The two most common types of sweepstakes are "single entry" and "daily entry." Some contests allow you to enter once weekly, once monthly, or once every 24-hours. Less frequently, there are contests that permit hourly, quarterly, or unlimited entries. And of course, there are the real oddballs, where they let you enter 210 times, or 16 times, or 3 times -- some random amount. It's a lot to remember, which is why organization is essential.
There are many different approaches to tracking and organizing sweepstakes. One of the easiest approaches is to use the simple, built-in "My Sweeps" function available to members of online-sweepstakes.com. I certainly recommend that approach as it not only provides a straightforward way to manage your multiple entry sweepstakes, but also allows you to keep track of all those contests you've already entered.
Some people use the "bookmark" feature in their browsers, organizing sweepstakes into folders by expiration date and entry type.
I've been sweeping for 10 years, longer than "My Sweeps" has existed. And, personally, I find the browser bookmark feature limited and frustrating. I developed an organization method when I started this hobby, and it works well for me, so I've continued to stick with it over the years. Here's how it works:
I created my own webpage (which I don't post online, it's on my local computer as a saved file, so it's private). It essentially amounts to a list of bookmarks for contests I enter. The webpage basically consists of three main sections: daily, weekly, and monthly contests. Every day, I enter all my daily and 24-hour contests. (I keep them in the daily section as I typically enter the same time every day, so the 24-hour restriction is not a problem in that regard.) I enter my weekly contests on Saturdays and my monthly contests on the first day of every month. Within each section, I organize the listings chronologically by expiration date.
Each morning, I enter all my daily contests first. I then enter weekly or monthly contests (if it's the appropriate day). Finally, I go to online-sweepstakes and add any new daily, weekly, or monthly contests I want to start entering to my list, while deleting any contests that expired that day. I also try to mark particular favorite contests with an asterisk, so if I have a very busy day, I can enter those contests only as a "short list" rather than completing every single entry. But my entry system is pretty efficient (more on that in a future post), so I can usually get through all my contests while drinking my morning coffee, entering lots of sweepstakes daily despite having a very intense job and two kids.
I also enter all new single entry sweepstakes I'm interested in on the day they are first posted to online-sweepstakes.com. That way, I'm always up-to-date. They typically post between 100-200 new sweeps (of all types) daily, but there are many that I skip because I'm not interested in the prizes. Some people enter 1x entry contests on the day they expire. That could work too, but certain days (end of the month, and especially end of the year) have tons of contests ending on them, so I find entering on the day they're posted to be more manageable.
In terms of my personal contest webpage, it's very basic, just a list of links, so no major technical skill is required. I use Netscape Composer (which isn't even available anymore as a new program), so you get an interface that looks like Microsoft Word or Blogger -- no HTML needed. Front Page or any other web page software would work just as well. To access the page, I open a browser (I use Firefox), use the File/Open function in the toolbar, and I can access all of my live links. I actually bookmarked my contest page, so I can get to it easily from my browser even though it "lives" on my hard drive -- couldn't be easier.
My bookmark list looks something like this (only much longer):
circuit city 3/8*
pizza hut 3/8*
pet ecology 3/9
old navy 4/3*
bargain outfitters 10/31
[Obviously, those link to a random selection of sweepstakes that I'm entering -- so enjoy!]
For me, there are a few key advantages to this arrangement:
- I can add in any notes, codes, trivia answers, messages, etc. that I need to enter a particular contest.
- I can access the list even if online-sweepstakes.com is undergoing maintenance (very rare, but happens every once in a while).
- I can include sweepstakes from other sources than online-sweepstakes.com if I wish to, consolidating all my entries in one location.
- I can use the "Linky" add-on in Firefox to open many sweepstakes simultaneously, which allows for more efficient entry (more on this in a future post). Online-sweepstakes.com has a similar feature called "Shazaam" -- but Linky works more efficiently for me.
- Online-sweepstakes.com doesn't show up as my "referrer" when I click on external links to enter contests. (I don't know for certain that this really helps my winning track record, but I feel like it might. I also use the "block referrer feature on firefox -- more on that in a future post. Again, this may make no difference, but why mess with success?)