Awesome Hobby - Contesting and Sweepstaking

I have the coolest hobby in the world. Well, at least to me it is. And no, I do not mean blowing bubbles and making the dogs and the little man nutsy-cuckoo. Although, speaking of, that is a really fabulous pastime and never fails to make me bust a gut laughing and put me in a fabulous mood.
The hobby I am speaking of is entering contests and sweepstakes. Instead of paying money for doing something I enjoy, I am actually rewarded for a little bit of time and effort.
Unlike many hobbies, there are very few things needed to get started. Access to a computer and Internet connection, an ability to read and type, knowledge of basic information about yourself such as name, age, address, etc..., and the ability to find the contests and sweepstakes to enter.
It's easy enough to get started, just do a search and tons of results pop up.
An even easier way is to join a sweepstaking site. Well, spellcheck tells me sweepstaking is not a word, but it is for me, so deal. After months of research, I found the best site for me is OLS also known as Online-Sweepstakes. It is set up so nicely that you can begin using it almost immediately, especially if after joining (if I recall correctly, everyone has to sign up for a free membership to access the forums) you go to the forums under general sweepstakes discussion and look under hints and tips and Community under newbie neighborhood. There is a wealth of information from some very talented individuals.
If it will inspire you, some of the members post about their wins big and small to motivate and let everyone know that people really do win and it is not just a scam.
OLS is organized in such a way that you can find what you want to enter by either looking under the different categories that might interest you, the expiration dates, or the entry frequency to name a few.
You can tell at a glance if you are qualified for a certain sweep or contest, and there is a section for notes that have answers or codes if they are allowed to be shared and anything else pertinent to that particular sweep.
Now the majority of the sweeps are available to all OLS members, but there is also an option to pay for a premium membership- $12.50 for 3 months, $20 for 6 months and $30 for a year. Quite a bargain when you consider you not only get access to some of the less publicized sweeps but also organizational tools that make this hobby so much easier and more enjoyable- the ability to know the last date you entered alone is worth the paltry few cents a day it costs.
In fact, I and many others have gifted others with subscriptions, and I will most likely doing it again, through my blog this time, so stay tuned for details.
In case you were wondering, I get nothing for linking to OLS except the satisfaction of supporting a site that I really love. Oh, and possibly giving myself more competition.
Super wonderful people on the site, for the most part friendly, caring, helpful and decent. With that many people, there are of course a few rabble risers but that is to be expected.
I will write another time with my personal best hints and tips, but for now suffice it to say it is an amazing hobby with great perks.
Some of the pros: You can win anything and I do mean anything from huge amounts of cash to houses, cars, and vacations down to a feminine hygiene products, ringtones or itune codes.
In general sweepers are very helpful and generous.
You can support companies that sponsor contests and sweepstakes to show your appreciation.
You can give my family and friend really nice gifts that don't cost you anything.
You have a lot of nice things and can take some very nice vacations that you wouldn't have taken if you hadn't won them.
You find some new sites and products that you never would have found if not for this hobby.
And now for the cons: You can get a very bad case of chair-butt aka numb-butt.
You begin dreaming about the instant win games when you sleep.
You give up sleep because you lose track of time.
Some have been known to develop an ever widening bottom because they are sitting for long periods without exercising. The Wii you win is very good for combating this, especially if you win the Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution to use with it. Or, you could always buy them with a gift card you win.
It has been reported that when you win a lot and people find out how you got all that neat stuff, they will think you should share with them. When you give them the information to enter themselves so they can win too they look at you like you are crazy to think that they should actually have to work for it.
Some people even think that if you give them something you won you are too cheap to buy them a gift. Luckily the people I share with aren't like that and if they were they'd also know that if they EVER even think about having that attitude they will not get another thing from me.
You do have to pay taxes on your wins. At least in the United States. In Canada, they don't have to pay taxes on their winnings.
All in all something I started when I was too ill to do much more than get on the computer for a little while here and there has proven to be very beneficial to me. While many have won more than I have or bigger prizes, I win consistently and last year the total value of my prizes was more than I would have if I worked a traditional job. And I in no way shape or form put in full time hours.
The thing some people fail to realize is that there are no guarantees. You might win, you might not. But if you don't enter, you don't have any chance at all.
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