October 16, 2010

What’s up with all the Holiday Gift Guides? Can I run one, too?

As various blog owners begin to tweet about and promote their Holiday Guides (aka Gift Guides) some of you are wondering: “What’s this all about?”

If you own/run a blog you might even wonder if you could run a guide yourself.

First – What are Holiday Gift Guides all about?

The spending habits of many people have shifted over the years. With Amazon, ebay and more, people can shop from home – around the world. Gift Guides take the shopping to a new level, many times. Rather than supporting big business (or corporate folks), Gift Guides generally promote small business owners, hand-made items, moms and dads working from home, Direct Sales products, etc. The goal of the Gift Guide promoter (such as myself) is to shift people’s spending priorities in a new direction: a direction that says, “Hey! Supporting moms, dads and small business owners is great for our economy and most often, I’ll get higher quality items. So why not re-think my spending this year and really make a difference?”

Can I run a Gift Guide, too?

Sure you can. I’ll lay it on the line for you, based on my experience over the last three years:

Year one:

I gave away most spots in my Guide back when the Mommy Perks site was little known. I sold a few spots to non-clients who wanted to be in the Guide but I believe they paid around $10. Nothing more than what it would cost them to buy 2 cups of coffee. The Guide took my husband 10 days to complete – for NO PAY. He’s a full time web designer so you can imagine just how thrilled he was about that 😉 We made almost no money that year and truth be told, some people complained that not enough sales came from it.

They got in for free. Ummm. Whatever.

Year two:

Last year I sold every spot in the Guide for $25 a pop. My husband put up the shell of the Guide and I filled in the rest. It took me about 10 days to complete. I added holiday articles, tips, shopping ideas, sales and bargains, recipes and more. I tweeted my brains out, facebooked the links and promoted in our newsletter. I asked everyone in the Guide to help promote it. Most people did (a couple of people didn’t help at all and were not invited to be in the Guide this year – I expect people to work together as a team, on my watch. If not, they can go elsewhere and pay 10x what I charge for a Guide that cares only about selling spots. Ha!).

Everyone made a sale last year because I bought something from each person. So no one could say, “No sales came at all!” That’s simply not true. In fact, almost everyone in the Guide sold more items than just my sale. I tried my best to keep track and to get feedback, etc. I worked for 1.5 months promoting the Guide, tweeting, running 25 giveaways to go along (torture!) and posting everywhere I could think of. I really wanted these people to get known, to be seen, to gain website traffic and sales. All of this for 25 bucks each. After Christmas Day, I fell over, and didn’t get back up for about three days. LOL.

Year three:

We are now working on our third Guide. I am capping out at 20 people a year in my Guide. That way, everyone will gain substantial exposure, PR, potential interviews with bloggers and reviewers and of course…sales. I plan to post a press release, to tweet (my follower list is much higher this year, also), facebook it, blog about it and more. Again, I will expect that the people in the Guide help to promote it – taking it to new levels.

This year I sold out of Guide spots within 3 weeks (back in June/July). It cost my clients $25 each and non-clients paid $75. Each person will secure 2 full months of PR for this payment (something that might otherwise run them about 3 Grand if they hired a PR firm for two months of promotion).

I view it this way: if we are all working as a team, everyone in my Guide will receive a large amount of traffic, exposure and new customers (or potential customers). I will promote each person’s fan page and twitter page, also, giving them new followers to engage with long-term. If they all post around it will also boost the Mommy Perks stats and the branding of our company.


Running your own Guide:

As you can see this is hardly a quick-play idea. A successful Gift Guide takes time, effort, promotion, dedication, determination and networking skills. You could type up a quick Guide and email your parents and grandmother with the PDF attachment, of course. However, don’t expect return clients the following year 🙂 If you want to build up a good Guide, first begin small, perhaps even for free (like I did). Earn your stars by working hard, proving yourself and building your community and trust base. Show the Guide members that you really care about who they are and what they are selling. Don’t promote products or people that you can’t stand behind and respectably promote. Show yourself as a Guide that offers quality products, deals and offers. Things that you, yourself, would even purchase. Support your Guide people by purchasing from them, too (I can’t stress this one enough). If people pay to be in your Guide but you do all of your own holiday shopping at Walmart…hmm…not good.

Note to the Business Owners:

Some Guides are free to submit to and in that case, wonderful. Keep in mind, though, that many moms are now earning a living from home. With the shift in our economy, they’ve had to figure out ways to earn money from their computer. So while it might sound terrific to get into a Guide for free, don’t be angry at the folks who charge. If working Online is their livelihood, it makes perfect sense that they’d need some compensation for their time, expertise and effort. If their rates are affordable and fair – fantastic! Jump in.

Happy Gift Guiding! 😉


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