Back to school means different things to different people. That’s why it is important to think about who you can write for and the different ways to monetize when talking to multiple audiences. This season isn’t just parents who are happy (except for the shopping bills) and kids who are excited to see their friends and upset that summer is over.
Back-to-school is also about the teachers and tutors who are back to work, crossing guards/bus drivers/cafeteria workers who are off of their breaks and even the school staff you don’t always think of like the janitors and sports coaches. If all you’re focusing on is backpacks, pens and school supplies, you’re missing out on many more opportunities.
Here are a few of the ways that you can help to provide solutions to your readers while also monetizing your traffic for this shopping season. If you have one I don’t mention, feel free to add it in the comments section below. (My favorite section of this post is the last one because it’s how to pitch and measure data).
- School supplies (because some of my readers request the basics)
- DIY teacher gifts
- Party/Slumber party theme and planning posts
- Special needs resources
- Getting sponsorships for your posts (not just using affiliate links)
I won’t dwell on this too much, but as you do your checklists, cool new items and other things, list where to buy them with affiliate links. If you have specific products, try doing a price comparison by mentioning where you can buy them that day and at which price at multiple stores. One other way to help people save (time and money) is if a retailer has more than one of the products (if not all of them), deals for free shipping or back to school sales.
All of these can add value and are what some of your readers are probably looking for. By combining everything into a single store, the person may save on shipping, taxes or get a higher discount based on purchase price. Swoozie’s is a perfect option for an affiliate program to promote if you’d like a store to recommend with unique and current back to school products you and your kids will love. (shamless plug but they do have some cool things each year). The link goes to their affiliate program which I manage.
DIY Teacher Gifts
This is an awesome one. My client Beau-coup’s affiliate program is a perfect fit. People normally buy teachers everything from coffee mugs to gift cards or even chocolates and candies. Although those are nice, in the Pinterest parenting age, people like to be “crafty”. Think about what you can do step-by-step on your blog that people will want to share and that they can also do with their kids. A personal favorite which tends to get a lot of shares and attention (not to mention generate sales and backlinks for your site) are Mason Jar gifts.
You can try anything from Mason Jar cake mix gifts by filling them with ingredients and adding the recipe to a customizeable label, to DIY scented candles, candy jars, desk decor with succulents or even a spa kit for them to relax. By taking photos step-by-step and including where the person can shop (Beau-coup for mason jars, ribbon, burlap and customizable labels, amazon for spa products, etc…) you are providing a complete resource for your readers and the perfect type of Pinterest sharing bait.
You may also want to try a roundup with the retailers and where to get everything at the bottom of the post so that your readers don’t have to scroll through the post again to find where they can buy everything.
Party/Slumber Party Theme and Planning Posts
Back-to-school season also means everyone is back from vacation, camp and summer fun. Your kids will want to catch up with their friends which means slumber party season is also starting. Pick some themes that your kids will want to use and then write a large post about the entire theme. You can also include sub-sections with:
- Food and drinks
- Tips for homesickness
By creating a full resource you’ll be giving the search engines and other parents a reason to show your content above other websites. The trick here is to think of unique ideas and provide full and easy-to-read solutions to create them. Don’t just say throw an XY party. Buy this, make this. Show them how to do it while being unique and incorporating things that are safe but also add a wow factor. Making drinks have smoke come out (again there’s safety issues if you do this wrong), pinata cakes and cookies, etc… Also, make sure you let your readers know that they can create the same awesome event if they follow your instructions.
From there you can incorporate affiliate links like we mentioned above and you can ask for sponsorships. If a store or brand is featuring the products that match your theme, ask them to sponsor the post, but make sure you show your active engagement on a per post and related post basis. Generic and total site traffic is irrelevant. The last section of this post will show you how to do this. Here’s how to find a few sponsors and get a couple backlinks.
If you do create an awesome post and it is around a specific character or popular theme, look for fan sites and ask them to link to it. This will not only help with SEO, but it can also bring in more traffic from their community. This traffic can help you make money through CPM as well as CPC ads. If you want to know where to use which, here is a post on slotting fees and where to use what types of ads on your blog. If you have those links, incorporate them into your pitch for why a company should sponsor one of the products within your post or the entire post.
Special Needs Resources
(note: before doing this section or trying these ideas, you’ll want to talk to a licensed lawyer about how to incorporate a legal disclaimer as well as what you need to do to protect yourself. I am not a Lawyer or licensed person that is certified to help people with special needs. These are just opinions and should only be used to help you think of niches that are not being served well. Contact licensed and certified professionals before writing about anything health or disability related and they can help you.)
Special needs has hit the spotlight for teachers over the last few years. They’re looking for resources to help their students. This includes everything from Autism to SPD and also disorders like Tourette Syndrome or physical hardships and handicaps. Although you should not write about how to deal or cope with these unless you are a licensed professional, you can ask licensed professionals to contribute to your blog or website and help create solutions for teachers and others.
One company I work with is NationalAutismResources.com (that link will take you to their affiliate program). Every year we get an increase in questions about back to school because it can be scary for parents whose kids are entering a new school, teachers who are going to have their first students with special needs and even repeat customers and affiliates whose kids are entering new grades and have new needs.
The goal here is to find the real and the right professionals who are licensed to help and can provide solutions to specific questions. Those solutions could incorporate anything from a weighted vest to a fidget or even sunglasses and recommendations on local support groups. These solutions give you a way to monetize your website with the program I mention above, but whats more important is that you are helping parents and kids find resources that they can use to make back to school and learning easier. Just make sure you talk to a lawyer before adding any of this advice with regards on how to do it while protecting yourself and ensure that the advice is coming from a licensed professional.
Getting Sponsorships For Your Posts
One other thing to think about, besides using affiliate links, is how to get sponsorships within your posts. The trick here is to show advertisers and retailers engagement on a per post and per guide basis. Your total website traffic is useless because the links and products will only be appearing here, not on the entire website or blog.
Here are a few ways to track engagement and traffic per post for your sponsorship posts:
- Google analytics – Select acquisition > Overview > All Channels > Landing Page (under the “other” drop down menu). Choose a date range and use the keyword search box to pull back similar posts to the one you’re writing. Here is where you find the traffic per post from the date it launched and through the time frame you want to feature. (i.e. back to school last year we did 5 posts, here is the traffic for the 5 after the first month. Here is the traffic per post as well.).
- Click data and revenue (using affiliate links) – The programs above are on ShareASale. If you’re using ShareASale for your previous posts, use the afftrack parameter by including the name of the post (without spaces) on your links.
Now pull a transaction detail report and export into excel. Separate the columns and then sort by the parameter and you’ll see the revenue driven by that parameter. You can now talk to sponsors about total sales driven as well as AOV (average order values) and total sales in dollar amounts. This helps to make a case on why they should choose and sponsor you vs. someone else.
- Click data (using layovers and heatmaps) – You can use the free option in Google Analytics or you can use the one I have on this site by clicking here. First select the heatmap that shows you clicks (this is also known as a click map). Now set the date range to the past year. Next select the posts that are relevant to the topic you’re pitching sponsors for. Now record how many clicks occurred on each link, space and section or category.
By knowing how much traffic, how many clicks and how much revenue was driven from previous and other relevant posts, you can approach potential sponsors with numbers and data that is relevant instead of a generic media kit.
Remember, back-to-school isn’t just about parents, kids and teachers. It’s about special needs, dorm rooms and college survival. It’s the behind the scenes employees and even post-school day people like coaches and tutors. By writing about topics with less competition like planning a themed back-to-school party or gifts for your child’s coach and tutor, you can hopefully break into a new niche with evergreen content and make money each year. The trick is to find out who is not being catered to or who doesn’t have good solutions and then find a way to get better content to them. If you do this and can begin driving consistent traffic, back-to-school could become one of your favorite seasons too.