Strike it Lucky: free holidays, cars and cash prizes – the perks of life as a comper!

From large cash prizes, and luxury goods, to vouchers and gifts – comping offers a legitimate and fun way to make money.

Comping is soaring in popularity and essentially involves entering competitions on a regular basis, either as a hobby or profession. It can also provide opportunities normally only reserved for the rich and famous, or give you access to promotions making a real difference to your outgoings. Plus, your winnings are tax-free.

An example of a few “big-wins” include, University of Glasgow student, Chloe Bingham who managed to pay off her first year of university fees after winning the #‎WinYourFees‬ Currys and PC World competition on Snapchat. Although very rare, prolific comper,Di Coke even gave up her job as a graphic designer to fund her lifestyle through comping. She wins about £15,000 worth of prizes each year and has even managed to bag the Holy Grail of comping – a car, or more specifically, a VW Beetle worth £13,000.‬

Life as a comper

Steve Middleton has been entering competitions for over 40 years, and is the Editor of Compers News, the UK's number one competition magazine. He says comping is a great way for people to earn a bit of extra cash and have some fun along the way.

In fact, Steve managed to go 20 years without having to pay for a holiday thanks to comping. “One year I went on holiday five times, which included South Africa, New York, Bulgaria, Paris and Amsterdam. I also won a trip around the world.” One of Steve's most memorable prizes was winning a day trip to Las Vegas where he was given £10,000 to spend in a casino.

Middleton – South Africa safari prize

Steve on safari in South Africa which he won courtesy of Coke

“The car is the Holy Grail for many compers but that prize has always eluded me. I tend to be more choosey about the competitions that I enter now, as much of my time is spent on the magazine. Slogan competitions were my strength. At one time the skill and effort of comping was lost completely, especially with the emergence of instant win competitions, but there has almost been a renaissance thanks to the way brands are using social media with photo, video and caption contests for example.”

While Steve says you may not be able to live off comping, he believes you can get a decent return from it most years, and his readers have won some life-changing prizes including a house, as well as significant cash prizes.

“As I've always said, you never know what the postman is going to bring; or these days, what might pop up in your email. Some compers will be very organised and keep spreadsheets listing what they've entered and when the closing date is but I love that feeling when you've forgotten about a competition and then you get a phone call a few months later.”

Where to begin

Steve is out everyday trawling the shops in pursuit of new competitions that he can list in the magazine. He tends to focus on purchase necessary competitions and the Listings File in Compers News has over 400 competitions and prize draws in each issue. “There is a lot of mutual support on our Forum; true compers like to pass the good fortune on. There's a belief called Comping Karma – where we believe if you help someone, it will be returned.”

Other sites such as ThePrizeFinder.com specialise in listing free online competitions. But whichever type of competition you enter, it has the potential to make a real difference to your life.

If making money is your aim, just make sure you avoid racking up a huge phone bill, and if like some, you decide to sell on some of your winning goods then be aware that not all prizes are transferrable.

For those looking to win a particular prize Steve suggests searching terms such as ‘Win car / win holiday' on Google. “Don't rely 100% on listings sites. If you find a promotion that isn't listed on other sites and forums there are likely to be less entries. Try and be a bit creative with search engines, and you might strike lucky.”

Steve's daughters – Trip to Disneyland prize

Steve's daughters Katie and Lizzie enjoying a trip to Disneyland thanks to Steve's comping success – this win was courtesy of Morrisons

Steve's top tips

  • Don't expect success overnight. First timers expect to win on day one - the closing date may not have ended and it takes time for promoters to contact the winners.
  • Try and be selective about what you want to win as well, as the types of competitions you enter. Newcomers tend to want to enter and win everything, but that's not really sustainable. Focus on quality over quantity.
  • Don't be afraid to put time and effort into competitions – this can often be more rewarding. For example, the prospect of having to buy a stamp to enter will knock out 95% of those who tend to only focus on online competitions, giving you more chance to win.
  • Many newcomers think their entry won't be good enough in comparison to the more experienced compers. However, don't be fooled, many promoters are looking for normal customers sharing ordinary stories, especially where social media is concerned.
  • You've got to be in it to win it! “I often hear people say that they never win anything and when you ask them how many competitions they've entered the answer is normally none!”
  • If a competition has round-the-clock draws or instant prizes, consider entering during unsociable hours.
  • Set up a separate email address or phone number. If you go for the numbers game then you will inevitably receive a lot of junk mail. Always read it though, as it may include another competition!
  • Use your common sense – if something seems too good to be true then it usually is. If you have to answer confidential questions then alarm bells should be ringing. Has the brand name been spelt correctly? Has the page been set up fairly recently? Put simply, if you're not happy, move on.
  • Read the rules – it's amazing how many people don't read the small print. One per household is different to one per person for example; this attention to detail is five minutes well spent.
  • Use Roboform software to save time filling in forms online. You can also set up a signature so that your contact details will automatically be listed at the bottom of your email. Plus, most smart phones will allow you to set up text messages with the same information. Just make sure you check the auto fill contains all the details sought by the promoter – it can be all too easy to rely on technology.
  • Beware of services which offer to enter competitions on your behalf for a fee. Promoters will often state that third party or automated entries are void.

The future of comping

And one last note of wisdom from Steve – with predictions that the supermarkets are likely to move away from price wars this year and focus once again on promotions, Steve believes the competition ground is where the supermarket battle might be fought – and that means the future for comping could look very bright indeed.

Good luck!

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