I’ve had such fun creating my Holiday Gift Guide and Book Gift Guide that I thought I’d share an easy “how-to” in case you wanted to offer a gift guide to your readers! Gift guides are a great way to share some of your favorite products with your readers, use your affiliate links, and create shareable content for the major gift-giving holidays. These are perfect for Christmas, Mother’s Day, graduation, weddings – whatever gift-giving events your readers are most interested in! The options and opportunities are endless.
A note on affiliate links: this how-to will not cover how to properly disclose affiliate links in your gift guide. Please educate yourself on the correct use of affiliate links & disclosures before you make your gift guide available to the public. I’m not responsible if the FTC comes knocking on your door because you didn’t do it right. There are great blogs that walk you through how to do it, so go get your Google on. Speaking of…
affiliate links included
Step 1: Choose Your Gifts
Gift guides are full of – you guessed it – gifts! So you’ll need to figure out a few things before you begin. How many gifts do you want to offer? What categories of gifts do you want to cover (or, like my book guide, do you want to focus on just one category)? Create a list that organizes your gift guide so you’ll know exactly what you need to get for each item & where it belongs in your guide. If you need help getting started, you can use this Google Spreadsheet (just choose “make a copy” so you can edit as needed).
Step 2: Pick Your Template
If you’ve taken my Creative Basics course you’ll know that I’m a fan of free resources. Canva is one of my favorite sites for creating social media graphics, and they’ve recently added a new template for magazines. That’s what we’re going to use to create our gift guide. If you’ve never used Canva before, please don’t be intimidated. I promise it’s user friendly and you will love it once you get to know it. If you need a little help getting started in Canva, grab a copy of Creative Basics to learn the ins & outs of the features you’ll need to know.
When you get to Canva, go ahead & login if you aren’t already (or sign up for an account if this is your first time using it). Once you’re logged in you’ll be able to choose the template you’d like to use. Magazine templates don’t currently appear on the front page so you may need to click the plus sign to open up additional template options and click on “magazine” under the Document category.
From here you’ll choose the magazine style you like best for your gift guide. I went with the free “frame” template for my Holiday Gift Guide cover, author page, and printable page and used the free “gum” table of contents layout for my individual gift category pages. If you have the design skills and feel confident that you can create a custom design, you can either alter the templates or scroll all the way to the bottom & choose from several blank design layouts. Mix & match worked well for me, though!
Step 3: Choose Your Pages
At the very least you will need a cover page and a page for each gift category. If you’re going to use affiliate links you’ll also want a disclosure page. The free cover page options are pretty obvious, but I used the “gum” table of contents page for my gift categories because it was already set up to hold 7 images. If you need to add additional images to your page, you can simply click on one of the image squares & click “copy” then move the new image box where you need it. This will be helpful if you’re trying to share a specific number of gifts that isn’t divisible by 7 😉 To add a new page to your gift guide, click the icon beside each page that looks like two rectangles – this will add a duplicate page and you can either edit the layout as is or choose to apply a new layout.
Step 4: Add Your Images
Once you’ve settled on your categories and page layouts, you’ll want to start uploading your images. I took screenshots of most of the products I was including if I wasn’t able to right-click & save to my desktop. Once you have the product image saved to your computer, click the “upload” button in Canva and upload your images then drag them into the image boxes. All Canva templates come with preset filters on their images, so if you don’t like the filter on the template you chose just click your image box until you see the option for “filters” and adjust as needed. I suggest getting one of your gift category pages set up completely and THEN making a duplicate for the rest of your pages so you don’t have to adjust the filters and custom layout options every time.
Step 5: Add Your Text
You’ll want to share the name of the product with your readers so they know what it is you’re telling them to add to their gift list. Click any existing text box on your layout and edit the text, fonts, size, and color. You can also click the text box and choose “link” from the dropdown – this is where you’ll add a direct link to the product or include your affiliate link if you have one. This is a good time to click “file” at the top of the page and make sure Canva is saving your progress! Repeat steps 4 & 5 until all your gift categories, images & text are added.
Step 6: Download as PDF
For my gift guides I chose to upload them to ISSUU, a free service that animates your PDF for a more magazine-friendly user experience. I simply downloaded my gift guide pages as a “PDF for print” (the highest quality option) and then uploaded to my ISSUU account. You’ll have a sharable link to give to your readers and social media community so they can easily view and download a copy of your gift guide. If you want to track clicks on that link, I suggest converting it to a bit.ly link.
If you want to offer it as a free PDF download on your blog without uploading to ISSUU, you can either upload to Google Drive to get a sharable link if you’re on Blogger, or upload to your media file on WordPress and grab the URL for it to share in a blog post.
That’s it! Simple, easy, and sharable. Enjoy!
Pam Stultz says
Hi Crystal, This is a great resource for those of us who have never created a gift guide before. Thank you so much! One question: You mention to use the “gum” table of contents page for each gift category. I’ve gotten to the point of opening all of the magazine layout options but don’t know how to find the ‘gum’ page. I tried typing it in the search but it just give me bubble gum images. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Pam
Hey Pam! When you’re looking at the different magazine layout options, scroll almost all the way to the bottom (right before you get to the blank templates) and look for a green & black one with the word “GUM” as the magazine title 🙂
Pam Stultz says
Thank you Crystal! I found it. Now my next question: some of the images I’m uploading aren’t fitting in the pre-formatted photo box neatly. I’m adjusting their sizes, but some photos are very blurry. Did you have to change the size or resolution of your photos before uploading them into the template? Thanks again! Pam