1. Tips and Tricks

How to Create Your Best Gift Guide

I love creating gift guides. Honestly, I love this time of year. For most bloggers, the next few months will be their peak income of the year. It’s a welcome reprieve from the summer slump many of us go through. And many projections show that this could be our best shopping season in quite some time. That’s good news for those of us who rely on our affiliate commissions to spend!

If you’ve never created a gift guide, I want to share what I’ve learned over the years and what I’m doing differently this year.

If you've never created a gift guide, I want to share what I've learned over the years and what I'm doing differently this year.1. Let’s start with your avatar.

How much can they spend on themselves or their nearest and dearest? Establish a top dollar amount and include slight variances. Include a few big splurges. Include a few things on the lower end for those on a tight budget.

2. Getting niche-y with it

Over the years, I’ve tried to create just one gift guide for the crowd at home. They always stunk at the end of the day. It is very difficult to fit all my readers into one box. Some are freelancers. Some are remote workers. Some are bloggers. Some are business owners. Some work remotely all the time. Some don’t. It was like trying to create a gift guide for moms and non-moms alike. They both could use really different things! You can include really cool stuff by focusing on one or the other alone, but instead, you try to keep it all-inclusive and simple. boring

So, this year, instead of just making a list where I tried to include common things that someone would need, I chose a couple really targeted gift guide topics. In this, I was able to really dig down to what these people need and want. so a lot Simple.

A truly niche gift guide may not get the traffic of a typical guide, but they will convert at a much higher rate because it speaks to specific needs and wants. It is solving real problems. It is not trying to please everyone. Sound familiar?

3. Next, let’s think about what is going to make their lives easier or better.

Even if we dream about some fancy $1,200 handbag, are we really going to buy it? Even if we had an extra $1,200 lying around? Not here, my friend. ????

The only things we can justify are the things we are really going to persevere with When I was choosing my gifts this year, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I struggle with every day. Problems you face every day. Look around. Ugh?” What’s the one thing you and your readers dread every day? Are there products that can help? These are things they won’t think twice about adding to their carts.

To be honest, I needed a little inspiration this year. I’m someone who really buries the “hurt”. I remind myself every day how blessed I am. I try not to focus too much time on what I want or need. So, what did I do? I pulled Instagram! See what your peers or followers are posting and talking about. see AT. The. ADS I saw so many things I never knew but I totally needed! (Some of those things, I now own. Thanks a lot Instagram!)

What is already selling?

Another great place to come up with gift guide inspiration is to look at your affiliate reports and see what’s already selling. Pull up your Amazon Associates or Best Converting Affiliate dashboards and see individual product sales from the last 12 months. Do you see any trends? Are there any categories of items that are really hot?

You already know that these items sell well with your audience. If there’s a specific category of items – say, planners or educational toys or sassy t-shirts – maybe that category would make a great gift guide of its own!

What traders should I choose?

One of my favorite merchants to link to this time of year is Amazon. The commission percentage may be on the lower side, but you never know what will happen when people get there. I had links that turned into $1,500 purchases of $3 Kindle books. It’s a nice surprise! You should also look through networks like CJ, ShareASale, Pepperjam, etc. Check your favorite merchant websites for affiliate program links.

Not every giveaway on your list has to be an affiliate link. If something is great, include it. Also, be aware that many merchants have different commission rates for gift cards – or in some cases no commission rate at all. While it’s still good to include a recommendation if it fits, you don’t want to build an entire gift guide around gift card suggestions if you’re not paying for any of these sales.

Tip: If you’re an experienced affiliate marketer, it’s time to take things to the next level This year, add tracking IDs to your affiliate links. This will allow you to see exactly how much money that gift guide – or email or review – is generating. Tricia Meyer has a great one Here’s the cheat sheet.

Don’t go overboard. This applies to both your single gift guide and gift guides in general. Keep your gift suggestions to about 10-15 to keep people from getting overwhelmed (no one wants to read 100 suggestions). Also, don’t create gift guide after gift guide hoping something will stick. Especially if your site doesn’t usually revolve around shopping. Stick to your regular editorial calendar and add a shopping guide or two this season.

4. Create your calendar.

I spent some time digging around Facebook groups to find out when everyone else was posting this year. Some have asked brands to stay closed until the end of November because people are still not spending or thinking about spending.

I asked some of the brands I’ve been working with this year what promotions they’re running this coming shopping season. I use those dates and recommendations to determine when my posts will be published

5. What brands do you want to know about working with?

First, you don’t have to own all the items you recommend in your gift guide. Often, they are just as much your wish list as they are others’. But, it doesn’t hurt to be able to talk about a product in person!

So, how do you get your hands on these goodies?

You can always buy them yourself. I did some of that.

Some affiliate networks like Commission Junction give affiliates the opportunity to let them know in September/October if you’ll be creating a gift guide this year so they can send it out to merchants. I did that. I got many searches from it, but only one was suitable for my site. Which leads us to a big tip:

Bad gifts don’t waste space!

If it’s a bad match, your readers aren’t going to buy it anyway. Then, the brand is upset they gave you something. Your readers will wonder why you included something so irrelevant. You have wasted your time and space. It’s a lose-lose situation. Thank them for their time and ask them to keep you in mind for future projects.

The timeline for gift guides is getting pretty tight, but you may be able to connect with a few brands through sponsor networks.

My personal preference, if there is something you want – within reason – ask. I’ve seen two really cool things on Instagram that I know will make my life easier and relate to certain struggles many remote workers face.

I found the affiliate program for one of them. I signed up as an affiliate and then contacted the affiliate manager to ask if the company was interested in gift guide placement this year and if I could have a product sent for review. I had a “yes” within a few hours.

The other one, I didn’t see an affiliate program so I looked at their contact/PR page. Again, within a few hours I received a positive reply.

So, what did I say in those pitches?

6. Promote. promote promote

Especially if you’re asking for review products, it’s important to refer to your gift guide as much as possible. Create a special category or tag for your gift guide and link to it in your sidebar and/or main menu by December.

Use Tailwind to set up multiple Repins and Instagram posts.

Add a PS to the bottom of your newsletter by December.

7. Follow the rules!

You already know how to publish your affiliate relationship, but you may not be clear about the use of images. Some brands don’t allow you to use images from their website or maybe you can use their images but not with other brands (eg Pinning to a collage for Pinterest). Some may only allow you to use image codes available to affiliates and not allow you to download and upload images to your own site. Read those rules. And if you’re not clear, play it safe. For your Pinnable photo, use a beautiful, seasonal photo from Styled Stock Society or Ivory Mix.

You should also not mention prices for Amazon items as they may change daily or more often with holidays. If you use their native ads, which I recommend, they will update automatically. Otherwise, just give a general idea. (eg under $20)

For other affiliate programs, your affiliate managers can let you know about any upcoming sales or coupon codes that you can include in your posts. And you can always ask, too!

8. Just do it!

Even if you’ve never created a gift guide before, I want you to promise to try. If you don’t, you’ll never get better at it. You know my mantra, “Don’t make excuses.”

Think of the possibilities! Gift guides live on your site throughout the year. Passive income, my friend! And, depending on your niche, you may be able to create guides for other holidays as well. It has a good skill.

If your blog is small now, you may not want to make it big with your first giveaway guide. However, it is still powerful in other ways. It will introduce you to sales in an authentic and helpful way if you include products that you know, like and are sure will help your readers. Creating your first gift guide now will also help you next year when your traffic grows and you’re ready to start reaching out to brands for product samples and gift guide partnerships. Many will ask for an example of a buying guide you’ve created. So, make one!

Looking for more great gift guide tips? I highly recommend Easy Pin Media How to Master the Gift Guide Course. It’s super-affordable and packed with great information!

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