Comping is one of the cheapest and most rewarding hobbies there is, and if you have Internet access you'll have no trouble finding thousands of wonderful prizes online. In sixteen years I've won more than £200,000 of prizes, including a VW Beetle and around 30 foreign holidays. Comping is a hobby I'm incredibly passionate about, and it's never too late to get started - in fact, my father recently entered (and won!) his first text competition at the age of 82.
There's a huge variety of prize promotions in the UK and you can find many of these listed in Compers News, a monthly subscription-only magazine which I write a regular column for. Competitions and prize draws can be found on products, in magazines, on Facebook and Twitter, in shopping centres and on the radio - running a prize promotion is one of the most popular ways for a company to get themselves noticed, and an enjoyable way to win treats for you and your family.
So how's the best way to start comping? First of all, decide what prizes you want to win. Don't dive straight in and try to enter absolutely everything - you'll feel overwhelmed. Start gradually and then try different types of competition until you find something you enjoy or are successful at.
It's easy to sign up for Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest - and even if you plan to use them for nothing more than comping, it's worth the effort. Lots of comps give you bonus entries for tweeting or liking a Facebook page, and it's a simple one-click entry to do either. Entry numbers for social media comps are low compared to website prize draws, so there's a high chance of winning a prize. If you need guidance on getting started and finding competitions, you can view and download free PDF guides to Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest on the Compers News site at www.compersnews.com/comping-guides
Competitions and prize draws promoted on special packs or in-store displays will usually cost money to enter, but that keeps the entry numbers low. Most people won't be bothered to buy a certain product from a particular store, and then input their receipt details onto a website - but those that do enter will have a great chance of winning! Some text entry competitions aren't even advertised in the stores at all, and the only way to find out about them is through a specialist comping magazine like Compers News. 'Instant Win' promotions, where you need to enter a unique code from product packaging, are very popular - if you spot promotional packs in the shops early you'll have a head start on other entrants.
You can still find lots of postal competitions in magazines and newspapers, particularly local ones. If you don't want to buy the individual magazines, you can find national comps posted on online comping websites - or listed in Compers News.
The harder a competition is to enter, the easier it is to win. This is one of my favourite comping mottos, and about 80% of the comps I win are creative ones. Whether it's photos, recipes, slogans, poems, videos or Pinterest boards, this type of competition can be inspiring, rewarding and fun. If you're interested in creative comps, I share lots of them on my blog Facebook page at www.facebook.com/superlucky.co.uk
There are plenty of local groups of compers that meet regularly to swap entry forms and chat about their latest wins. It's a great morale booster and a lovely way to make new like minded friends. Most online comping sites will have a forum with details of local clubs you can join - or you could try searching at www.google.com.
Most importantly, if you're not winning DON'T GIVE UP. Try something different for a while - you could text your local radio station, try Twitter, make some postcards with the grandchildren, and eventually the prizes will start rolling in. Good luck!