People who enter competitions have won everything, ranging from £10,000 value Tesco gift cards to five-star holidays and luxury weddings. It all revolves around the potentially profitable hobby of 'comping.'
Our guide includes tips on how to source the free online competitions, assistance with tie-breakers, how to use web gadgets to fill out forms quickly and more.
1. The fine art of comping
Although it isn't easy, it is possible to come away with thousands of pounds in cold, hard cash, luxury holidays or fancy gadgets - all without spending a cent.
There is a simple reason for this. Competitions are an inexpensive opportunity for companies to promote their products. It is cheaper to give away a £3,000 Maldives vacation than purchasing large national newspaper ads. It also provides the opportunity to obtain valuable information on potential customers, so it is very easy to understand why these contests are so plentiful.
What is comping? It involves putting in the necessary hours - entering hundreds of different free competitions in systematic fashion, instead of just doing the random contest here and there. That way, statistically your chances are much greater to win big. Depending on luck and your work ethic, you could end up providing a boost to your bank balance, traveling the world and furnishing your home.
Frequently the only thing involved in entering is filling an online form out, answering a question, sending a postcard or a tie-breaker.
2. There is no guarantee of success
It is important to keep in mind that you won't be rolling around on a bed full of £50 notes immediately. There are no guaranteed rewards, unlike with other money-makers and ways of boosting your income like Earning Cash Online, Facebook Selling, eBay Selling and Survey Sites.
Comping is more about having fun instead of being a definite money winner. Payouts can be poor, hours can be very long, and you will be sitting on your bum all day long at the computer.
However, for those who do end up catching the fever, those end up being minor details once they start enjoying the community spirit and hopefully start to see some wins. Also it is a lot of fun drooling over all of the luxurious prizes.
3. Keep track of the contests you have entered
There are some promoters who not allow individuals to enter multiple times. In order to keep track of which contests you have completed, on the bottom of each post press on the tick button. The time that you go the board, there will be a green tick showing next to the comp. Or you can press on X in order to skip one. In order to do this you need to register and log into the forum.
Always make sure to carefully read through the terms and conditions to see if they allow one per household - each competition has its own rules.
4. Avoid the inevitable spam
So let's be honest - usually companies set competitions up in order to get your email, phone number and other personal information. So there are steps you should take in order to avoid getting swamped with marketing spam.
Get a dedicated email address set up
Don't ever use your regular email address. It will get flooded with spam immediately. Set a dedicated email account up instead. Gmail is one of the best if you are looking for a powerful free option.
Usually there is a way of opting to not receive any further communications in order to avoid a majority of the marketing. However, when it comes to the wording be very careful. At times, check-boxes that are adjacent to one another can mean entirely different things - one being an 'opt out' and the other being an 'opt in.' If there isn't any way of opting out, carefully think about whether you really do want to enter or not.
5. Be choosy about which competitions you enter
It might sound obvious, however your time should be focused on entering contests that have prizes that you really do want to win.
Many of the prizes are non-transferable. Therefore if the prize that is being offer is going with Antonio Conte on a tour of Stamford Bridge and you really can't stand him, then skip it. In addition to freeing your time up, it can make it possible for another person it could be their dreams come true.
There are of course some contests where there is an option of attempting to sell your prize on eBay. However, you enter the contest based on somebody else's efforts of finding it, and when you do that it diminishes their chances. So make sure that you carefully consider the ethics before you enter it.
Check the small print for travel requirements and exclusions. Just move on if a comp involves going on a midweek mini-break and you don't have any holiday allowance left to use.
6. Your chances may be boosted by extra-effort comps
So many people are lazy these day, so when something involves even just a bit of extra effort fewer contestants are attracted.
Do you need to snap a photo, finish a tie-breaker or write a poem? If so, go ahead and try your luck - you may end up being the only entrant. With very localised competitions, you will stand a much better chance as well, like when a local paper offers tickets to a theatre nearby.
7. Smart auto-fill tools to speed up the entry process
The next thing to do is take advantage of technology to allow you to enter into more contests, while spending a lot less time doing it at the same time. Many of the leading comper enter into 100 online competitions per day through using tricks and tools for turbo-charging their competition-entering process.
One thing you can do is get a Word document set up that has all of your specifics on it - name, address, phone number. Then when you are ready to fill out a form, all you need to do is highlight your information and then copy it and paste it in the boxes.
To take things up another notch, a majority of web browsers, like Firefox and Internet Explorer, have an option for remembering your details and automatically filling them in. So when you are starting to enter in the same thing that you did before, all you need to do is type in the initial few letters and you will be given suggestions. However, you should avoid doing this on shared computers since it can be a security risk.
8. Where to search for comps
There are comps everywhere you look: the television, shops, websites, newspapers, magazines. Search websites, supermarket shelves and flyers in shops. The more obscure that a product or publication is, the better the chances are that you will be the first one posting it in the forum.
It is worth it to browse the magazine shelves at WHSmith for publications that have comps in them. Jot down the details if you are feeling courageous. Another good option is your local library; they are stocked full of papers and magazines.
The competition board is just for comps where entrance is free, although those that require a text, postcard or stamp are okay.
9. Freebies Galore!
There are other ways of getting quality things for free besides comping. Whether it is gym passes, Harry Potter bookmarks, free tea or song downloads, if you know the places to search, you can find it all on the web.
WOWFreeStuff has a huge list of free competitions which has catalogued hundreds of Freebies. If you aren't interested in scrolling through hundreds of different ones, you can always try spinning the Freebie Roulette and see where it lands.
There are also hundreds of top-quality used products that are available across the country every day for free on giveaway sites. For full how-to instructions read our Freecyle and Freegle guide.