One of the most common questions I get asked is 'how do you organise your comping'? Today I'm giving you a few tips as to how you can get organised - if you have any good suggestions please feel free to comment and let me know!
Although I'm very much involved in the comping world with my work at ThePrizeFinder and also my SuperLucky blog, the time I actually have each day to ENTER comps is only a couple of hours, so I have to be very organised. Each morning I check PrizeFinder new comps, and the Facebook newsfeed of my 'compers' friends list. I'll enter a few easy prize draws for prizes that appeal to me, and any good skill comps I find go on to my 'Comps to do' list along with their closing date, as I usually need time to prepare an entry! At the weekend I will enter blog competitions from my SuperLucky linkys, and usually do a Google or Twitter search for the latest photo, recipe, video and unusual comps, to add to my list!
Here are some methods that I have found help me organise my comping:
MAKE A COMPETITION FILE
For magazine and entry form comps, I always file them away as soon as I see them into my brown box file with a set of 12 monthly dividers. At the end of each month I'll sit and do the comps that are in the next month's section of my file. If I need a till receipt or product packaging as proof of purchase, I pop those into a plastic wallet with the entry form so they don't get lost. When I've entered the comps, I file them away as 'Entered' in a section at the back of my file - its's always best to keep the details of the prize and T&Cs just incase you win. I always keep the latest issue of Compers News magazine at the front of my file of reference too!
USE THE PRIZEFINDER EFFICIENTLY
Most importantly, make sure you're registered and logged in so the PrizeFinder tracker will show you which comps you've entered! Most compers will enter competitions that are closing soon rather then new ones - but that means that a few might slip through the net if they close early, and you will have left yourself too little time to organise an entry for a photo or a slogan competition. A few PrizeFinder regulars have told me they always do the ones that are closing TOMORROW so they don't cut it too fine, but personally I like to look through the New Competitions each day - mainly so I can share our latest fabulous finds with you on our Facebook page! If your comping time is limited, why not click onto the 'Top Prizes' link for prizes that are worth £100+. You can customise the listings to view in closing date order too, and can hide links you've already visited, which should save you time scrolling through the listings.
Most compers already use Roboform, and it's a great time-saver. Read more about it on our Roboform post.
MAKE A 'COMPS TO DO' LIST
I love the comps in the PrizeFinder's skill-based section,which need a bit of effort - but with these you can rarely enter them at the time you click the link. You'll usually have to take a photo, think of a cheeky caption or perhaps even cook a recipe before you can enter. In this case I use a clever bit of software called Evernote to store these competition links for later on. You can access Evernote on your Smartphone, your desktop computer and also on the web. It lets you create, edit and save notes in different folders – these notes can be text, web pages, photos or even sounds. Notes are automatically synchronised so you can update them on your phone and have instant access to the latest version online. I find this invaluable to help me keep my comps in date order, so I can enter the most urgent ones first - I just paste a link into Evernote with the description of the comp (e.g. ' pancake photo') and the closing date. When I've entered a creative comp, I cut and paste the link from my list to a second list in the same file called 'Awaiting results'. Then when the results are announced, I delete the link - or if the results aren't announced, I'll post a polite Facebook message to ask the promoter for a winner's name! I only keep details of the creative comps I've entered online - I simply don't have the time to track every Facebook comp or online prize draw I complete!
ORGANISE YOUR EMAIL INBOX
Filing your incoming emails into different folders, either automatically or manually, can really help you out. I have a selection of monthly folders set up called ‘Comps ending
KEEP A RECORD OF YOUR WINS
Don't laugh - I bet you actually win more prizes than you think! Keeping a spreadsheet helps you keep track of the type of competitions you're doing well in (Facebook, blog, photo, etc) and also which prizes you're still waiting for. If you're having a dry spell you can also look back and see what you've won in the past as motivation! I recommend using Google Docs as an easy way to create your spreadsheet - your prize list is stored online so you can access and add to it whether you’re on your home computer, laptop, iPhone – or even in your local library. Having a prize list is a great motivator when you’re having a dry spell – looking back at it there will be lot of great prizes you’ve forgotten about. If you don't want to use a spreadsheet, you could always post your wins on our monthly Prizefinder blog post instead!
CHECK REGULARLY FOR WINS
If you enter lots of Facebook comps set http://www.facebook.com/messages/other/ as your browser homepage - then you'll see your Other' messages folder every time you open your browser and you won't risk missing any winning notifications! Also set up a Google alert at http://www.google.co.uk/alerts and put your search as "YOUR NAME" winner OR congratulations - every time Google finds you in a search, you'll get an email.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the amount of competitions that are around, so sometimes it might be a good idea to take a little break, and come back to the hobby refreshed and with a new, organised approach. It should make your comping a little more laid back ...even if it's just for a short while!