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The Evolution of a Sweepstakes Hobby

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This story has two parts, the way I used to enter sweepstakes and the way I enter now. It is also about what I used to win, how much and what I win today.

Like with anything we do in our lives, things change and evolve over time as we learn more about them, mature, and find our “groove”.

Let’s go back to when I first learned about sweepstakes and that magical lightbulb went off in my head when I figured out there were prizes to be won. Well, you would have thought a big ole’ lightbulb moment would have happened when I won my first prize but it just didn’t catch on for me.

lightbulb momentWay back when I was young, had young children and found myself clipping coupons and swapping them with a group of people in my local library, someone in the group told me about sweepstakes and how I could send in entries through the mail to win prizes. I sent off my first entries to a Cap’N Crunch cereal sweepstakes and won a stereo, TV, wireless headphones and $50 in cash. Wouldn’t you think I would have caught the “sweeping” bug from that. No, actually, I didn’t.

You see, this group wasn’t as much into entering sweepstakes as they were rebating and coupon clipping. And, this was way, way, way, before the Internet. Al Gore was just a tiny child at that point and hadn’t invented the Internet (don’t let him fool you though cause I don’t think he knows how to turn on a computer yet). Entering sweepstakes wasn’t as easy as it is today and I wasn’t surrounded by a group of people who encouraged me to keep at it.

I entered on and off and kept winning but I remember that I didn’t really get into entering “religiously” until the age of the Internet. When I found the Internet, with my 300 baud modem and the sound of hissing and sputtering to get online, I found a small group of people who entered sweepstakes on a regular basis. We started entering everything we could find and back then, probably 1993, it was easy to win.

Jump to the present – sweeping has become a huge hobby with lots and lots of people vying for the same prizes. Sweepstakes sites abound and even sites that don’t even really write about sweepstakes include some sweepstakes from time to time so you know there is a lot of competition.

Now through sites like mine and others, sweeping communities have cropped up so there is a lot of “virtual” support even if you can’t join a group of local sweepers who share the same interest. Support is great because it keeps us encouraged and we feel like there are others out there “get us” and this wonderful, odd, and addictive hobby.

Now onto the prizes. When I did start to really focus on entering and winning I became addicted. Who wouldn’t when the prizes started to roll in. I found myself trapped in the “a win, is a win, is a win” syndrome. Yes, this is a phrase common to the sweepstakes world and if you haven’t ever heard it let me be the first to tell you about it. What it means is if you win a coupon or a t-shirt it’s still a win and it’s better than nothing. I went along with that “better than nothing” idea for a very long time and tried to win everything under the sun.

I had a “prize closet” and at the end of every year I would donate bags and bags of unwanted prizes to my local Youth Services toy drive. They loved me. But, the key in this paragraph is “unwanted prizes”. What the heck was I doing trying to win everything that I really didn’t want? It’s like picking up every free pen when you go to a conference. And, yes, I had lots of them too 🙂

Over the years I found my “groove” and I  soon realized that I didn’t really need to win everything just to get that “win high” and I started entering to win just what I wanted, to give to my family, or maybe sell to get much needed cash. That is where I am at today.

I now win almost just as much as I did before but I don’t enter near as much as I used to. Sometimes I even take a whole week off from entering and I still win. I focus my attention on those sweeps with better odds – Sweeties Picks or sweeps restricted to my state – and I don’t do work so hard to win.

As an example, this year I have won prizes from more sweepstakes that were restricted to my state like a trip to Arizona. That trip is perfect because a good family friend has been wanting us to come out and visit. She just had a baby and there was no way we would ever be able to afford that trip – problem solved. We won NFL tickets to any game and two of my boys are football fanatics so they are thrilled. We would never buy NFL tickets. We won Cirque Dreams tickets – love shows but also won’t spend money on them, and passes to every museum in Connecticut. And yesterday I won an iPod Touch. All of these were from sweeps for my state. I won a $100 Office Depot gift certificate from an instant win game the other day as well which will be used to buy my husband a new office chair. I haven’t been winning large quantities of prizes this year as in years past but what I have won are things I really want and can use. I no longer have a prize closet either 🙂

I share this to say that everyone needs to find their groove and I would encourage you to look at what you are doing today with this hobby. Are you entering everything under the sun just to win something, anything? Do you really need it? Slow down, enjoy the ride, and remember that this is a long-term hobby and it will burn you out quicker than a 9 to 5 job if you enter that way. I know, because I’ve been there and when that happens you will either quit or starting seeing this as a job and where’s the fun in that. Start focusing your energies on the things you want, the winnables, and the sweeps for your state and you will win prizes that are more satisfying.

How do you enter and what do you enter for? I would love to hear your story. No judging here. If you are in the addictive stage that is completely okay. Like I said, I have been there and I just want to encourage you and help you keep this as a long-term hobby that you will enjoy for many years to come.

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Comments

  1. Jenny Horsley says:

    I have just begun… like yesterday! I must say, the win-win-win is very tempting!! I totally see the practicality of only going for what you want though. I am just excited for my FIRST win… and I hope it is a big one!!

    Happy Sweeping!

  2. I’ve only been playing a month or so. Won a few chocolate bars and song downloads (instant wins that count as a sweeps entry) so far. I’m pretty focused on cash prizes, although there are a few tires sweepstakes and boots sweepstakes that I’m entering daily (boots for Bubbles (that’s my car’s name) and boots for me!).

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