Are you a member of the Free Postcode Lottery?
Last week, we were lucky enough to get an interview with the man behind the UK’s only completely free lottery; Chris Holbrook. Chris has become something of a celebrity in the lottery world, ever since his website (www.freepostcodelottery.com) launched in 2011.
His inspiration came from listening to a radio report about the provision of breast cancer drug Herceptin being a “postcode lottery”. This sparked the idea for his now iconic website, but Chris was still faced with a dilemma. He was not a fan of gambling, and wanted to avoid the legal minefield associated with that industry, so how could he create a postcode lottery for free but still make money?
Chris’ answer came from the milliondollarhomepage.com, which made its creator a million dollars from selling space by the pixel to advertisers. Chris, a long-time fan of the site, decided to combine the 2 ideas, creating an online lottery funded exclusively through advertisements. Do you know what that means? It means you’re about to meet the mastermind who turned gambling into gain for everyone in the UK…
Was it difficult to set up the Free Postcode Lottery?
Chris: I’m a web developer and (amateur) designer with a background in marketing, so I possessed the necessary skills to get it up and running by myself. It took a few weekends and evenings to code up the website and the rest was just badgering other websites to post about it. So relatively easy.
Once published, how long did it take until the site became popular?
Chris: It took 6 months to become popular enough to cover the £10 daily prize. It’s grown in popularity to £50 now, soon to go up to £60.
Obviously the site has grown a lot then. How many postcodes would you say you have registered? And how many visitors does the site get per month?
About 150,000 have registered since the launch and it gets about 1.3 million visits per month, that’s 40,000 visitors per day.
You started at £10 and are now at £50 – how do you decide when its time to increase the prize? And how high do you see this jackpot becoming in the future?
If you look at the homepage there is a grey bar at the top with some statistics in it. When the “% of UK postcodes entered” figure hits 6% it will go up to £60 (within the next few days). When it hit 5% it went up to £50, and when it hit 4% it went up to £40, etc.
Many people get suspicious just hearing the word lottery, or anything to do with gambling, we at WDW know that all too well by being in the bingo business! How do you convince first time visitors that the site is genuinely free?
This is by far the biggest challenge for the website. Unfortunately I think half (if not the majority) of new visitors click away through fear. I try to keep it looking amateur (which is why it is so ugly!) and crafty so people recognise that it isn’t a faceless corporation behind it. I never pay for traffic or advertising so most new users have come from a source that has recommended the site. That really helps, not to mention the quotes and audio/video I’ve accumulated from recent press on the homepage.
Even if people understand that it is free, they sometimes assume that I must be collecting and selling data. This is, of course, not true, which is why I only ever ask for postcode and email address. I couldn’t sell those even if I wanted too!
Do you get many thankful messages or fan mail?
Yes I get an overwhelming amount. I’m almost addicted to it now so get sad when I don’t get any nice feedback for a while! You can see plently of kind words in the comments on my regular blog posts on the homepage or on the Facebook Page: https://facebook.com/freepostcodelottery
You say your fans are like having your own Army, so if you had to give the army a name, what would it be? E.g. Star Trek has ‘Trekkies’ and the actor Mischa Collins has ‘Mischa’s Minions’.
Well… They refer to the site as FPL (something I didn’t originate) and they refer to themselves as FPLers (again, nothing to do with me!).
So what do you find most rewarding – the FPLers or the extra income?
The income is amazing because I can be free from the constraints of a normal 9-5 job, as is making people happy – which I had never set out to do but is a real bonus. But the best thing is having created a business from scratch and nurtured it to the size it is now. It’s the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing at night (sadly!). I can only imagine this is what being a parent is like. Fortunately, I will also be experiencing that come December when my first born is due!
Do you have any friends who you met through the site?
There are a handful of names that have been appearing on social media and the blog comments that I have come to recognise as “friends” although I’ve never met them. If I want some advice on what to do with the site I often drop them an email or Facebook message. So, as well as an army I suppose I also have a marketing department!
Do you think you’ll ever run a special promotion; such as a bigger jackpot on Christmas or an iPhone prize instead of cash etc?
I think the reason the site works is because people like to win money almost regardless of how much. I would rather give away lots of small prizes rather than one big one. I was recently approached by a “Corporate Strategist” from the City who advised that I need to give away millions of pounds in order to go mainstream and that he would help me if I gave him half of the business. I told him where to go! Saying that, I might introduce bigger one-off prizes, maybe for Xmas. It all depends on how much time I have to do it. Should be easier when I ‘retire’.
Finally, is there anyone you’d like to thank for their help with the site or the idea for it?
I’d like to thank a number of other website owners for recognising that my site wasn’t spammy and writing about it without expecting payment from me. Mostly, and this is a cliche reason…. the fans. So many of them are defending the site on Facebook, Twitter, other websites and forums before I even realise a bad word has been said. If anything is broken they let me know immediately. It’s a bit like having my own army!
Chris will be happily ‘retiring’ from his as a freelance web developer when his contract expires in February to focus on the Free Postcode Lottery full-time. For now, head on over to FPL and enjoy his newly added ‘Stackpot’ giveaway! This is another regular daily prize, but of £10. Unlike the main draw, missed claims stack rather than rollover; if today’s £10 winner doesn’t claim, there will be 2 £10 winners tomorrow, and so on, making for many more happy visitors at the FPL every day!
In this day and age, you can have your very own success story and make people happy at the same time. To take a leaf out of Chris’ book – “All you need is a laptop and an idea!”