This is a guest post by writer & artist, Michelle Grewe, who is published in 6 anthologies including “Angel Bumps” and “Lose the Cape: Never Have I Ever,” and featured on websites such as Mamalode, Popsugar, Blunt Moms, and The Good Men Project. As a Humor Mom, her writing is inspired by Nicole Knepper and Jenny Lawson, and her illustrations are inspired by tattoos, henna and Zen doodles. Her current projects include helping out with 1,000 Speak for Compassion at 1000speak.wordpress.com and helping small businesses establish a web presence at woodridgestudio.com and blogginglearn.com.
What is a link-up, and what are the benefits?
The “link-up” is a recurring event where the host gives a writing prompt, and everyone writes on that prompt, links up together in one spot, and then reads each other’s work and leaves some kind of blog support, such as a comment or a share.
Link-ups can be time consuming and a lot of work, but in the exchange, you get comments, eyeballs, and some shares out of the deal, plus you have content to share in regards to the ever-hungry social media.
I really recommend for new bloggers to join a blog hop of some sort because you are finding people to comment on your blog, and the way the internet works, popularity is given to those who are already popular. A good link-up can jumpstart that process.
Some blog hops do better than others in regards to comments and sharing. So be wise in choosing which ones you want to join in line with your goals.
But if you’re interested in hosting one, this is how many bloggers have successfully organized a link-up such as 1,000 Speak for Compassion (which actually drew well over 1,000 people in its first event).
Currently reading: How To Host A Successful Link-Up Party Click To Tweet
The first step is obviously to get your ducks in a row by answering these questions: what is your linkup about? What are you going to name this link-up? How often are you linking up? What is required to join the linkup? Who do you think will link up? This is a great first step because it makes all the other steps easier when you know what you’re doing.
The main thing is to define what’s going to happen for sake of sanity. It doesn’t matter if you link up once a week or once a month. What matters is you make a decision, and that’s how it is until otherwise specified, just for peace of mind.
But keep in mind that link-ups generally work out better as a community as opposed to a business event, and with that said, letting the people who participate as writers to have a little hand in the creation and evolution of the link-up helps contribute to the community vibe.
What to link up
When considering possible link-up ideas, I think it’s important to focus on things people WANT to write about. I have taken part in link-ups for writing prompts in regards to writing ideas to keep me blogging regularly in a time I didn’t feel like blogging anymore.
I’ve seen link-ups that act more as a challenge like all the prompts are designed to enhance skill like creativity, photography, self-help, and so on. 1000 Speak is about a cause, something worth promoting for sake of the greater good.
Action steps for getting started
1. Create a logo for the link-up
The link-up will be a cluster of other people’s faces, logos, blogs, color schemes and styles. The main idea of a logo is to give an anchor to all those faces. If your link-up is directly related to your blog, you may want to do a logo that’s similar to your logo or blog’s style, but it needs its own artwork just so it can breathe.
2. Create a button (or several) for the link-up
In most cases, this could just be your logo, but in some, you might want something that helps people understand exactly what it is that you’re doing whether it’s extra text, or just a text invite like a pretty script saying, “Write About Compassion!” But the main thing is to have a button that will attract writers to your link-up for you to put on your personal websites, and for bloggers who participate to put on their websites.
It’s really a toss-up between your goals and intentions and the people you expect to be writing for you on what to put in that button. For instance, are you trying to attract writers or readers? And people who write might be more apt to put up a badge that states they participated with you (for recognition but also to add trust) as opposed to inviting others to join. So 1000 Speak might decide to have the following buttons: the logo, the Write about Compassion button, and a badge that says “1000 Speak for Compassion Contributor.” With the buttons and badges, it helps to have links you want to send them to when people click, so if you go that route, you need a landing page / link, and it helps to have the html code to give people.
3. Have a website for the link-up
You have to have a place to put all the links. I’ve seen people use their own blog to host the link-ups, and that has worked out well for them. 1000 Speak created its own website with many bloggers helping out with it, and I think they did this mainly because many people who didn’t blog wanted to participate in the link-up, including people’s children, so they needed a platform for guest posts. A lot of this depends on your goals and needs.
4. Have a link-up method
Most link-ups I’ve frequented use InLinkz, but Linky Tools has also been recommended. People seem to prefer the ones with thumbnails as opposed to a text only list. As the 1000 Speak started dwindling, we got to a point where we frequently just shared links between each other in the Facebook Group.
5. Create a place to meet up
Most link-ups I participated in met in Facebook groups named after their link-up, but I have participated in some who operated directly out of email and their own website. The main thing is to have something in place to send announcements, instructions, and anything they need like if you are providing some free graphics and what not.
6. Establish the rules
Generally, people are turned off from groups of people who establish too many rules, or too many useless rules. Don’t go overboard. Don’t abuse the power or appear like you are. The idea is to set some boundaries to create a comfortable environment by letting people know what they are allowed to do and by trying to keep the place clean. Most people do rules to dictate how to handle spam (no spam), getting along (respect each other, don’t be mean, etc.), self-promotion (whether you decide to let them post freely anywhere or stipulate places like only on the link up or on posts requesting it, no sales pages in the link-up, etc.), giving and receiving (like if you link up, please comment on one, or 3, or all the blog posts in the linkup, or please comment on one and share at least 3…) and of course, instructions (we link up on tuesdays, the writing prompt is emailed, to get on our email list go here).
7. Direct the flow of traffic
People are great at showing up to the party, but they don’t eat until they are invited to do so. They don’t dance until the emcee begs them to. Make sure you ding your glass and make announcements. What are we doing first? What do we do next? You really want to make sure all the steps are displayed somewhere so people know what to do, and often repeated because they may not get your last announcement.
8. Get influencers to join
The best way to market your link-up is to get semi-famous bloggers on board, like a celebrity testimonial. Most successes I see at all from anthologies to link-ups entailed having some influencers with a huge following get involved. Most of these people are not voluntarily joining things because they already have their own thing that is monopolizing quite a bit of their time. The best thing is to find ones you know, or find ones you love, and politely ask them in some kind of private message or email if they’d be interested in this thing you’re doing, and do so in the least spammy way possible.
Most of them are not going to be interested in anything that’s super time-consuming, and they probably won’t be coming back for recurring events unless it somehow benefited them enough to do so. Because most will see this as you asking them to do you a charitable, personal favor, it probably helps to offer some form of trade or incentive for their support. In the case of link-ups, you probably want to aim for a topic they WANT to write about anyway, or a topic they already wrote about, and ask for permission to link their post to your link-up. That’s a very reasonable request from a busy person.
Make it Fun
While we didn’t really get into the incentives with 1000 Speak, many link-ups offer fun incentives. You can offer prizes for the funniest blog post, or the prettiest Pinterest Pin (if you have a lot of blogs in your link-up not creating Pinterest-Friendly pins for you to share), and it doesn’t have to be awesome like just saying, “Funniest post gets a Box of Junk from my place!” is enough to get people kind of excited to be a little more active with it. Melyssa Griffin did “Weekly Wishes” and would give a photo theme prompt with her weekly wishes writing theme, and then would choose her favorites to feature in social media, and then she started asking people to post their photos on Instagram with a hashtag. People loved having their work featured that a social media share was their incentive.
Be a community
The timbre of link-ups generally go beyond a professional exchange of words, ideas, and promotion. The “just business, nothing personal” link-ups tend to only really succeed for short periods such as “12 Days of…” or “30 Day Challenges.” The recurring link-ups tend to form a community with a vibe, a personality, and a place that feels like your second home like the bar in Cheers. So engaging with your people and trying to get them to engage with each other is very important in building that community.
The coolest part about, but also the most difficult part, of link-ups is that its success is solely based on other people’s contributions. The idea of people coming together for something greater than their personal ambition is exciting. That is the true spirit of the Link-Up.
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