In the past I have pitched a case for just showing up and operating a radiosport contest, regardless of whether or not you feel you can win a participation award.
When I enter a radiosport competition, my focus is on making QSOs per the contest criteria.
It's only after the contest is over that I look at the award possibility.
In many contests you can work contacts on multiple bands and then submit your log as a single-band entry. I did this with last month's JIDX contest. Operating as W6J, I noticed that the 65 QSOs on 40 meters constituted the biggest band. While I submitted the entire log (to keep the log checking BoTs happy), I submitted the W6J log as a 40-meter low-power entry.
There is no reason why you can't do the same thing. All it takes is first consulting the contest calendar to find a competition to play in. The contest calendar I find most useful is the WA7BNM website. Next, determine which logging software is best for this contest.
While I mostly use the N1MM logger, WINTEST is also workable, as is WriteLog.
Fire up the software and start contacting stations in the contest.
When the contest is done, make a Cabrillo log file and send in your contest entry. While you're at it, post your contest summary results on the 3830 reflector website to let everyone know how you did - good or not so good.
While waiting for the results (which can take up to a year) find more contests to engage in and do things all over again. Before you know it your callsign will be in dozens of contest databases and the accolades will start coming your way.