Everyone is doing gift guides for the holidays, but getting free products to advertise them isn’t a good way to maximize your time or effort or build a business from your blog. I’ve done a ton of posts about how to create a gift guide, how to make, monetize and distribute unique gift guides so I wanted to do another about monetizing your gift guides with a few more strategies. When Bloggers use gift guides, they need to think about doing more than adding in direct links for the free products that they get from advertisers. Here are 5 ways to make money with gift guides, while keeping the free products you can get, so that you can maximize your efforts and make money from your gift guides this holiday season! Feel free to add your own strategies for making money with gift guides below.
How to make money with gift guides.
1. Add in Affiliate Links (especially from this network) to make money with gift guides.
This sounds like an obvious one, but it is shopping season and making money counts. Before you add in an Affiliate link, do a search for the merchant’s url + coupons in Google and if you see any site show up that has an active Affiliate link organically or in the PPC (sponsored) area, do not promote them. When your visitors see the coupon code box during the holiday shopping season and leave the merchant site to get a coupon, those Affiliates can replace your cookie and take credit for your referrals and sales. Even if there is leapfrogging or other things in place to protect your commissions, it isn’t 100% accurate. I learned the hard way that a custom coupon code takes credit for my sales even though I referred the visitor, added value and the coupon site was just poaching it because the person went to find a coupon and in my opinion is stealing sales. If the merchant works with sites that show up for their trademarks, company name or url + coupons, do not promote them. Now that I have my kvetching out of the way, here are a few of the benefits of using Affiliate links with the direct links for the Merchants to help make money with gift guides.
a. By using Affiliate Links to make money with gift guides you can track and measure how active your audience is and for what products or merchants. You can find an AOV and you can use this to sell ad space on your site, newsletter, etc…
b. You will be able to know what specific products your readers like, if they shop at certain stores or are interested in different price levels.
c. If you have sections for cooking, baby clothes, weddings, home decor and other, now you can tell what your readers or subscribers shop for, are interested in and can write more about it to make your blog or website even more relevant.
d. By having the information above you now know who to run ads for and how to create your adsense strategy to help increase your website earnings.
e. If you measure or keep track of how many sales came from it within a week, a month and at the end of the year, you now have a ton of data to help sell ad space and know what you may want to add to your gift guide for next year.
If Affiliate Marketing hasn’t made you money in the past there are three big reasons why. 1. You don’t actually have traffic or a following. 2. You picked products or a merchant that wasn’t interesting enough to your readers/followers or you didn’t presell them well enough to shop and 3. You picked a merchant that works with coupon sites that rank for their trademarks, adware and trademark bidders or have leaks on their sites. Affiliate Marketing does work and is an amazing way to monetize and make money from your gift guides. I use it on my sites and I definitely make money with gift guides now by using Affiliate Marketing.
2. Place Banners in between the sections or as headers to make money with your gift guides.
Another way to make money with gift guides or to monetize your gift guides is to add in Affiliate banners or to sell ad space in between the different categories on your guide. If you know who shops and for what products and price ranges, you can take this data that you measured from your Affiliate links from previous years and have a ton of data to approach advertisers with. If you can show they have a good chance at making money instead of the Blogger who says they’ll get branding, you now have the upper hand since you can deliver measurable results and they can only bullsh*t their way into scamming a company from their money for “branding”. (I don’t think branding is a scam, I think most Bloggers who say they give branding and charge money for exposure and do not have real measurements like click throughs, sales amounts, etc… are scammers and their blogs are scams. Those are the ones you should be able to beat to get the advertisers spend this holiday season.). If you have a section dedicated to a store, you can place a banner with an Affiliate link or sell the adspace in that section to similar stores. If the section is themed towards baby products or towards foodies, why not approach stores that have them as customers with similar demographics and pitch them to advertise since you have solid data. Make sure they use tracking links so they can see if they turned a profit and now you can have them reserve their space or sell that space year round or for next year when you do a new gift guide.
3. Name it for SEO so people find it year round and you can hopefully make money from your gift guides year round.
One of the biggest mistakes Bloggers make when creating their gift guides is forgetting about SEO and long term results of placing content on their site. Gift guides can be high quality content if you do them right. If you are creating gift guides, do your keyword research and try to optimize for things like gifts for XYZ types of people or XYZ gifts for XYZ groups. By thinking of terms that people search for year round you can not only rank you gift guide for these terms, but you can have year round traffic with a relevant page. If you have Affiliate Links in the guide, you can now make money with gift guides year round if they click through and shop which also helps you to make money from past guides already indexed. Unless your advertisers require that you give direct links (which is bad for Google to know and why I never do it) or you are scared you can’t drive sales, use Affiliate links and optimize for SEO so you can drive traffic and hopefully sales year round.
4. Make it interactive and make money with your gift guides.
This is something I have been trying out with a friend this year. We are launching our new site and are very excited. We took a url and installed WordPress with this framework and a few plug ins to turn it into an interactive voting system. Now we have multiple gift guides from different blogs with similar audiences and we are driving our visitors to it. By allowing them to vote up and down products within our gift guides we will hopefully be able to generate interest in products with more votes and get them to shop through our Affiliate links helping us to make money from our gift guides. I came up with the idea and he has the relationships within the niche so we are very excited with the site launching and think it could turn a profit. It should kick ass and if it does work, next years gift guide from that site should be able to generate a decent amount of income.
5. Include Affiliate links off of each product descriptions when they are shared on social sites from your blog.
If you have the ability to let people share your guide or products from your guide (some bloggers split each product into individual slides, posts or pages), include Affiliate Links within the sharing buttons by editing the settings so that as they are shared you can gain access to the reader’s followers, friends and fans and hopefully drive more sales. You can adding in words like “visit the post here” and then “or buy now here” so they have two options to click through. Remember to include an FTC disclosure if you go this route.
Making money with gift guides is easy. If you actually have readers and followers, if they trust you and you know what products are relevant for them and you can presell why they should buy the products, there is a good chance that they will open it and shop through your gift guide. Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money with gift guides because if you optimize your guide well you can drive traffic and sales year round, rank for a lot of long tail terms and also have a ton of data to sell ad space year round and for next years gift guide. If you don’t think Affiliate Marketing works, you are working with the wrong companies. If you have any other tips on how to monetize your gift guides or make money with gift guides, feel free to share them below.