One of the most effective ways to generate affiliate sales is by creating gift guides. Especially around the holidays, these handy gift guides are a great way to push several different affiliate products at one time.
But really, you can use gift guides to generate holiday sales all year ’round. Depending on the type of products you choose, these are good for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and there are birthdays, anniversaries and other gift-giving occasions throughout the whole year.
Creating these holiday gift guides is simple, but I will warn you that they are a bit time-consuming. It takes me from 6 to 8 hours to create each one and your mileage may vary. But if it brings in several hundred dollars worth of revenue throughout the year, then it’s definitely worth the time investment.
I’m going to scatter some pins throughout this post to show you samples of some of my gift guides. This one is my MOST successful, my cruise items.
How Affiliate Marketing Works
For those of you who may be fairly new to affiliate marketing, here is how it works. First, you sign up with companies to be their affiliate. There are too many choices to name because most large businesses see the value of affiliate marketing and have some type of affiliate marketing program already in place.
But Amazon is probably the 800 lb. gorilla in this space, so let’s start with them. However, be aware that Amazon has fairly LOW commission rates and they have a LOT of different rules that you must follow to stay on their program. But that’s a post for another day…
So what you do is you go to Amazon, find their affiliate sign-up page, and you sign up with them. You tell them what kind of site you have, what type of business you are running, what your traffic is and they review you for approval.
Some companies are VERY picky, some not so much. Amazon seems fairly easy to get on with. Hopefully, they give you an affiliate account and magically, some new info pops up in your Amazon header so you can find your special affiliate links.
When you include these special links in your post, your social media, or your newsletter, and people click on them, it sends information to Amazon and says this person is coming from YOU. Then if they buy something you get a small cut of the sale credited to your affiliate account. It’s a very easy way to earn money, especially if you can generate it in volume.
And keep in mind what I told you about that 24 hour cookie. If you are sharing a link for a deck of cards and they also buy some jewelry, a couple of books, and a flat screen TV, you get a cut of ALL of these things. That’s a nice little bonus and that’s why it’s worth including some items just for the curiosity factor. They don’t have to BUY the item to set the cookie, they just have to click over and LOOK at it.
This is from my terrific tech items gift guide for MEN. It’s been very popular, especially around the holidays.
How to Get Started with your Gift Guides
So, let’s get started creating your gift guides. The first thing is to get your affiliate account set up and running. Doesn’t matter if it’s Amazon, Target, The Container Store or Sonoma Kitchens. You just have to be able to find and use your affiliate links for it.
I use Shareasale a lot, because they represent a whole stable of different companies and they’re pretty easy to work with. Most companies will pay you by the month, but only when you reach a certain threshold – I think it’s $10-$20 for Amazon, but for most companies its between $20-$50, so it helps to be able to lump several together. And Shareasale helps you get approved easier especially, if you have low traffic.
Now it’s time to do your research. First, you want to pick your niche and like I said, get fairly specific. Think of that hard-to-buy person on your own list. I’ve created gift guides for nerdy types, men who like gadgets, business travelers, cruisers, or people who like a very organized home. But I’ve seen them for family game night, car enthusiasts, gardeners, bloggers, teens who love Minecraft, mermaid lovers, or crafters.
I think my next one will be a get well basket for people who’ve had surgery or just had a baby. That seems like a good idea for year-round sales. Things like items to pull up your socks, bathe with a cast on, little snack packs, scented candles, cozy blankets, and a caddy for the remote!
Now it’s time to go shopping for items for your person. First of all, open up a spreadsheet – either a Google doc or a regular spreadsheet. This will make it MUCH easier to create your gift guide at the end. Create headers for Title, description, price, link, and some testimonials. (Per Amazon’s pesky rules, you can’t actually USE the testimonials from their users, but you can always say people like that this item is BLANK or everyone likes it that this product does BLANK.) I usually pick from 7 to 10 items per guide. You can do more, but it makes for a really LONG post and a lot of work!
Think about price points when you are selecting your items. I generally choose items between about $25 and $40. If you go lower, you won’t make very much off the sale, but if you go too high, you might really limit your sales.
Also pick items with nice images that will look good on your page. Again, per Amazon’s pesky rules, you aren’t supposed to use their images, but pretty much everyone does! Hint: Sometimes their images are really hard to grab, but if you double click on them, it will usually bring them up, or you can search the internet in general for a similar item and find a picture elsewhere.
This is from my Eeeesey peesey Weight Loss Post
Capturing Your Info for your Gift Guides
As you find your items, note down the information on your spreadsheet. Go ahead and copy the important parts of the description. You won’t use this verbatim, but you will be able to use it for picking out features and benefits in your own description. And it will save you a lot of jumping back and forth.
You will want to capture BOTH the regular link for the item (for your own reference) and your affiliate link. Usually, there is a special button at the top of the page to grab your affiliate link and it gives you the option to include just a text link, or a link with a picture. I usually just use the text link because it’s more versatile. While you’re there, also grab the image(s) and keep them in a folder with your other products.
Note that Amazon is very touchy about their prices. No wonder since their prices are constantly changing. Other sites change their prices as well, so you may want to be a little vague on the price so people don’t see something advertised for $25 and click through to find it’s now $29.95. That would probably harm your sales. And if it’s lower, that harms your credibility as well. Best to just let them click through to find the price.
Getting FREE Stuff for your Gift Guides
You may be able to convince companies to send you some free stuff to include in your gift guides. I’ve never had much luck with it, but especially if you have great traffic or have had success with gift guides in the past, that makes it easier to approach companies to request samples to include in your gift guides.
I don’t know about you, but I really LIKE getting free stuff to play with! But you’ve got to be fair and give the companies some return for their investment. So unless the item is just AWFUL, I generally will include it in my guide.
For my weight loss gift guide, I simply chose a selection of items that I already used and loved, and that’s a good way to go too.
Creating the Pins for your Items
Now that you’ve selected your products and gathered all your links, info and images, you’re ready to create your pin images. I generally do the pin images before I do the post, but since you can batch produce them, it typically is not a time-consuming process.
If you have 7 items, you typically would create about 8-11 images. You want one separate pin per item plus 1 or more collage pins of the various items. Here is a typical pin of an individual item and you can see the collage items throughout this post.
Note that your pins don’t need to be too fancy. You aren’t necessarily trying to get them to fall in love with your site or jump onto your newsletter, you are just trying to get a little click out of them and hope they buy something. So keep it simple and then just duplicate the pins a bunch of times and keep switching out the images and descriptions.
This one is from my Organizing Products Gift Guides and I got a little lazy on this one and didn’t create a collage image. But you can see how I am clearly showing and identifying the item as well as including a little blurb about what it does.
Now, as for linking up these pins, you have two choices. Since Pinterest does allow affiliate pins on it, you can link them up with the direct links to the products. But if you are using Amazon links, that’s a no-no per their dumb RULES. So I typically default to just linking them straight to my post and then have the product links within my text and images. Also, that way, they will see some of the other items and may choose to look at multiple items.
Once I have my pins ready, I set them aside until I’ve created my post, but once I publish, I’ll typically load them up to my main blog board and then add them to my Tailwind loop. I have my 8 gift guides group boards set up and I will run all my different items on a recurring cycle throughout the year. Then I add an extra push of manual pins around various holidays as I mentioned.
Time to create the Actual Post
Whew! I did tell you at the outset that this was a LOT of work. But if you advertise these properly, it should be worth your while. I originally learned this in a mini-course in one of my Facebook groups and the people who took the time to create them found them very helpful for their affiliate income. Those are still the gift guide boards I’m using two years later to keep cycling my pins through. #bloggerssupportingbloggers #communityovercompetition
Your post will be organized into a number of small blocks. You’ll have one block for each item with the title, the pin or the photo (if you prefer a smaller size), and a brief description of the item, it’s benefits and features, and maybe a snippet from some of the reviews. Each time you mention the product, you create a link to your affiliate product (or you can use a plug-in called Pretty Links, or there are some Amazon plug-ins that might help. You also want to link each pin or picture to your affiliate link. Make sure you do your SEO thing and include good SEO in your descriptions, your photos, your boards and your pins. That’s going to help you a lot.
Some of my guy items got repinned to a bunch of about 20 high-ranking boards over Father’s Day this year and that created a big blip in my earnings.
Then it’s just lather, rinse, repeat for each of your items. I typically use one of the collage pins as the general image for the post. Then when you’re done, just promote, promote, promote.