Want Something for Nothing? My Guide to Winning Competitions

Have you thought about entering Competitions, but weren’t sure about how to get started? If you are new to entering Competitions, you might feel a little bit overwhelmed by the process. This step-by-step guide will make it simple to jump right in by showing you exactly what to do at each step of the way.

1.  You’ve got to be in to win!

Prize competitions are everywhere.  Even if you don’t make a point of looking out for them, you probably still notice them.  In supermarkets, newspapers and magazines, TV and radio – the fact is that, at any given time, there are TENS OF THOUSANDS of competitions and prize draws on the go throughout the UK!  And the chances are that if you take a little more time to look out for these winning opportunities, then the prizes really will start coming your way.

Why am I so confident?  Well, believe it or not, entries to competitions – especially those where an element of skill is involved – are on the way down these days, while the number of valuable prize opportunities remains very high.  In fact, it’s not unusual for a competition with a large number of prizes to have more prizes than entries… so make the effort to enter, and sometimes your success is guaranteed.

So my first tip is the most important one for any potential winner.  If you don’t enter a competition, then it’s 100% certain that you won’t win a prize.  But if you DO enter, then who knows?  Especially if you follow the other tips here, to improve your winning chances even more.

2.  Stick to the rules

The small print for any competition is very important.  Quite often it can even hide a ‘free entry’ route to save you some money, so you should always get into the habit of reading it thoroughly.  Never fall into the trap of thinking that, since the writing’s so small then it can’t be important.  Trust me – nothing could be further from the truth!

Pay special attention to the closing date of the competition, and always make sure that your entries arrive on time.  Take special care to attach the correct proof of purchase if one is needed.  Look out too for any entry restrictions, and whether you must enter the competition in a particular way – using a postcard, or an official entry form for example.  If the competition has a skill task, answering a question perhaps, then read the instructions carefully to make sure there’s not a ‘trick’.

I’ve heard of competitions where less than one-third of entries have made it through to the judging stage.  The rest were disqualified for, in most cases, the most minor Rules infringement.  So if you want to improve your own winning chances, it couldn’t be easier to give yourself a flying start.  Simply read the rules!

3.  Never say never

The ‘comping’ scene is always changing, but it’s very easy for even regular ‘compers’ to get stuck in a rut.  A decade ago, the most common forms of competition were slogan contests, postcard draws, and other skill tasks such as orders-of-merit, estimations or seeing how many words you could make from a given phrase.

Nowadays, new technology has brought us instant wins, internet, phone and text competitions.  It’s always a good idea to keep up with changing trends, and to try as many different types of competition as you can.  But I still hear of ‘old school’ compers saying that they would never try for an instant win prize, or newcomers to the hobby shuddering at the thought of writing a slogan.  Well, look again at my number one tip! The more competitions that you enter, the more chances you have of winning a prize – it’s as simple as that.  And if other people are put off by having to text a code, or writing a slogan, then it only improves your own chances.

4.  The harder it is to enter, the easier it is to win

By ‘hard’ here, I don’t necessarily mean a task that will take you weeks to complete.  The fact is, a simple free prize draw that can be entered on a postcard is going to have many more entries compared to a similar free draw where an entry form is needed from a particular supermarket.  Typically around 50% more entries, in fact – even though, for most people, making an effort to visit a different store to pick up the entry form in question is – well – not really much of an extra effort at all!

Likewise, a requirement to collect labels or tokens from a particular product to enter a competition will put off a huge number of people, either because they simply can’t be bothered, they’re not organised enough to see the task through, or they’ve bought Brand X baked beans for the last 50 years and habit alone stops them buying Brand Z for a couple of weeks to collect the necessary labels!

To be frank, the ‘effort’ required in comping tends not to be a real effort at all… more a willingness to do things a little differently once in a while.  Visit different shops occasionally, buy different magazines, different brands of products – and sometimes even new and different products if a prize really takes your fancy.  Who knows, you might even discover something new that you like… and this, after all, is why companies usually run competitions in the first place!

Trust me – a little effort really WILL reap rewards!

5.  Write great slogans

Leading on from the last tip, the type of competition that gets by far the fewest number of entries these days is one that needs a slogan.  Which means that if you make an effort to enter a slogan comp, then your chances of a win are statistically the best ever!

Don’t think that you can’t write a slogan.  Even seasoned comping pros will tell you that they’ve probably won as many prizes with last minute efforts as they have with entries that they’ve spent a lot of time on.  The simple fact is that no-one knows what judges might be looking for.  Indeed, they might prefer a charming ‘amateur’ effort from the heart compared to a more professional sounding line – so EVERYBODY really does stand a chance in a slogan competition.

Some slogans – known as ‘chestnuts’ – win prizes over and over again.  “Experts perfect them, connoisseurs select them” is probably the most famous chestnut of all, and this continues to win prizes to this very day.  A generic, ‘one size fits all’ slogan like this remains the Holy Grail for slogan writers, but don’t be put off if you think that this sounds out of your league.  Just try to praise the product and promoter, tie this in with the prize on offer to make the line ‘apt and original’, and you won’t be going far wrong.

Judges today also tend to prefer rhyming slogans, so perhaps write the headings ‘Product’, ‘Promoter’ and ‘Prize’ on a piece of paper, write down all of the related words you can think of in each column, and if you’re lucky a rhyme or recurring theme will jump out.  It’s easier and much more fun than it sounds – honest!

6. Be organised

Organisation and strategy will make your comping hobby easier and more fun.  In fact, for some people, keeping records on what competitions they’ve entered and ticking them off when the prizes roll in is all part of the excitement!  But even if ledgers and spreadsheets aren’t your idea of fun, once again there are plenty of little things that you can do to improve your chance of a prize.

Most importantly, make sure that you never miss a closing date.  If multiple entries are allowed in a competition and you fancy extra attempts, then plan to spread these out right up until the closing date.  Always pick up entry forms as soon as you see them, as they won’t be around for ever.

Likewise, if you need a certain number of promotional labels or tokens, buy these as soon as you can – even if it means buying more products at once than you normally would.  Don’t be fooled by a long closing date on some on-pack competitions… we’ve known them to sometimes disappear within a week, especially on fresh or seasonal products.

At home, always make sure that you never run out of the ‘comping essentials’ – stationery such as pens, plain paper, postcards, stamps etc. – and it’s also a good idea to always carry a pen and a couple of stamps, cards and envelopes around with you in case you come across a comp that needs entering urgently. The shorter the closing date, the lower the number of entries there’ll be!  Also think about getting yourself some name and address labels made to save having to write out your details on entries over and over again (but always make sure that the rules of a competition allow these to be used).

7. Be in the know

My final tip is to make sure you know about as many competitions that are running at any one time.

Online Places to find Competitions –



and my favourite –  http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/forumdisplay.php?f=72

I have been a ‘Comper’ for over 7 years and it’s the most rewarding hobby in the world! I have won Money, Holidays, TV’s and many other prizes totalling well over £30,000.

The Most Recent Prize I have won was the ‘Smile to Ride’ Competition by Rice Krispie Squares, it was a Photo Effort Competition and this was my entry –


And the Prize was a Short Break at Alton Towers Resort for four people, 2 day park tickets, fastrack passes for ‘The Smiler’ with transport, I also got a selection of Rice Krispie Squares Goodies for me and my friends.


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