A few years ago I won a car.   Yes I won a brand new car.  Eat it.  No but seriously. 

I won a car in a contest based on creativity.  They gave out 50 and I won one of them.

I also worked at a company a few years before that administered contests for a major Soda company.  The contest was for a trip to South Beach.  Hardly anyone entered the contest because almost everyone thought it was impossible to win.  Little did they know that actually in the end only about 100 people entered the draw.  The prize was worth like eight thousand dollars which mean that the value of each contestant entering was about 80 dollars!  That’s the trick.  People think so many people enter these contests, but because everyone believes that not that many people even enter! 

There’s also this thought that “if it seems too good to be true than it is.”  This is in fact not the case.  Sure everyone has an angle, but that angle doesn’t necessarily mean a negative for you.  For example, I entered a contest for a video sharing website that was for 25,000 dollars.  Only 100 people entered, giving each entrance the estimate value of 250 dollars!  How is this possible? Well the video website had some start-up capital and ended up going bankrupt.  That didn’t matter though, the winner still ended up winning 25,000 dollars! 

It’s important to realize that the most important thing when trying to win a contest is to really understand the criteria that they are judging you on.  When I entered the contest they kind of implied that the winner would be based on Twitter and votes.  I hated Twitter and I certainly didn’t want to spam all my friends to get votes.  When I read the instructions carefully however I noticed there were seven very distinctive criteria that they were looking for and they were all weighted equality.  I don’t remember the exact criteria but they were like votes, creativity, enthusiasm, talent and so on.  Twitter wasn’t one of the criteria and voting was only worth 1/7.  I ended up really focusing on nailing the six criteria and not worrying about votes at all. 

I ended up winning even though someone with ten times as money votes than me lost!  People were mad that I won because I didn’t Tweet at all, but screw em, they didn’t read the instructions! 

Anyway that’s my advice on winning contests.  I hope it helps and good luck!