Wilman's own innovation is her method of sorting contests into folders. "When I first started entering contests and sweepstakes, I would often get confused and enter one that was already over or enter more times than was allowed," she said. Now she enters one-time sweepstakes and puts them out of her mind. But for sweepstakes that allow multiple entries, she creates daily, weekly and monthly folders to keep track of how often she is allowed to enter. Then she enters as many times as she can for herself, friends and family.
Though the internet has helped the sweeping community diversify, there remains a large contingent of sweepers who are stay-at-home mothers. For them, sweeping starts off as a way to pass time, occasionally growing into a noteworthy source of income. "When I started hardcore sweeping again in May, part of my goal was winning Christmas presents," says Thompson. "But the other part was to show my husband that this is a viable work alternative, because my four-year-old's going to go into kindergarten next year."
With big-ticket items on the line, competition can get fierce. "I've gotten swear words said to me when I've won stuff," admits Audrey Bernhard, 35, who has scored about $11,000 in prizes this year. On Twitter especially, overly aggressive sweepers can come out of the woodwork. "You'll get direct messages—they'll chew you out and they'll blacklist you," adds Arena Thompson. "A lot of people that win big, they maybe get too addicted to it. It's very addictive to win constantly and have FedEx and UPS show up at your door. They get too deep into it and lose perspective that it's a game of chance."
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Adds Clarke: "I see some people on these sites who enter everything, and I'm like, 'Why are you doing that?' One time I think it was for a beach towel. You're spending all your time on a beach towel? I'll go get you a beach towel." Not to mention, sometimes sweepers go after a grand prize and end up with a much less appealing second or third-place options. That's how Ambrea Kuhn ended up with her worst prize: "It was one of those fold-up Frisbees. I had no idea what it was, and it flipped me in the face." Sweeper Dawn Dodge's oddest prize was a bacon-scented alarm clock iPhone accessory. (She doesn't own an iPhone.)
So how much time does she spend entering contests to win such amazing prizes? "I recommend spending one to two hours a day entering contests and sweepstakes," Wilman said. "That's enough to win plenty, but not so much you cut into work, family time and other obligations." In those couple of hours a day, Wilman estimates she submits about 36,000 entries a year and wins about 1 percent of them. "It truly is a numbers game," she said. "You can't win if you don't enter. And the more you enter, the more chances you have to win."
If you are looking around online, play to win a top electronic prize or lots of vouchers. Great gift cards can be put towards a big purchase of the stuff you want. The newly released iPad and iPhone are guaranteed to be an instant sell-out in all the stores, to be in with a chance to win the most popular tablet or the best smartphone around. If you don't what any electrical prizes try for the designer clothing or the supermarket trolley dash, where you are likely pick up lots of things you need.
Announcing your winners is a great way to let everyone know that your sweepstakes has come to a close and publicly reward your winners in an engaging and personal way. In the immediate aftermath of your contest you don't want to neglect the other entrants, so consider using your announcement as an opportunity to offer all your users a bonus reward or promote your other upcoming contests.
Enter the Win a Trip to Kennedy Space Center Sweepstakes by December 3, 2018, for your chance to win a trip for two to Kennedy Space Center in Florida! This prize includes round-trip airfare for two; two single-day park admissions to Kennedy Space Center including lunch with an astronaut; a two-night stay in a hotel/ and a three-day car rental. This prize is valued at $3,000! We’re crossing our fingers for you! Good luck!
Music is an area where savvy contest entrants can really shine. Following local venues, artists coming to town, or first-time festivals reaps the easiest rewards. Promoters are eager to fill up shows, and throwing a contest is an easy way to get buzz for the band or venue. Plus, a contest winner might be likely to get a few more friends to tag along or spend money at the venue on alcohol or promotional items, a win-win for everyone involved.
As a hobby, sweeping predates the internet, and shares some DNA with couponing, the spendthrift pursuit that spawned a TLC reality show (a similar show about sweepers was filmed but never made it to air). Some of today's sweepers got their starts subscribing to print newsletters and filling out endless piles of carpal tunnel-inducing mail-in entry forms. But with brands both big and small trying to harness the power of the web, there are more sweepstakes out there than ever before.
Twitter proved to be an interesting new venue for contests. I entered nine contests there. Most seem like ploys to get more followers, including some very legit-looking contests from designer Vivienne Tam, and a Web site I know and like called DealsPlus. But many Twitter contests looked completely bogus, including one offered by a guy with 72 followers and a page rife with typos.
A sweepstakes can provide you with an outstanding opportunity to generate some user feedback. You can use our Question actions to ask users for product feedback, suggestions for improvement, personal preferences or anything else you would like. This is a great way to gain some useful insight into your customers and figure out how you can potentially improve your offering.
Buried on the Web sites was information about this resulting in a $9.99 monthly charge on my cell phone bill. These were premium text scams, third party companies get you to enter a PIN and accept their charges. While premium texting is a great way to pay for ringtones or use your mobile phone to donate to the Red Cross, it's also an easy way to trick you into paying $10 a month or more into a black hole.
No one likes to cut out coupons, but every little discount helps. Checkout 51 solves the issue of having to carry around piles of coupons by showing you the discounts you can get on everyday items, like toothpaste or bananas. Once you purchase an item that appears on the app, all you have to do is upload your receipt within a certain timeframe to get cash back. The app even gives you recipe ideas for items you've purchased.
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To streamline things, some sweepers are more selective about what they go after, as well as what they accept. "The first year I got into it, I entered everything and got a lot of stuff that was like, 'Eh, what am I going to do with that?'" says Gagnon. "I'm pickier now." Sweepers have also been known to turn down prizes they'd rather not pay taxes on; taxes are mandatory for prizes with values over a certain amount. Jennifer Joyner, a 31-year-old sweeper in South Carolina, explains, "If it comes down to a trip, it's got to be something that's once-in-a-lifetime, because the value of most of them is just not worth the taxes. I can plan something myself for a lot less. It's got to be something like a trip to Antarctica, something crazy."
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