Everybody loves a good party, right? Friends hanging out, getting to know each other, meeting new friends while deepening connections. And food. Lots of good food.
Link-ups (or linky parties) have all the characteristics of a great party. Some even serve great food (recipes)! But just like life can’t be one big party, neither can the growth of your blog.
So let’s look at the good and the not-so-good ways to use linkups as part of your growth strategy, how to participate, and some of my favorite linkups for Christian bloggers.
What is a linkup?
A linkup is when a blogger provides a way for other bloggers to add a link to their own post to a collection displayed on the host’s site. Most linkups use the InLinkz platform to manage the links and thumbnail image on the page. Often, the host of the linkup will pick a blog to feature the next week. Linkups usually come with a requirement that anyone who adds their link will visit other links in the linkup, comment on them and/or promote them on social media.
Good Reasons to Participate in Linkups
To get exposure for a new blog. When you are just getting started, linkups are one of the quickest ways to get some traffic to your blog, social media shares and comments that will give your blog some credibility. Because of the participation requirements, it’s almost guaranteed that you will get at least some page views from linkups.
To develop relationships with other bloggers. As you participate in linkups, you’ll find other bloggers in your niche or writing about related topics. The Christian blogging community is especially welcoming to newcomers and established bloggers alike. And nobody needs or wants or will be successful doing online ministry or business alone. Through linkups, you’ll make new blogging besties as you support and promote each other.
To keep your finger on the pulse of your niche. One of my favorite things to do is connecting people with information and support. Knowing the members of the community gives me a stash of resources when my audience has needs I can’t meet. Whether the topic is prayer, wellness, joyful parenting or support for widows or military spouses, I know bloggers who can help.
Not-So-Good Reasons to Participate in Linkups
To generate all of your blog traffic. Yes, linkups will guide some people to your blog who would not find it otherwise, but it is not a huge number and it comes at the price of your time. Being featured by the hostess of a large linkup can drive a significant amount of traffic, but it is usually short-lived. Linking up, reading, commenting on and sharing other blogs is time-consuming, and that time may be better spent on other strategies that will grow your reach and influence. As Lena Gott advises in her e-book How I Went from 17K to 350K Page Views in 9 Months, “If you do participate in link ups, I would keep it to a minimum. Start with a few larger linkups where the potential exposure of a featured post will pay off.” I generally recommend 3 – 6 linkups per week, maybe up to 8 or 10 if you have a lot of spare time.
To compare yourself to other bloggers. While spending a lot of time reading other blogs, it is easy to compare yourself to them.
“Her blog is prettier.”
“She got 25 comments. I only got 2.”
“She wrote about the same topic and said it better.”
We’ve all said things like that. Instead of comparing yourself to another blog, see what you can learn from it. Why are certain elements visually appealing to you? What did she do in the post that encouraged or inspired her readers to comment? Is it really “better”? Or just “different”? How can you apply what you’ve learned to your own blog? Learning is always more productive than comparison.
How to Link Up
Most linkups are based on the InLinkz platform. It’s pretty easy to use. At the bottom of a linkup, you’ll usually find a little blue button that says “Add your link”.
It opens a new window. Enter your post URL in the top box. (Note: You should be linking up a specific post, not your blog home page.) It will automatically pull in your post title and featured image (if you have one). Enter your email address in the third box.
If you don’t have a featured image or don’t want to use the one you have, you can choose from one of the other images on your post.
When everything looks good, click Done again at the bottom to add your post to the linkup.
Go back to the blog hosting the linkup and, on most linkups, you’ll find your thumbnail at the end of the list. (There are a few linkups that scramble the thumbnails in random order.)
Once you are linked up, go back to your post and put a link to the linkup at the end of your post. You can do it as a list of places you link up each week, use the button that the hostess provides, or even keep a separate page on your site with a list of your favorite linkups.
Linkup Tips and Best Practices
- Follow the rules. Can I say that again, even louder? FOLLOW THE RULES!! Almost all linkups have rules about how many posts to comment on, which ones to comment on, how many posts you can link up, etc. Linking and running without fulfilling the obligations is rude, unkind and may get you banned from the linkup.
- Join as soon as the linkup is open. The posts on the top couple of rows of the linkup get more traffic than the ones farther down the list. Most keep a regular schedule and open at the same time every week, so make a note of that time and try to get there early.
- Honor the linkup host. It’s a lot of work to host a successful linkup and these ladies have generously opened their doors to support and encourage others. Follow, subscribe, comment and share … let her know you appreciate her.
- Headshot or featured image? Which is best to use for the thumbnail? It depends on what your featured image looks like. If it is a compelling image, and any text on the image is large enough read at thumbnail-size, I think the featured image can draw new readers who won’t recognize your face or name. But the headshots also draw me to bloggers I know and like to follow.
- Stay on topic. Be respectful of any themes the host has set. If it’s a homeschooling linkup, it might not be the place for your post about your favorite WordPress plug ins. Some hosts have a very specific writing prompt for the linkup so be sure your post fits.
- Be generous to your fellow linkers. Go above and beyond to support others. If you are there right when the linkup opens, don’t take up three spots on the top row. Link up one and leave the prime real estate for other early birds.
- Reciprocate where you can. Many linkups require you to comment on the post linked up just before you to ensure that everyone in the linkup gets at least one comment. When someone mentions in their comment that they visited from a certain linkup or is your neighbor in a linkup, it’s nice to comment on or share their post as well.
My Favorite Linkups
I link up during the week early in the morning before I go to work and then spend time on the weekend catching up on commenting and sharing. Some of them I do every week, but others I rotate around.
So get out there and link up! Make some friends, support others, and be a part of the vibrant, encouraging Christian blogging community.
Which linkups are your favorites? And if you host a linkup, let us know in the comments when and where to connect with you!