If you’ve found yourself typing “holiday recipes” into Google lately, you aren’t alone. Even the best home cooks, pro bloggers, and chefs, turn to the internet for inspiration this time of year. In an attempt to dazzle guests with tried-and-true favorites and refreshing twists, people are hungry for holiday recipe ideas—and who better to help them out but you?
Like many industries, the last two or three months of the year can be peak times for business and online traffic for food bloggers. Classic search terms like “turkey” and “cranberry sauce” have a tendency to surge on Google leading up to the holiday season, which makes having sharp SEO and metadata on your site, and #s on your socials, key to reaping the benefits of the season. But like pulling off an unforgettable holiday meal, having a great holiday blog season also requires some planning. These five tips will set you on the right track for a prosperous, and delicious, fourth quarter, even as you set high expectations for the new year.
- Organize, organize, organize. Now is not the time to be spontaneous with posts. Befriending a content management system (including a human one) will let you keep up with regular posts and spend quality time with your loved ones. Buffer, Planoly, and Preview are all great apps than let you schedule posts in advance, visually arrange your grid, and post automatically (with an Instagram business account); Mailchimp and ConvertKit do the same for your newsletters. If you’re tech-averse, even something as simple as a Google spreadsheet can help keep you on-task and motivated should end-of-year burn out start to creep in. Working with a team? Jump on Asana or Slack to have conversations off email or text, assign tasks, and celebrate when you #getshitdone.
- Wrap it up. Target and Walmart are popular stores for a reason: They’ve got everything you need (and then some) in one place. Make your site a one-stop-shop for holiday meal planning with themed wrap-ups. If you’ve got a few years of content under your belt, then pulling together a dozen or two recipes will be a no-brainer; highlight a mix of your high-ranking posts and those with fewer views to give the little guys a lift. If you’re newer to blogging, no problem! Think outside the box by putting a spin on untraditional recipes (people need to eat breakfast on holidays, too!), or curate a perfect plate instead of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Either way, make sure you hit the main categories—appetizers, mains, sides, desserts, and drinks—with a mix of classics and surprises.
- Seek out authentic partnerships. The holidays are about sharing and spending time with others, and you can do that while being a savvy business person. If there is a product or company you genuinely love, reach out about a sponsored post or product giveaway, which will be an authentic plug and glimpse into your real process. Including a product in a classic recipe with high search ranking will be doubly impactful for both of you! If you’re not yet in the sponsorship game, consider whether you could gift something—a favorite cookbook, product, or a special e-book with exclusive recipes—to your readers out of your own pocket. You’ll be paying it forward by creating lasting online relationships, which is exactly what Tastemaker is all about!
- Stay on-brand. It might be tempting to check all the holiday-ish boxes when planning your content for November and December, but resist the urge to rebrand or veer from your niche. Instead, highlight the foods you’re known and loved for so you become the go-to for that thing. For instance, don’t start incorporating main dishes into your feed if you’re a dessert maven; similarly, a gluten-free blog would best stay away from gluten-full stuffings and cakes just because that’s what people like this time of year. Your audience trusts you for your expertise the other ten months of the year, so trust they’ll want what you bring to the table now, too.
- Take the long view into “New Year, New You.” Holiday traffic doesn’t end at midnight on January 1. In fact, the legions of people looking to undo some of their holiday indulgences will be back online for help with their New Year’s resolutions. In your planning, look ahead to the first two weeks of January, too, which will also give you a buffer period of rest and recovery from your own busy season of celebrations and planning.
If you’re looking for more specific tips and tools, check out our Resources page for everything from SEO whizzes to newsletter genies.
Also, the holidays are a legitimate time to take an actual break! If you need to recharge by paring down content, instead of ramping up, take care of you. You’ll come back to your work with more energy, inspiration, and motivation than if you push through. Everyone knows the best food is made with love, so be sure to not leave out that key ingredient in every click.