The internet is brilliant for staying up to date with news, using email to keep in touch with friends and relatives or to pay bills and manage your money. But alongside the serious stuff, it’s also great fun and offers light-hearted activities, such as entering free prize draws and trying your luck.
Before we begin the guide, we would like to remind any readers to be careful when entering competitions – check the small print and make sure you are not signing over your personal details to be passed on to ‘third parties’ or used for marketing.
There are various websites out there that gather together hundreds of competitions from across the web. For this example, we are using www.theprizefinder.com but there are other options.
- A computer with internet connection
- An email address
Follow these step-by-step instructions on how to enter competitions online:
Step 1: Go to www.theprizefinder.com (link opens in a new window).
With The Prize Finder and similar sites, you can view many competitions without registering. We will show you how to do this, but if you enjoy entering competitions you may wish to register so that you can access even more prize draws.
Step 3: There are a number of ways to sift through competitions to find ones that you are interested in entering. The 'Competitions by Prize' section groups prize draws by the type of prize on offer, and you can also look at the latest competitions that have been added, and those that end the soonest. It’s sensible to have a system of keeping track of what you have entered, so we will opt for the Closing Soon section.
When you have clicked on Closing Soon, you will see a page with links to lists of competitions that end on dates in the near future. Click on tomorrow's date.
Step 4: Scroll through the competitions on offer until you see a prize you’d like to win. It is sensible to opt for competitions run by known magazines, websites or brands. Under the competition listing, the text explains what you must do in order to enter. If you see the letters (FB), this means to enter the competition you must also carry out an action on Facebook – usually ‘liking’ the prize promoter’s Facebook page. For this example, we will enter to win a break in the Lake District in a competition run by Countryfile – wish us luck! Click on the name of the competition.
Step 5: A new window or tab will open, which will be on the competition page itself. Most competitions online follow a similar format where they will introduce the prize and then explain how to enter, followed by a form for you to complete with your details. Some websites will ask you to register in order to enter. This really is an individual decision. If the website is interesting and you are likely to be a regular visitor, and you are happy with the terms and conditions and options to ‘opt out’ of marketing material, then it may be sensible to register and continue. If you feel uncomfortable with being registered and sharing your personal information with the company running the website, you would be wise not to continue.
In this case, we are happy to continue entering our details and the answer. We will also read the terms and conditions and then tick the boxes to opt out of email contact from the promoter and third parties.
Step 6: In this example, as with many websites including our own, there is a ‘CAPTCHA’ field that you must complete to prove you are a human and not a computer program designed to fill in thousands of forms. Click submit. (This may say ‘enter’ on some sites.)
Step 7: Close the window or tab of the competition you have just entered, and return to www.theprizefinder.com where you can continue to choose competitions to enter.
Tips for success
- The more skill a competition requires, the better your chances as fewer people will take the time to enter. If you’re feeling creative, look for tie-breakers and caption competitions.
- Digital Unite tutor, Fiona Syrett, encourages her learners to enter television contests online rather than using the premium rate phone calls!
- Don’t be put off big prize competitions because you think you don’t stand a chance – you’d be amazed how many other people do this and actually leave with as good a chance as with smaller prize draws.
- If you use the Chrome or Firefox browsers, you can complete ‘autofill’ information such as your name, address, telephone number and email address and when you are completing competition forms, clicking on ‘autofill’ on your browser menu will add these details for you.
- Good luck and do tell us on the community about your competition successes!