How to find low entry competitions – Part 1
Finding low entry competitions is a great way to increase the number of competitions you win. If you only ever enter competitions from a competition prize listing website you will likely win every now and then, but not as often compared to searching for your own.
Why Bother Finding low entry competitions
There will be far less entries on competitors that are not listed on a competition website. So the more of these you enter it will greatly increase your chances of winning. Although at first it will take a bit more time to find your own, you will get quicker with practice. I have found taking the time to search for my own competitions well worth it and it has increased the number of prizes i win.
My favourite place to find low entry comps
I’ve been requested by many of my fellow compers to write blogs posts about tweet deck and twitter lists. I’ve learnt so much from other compers over the past few years I’d love to give back to those just starting out. Tweetdeck is my favourite source for finding low entry competitions. It is however a rather large – ok nope make that mahoosive topic. So I’ve decided to break it down into a mini series of blog posts. These quick and easy bite size blog posts will allow you to learn skills slowly and build them up until you’re a comp finding whizz!
Mastering Search Operators
Our first lesson is all about mastering the search bar! It’s important to know exactly how to use a search engine on any platform to be able to easily and quickly narrow down what you are looking for. We can do this using something called a search operation or search parameter.
What is a search operator
In complicated terms a search operator (or search parameter) is
a character or string of characters in a search engine query to narrow the focus of the search
In simple terms a search operator (or search parameter) is
A word or simple symbol used when using a search bar to help narrow down what you are looking for
THE Search operators
There are many, many search operators but I’m going to talk to you about the ones I most commonly use to find competitions and narrow down what I am looking for. As you read through these go ahead and open up Google or Twitter (or both). Try out some of the examples and see the difference when you include the search operators and when you don’t.
Quotation Marks “XXXXXX”
Quotation marks around a set of words you are looking for means you are looking for that exact term. Let’s say I want to search for (and I’m being totally unimaginative here) cat litter. You decide to buy a cat and the next thing you know you have 7 cats and you’re the crazy cat lady. You now have an urgent need to buy cat litter but you decide you want to win some! Searching with this would work
“Cat Litter” win
“Cat Litter” #win
The words “Cat” and “Litter” do usually go together so you wont see a massive difference when searching with and without the quotation marks. A great of example of when these are really important is if you where searching for your own name to see if you have won any competitions.
“Nikki Hunter-Pike” Congratulations
“Nikki Hunter-Pike” winner
“Nikki Hunter-Pike” “runner up”
You’ll notice on the last search I used two words in quotation marks. This is to make sure I don’t get back any results about running that include my name.
USING THE OR OPERATOR
When you type the word ‘OR‘ into a search bar such as twitter or Google it acts as an instruction. You must type the word and in capitals for the search engine to recognise it as an instruction. otherwise the search bar will look for the word “or” instead.
OR is a pretty self-explanatory search operator. You are asking for results that contain one thing or another. This can be a great way to get more results for looking for similar things. Let’s do some examples.
You’re the crazy cat lady i mentioned earlier. You want all the cat litter in the world. You find that some promoters refer to it as kitty litter rather than cat litter. Changing your search to this would help widen your search;
win “cat litter” OR “kitty litter”
#win “cat litter” OR “kitty litter”
Another great use of the search term OR that I use regularly is
win photo OR selfie
#win photo OR selfie
This will give you a great range of competitions that want you to enter with a photo or a selfie to win all in one search as opposed to having to do two separate searches.
Excluding words or terms from your search –
This operator (the minus symbol –) is really useful if you get a bunch of results that include a term you don’t want. A basic example of this would be you search for the word Manchester and get a load of results that include Manchester United. If you change this search to be
With this you will get all results about Manchester that do not include the word united. Thus removing all of the Manchester United results.
So how is this useful when comping? Sometimes when you do a search on twitter you will notice a bunch of tweets that show that are useless to you. I tend to find some American competitions that are not open to me have people tweeting the same thing over and over an I want them all removed from my results. The way to do this is to find the word that is common in all those tweets and then add it to your search with the – command in front of it.
I have a search set up for
“tell us” win
Unfortuantley an american promotor that I cannot has a comp that is being aggressively tweeted and clogging up my results. This tweet contains the word tarts. As this word is a fairly unique one i can safely exclude this from my search, removing all instances of their competition tweets from my results.
“tell us” win -tarts
It’s quite important you don’t pick a common word as your exclusion word. Otherwise you may also remove results from other competitions that you don’t want to filter out! I personally find the exclusion operator most useful when using Tweetdeck.
Using the and opertaor
This last operator is actually the most useless. The default when searching for more than two words is always AND. So basically in other words if you use it or don’t use it you will get very similar results. I’ve always used it during my comping searches just in case. When you search the search engine will always assume you are looking for the two words together. If you did want to use it however (even though it’s sometimes total waste of time, but if your stuck in your ways like me) a great example of this would be as follows. If I decided i want to win a tent, to look for competitions I might try searching
tent AND win
tent AND #win
Another example of one of my (pointless use of search operator) is below
upload photo AND win
upload photo AND #win
You can also use the + instead of the word AND. It’s use is slightly different though as you need to make sure there is no space between the word and the plus symbol
A word on hashtags
You may notice that I have included both hashtags and non hashtags versions of win when searching. This is because depending on where you are searching they may or may not be needed. On twitter however you will get different results from #win to win sometimes. This is all depends on how a promoter has worded their tweet. To cover all bases I like to search for both!
You’ll notice from doing these searches you still have a lot of results to trawl through. Depending on which whether you are using these on Google, Twitter or Facebook you will get a very different set of results. These results can be filtered even further by date, location, images. The filtering you can do will also depend on where you are searching for competitions.
It’s important to note that these search operators will not work on Instagram. They will work on Facebook, Twitter and Google.
I hope this mini introduction to finding low entry competitions has been useful. There are other search operators out there but I thought I would start with the ones I most commonly use. I know a lot of my comping buddies reading this already know this information but it’s the basics you need to be able to move on to more complicated stuff like mastering Tweetdeck!
Are you going to start looking for your own competitions after reading this post? Maybe your’e a seasoned comper and have some extra tips that I’ve missed here. Comment below and let me know.