Tuesday 12 January 2016

How to Win Competitions & Giveaways: My Comping Hobby

Today I wanted to share with you a post that I've been meaning to write for months now. I hope that it'll be an interesting read for you, and might even inspire a new hobby for some of my lovely readers...

I want to talk to you about "comping" - taking part in free to enter competitions and giveaways. I've been actively comping now for two years, and it has been the most fruitful hobby I've ever started. I often get asked questions by readers, friends and family about my hobby, and so today I wanted to shed some light for you all, and answer some of the questions I get asked most frequently.

What's the difference between a competition and a giveaway?

Firstly - I wanted to define the difference between a competition and a giveaway. For me, a competition is something you have to make a special effort to enter, and the entries would be judged on merit (i.e the best/most inventive/prettiest entry wins), whereas a giveaway is a random draw that would usually only require a follow on social media, a blog comment, or a 'like' or a 'share' on Facebook in order to gain entry. A winner for a giveaway should be picked completely by random in order to make it totally fair. 

In order to do this most bloggers and brands who run giveaways use widgets like Gleam or Rafflecopter to host their giveaways - making them very fair and easy to participate in. I especially like Gleam giveaways as they have what is called 'one click entry', meaning that once you have connected up your social media profiles to Gleam, it remembers you and all you need to do to gain various entries is click once on the widget - the clever little Gleam box does all the work for you (liking a brand, re-tweeting a tweet etc) and you can quickly move on to entering more giveaways. 

How did you start comping?

For me, my comping hobby started with a run of flukey good-luck back in September 2013: I was at home with newborn Bert on maternity leave with more time on my hands than I was used to - and a sleeping baby in my arms most of the time, leaving me with little but my phone to occupy me during the day. One day I saw a Facebook post by a plus size clothing brand I followed (I was a size 18 at the time) which was giving away £100 store credit to one lucky liker: all you had to do was 'like' the picture and comment with your favourite item from their newest collection. "Too good to be true?" I thought, but a week or so later I had a Facebook message and email from the company saying I'd been drawn at random as the winner, and before I knew it I had £100 worth of clothes being delivered to my house for free! It was amazing - and totally gave me the comping bug. 

I started entering any competitions on Facebook that caught my eye, and before I knew it my winning streak continued - by Christmas 2013 I'd won:

- £100 Pink Clove clothing voucher
- A Kindle Fire HD
- Two weekend breaks worth over £700
- A £300 Hotel Chocolat hamper

A pretty impressive start to my comping days, and the reason I decided to stick at this new hobby! 

How can I find reliable competitions and giveaways?

In 2014 I decided to look into ways I could take my new hobby a bit more seriously - and that's when I found the brilliant SuperLucky Blog by Di Coke. Di is a professional comper, for want of a better phrase, and she runs her blog to help other people interested in comping to be more successful. Not only does she share loads of tips and advice on how to comp well, she also runs her own giveaways and hosts monthly competition 'linkys' which list the links to hundreds of current giveaways being hosted by UK bloggers. These lists suddenly made it super-easy for me to find reliable giveaways and competitions to enter, rather than spending hours trawling the net to find them. Thanks to Di, before I knew it I was regularly winning some great prizes. 

To find Di's monthly giveaway linky's head to this link. 

If that isn't enough of an incentive to start you on your comping journey then I don't know what is. 

So, where else do I find competitions/giveaways to enter? 

I also enter competitions and giveaways through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. I spend a lot of time on these social media platforms for work and the blog, so I tend to come across regular giveaways on brand and blog pages. Also the more brands you follow, the more likely you are to come across regular comps/giveaways to take part in. 

I also follow other 'compers' on their own social media channels, which means I often see what they're entering, and can go and enter myself afterwards. Di Coke runs a useful Facebook and Twitter group called 'Lucky Learners' which you can request to be added to - this group is full of fellow compers and is a great resource. 

I also use the iPhone/Android app called WAMO - which is a free to download app that is purely designed to connect you with the brands you love and give you the chance to win brilliant prizes supplied by them by sharing items from their website in a collection of 'lists' detailing items you love/hate/want. It is a simple and fun way to enter giveaways, and since I began using WAMO I have won twice! Hubby has also had a win from them recently - he won a £50 Topman voucher and bagged himself a lovely new winter coat in their sale! Fab! 

For more information/advice on using the WAMO app head to Di Coke's short YouTube video guide here

There are also competition listing websites such as The Prizefinder and online competition forums such as Money Saving Expert (MSE) which can be very good sources of current competitions and giveaways - I don't use these that often as I find them more time consuming than the lists on Super Lucky, also make sure you always read the small print/terms & conditions on some bigger competitions/giveaways (especially those that ask for personal details) as often there are boxes to uncheck/check to ensure you don't receive cold calls or a zillion emails from the competition hosts in the future. 

Do you have an email address specifically for comping?

No. I use my personal email address, and because of that I am super-selective about what competitions/giveaways I enter. I always read the terms, and only subscribe to email newsletters or catalogues if I'm genuinely a big fan of the brand. Some more serious compers create their own email addresses especially for their hobby, but I find using my personal account just fine. 

Does your husband 'comp' as well?

Yes, he does. He didn't start comping as early as me, and only got into it as a proper hobby in 2014 - but since then he's been finding spare time in his evenings to enter as many competitions and giveaways as he can manage - and in total he's now won £3600 worth of prizes! So between us in the past two years that's £7600 worth of prizes that's come our way. 

What have been your best wins?

Collectively, hubby and I have won some pretty awesome things thanks to our hobby. We both keep spreadsheets detailing our wins, what they're worth, when and how we won them, and who supplied the prize - not only is this a great way to chase up missing prizes and keep a check on what you've won, but it is also fab to look back on: a memory of all the brilliant things we've been lucky enough to win. Here is a list of some of our favourite/best wins. 

Lucy's Best Wins

  • £300 Hotel Chocolate Hamper
  • £100 Pink Clove clothing voucher
  • Thistle Hotel weekend breaks x 2
  • Kindle Fire HD
  • Kindle Paperwhite
  • £250 John Lewis voucher
  • A pair of Ked shoes worth £45
  • Sage Appliances Juicer worth £170
  • A Dakota dark wood side table worth £120
  • £100 to spend at Higgs and Higgs fabric store
  • A classic Navy Saddlebag worth £60
  • £100 to spend on Toadstool Toys website
  • £30 voucher for our favourite American diner 'Buddies'
  • A beautiful bespoke birthday cake for Liam's Nan's 93rd birthday
  • A photo canvas worth £50 
  • A beautiful copper fruit bowl worth £30
  • £50 to spend at my favourite shop Cornishware
Some of my favourite prizes!

Liam's Best Wins
  • 2 tickets to Jersey Boys and an overnight stay in a hotel
  • £60 worth of shower gel
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle's toys worth £120
  • A set of Le Creuset dishes worth £100
  • £80 worth of Hotel Chocolat Easter eggs
  • £200 worth of boots and shoes
  • Oakley sunglasses worth £137
  • £100 store credit for Wayfair
  • £50 Superdry voucher
  • £50 Topman voucher
  • A leather armchair worth £479
  • £120 worth of Riverford Organic recipe boxes
Comping has become not only an incredible source for lots of lovely treats for us as a family, but also regularly means we win things for other people too! Both hubby and I often enter competitions and giveaways that are offering prizes we know a loved one or friend would like - a lot of the birthday and Christmas gifts we give are prizes that we have won. Not only does this mean that we can often be more generous than we can actually afford when it comes to gift giving, but it also saves us money in the long run as we so often don't have to purchase gifts from our own bank account. Win, win! 

How many competitions do you enter a week?

I reckon that on average I enter around 100 competitions a week, and hubby a lot more than that - he has a little extra free time compared to me, and he is also super-organised when it comes to comping. He keeps lists and bookmarks on his laptop and phone, and is quite methodical about his comping ways. Whereas, I'm a bit more haphazard and whimsical with my entering - sometimes I can sit down for a good few hours and enter over 100, and then I might not get a chance to enter any at all for a couple of weeks. I tend to be more of an 'enter when I see it' comper (on social media) and then try to fit in some regular comping sessions as well. I reckon that between us we enter on average around 300-500 giveaways/competitions per month. It might seem like a lot - but actually, it doesn't take too much time at all - and we both enjoy it as a hobby. I love trawling through the prizes on offer and thinking "What would I love to win?' It's a bit like window shopping! 

...never a truer word spoken. 

I often encounter jealousy/negativity about my hobby: people jibing me for how "lucky" I am to have won such lovely things and how it isn't "fair". 

My standard response is:

 'Do you enter competitions/giveaways?' 

...by and large their answer is 'no' or certainly not very many - and I would then ask them how they would expect to win without entering. Yes, it's a labour of love and it takes time - but for us it is a hugely worthwhile hobby that we enjoy, so there's no harm in it. 

The best thing about comping is it doesn't discriminate - it is totally free to take part, meaning anyone with an internet connection and social media profiles can enter. I often encourage friends and family to start a comping habit of their own - in fact the first competition my twin sister ever entered (a Christmas instant win back in 2014) she won a beautiful pair of rose gold GHD hair straighteners - she couldn't believe her luck! 

Do you enter anything and everything you come across?

No. I'm very selective with the competitions and giveaways I enter (despite what my friends and family might think - they do love to rib me about the amount of competitions and giveaways they see me enter!) I only enter ones that are offering prizes I really want to win - whether that be for myself, my family or to gift to a friend. I also really like useful wins like food, hampers, shopping vouchers and competitions where you can win supplies of things such as a years supply of shower gel/loo roll/toothpaste etc. I keep an eye out for 'experience' prizes, as these are hubby and I's favourite types of prizes - weekends away, tickets to shows/cinema, meals out, experience days etc: the sorts of experiences that we cannot afford to fund for ourselves. It is such a lovely treat to be able to indulge in special experiences together. 

For me there's no fun in entering something that is offering a prize that you don't want - it would seem like a pointless task. 

Hubby is slightly less selective that I am, due to putting more time into his comping hobby - so he often wins lots of little prizes and sometimes pretty random things. Occasionally he wins very odd prizes - like a bathroom extractor fan that we didn't need/have room for (yes, really!) - luckily we sold this on eBay and made about £30 so it was still a worthy win! I have told him now to try and be fairly selective about what he enters - I really don't want a house full of random things that we don't need. 

Do you just seem to win giveaways or have you had success with creative competitions too?

I don't have as much time as I'd like to enter creative competitions - on the whole they take a bit more time/thought/energy - and have clear rules/guidelines that I don't always have the inclination to get my head around. Saying that, I have found time over the last few years to enter a few creative competitions: from designing dream rooms on my blog, to re-creating a child's book with the help of Alphabeti Spaghetti (really!) - I've had a go, and have throughly enjoyed the process, which is the main thing. 

One of the most fun competitions I have ever entered - I'm still sad that this brilliant photo didn't bag us a win! 

I actually did win a brilliant prize on a creative competition back in June 2014 where I won second place prize in the TOTS100 'Shelfie' competition for this post - which bagged me a brilliant £250 John Lewis voucher. 

Which just goes to prove that sometimes it really is worth the effort! 

I'd love to know if you've ever won any competitions or giveaways...leave me a comment below if you've got some brilliant prizes under your belt. 

I'm always happy to answer any questions and give any advice I can to those who wish to start a hobby in comping, so do chat to me if you'd like to know any more. 


Mrs B