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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 4:15pm     #1
Brent is offline
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Tips for Entering Online Sweepstakes, Contests and Instant Wins
  • Entering and winning sweepstakes and contests is NOT about luck. This is one of the biggest mis-perceptions I see people making, time and time again. Luck always helps to be sure. But if you think that luck is the reason some sweepers are successful and some aren't- you will only win when you are lucky and that won't happen very often. Sweeping is strictly a numbers game.

  • Successful sweepers are smart and consistent. There is so much more skill to sweeping than most people realize. To be successful, you've got to learn how to maximize your chances of winning. Knowing what sweeps give you the best odds, how to be as efficient as possible with the time you have to enter, how to properly maintain your computer and how the Internet and the various software programs work can and will make a BIG difference at how successful you will be as a sweeper. Sweeping isn't rocket science. Being smart doesn't mean you have to have a high IQ. Being smart has as much if not more to do with the effort you put into it than it does anything else. Be a careful observer and a good listener, take the time and make the effort to really learn how things work, try new things, and above all else- *think*, and then think some more.

  • Get a Premium OLS Membership. OLS is the largest and best source of online sweepstakes and contests, period. A Premium OLS Membership gives you many important advantages that you can not find elsewhere- no ads, a fast, easy to use web site, advanced tools to make it easier and faster to find, enter and organize your sweeps, and a ton of helpful tips and information from the largest community of experienced and successful sweepers on the Internet. While you may be able to find many of the same sweeps at other free sites, the fact of the matter is quite a few of those other sites steal most of their content directly from OLS (and I am pursuing legal action). The over-whelming majority of our sweeps are listed here well before they can be found anywhere else allowing our members more potential entries and more time to enter. Our sweep listings are more comprehensive and accurate and they are edited by a staff of volunteer editors with years of experience who are also successful and experienced sweepers themselves. Our web site is faster, easier to use and contains a whole lot less crap (pop-ups, banner ads, opt-ins, affiliate links, etc.) and fluff. OLS is truly a community-centric web site run by and for sweepers. It all adds up to a number of distinct advantages that can help you win more and that you simply can not find anywhere else. And for only $30 a year, a Premium OLS Membership is much cheaper than any other similar paid sweepstakes listing service, web site or newsletter. We also offer 3-month memberships for $12.50 and 6-month memberships for $20. In addition, we offer a number of opportunities to win free memberships (and more): here, here, here, and here. And you can always find a number of different ways to earn the cost of a Premium Membership in our Free Stuff forum (look for surveys and test drives).


    Make sure you spend some time to learn how to use OLS and all the features. This is very important. There are a lot of things you can do with OLS that many, many people do not know about. Most of the features are designed to help you make finding and entering sweeps easier and less time consuming. Take the time to read through the OLS FAQ and familiarize yourself with the web site. If you don't know what something does, click on it to see what it does (it won't hurt). Do some exploring. Take advantage of what's available! It will help you win!

  • Use RoboForm. RoboForm is the sweeper's best friend. And you can do so much more with RoboForm than sweep. There really is a lot to RoboForm and a myriad of ways to configure it, so learn how it works and how to use it. Yes, there is some controversy among some sweepers worried about whether or not they will get disqualified from some sweeps for using it. But I think it's much ado about nothing. Some sweep rules forbid the use of macros and other means of automated entry. A few go so far as to mention manually typing your entries. While it is possible that any entry form could be designed so the sponsors could tell whether or not an entry form was manually keystroked, I've never seen or heard of any evidence suggesting any of them have done so (it would not be hard to tell). Even if any of them were, it wouldn't make much sense, for a number of reasons, for them to appear to accept those entries once submitted. Just like you can't submit an entry form if you leave a required field blank, the sponsors could just as easily not allow the submission of entries that aren't manually keystroked. The most important thing the sponsors care about is automated entries. They want you to actually visit the web site yourself to enter because, after all, the whole point of most sweepstakes is to promote and advertise the sponsor's products and services. Official rules, like many other forms of contracts, attempt to account for all possibilities and contingencies and as such are quite often over-reaching compared to their intent. Instead of attempting to specifically prohibit each individual type of software program and method used for automated entries, many rules simplify it by stating that the entry form must be manually typed or keystroked, IMO. I've posted about this before if you want to read more: RoboForm Post #1 | RoboForm Post #2 | RoboForm Post #3


  • Make sure you're entering your information correctly. You would be very surprised at how many entries are disqualified because the entry information is incorrect. Any typos or errors in your entry information can be very costly. I read an article once that said 15 - 20% of all entries ePrize receives are disqualified for this very reason. If you've been entering a lot of sweeps and haven't won anything, this could very well be the reason why. An additional benefit of using RoboForm is once you correctly enter your information into RoboForm, it will always be correct.

  • Check your email, read your mail and answer your phone. A whole lot of people are disqualified for not responding to win notifications. Use a separate email address for your sweeping, preferably web-based in case you ever change your ISP or are away from home. Set up a filter so that all email with the keywords win, winner, winning and notification (there may be other keywords you want to use) get placed into a separate win folder. Ideally, you could set this up before your email goes through the spam filter because some win notifications will get flagged as spam. Carefully check your email for win notifications daily. Win notifications have time limits for you to claim your prize. If you enter sweeps that might notify winners by phone, make sure you answer your phone even when it says Out of Area, Private Caller, Unknown or Unavailable on the Caller ID. They quite often won't leave a message on your answering machine, and may not try to call back. Add your phone number(s) to the National Do Not Call Registry to cut back on the telemarketing calls.

  • Don't ignore the Local, Snail-Mail, Phone-In and Walk-In Sweeps, Radio Call-Ins or Contests. They all usually offer better odds of winning than the typical online sweepstakes that are open nationwide. Sometimes they offer much, much better odds of winning. Why? Simply because they typically receive far fewer entries. Local Sweeps are only open to residents of a specific geographic area, Snail-Mail sweeps cost money for the stamps and envelopes, Snail-Mail, Phone-In and Walk-In Sweeps require more effort and are often less publicized, Radio Call-Ins are usually local and have a much smaller entry window, and Contests require more effort and, unlike sweepstakes where the winners are randomly drawn giving everyone an equal chance to win, Contest winners are determined based on some type of judgement of skill (e.g. essay, recipe and trivia contests). OLS offers a large number of listings for these type of sweepstakes and contests. I think one of our best-kept secrets is the number of these type of sweeps that we have at OLS that are freely available to all OLS members. We have more than most paid newsletters that typically cost $40 - 50 a year to subscribe. You can find them in our Snail-Mail Sweepstakes & Contests and Local Snails forums, our Phone-Ins and Local Phone-Ins forums, and our Walk-Ins and Local Walk-Ins forums. Local online sweeps can be found in our Local Sweeps forum and Contests can be found in the Contest category of our sweepstakes directory.

  • Get involved in the sweepstaking community. Sweeping can be so much more rewarding than just winning a bunch of stuff. Whether you're looking for tips, advice, ideas, friendship, camaraderie, support, or just a good time- you'll find plenty of all of it in the sweepstaking community. One of the best things about sweepers is their willingness to share with each other. And it's precisely that willingness to share that makes sweepers far more successful and sweeping far more rewarding than they or it would be otherwise. Sweepers aren't just a bunch of cheapskates looking to get something for nothing. Sweepers come from all walks of life and really aren't easy to stereotype. Sweepers are truly some of the most intelligent, fun-loving, kind-hearted, good-natured, happy-go-lucky people you'll ever meet.

  • Don't be a sucker or a victim. Sweeping isn't all peaches and cream. There are a number of scams and flim-flams out there that prey on the desire a lot of people have to get something for nothing. The age-old adage that "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" is especially true with sweeping. There's always a catch. As a sweeper, you will receive spam, junk-mail and telemarketing calls that are designed for the sole purpose of ripping you off. A great way to avoid them is to simply ignore them. Don't respond to any spam, junk-mail or telemarketing calls, period. Never, ever let anyone talk you into buying something or doing anything you don't want to do, for any reason.

    If you are contacted about winning a big prize and either they don't or can't tell you where or how you entered, or you don't remember entering the sweepstakes or contest- that's a strong indication it's a scam. If you are asked to pay any money for your prize- it's a scam. Avoid any of the so-called auto-entry services out there like the plague- they'll charge you $10 or more a month and you won't win anything of any significance. Automated entries are against the rules of most every legitimate sweepstakes and the sponsors spend a lot of time and effort disqualifying those type of entries (you may also get black-listed and/or your non-automated entries disqualified to boot). Never buy anything to enter a sweepstakes or because you think it will improve your chances of winning. It is illegal to require any type of purchase to enter a sweepstakes or to give preferential consideration to those who do make a purchase. Some legitimate sweepstakes may offer entries for those making purchases, but by law they also must make it possible to enter for free without making a purchase.

    Unfortunately, there are also a number of people out there that will also take advantage of you if you let them. Just because someone tells you a sob story doesn't mean it's true. Some are, but it's next to impossible to know for sure because it's so easy to make up a story. Don't trust anyone just because they sound nice- that's exactly how scammers and other unsavory types will try to win your confidence. Be cynical. If you have any doubt, ask someone else or make a post about it on OLS and we'll help you.

    Spend any amount of significant time online and you are bound to run into trolls and flamers who like nothing better than to start trouble, create havoc and get a rise out people. They most often work in small groups and will try to get you mad, angry and upset and goad you into an argument that you can not possibly win. The best thing you can do is ignore them totally. Showing them that you are angry and upset by responding is exactly what they want you to do and will only encourage them to continue. If you have any such problems on OLS, please let us know. We will put an end to it, banning them from OLS if necessary.

    Be careful of what you post on the Internet or send in an email, especially any information about you that may be personally identifiable (like your name, address, phone number and personal details) or anything else you may not want the whole world to know. As soon as you hit that Submit or Send button, realize that you no longer have control over who has access to that information. It can very easily be copied, forwarded and shared with anyone at anytime. You are putting your trust in other people who you may not know as well as you think you do. It can, and quite often does, come back to haunt you. Remember, that most everyone you meet online is more or less a persona hiding behind a username and they may not be who or what they appear or project themselves to be.

    Never click on a link in an email or download a program or file unless you know exactly what it is and who sent it to you or from where it originated. This is how most people get ad-ware, spy-ware, viruses, trojan-horses and the like onto their computers- and they are all bad.

    No company or web site with which you have any type of account will ever send you an email asking you for your account number or password, to confirm or otherwise. This is called phishing. The scammers will make the email and the web site look exactly like the legitimate email and web site of the company with which you have the account. It's very easy to do. A dead giveaway that it's not legitimate is the URL in your web browser's Address bar. The URL will not be the same as the legitimate web site. Also, if there is ever any problem with any of your accounts like a bank account, credit card or PayPal account, those companies will call you about it. They will not just send you an email. If you ever have any doubt whatsoever, call the company with which you have the account.

    Another benefit of RoboForm is that it will help protect you from phishing attacks because you won't be able to use it to fill out a form on a phishing site if you already have your account information saved with a passcard linked to the legitimate web site. RoboForm will also help protect your personal information from keyloggers that record what you type on your keyboard and forward that information to a hacker/scammer.

Last edited by Brent; October 25th, 2009 at 10:10am.


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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 4:15pm     #2
Brent is offline
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I've got a tip for instant wins.

Enter them in the middle of the night, ideally between 3 and 6am ET.

Why?

Because that's when there's the fewest number of people online, and therefore the fewest number of people entering instant wins (i.e. competition).

Most of the instant wins pick winners by randomly selecting winning times, usually by the minute. The first person who enters at or after a pre-selected winning time is the winner.

If one of the winning times is in the middle of the day, say 2:14pm, there's going to be whole lot of people entering around that time. So you would probably have to enter at almost exactly the pre-selected time or just seconds after to win.

But if one of the winning times is in the middle of the night, say 4:34am, there will be far fewer people entering at that time. So you might win by entering even several minutes later, say 4:42am.

Because the winning times are randomly pre-selected, times in the middle of the night are just as likely to be selected as times during the middle of the day.

If you can't enter between 3 and 6am ET, then try to do your instant wins between midnight and 9am ET. Traffic on the Internet starts dropping off around 11pm - midnight ET and is at its lowest between 3am to 6am ET. By 6am ET, traffic starts slowly picking up again. Even if you can't enter between 11pm and 9am ET, try to get as close to those time windows as possible. Between 9 and 11am ET is still going to be better than the middle of the afternoon or the evenings from 6 to 11pm ET.

Another tip would be to try to time your entries so that they are submitted as close to the top of the minute as possible. The pre-selected winning times are usually by the minute, not to the second (though some might be). The winner will be the one who enters right at or just after (we're talking second(s) here) the pre-selected winning time. It won't matter so much in the middle of the night because there will be far fewer people entering. But during the day it can make a big difference if 10, 20, 30 or more people enter every minute. You want to be the first person to enter just after the second-hand hits zero and the minute changes over.

A lot, if not most time clocks on servers (including those running web sites with Instant Wins) are regularly synchronized with Internet Time Servers whose time is dead-on accurate to the second. The server that runs OLS, for example, synchronizes with time.nist.gov every night. Windows XP users can have their computer's clock regularly synchronized with Internet Time Servers as well by double-clicking on the time display in your system tray, selecting the Internet Time tab and making sure the Automatically synchronize with an Internet Time Server checkbox is checked (it might already be by default). Users of different operating systems should have a similar option.

It's too bad there doesn't appear to be an option to display seconds in the time display with Windows operating system, but there might very well be a way to do it. Try a Google search, you might find a way to do it. Displaying the time with seconds in your system tray would sure make trying to enter just after the minute changes a whole lot easier.

Not all servers are going to be on exactly the same time, but most should be pretty close. I'd think timing your entries 5 to 20 seconds after the minute change would be a good strategy. Get a number (5, 10, 15?) of instant win entry forms filled out and ready to be submitted, and just after the minute change submit them all in rapid succession.

But like I said before, timing your entries this way won't make much of a difference if you're entering in the middle of the night becuase there will be far fewer people entering. During the busy times is when it will do you the most good.


I've been meaning to add some additional tips, including this one about instant wins. Seeing this thread gave me the opportunity to put it together.

Good luck y'all!


Brent

Last edited by Brent; January 27th, 2008 at 8:06am.


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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 4:51pm     #3
Rhozalea is offline
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thank you
Happy 4th


I can access all your links except this one
I made a list of other tips that you can find in the Questions for Brent thread in the Support and Feedback forum (answer to question 2a in the second post): http://www.online-sweepstakes.com/f...ad.php?t=496091

I get

Camelot, you do not have permission to access this page.

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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 5:48pm     #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent
I've got a tip for instant wins.

Enter them in the middle of the night, ideally between 3 and 6am ET.
Dude! I'm a night owl! You're giving away my secret! Next thing you'll be telling people to enter snail mail sweeps more often too!

Yikes! Too late!

Great advice, Brent! Thanks!
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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 6:02pm     #5
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thanks for the tips Brent - but for the instants, I've actually won the majority of mine between 10am and noon!

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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 6:10pm     #6
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HAPPY 4TH BRENT!!!! Thanks for the tips, Excellent information. I am going to try the instants as you say. That is if I can drag myself out of bed. Brent I posted this elsewhere but not sure if you saw it. I would love to see instants in a catagory on my sweeps. That way they could be found fast and entered all at one time. Just a thought for you to chomp on.

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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 6:17pm     #7
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You ROCK, Brent!
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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 6:27pm     #8
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Question Daily Prizes Best Time to Enter
I entered all the instants when I first joined but now I skip them unless there is a substantial GP or an instant prize I really want. I would like to know Brents opinion on the best time to enter "Daily Prizes". If there is only one prize daily should we enter early?
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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 7:00pm     #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksmith47
Dude! I'm a night owl! You're giving away my secret! Next thing you'll be telling people to enter snail mail sweeps more often too!

Yikes! Too late!

Great advice, Brent! Thanks!

Yep Brent is right. I won my biggest win to date when I had insomnia one night playing instants . Then I really couldn't get to sleep, I was so excited.

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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 7:25pm     #10
Rhozalea is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksmith47
Dude! I'm a night owl! You're giving away my secret! Next thing you'll be telling people to enter snail mail sweeps more often too!

Yikes! Too late!

Great advice, Brent! Thanks!

Ive always been bastackwards
9 out of 10 times I do instants between 5am - 7 am and my wins stink

I cried because I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet

Persian Proverb
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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 7:40pm     #11
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That's right. All you guys stay up in the middle of the night so I'll have better chances during the day

My trick is to enter around the same time everyday. If you are consistant on that and there's a lot of prizes.. eventually you'll luck up and hit a time that was preselected throughout the course of the sweep.
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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 8:24pm     #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camelot

Ive always been bastackwards
9 out of 10 times I do instants between 5am - 7 am and my wins stink
I usually do instants 2 -4 am.

GLTA!
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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 8:39pm     #13
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That first tip has me wondering. I realize that sweeping is a numbers game, but exactly what do you mean by numbers vs luck? Ex: Should I enter all family members plus the maximum number of referals for each family member?
Or are you saying that I should make sure to enter, for example, a daily each and every day?
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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 8:59pm     #14
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Thanks Brent. Nice list of info. I do instants between 12am EST and 3an EST and win a lot. Sometimes 3 or 4 a night.

I am not Rocky . I am ~JEWEL~
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  Old  July 4th, 2007, 11:49pm     #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksmith47
I usually do instants 2 -4 am.

GLTA!
wow...do you sleep, LOL?!
I could not do that on a regular basis, I would be Oscar the grouch in the morning...

I have actually won a great deal of instants during daytime hours, and need my sleep so will stick with that...
I do appreciate all the tips though Brent, and hope you had a good 4th!
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