Some Thoughts on Entering Drawings

I have several friends who have made something of a hobby of simply trawling the web, looking for sites that are offering giveaways, entering them, and then looking for the next one. After finally spending a couple of afternoons doing this at the behest of a couple of them, I find some good things – and some bad things – about doing this.

It is an inexpensive hobby. In the end, you’re just filling out web forms and clicking submit. There’s no cost involved with these giveaways (aside from the time, which I’ll touch on later), the minimal electicity used, and the internet access used (which is already paid for). Activities with little or no out-of-pocket expense that bring enjoyment are superior to the ones that require a steady influx of money.

Personal information sharing is a concern. As I’m filling out all of these forms, I can’t help but notice that lots of companies and organizations now have access to my personal information. Most commonly, it’s just my name and address, but I’m still not sure how I feel about sharing that information widely.

What about email addresses? One of the first things you need to do before you participate in drawings is to use an address that’s just for those drawings. That way, the spam lists that you’re inevitably signed up for by participating send their emails to just the “drawings” address, not your real one.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you should never check your “drawings” address. You have to, to see if you’ve won anything.

Do I really want the item? Some of my friends simply enter every drawing they come across, regardless of whether they want the product. I guess I’m wired a little differently – I can’t see the point of entering a drawing for a fairly low-cost item that I have no interest in owning.

Take cosmetics, for example. I don’t wear any. Sarah only wears cosmetics on rare occasions. What do we need with a big bundle of cosmetics? Simply put, we don’t need them. So why enter?

At least with items that have significant value on their own, we could easily re-sell the item and make some pocket money. With small-value items, it’s very difficult to re-sell them, either individually or a bundle.

Is there something more valuable I could be doing with my time? As I was filling out the forms, I couldn’t help but ask myself if there wasn’t something more useful I could be doing with my time. The drawings I entered were almost entirely for things that I wouldn’t mind having, but there were very few drawings that were for things I actually wanted to any significant degree.

To me, that’s just the accumulation of stuff. Again, if I stuck with just entering drawings for items I could re-sell easily, I’d still be in good shape, as I would earn pocket money from the sale. Many of the items, though, could only be re-sold for $5-$10 on an internet auction site, a gain that, for me, isn’t worth the effort as an individual item. By the time I fill out the form to win the item, claim it, get it home, package it for auction, deal with the eBay or Craigslist hassles, and then deliver the item, I’ve put in more than $5 worth of effort.

It burns time, but it doesn’t pass my “pastime” test. As I mentioned above, it’s a nearly cost-free hobby, but it’s really repetitive. I just fill out forms with my name (and/or address) and email over and over again. Sometimes, I have to look through their website to answer questions of some kind, but then I’m usually just learning about a product I don’t really want via marketing materials.

In short, I don’t really feel like this is a worthwhile “pastime.” It’s not personally fulfilling to me, not in the way that reading a book is or playing with my kids is or playing a board game with close friends is. It feels like something I could fill fifteen minutes of downtime with, but spending an afternoon doing it feels … empty.

If this is a hobby that you get personal enjoyment from, by all means, go for it. My only suggestion is that you avoid sharing your main email address when filling out these forms. Open a new Gmail account to collect the inevitable spam emails you’ll get.

For me, though, I may occasionally enter drawings for high-value items (like an iPad) or items I particularly want (like a game), but entering drawings for the sake of entering drawings doesn’t feel like a high-value proposition for me.

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9 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Entering Drawings

  1. valleycat1 says:

    …huh… to each his own. I’d rather read a book or talk with family/friends.

  2. Marc says:

    Contests can be a way of getting your personal info. Not just your email for spam, but also your phone number for telemarketing and your address for old fashioned junk mail. That info can then be sold and re-sold. Pretty good return for the cost of a trinket or gift certificate.

  3. jackie.n says:

    trent, you post your blog under (i am assuming) your real name. you post photos of your wife and children on the internet via your blog. you post your location in the USA by your state. you have way more information out there in cyberspace that i would ever feel comfortable in sharing. so i don’t understand your comment about you being concerned about companies having access to your personal information.

  4. Pat S. says:

    Why not? It beats playing the lottery, and normally the money goes to charity, or if not, you generally have a decent chance of winning.

  5. Carrie says:

    I got into entering giveaways on blogs in the past year, and I’ve won close to $300 worth of stuff, all of it something that I value – concert tickets as a gift for my husband, new cloth diapers for my kids, Laundry detergent, gifts for birthdays/holidays for my kids, and some other fun things for myself.

    That was during my winning streak. I posted on my own blog that at the time, I was averaging around $16 an hour, based on the time I’d spent entering the giveaways. Not bad for a stay at home mom.

    I’ve kind of fallen out of giveaways, though, because they really do take real time. I haven’t won anything in few months, but I still enter occasional giveaways.

    I did exactly as Trent suggested – separate email address just for giveaways, and I don’t do the entries that require me to give my real name or address, and I even created a separate twitter account so I wouldn’t be spamming my friends with giveaway stuff (unless they choose to follow that account).

    I haven’t received any unsolicited mailings from the companies from which I have won prizes.

    It’s a fun hobby for me, but definitely it requires some time moderation. Can’t enter all the giveaways, and most of the time, you don’t win anything.

  6. Romeo says:

    Trent,

    Twitter is great for finding giveaways. I don’t think that the time spent is what you make it out to be if people understand how to quickly look for giveaways using Twitter’s search feature. It only takes a few seconds to enter the #giveaway hashtag and off you are to finding great stuff.

    I’m not saying that I participate in these giveaways, but just know that they are faily easy to find and enter.

  7. Romeo says:

    Trent,

    Twitter is great for finding giveaways. I don’t think that the time spent is what you make it out to be if people understand how to quickly look for giveaways using Twitter’s search feature. It only takes a few seconds to enter the #giveaway hashtag and off you are to finding great stuff.

    I’m not saying that I participate in these giveaways, but just know that they are fairly easy to find and enter.

  8. Telephus44 says:

    I enter contest/sweepstakes on and off. Funny, because the ones I usually enter are for cosmetics. I like makeup and skin care products, but don’t have enough money to indulge as much as I’d like, and having a source of “free” products is pretty awesome. It’s also kind of a thrill to see a package when I get the mail. However, I’m also not spending hours on this – maybe 20 minutes a week or so.

  9. Stephanie says:

    I tend to enter contests when I see a good one. Usually it’s through a blog I read. Though sometimes I go to new blogs (there are blogs that list blogs that are giving things away…)
    I’ve only won once, but they were nice earrings. I try not to get hooked on them, but sometimes I’ll just go through and see what contests I can sign up for.
    I’ve noticed that lots of times “mommy blogs” have LOTS of giveaways for other parents. So, I just skip by those, since I have no need for those items.

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