Do you link up your posts and projects to blog parties? Most bloggers do, especially when they are just starting out. Blog or “linky” parties are an awesome way to get to know other bloggers, get your content out there and find inspiration. But they can easily turn into a MAJOR time suck, so I thought I would share some tips on How to get the Most out of Link Parties.
(This post contains affiliate links. For my complete disclosure policy, go HERE)
When I started this blog at the beginning of the year, I was anxious to get my work out there. Pretty soon, I had well over 100 blog parties that I was linking to every week.
You can imagine how much time it took.
But eventually, I came to my senses.
I was making myself crazy trying to figure out when parties opened up and then trying to get my links in as quickly as possible. The link parties open at all different times so trying to keep track of them in my head was nuts. The first thing I did to take control of my schedule was to create a chart to organize all the parties I visit.
I post about DIY and decor, recipes and blogging related tips, so all the link parties I attend are open to at least one of those categories. This is my current blog party schedule:
If the blog party accepts any of my typical posts, the “rules” section is blank. There are a few I visit that don’t accept certain things, so I have that noted. If the party has an officially posted start time, I’ve got that listed. If not, I post my best guess based on experience. I added 4 columns where I can list projects I’m linking by date, so I can have 4 weeks at a time on each schedule.
This immediately made a huge difference, because I stopped wasting time trying to find blog parties that weren’t open or going to the same party twice. It also allowed me to track parties that were missing completely or flaky about posting at a semi-consistent time.
I also discovered that in parties with multiple hosts, the party was not always going live on everyone’s page at the same time. I found the most reliable hosts and used their link.
Next, I created a page on my blog for party buttons. You can find it HERE. There is no way to list dozens of blog party links on each individual post without it looking like chaos, so I gave them their own page. This line is at the bottom overy post:
I’m linking this project up at some terrific blog parties – you can find my complete list of places I party HERE.
The party button page makes it easy to get to the parties because each image is a clickable link. I used the Envira Gallery Lite plug-in, which is very user-friendly.
The next step was to pare the list down. It helps to think of a link party like a real life cocktail party:
- Would you enjoy a party if the start time changed constantly, and when you arrived at the door you were told to come back later?
- Would you have a good time if the hostess locked herself away in her bedroom and refused to mingle with her guests?
- How many times would you attend a party where it was really hard to find the food and the booze?
- What if you put on a cute new outfit and showed up with a nice bottle of wine and discovered the party had been canceled?
No Bueno, right?
I began by getting rid of parties that were flaky and inconsistent. I remember reading a post from one hostess and she basically said, “Hey, I’m busy – I’ll post my party if and when I feel like it”. I can appreciate that your blog is your real estate and you can do whatever you like with it – but your readers are busy too.
Next, I got rid of parties that were just not enjoyable to visit. Usually, this was a design issue. Some blogs were difficult to navigate, slow to load, featured garish colors, giant text, or hard to read typography. If the author was a ghost, the blog got the ax. No photo and name make it difficult to get to know someone – and that’s half the reason I’m there.
Finally, I eliminated the blogs that don’t align with my interests. When I visit link parties, I like to feel like the hostess and I have some common interests and if we met in real life we would probably have a nice time chatting over a cocktail. Since I don’t have one bit of interest in kid oriented, uber-religious, craft or sewing/knitting/quilting blogs, I decided it didn’t make sense to keep them on my list.
(Just to be clear – I am not knocking any of these things. There are just not my thing at this stage of my life).
All that brought me down to about 70 parties. It’s still a lot, so I’m planning to chop it down a bit more. There is so much to do to maintain a blog and only so many hours in the day. Wasting time trying to link up to parties that are missing or not enjoyable is just not worth it to me. Parties are supposed to be fun, right?
Tips for Getting the Most out of Link Parties
- If you’re linking up to more than a handful of parties, do yourself a favor and make a simple schedule to track what you’ve linked up and where. You are welcome to copy mine.
- Be sure to thank your hostess in the comment section – it’s the polite thing to do.
- Link parties are a great way to find “your people”. Take the time to read other blogs and eventually you’ll find a few that you are drawn to. Leaving a friendly comment or two can lead to a great friendship, so don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
- Be selective of which posts you link up. Personally, I feel like party posts should be the stuff you are most proud of. Useful information that will help or inspire your reader in some way. Sometimes I see posts that are little more than an account of what the blogger did that day. I’m left scratching my head about why on earth they shared it in a blog party. Posts that are specific to an area are tricky too. Blog parties have not only a national but an international audience. Why would someone in Florida care about “10 Things to do in Salt Lake City”? Or a review of a restaurant in Connecticut? If travel and review posts are your thing, that’s great! But linking up to general blog parties like this is probably not the best use of your time.
- We link our projects up in the hopes that other bloggers will like and share them. Be sure to visit a few other links during your visit, and share the love if you find something cool. If you want to kill two (or more) birds with one stone, use the parties to find awesome shareable content. When I’m visiting parties I am looking for good content that I can put in my BoardBooster queue for Pinterest, add to my library in Edgar (review HERE), and material for StumbleUpon and Google+. When you make it intentional and purposeful, it keeps you focused and becomes less of a mindless time suck.
- Speaking of sharing – make sure you have a Pinterest friendly (long vertical) image in your post and easy to find share buttons. This is one of the most critical things on your blog – you can read more about why it’s so important HERE.
- You wouldn’t go to a party in real life that isn’t comfortable and fun, right? Don’t try to do it in the blogging world either. Find what parties are good fit FOR YOU. My list is probably different from yours and that’s okay.
Tips for Hosting Blog Parties
- Pick a time when your party will go live, post it on your blog, and stick to it. The single most annoying thing as a guest is trying to guess when the party opens.
- I’m curious why party hosts limit the number of characters you can use in your link description? Some are as low as 40, which means you have to completely rewrite your title. Why?? Give people 100 and let them say something that makes sense.
- I LOVE it when parties are set up so the newest links automatically go to the top. That way no matter when you pop in, your posts will be at the prime spot at least once. It’s a little discouraging when you arrive and there are already hundreds of links – and yours is buried on page 3.
- Inlinkz is faster and more user-friendly than Linky Tools, especially if you’re trying to add multiple links. I eliminated the few parties that were using it because I find the interface too clunky and time-consuming.
- Add a “Click to Tweet” plug-in, and chances are good your party guests will help promote your link party. That’s a good thing!
- I know the trend right now is to not show dates on your posts, but it’s very difficult to figure out if someone has posted their party when nothing is dated. Who wants to scroll allllllllllllll the way down past hundreds of links only to discover that you’re looking at last week’s party?
- Promoting your party goer’s awesome links on your social media platforms encourages them to come back every week – so don’t forget to tag them.
- Make a cute button for your party and one for your featured posts and for goodness sakes, make them easy to find. You want your party guests to help spread the word, right? You can do this easily with PicMonkey.
One last piece of advice – don’t make yourself crazy trying to link up to a million parties every week.
I was guest hosting for a well-established link party earlier in the summer with a great bunch of gals. Because of my own summer events and the heavy commenting schedule we had for the party, I had to let go of linking my own stuff up anywhere else for about 6 weeks. I just couldn’t fit it in. At first, I was very stressed out and nervous, but a funny thing happened….
When I was blogging in the mid-2000s, I could expect to see a decent bump in my traffic whenever I linked up to a blog party. It’s just not the case anymore…there are sooooo many blogs and parties, it’s a pretty saturated market. I am fully aware of this, but I was still freaking out a bit about not posting. But guess what? My traffic actually increased. SIGNIFICANTLY. Dropping the blog parties didn’t cause the increase, but it definitely did not hurt my traffic.
As much as I try to stick to a schedule with my blogging activities, this is one thing that I’ve learned I can let slide when I need to. When I’m pressed for time, creating new content and promoting on social media will always win.
What a revelation! And a relief. These days I try to spend a little time every morning and every evening linking up. But if it doesn’t happen, or if I’m late getting there, I’m not beating myself up about it anymore. It has made the whole process so much more enjoyable – and isn’t that what parties are all about?
I’m linking this post up at some terrific blog parties – you can find my complete list of places I party HERE.