The art of comping

Caroline Cassidy

From cash and cars to gadgets and holidays, the TV, magazines and worldwide web are awash with competitions offering tempting prizes. In fact, there are so many chances to win these days that some people have been bitten by the 'comping' bug.

Tips for comping success
Tips for comping success

Pic: AFP/Getty

If you fancy scooping some of the freebies on offer, here are our seven top tips for comping success.

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One-stop comp shops
Thanks to the Internet and the growing number of compers around, there are now several websites that list hundreds of competitions in one place. The benefit is obvious - they provide you with links directly to the competition, list the prizes and closing dates, and some will even give you the answers to questions if you're registered. Check out the likes of Loquax, ThePrizeFinder, and Money Saving Expert, all of which list prizes of various types and sizes. Just don't bother with those that require you to pay to join - they're unlikely to have anything the free ones don't.

Enter free online
Don't be tempted to choose the premium rate phone line option for those TV comps promising big prizes. The likes of Daybreak offer free entry online, and you've just as good a chance as those forking out for the calls or texts.

Set up a system
Assuming that the majority of the competitions you enter are via a comping site as mentioned above, it's an idea to set up a system of working through the listings so you're not going over old ground. Some choose to work their way through by date, or by prize type, but whatever your preference, make a note of where you left off so that you can go straight in at the next competition when you're next online. It's also an idea to set up a separate email address so that you can keep track of entries, any 'winner' announcements that might come through, and keep your own email address free of the inevitable spam.

Small can be beautiful
While a £20k lump sum, a posh motor or a luxury holiday in the Maldives are probably top of your comping wish list, don't discount the smaller prizes. Competitions offering CDs, books or DVDs are often overlooked in favour of the big wins... and that means fewer people enter, giving you a better chance of a win.

Speed up your form filling
If you're going all out for comping success, it can be a time consuming business. But you can speed things up and do away with some of the repetitiveness with auto form filling. Browsers such as Internet Explorer and Firefox both come with auto form-filling functions, though they don't always put the right information in the right boxes. Firefox does, however, have an Autofill Forms add-on, which does the job well, or try the likes of Autohotkey, a free web programme that will store all your info and automatically fill in online forms.

For a slightly less sophisticated option, simply keep the relevant details in a typed document, and cut and paste to your heart's content.
Go the extra mile
With many compers trying to enter as many as they can, some just can't be bothered with those competitions that require a little extra effort. So if you've got a way with words or a creative eye, it's worth going the extra mile and trying your hand at writing captions, slogans or taking snaps. You might just have a talent for it.

Have fun
Finally, treat your comping career as fun. There is no guarantee that you'll be successful, of course, and you may put in long hours for only small rewards. But keep at it and you'll hopefully find the prizes do start to arrive, and you never know what might turn up on your doorstep!

Are you a dedicated comper? Tell us about your success stories below...