Summer may be in full swing, but for many parents, back-to-school shopping is already occupying their minds. According to data from National Retail Federation (NRF), 56% of back-to-school shoppers had already started searching for products or making purchases at the beginning of July. With ongoing supply chain issues and inflation, it’s no wonder parents are looking to get an early start to find the best deals on the supplies their children will need.

Back-to-school shopping has morphed into an unofficial holiday that rivals the spending of other major shopping holidays, and this year shows no signs of slowing down.


We dug into Skimlinks data from 2021 and 2022 (year to date) to uncover which types of articles earned the most traffic and which products drove the most sales via affiliate links.

As an publisher, you can use these insights to significantly boost your Q3 profits by creating similar content that features the most-wanted products and including your affiliate links.

Back-to-School Articles That Earned A’s

2021: “Best” in School

Many articles that produced the highest publisher commissions last year focused on back-to-school products. Most important to note is that all of the URLs contained either the phrase “back-to-school” or the word “best,” to reflect shopper intent.

The data also revealed a handful of popular topics: deals on apparel and school uniforms, beauty and other school essentials, and teacher gift guides.


2022: Prime Day Deals are Top of the Class

This year, the back-to-school publisher content earning the most traffic has a little more variety than last year. Of course, some of the top articles are guides pointing parents to the best clothing deals, backpacks, laptops, and digital accessories, and roundups of the best back-to-school sales from larger retailers. Content highlighting face masks and daily planners also made an appearance.

One of the top articles that took a more out-of-the-box approach focused on back-to-school activities (think arts and crafts and hands-on learning games), which is great content that speaks to both parents and teachers.

Including the term “back-to-school” in the URL is a must for success. We also saw that incorporating both specific product words (‘backpacks,” “beauty,” “facemasks”) and more general qualifiers (“essentials,” and “basics”) helped boost traffic and commissions.


Products that Ruled the School Year

2021: Noteworthy Threads and Tech

Last year, back-to-school cool was all about comfy, affordable clothes, stylish backpacks, and tech. Products that were profitable for publishers included Lululemon shorts and backpacks alongside backpacks from UGRACE Vintage, Carhartt, and Herschel.

Clothing brands such as ASOS, Old Navy, Gap, and J.Crew proved popular, as did shoes from Nike and Keds. With laptops being a critical learning tool, parents shelled out for ones from Apple and Microsoft.

They complemented those purchases with plenty of portable tech, such as AirPods and SoundPEATs headphones, plus portable chargers to ensure kids would never run out of battery power.


2022 Items that Set the Curve

This year’s top three product categories were nearly identical to last year’s (backpacks, clothes, and portable tech). Still, a few new brands had standout performances.

In terms of backpacks, Carhartt and Herschel reappeared along with newcomers Jansport and Target’s Cat & Jack brand.

Reliable brands Old Navy and ASOS topped clothing wish lists again, while products from trendier brands Shein and Forever 21 also delivered high commissions. Lastly, Apple’s MacBook Air, iPad, and AirPod product lines helped publishers cash in on the season.


The Guiding ‘Principals’ for Back-to-School Success

If you want to be the valedictorian of the back-to-school shopping season, it’s time to do the work. You first need to ensure that you’re connected with the right affiliate programs so you can earn the most from each click.

And not all affiliate programs are the same – some provide access to different brands while others offer various commission rates.

There are plenty of affiliate programs you can join, but we certainly suggest checking out Skimlinks. You can access thousands of products, and Skimlinks negotiates higher commissions for its affiliates. Who doesn’t want to earn more money from each click without any extra work?

Once you’re all set up, develop and promote content that features the top brands and products we mentioned above, but don’t be afraid to include less common products or themes.

They all should continue to deliver high commissions and strong sales.

With Labor Day just around the corner and the last big sale event before the school bell rings, there’s no time to waste. Take the cheesy but accurate advice that graces most school counselors’ walls in poster form: the early bird gets the worm.

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