Mistakes Made Contesting And How To Avoid Them

I love contests, the excitement of winning prizes and trying new products before buying! I’ve literally entered millions of contests during the time that I’ve been an avid contester, but it didn’t come without it’s own learning curve and it’s share of mistakes.

Today I’m going to tell you about the common mistakes made while contesting and how you can avoid making those same mistakes!

Ten Common Contesting Mistakes:

(Even I made some of these errors when I got into contesting!)

  1. Not reading the rules is a big NO-NO!
    • Reading the rules is the FIRST place you should start once you find a new contest
    • There are a few important details to confirm before entering:
      • Note the eligibility country and age
      • Check the entry frequency and if it’s limited to one per household (if it’s open multiple persons in a household, you can maximize your chances of winning by entering everyone that is eligible)
      • Verify when the contest ends
    • Check the prize details to confirm there are no restrictions that you are not willing to comply with; such as pick up only, pay departure taxes for travel prizes, winner pays shipping and handling, any duty charges the responsibility of the winner, etc.
    • Making this mistake is a time waster by entering contests that you cannot win. It’s also a sure-fire way to create disappointment when you win one of these contests but are subsequently disqualified for eligibility reasons.
  2. Not being organized is a sure fire way to miss out on maximizing your contest entries.
    • There are many ways to organize your contest bookmarks; you must find an organization method which works for you
    • Here’s one suggestion which is what I do:
      • My organization method has 6 bookmark folders named: Instant Wins, Daily Contests, Weekly Contests, Monthly Contests, One Time Contests and Closed Contests.
      • My Instant Win Contests bookmark folder contains every instant win contest listed by name and expiry date. Then I order the contests from oldest (ending soonest) to the newest contests. As I enter the contests daily I move any contests which have ended to my Closed Contests bookmark folder.
      • My Daily Contests bookmark folder contains all of the daily entry contests listed by name and expiry. They are ordered by expiry date starting with the contests ending soonest to the ones newly listed. Each day I move expired contests into my Closed Contests bookmark folder.
      • My Weekly Contests bookmark folder contains the contests which can be entered once per week. I list the contests by the day of the week I enter, the name and expiry date. I arrange my list by contests expiring first to the newest contests listed. Each day I check the folder to see if there is a contest for the day and I also move the expired contests into my Closed Contests bookmark folder.
      • My Monthly Contests bookmark folder has the fewest contests and could be combined with the weekly contests and just not in the title monthly and the date of the month to enter. I keep them separate for personal preference. When I enter my monthly contests, I check if any have expired and I move those into my Closed Contests bookmark folder.
      • My One-Time Contests bookmark folder contains the contests which only allow one entry. I keep this folder to ensure that I don’t enter the same contest twice as it may result in disqualification. When I bookmark the links, I type the contest sponsor, name and expiry date for the title.
      • My Closed Contests bookmark folder contains all types of closed contests that I’ve entered so I can verify the winners lists. With the growing number of contests being administered through social media outlets, you see many more contest winners lists published online. Some contest rules state they will publish your name and you only have a set number of hours or days to claim your prize, so it is important to be checking for the published winners names. Again, you need to find an organization method which works for you.
    • Bookmarking every contest and staying organized is one of the best ways to increase your odds and improve your chances of winning more prizes.
  3. Not entering as frequent as permitted in the contest rules.
    • You still have the chance to win multiple entry contests if you only enter once, however, you greatly improve your odds of winning more prizes when you enter as often as allowed.
    • I add an asterisk (*) to my contest bookmark if it’s a contest that I want to make sure I enter as often as possible. These are usually big ticket items like cars, cash and vacations.
  4. Not following the eligibility and limit rules
    • Entering contests you are not eligible for wastes precious time that you could use entering contests that you CAN win
    • Exceeding entry limits is the right way to get disqualified and lose the valuable time you spent entering
    • Avoid disappointment because if you win a contest that you are not eligible to enter, you could and likely will be disqualified from receiving the prize
    • Mistake #4 happens when you avoid the advice from mistake #1 not reading and understanding the contest rules, so make sure you read the contest rules FIRST before entering!
  5. Entering too many contests
    • It’s easy getting caught up in the excitement of winning the tons of prizes out there but entering too many contests can wear you thin, leaving you feeling overworked and no longer having fun (yes, you just made mistake #10)
    • You might fall into the trap of making mistake number #2 and missing out on more valuable, useful prizes
    • You’ll end up with a house full of stuff, some useful, some junk and it will make your life less simple
    • Only enter the contests that you really want to win and the prize will be used
  6. Not opening a new email account specifically for contests
    • This was the first thing I did once I began contesting to avoid overloading my personal email
    • I also wanted to be able to check every day for contest winning notifications
    • Some contests require you to sign up to their newsletter (and still be subscribed at the time of drawing the prize) which can wreak havoc on your email inbox if you’re entering loads and loads of contests
  7. Signing up for every email newsletter (even when not required to enter the contest)
    • Making this mistake is the right way to bog down your email inbox potentially missing out on contest win notifications
    • I try to sign up for newsletters only when it is a requirement of entering the contest
  8. Not responding to contest winning notifications on time
    • Congratulations, you won a contest! But you’ve made mistake #8 and you haven’t responded to claim your prize on time. What does this mean? Generally this means you have forfeited your prize and a new winner will be selected, depending on the contest rules.
    • As stated in contest rules, winners will have a set period of time to reply to being notified as a prize winner; this means it’s important to check regularly for prize winner emails.
  9. Not tracking the contests you’ve won
    • If you win lots of prizes it can become difficult to remember what prizes you’ve won
    • Maintain a tracking book online or by hand to note all your contest win details
  10. Not having fun and letting it become work
    • Hey! Don’t be so serious…make sure you are still having fun. Entering contests should be a treated as a fun pastime with the chance to win some fabulous prizes.
    • Contesting shouldn’t become work!

I also like to thank contest sponsors and hosts for the prizes they send me. It’s good etiquette and in my opinion it’s good karma too for future contest wins! So while it didn’t make my list of ten contesting mistakes, it is a mistake to not say thanks and a habit that you should get accustomed to when entering and winning contests. Contest organizers really appreciate the gratitude they get from the winners and the entrants too!

Now you’re armed with the knowledge and know-how to avoid these common contests mistakes. it’s time to go win a contest. Check out the great contests for Canadians at my blog.

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