You probably see them often – “Win a trip for two,” or “Enter to win a new iPhone” – but have you ever taken the plunge and entered a sweepstakes or giveaway?

 

Shannon Schulte of Sweepstakes Mama joined a group of interested moms in The Motherhood to talk about how to find legitimate online sweepstakes and enter to win.  She knows what she’s talking about: “I spend at least 6 hrs a day entering sweepstakes! To me, it’s worth it,” she said. “Last year I won 11 trips, 10 iPads, thousands of dollars of gift cards and more. This year, I won money to buy a new car.”

 

If you’re new to the world of online contests, you should start by setting up Google Alerts for the keyword “sweepstakes” or “enter to win.”

 

“We offer FREE Google Alerts classes monthly! This month will be 6/22 at 9pm on Twitter! We’ll use hashtag #GoogleAlerts. Join us!” said Shannon.

 

She also noted that her website is also a great free resource for finding sweepstakes, and beginners should start with the Instant Win page, then move on to Dailies. “Get organized by bookmarking great sweeps with their end date and putting them in folders by priority. That way, it’s easy to go back and enter what you have time for, and delete expiring sweepstakes.”

 

“I have the best luck for sweeps on Twitter, Facebook, and contest websites,” said amyl12. “There’s a promotion tab on FB that shows you the latest sweeps.”

 

Added valerie2350, “Websites for local radio, TV and news are a great source for local sweepstakes – I have a bunch of them bookmarked and check back regularly for new ones.”

 

Candypo encouraged people not to overlook Pinterest, too. “The contests on Pintrest are great because right now not too many people enter them,” she said, and Shannon agreed, “I love Pin to Win on Pinterest. Try searching Pin to win or repin to win to find more! It’s up and coming like Twitter was a couple years ago! Great odds!”

 

 

To increase your odds of winning Instant Win games, Shannon recommended signing on “VERY early or VERY late, holidays, weekends. Whenever you wouldn’t want to be online, that’s when to play.”

 

There can be drawbacks to entering contests if you aren’t careful.  To avoid inadvertently infecting your computer with a virus while entering sweepstakes, Candypo recommends “malware software that also catches phishers. I’ve noticed it’s mostly spam mail that you can get” after entering the contest.  And steer clear of spam or scams by “visiting brands’ websites you recognize. Every sweepstakes that’s legit has official rules. Be sure to read them. If it seems sketchy, it probably is,” Shannon said.

 

When you do win, remember that you will need to pay taxes on your prizes.  Shannon recommends 33% of the prize value as a good rule of thumb. “Some sweepstakes offer extra cash to cover the taxes. But in most cases I would recommend saving to cover your wins,” said Candypo.

 

The bottom line, as tamaraben pointed out, is that “if you don’t enter, you can’t win.”

 

If you decide to give it a try, best of luck and let us know how you do!