What’s even better than getting things at a bargain price? Getting things for free of course! And the most fun way of getting things for free is to win them in competitions…
Comping is a full-time hobby for some, but if your time’s limited then how’s the best way to start winning? First of all, keep in mind that online competition sites like www.theprizefinder.com are great BUT hundreds of people access them daily, so the comps listed will have lots of entries. Many compers only enter easy prize draws on the web, Facebook or Twitter – so if you opt for the less popular types like postcard, text or photo competitions you’ll have a better chance of winning. Here are my top tips…
Write a Wishlist
There are thousands of competitions in the UK and writing a wishlist will really help you to focus on winning the most useful prizes for you – whether that’s equipment for a new baby or Christmas presents for the kids. I like a visual wishlist so have created one on Pinterest where I’ve pinned photos of my most-wanted items – it can be really motivational. For each of your wishlist prizes, think about the companies/brands associated with them. Then look for their websites, sign up to their email newsletters, Like them on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter to see if they have any giveaways running.
Go to The Baby Show
If you’re expecting or already have a little one, get yourself to the Baby Show. There are loads of freebies and prize draws to enter at the event – and when you get home, sit down with the show guide and go through all the companies, Liking each of them on Facebook. If you don’t want to Like the pages, you could do what I do and add to a Facebook ‘interest list’ – in this way, you can see all the latest updates from those pages in a specific ‘Baby’ newsfeed without them filling up your usual one! See what I mean by visiting http://bit.ly/BabyList to see my own ‘Baby’ interest list. Don’t miss your LOCAL baby shows either – the entry numbers for comps will be really low.
Read Mummy Blogs
Blogs are a fabulous source of prizes for parents, because lots of ‘Mummy’ bloggers are approached by PR companies to give away products on their blogs. These giveaways get less entries than most web comps because they’re more fiddly to enter. They involve posting a comment, and often following a blog, tweeting or liking Facebook pages too. Many will use a Rafflecopter widget which makes it easy for you to log in using Facebook. I do a round up of blog giveaways on my own blog which you can access at http://bit.ly/SuperLuckyLinky – it’s a ‘linky’ where bloggers can add their own giveaways to the list. This can be a good place to start – but if you want to find lower entry blog giveaways, you can do your own search on Twitter or Facebook using the words ‘win blog’. Or you can add blogs to your RSS Reader (try Google Reader) and then regularly search for ‘win’ to find the latest giveaways! I can guarantee you’ll find excellent non-comping content to keep you busy for hours too… Of course you could always start your own blog too – sites like Tots100 and Britmums regularly run blogger-only competitions with great prizes.
Kids comics and magazines are a great source of postcard entry comps – but even better are local free magazines like Family Grapevine. As the price of stamps has increased, entry numbers have dwindled – so you have a great chance of winning! Get the kids to help make postcards with paint, felt tips and stickers on recycled greetings cards or cereal boxes (even if you only have a baby, they could help you out with handprints!) Cut the card to slightly larger than normal postcard size in irregular shapes so they stand out – but make sure you keep them smalller than A5 to avoid paying the Large Letter cost! Although they’re more pricey than 2nd class, special edition 1st class stamps can add instant pizzazz to your postcards or envelopes too.
Try Text Comps and Instant Wins
There are a great deal of competitions where entering at a silly time of the day can work to your advantage – look out for the mention of ‘winning moments’ in the T&Cs! Whilst breastfeeding my son, I always ensured my iPhone and laptop were handy so I could input ‘unique codes’ from products like chocolate, sweets, pop and crisps (damn, it’s never anything healthy!) at 4am. Keep an eye out at the supermarket for flashed products, and make a note of the codes from cereal boxes and frozen items when you get home, just incase you accidentally throw them out!
Tune in to the Radio
If you’re at home for a lot of the day, tune in to your local commercial radio station – they give away a lot of prizes. If possible, tune in on an analogue radio as you’ll be able to get through on the phone line before those who listen online or digitally! You’ll also find comps on local radio websites for family tickets to events and shows, which get very low entries.
Make home movies
If you have a budding movie star in the family, you might want to have fun with some video competitions. There are regularly competitions for fun clips of babies or children, but your best chance of winning is where you have to create a video from scratch, so you can feature the promoter or product. Make sure the filming is fun – don’t get stressed out if things don’t go according to plan, you can usually salvage the clips in your editing software! Videos are an absorbing project for older kids to get involved in – and of course, proud grandparents will love to watch the finished results.
Charge up the Camera
With photo competitions it’s again a good idea to submit a brand new photo. You might already have a few old snaps to submit for fun comps, but creating a bespoke image – ideally featuring the promoter’s product – is a lot more creative and the kids can help you out with ideas! A top tip is to get a few good fancy dress outfits, wigs, glasses and silly accessories – eBay is a good place to pick up some bargains. There are at least 40 Halloween fancy dress comps on Facebook every year so if you can rustle up a unique outfit for your little one you could probably win several prizes! ALWAYS take a photo if you catch your child doing something particularly daft – or even naughty! Messy chocolate photos regularly win competitions, as do muddy puddles – in fact, I won a £100 Amazon voucher right here on Baby Budgeting with a photo of my son making a mess in the kitchen!
Get Creative in the Kitchen
Do your children enjoy cooking? There are plenty of online comps that ask for photos of kids in the kitchen, or of their finished masterpieces! Decorated pizzas, cupcakes or pancakes are popular – as well as ‘smiley food’ – and Facebook pages always want fun Halloween or Christmas-themed snacks. A recipe competition can give you a nice excuse to try something new in the kitchen – and a prize is a bonus!
Involve the Big Kids too
It’s great when you win prizes for the kids, but even better when they’re old enough to enter and win themselves. There are lots of art, craft, photo and video comps online aimed at kids – and also keep an eye out in shops like ELC, Disney, Build-a-Bear for entry forms. During the school holidays I collate as many kids comps as I can into a round-up on SuperLucky – you can check out the current one at www.superlucky.co.uk/2012/07/kids-comp-round-up-summer-2012.html
Most of all, my top tip is to make sure you’re having fun – happy comping!
Thanks so much Di for these brillinat blog comp tips !