Does anyone still mail letters anymore?
If you’ve been reading contest rules, you’ll have noticed that the “no purchase necessary” (NPN) method of entry for some contests is to mail something to the contest sponsors. Stamps and envelopes: remember those? Sometimes the contest organizers just want a self-addressed stamped envelope, sometimes they ask for a fifty-word essay, and sometimes it’s just your name and address. Sometimes they even insist the entries be handwritten, what a chore. Have you ever mailed-in a contest entry?
I never used to.
Up until recently, I never mailed in contest entries. “I enter the contests that are free, and that’s good enough,” I said. When did that change? To be honest, I can’t remember when I decided to try mailing-in entries, but I do remember how I decided.
How I changed my mind
The great thing about entering online contests is that they’re free. Nothing to lose, right? Hence my reluctance to mail in entries. “Stamps aren’t free and if I mail entries in, I may just be wasting my money,” I thought. But I remember thinking, when I won a small amount of money in an instant win game, ”what if I used the money to pay for some mail-in entries?” If I paid to enter contests using winnings from other contests, my contesting habit still wasn’t costing me anything, was it?
Calculating the odds
Of course, I started slowly. I only entered for a few prizes I really wanted to win. I didn’t win. But I wasn’t ready to give up. I started to focus both on the contests with fewer other ways of entering and where the number of entries obtained by buying a product was likely to be lower. Less competition. For dailies or instant wins, I’d mail away at the start of the contest or earlier, if possible, to improve my odds. If a contest is difficult or annoying to enter, fewer people will enter it. And if I like the prizes enough, I’m also more willing to pay the price of a stamp for a chance at winning
In the past year, my mail-in entries started to pay off. I developed a system for mailing-in entries. I found a rhythm. I got boxes of both #9 and #10 envelopes because a stamped, self-addressed #9 fits perfectly inside a # 10. I found some contests didn’t need a return envelope because the contest organizers emailed your codes to you. Even better. I mailed away for some codes in a Dr. Pepper contest and won a t-shirt, hoodie, and a bar of bar stools. I mailed away for a Catelli contest and won 18 packages of Healthy Harvest pasta. Those weren’t the grand prizes that I really wanted, but they were enough to justify the cost of the stamps. And this summer, I spent $40 on entries for a brisk contest where I won $1000! That buys a lot of stamps!
A 2400% profit?
If my calculations are correct, my returns on that brisk contest were 2400%! That makes me smile. Of course, to be fair I should calculate the returns on all my mail-in entries, including all the contests where I didn’t win. Still, those results would be very good, if not quite so spectacular.
Making an impression
Whenever I tell someone I need to buy a lot of stamps, they ask me, surprised, what for? People look at me oddly when I go to the mailbox with a huge stack of letters to be mailed. Little do they know.
I asked Santa for stamps and envelopes for Christmas this year. A gift that keeps on giving.
Other Interesting Posts:
Reading the Rules and Finding Hidden Treasures
The Top 5 Must-Read Books for Sweepstakers
The ABCs of UPCs