|Donna with Preston & Zachary|
- Many people don't know that many years ago I spent about 4-5 hours a day, 4 days a week entering sweepstakes, even though friends told me I'd never win anything. I won - a lot! Now, not so much because the time commitment would be too difficult. Initially I entered only on-line, then in 2008, I added snail mail for something new. That's how I met Judy, who has a ton of info on sweepstakes, and she has this really cool personality. Grab your snack to get details on how snail mail differs from online sweepstakes. Judy started entering sweepstakes back in 1990 when she told her husband she planned to keep entering and entering. She did mostly snail entries and after 3 months won her first prize - 12 cases of dog food! She saw those stacked in the kitchen and was hooked forever!
- What was the very first thing you ever won, and what type of sweepstake was it?
The first thing I won was $7. My Catholic neighbors had taken me along to BINGO with them. It was a big room full of people, and on the first card played, I won! I was a little Grade School kid and terrified to stand up and yell BINGO, but they insisted. I can still picture those 7 $1 bills in my hand and my neighbors big smiles.
- That sounds like such fun! For people who don't believe entering sweepstakes can be profitable, what would you tell them?
Gambling isn’t profitable. Casinos are there to TAKE your money. But Sweepstakes are profitable because the Sponsor is trying to GIVE you a prize. They just want advertising and hope you’ll buy their product. If a person keeps entering Sweepstakes, they come out with prizes that are above the values of the expenses of entering. In many instances, the value is way above what you may spend!
- I totally agree! How much time did/do you spend doing sweepstakes?
I used to spend about 4 hours a day entering. Once we started Sweeping America, I hardly enter at all. It’s a full time job! And I’m Nana now too! I hope to start again when the Grandsons are a bit older. They need Disney and LEGO trips!
- What made you start a sweepstakes brochure focused on mail-in sweeps versus on-line?
Actually Donna created Sweeping America! I was telling her there was a real problem getting Sweepstakes FAST! The online ones were picked up pretty quickly by a lot of online Sweepstakes websites. But the SNAILS were so SLOW. Newsletters used to come out monthly or every other week. I had to hunt on Google myself or promotions were over before I could enter.
- Brilliant idea, and I've enjoyed the newsletter for years. How long does it take together each week? How much help do you have?
Donna and I spend over 40 hours a week each. Often though, if she is gone, I’m here. If I’m gone, she is here. So service is great! Her brother Patrick devotes his Thursday afternoons to putting the Sweeps into the actual Newsletter.
- Which do you think is best? Online or Mail-In?
Online is good, but there is a lot of competition. Snails take some commitment, and not everyone will stick with it. Sweeping America’s subscribers win big prizes! We also like Text Sweepstakes, as well as local and regional Sweeps. We gather those and get super results.
- It's wonderful to know that so many people are winning. Have you ever sold any of your winnings on Craigslist or eBay?
I sold a bicycle on Craigslist once. Mostly I just trade Gift Card or prizes with other Sweepers. This weekend Donna had a Garage Sale and put the gallon jug of Hot Sauce I’d won out where it could be seen. It got people laughing and talking in a hurry!
- Sounds like a great conversation starter for sure! What's the largest gift you've ever won?
$90,000! My entry was a finalist in a national contest and people voted online, but we couldn’t see the totals. If you’re reading this and you voted, I think of your kindness often! One thing that stuck with me was how easy it was to enter and how many people said afterward “Oh I thought about entering that!” It was a photo of a roadside attraction and a short essay.
- Wow! I surely would have fainted! Congrats! Have you ever NOT received a prize you were supposed to get?
No, but I’ve had to “work with” a few sponsors or agencies who were slow. I won a very nice drill from Microsoft and their offices are in multiple huge buildings. I sent in the affy, and some how it got lost in those buildings. I never gave up and kept calling and calling. I don’t know if they found the affy or if they just got tired of me, but the drill showed up.
- What is the biggest mistake that Sweepstakers make?
I think our biggest mistake, and I’m guilty of it too, is getting discouraged when we aren’t winning. Those “dry spells” are what keep most people from entering. So they are the reason persistent folks do well. What we need to do is enter MORE when we aren’t winning!
- That's true and a great idea. There were a few days I was ready to call it quits, but I hung in there, and it paid off. How many trips have you won?
I’ve only won a couple of trips for myself and a few for family since we began working full time on Sweeping America. I don’t enter for trips because we put out a weekly Newsletter, so leaving town is really hard. Before that, my favorite was a week on Grand Cayman.
- Is it expensive to do mail-in sweepstakes and what supplies are normally needed.
You need stamps, postcards, envelopes, index cards, black or blue pens, and you may want to spend a little to decorate you entries for extra attention. Long time Sweepers have learned to buy stamps on eBay, and make some of their own supplies. You should never spend more than you can afford to lose. But anybody can start small and use their winnings to buy stamps and go on to build a hobby that more than supports itself.
- When you started winning lots of prizes, did friends and family expect you to give them things, 'just because'?
No, but I surprised a lot of friends and family with prizes they didn’t expect. There were a couple of groups where we did gift exchanges, only I provided all the gifts! And a niece in California said she could tell the UPS truck had started up the hill to her house because the children’s chairs could be heard screeching as they hurriedly rushed from the table to see if they had a prize package!
- How kind of you, Judy! What is your pet peeve?
People being unkind to each other. Life is hard. Nobody needs that. The wonderful thing about Sweeping America is that Sweepers are kind. We know we are very fortunate to work daily with kindness.
- I agree. There's just no reason to be mean to others. What would we find in your DVD Player these days?
Enya. Listen to the Rain.
- What would people be surprised to know about you?
I have dyslexia. I hope our subscribers haven’t noticed!! When I see signs on the highway, I see the end of the word first. Ask me to spell “bicycle” and I know there is an i, y, c…and it starts with a “b”, but I have to stop and think about what goes where. It surprises me that I’ve ended up working with Rules and Words! But it’s been good for me too!
- Wow! You're truly amazing because you haven't let that hold you back, and no one would have ever noticed! I'm super impressed! What's your favorite thing to eat?
Are you waiting for me to say SNAILS? Close. Turtles, the chocolate kind.
Yes, I love Onlinesweeps.com and BigSweeps.com. I recommend Sweepsheet every time someone asks us for a paper newsletter. Sweeping America doesn’t mail ours, and Sweepsheet does. Lots of Sweepers subscribe to both Newsletters, as we offer different things. Also Carol McLaughlin’s This N’ That newsletter. It doesn’t have Sweepstakes, but is about Sweeping and the Sweepstakes community.
- Is there any state or country you'd like to win a trip to?
I’d like to take the man who’s put up with me for over 50 years to Ireland. Or maybe one of the NASCAR races he likes to watch.
- WOW! One thing we love on this blog is romance, and we're thrilled to hear that you've been married for 50 years! That's pretty phenomenal! You've turned things over to your daughter. Did she volunteer or did you have to ask?
Donna, is the actual creator of Sweeping America and ran it the first year as well as working a “real job”. She was offered a great new job and took it because it paid well, and Sweeping America wasn’t able to support her at that time. Years passed. Lol. Now she is a single Mom with 3 and 4 year old boys, one of whom is Autistic. So she needs Sweeping America to support herself and the boys. She is very grateful to be able to work at home and give her sons as much as she can.
(lol) What will you be doing ?
LOL, indeed! I wouldn’t mind being right where I am . I can see FedEx and UPS from my window as I work!
- Would we ever find you on The Price is Right or Wheel of Fortune?
I’m pretty shy! Let’s send Donna! Some of our subscribers have done that and it’s an awesome opportunity. Talk to some of the winners and they’ll give you hints about how to get on the shows! Come on, you know you want to, RO.
You're so right, Judy! I watch those shows all the time. One day soon! It was great to get some behind the scenes info on what goes into the newsletter and about sweepstaking as a profitable hobby. If you'd like to subscribe or find out more information, please click on the link listed below. You can also find out how to get a FREE edition to check out some of the amazing prizes to be won! Saying Thanks and Waving goodbye to Judy and Donna!
Click on “Subscribe/Renew”
First timers can sign up for a month (4 Issues) FREE
DON'T FORGET - YOU CAN'T WIN IF YOU DON'T ENTER!
A Culinary Adventure In Paris Prize: Trip to Paris, France for winner and one guest consists of economy class round trip airfare from/to point of departure from airport closest to winner’s primary residence, 4 nights double occupancy hotel accommodations, one of the following activities: such as Eiffel Tower, River Seine Sightseeing Cruise, (activity is sponsor’s sole discretion) and a special one-day cooking course in Paris at Chef Frédéric’s apartment kitchen. Cooking class begins in a nearby local market, where you’ll choose your ingredients, and a hands-on class featuring three courses or, a 3-hour dessert class in the afternoon focusing on 2 delicious French desserts. Cooking class depending on availability. Shared Shuttle to/from Charles de Gaulle Airport. Plus, $1,000 spending money to be used for incidentals, including transportation and meals. WORTH: $8,100.00
Orlando, FL Amusement Park Prize: Trip for a Family of 4 (including the winner) consists of: 4 nights hotel accommodations, economy class airfare, 3-Day Theme Park Tickets for winner and guests, selected meals via Dining Plan, ground transportation within Theme Park facilities, and $500.00 spending money for incidentals. WORTH: $7,700.00/sweetiessweeps