SEVEN STEPS TO COMPING SUCCESS
Step 1 - Get Organised
You really do need to be organised to be a comper -
firstly, to gather together all the information, entry forms (EFs) etc
you need to enter the comps, and secondly to make sure you keep it all
in date order, so you don't miss that all important closing date!
If, whilst out shopping, you spot a comp where proof of
purchase is needed, it is wise to get it there and then, especially if
it is a promotional offer, or several packs are needed. You may not
find it so easy to track down the qualifier nearer the closing date.
Make sure that you read, and comply with the rules for
each competition, particularly those involving tiebreakers. When
you're putting in all that effort, you won't want to be disqualified
at the first hurdle! Check those word limits carefully too - less than
ten words for example would mean nine or less.
It is also worth checking the rules for important information
about the prize on offer, and specifically what is, or is not
included. Holidays might be offered for specific dates only, household
items may or may not include fitting costs - these are factors which
you might want to consider before you enter.
I keep EFs in date order in individual polypockets in
ring binders, with a separate folder for the current month. If I have
a receipt or other proof of purchase, that goes in the same pocket as
the EF. Trust me, you won't want to be searching high and low to find
your proof of purchase after you've written that perfect
tiebreaker.... It doesn't matter how you choose to organise your
comping though, as long as it works for you.
Whilst easier said than done, try not to leave writing your tiebreakers to the last minute. If you can, write with sufficient time so that you can set them aside for a couple of days, and review with a fresh eye. Don't forget also that post can be delayed, so it is better to leave at least a couple of days, even for first class post.
Step 2 - Think positive!
I think that enthusiasm and positive thinking are essential. If you enter comps with a positive attitude, you will win! If you enter with an 'I never win anything' attitude, well you probably won't. So when you enter, think positive - trust me, it works!
Once you have entered a comp though, forget about it,
and move on to the next one. Even the most successful compers probably
only win a very small proportion of the competitions which they enter
- so don't dwell on those that get away - focus on all the lovely
prizes that do arrive.
One of the most fabulous things about comping is that you often get the chance to do things that you may not even think of doing normally, and sometimes things that you couldn't buy, even if you wanted to. It could be a trip in a hot air balloon, a trip to Lapland, a flight in a MiG jet or taking part in penalty shoot outs on the pitch before a Premiership football. Like the sound of those? Then get entering some competitions!
Step 3 - Keep at it
Be persistent, even where there are no immediate results, or where you are going through a lean patch. Don't give up, keep entering lots of competitions. It really is one of the basic secrets of success - the more competitions you enter, the more likely you are to win.
If you are new, listen to other compers who are winning for encouragement. If you are going through a lean patch, why not look back through some of your winning letters to remotivate yourself. See also steps 5 and 6 below.
Step 4 - Work hard
If you want to be a consistently successful comper,
then you really will need to work hard at it. You'll need to put
effort into tracking down EFs, qualifiers and other information that
There are some shortcuts which you can take. For
example, you can subscribe to EF suppliers, or to solutionist
magazines and you can get bucket loads of information about
competitions on the internet. For postcard draws, you could invest in
printed sticky labels, or a stamp with your name and address on it.
However, even if you take some or all of these steps,
you still will need to put in the hard work of writing tiebreakers, or
otherwise entering comps - whether by writing out lots of postcards,
or by entering on the internet.
One of the cries most frequently heard by winning compers is 'Oh -aren't you lucky!', closely followed by 'I never win anything...' Cross examination generally reveals those who say this rarely enter competitions either. I think you can draw your own conclusions! Seriously, of course luck does play a big part, but hard work is just as important for consistent success, and this is particularly true for tiebreaker comps.
Step 5 - Join forces
Getting together with other compers really can improve
your chances, which may on the face of it seem odd, as we are all
competing against each other. However, you really will find that most
compers are friendly, helpful and keen to share information, EFs etc.
Compers are a very encouraging bunch too, and can provide just the
motivation you need to get you started, or to keep going through a
So, how can you get together with all these fellow
compers? There may be a comp club that meets
near you, or you could join a postal 'round robin' such as IN-FORM, or
Whistlestop - where compers exchange letters and EFs.
You can also join up with fellow compers on the internet – try news:uk.rec.competitions (launches your news client) http://www.newsgate.co.uk/uk/uk.rec.competitions/index.html (same newsgroup viewed on the web) or the bulletin boards on www.loquax.co.uk
Step 6 - Focus on improving your chances
We all need some motivation to keep us going when just starting out, or to get us through the lean periods - what better motivation than winning a prize, however small...
You might want to try targeting competitions where there is a greater chance of winning – either because not many people will have access to the competition (e.g. local paper / radio / store competitions), because there are loads of runners up prizes or because people are put off entering by a task (a tiebreaker, recipe, photography competition etc).
If you have children, you might like to encourage them to enter competitions too - colouring competitions and the like often have very desirable prizes, but can be low entry. After a while when you've proved to yourself that you can and will win, you might like to become more selective in the competitions which you enter (or you might not - that's up to you).
7 - Enjoy!
You do really need to enjoy yourself – it is only a hobby after all J
These strategies have worked well for me, but what do you think? If you'd like to share your own tips for comping success, I'll add these to the site too.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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