New compers tend to ask the same questions, one of which is “where do I find competitions?”

The answer is usually a list of competition listing sites. The Prize Finder, MoneySavingExpert Competition forum, Loquax, etc.

And that’s a problem. These sites have tens of thousands of active members. If you’ve seen a competition listed there then so have another thousand people. The result of this is the moment a competition appears there, it stops being a low entry competition. Your chances of winning a competition that you found on those sites are therefore not very good.

That didn’t used to stop me. I would visit The Prize Finder (my drug of choice) every day and plough through all the competitions I could. It was dull. Grinding through it like a comping automaton, a scattergun time-consuming approach. It wasn’t focused. It was a made, comping free-for-all.

Mostly, it was boring.

Google

Back in November, I decided to change tack. I set myself a target – win tickets for the BBC Good Food & the Country Living Christmas Fair show in Glasgow. I found nine competitions offering these as prizes, but I found them on Google, not the listing sites. I entered them, then returned for extra daily entries for those that allowed them. I didn’t recognise the sites offering these competitions. After using TPF for a while, you recognise the same sites over and over. These were new ones. Newspapers, magazines and blogs that I hadn’t heard of.

I won five of the nine competitions that I entered. A 55% success rate! My win rate through competitions entered on TPF was historically closer to 0.1%. This focused, Google based approach was clearly far more successful, not least because I decided in advance what I wanted to win.

So, I’ve decided that in 2016 to approach comping in a different way. I’ve searched Google for what I wanted to win, for example ‘Win meal Glasgow’, and then restricted the results to the last week. I search through all of those and enter anything that jumps out. Then, I change the search time to 24 hours, bookmark it, and check it every day.

Alerts

Another option is to use Google Alerts. You’ll need a google account for this, which you’ll probably already have if you have a gmail account or an android phone. Create a search term here, and whenever a new matching result comes up, you’ll get an email. So, if your daughter wants to win Justin Bieber tickets for his gig at the Dog and Duck in Hemel Hempstead, enter ‘Justin Bieber ticket competition Hemel Hempstead’ (without quotes) and choose the following settings:

googleit

This will email you new results as they turn up. You can tweak these settings if you want them less often.

One of the first comps I found was for a £25 voucher for a takeaway delivery company. There were no entries at all! I entered and the comp closed a few days later. While a few more people had entered, the numbers were far less than those comps I’d previously been used to visiting. It had less than 50 entrants. Luckily, I was chosen as one of the two winners!

Other competitions that I have found have been equally low entry. These include blogs, companies running their own competitions, restaurants, holiday companies. Loads of places are running competitions which don’t make their way to the listing sites. The thing about searching for competitions this was is that it’s more rewarding. It’s like treasure hunting.

The listing sites are fine if you just want to plough through and try to win by entering as many competitions as possible. They’re okay as long as you understand that your chances of winning them are low. If you’re a beginner finding your feet, go for it! Nothing to lose.

The next time, though, that someone asks “where do I find competitions?”, consider telling them “the same way you find anything else online – Google it”!