A Look Back: Entering Sweepstakes In 2002

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It has been more than 10 years since I began entering online sweepstakes and contests, and a lot has changed since the first time I tried it. Even though I took many breaks from this hobby, my commitment to it is solid. I was able to witness many changes over the past 10 years, and will talk about sweepstakes in 2002 versus now.

Here are the main differences to sweepstakes and contests from 2002 to 2013:

High speed internet is part of a sweepstaker’s basic arsenal in 2013. I’ll come clean and admit that high speed internet wasn’t a benefit I enjoyed until 2005. When I first began entering it didn’t matter. Dial-up Internet was sufficient, and I won many prizes, including trips and large cash prizes, with my poky dial-up. The phone bills got very high, however, and in time it became cost effective to get broadband.

More of the competition was using dial-up so I wasn’t at a serious disadvantage for too long. Now high speed internet is standard to this hobby, and nobody who’s serious should consider using dial-up.

I managed okay without the Roboform form-filler in 2002. I entered on an Macintosh Mini, and Roboform wasn’t available for Mac at the time. It wasn’t much of a big deal in 2002 because the browser form filler was okay. Nowadays I’d not consider entering sweepstakes without it.

There’s just too much work involved getting all those fields filled properly and forms submitted. In 2013 this just won’t do, and you need to get properly equipped.

There were far fewer sweepstakes and contests to enter. Back in 2002 there was no Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, so no social media sweepstakes. Few people had blogs and there were few or no blog sweepstakes. No mobile sweepstakes, as nobody had smartphones. I recall there were more ePrize sweepstakes that required a simple email entry. I am seeing these are in decline lately, in favor of an explosion in social media-type entries and entries that encourage you to share with friends.

A few sweepstakes sites that existed in 2002 are no longer in business. In 2002, Sweepstakes Advantage existed, but it was a far smaller site. Now it’s the biggest site with the most members and the largest database of free sweepstakes. They were one of the originators of the free to sign up, free to enter all sweeps websites. The pay-to-play business model for sweepstakes sites is definitely in decline. You pay at that site only if you prefer extra site features.

More small companies are running sweepstakes than in 2002. With the explosion of social media and Facebook fan pages, it’s easier for smaller companies to run their own sweepstakes. The word is out that running a sweepstakes is a good way to promote to current and potential customers, so far more “mom and pop” businesses participate as sweepstakes sponsors. In 2002 most sweepstakes were sponsored by very large companies.

A bigger percentage of the public enters sweepstakes and contests. A recent survey indicated that as much as 1/3 of Internet users in the US and Canada have entered an online sweepstakes in the past year. Fewer participate regularly, but in general the word is out that most sweepstakes are legit and people really do get those great prizes. In a nutshell, the level of fear and paranoia has declined, and more people are having fun playing the games. This means more competition, so you had best know what you’re doing. The book can help anyone improve their game and win more.

Mail-in sweepstakes continue their decline in favor of online and mobile sweepstakes. No surprise there as postal rates keep escalating.

As online sweepstakes evolve and change, this site will talk about what’s new in sweepstakes and contests. One thing I believe is true: giveaways aren’t going anywhere, and will always be with us in one form or another forever.

I believe I am seeing fewer instant win sweepstakes in favor of more Facebook and Twitter sweepstakes that permit one entry. Am I just imagining this? Weigh in and straighten me out if you disagree.

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