With the holidays approaching, this is the prime time many bloggers are creating (or considering creating) holiday gift guides. There are many ways to approach a gift guide, ranging from a simple single post with recommendations to an elaborate gift guide with many pages of content. Here are some tips on building a high quality blog gift guide that both is useful to readers and can make your blog money.
Getting Started on Your Gift Guide
First and foremost, you should determine what is the right fit for your readers and works well with your blog (and your available time). For a personal blogger with a specific topic frequently covered, consider a single post or a couple of posts that list your top picks in the subject (or subjects) you blog about the most. For example, if you blog about tech and gadgets, a post with your recommendations for best gadget gifts would be ideal.
Be realistic about your time. A site with several authors can do something quite extensive, but if you are the only one who writes for your blog you may find you are overwhelmed by plans that are too ambitious. If you do have the time and ability, you can break your gift guide into multiple posts and create one main gift guide page that serves as a hub and links out to all of them.
Primarily, with so many blog gift guides out there, consider how to make yours stand out in the crowd. What makes your blog and your gift guide special, unique, interesting and emphasize that. Brainstorm before you start on ideas, and visualize (or even sketch out) how it will look. Think about who your readers are, what they respond too most (statistics can be a great way to see which topics are most popular, or even looking at which posts created a lot of comments). Then custom build your gift guide for those readers.
Optimizing Your Gift Guide
A quality gift guide that sees strong traffic has been optimized on a few levels: for search engines, for sharing on social networks, for aesthetics and for readability/usability.
Make sure your gift guide is shareable easily via social media. It is a good idea to have easy buttons to tweet, Facebook like/share, Google+ share and perhaps stumble on your gift guide pages (and all posts, really). If you have WordPress, I use Social Sharing Toolbox here at Type-A Parent and like it.
As a gift guide is directly related to shopping, I like ones that are visually appealing with lots of imagery. For example, our gift guide main page has both a title for each post and an image. I have certainly seen ones that look much better and are stunning visually, but just be mindful of how your gift guide appears. When discussing a product, images should be used with all products because I think most of us have a hard time judging a product without seeing it in some fashion.
Gift guides should be reader-friendly first and foremost. Always be considering whether this will be interesting and useful to your readers. Even little things can make a big difference when it comes to user-friendliness. For example:
- If your gift guide has multiple pages, be sure all link to a single main gift guide page to help readers avoid getting lost and make it easier to browse.
- If you have reviews of some products that you mention, be sure to also link to your full reviews even from a quick top pick page.
- Always be sure to link to a place online to buy a product.
- Consider having a plugin that makes for easier printing of your lists and gift guide recommendations. I use Print Friendly and PDF here.
Also be sure to optimize your gift guide posts for searches. A great quick way to do that is to use the Google Keyword Tool. Just a couple of minutes searching there can show you that, for example, there are many searches for Gifts for Babies but very few of Gifts for Infants.
Promoting Your Gift Guide
With gift guides, it definitely is not a matter of if you build it, they will come (especially with so many other resources out there for gift ideas). A great way to promote it is simply creating a graphic about the gift guide and including it in your sidebar to link to your gift guide post or main page if you have multiple posts. You also might consider promoting it in your email signature. If you have an email list, send an email blast out promoting your gift guide content. And, of course, be sure to share it on all of your social networks.
Monetizing Your Gift Guide
A great way I have found to monetize your gift guide content is to use affiliate links when you send your visitors off to buy your recommendations. At this point, a great portion of online retailers now have affiliate programs. Be sure to join them (you might even need a couple days of lead time to join affiliates for programs you plan to recommend since some require approval first). If you are in a state where Amazon allows you to be an affiliate, that can be a great choice simply because Amazon has so many products in their system.
Another option (and you can certainly do both at the same time) is to get a gift guide sponsor or sponsors. With a single sponsorship, for example, you can create a holiday gift guide logo with your blog’s logo as well as the company logo, and you can state on all posts that the gift guide is sponsored by Company X. It can be a great way for a company to get prime exposure throughout your gift guide to people who are already shopping.
A gift guide can be a great way to drive content and to get seasonal income.
Be sure to check out the Type-A Parent Gift Guide for Digital Moms and Dads, too!