How to Create an SEO-Boosting XML Sitemap in 20 Minutes (or Less)

How to Create an SEO-Boosting XML Sitemap in 20 Minutes (or Less)

When it comes to SEO and marketing, I like quick and easy wins.

Even though I’m committed to the long journey of blogging (10+ years and counting), I’d much rather push a few buttons and pull a few levers to get more traffic.

Low effort. Big wins. That’s where I like to be.

And, thankfully, there are some SEO techniques that deliver high value for low effort.

I want to share with you one of those techniques — creating an XML sitemap.

Now before you run away after reading the term “XML sitemap,” let me give you some good news.

Even though an XML sitemap is on the “technical” side of SEO, it’s not hard to make one. And, really, it’s not that “technical” either.

In fact, in just a few minutes you could create a really good XML sitemap. You don’t have to know how to code. You just have to know how to click.

It’s free. It’s easy. It’s relatively simple, and it can improve your SEO.

Ready to give it a try?

What, Exactly, is an XML Sitemap?

What is an XML sitemap?

In simple terms, it’s a list of a website’s URLs.

That’s why it’s called a sitemap. It maps out how the website is structured and what pages the website includes.

(“XML” stands for “Extensible Markup Language,” a way of displaying information on websites.)

That’s what an XML sitemap is, but why should you even have one? What’s the purpose?

What’s the Purpose of an XML Sitemap?

Search engines use crawlers to organize and index information on the web.

These crawlers can read all kinds of information. But an XML sitemap makes it easy for the crawler to see what’s on your website and index it.

Once it does this, your website has a stronger likelihood of improving its rank quickly.

Essentially, an XML sitemap serves as a table of contents for your website, allowing the crawler to get the essentials and index your site accordingly.

A well-structured sitemap can do even more, however.

Sitemaps tell search engines when a page was updated, the frequency of updates to the page, the relative importance of pages within a website, and how to find and index content that may be found deep within the site’s structure.

Here’s what the information looks like in a sitemap:

  • Where the page is located on the website (its URL): http://www.example.com/mypage
  • When the page was last changed: 2013-10-10
  • How often the page is changed: monthly
  • What priority the page has in relationship to other pages on the site: 1

These features are important, especially considering the amount of unauthorized syndication that takes place with content today.

If you aren’t using a sitemap, your website could be seen as containing duplicate content, which isn’t good for SEO.

More importantly, however, a sitemap is a fast way to get indexed by Google.

With a sitemap, you can tell Google, “Look, this is my site, and here are the pages I want you to index.”

Within minutes (usually), Google will crawl your site and index your content.

What Are the Benefits of an XML Sitemap?

If you’re wondering, “Hmm. Do I really need a sitemap? Should I go to all that trouble?” I want to persuade you to, yes, do it. It only takes a few minutes, and the benefits are enormous.

Consider these benefits of an XML sitemap:

  • It tells Google to crawl and index your website.
  • It tells Google what to crawl on your website.
  • The XML sitemap tells Google what kind of information is on your website.
  • The XML sitemap tells Google when your content was updated (which could result in more favorable or “fresh” rankings).
  • It tells Google how often your content is updated and how important it is.
  • The XML sitemap helps your website instantly gain indexation for dynamically-generated pages.
  • It helps you overcome the limitations of a website with weak internal linking.
  • It helps your site overcome the challenge of not yet having a strong external link profile.
  • It helps huge sites gain better and more organized indexation.
  • The XML sitemap helps Google crawl your website more effectively.
  • It shows Google all the pages on your website, even if they are deep within the architecture and might not otherwise be crawled as quickly.

If you’re ready to get started on creating your own XML sitemap, we’ll follow a three-step process:

  1. Create your XML sitemap.
  2. Add your XML sitemap to your website.
  3. Submit your XML sitemap to Google.

(I’ll also show you how to submit your Sitemap to Bing and Yandex as well)

The remainder of this article will address each of those points, along with one final step, using Ubersuggest to find potential sitemap errors.

Create an XML Sitemap Using Screaming Frog (for any Website)

You can use Screaming Frog to create an XML sitemap for any website. It doesn’t matter what CMS you’re using, what size the website is, or your website’s age.

In fact, you don’t even need to own the website or have login access to it to create the sitemap.

Is there a cost associated with this? Screaming Frog, the tool we’ll use, provides free crawling for up to 500 pages. To crawl websites larger than 500 pages, you will need to purchase a Screaming Frog license.

About Screaming Frog

If you do not have Screaming Frog yet, you need to install it first. You can do so here.

Screaming Frog is a powerful desktop software program that helps with a whole range of SEO activities.

The basic version is free. The full version (with license purchase) costs £149.00 per year (around $180 USD or €170 euro).

In this section, I’ll walk you through how to create an XML sitemap for any website using the free version of Screaming Frog.

First, open Screaming Frog.

Then, type your URL into the field at the top.

Click “Start.”

Depending on your website’s size, it will take from a few minutes to a few hours to crawl the site.

For a site like NeilPatel.com (6,600+ pages), it takes a while to crawl, but not too long. I’ve worked on some large e-commerce websites with millions of URLs. These take hours to crawl.

When the site has finished crawling, it will display “100” in the status bar.

Now, click “Sitemaps” in the menu bar.

Click “Create XML Sitemap.”

Next, you’ll need to choose which sections of your website you want to include in the XML sitemap.

At first glance, this may seem confusing, especially if you’re not sure what “Noindex” or “canonicalised” means.

Here is a brief explanation of each one:

  • Include Noindex Pages: Noindex pages contain HTML code in the header telling the search engines not to include the page in the search index. If your developer has set certain pages as “Noindex,” it is probably with good cause. When in doubt, do not check this box.
  • Include Canonicalised: There may be more than one URL pointing to the same page of content. If you “include canonicalized,” you are telling the crawl tool to include variations of the URLs that point to the same page. If in doubt, leave this unchecked.
  • Include Paginated URLs: A paginated URL is one that includes rel= attributes (rel=“prev” and “next”) to navigate through a series of content on a website. Unless you’re careful with it, pagination can be a bit dangerous for SEO. I recommend that you do not check this box.
  • Include PDFs: You can choose whether or not you want PDFs included in your XML sitemap. Google indexes all kinds of content, PDFs included. I recommend that you do include PDFs in your XML sitemap, as long as the PDFs on your website are important and relevant to users who might be searching for your content.

Remember this basic idea. A sitemap is for SEO. If you want someone to find the page on your website, you want to include it in the sitemap.

For my purposes, I’m going to include PDFs.

The tabs “Last Modified,” “Priority,” and “Change Frequency” deal with the date and time that website pages were modified and the settings.

Unless you have a knowledge of these settings, please leave them as they are by default.

I think it’s a good idea to include images in a sitemap, so I’m going to add those to my sitemap.

Click the “Images” tab.

Then, click “Include Images.” The third box (“Include only relevant Images with up to 10 inlinks”) will automatically be checked.

Then, click “Next.”

You’ll be prompted to save your XML sitemap on your computer. Find a good place to save it, and click “Save.”

Congratulations! You’ve created an XML sitemap!

You’ll now need to upload this file to your website via FTP. You may already know how to do this.

If you don’t know how to upload the XML sitemap to your website, check with a developer to determine what process you should follow for your specific server and/or CMS.

But creating a sitemap is only the first step. A sitemap means nothing unless you submit it to the search engines.

Skip down to the section “Submit your XML sitemap to Google” to learn how to do it.

Create an XML Sitemap Using Yoast (WordPress Only)

Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress. Yoast makes it easy to create and submit an XML sitemap.

I’ll explain how to do it step-by-step, but first, here’s what you need:

  • You must be using a WordPress.org site.
  • You must have the Yoast plugin installed. (It’s free.)
  • Your website must be connected to Google Search Console.

Most websites already have those three things in place. If you’re ready, let’s jump in.

Login to Your WordPress Admin

Note: In the screenshots below, my WordPress admin might look a little bit different from yours. That shouldn’t keep you from being able to follow each step.

What we’re going to do first is make sure that the Yoast plugin is all ready to create a sitemap for you. To do so, we’ll need to turn on Yoast’s advanced settings.

Click on the Yoast Plugin

It has a “Y” icon, and says “SEO.” It should be located in the left sidebar.

Click the “Dashboard” option.

From the Dashboard, click “Features.”

From the Features tab, look for “XML sitemaps” and make sure it is toggled to “On.”

Now, scroll to the bottom and click “Save Changes.”

If you want to customize your sitemap, learn how here. For example, you might want to exclude pages that aren’t public.

In general, however, the sitemap Yoast generates tends to be pretty solid.

Now, it’s time to submit this to Google.

How to Submit Your XML Sitemap to Google

Now it’s time to do something valuable with your sitemap — submit it to Google.

To do this, you’ll need to have Google Search Console connected to your website. Check out this Google guide for instructions on doing so.

First, go to Google Search Console and select your website.

From the dashboard, click “Sitemaps.”

Click “Add a new Sitemap.”

Enter the URL where you’ve saved your sitemap. It should end with “.xml” since it’s an XML file.

Click “Submit.”

Then use the Sitemaps report to make sure there are no errors. (I’ll also cover another method below.)

Once that’s completed, Google takes care of the rest. Your sitemap allows Google to quickly and seamlessly index your site, helping to boost your rankings.

How to Submit Your XML Sitemap to Bing & Yandex

Google is the largest search engine — but it isn’t the only one. To get the most mileage out of your XML sitemap, I suggest submitting it to Bing and Yandex. Here’s how:

Submit Sitemap to Bing

Bing is Microsoft’s answer to Google. It has a much smaller market share (just over 6%). However, more than 900 million unique users visit Bing a month. Submitting a sitemap to Bing is a breeze, so it’s worth the few minutes to reach their audience.

To submit your sitemap to Bing, login to your Dashboard in Webmaster tools. Find the Sitemaps widget and click “Submit a Sitemap.”

Enter the URL location of your file, and click “Submit.” That’s it!

Submit a Sitemap to Yandex

Yandex is Russia’s version of Google. In Russia, Yandex dominates more than 55% of the search market. It also provides email, streaming music, and online payment services. Like Bing, submitting a sitemap only takes a few minutes, so it’s worth the effort to reach a wider audience.

Here’s how to submit your sitemap to Yandex:

Head to to Sitemaps files page, and choose your site from the list.

Add the URL of your sitemap.

Click add.

It will take about two weeks for your sitemap to load. You’ll want to check back and make sure it is uploaded properly; if it says “OK,” then you are good to go. If you see “Redirect,” try uploading the file again.

If you see “error” or “not indexed”, you’ll need to troubleshoot. Use this guide from Yandex to figure out what is going on.

Use Ubersuggest to Check Your XML Sitemap Errors

If you follow the steps above, you shouldn’t have any sitemap errors. But just because you shouldn’t, doesn’t mean you won’t.

Here’s how you can use Ubersuggest to check for sitemap errors:

Step #1: Enter your domain name and click “Search.”

Step #2: Click site audit in the left sidebar.

Step #3: Review the results.

To find issues with your sitemap, review the data associated with the health check, critical errors, warnings, and recommendations.

For example, when you click on Critical Errors, here’s what you see for my website:

There are no issues with my sitemap, but if there were, here’s where you’d find more information. In addition to the issues itself, there’s a learn more button that takes you to:

You can then follow the prompts for more guidance on how to fix the error.

Use Ubersuggest to check the health of your sitemap regularly. Doing so once or twice a month will only take a few minutes out of your schedule, but it can go a long way in improving your website’s SEO.

Conclusion

A lot of small business owners and web entrepreneurs get afraid when they hear the term “XML sitemap.”

It sounds jargony and code-like. If you’re not an SEO nerd or a computer geek, how do you figure out how to create and submit an XML sitemap?

As it turns out, it’s not that hard.

Creating a sitemap using a program like Screaming Frog or Yoast takes ten minutes or less.

If you know nothing about sitemaps, and need to go through the whole process for the first time, no problem. Walking through the entire process from start to finish may take, at most, twenty minutes.

The SEO benefits, however, will be enormous.

If you’ve never created an XML sitemap for your website, my advice is simple: Get one made today.

Then, perform a technical SEO audit to see what other issues might be lurking on your site.

You can do it. I’ve got your back.

What’s your experience creating an XML sitemap? How has it helped your site’s SEO?

How to Create a Revenue-Generating Google Ads Campaign

How to Create a Revenue-Generating Google Ads Campaign

The trouble with search engine optimization (SEO) is that it takes a long time to work and doesn’t come with any guarantees. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, on the other hand, can provide results a lot faster.

For companies that have no organic presence and need ROI fast, a paid ad is sometimes your best bet for driving traffic to (and conversions from) your website.

The problem is that your competitors are using the same search terms and keywords you will. Not only do you need to know how to build a campaign through Google Ads, but you also need to know how to stand out from the crowd.

Free Guide, Template & Planner: How to Use Google Ads for Business

What is a Google Ads Campaign?

Google Ads is a pay-per-click (PPC) system for advertising in the search engine results pages (SERPs) on Google. You can create Campaigns, which are used to organize groups of similar ads. Your Google Ads account can have one or many campaigns running at a time.

Each campaign then includes multiple ad groups, which house your keywords ad text, and landing pages. 

google ads campaign structure showing nesting hierarchy of ads account, campaign, ad group, and keywords and ads

The advantage of structuring your Ads account with campaigns is that you can target different audiences (for better personalization), be more intentional with your bidding, and even run different tests without affecting your main campaigns. 

For example, let’s say your organization sells two products. One is a more lucrative opportunity, and the other is less important to your company goals but still requires some spend. By using separate campaigns, each of these products get their own ads, and you can put more of your budget toward bidding on the more lucrative product without the less lucrative one eating up all your spend. 

For more information on how ad spend works, check out our ultimate guide to Google Ads.

Let’s continue on with a few real examples of Google Ads campaigns — a service formerly known as Google AdWords — and then throw in some pro tips for succeeding with your own search engine marketing (SEM) strategy. By the time we’re done, you’ll be an expert.

1. New Breed Marketing

Search term: what is inbound marketing

new breed marketing google ads campaign

Links to:

new breed marketing landing page

Some searchers are experiencing a pain that’s led them on a path to purchase, but they may not be clear on what it is that will solve that pain. That’s the thinking behind the first Google Ads campaign example above.

New Breed Marketing, an agency partner of HubSpot, is an inbound marketing service provider. Because New Breed’s customers might not know what they’re signing up for with “inbound marketing,” the company sought to define the term for them — helping buyers confirm that inbound marketing is indeed what they’re looking for.

New Breed Marketing’s Google Ads result above is as simple as search engine marketing gets. The meta description is just one sentence long but indicates to searchers that inbound marketing is a “process” to be invested in.

Meanwhile, the blue link, called a Site Extension, itself promises to explain inbound marketing in the form of a downloadable “guide.” This ensures those who click through to the website are prepared to submit their contact information and become a lead in exchange for that guide. Remember, Google Ads campaigns cost you money every time somebody clicks on one of your ads — you need to get something out of those clicks.

2. Nettitude

Search term: cybersecurity

nettitude google ads campaign

Links to:

nettitude landing page

In general, the broader the search term, the less likely the searcher will want to buy something right away (a pay-per-click concept called “match types“). In the Ads campaign above, however, Nettitude bid on a broad, one-word search term — “cybersecurity.”

While this broad search term doesn’t target a specific searcher, the details of their Google Ad ensures the link can satisfy many different types of searchers no matter what their interest was when they typed in the word.

Nettitude’s AdWords campaign, above, does two things well:

First, its meta-description has several value propositions that most cybersecurity customers would be receptive to. This includes a “2 hour response time” and a “free initial consultation” to make a prospect’s initial outreach convenient and low-commitment.

Second, the ad displays a phone number directly on the page. When you bid on a search term that yields such a broad, diverse group of people, getting them on the phone is often the easiest way to nurture their interest so they don’t wander off to another search result and forget about you.

3. Rock Content

Search term: content marketing course

rock content google ads campaignLinks to:

rock content landing page

Rock Content, an agency partner of HubSpot, is a content marketing service based in Brazil.

Its Ads campaign bid on a search term that’s only somewhat related to the service Rock Content is offering on its landing page. Here’s why it works.

The search term “content marketing course” is intent on finding classes that help marketers increase their content marketing knowledge. Rock Content looks to pivot searchers from taking a class for improving their content knowledge to entering an “evaluation” for determining how much they already know.

This evaluation might not satisfy every searcher, but it is a smart way of pivoting their interest to a related service and introducing them to Rock Content’s offerings at the same time.

4. Destination Canada

Search term: cheap holiday destinations

destination canada google ads campaign

Links to:

destination canada landing page

Canada Destination’s Google Ads campaign above uses a searcher’s general interest in taking a holiday trip to advertise all the fun parts of Canada. Similar to the third example on this list, the strategy is to pivot off of a broad search term to drive value into its own offering. It’s not a casual article, but it’s also not a flight itinerary — that middle-of-the-funnel space is what makes this campaign work so well.

The link above also uses two sub-links beneath the main Site Extension, highlighting the key subjects covered in the website to maximize the ad’s click-through rate.

When people search for “cheap holiday destinations,” it can be hard to gauge their level of interest just right. When launching a Google Ads campaign, you don’t want your ad to be too broad to convert customers, but you also don’t want to be so close to the cash register that your searchers aren’t ready for what you’re offering them. Canada Destination’s digital tour of the country captures that middle ground perfectly, holding users’ interest without chasing them away with overly specific content.

5. FM Training

Search term: leed certification online

fm.training google ads campaignLinks to:

fm.training landing page

FM Training is a certification hub for facility managers (FMs), the same people who work to make their building facilities LEED-certified. Lots of coursework can go into earning this certification, but it can be a challenge to find curricula that caters to these professionals.

FM Training’s Ads campaign makes sure FMs know they’ve come to the right place.

While the five Site Extensions beneath the ad help users jump directly to the information they’re most interested in, the first sentence of the meta-description is what really reaches out to this audience: “FMs …” — the audience is clearly stated in terms they’d understand — “… see a salary increase of 6% or more within 1 yr.” The ad uses the limited space it has to send a message designed to encourage clicks and make the ad worth the investment.

6. LeftLane Sports

Search term: hiking boots for women

leftlane sports google ads campaignLinks to:

leftlane sports landing page

This campaign by LeftLane Sports is an example of local business advertising done right. The company doesn’t even need people to click on the link to make money from it.

If prospects in the Boston area search for “hiking boots for women,” they won’t just see a paid result by LeftLane Sports; they’ll see where the brand’s nearest storefront is and how long they’re open. It’s the perfect way to drive website traffic to the appropriate product pages and promote a local presence in the process.

1. Get a Google Ads account.

Before you can do anything, you’ll need to visit the Google Ads website and sign up for an account. 

As part of signing up for a Google Ads account, Google will automatically take you through the process of creating your first campaign, so be prepared with your financial information. Google takes its fee with each click, so your banking credentials are required during the setup process.

Note: There’s no need to worry about getting charged for ad spend as you get started with Google Ads and set up your first campaign. You can always turn it off once you get through the registration process.

2. Set your Campaign Goals.

The Google interface will prompt you to select a goal type from the following three options: 

  • Get more calls
  • Get more website sales or signups
  • Get more visits to your physical location

This goal will be tied to your advertising campaign, so you’ll want to choose the one that most closely represents the results you want to see.

3. Complete the “Describe your business” section.

Google will then prompt you to enter your business name and website as important information that “describes your business.” This information is used to help predict your audience and is also used for the actual ad’s creation.

4. Designate your geographic area.

In this section, you’ll designate where you want your ads to appear. This is particularly helpful for local businesses. 

At the same time, if you are an online shop, you may be less concerned about geographic constraints. It’s still not a bad idea to consider where, exactly, the majority of your audience lives. If you don’t know, you may want to back up a step and consider your buyer personas first. Why spend money advertising to people in the Midwest if the bulk of your customers live in the Northeast?

You can also reach other countries if your company serves international buyers. Just be sure you’re prepared for any of the buyers who come your way as a result of your ads. You might pay a lot of money for visitors who can’t make a purchase if you’re not careful.

5. Set up keyword themes. 

Google will determine different themes based on your website content. You can customize your keywords based on their suggestions as a jumping off point for your campaign. 

Keep in mind you’ll be competing against many other companies for the same audience when choosing keywords for which you want your ad to show up. Take some time to think of the keywords that will reach people who are ready to buy.

For instance, instead of using “luxury shoes” in your PPC ad, you can use keywords such as “red leather heels.” Maybe you’ll miss out on people who are looking for shoes of all types, but you’ll snag those who have a particular shoe in mind. They’ll be more likely to make a purchase if your ad leads to a landing page with red leather heels, and that will more than pay for their click.

You can also use negative keywords and save a lot of money on your clicks. These tell Google what you don’t want your ad to show up for. In other words, you can use keywords such as red leather heels, not stilettos.

6. Write your ad.

This is the most important aspect of your Google Ads education. The copy you use is what will convince potential buyers to click. You want to attract plenty of people, yes, but you also want those people to buy. If they don’t buy, you pay anyway. 

In this section, you’re setting up the headlines and meta descriptions for your first ad(s). Note that you can choose to set up multiple ads in a single campaign, though Google starts you off with one. 

For each add you create, you have three considerations: 

  • Headline
  • Description
  • Destination URL

interface where you write your google ad

Headline

Start with a great headline that uses search terms that will reach your niche. Google splits the headline up into three sections of 30 characters each, so make each character count. You might even need to use abbreviations, or you can search for shorter synonyms.

Description

After the headline, you get another 90 characters for the first description. Use this space to highlight any benefits. How will the product solve your buyers’ pains? Then, in the second description, you can capitalize on a feature.

Be ready to change these if you notice your ad isn’t gaining a lot of traction, and don’t be afraid to experiment.

Destination URL

This is where you can choose where clicks on your ad go to. Just choose the page you want them to land on and paste the URL in the field.

7. Set your ad budget. 

Here, you’ll be designating your daily budget. 

You want to include enough money to make a difference, but you really don’t want to break the bank. You can manually set the bids for clicks, which gives you more control. This also means your ads will stop showing once your budget is spent. That means you won’t end up with a shocker of a bill later.

Once you start to review the results from your campaign, you can always adjust the budget.

8. Complete the “Budget and review” section. 

In this section, you’ll be reviewing your campaign settings. It’s best to double check each of the following: 

  • Your daily budget
  • Your monthly budget
  • The impressions you’ll get for that budget
  • The clicks you should expect based on the impressions
  • The location you’re targeting

9. Double check your double check.

It’s always a good idea to check over everything one more time before you set your ad in motion. Is everything spelled correctly? You’ll miss out on keyword searches if there’s a typo one of them. When you’re sure you did everything correctly, then take a deep breath and move on to the next step.

10. Set up billing.

Because Google charges per click, it needs the payment information during the Google Ads account setup. By providing your payment information, you’re giving Google the ability to charge accrued advertising costs from your campaign.

11. Hit Submit. 

By doing so, you’ve set up your first Google Ads campaign.

To create additional campaigns, perhaps with different or tighter keyword groups, you’ll want to select Campaigns from the page menu on the left. Then, click the blue plus button and choose New campaign. The Google interface will walk you through the additional steps. 

Beyond setting everything up correctly, you’ll also want to A/B test your results often. Change headlines, introduce new features, focus on different benefits — and then take note of the number of conversions. There’s always a way to make your ad perform better.

How to Cancel a Google Ads Campaign

To cancel a Google Ads campaign, first sign in to your Google Ads account. Then, follow the instructions below: 

  1. Click Campaigns from the menu on the left side. 
  2. Find the campaign you want to cancel. 
  3. Click the checkbox next to that campaign. 
  4. Click Edit from the drop-down menu that appears. 
  5. Click Pause to place the campaign on hold or Remove to permanently stop the campaign. 

You can select the checkbox on multiple campaigns for a bulk edit. 

Now that you know how to set up and cancel Google Ads campaigns, there’s nothing holding you back from getting started with the many things that PPC offers you. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

kit for how to use Google Ads

How to Create Content That Makes Money for Fall 2020

How to Create Content That Makes Money for Fall 2020

 

To say 2020 has been a unique year is an understatement. That isn’t a political statement either. This is a marketing blog and I keep things on a marketing level.

This year we’re facing multiple groups of people that feel very strong about their opinions when it comes to fall holidays and shopping seasons. We have pro-mask and anti-mask mobs. This year is also an election cycle. The drama even extends into a child’s well-being with groups of people for opening in person classes and groups of people against it.

Nobody is going to be happy with everything you do, so for this year forget trying to make people happy. Instead try to provide them with sound advice and strategies to celebrate and just try to live their lives.

Nobody is going to be happy with everything you do, so for this year forget trying to make people happy. Instead try to provide them with sound advice and strategies to celebrate and just try to live their lives.

Below you’ll find three of the upcoming shopping seasons and holidays and how you can create value adding content that can be easily monetized, attract backlinks, and help grow your subscriber base.

  • Halloween (this is the longest section)
  • Back to School
  • PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte Season (it’s bigger than you think!))

Halloween 2020

I’m starting with Halloween content ideas because I love Halloween. It makes me happy just like PSL season so I’m ending with that.

Halloween is going to be unique this year. Americans are split on how to handle the covid-19 pandemic.

Some parents will not want their kids to go to indoor community centers for trick-or-treating where everyone is in the same room and the virus can spread. Other parents will insist on it because it is safer than being around strangers outside and it is what their children are used to doing.

I personally think that some communities are going to go back to traditional trick-or-treating with kids running outside from house-to-house.

Going back to outdoor trick-or-treating will allow for more social distancing. Not to mention that Halloween in general supports mask wearing which science has proven reduces the chances of covid-19 spreading. Outside trick-or-treating also provides families with some much needed outdoor exercise and family bonding time.

So how can you monetize this and grow your subscriber base? Simple, provide solutions and make sure they are accurate by sourcing them like I just did above with the CDC website.

Provide solutions for quarantining candy.

One of the first topics you can help people with is how to sanitize or quarantine candy.

People like me that are germ freaks are likely concerned about all of the hands touching the candy bars, especially if hands have been in mouths and everyone is breathing heavy from running door-to-door.

You can provide solutions to store the candy so that your kids cannot access it until the time frame for Covid-19 to die off has passed. Or you can look for an alternative options to sanitize the candy in a safe and non-toxic way.

For example:

  1. Decide how much candy your kids are allowed to have each day after trick or treating.
  2. Now label a few bins or plastic bags with each day of the week on the label.
  3. Next safely open the candy without touching it and drop it into the marked containers.
  4. Once the virus is supposed to be dead, you’ll be out of daily bins and can release the mother load back to them.

You have basically provided a way for children to eat their candy allotment each day while the rest remains in quarantine. But remember to contact a licensed medical expert to verify this is in fact safe. I am not a licensed medical professional and cannot provide that advice. This is just a random idea I had while writing this post.

You can monetize this by selling the food safe sanitizer, the bins and of course CPM/CPL ads if your story gets picked up.

Provide solutions for temper tantrum adults

One thing many parents will fear if it is door to door is anti-mask parents coming around and throwing a fit. Because halloween is less than a week before election day there will be plenty of insults hurled if there is a Biden or Trump sign in the yard. This is another opportunity for you as a content creator.

Interview a behavioral psychologist or someone that is licensed to deal with behavioral problems on your channel and get them to provide tips and ideas on how to deescalate the situation.

Of course nothing will be perfect or work for everyone, but at least you have a starting point in case an adult becomes a child and throws a temper tantrum.

Some ideas you may want to start with to deescalate or prevent crowding at your house (but again talk to a licensed expert and not me) include:

  • Have a list of responses to combat their claims in a calming and data backed way.
  • Create a toss and catch game with markers on your walkway. The kids can open their bags or set them in front of their feet. You then gently toss the candy and try to land it in the bag.
  • Provide fun ideas for decorating candy bowls. Now place the candy bowls away from your house if you have an at-risk person inside.  This way you can still enjoy the trick-or-treaters coming around.To monetize, create tutorials and “how-to” guides offering ideas with colored lights, dry ice and cobwebs for creating a cool Halloween themed scene with the candy bowls that the kids will notice and want to engage with. This will distract them from the initial instinct to ring your doorbell (a high touch space).
  • You could even space the bowls with 6 or 12 foot spaces in between and have a different candy in each. Now the kids have to do cartwheels, spin jumps and other tricks to get from one bowl to the next. You can theme the challenge to the type of candy.In order to do the tricks safely they have to go one at a time which helps them to social distance.
  • Put together a mini haunted path on your yard for the kids and families to walk across. By having everyone follow the same path everyone can social distance and get their candy. If you set it up like a haunted house then you can time people too so that groups wait six feet apart so they don’t spoil the surprises for the trick-or-treaters.
  • Work with your neighbors to set up one way sidewalks and a map of the neighborhood. You can label it as “maximizing their time and candy yields”. The map can also show the addresses of houses participating in trick or treating and houses that do not want visitors. This is an added bonus for people that do not want to participate.

Each of these can be monetized through affiliate links as well as CPM and CPV ads if you create rich media to demonstrate them.

Create a list of costumes that already cover someone’s mouth

Coming up with a list of costumes for kids, adults and families that already incorporates a mouth covering is a great way to celebrate the holiday while helping to prevent the spread of the disease. You can monetize this through the costume sales, sewing patterns, and accessories like makeup and themed tote bags.

Create tutorials on setting up haunted features and tricks

If house-to-house trick-or-treating does take off again, then you have a ton of ways to build a subscriber base and make money.

  • Demonstrate creating spooky or kid friendly yard features like zombies coming out of the ground.
  • Come up with funny tricks and pranks like setting up decoy monsters and having the person dressed up in a costume elsewhere.
  • Include cool and easy-to-make recipes like fake blood and smog that is chilled so it stays low to the ground and then show how to light it up green/red/purple/etc… with flash lights for a creepy effect.

Back to School

Back to school is a hot topic right now. But it is something that will happen whether it is in person, online, or a mix of the two. One thing you can do is recommend products to help parents cope (aside from wine and spa kits). But remember, this is a hot topic issue so expect fall out and backlash no matter how helpful you try to be.

  • Provide your audience with at home educational ideas like STEM subscription boxes.
  • Create online study groups for your kids with their friends. Or better yet with parents you know from other places in the country. School districts curriculum’s change based on where they are located. For example you don’t get “Texas history” if you live in Boston.By having your kids work with children from other areas they’ll not only work on social skills, but they’ll also get to see what students their same age are learning elsewhere. It could be very eye opening for everyone.
  • Find after school groups and instructions that can be done online, or create one with other parents. You can post to community bulletins or your PTA to find students with the same interests. By doing this you can create groups like a chess club, band practice or even a D&D RPG group.

PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte Season)

Wondering why I’m calling this a season? Check Google trends or any other predictive content tool. Pumpkin spice is a $600M seasonal market!

People go crazy developing new recipes, brands modify their classic recipes to include it, and of course you have the massive demand for the popular Latte drink.

This year people are more hesitant to go out and pick up their classics which “creates” a big opportunity for you as a content creator:

  • Create a recipe hack that tastes just like the major brand.I’ve stopped going to some of my favorite places because the food handlers do not wear masks. By being able to recreate the same tastes, smells and textures without having to go to these shops I can feel safer and very likely save money. I’m willing to bet a lot of people feel the same and would be opened to creating it on their own safely in their own homes.

     

    You can provide these solutions for your subscribers as the season approaches. By starting now you can keep a tally of the errors and share what to do and not to do (not to mention a fun bloopers tasting reel if you create video). Now as your “recipe hack” is ready to go you’ll have lots of modifications to design the product for their individual tastes.

    You can make money on impressions and by selling the supplies like baking pans, espresso machines and pumpkin spice through affiliate links.

  • Entrepreneurs are jumping onto the subscription and marketplace bandwagon at a record pace. If you’re a crafter, contact these SMB owners and offer to make custom labels and vynil prints for their packaging starting with a PSL for fall theme.Many will be creating PSL products and some will definitely appreciate supporting you as a small business just like you would support them.

PSL is an open game this year. Look at current food trends from dumplings to desserts and then make a PSL version. Even if nobody wants to try it, you could end up with backlinks from the worst recipe and food ideas list posts including major media websites which at least counts for something.

No matter what you do this year you are going to get backlash and people complaining. I’m likely going to get some from this post. That’s just the world we live in. Do your best, be helpful and keep plugging away. This fall season is a huge opportunity for you to make money if you’re creative.

If you found this post helpful, I’d love a social media share. Thank you again for reading!