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Millions of dollars are spent every year by companies in an effort to market their stuff. And the Internet can be a goldmine for those who play along.

You can spend hours every day entering Web contests, and there are many people who do just that.

They may look for contests run by companies who want to increase their Facebook likes or Twitter followers, for example, or who run video contests and calls for written testimonials that extol the virtues of a company brand for a chance to win.

And those old-fashioned mega-prize big money sweepstakes sponsored by the giant corporations?

They're still out there, you betcha.

But before you decide to become an feverish contest entrant there are rules of the road you must follow to keep a cool head, make it easier to win, and avoid the scams.

Getting started

Start out small with chances to land a free gift certificate, or to test your knowledge in a trivia championship. As contest fever heats up, check out top contest sites around the Web that update and publish sweepstakes contests currently up for grabs.

• First, you'll want to set up a separate e-mail account and use that address for all contest entries.

Fact is, one of the aims of running contests is to collect e-mails for marketing purposes. Be ready for lots of spam, and arm yourself with one extra e-mail account to keep all those promotional messages in one place -- and away from your regular e-mail account that you use everyday.

• Read all contest terms and conditions carefully for deadlines and eligibility details. The global nature of the web may limit entrants to a certain country. You may not meet the age requirement ("Must be 21 years old to enter") Or, the deadline may have already passed.

Increasing your odds

video contest filming
People usually shy away from video and essay
writing contests, meaning less competition
and better odds of winning.

• Look for contests that have limited entries. These are contests that are offered to a select group of people -- like nurses or students, or to residents of a certain state. The less entries the contest gets, the more your chances of winning.

• Speaking of limited entries, bite the bullet and be sure to enter essay writing or video contests.

Why? According to, people usually shy away from these types of contests that require writing from the heart or natural ease in front of the camera. (With the rise of the YouTube generation this attitude may change. For now, less competition means better odds at winning.)

• Enter sweepstakes that offer many chances to win besides the top prize. They make not make you millions, but these contests increase your odds for scoring at least a piece of jewelry or a gift certificate to an online store.

Avoiding the scams

• Finally, watch out for the scams, and think twice about entering ANY contest or survey that requires payment to participate. The rule also applies to any contest or sweepstakes that asks for credit card or personal details.

Some contests make it sound very reasonable for you to hand over your hard-earned cash in exchange for a chance to win big. Don't fall for it.

Otherwise, what have you got to lose?

Have fun .... and best of luck!

also see -> Cooking contests | Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest

More information about online contests around the Web:

- Find the latest and greatest sweepstakes listed by most current, with additional lists of giveaways and prizes by type of prize, entry frequency rules, eligibility by country, plus links to promotional sites and other resources for additional info about winning online.

Contest Hound - Easily navigable to categories including trivia, creative contests, instant win, lottos and pay to enter with more link lists to online fun and games.

Contest - Find current news on contests from top companies in an easy-to-follow table listing sponsor, deadline date and prize amounts.


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