How To Win Free Stuff Online

Geek!This is Galen’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

Who can’t use free stuff – especially in these economic times? I’ve been winning for over two years, and I’d like to tell you how to do the same thing. To show that I’m qualified to offer this advice: I’ve won concert tickets, a considerable amount of gift cards and cash cards ranging from $5 to $50, video games, DVDs, and a Nintendo Wii package complete with 3 extra games and an extra controller. This week, I even won a pricey gift basket of cleaning products (now let’s see if I can get around to using them). Over the past two years, I’ve won over $1000 in merchandise, and I’d like to pass on some step-by-step wisdom on how you can too.

  • Join There are other online databases, but OLS is by far the easiest to use, and it’s free to register. At any given time, they list between 6,000 and 9,000 sweepstakes. You can peruse the sweeps without registering, but if you want to save the ones you’re interested in and read notes posted by others, you’ll need to do so. If you want to get really serious, they offer a Premium membership at a relatively low cost that offers some additional features – and the ability to view a couple thousand they set aside. For a $15 investment, it’s worth a shot. I won my Wii about a month after getting upgraded. There’s also a nice forum where you can learn from others and share your wins with a very diverse community of posters.
  • Windows users should download Roboform from Sweepstakes generally require you to fill in several fields to enter – unless you really enjoy typing your address repeatedly, you’re going to want a program like this. It also saves passwords on a case-by-case basis, and it’s free to download.
  • Get your feet wet. Explore OLS and start seeing what you’re interested in, entering as you go. You need to get a feel for it before you move to the next level If you’re a do-it-yourself type of person, the best way for you to learn is experience. Just remember the Sweepers Creed: “You’ve Got to Be In It to Win It”. The more sweepstakes you enter, the more likely you are to win.
  • Strategize. Maybe you’re not the type to just jump in, or you’re ready to go deeper into this hobby. There are three main factors to consider when entering sweepstakes: (a) the type of prize, (b) the method of entry, and (c) the frequency of entry.
  • First ask yourself: “What do I want to win?” If you’re looking for something specific, whether it be electronics, clothing, cars, or video games, you can narrow it down using the categories on the OLS front page. If you’re not looking for anything specific, you can start with the ones about to expire, or the ones with the most prizes or the biggest prizes.
  • Consider how much effort and time you are willing to put into your new hobby. This is where the method and frequency of entry come into play. The most common method is filling out an online form, but others involve an essay, a photo, a recipe, trivia, or website membership – and many blogs are now doing giveaways which require posting a comment. Fewer people enter these because they involve more time, which makes your odds better if you do enter. At the same time, blogs rarely offer valuable prizes. You must determine a balance for yourself that includes what you want to win and how you want to go about that. I personally rarely enter sweepstakes that require more than a form or membership, with the exception of trivia sweeps for which other OLS community members conveniently post the answers.
  • There’s a wide range of possible frequencies of entry, but the vast majority will be one-time, daily, weekly, or monthly. OLS’s system will separate them for you if you add them to your personal list so that you can enter them each period of entry. As with method, the most people and the least chances come with the one-time entry sweepstakes. However, if you are willing to take the time to come back and enter each day, you can increase your relative chances of winning compared to the average person who only enters the daily sweepstakes once.
  • Register a separate email account. Many “sweepers” designate a specific email account for use only when entering sweepstakes. The vast majority of sweepstakes you will find on the OLS site are very respectable, and you will be able to designate whether you want to receive email from the sponsor. However, some do require that you sign up for a periodic newsletter to register for the sweepstakes. You can skip over these to prevent spam, but if you have a separate account this is no longer a concern. Also, a good amount of sweepstakes will send you a confirmation email when you enter, so you may not want those cluttering up your inbox.
  • Wait for the wins to start rolling in. Eventually, you will win if you enter enough times, but it may take a while for the prizes to arrive. Sponsors have to choose a winner and then get around to shipping it out, so it may take anywhere form a week to six months after the sweepstakes ends before you know you’ve won. In the meantime, don’t give up – odds are on your side, and you’ll soon have an exciting prize.

Sweeping is a fun hobby, but don’t expect it to replace your normal job unless you have an abnormal amount of luck. If you do have the time to spare, it can be a much more fruitful form of entertainment than just watching TV, although these don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Just start at the beginning and see what happens. I’ll look forward to congratulating you on your wins in the OLS forums. Happy Sweeping!

24 thoughts on “How To Win Free Stuff Online”

  1. Great article – but you left out a VERY important aspect!!

    The IRS expects you to claim those prizes as income. Remember that since online sweepstakes and contests print the winner, if you win contests, you need to make sure to claim them on your taxes and prepare to pay ‘prize taxes’ up to 60% of the value!!

    Think you can get away without doing it? Hope that you aren’t audited… because you better believe the IRS can and will google your name to see if you’ve claimed them! :\

  2. Dude! You need to let us know what your ID is for the site, that way we can all list you as the person who referred us!

    I just signed up and there are three ID’s that start with “Galen.”

  3. This is a very informative piece and I”m very glad to have read it! Who doesn’t love to win free stuff? (heh, that’s why a lot of us are here sending in all these articles, right?)
    I know I’d like to see myself win a little more often, so I’ll definitely be checking out the site you mentioned and seeing how my luck goes, since it’s obviously not so good when it comes to things like gambling for $$

    I like how you even mentioned a good program to use to fill in forms for you. That’s always a pain to me. Although the biggest pain is always “sign up with one of our sponsors to enter”–because naturally the sponsors always have a bunch of crap you don’t need or want for a price you don’t want to pay. If you had some tips on avoiding those pitfalls I’d be interested in hearing them

    Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Thanks for the comments and feedback. In response, my OLS username is gatorgalen (i’m an ex-gator fan).

    Good point about the taxes too – you usually don’t have to sign an affidavit if it’s under $600, but it is always counted as income. That’s something I tend to not worry about until after I win :)

  5. FYI, OLS is not 100% free. You have to pay to see the all the sweepstakes. If you go to Sweepstakes Advantage or they have all the same types of tools and more sweepstakes 100% free. They are also recommended by Mcafee Antivirus Site dvisor as being safe.

  6. Brilliant! Great job Mr. Galen. This article was very informative and seems to have come from a guy who knows his stuff! I love free stuff. I’m not sure how much time I could put into this, but it could be worth it. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, especially knowing that your readers may eventually “compete” against you.

  7. Nicely written, and I appreciate the suggestion to never use an e-mail address you care about. One other tip to prevent spam is to never display images or click a link in a spam message. If you do, when your browser or e-mail client accesses the remote site, the spammers know that their e-mail to you was viewed.

  8. Hey awesome article!! I had no idea you could actually make winning stuff a hobby. I am impressed. I will definitely be checking this out!!

  9. Wow! This is so cool! Thanks so much for the advice on how to win free stuff and not keeping it all to yourself. I appreciate your unselfishness and wish you the best of luck. Thanks again your advice rocks!!!

  10. Hey, this is really good, I am really excited about trying this. Very thorough, I always thought that no one really ever won these things, but obviously, from what you shared, that is not true. It will be cool seeing what can be won.

  11. Great article! I found it very helpful and look forward to participating in the high speed, sexy world of winning free stuff online. I’m just impressed that you are willing to bring more people in to compete against you, but it sounds like you have a pretty good handle on things.

  12. Too bad for you, Galen – Now I’m going to start getting all the stuff you would have gotten. This is very informative for getting started in the “sweepstakes” world. Thanks for letting me know!

  13. Great article. You have inspired me to sign up and win! Great tip with the Roboform software. It makes it so much easier to fill in the sweepstakes’ forms. Registering a separate email account would be helpful just in case. Go Gators!

  14. Wonderfully helpful tips. It is amazing to receive free stuff. I never knew that there was a database that had most of the free stuff give-a-ways.
    Thank you Galen for the advise and tips.

  15. Very interesting article. I never thought of entering sweepstakes as a “hobby”, but it sounds like you’ve made quite a pass-time out of it.

  16. LOL. This tongue-in-cheek article is very well written. I feel more educated because I read this article. Yet, I wonder what I am going to do with the information. Go sweeping? No. I’m not that ambitious. Way to go Galen. This article strikes at the heart of spontaneity. Have fun!

  17. Nice website, I wish I knew how to set up one. it looks like you put so much detail in your work. Thanks for reading.


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