ALL ABOUT SWEEPSTAKES FEATURE ~ What types are out there and which ones should I enter?

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Entering Sweepstakes Making Ends Meet and Surviving this Economy{POST 1 in a SERIES}

I wanted to start off by thanking those of you who showed an interest in and commented on my first post, which was basically an introduction to what could be accomplished by entering online sweepstakes.  Since there were several readers who seemed like they would enjoy this topic, I decided to begin a series of posts dedicated to successful sweeping.

After much debate and thought about what my first post in this series should be, I concluded that it would be best to actually let my readers know the MANY different types of sweepstakes and online contests out there.  The rest of this post, then, will define and explain the different kinds of sweeps you'll run into and my personal opinions on odds, successful strategies, etc.

If any of you have any opinions about these types of sweeps that I'll discuss here, please feel free to comment at length.  I've found that the more people talk amongst themselves about their winnings, experience, etc., the more we all learn and benefit.

(Also, please keep in mind, that this weekend I will start my weekly posts which will list my top sweepstakes picks.  The way I choose my top picks is based on prize, contest length, number of possible entrants, etc.  Only the most winnable sweepstakes will be given the label, "A MOMMY MUST!"  These are the sweeps that I would DEFINITELY MAKE TIME TO ENTER!  Remember to check back soon for my Winning It Weekends posts.) Mommy Must Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes can basically be broken down into the following categories:  single entry, daily entry, weekly entry, monthly entry, unlimited entries and contests.  Generally speaking, I like to enter most all of the different categories of sweepstakes at least once, because let's face it, the age-old adage is can't win if you ain't in the game!  I think my chances for winning a prize increase greatly by having at least one entry in most sweepstakes, and one entry is all you need to win! Also, if you EVER have any questions as to how a particular sweepstakes is run, what the prizes are, how they will be drawn, what states are eligible, etc., always consult the OFFICIAL RULES.  Every LEGITIMATE sweepstakes will have these posted and they will be able to clarify any situation or question that you may have.

UNLIMITED ENTRY SWEEPSTAKES: This category puts NO LIMITS whatsoever on how often you can enter.  I never enter this category and I will not be including it in my top picks either. The reason is simple:  WAY TOO MANY ENTRIES = NO CHANCE TO WIN!  You may be wondering if someone would actually sit there and enter one sweepstakes again and again and again over the course of hours and days, and the answer is YES!  These people want it that badly and your odds are so horrible that it's generally not worth your time.  Just imagine how many times a teenager would enter to win a date with Robert Pattinson of Twilight...they want it that badly and they can have it!

SINGLE ENTRY SWEEPSTAKES: This category levels the playing field entirely and is a MUST ENTER for those with very little time to commit to entering online sweeps.  The only thing to note here is that sometimes, if you don't have a good system for keeping up with what you've entered, you will accidentally disqualify yourself.  Some of these sweeps specifically state that if you enter them more than once, it is considered fraudulent and they will DELETE ALL OF YOUR ENTRIES.  This is a primary reason that developing an entry system that works for you is crucial.  (This will be the topic of my 2nd post in this series.)

DAILY ENTRY SWEEPSTAKES: This category gives you an entry for coming back every day and entering again.  I tend to believe that your more die-hard sweepers enter these.  Personally, I enter them too...AT LEAST ONCE.  I have actually won daily sweeps that I know I only entered once or a few times.  So if you have the time, make sure that you at least have your name in the hat.  Obviously, though, any sweep that gives daily entries will have a LOT MORE entries than other kinds of sweepstakes.  This means that your odds of winning are much lower.

INSTANT WIN SWEEPSTAKES: This category technically falls under the Daily Entry Sweepstakes category (usually), but it is special, so I wanted to talk about it alone for a minute.  Instant win sweeps are the only daily sweeps that I DO ENTER RELIGIOUSLY.  A lot of times these are considered "winnable" because they offer so many prizes and that can be a great motivator to keep you in the sweepstakes game.  You also don't have to wait days, weeks or months to find out if you won after you find out INSTANTLY!  These sweeps generally have a lot of entries, but that isn't the key here.  Timing is everything in the instant win game.  You see, the winners of these sweeps are determined by a computer-generated winning TIME.  Whoever is the first person to enter at that designated time or IMMEDIATELY AFTER wins the prize.  So, for all of you sweepers who stay up extremely late, get up extremely early or are free on holidays and when the rest of the world is doing something (Super Bowl) or sleeping, these sweeps are your best bets for winning!  (I will be dedicating an entire post to Instant Win Sweepstakes, so please stay tuned for that.)

WEEKLY ENTRY SWEEPSTAKES: This category can be a good one to enter, because a lot of people will not remember to come back every week and re-enter.  I like entering these more than once if I have the time, but I usually do not make them a priority.  Only if the weekly sweeps have a short entry period are these worthwhile, in my opinion.

MONTHLY ENTRY SWEEPSTAKES: I like entering these, but have to admit that they are extremely difficult to remember to enter.  I have a solution for that, which I will discuss in my next post.  These are great to enter though, because the entry counts are usually low and because most people forget about them, they turn into a single entry contest for those people.  If you are on the ball here, you can up your odds substantially.

CONTESTS:  (JUDGED VS. POPULARITY) If you want the best odds on the internet for winning a prize, then enter the ones which actually require a contest entry.  There are a bunch of these out there and the entries can be very simple, like submitting a photo, or they can be extremely difficult, such as creating a video presentation, writing several essays, etc.  Obviously, your competition here is going to be fairly low, which means your odds of winning increase.  The more difficult the contest, the less entries it will have.  Personally, I have entered many of these and gave them a tremendous amount of time and energy and have won nothing.  Take that for what it's worth.  I know the odds are the best here, but I never could figure out how to win these.

I also want to stress here that contests are decided usually in one of two ways:  judges or votes.  I always liked the impartial judge type contests over the ones decided by votes, because they seemed more fair to me.  I've seen a million contests that were decided by votes (popularity) and generally the winning entry was pretty lame.  Just because you have the most friends that you're willing to badger every waking minute to vote for you, shouldn't earn you a prize.  I refuse to enter the popularity type of contests because unless you are one of those people, you won't win!

I'm sure you will hear me say the following OVER AND OVER AGAIN:

Remember, sweepstakes is an odds game.  You CAN do things which greatly affect your odds, but in the end, you could do everything right, work extremely hard and STILL win nothing.  I can tell you though, as someone who has done this now semi-professionally for a while, you will win some but you will mostly lose.  I think what separates the winners from the losers is perseverance.  I've also noticed that wins for me always seem to happen in streaks.  I would have EXTREMELY HOT STREAKS followed by times when I didn't think I'd ever win again.  The trick is to just keep going...everyday, without fail.  A good support system is crucial for that and I want to develop that system with you all, my readers.  Hopefully, we can celebrate the wins and cheer each other up through the losses, so that we can make a fun hobby a profitable one too! 

Happy sweeping!


I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!

Melissa @ Mommy Living the Life of Riley!
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