My Contest and Sweepstakes Hobby – Part 2

If you’re following my blog, you know that I’ve walked you through the first step in starting up your contest and sweepstakes hobby in a previous blog post: creating a separate email address and determining how to organize your inbox. Doing this will allow you to filter the many email messages you’ll receive from companies as you enter online contests and sweepstakes. Using a multi-featured email account, like Gmail, will enable you to sort your inbox so that you won’t miss an important winning email.

Now that you have a brand new email address ready to use for entering contests, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with your browser’s form filler, or download form filling software. Google Chrome, my browser of choice, has built-in form-filling capabilities. I’ve also used Roboform to autofill online forms. The quicker you’re able to enter numerous online contests and sweepstakes, the more of them you’ll be able to enter, and winning online contests and sweepstakes is really just a numbers game. The more you enter, the more likely you are to win now and then. I typically enter more than 500 online contest and sweepstakes each week – I’ll spend an hour here or there entering online while I drink my coffee and watch a YouTube video or Netflix show.

I have a few methods for finding online contests and sweepstakes to enter. The first is pretty straightforward: I visit websites that aggregate sweepstakes and entry links. One of my favorites is www.online-sweepstakes.com. I’ve been a member there for many years and can vouch for the legitimacy and quality of the sweepstakes they post. A premium membership is the best way to find out about the latest contests and sweepstakes, and $30 for a full year’s premium membership is a small price to pay to find the cream of the crop of sweepstakes. Sweepstakes Advantage and Sweepstakes Plus are two other great sweepstakes aggregators.

Reddit.com is another great source for online sweepstakes. The main two forums I frequent are /r/giveaways and /r/sweepstakes. I’ll typically do a sort by “new” to make sure I get the most updated listings.

Once you’ve been entering online contests and sweepstakes for a while, you’ll begin to receive tons of email messages letting you know about even more sweepstakes to enter. I have a separate folder in my Gmail account for sweepstakes, and I file emails announcing new contests or sweepstakes into that folder so I can enter them later at one time.

Now that you know how to enter sweepstakes quickly (form-filling functionality or software) and where to find new contests and sweepstakes to enter, you can test your luck online. Next time, learn about entering contests and sweepstakes via social media and how to recognize contests and sweepstakes that might be scams.

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My Contest and Sweepstakes Hobby – Part 1

Many people who know me are familiar with my hobby of entering contests and sweepstakes. I started entering these online giveaways about 15 years ago, and in that time I’ve been fortunate to win many fun and exciting prizes. Since I’m a travel junkie, my favorite prizes are trips, of course. Since 2003, I’ve won trips to California, Iceland, Mexico, France, New York, Florida, Maine and Nashville (that one I gave to my sister!). Besides trips, I’ve won various gift certificates, shopping sprees, gift packages, books, cd’s, dvd’s and other fun stuff, including $5,000 in cash. So how do I win all this stuff? I’ll be walking you through my system in a series of blog posts.

If you decide you want to take up entering contests and sweepstakes as a hobby, the first thing you’ll need to do is to establish a separate email address. You can use any of the free email service providers, such as Gmail, Yahoo, Juno, etc. When you enter online contests and sweepstakes, you’ll receive email communications from many of the companies who sponsor the giveaways. Unless you want to wade through all those marketing messages to check for any important personal emails, having them in a separate account will help you to save time and, depending on the email software you use, classify your incoming mail so you won’t miss a winning notification.

Gmail, for example, allows you to create folders within your inbox. In my Gmail account, I created a folder specifically for Sweepstakes, where I park all the emails advertising new sweepstakes and contests. I’ve also created other folders for things I’d like to save or file away later, like Recipes, Coupons, etc.

You want to be sure to check the email account you use to enter contests and sweepstakes at least every other day. Many contest wins will require that you respond to your notification email within 48 hours. You should also check your spam email folder to be sure you don’t miss a notification. You can mass-delete the other emails, or move only the winning ones and the ones announcing new contests or sweepstakes to another folder.

Once you’ve set up your “sweepstakes-only” email account, you can use it to enter contests and sweepstakes you find online. Finding them will be the focus of my second blog post in this series.

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