You guys, am I alone in thinking that it's kind of insane that it's not even Thanksgiving yet, and already brands and PR firms and well, other bloggers are in full-blown HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE mode?
Whether or not it's crazy, it's happening. And rather than fight it? I say make the most of it. Personally, I find making one gift guide to be really fun, but usually not as robust and helpful as it could be. I find that a series of guides always lends itself to a more fruitful and festive experience for my readers.
Last year, I knew the task of creating multiple gift guides over the holiday season was more than I could take on while working full time on IFB and Eat, Sleep, Denim. I also wanted to find a way to thank some of my good friends for their support of my blog throughout the year. I decided to ask a few of them to create individual guest gift guides, and shared one or two each week throughout the holiday season. Because of how specified they were (each friend had a different “niche personality” to shop for), these posts were huge traffic drivers. I also just really enjoyed introducing my readers to some of the people closest to me, who are constantly the silent influences on my blog.
Why this works:
- Outsourcing your guides frees up more time for too keep up with rest of your content.
- It allows you to publish more gift guides than you might be able to complete on your own.
- You can offer different perspectives for “givers” and “getters.”
- Guest contributors will be encouraged to share their guides on their social media channels as well.
- They add a hefty dose of individuality and personality to your guides.
- Asking a friend or reader to make one is a great way to say “Thank You!” for their support.
Who to ask:
When I decided to use this approach for my gift guides last year, it was partly because I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time to make them, and partly because I wanted to give my diverse readership a variety of ideas and inspirations that weren't all about my personal tastes. I'm not a beauty expert or a guy, so why not go right to the source?
Who did I ask? My friends of course! I thought about the most defining characteristics of some of my friends: their talents, their professions, their hobbies, etc. Just to get your gears turning, here are some examples that I used for my gift guides.
- The Girly Girl
- The Music Lover
- The Guys
- The Artistic Girl
- The Pet Owner
- The Beauty Buff
How to get it done:
Here's the thing: asking your friends who aren't bloggers to blog is not as easy as you might imagine. They may not be the most talented writers, and they also may not have any experience working on this kind of deadline. You are going to need to be the perfect balance of encouraging, helpful and specific with what you want and when. There will be questions. There will be spelling errors. There will be even more questions.
- When you ask your friends to participate, give them the option to say no, and request that they decline or accept by a specific date.
- If/when they accept, give them an exact date by which to have it done.
- Give the most specific (but not patronizing) instructions you can. Tell your contributors exactly how many items you want, what kind of copy you would like to accompany their choices, price points, etc.
- Be available for questions and be understanding, no matter how silly the question might seem – if your friends aren't bloggers this might all feel very foreign to them.
- Take care of the imagery yourself. Trust me on this one, it's just easier.
- Have each of your friends create a Google doc they can share with you, or put everything in an email – especially the hyperlinks to their items and the prices.
- Don't forget to thank each of your contributors profusely!
To round out your series of guides, you should of course create one of your own. You could follow the same course and make yours directed at a specific personality, or make one that's gifts you would like to receive. Because Santa reads our blogs, right?