Saturday, 5 January 2013

Don't Buy it , Win it !

This is a guest post by the lovely Jane Willis


Last year I had a spa break, a holiday in Vienna,  TWO fantastic evenings where chefs came to my home to cook dinner,  and a real once in  lifetime experience of an evening at the opening ceremony of the Paralympics, with some of the best seats in the stadium, right next to the Olympic Cauldron.

The Olympic Cauldron

 Later this year I will be cruising the length of the River Danube. My TV and DVD player are top of the range, spanking new ones and I have the latest smart phone. I have a shelf full of new books, my bathroom cupboard has new fragrances, creams and potions for me to enjoy. There are delicious luxury foods in my cupboard and freezer.  And how much has it all cost me? The price of a few stamps and  text messages! They  were all competition prizes, and I’m going to share a few of my secrets of success with you.

Chances to win are everywhere, not just on the internet –  you’ll find competitions in shops and supermarkets, garden centres and gyms,  banks and bookshops, petrol stations and pubs. If you look carefully at every leaflet and booklet displayed as you are shopping, and inspect every product pack for special flashes, stickers or neck collars, you’ll find prizes on offer ranging from baseball caps and tea towels right up to luxury holidays, kitchens and cars.

So how can you start to win all these goodies? Here are a few tips to get you started

  • Whenever you find a new competition, the first thing to look at is the closing date. It isn’t unusual to find a competition on display that has closed months ago!
  • Read the rules carefully, because if you break any of them, you won’t end up in the draw. Many promoters find they have to disqualify up to a quarter of the entries to their competitions because entrants have broken a rule or not read the instructions properly.
  • Look out for competitions which won’t get many entries. Your local paper is a good place to start. Competitions which only hit the shelves a few days before the closing date give you a good chance too, as so many people won’t spot them in time.
  • Don’t scorn the small prizes – a car may be a very tempting prize, but it will tempt a lot of other people too. Yet it can give you a real lift when the postman appears at the door with a package containing a lovely new skin cream, a book you have been longing to read or a pair of cinema tickets so you can have a treat at the weekend.
  • Give skill competitions a chance. The harder a competition is to enter, the easier it is to win, because so many people are put off by the challenge. If you are asked to write a slogan, create a recipe, submit a photo or video or even create a Pinterest board,  give it a go – you’ll have much more chance than you would in a simple draw.
  • Don’t give up if you find you aren’t winning prizes straight away. It takes a while to get competition results processed and send out prizes, so it could be a couple of months before you start to see any results.
  • Have fun! Entering competitions is an enjoyable hobby - but unlike most hobbies it can end up giving back to you far more than it costs.

I  publish an independent small press magazine called “The Competition Grape Vine” which takes some of the hard work out of comping, telling you where to find the latest competitions, giving lists of past winning slogans, finding the answers to  puzzles and questions, telling you which products you will need to buy if you want to enter certain competitions and giving full entry details if you can enter without an entry form. It comes in a handy A5 format, ideal to slip into a pocket or handbag when you are out shopping. An email update part way through the month tells subscribers of the latest competitions to hit the High Street. Subscriptions cost £13.50 for 3 months, £25 for 6 months and £45 for a year, and if you haven’t tried it before you can have a free sample copy of the current issue by sending an email giving your name and address, to

You can read more about the magazine,  along with lots of useful tips for entering competitions of all kinds, especially those on Twitter,  on my “Comper’s Blog” at   where you will also find some competitions to enter to get you started on this rewarding hobby.

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