1. Gift Cards for Less Popular Brands Attract Less Entries. Gift cards for brands like Walmart, Apple, and Amazon attract a lot more entrants than sweeps for lesser known brands. However, what many people forget is that you can sell gift cards at gift card exchange sites for 90 to 95 cents on the dollar of the face value of the gift card. So when you see that $250 Petco gift card giveaway and you don’t have a pet, you can still turn it into cash. Don’t pass by sweeps just because the prize is lesser known; run to them because your odds of winning will typically be much greater.

2. Don’t Overlook the Little Guys. Similar to the above tip, sweepstakes for lesser value gift cards and prizes (typically below $100) attract much less attention and entrants, so your odds of winning are much greater.

3. Look for Local Sweepstakes. I recently heard of an Apple iPad giveaway that was being promoted at a local frozen yogurt shop I frequent. It was promoted on the store’s Facebook page and on business cards that people could take at the counter. Even though thousands of people were exposed to the giveaway, less than 300 people entered the sweepstakes. I asked the shopkeeper whether people took the cards and she said that while she pointed them out to customers, they always said things like “I never win” and let the opportunity pass them by.

4. Enter Giveaways That Are a Couple of Months Old. A lot of the really large prizes like “$50,000 Cash” or a luxury automobile have much longer entry periods than sweepstakes for smaller prizes. I’ve run and managed a number of sweepstakes and when they launch, they get the majority of their entries on the first couple of days/weeks and then entries fall off a cliff. GiveawaysandSweepstakes.com allows you to search for sweepstakes by their expiration date. Don’t overlook really great sweepstakes that are a couple months old.

5. “But I Don’t Enter Facebook Sweepstakes.” One of the biggest complaints we get from people is that we list too many Facebook sweepstakes. The sweepers complain that they aren’t on Facebook or they don’t want to like a site. What few sweepers realize is that many companies host their entry forms on Facebook but don’t require you to like their page. It’s no different than if the entry form was on their website. Also, per Facebook rules, companies can’t notify winners they’ve won through Facebook messages or posts, so the main entry requirement is still an email address.

6. Set Up a Separate Email Address for Sweeping. I highly recommend Gmail because it has special tools that allow you to filter email into special folders and you can see if people use your email for spamming purposes.

7. Check Your Email Inbox. The most common form of letting an entrant know they’ve won is through email. The majority of sweepstakes have notification clauses in their official rules that if the entrant does not respond to the company’s winner announcement email within a certain period of time (sometimes as little as 48 hours) they have the right to pick another winner. We’ve run many giveaways and you would be surprised at how many people don’t respond. The most painful emails come from winners whom I’ve notified who didn’t get back to me for weeks after being contacted, even though I informed them that they needed to respond and confirm within 72 hours. It’s heartbreaking for them and me. So make sure to check your email every couple of days.

8. Check Your Spam Folder. You’ve just won $1,000 in our sweepstakes. By their very nature, winner notification emails sound spammy. There’s not too many ways to announce to someone they’ve won a prize without it sounding spammy. I try my best by including a link to the sweepstakes page and my personal phone number in case winners want to call me, but at the end of they day, these emails look spammy to email service providers, so make sure to check your spam folder regularly. This is also another good reason to have a separate email account for sweeping; when you do go through your spam folder, there’s less email to sift through.

9. Use Google’s Advanced Search Features to Locate Hard-to-Find or Local Sweepstakes.  Most sweepstakes follow the same structure so you can search for certain keywords that almost always appear on entry forms, i.e. “official rules,” “enter by,” and of course “sweepstakes.”  You can use Google’s advance search features, like putting “allintext:official rules+enter by+sweepstakes.” Even more than entry form pages, most official rules pages contain the same language. If you find the official rules page of a sweepstakes, they often list where you can enter.

10. Keep Track of the Dailies.  Some sweepstakes allow you to enter on a daily basis. Keep a list of these sweepstakes and go back to enter on a daily basis.  At GiveawaysandSweepstakes.com you can favorite sweepstakes to be saved to your favorites page. This is a great way to create a list of daily entry opportunities.

11. Don’t Neglect Blog Giveaways.  Every day, there are literally thousands of giveaways on blogs.  They are frequently for lower value items, but you often find gift cards, Kindles, cameras, ipads and other really nice prizes.  Because there are a ton of blog giveaways, a lot of gems get hidden.  Blogs don’t have the promotional budgets that major brands do and often receive less entrants as a result. I’ve seen some amazing prizes being given away with very low entrant counts.  So don’t overlook the bloggers.

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