Tips for Holiday Gift Guides & Giveaways

Image by allerleirau

 

The holidays are as exciting a time for bloggers as they are in our every day lives.  The fashion community becomes filled with sequins and party gowns, tinsel and toys for the boys in our lives, and you half expect your feed reader to sing carols when you open it each morning.  Our feed readers become heavy and bursting with giveaways and treats galore.  There is the enticement of gift guides.  They can be a great way to bring in extra holiday income if your site is monetized with affiliates networks and programs, each of those outbound links becoming the potential for a passive income stream.

 

In all of this, you have to decide what your own site's relationship is with the holidays, and how you should approach it.  Helping me with this is Kelsi from Dedicated Follower of Fashion— she's hosting Gifted: the 12 Days of Christmas which is a combination of great giveaways AND gift guides– all with that unique Kelsi twist!

 

Tips & Tricks for Giveaways:

Ever wanted to host oodles and mountains of giveaways at the holidays, to shower your readers with goodies to show them how loved and appreciated they are?  Ever wonder how your favorite bloggers manage to have 10 days, 15 days, or 25 days of holiday giveaways?

 

  • Do you have the time & energy to commit to many giveaways?
    Kelsi brought up this great point, Giveaways actually take a lot of time – and for the most part, while their wonderful for driving traffic to your blog, the person getting the most out of it is the brand. So try and make sure there's something in it for you. That can be one to giveaway, one for you, paid advertising or perhaps you really want the traffic. I will do a giveaway if there's nothing in it for me (from a material perspective) if I'm a huge supporter of the brand itself and would like to help them – but that decision is up to you.
  • Make sure your readers have time for it.
    How often do you see a giveaway, but there are so many rules and stipulations that you don't enter?  Kelsi agreed, saying, It actually fascinates me how hard it is to convince someone to spend 30 seconds of their life to get something for free, so don't make it too complicated.
  • Ask for it. It's easy as a blogger to sit back and wait for companies to approach you– whether with press releases and lookbooks or for advertising, giveaways, and other opportunities.  At a certain point, you need to become proactive– contacting companies you think would be a great match for your site and striving to build that relationship. What better time than the holidays?
  • Are you so desperate for giveaways and ways to attract new readers, that you're building relationships with companies that don't fit your site & readers?
    Just remember–there are always more companies to work with.  It's okay to say, “I don't think this is a good match, but keep me in mind for future collaborations!”
  • Make sure you're passionate about the product.
    Kelsi said, It's important to actually get behind the product you're giving away – as I said before – it takes work to run a successful giveaway, and if you don't want the product it makes it all the more difficult. When reader's time is more limited during the holiday season, make sure that you're impacting what little time they can give you in the best way possible!

Tips & Tricks for Gift Guides:

  • Is your site focused in one way so that a gift guide would see out of place or inappropriate?  Have you planned your gift guides in advance?
    I was in the middle of relocating last holiday season, so I ended up doing an easy, thoughtless, gift-a-day series, and it was probably one of my least success periods. (So note! Don't do like I did.)
  • Does it fit in with the style of my site?
    For me, a gift suggestion a day wasn't so successful– the few that were?  They were ones that already fit in with series I had developed throughout the regular year (like suggestions for great indie-made gifts).  Suggesting Bump-its and Snuggies (as amazing as I think both are!) was lost on my readers.
  • Vary your budget.
    Kelsi says, give a price point for everyone some people might be looking to buy someone a big ticket present – others may be on a tight budget. It's always fun to do a budget restricted one (under $50 or under $25…)!
  • Can I do it differently?
    Kelsi offered up this tip: When writing a gift guide it's important to remember everyone and their mother is writing a gift guide at this time of year – so how can you stand out? Stay away from the standards – don't do a gift guide for her/him/mom/dad, what two “her's” are really the same? I create characters when I do my gift guides, I envision a character and then I think about what that person would want. It produces some originality to your posts – which is really what we all strive for!

 

Kelsi's last, and perhaps best tip for gift guides?

 

Keep it simple by limiting your choices. I've done pages of gifts before but it's not as effective as narrowing it down to a few sound choices.

 

Are you posting holiday gift guides this season? What about hosting giveaways?  Do you have any secrets to success or lessons learned to share?

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19 Responses

  1. Rachael

    This is such a helpful post! This is my first year doing Gift Guides and I’m starting to realize which are more successful and why.

    I’m only about halfway through but I’m realizing a little self promotion is key to getting awareness. After that, it’s all up to your original ideas!

    I also couldn’t agree more with the tip about making giveaways easy. I give my readers lots of options but always one easy one that asks them to comment. When I see blogs asking for Website sign-ups and all of the time consuming things, I usually pass on by.

    Reply
  2. Fasshonaburu

    My gift guides tailored to slightly amusing, more specific recipients (the spoiled brat, the drunk tart, etc) have been some of my most successful and appreciated posts!

    Reply
  3. DWJ

    I changed it up and decided instead of doing a billion posts to do one big digital gift guide that I can load into Issuu (that way I can use my design skills and have a separate place for folks to go and look at gifts). It also lets me continue my normal blogging schedule but still do a fun holiday feature. This year I also included beauty and style items too so it makes it a bit more special.

    Reply
  4. Treacle

    I’m hosting a giveaway right now, and kicking off my gift guide series later on today.

    I’m trying a few new things with both though, so won’t be able to report on my progress until afterwards.

    Reply
  5. The Well-Appointed Catwalk

    My parents give me a check to pass on to a charity of my choice each Hanukkah, so I decided to share $25 of that with one of my readers. I will make a donation in the winner’s name to the charity of their choice. I thought it would be a nice spin on a giveaway for this time of year, and I’m getting a pretty good response.

    As for requesting giveaway donations, thank you for the tip! I always wondered if it was acceptable to contact companies or etsy sellers for this.

    Reply
    • Ashe Mischief

      My only tip– yes, it’s DEFINITELY okay to contact larger companies. I’d tread more lightly with small, indie companies and Etsy sellers.

      Why? you may ask. Mostly because a lot of times they’re underselling their products. They’re trying to make a living off their products, in an environment that is more favorable to mass produced products from foreign lands. Each time they give away products, they’re giving away more than just product–they are giving away time, income, profits. So I would say if you want to go that route, definitely build a rapport with the designer, become their friend, promote their shops already as is!

      Reply
  6. liz (odetoawe)

    I wholeheartedly agree with picking a brand/product you actually want to endorse rather than giving away anything by anyone that approaches you. If you’re a luxury blog giving away a cheap necklace, something is off and it’s noticeable to your readers. I’m sick of going to blogs that give away the shittiest shit just to host a give-away. Be selective!

    Reply
  7. lisa

    This is all very sound advice as always, Ashe. I definitely agree about not making the rules for a giveaway too complicated. It seems like every other blog has a giveaway these days (usually for the same item or hosted by the same company), and unless the prize is really unique and cool, I usually don’t bother entering if I have to do multiple things to enter the contest.

    Reply
  8. Bree

    Great article Ashe & Kelsi! xo

    I’m hosting my 2nd annual “24 Days of Holiday Giveaways” now and I reached out to a few brands and then some others contacted me from last year. I like to support etsy shops if I can. Us bloggers, crafters, even the stay at home moms need to help support each other. I also never ask for payment from an etsy seller just because I feel it’s my way to give back this season. Women have taken over the net and I’m proud to call you all my fellow fashion blogettes!

    Reply
  9. Gemma

    I did a gift guide and got great feedback. People said it’s hard to find gifts for men so I ended up doing another gift guide post. There are a lot of girls who blog about fashion and all gift guides seem to be girly but girls will need to buy for their dad of boyfriends so it pays to think about gifts for everyone and every budget.

    I tend not to enter giveaways if it will take up a lot of my time.

    I’m taking part in a UK bloggers secret santa. The spend is only £5 and I will get to know other bloggers and create a network.

    Reply
  10. Vogue & Vintage

    Just in TIME! I am planning a giveaway myself and have started doing the above its great to know that I am on the right path! IFB always chopped full of helpful information!

    Reply
  11. julia

    Yes, agreed on all fronts -giveaways ARE so time consuming; it has to be a good fit for the site, or your readers won’t want to enter them!

    Reply
  12. THE-LOUDMOUTH

    thanks so much for the tips, as i am doing my own giveaway this month (see instructions & prizes here). there isn’t anything in it for me, except to hopefully attract quality readers! i wanted to try it because i’ve never done one before, so we’ll see what happens 🙂

    love,
    the-loudmouth

    Reply
  13. Pearl Westwood

    The points about the giveawas are really interesting, I know I am put off by insanely long entry requirements.
    Also very true about what you choose to giveaway, my giveaways are usually for luxury items like Chanel nail varnish and Ive had one for some sample dresses all very popular.
    But my last one was for a plus size clothing store, which I thought was offering gorgeous prizes but I hardly had any entries. Then I get a message from one blogger saying that she wouldnt enter as that was no way her size range, she sounded pretty offended that I though she might like to enter – like I was implying she was plus size like it was a bad thing! In fact I had never even considered anyones size as the prize was a choice of clothes or jewellery – I am sure I have a readers of all sizes so I wanted to have a wide range of prizes! I guess you cant please everyone!

    Reply
  14. a.n.e

    I’m running a giveaway at the moment too. It’s a little different in the sense that i’m giving away jewelry that I make. I tried to make it a little bit fun by turning it into a Fashion Trivia that entrants submit their answers to. Ends on the 29th dec, will let you all know how it goes.

    Reply