One of the biggest surprises I had, when I started researching my first book, was discovering there was an entire community of sweepstakers. Not only did people connect online in groups and forums, but had in-person clubs and conventions. There is nothing like the energy of hanging around other winners; encouraging you when you are in a dry spell, cheering for you when you win, and sharing winning tips.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is shutting things down around the world, and we are encouraged to practice social distancing, I thought this was an opportunity to reach out to my fellow contestors and connect. I decided to take the in-person contest club experience and put it online.

My goal is to make mimic an in-person meeting format as closely as possible. If you don’t know what happens at club meetings, let me describe that to you first.

Meetings take place at a:

Coffee Shop

This option is where my club usually meets. We show up with our laptops, netbooks, and iPads, grab a drink and sit around the biggest table we can find for 2-hours. We talk about what we have won, what giveaways we are focusing on and generally helping each other enter. We even have a club Facebook Group where we share referral links.

Some clubs have drawings at the meetings. Members bring in stamps, envelopes, scratch lottery tickets, 50/50 raffles, trading unused prizes, etc.

Member’s Home

This is more casual than meeting out in public as the meeting may go longer because some clubs combine meeting with a pot luck lunch or dinner.

Other places people met are at restaurants, libraries, community centers, etc.

For example, our club has also morphed over time. We started meeting at a restaurant on Sundays for lunch. Then the service wasn’t great so we moved locations. It was more of a social event as we didn’t bring computer equipment. Then we tried meeting at a member’s home so we could use the WiFi plus a projector to try and learn from each other. More of a classroom feel. Not sure how long before we shifted to a coffee shop, but we have been there ever since, with meeting at a member’s home once in a while.

Online Meeting

Here is the outline I am envisioning the Virtual Contest Club Meeting. We will:

  • have a Round Robin introduction
  • share a recent win or favorite prize
  •  help each other win by
    • asking questions
    • answering questions
    • sharing current sweepstakes

I am moderating the meeting, along with hosting it, but this isn’t a workshop where I teach and you learn. This is a group effort. No different than if we met in person. Also, I am asking everyone to pay $1 to help cover my hosting costs. (Zoom is not free for me to use.) I am also going to limit it to 25 people per meeting. My fear is, any bigger than that and there won’t be enough time for everyone to participate.

What You Need

You need a computer or device that has a camera, a microphone, and speakers. Most cellphones, tablets, netbooks, and laptops have them built-in. Bring a cuppa coffee or tea, plus a note pad to take notes. There is also a chat room where we can share links to giveaways and handles to tag new friends.

After you register, you will be emailed a custom link to join the meeting.

Once the pandemic has passed, you may wish to join a club, or attend a convention. You can find details on my website and Patti Osterheld’s:

Think about attending a convention as they are all being held after the closures are lifted.

In the meantime, while hunkering down I recommend you read The Prize Winner of Defiance OH, or watch the movie (or both, as they are slightly different.)

The more I host, the better they will get as all the hiccups are worked out. I can guarantee one thing, you will have fun.

Will you be joining me online?