizes, including trips to Tokyo Disneyland and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, two DVD box sets of "Sex and the City" (in separate competitions -- what can I say? I really did get "Carried" away), a $1000 Westfield shopping spree and a year's supply of toilet paper!
The addiction begins slowly, you see, and before you know it, takes hold.
For me it all started in university. I was broke, staring at my dismal wardrobe and wondering how to earn some additional income. I already worked two part-time jobs. Then it dawned on me. There were competitions on the Internet, radio, TV, in magazines and supermarket aisles... most places, really. Every day of the week, ordinary lucky schmucks out there were winning cars, holidays and cash. I could be a lucky schmuck. I was already a schmuck, so I was halfway there.
As I am also an incurable Intermernetz geek, I concentrated on web competitions and Googled "competitions" and "win". I was dumbfounded by how many promotions sprang up. I entered everything I could when not working or studying. It was fun -- I loved solving puzzles, playing games and writing poems and having the chance to win prizes for my efforts.
The glorious day came. A month or two after I began my prize quest a letter arrived in the post. I had won a $200 Kookai voucher. It had begun.
Looking back, comping has opened up my world to some extraordinary experiences. I have appeared in a screaming competition (when I was on holiday in Sydney -- strangely enough most entrants were out-of- towners), completed a Mission Impossible scavenger hunt and learnt how to do action movie 180 degree turns in a Mini driving course. When people hear about my latest win, they shake their heads and ask how I won. Well, in the interests of purging my soul and confessing my wins, I'll let you in on the secrets to success...
1. MAKE FRIENDS WITH "25 WORDS OR LESS"
There are two main types of competitions -- those won by skill and those drawn at random. By far the majority of my wins have been from competitions requiring skill, usually "25 words or less" entries. You know the ones: "Explain why you would like to win in 25 words or less" or "Tell us your funniest childhood memory in 25 words or less". So many people are intimidated by this type of entry, thinking it's too hard and they won't be able to think of anything original. Well, they're also the reasons why you should enter. Legions of other potential entrants will be scared off and you'll have a better shot at the prize.
2. FUNNY AND PUNNY
You may have noticed my awful tendency to pun at the slightest provocation. It's an occupational hazard for compers -- we look for puns to make on the product or brand and weave them into a witty little ditty or one-liner. The judges want to see an original poem, slogan or answer that represents their company in a positive light. They are looking for a happy, fun winner. Give them this and they'll be your bestest friend.
3. THINK SMALL, ACT TALL
Seek out pint-sized competitions run by small businesses down the road trying to get off the ground, tiny newspapers and obscure web sites. Their prizes can be surprisingly tasty and how many other entrants do you think they'll have? A handful? A dozen? You're in with a sporting chance. Alternatively, some competitions offer a cubic truckload of small prizes (ever seen promotions where you can win one of 1000 movie tickets?). It's like taking candy from a baby, or rather, movies from a kind corporate benefactor.
4. IT'S DE JA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
Quickly scan the terms and conditions to discover how many entries will be accepted per person. It may be only once, or (oh, happy days!) once per day or week, or even (oh, joy and rapture!!) unlimited. Now get cracking and enter like it's going out of style.
5. FREEBIES AND OFFERS AND SAMPLES, OH MY
Close cousins to competitions, there are plenty of freebies on offer. Think samples of new coffee varieties, tins of cat food, perfume, cosmetics and feminine hygiene products. Good things come in small packages, and in this case in the mail and without requiring you to win a thing. You can even create your own freebies -- write to the potato chip, soft drink or any other company of your choosing, entertain them with a lively letter making a suggestion for a new product or critiquing an existing one and wait for the sweet, sweet goodies to roll in.
6. SHAME SHELF
Some compers will buy 60 packets of dehydated beetroot in the name of winning an iPod or other juicy prize. The trouble is, they are then left with mountains of very un-juicy (and unappealing) beetroot, which they secret away onto their shelf (/cupboard/warehouse) of shame where they stick any excess items bought in an over-zealous competition campaign. If you're paying out more money than you're likely to win, it's gambling, not entering competitions. Avoid the shame shelf and only purchase promotional items you would otherwise want or are likely to use. You'll feel better for it in the morning. Trust me.
7. PERSEVERE AND PERSEVERE SOME MORE
You don't need a leprechaun's pot of gold, lucky rabbit's foot or repeat mystical chants to be lucky. Winning is all in the maths. The more competitions you enter and the more entries you drop in each entry barrel, the more likely you are to win, but the attraction to entering competitions as a hobby is not just winning glorious prizes, it's the anticipation of winning. It feels like Christmas Eve every day, hoping for gifts tomorrow. Keep on entering and it'll be Christmas in no time.
One of the best features of Femail has, for me, always been the gorgeous competitions and giveaways. As every Femail loves her free stuff.
Femail.com.au & Girl.com.au run over 200 competitions EACH per year with thousands of dollars of merchandise & vouchers up for grabs, don't miss your chance, bookmark these competition entry pages and check regularly for new comps.