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Reviews & Giveaways

My fascination for winning things started very young… back in the pre-internet days, I used to watch television shows and look through the newspapers for competitions and giveaways. I also used to attend bingos and buy a stack of bingo cards, also reducing the average age of attendees by about 20 years on my very own. I was such an avid competitor, that I used to win BIGTIME but I was severely underage (at most I was about 10-12 years old) so I would give my parents’ names to get the prizes.

Among the many things I have won are:

  • A 3-couch living room set
  • 2 laptops
  • 1 television
  • Money (cash, checks, paypal)
  • Swarovski crystals
  • Books
  • Kitchen appliances
  • Food
  • Gift cards
  • Clothes
  • Hotel stays
  • Veterinary services (saved me hundreds of dollars)
  • Meals
  • Paintings
  • Makeup
  • Random miscellaneous prizes!

My prizes celebrate! </ br>Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

I was even on a game show once. I entered the game show’s raffle so many times, that I knocked the competition out of the water and my name was picked as the final contestant. Of course, me being 12 years old…they weren’t going to let me on the show on my own. So my dad came with me while my mom ‘assisted’ live through the phone. The funny thing is: the model from the show actually told me beforehand what to pick so I would win all the prizes (that lady had a heart of gold or she just really hated her job and wanted to screw them over).

AND WIN I DID. EVERYTHING. EVERY SINGLE PRIZE THE SHOW HAD TO OFFER. I was the first grand prize winner ever on the show.  At 12 years old!

Long gone are the days of those type of competitions… now the giveaway and competition scene has changed, but I still do well when I put some effort into it.

These are the ways I’m winning goodies now:

Obviously, Giveaways

InternationalGiveawaysLogo600x113pxThere are sooooo many giveaways out there, even those open internationally. We get overwhelmed with the amount and can only add a portion to the listing. They are becoming more competitive and harder to win due to participation numbers, but there’s still a chance to win them, especially if you take part in as many entries as possible. Both my head volunteer and I win giveaways here & there (she wins more than me!).

Country-based Facebook Contests

The awesome thing about Facebook contests is that you can find contests from your own country, and those are usually less popular and thus have less participants.

I went a little nutty with it… first, I created a new Facebook profile. Then, I started liking pages from companies in my country LIKE CRAZY. I must have reached 1000 easy… anytime I liked a page, it would recommend 10 more and so I kept at it until I had liked all sorts of hotels, restaurants, companies, products, stores, clothing brands, etc. – all from the country where I reside.

Then, I searched for keywords in the Facebook search bar, so it would show me posts from my liked pages that contained those keywords. I bookmarked those searches, and I check them every so often to find new contests.

I have won TONS of things this way… sometimes I find contests that have less than 10 participants and I blow it out of the water with my entry!

This is the search URL for keywords. Just change the keyword in red and you will get relevant search results from pages’ posts:

These keywords work out well for me:

  • win
  • contest
  • giveaway
  • giving%20away

Unfortunately, this search URL gives you the most popular results, not the latest, so if anyone can figure out how to search by “most recent” posts with keywords – tell me in a comment!

Online Games

To each his own when it comes to gambling, but as I mentioned, I’ve been into bingo since I was a little kid. And when I did bingo, I didn’t take it easy. I could handle at least 10 bingo cards at a time per game as a youngin’ and today I can handle more. Some of my best prizes were won on national bingo games, although I never won the ultimate prize: a vacation.

My grandpa also started teaching me poker when I was about 5 years old, so I grew up playing it and I have a naturally mathematical and strategic mind (I actually have a BA degree in strategy). I’ve been playing online bingo for a few years and although I don’t do it on any pro level, I’ve won some prizes and money!

I just don’t recommend you get into it unless (a) you are very good at the particular game and (b) you know when to give yourself a break and quit playing. Gambling is no joke… don’t do it unless you know what you’re getting yourself involved in.


Twitter Parties

twitter-partyHonestly, I’m quite bad at these because I’m Twitter-ignorant. However, I participated in ONE Twitter party once and won a $100 gift card just like that… All I had to do was tweet something that was mentioned on a webinar that I was watching at the time and kapow – money. It was so easy that I felt like I was missing out on some amazing opportunities to win more goodies in Twitter parties, but alas, I have yet to take myself up on finding and participating in more. You can take a look at this good resource to learn more about how they work.

Where else are you winning money and prizes? Tell us below if you have any great tips!

My sister’s birthday is coming up, and she recently complained about not having enough dresses for her friends’ weddings. It’s a problem I have as well – so many weddings, so few outfits.  So for her birthday, I’ve decided to spoil her with a gorgeous dress that she can wear out to a variety of events and parties. She’s easy to shop for because she used to be a model, so dresses usually fit her perfectly.

My latest find is Dress First, which is the first online clothes site that I’ve encountered which offers only dresses and wedding accessories to match – nothing else. I love the strong focus on dresses, since it’s the only piece I’m interested in buying… I don’t want my eye to get distracted by other goodies.

The site is very well organized, so I knew to head straight where I’m interested: special occasion dresses. They have a beautiful array of sexy and elegant dresses! I see a few that would look spectacular on my mom as well, a few for my little sister, and why not pick one out for myself, too? Oh right, must.. control.. myself..

Looking around the site is easy and user friendly – the pictures are stunning. The dresses are even more amazing, and the colors – wow. Plus, free shipping?! Shipping to my sis is usually a big expense, so I love that it’s free.  I’m going to take advantage of their current discounts, as well.

So I’ve narrowed it down to the top 3 dresses that would look amazing on my sister. I would love if you could help me choose one of these beauties!


CHOICE #1 – Empire Halter Chiffon Evening Dress

Empire Dress


CHOICE # 2 – Empire Sweetheart Chiffon Prom Dress

Dress #2


CHOICE #3 – Mermaid Strapless Taffeta Evening Dress

Choice #3


Which is your favorite? Please help me decide!


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

This is a question I often get asked.  Blog hosts want to know what I do to get products for review & for giveaway hostings.
This is the process I went and go through:
Preparing & Writing the Review
  1. Build up a visitor count!/followers. This isn’t completely necessary, but I myself didn’t actually start working on reviews & giveaway hostings until I felt that I had enough followers to attract the giveaway sponsors’ interest.  Of course, it’s all relative because building up a following without any giveaways being hosted on your site might take too long a time.  You may want to give something away yourself at first to start bringing traffic to your site or just start trying to get reviews/giveaway sponsors anyway.
  2. Sign up for Google Analytics, Feedburner, Twitter, Facebook Page and/or any other social media that interests you.  You will need to gather information from these sites to present as statistics to possible giveaway sponsors. The majority ask for these details.
  3. Find someone to sponsor that very first giveaway on your site.  Maybe it’s a friend, someone you know, or someone who’s giveaway item you have won.  They may be willing to help you out with the giveaway but not necessarily send you a review item.  You have to make do with what you have in the beginning!
  4. Write a Review & Giveaway Policy. Feel free to read mine to get an idea of what it should look like or take a look at other giveaway blogs’ policies.
  5. Write an e-mail template and/or a Media Kit to send to different companies/businesses that may be interested in a review and/or giveaway.  Make sure you write all important information in that e-mail (Who you are, your website, your website’s traffic stats, what you want to do, if you have any requirements, etc). Also, keep in mind that sponsors look at grammar and spelling so do try to write the e-mail as best as you can and proofread it.
  6. Keep organized! Make a document where you can keep track of when you contacted a company, which company, their response, their review & giveaway item, and where the process stands.  It’s very easy to lose track of all the companies’ responses.
  7. When writing reviews, make sure to be as honest as you can without damaging the company.  If the product is that horrible that you cannot write a positive review, it might be best to write them a very polite e-mail and let them know that you cannot write a positive review, rather than posting it.
  8. Be aware that companies will look at your site and read former reviews/giveaways that you have written. Make sure that spelling and grammar are correct, that your reviews are well written and that you put effort into them and into displaying the company/products in good light.
  9. Provide an option for  businesses/companies/stores to write YOU an e-mail if they’re interested in a giveaway sponsorship.  Place a form or your e-mail address somewhere in your blog or site, either on a page of it’s own or somewhere on your template where it is made clear that you review products or host giveaways.  A lot of blogs have a “PR Welcome” image on their sidebar or a little blurb.  I actually got some awesome giveaway sponsors this way.
  10. Create a consistant format for your reviews and giveaways.  Don’t make each review/giveaway too different from the other. You want a format that flows and makes sense.  Options for what to write as part of the review are: an interview, placing pictures of your favorite items, writing about the sponsor’s website or store, reviewing the item they sent you, etc.
  11. Set up your giveaway entry options.  Make sure you include any options the giveaway sponsor may want, like picking a favorite item from their store, giving more entries for purchases, following them on Twitter, etc.  Ensure that the entries place the sponsor as a priority and NOT your blog.  The sponsor is trusting you to promote their product and/or store as best as you can, and you aren’t doing that if you’re making the mandatory entry to follow YOUR blog.
  12. Practice! The more you write, the easier it will get.
Preparing and Writing the Giveaway
  1. Create a consistant format for giveaways.  Don’t make each review/giveaway too different from the other.
  2. Spellcheck and prooread. Looking professional is very important.
  3. Make entry options linkable.  For example, if you provide an entry for Twitter followers, make sure you place a link to your Twitter account.  It’s annoying to the participants to hunt for links.  They may not bother and that’s a loss of followers for you!  (For people who use Google forms, you can’t place clickable links but you can write the URL underneath the entry option.  Participants will just have to copy/paste it.)
  4. LINK TO SPONSORS.  Anywhere in your review or giveaway where the sponsor is mentioned, those words should link to their website/store. Remember: promoting the sponsor is top priority.
  5. Clearly state the mandatory entry. Make it bold if necessary or a different color… whatever works for you.  Just make sure that above all, it’s clear that there is a mandatory entry.
  6. Clarify whether the participants should post separate comments for each entry.
  7. Clarify where the giveaway is open to! (Worldwide, US, Canada, etc)
  8. Clarify what the expiration date is.
  9. Clearly state the giveway prize and place a GOOD picture of it.
  10. Keep track of your giveaways.  Make sure you close them when they expire, and you may even disable commenting or the entry form to avoid confusion.
If something is left unanswered or if you have further questions, please feel free to write me an e-mail to internationalgiveaways[at]gmail[dot]com or fill out the form here.
I’ll admit that I’m not a huge Twitter user.  I’m not crazy about their social media platform but not ignorant to how useful it can be!
So here are a few tips on how to use Twitter to promote your giveaway:
  1. Make a tweet for entrants to copy and paste. That way you can ensure that all important information will be included and participants don’t have to take their time to create their own tweet!
  2. For the tweet, come up with a snappy, short and attractive summary of your giveaway.  It has to be straight to the point and include all  important information (the prize, the expiration date, the store, etc)  Remember, it can only be up to 140 characters.
  3. If it’s open worldwide.. write it in your tweet!  People might assume it’s not otherwise.
  4. Use relevant hashtags (ex: #giveaway, #contest, #win)
  5. Use a URL shortner! TinyURL does a great job.
  6. If your giveaway is sponsored, you can add the sponsor’s @twitter_username in the tweet!
  7. ALWAYS ensure that you haven’t passed the 140 character limit.
  8. Make a tweet count as an entry in the giveaway. You might be surprised how many new participants these tweets will bring you.  You can also ask participants to give you the tweet’s URL/permalink so you can verify the entry.
More suggestions? Please feel free to comment on this post in order to add them!
 If you have further questions, please feel free to write me an e-mail to internationalgiveaways[at]gmail[dot]com or fill out the form here.
Follow these easy tips and you’ll be sure to win more prizes!
  1. Obviously, enter as many times as you can! Do as many of the additional entry options as possible, and make sure you follow directions on how to post them.
  2. If you are asked to post a separate comment for each entry, then don’t post only one entry summarizing everything you did.  A lot of giveaway hosts use and it would be a shame that you just turned your 14 entries into only 1!
  3. Get a Twitter, Facebook and Etsy account, get a blog if you would like, and join any other social media websites that may give you the chance to get more entries in giveaways.  Do try to get followers for all of these because not all giveaway hosts are happy to provide extra entries for blogs/accounts which have no audience.  I also started with zero followers, so it takes time to build a following but it’s not impossible.
  4. Be honest when answering the mandatory or additional entries.  If they ask that you go to a store and pick out a favorite item, don’t just post any random item in order to enter.  Really look at the store and help the owner figure out which items are most popular in his/her shop.  Also, keep into account that not all giveaways pick a random number. Some actually pick a giveaway winner based on their answers.  I’ve actually won one or two of those already. So honesty can help you win!
  5. Make sure you leave contact information in all your entries! You might win and never find out about it because you left no way for the giveaway host to contact you.  Most likely, another winner will be picked in that case.  Also, I’ve heard that some giveaway hosts won’t bother to hunt for your e-mail address if it’s posted on only one comment.  So cover your bases and leave your e-mail address in each entry comment you post.
  6. CHECK YOUR E-MAIL OFTEN! Giveaway hosts tend to give a certain amount of time for winners to contact them.  It ranges from 24 hours to a few days.  If you don’t check your e-mail, you might lose your prize.
  7. Are there multiple giveaways available on the blog? Enter them! A lot of giveaway hosts give you extra entries for entering their other giveaways.
More suggestions? Please feel free to comment on this post in order to add them!
 If you have further questions, please feel free to write me an e-mail to internationalgiveaways[at]gmail[dot]com or fill out the form here.