Author Archives: mary

When Is The Best Time To Enter Contests?

I get this question asked a lot. I think the answer has to be, when there are fewer people entering them. I have been met with quizzical looks when I say this. Almost as though I should have a crystal ball in front of me. Let’s think about it for a moment, it is logical that the best time of the year to enter contests is when people are busy doing other things. This would be around Christmas and in the summer. These are boon times for the hardcore competition enthusiast.

During the season from Thanksgiving to Christmas merchants are throwing everything they have at their customers to get them to spend, spend, spend. I am sure this comes as no surprise to you.

This is also a time when they have a lot of competitions available as well.

Traditionally the companies receive fewer entries however. People are too busy during the festival season to enter. Joe and Jane Public are buying gifts, attending holiday parties, visiting family and going to their child’s Christmas play. Whew, they are on over-drive and sometimes entering sweepstakes takes a back seat.
This is of course good for you. Fewer entries means a higher chance of winning. Especially if it is a short entry period.

The end of the year isn’t the only time when the number of entries is less. School vacation time is also an excellent time to enter as people are away on vacation or busy trying to entertain the kids. You will get companies offering 4th of July prizes, barbecues and outdoor eating themes. This is quite a long season and offers an excellent chance for you to win.

Sweepstakes Etiquette

You may never have thought about those two words together and wonder what in the world I’m referring to . Here is the scenario, you win a prize, let’s say $1,000. Your check arrives you deposit it in your account, and begin thinking about how you are going to spend it. In other words, you are on cloud nine and the world is good. But hang on a minute, there is something more.

Think back to the time you were young when you received a gift from a relative. Perhaps it was a sweater you absolutely hated but as your mother always said, “It is the thought that counts.” what happened next? If your mother was like mine, you had to write a thank you note. Sometimes I would put it off until I was nagged so much my ear nearly fell off. Why did she insist that my sisters and I had to write thank you notes for our gift? It wasn’t thanking them for the gift so much as thanking them for thinking about us with enough good wishes to buy us a present, hand pick a card and mail both of these to us. That took a lot of effort, especially for someone who was probably working or managing a household. Yet, they still found the time to do a simple gesture which made them feel good, and made us feel loved.
So what does this have to do with Sweepstakes etiquette you might ask. It is the same thing, writing or emailing a simple thank you to the company which sponsored the sweepstakes or competition. If this seems pointless to you think again. Behind every big company there are people who are reading correspondence sent in. All too often these are complaints, criticisms and generally emails and letters with a negative tone. How refreshing your email/letter would be. It is likely this type of correspondence won’t stop with just the initial person. It is likely to be posted in a public area or perhaps even in staff lunch room on a bulletin board. It takes such a small amount of your time but the impact a simple thank you note can have is immense. Call it good Karma if you want. There is another side to this type of positive approach, that being that the company will be encouraged to run more contests which will be beneficial for all of us.

At the risk of sounding like a nag, don’t forget to drop the company a quick message if you win, it is after all, just good manners.

Guess How Many Are In A Jar?

I think we have all seen a display with lots of M & M’s or another candy in a jar. The task set forth was that in order to win the prize one had to calculate how many were in the jar. For me, I often scratched my head, counted the ones on the outside and then did a loose calculation as to the number. In other words, I took a stab in the dark.

I don’t think I’m alone in doing this as when it comes to solving mathematical equations such as this it can be quite confusing.
Sometimes the prize is the candy inside or it could be a gift certificate to the store or even a bigger prize. One time I saw  a car used as the container and the prize was of course the car. In this instance the car was parked in a popular shopping area and was a joint promotion between the car dealership, the shopping center and the item (I forget what it was) which was packed tightly inside the car.
Many of us are looking for an edge, or a way to increase our chances of winning a contest. We enter as often as we can and are constantly trying to find a way to tip the odds into our favor. Guess what I found! I have found an article which gives you the mathematical equation you need to calculate this type of contest. Of course these things aren’t perfect but the ability to get as close as possible is often enough to win the prize. You may have every app on your phone which will allow you to do everything but without the correct equation, you are going nowhere.

Besides running this site, I also write articles online on a site called Hubpages. It was there I found this article.
The author does explain that as the receptacle gets larger the room for error gets larger as well. That said, you will still be far in front of the majority of people who are merely taking a wild guess.
Below is a link to his article. I think you will find it very interesting.
How to Calculate the Number of M&M’s in a Container

Ballot Stuffing

You may have heard the term ballot stuffing used in relation to elections. This is when a politician wins because they have manipulated the ballots.

This also happens sometimes in sweepstakes and contests, let me explain how. In some giveaways, the rules allow this, in fact many now especially online sweepstakes, encourage this to increase the amount of visits or traffic to their websites. Some rules will state ‘unlimited entries’ or may put a limit of 3 per day, or 1 per day. Obviously if you want to increase your chances of winning you would need to enter as often as you are allowed.

Some sites will still limit a person to one per person. In this everyone has an equal chance of winning.

Some people feel that multiple entries are akin to cheating or slanting the odds unjustly in ones favor. If you have read the rules and are abiding by them then you are legally allowed to win a prize.

There are sweepstakes online whose rules are vague and in this case savvy entrants can ‘play the system’ to their advantage with multiple entries. If there are shouts of “unfairness” from other competitors, this just means they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity and is commonly called, ‘sour grapes’.

Of course there is never a guarantee of a prize, but the more entries a person can put in, the better the odds.

In local contests, let’s say in a store, where there is a list of entries where you fill in your details, ballot stuffing is often seen here. Some will take an entire book and fill in their details. It is the store’s responsibility to ensure the entry forms are handed out individually if they wish for this type of behavior to stop.

So is ballot stuffing wrong? That is a question everyone has to answer for themselves. For some people it is seen as seizing an opportunity and using it to their advantage. For others they think it is morally wrong and cheating.

Each person, whether they enjoy entering sweepstakes occasionally or are a bit more enthusiastic about it, (Like so many of us are) needs to make that call for themselves.

My First Win

Yesterday I started thinking about my first win, the one which got me hooked on entering contests, competitions and sweepstakes. I had to go back, way back to the time I was about 12 years old.

Our family went to Moro Bay in California. We were having a family reunion and some of the family members went shopping, some went fishing and some went to the beach.

I opted to go fishing along with my mom and a few others. As I recall the boat wasn’t what you would call state of the art but when you are 12 you don’t really think about safety and such, you are just ready to have an adventure. It held several people between 20-30 all out for the day deep sea fishing.

Wearing jeans, a jacket and a sweatshirt, I was given a gunny sack for all the fish I was going to catch. We motored out until we could no longer see land. We also rented our poles and bought bait. We were shown how to bait the hooks and then the lines went in.

One of the men on the boat said many people have a friendly competition who will catch the biggest fish. My mother put the $2 entry fee in for me.

Hour after hour I fished. However the ocean was growing choppier and choppier and the boat was pitching and rolling. Apparently so was everyone’s stomachs as well. Many of the people were parting with their breakfasts over the side of the board. For me, I just widened my stance and kept fishing. Why I didn’t feel queasy I don’t know, perhaps I was determined to win.

When we were back at the shore, we offloaded our catch in our gunny sacks and the fish were weighed to see who had caught the largest. Would you believe it, the scrawny blonde girl (me) had caught the largest fish and won $32. Not the largest prize in the world but enough to plant the seed that with a little determination anything is possible.

Congratulations You’re A Winner!. Oops, No You’re Not, You’re Disqualified.

Can you imagine how awful that would be?

Don’t let it happen to you. Let’s look at a few reasons why someone might get disqualified from winning a sweepstake or contest. There will be something in the rules which was not followed. 

  • Was the entry late? If the rules say the contest must be entered by 5 pm, don’t try entering it at 5:30. Some computer systems might accept it but it won’t be valid, don’t risk it, get those entries in early. 


  • If a contest says ‘single entry’, don’t enter more than once. The software which the company will have in place will discover this and eliminate you. 


  • Was this entered by someone for you. That would be a third party and isn’t allowed. 


  • Is there an age limit? Check the rules. Sometimes it is 13, 18, or 21. If you aren’t old enough to enter, find another sweepstakes, there are numerous ones out there.


  • Is there a restriction such the winner must have a driving license, be a smoker, or a new parent? Because sweepstakes are a form of advertising, they are targeted to a certain market and their prizes will be awarded to those people. If you don’t fit into that category, don’t enter that sweepstakes. 


  • Did you miss the congratulation email? The company will send out an email and if you don’t respond within a set time, another winner will be selected. Sometimes to avoid the amount of emails which are generated from entering sweepstakes, some people use a different email. It is no good using another email which you don’t check often. 


  • Do you live in an area where the contest isn’t offered or is prohibited by law? Yet again this will be stipulated in the rules. Don’t waste your time fretting over ones you can’t enter, spend your time on those which you can. 


  • Skill competitions: These are competitions which you have to do something more than put your name and contact details down. Some of these might include, cooking, photography, or completing a slogan. In these types there are other things you need to be aware of. For example in cooking contests, have you used a sufficient quantity of the ingredient which is being promoted? There are also, normally detailed instructions how a recipe should be laid out. 


  • For photography competitions they will often state the photo must have been taken in the last year, or have a certain orientation ie either portrait or landscape. They may also give you a subject. If you are entering photos of a dog in a category for ‘people’, you will get disqualified.


  • Slogan competitions are one of my favorites and I will be writing more in detail in future blog posts. One of the reasons, I like them is there are fewer entries, so the odds of winning are greater. Here to it is necessary to follow the rules or you will be eliminated even if you have the best slogan. If the rules state, complete the phrase in no more than 10 words, don’t use 15 or even 11. The key is originality and if you are using a cliché, it isn’t original.

I know it is tempting to enter as many sweepstakes as you can and keep your fingers crossed that you will be lucky; however it is worth looking at the rules, which are normally on a separate page, and see if it is available in your area.

Valentines Day, A Great Time For Contests

Don’t think that all the companies only advertise heavily around Christmas. 

Valentines day is always a popular time for specific types of contests. This is the time when we will see many jewelry, flower, restaurant, cruises etc. In fact any manufacture will try and offer a prize with a romantic theme. This of course isn’t specific to competitions as we see this type of thing everywhere. 

This year I have even seen heart shaped steak for sale!

This is of course good news for us whether we have a significant other or not. 
So check out those romantic competitions ending in February. 

What is a Rafflecopter?


You may have come across a form online called a Rafflecopter and not known what it is and wondered if it was legitimate. The answer is yes it is a legitimate form developed by a company. There are several companies doing this but Rafflecopter seems to be a favorite on many of the blog sites. 

Now you may want to know why you are seeing so many of them. Here too the answer is simple. There are many owners of blogs who use these as a simple and easy way to run a sweepstakes. This allows them to get email addresses to target market to you. Many simply want to increase the numbers of viewers to their blog. They are hoping that once you see the type of things they discuss on their blog pages that you will want to remain. 
Sometimes you may see a Rafflecopter which has lots and lots of opportunities for extra entries. These will occasionally be things such as “Follow us on Twitter”, “like us on Facebook”, “Follow our board on Pinterest” or even subscribe to our blog newsletter. Often you may see where several bloggers have pooled together for the prize and hope to drum up some interest on their pages. 
A rafflecopter is an easy to use prize draw or sweepstakes form for both the organizers and the person entering the contest. 

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