The holiday season (and really any holiday) can be a huge time for food bloggers, so here is your guide to “hack the holidays” and make the most out of your content.
If done well, your reader will fall in love with you for providing them relevant content when they need it most. For holiday information, people want posts that are current and easily accessible.
If you are new to blogging or feel like you’re jumping on this holiday promo bandwagon too late, don’t worry! Start where you can, and anything you do will be great for this year and will put you one step farther ahead for next year!
What Content to Publish
Many types of content will do well when promoting a holiday. It’s also a great time to think about how you can monetize your blog, while still delivering user-friendly content.
Clearly, people use recipes for all the holidays. But, to add value, think through the different categories that people may be searching for.
- Traditional: What everyone always cooks for that holiday, such as turkey for Thanksgiving. Make these easy and accessible and tell why your family loves it.
- Twist: A new twist on a traditional recipe. Maybe this is using a new tool like the Instant Pot or just a fresh ingredient in a traditional recipe. Or, even suggesting a totally new dish to add to a traditional meal.
- Fun: People are often looking for fun, crafty or whimsical recipes they can make that will add to their festivities. These are especially popular with holidays like Halloween, Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day, but also do great with the main traditional holidays.
Recipe round-ups are great content, and they work really well year-over-year. Your reader will appreciate the ease of having holiday and seasonally-appropriate recipes all in one place.
It’s also a great place to give shout-outs to other food bloggers and link to their recipes. Reach out and see if others want to do a round-up with you, where you trade links. Perhaps get together on Instagram and share some of each other’s recipes in stories.
There’s no set formula for the ratio of your recipes versus others, but I think 75% of yours to 25% others is appropriate. But, do what feels right to you and it will offer the best value to your readers!
Creating an actual menu or two for a holiday dinner is a great way to provide practical and useable information to your readers.
Create a post outlining two or three menu options that cover all the needs of a dinner. Don’t forget to include appetizers, drinks and dessert.
Any advice you can give on the time it takes to prepare each item, what you can do in advance and how to serve the recipes will only add value and make your readers love you!
This is also a great topic where you can team up with other bloggers!
Writing a series is a great way to stay focused and become known for something specific. For instance, I did this with my series on Google’s SEO content questions for creators.
It’s also easy to do if you are just starting out, or don’t have much past relevant content.
It can be framed around a newly popular content strategy called topic clustering, which uses a pillar page to write an overview of the topic, and then you write several more in-depth posts that all link to each other!
Pick a topic like pies, different ways to cook a turkey or the best sides, and go for it!
Creating a gift guide is an awesome way to help monetize your blog, and is an ideal option for food bloggers.
It’s often hard to find gifts for adults, and kitchen or home gifts are the default for many, so you can directly tie this into what you do as a food blogger.
But these gift guides don’t have to be just for the traditional gift-giving holidays. Think of other guides you can create throughout the year:
- Get well
Guides like this do very well on Pinterest, so be sure to make some awesome graphics to Pin.
I suggest signing up for an affiliate program, and Amazon is the most popular. Then you can monetize all the links on your guide!
And remember you can also create a content guide around any topic. Write a blog post discussing how you get the best deals at the grocery store, or how you manage a menu when guests have different dietary restrictions. The ideas are endless.
When to publish content
Ah, the eternal question, when is it best to publish holiday content? And the answer is…it depends on what platform you are talking about.
On search-based platforms
For platforms like Google, Bing, Pinterest and often YouTube, you want your content available well before the bulk of searching starts.
So, I suggest publishing 8-12 weeks in advance. That gives it time to get traction and be there when early searchers are looking for it.
Depending on the holiday, you will want to publish your content earlier rather than later, as people start planning their holiday events months in advance.
For instance, I suggest publishing three months in advance of Christmas, so yes, that means you’ll need to start working on it in August!
How to publish out-of-season content
If you’re concerned about publishing out-of-season content on your blog, say Christmas in August, there are a few different ways around this.
You could just not care! Nowadays people are rarely bookmarking your homepage and visiting, they rely on the information you push out to them by email or social networks. So, if you don’t tell people it’s there, most won’t know.
Or you can use a plugin like WP Post Hide to hide the post from the homepage.
While it’s much more cumbersome, when doing a site redesign, you can make sure your site is designed to have a static homepage, that then pulls in specific blog posts rather than defaulting to showing all of your latest posts. And cut out any emails that automatically send the latest post.
I do not recommend backdating the post, as these other options should take priority and it’s not helpful for SEO.
Last year’s posts
On these search-based platforms, your posts from a year or two ago may start doing really well. It often takes this long to get really good traction in Pinterest or get ranked on the top of Google.
So, if you are early in your blogging career, think of what you are doing now for the holidays as building a base so you can explode on the scene next year!
It is also wise to look at your analytics on these platforms and see which pages are starting to get traction early on in the season and then you know those are the ones to update and start promoting.
Go in, update any of your holiday recipes or guides and make sure they are current and all set for the current season.
On social platforms
For social platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, you need to post in the now, and what is already on people’s minds. So I suggest posting only 3-4 weeks in advance of the holiday.
There is a natural flow, and there are sometimes unspoken (or spoken) rules of when you can officially start talking about different holidays.
It’s okay to break these rules, but when you do, be sure to state that you are breaking them. For instance say, “I know it’s August, but I just can’t wait for pumpkin season, so I had to post this pumpkin bread!”
Also, keep in mind, that for recipes or gift guides, people often want this information in advance of the holiday. They will be planning their menu or buying gifts leading up to the holiday, not actually on the holiday.
If you’ve been working in content generation for a while, you’ll start to intuitively know the flow for the holidays, but you can also watch what others are posting and keep an eye out for what’s getting popular and follow along.
Monthly Holiday Content Planning Calendar
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This content calendar is not set in stone but is a good outline for what you should be thinking about when. And if you publish or post later, don’t worry, you’re still doing an awesome job!
In my mind, the content year resets each summer, as people are on vacation and not creating or consuming as much, and then, bam, fall hits and we are in “go” mode. So, this calendar starts in summer.
For each month I give three categories of what to do: push, publish and update.
Push means “pushing” out the information on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and email.
Publish and pin means publishing the content on your blog and/or YouTube and doing your first pins on Pinterest for that content.
Update means you should be focusing on updating old content for that topic, by rewriting, taking new photos or updating the post’s SEO.
Note: This calendar is generally based on American and Christian holidays since that’s what I know. If you have other holidays you want to be added, tell me the details and I’ll add it!
- Push graduation, Father’s Day and Fourth of July content.
- Publish and pin back-to-school and late-summer content.
- Update old content for autumn and Halloween.
- Push summer round-ups and recipes.
- Publish and pin new content for autumn and Halloween.
- Update old content for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s.
- Push summer and back-to-school content.
- Publish and pin new content for Thanksgiving.
- Update old content for Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s.
- Push autumn content and tease Halloween.
- Publish and pin new content for Black Friday, Christmas and Hanukkah.
- Update old content for winter, New Year’s and the January health-focus.
- Push Halloween content and tease Thanksgiving. (Rule: Many people believe “No Christmas before Halloween”, so be mindful of promoting anything Christmas-y in October.)
- Publish and pin new content for winter, New Year’s and the January health-focus.
- Update any remaining old content for the holiday and winter seasons.
(Often a content creators busiest month!)
- Push Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas and Hanukkah. Can tease New Year’s.
- Publish and pin new content for the winter season.
- Take a break from updating old content.
(Things will wind-down mid-month, as most people will have finished holiday preparations.)
- Push Christmas, Hanukkah (check the date) and New Year’s. Also, push January health-focus as soon as Christmas passes.
- Publish and pin new content for Valentine’s Day.
- Update old content for Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day and spring.
- Push January health-focus and winter recipes and round-ups.
- Publish and pin new content for Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day and spring.
- Update old content for Easter and/or Passover.
- Push content for Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras and spring.
- Publish and pin new content for Easter and/or Passover. (The dates for these holidays can move by up to 4 weeks, so check when the date is each year, and adjust accordingly.)
- Update old content for late spring, Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day.
- Push content for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter and/or Passover.
- Publish and pin new content for late spring, Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day.
- Update old content for graduation and early summer, especially around recipes for Memorial Day and Father’s Day. (Think barbequing and picnics.)
- Push content for Mother’s Day, Cinco de Mayo and late spring. (And Easter and/or Passover, based on the dates.)
- Publish and pin new content for graduation and early summer, especially around recipes for Memorial Day and Father’s Day.
- Update old content for 4th of July and summer.
- Push content for Mother’s Day, graduation, Father’s Day, as well as early summer content for outdoor eating like barbeques.
- Publish and pin new content for 4th of July and summer.
- Update old content for back-to-school (yes, I know you are still in school!) and late summer recipes.
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