Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Another voice: Hello Rebecca Beesley!

Now that you’ve met Nikki and Lorna, It’s my absolute pleasure to acquaint you with Rebecca Beesley, who you may know from her blog The Beesley Buzz. I’ll let Rebecca introduce herself…
I’m mum to 3 kids, aged from 5 to 13. I blog about family life, recipes, books, travel and life with JIA (Juvenile Arthritis). The blog started out as a way of documenting our home-schooling journey when the boys were younger. Even though they are back in school now, I’ve carried on blogging as it’s such a great way of recording family memories. With my daughter’s medical appointments making it impossible to hold down a conventional job, I turned to comping as a hobby to keep me sane.

Well, you’ve slightly pre-empted my first question there! I was going to ask why you comp…

I’ve always enjoyed comping - My earliest recollections go back to childhood and having the winning ticket in charity raffles and I’ll always remember my first ‘creative’ win being from a competition to design a poster for the railway link from London to Brighton for which I won the second prize of a twin-deck cassette player – a real ‘wow’ prize in those days - I still have it to this day!

There’s something special about those early wins isn’t there?! My first prize was a dictionary that still sits on my office shelf … The cover boasts that it includes the word ‘Glasnost’, which should give you an idea how old it is! Still, there’s a world of difference between comping as a kid and the first time you actually identify as a comper. When did that happen for you?

I started comping properly in 2012. It was during the last few months of pregnancy with my youngest child, and those uncomfortable sleepless nights when I would turn to Facebook in my boredom and I found that there were loads of comps out there. The habit continued during that year with the nighttime feeding.

After a few months of entering lots of comps (or what I thought was lots of comps), I discovered that there are people out there that do this thing properly! I discovered this weird hobby of mine had a name – comping – and I discovered comping legend Di Coke’s blog and Facebook page. That was when I started to realise that some people were actually entering hundreds of competitions.

I was both excited and disappointed. Excited because a whole new world had opened up to me of people who shared my interest, but disappointed too because every comp I entered for the next few months seemed to be won by the same few people and I felt I stood little chance against these ‘super compers’. I stuck with it though, seeking out my own competitions and finding ones that the kids could enter and the wins started rolling in.

One of my first big wins was an iPad - something I’d never normally treat myself to - and after that I was hooked.

Given my own history with addictive/compulsive behaviours, I wince slightly when I hear compers joke about getting “hooked” - comping addiction is every bit as real as gambling addiction, isn’t it?

Absolutely - when post-natal depression struck, I turned to comping as a crutch to get me through those dark months. My only joy seemed to come from winning and the rest of the time I was just a mess. In one way, I am glad that I had comping to turn to but on the other hand, I became properly addicted to it. It took over my life to the extent that I would sit at the computer until sometimes 2, 3, 4 am comping, knowing that the kids would be up again at 6 am and hating myself for getting so little sleep. I would skip having a shower just so I could fit more comps in. I was glued to Facebook, scrolling through my feed for at least four or five hours a day just to check I hadn’t missed a winning notification or missed entering any comps on there. I was winning a prize pretty much every day but I was the unhappiest I’d ever been in my life.

I knew things had to change and so after that my new year’s resolution each year has been to spend less time comping. I like to think that I have a reasonably good balance nowadays so that it is a fun hobby to dip in and out of without it totally taking over my life.

The line you see the bookies use comes to mind here: when the fun stops, stop. That’s why I tend to steer away from the form-filling comps. Sure, I could enter 200 a night, but it really wouldn’t be healthy for me. I might enter a few holiday comps but then I’ll start looking at the ones that demand more effort.

Yes - I also love the creative comps best - and there’s always another one around the corner to be thinking about. I love how these can be family affairs. I tend to find the competitions and often come up with the creative idea, while my husband is the technical one, doing the video editing etc. So we make the perfect comping team really.

I absolutely adore blogger challenge competitions – Although my blog is not a comping blog – it was set up to record family memories – when the opportunity arises to take part in a blogger challenge I try to really understand what it is the brand is looking for and what message they are trying to get across. I then write my post accordingly and cross my fingers that it will stand out and they will like it.

I tend not to do many sponsored posts as I don’t have time to promote the blog properly to get the stats/readership that these companies want, so when I win a blogger challenge it’s like getting a little bit of income from my blog in a fun way that I’ve really enjoyed.

If anything, these creative comps are great for getting me out of my comfort zone and trying something new, whether that be attempting a slideshow with old family photographs or pretending to be Beyoncé. Even if I don’t win, at least I’ve enjoyed the endeavour. Comping may not have helped me find nirvana, but at least I can use it to improve my mental health!

Yes, it’s definitely got me out of my comfort zone – I’m sure a lot of compers will relate to dressing up in weird costumes, learning new skills and pulling funny faces to camera. Basically, it’s about having lots of fun and that’s one of the main reasons I keep going.

Enjoying the process is absolutely fundamental, but as with any hobby, comping has its tangible rewards - you’ve had some amazing experiences thanks to this hobby, so I hope you’ll come back soon and share some of your winning stories?

Of course - I’d love to!

Comping may not have the financial risk associated with gambling, but any kind of addiction (and winning can certainly be addictive) can be damaging to your health and your relationships. Please take a moment to read this useful guide to the signs of comping addiction. Your GP can offer support on addiction and dependency, and further information is available through Mind, the mental health charity.

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