How to save money at university by winning competitions

A student blogger explains how she won £35,000 worth of prizes to help her through university

September 27 2016
Entering competitions

As you’ll know, when it comes to student life, money is very limited and so we’re always looking for ways to try to save or make money, whether that’s through signing up for experimental medical trials or shopping in the reduced section in the supermarket.

However, I have found a rather unique way of saving money: I enter competitions as a hobby.

I’ve won more than £35,000 worth of prizes in the last 12 months; the highlights of these include a free luxury studio flat worth £11,000 in an amazing halls of residence, £10,000 towards my university fees, an all-expenses paid trip to the Rio Olympics (with £2,000 spending money) and an all-expenses paid trip to Hong Kong (with £1,000 spending money). I run a blog where I explain in-depth how I manage to be so successful, but for now I’ll give you my top tips on how to get started.

You’re probably now thinking: “it’s a scam” and “it’s definitely not true”, right?  Well, I’ll explain exactly why it is not a scam and how it works:

  1. Brands run promotions to build up their audience
  2. It’s a lot cheaper to run a competition offering an all-expenses paid holiday that requires entrants to sign up to an email newsletter than it is to hire a marketing agency to create a viral campaign
  3. Grateful winners look good for publicity – sometimes winners are required to take part in promotional activities as part of the prize

That’s essentially why most big companies and brands run frequent competitions, summed up in short.

Grange Strathmore Hotel prize
Chloe enjoying her free stay at the Grange Strathmore Hotel in South Kensington

So, how do you get started?

1. Create a new email account

A lot of competitions require you to enter your details, including email address, in order to enter the competition. Therefore you are going to get A LOT of spam email so it’s best you create a separate email account for comping.

2. Dedicate a set amount of time to comping each week

How much time is up to you, but if you enter competitions regularly you stand more chance of winning.

3. Create a wish list and decide what you’d like to win

This will prevent you from entering competitions to win absolutely anything and everything and therefore receiving a prize that you ultimately don’t want.  Also, if you focus on entering competitions to win a particular thing you’re more likely to win it. For instance, last year I decided I’d really like to win some hotel stays as I love going away for short breaks, and I was fortunate enough to win three!

4. Decide how you’re going to enter competitions

 Are you going to purely enter online and email competitions or are you going to try to focus on social media competitions? If you are planning on entering social media competitions, you might want to warn your followers as all of your competition posts might look like spam and therefore they might unfollow/defriend you, so make sure you let them know how to unfollow your posts so that they don’t do this.

5. Join a competition forum or website that will allow you to find and enter competitions

My top two forums would be Loquax and MSE Competitions but here’s a list of other websites you could try too. Try out a few to see which one(s) you like best.

6. Get entering!

7. Be patient

Don’t expect to win things straight away; entering competitions is not an instant return guarantee – it just doesn’t work like that. From when you start regularly entering competitions, you shouldn’t expect to hear anything until after at least a month, maybe longer. If you haven’t won anything by then, don’t let that deter you – stick at it.

8. Follow my blog

The Life of a Student Comper has lots more top tips and advice.

Good luck!

I hope my advice helps you to be very lucky. Feel free to contact me via my blog or social media to let me know how you’re getting on.

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