At first I thought it was a scam.
Joseph from Zoopah contacted me through LinkedIn telling me I’d won a computer in an ad contest I had applied to. I barely remembered entering, and I had never heard of Joseph, so I was sure that the next step would be for me to pay just $29.99 for shipping and handling, after which I’d never hear from him again.
But Joseph prompted me to check my other inbox, the one belonging to the email I give out when I don’t feel like getting spammed. Lo, there was an email from a week ago telling me I won.
If this was a scam, it was an elaborate one, which certainly warranted a donation of $29.99. But the request for money never came, just a mailing address, and before I knew it I was the proud owner of a Lenovo C440 all-in-one touchscreen PC.
How did I win this computer? And what life lessons did I learn from my experience?
Strategy: Win the lottery, repeat
There are multiple platforms online that allow you to enter contests by submitting yoru creative work. The first of these is Zooppah, which is how I won my computer.
Zooppah is a platform that connects established companies with creative people worldwide to help them create print and film campaigns. In my case, Lenovo was offering a $10,000 first prize and dozens of free computers to the best print ad submissions.
They were looking to showcase their new Yoga laptop, which is “as versatile as you are”. To that end, they wanted images that conveyed flexible lifestyles, people doing hobbies and activities in a unique or contradictory way.
I chose to submit a photo of my cousin breakdancing in army uniform. it took me less than an hour to Photoshop out the unnecessary elements and to add an icon and title to the image with the help of their generator.
This was my winning entry:
Zooppa definitely has some of the biggest prizes I’ve seen online, but a lot of their projects require more work especially if they use film as a medium. But it’s a great way to grow your portfolio and expose your work to name brand companies like Lenovo, in my case.
There are other platforms there that allow you to express your creative talents by using contests - the benefit of contests over a sweepstakes is that you are being judged for the creativity of your work and not just luck.
Here are some platforms I’m familiar with that aggregate contests into one place so you don’t have to go looking for them.
Believe in thyself, young grasshopper
My intial response to winning was shock. “other people win contests. Not me, that’s not what I do”. The main thing I’d like to learn from this experience is to change this mindset.
How many opportunities do you miss just by not applying? Are you underestimating your own talent? Finally, do you play the lottery? Because if you do, your odds of winning are thousands times higher.
Yes, the prize is smaller, but isn’t it worth entering 10 contests with a 1:30 or 1:500 chance of winning over paying enter a raffle where there literally millions of odds against you?
On the flip side though, don’t get too invested in whether you win a specific contest. I think my attitude of posting and forgetting was the correct one. Scott Belsky, in Making Ideas Happen, speaks of the importance of not obsessing over the reception of your products; Seth Godin also emphasizes the importance of continuously “shipping” out new work.
If design and creativity is something you enjoy doing, then design contests are a great way to apply yourself while simultaneously creating the opportunity of getting rewarded for your efforts.
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