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Interview with a Contest Winner - Tips and Advice on Winning Creative Contests

Nancy Shares her Experience with Winning Contests of Skill

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If you avoid contests of skill because you feel you have no chance of winning, you could be robbing yourself of some great prizes. Contests are some of the best sweepstakes to enter because relatively few people bother to enter them. To show you how rewarding entering creative contests can be, I asked an acquaintance of mine, who has won several contests so far, to share her experiences.

Hello, Nancy, and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for the About Contests site. To start off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have been married for 22 years and have two boys; one is 17 and the other is 13. My youngest has special needs. They both keep me on my toes! I work full time. It's always busy in our house!

Why did you start entering sweepstakes?
Honestly, it was after the tragic death of my dad. I needed something to do to keep me busy and to keep my mind off of his death. I read a flyer in a magazine for a newsletter called Contest Newsletter. After my first small win, I was hooked! Filling out cards was the easiest thing to do!

What are some of your favorite prizes, and how long have you been sweeping?
I started about 20 years ago. My favorite prizes have always been the cash prizes. You can buy anything you want with cash! I won the choice of a $30,000.00 savings bond or $15,000 cash I won $1,000 four times. I won a two night stay at a hotel and a one night stay. I won a trip. I won a $1,500.00 travel voucher and I just won the Godiva 2nd chance of $1,000 Hearts of Fire gift card and chocolate for a year. Also I just won a $200.00 gift card to a local grocery store. I won a grill, $500.00 worth of tools, and the list goes on! Every prize has been fun to win.

Recently you've mentioned that you're concentrating most of your entries on skill contests. What made you decide to focus on contests instead of sweepstakes?
Last year we were in the process of remodeling our bathroom. I saw a contest for this and thought, what the heck; I might as well try it. I was so thrilled when I won the $2,000 towards the bathroom! I became hooked and have entered others. By the way, I still enter mail ins!! I'll never stop!

What kinds of contests do you prefer? Writing contests, recipes, photo contests?
I just started entering recipe contests. I'll see what happens with that. I prefer the home improvement contests. I love the 50 word or less contests. They're just easier for me.

Can you give some examples of prizes that you've won through contests?
I won the $2,000.00 towards the bathroom. I won $100.00 worth of deck products for the deck. I won a Jennio Turkey, t-shirt, thermometer, and oven mitt. This is all within the past year.

What are your secrets to winning contests? Do you have any tips that you could share with my readers?
I started entering the contests as poems. A lot of times it's just a matter of what the sponsor is looking for. When I entered Jennieo Turkey, I told a story about Thanksgiving and how we would love to try Jennio Turkey. You never know, they may use it for promotional purposes. Be honest!! Don't make your story up! Tell a story from your heart that would be touching to your readers.

Also, the contests that involve a photo and buying the product are good bets. For the bathroom makeover, I had to send in three pictures and I had to buy a product and send in the code. They only had 500 entries. For the Thompson Deck contest, I also sent in pictures of our deck; they had about 270 entries. For the Jennio Turkey, they had around 300 entries. Two were 50 words or less. One was 100 words or less.

The skilled contests that are over 250 words are more challenging, especially if there is one prize. I've entered about three. They were very time consuming and more people seem to enter the ones where the only prize is a significant cash prize. One that I entered, 20,000 entries were received. It's more fun to enter a skilled contest when there is more than one prize. At least you have a better chance of winning something.

Finally, I suggest getting a rhyming dictionary. It helps so much when you're trying to figure out what rhymes with what you just said!

Do you have anything else that you'd like to mention on the subject of winning contests or sweepstakes?
The best advice I have to say is don't obsess about what you're trying to win! Figure out your sweeps plan, and enter the ones you want to! As soon as you're done, move on to the next one. Half the fun of winning is winning a sweepstakes you completely forgot you entered. Remember the odds are against you to win. Once your sweeps plan is in place, the odds will eventually be in your favor and it will be your turn to win something grand! Good luck!

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