A Beginner’s Guide to Online Sweepstakes, Contests and Giveaways

What is a sweepstakes anyway?

A sweepstakes is simply a type of contest that awards a prize or multiple prizes to one or more people. Sweepstakes use a random drawing system to select the winners, just like the good old power ball.

This might sound like a lottery but there is one clear and important difference.

A sweepstakes legally has to be free!

People do not need to make a purchase in order to participate. Sweepstakes are not legally allowed to charge people to enter, and buying things can not increase anyone’s chances of winning. Here’s the common legal language added into the terms and conditions of sweepstakes:

"No Purchase Necessary to Enter or Win" and "A Purchase Will not Increase Your Chances of Winning"

So rule number #1 when browsing social media or websites for fun new sweepstakes, leave your wallet, purse, or credit card behind! If a website or app is asking to you buy something in order to enter, run for the hills! If it ain’t free, let it be.

It’s legal and often common for sweepstakes holders to award additional entries for completing tasks that don’t cost you anything. Common tasks that can help you get bonus entries

  • Sharing the sweepstakes on social media like facebook, twitter, pinterest, or shapchat.

  • Sharing the sweepstakes via email or text (SMS).

  • Becoming a follower or visiting a social media account.

  • Downloading and installing an app.

Again all these things are free and don’t cost you anything. If you want to increase your chances of winning take advantage of completing as many of these tasks as you can. It’s very common for sweepstakes participates to only claim one entry.

This is our #1 pro tip to winning more sweepstakes. Complete as many tasks for bonus entries as possible. Most people don’t do this! We’re not sure why but we’ve seen the data. The people that max out the number of potential entries win more often! A lot more often.

When you find a sweepstakes with a great prize make sure to read the terms and conditions. Pay close attention to the following.

  1. The end date, when the sweepstakes closes. Create a calendar reminder

  2. The award data, or when they’ll announce the winner. Create another calendar reminder so you’re on the lookout!

  3. Contact method, typically sweepstakes holders will reach out to be via email. Make sure to use an email address you check often and don’t forget to check your email after the award date.

  4. How many entries you’ll allowed, what’s the maximum amount of entries per person

  5. How often you’re allowed to enter, typically this is daily, weekly, monthly or annually

We highly recommend searching your email inbox for the name of the sweepstakes. Very often these emails will get caught in your junk folder. Image how terrible it would be if you won a sweepstakes and you didn’t claim your prize because of an email spam filter…That would be devastating.

Also make a note or in the calendar reminder that you set for yourself, be sure to include the name of the sweepstakes and the name of the website you signed up on. Here’s a sweepstakes secret that you’ll never believe. Very often when winners are contacted they forget they even entered! We’ve seen first hand how hard it is to give someone a $5000 cash prize. We’re allow about staying safe online and avoid scams so it’s important to keep track of the actual sweepstakes that you entered.

This way if you get contacted via email, text (SMS), or get called by someone not on your list you can stay safe and avoid getting involved in something that’s fishy business.

Giveaways are essentially another name for a sweepstakes. People enter into the program and the winner or winners are selected at random.

We typically use the term giveaways for smaller prizes or items of value less than $5000 dollars. This varies a little state to state but when a sweepstakes prize is greater than $5000 dollars the sweepstakes has to be legally “bonded” by the state. This ensures the business or person conducting the sweepstakes is properly registered with the state and adhering to the legal requirements of running the sweepstakes.

The difference between a sweepstakes and contest is that a sweepstakes picks random winners. In a contest a judge or ranking system is used to pick “the best” contestant and they are awarded the prize. This can be something simple like “cutest pig in a teacup picture” or something more complex like “most advanced killer robot” either way contests are great too! However, make sure you’ve got the skills needed to win if you decide to play.

Well we hope that was at least somewhat helpful for you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and we’ll we reach back at as soon as we can.


  1. Never pay for a sweepstakes

  2. Max out your number of entries

  3. Use an email address, or contact method, that you check often

  4. Create a list or calendar event to check back after the sweepstake finishes and they pick a winner

  5. Check your spam folder by searching for the name of the sweepstakes and the website name where you signed up

  6. Contests require skills, sweepstakes and giveaways pick winners at random

  7. Have fun!