Before I dive into some tips on how to host a successful linky party, let’s first pause to consider why you might want to host a link party. I mean, what IS a linky party and why do people participate in them, let alone host them?
Tidily summed up, a linky party is run by a host blogger who invites other blogs to link up a post. The purpose of having and participating in a linky party is to give the linker and host additional blog traffic and comment love.
I believe that when the host of a link party comes with the additional perspective that a linky party is a great way to build an active and engaged blogging community, real magic can happen.
1. How do you know when you ready to host a linky party?
This is a question that I asked myself before I committed to starting my Quilty Thankful Thursday linky party. One of the key aspects that should not be overlooked is the amount of time it takes to host a linky party. A linky party is not a typical post that you can write, schedule, and forget about. You have to go back and make sure your link up widget is working, there are social shares to remind others to join in, and you should try to visit the people who link up to you.
Another question to ask yourself before jumping in and hosting a linky party: is if your blog readership is large enough to support the linky party you are envisioning? I probably acted on my vision of hosting Quilty Thankful Thursday sooner than my readership was able to really support it, but it has been a growth and learning experience.
2. What Are You Hosting?
If you are ready to host a linky party, the next question you need to address (before working through all the technical details) is the idea behind the linky party you want to host. Is there a unique angle that has not been thought about or covered by the existing linky parties? How can you contribute to and give back to the online community? I believe those are crucial questions to help you formulate your ideas and come up with your linky party subject.
Research what linky parties exist and what days are already busy with linky parties. A great resource to look at would be the Link Parties link on Quilt Along.net. You also might want to consider how to be unique, but general enough to allow lots of different types of posts to be linked. If you choose a very specific post, fewer people will be able to link up to you. That might be okay with you, but it does make it harder to keep the linky party going.
I will say that I have seen several linky parties come and go. In particular the Flashback Friday idea has been tried out by quite a few bloggers: a linky party to post about pre-blogging quilts that you made. I don’t know about you personally, but at this point I only have one or two that do not appear on my blog in some shape or form, and at some point even you as the host might run out of material. Which leads me to the next question:
3. How Often Are You Hosting?
When you consider the time you have available to put into promoting your linky party, commenting on the posts that link to you, and how often you will be able to come up with content to support your own linky party, how often should you be hosting? The answer might be once a quarter, once a month, or every week. But putting a bit of thought and planning in before you get started will help the linky party maintain momentum and continuity, two things that will be important as you work to promote and grow your new linky party.
4. Pick Your Linky Party Name
I really think that picking the name should be a fun part of this process: you are hosting a party, after all! If you have chosen to host your linky party on a particular day of the week, it doesn’t hurt to include the day of the week in the name – it will help with the advertising (less to explain – it’s in the name!). Alliteration is fun, or even a great acronym might be perfect for your goals.
5. Design a Fun Button
If you are not a graphic designer, there are a lot of really great free online resources to help you create fun media like linky party buttons. Instead of covering the how-tos of this part, I will instead leave a list of suggested resources.
6. Decide on Your Linky Party Rules
Make it clear what kind of posts you will allow into your linky party. Try to be as specific and as short with your rules as possible. What kind of rules? Well, are you going to require that the bloggers who link up include a link to your page within their post? Linky Tools do have options that will scan their post for a link to your site, but use this as a rule with caution. Fewer people might participate if there are a lot of extra steps required to participate. To know where to start, I suggest you go take a look at some of your favorite linky parties and look at the rules that they have established to join.
For example, my rules for Quilty Thankful Thursday are below and I post these rules in every Quilty Thankful Thursday linkup just before the link to click to join the link party.
What are YOU thankful for this week? Here’s how to link up (link up open for 48 hours on Thursday and Friday US Pacific time):
- Link up any blog post the past week that discusses something that you are thankful for, no matter how big or small (Did you win a giveaway? Did your seam ripper save the day? Did a friend do something simple and kind that made your day?).
- To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is http://www.instagram.com/quiltingjetgirl). Please hashtag #QuiltyThankfulThursday.
- If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
- Comment on at least a few of the other Thankful Thursday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!
7. Select a Linky Tool
There are many tools available to host your linky party, but the top tools seem to be Linky Tools and InLinkz. I use InLinkz for Quilty Thankful Thursday, and I highly recommend paying to upgrade to be able to link to photos (so the free text only version doesn’t do much good in getting repeat visitors to your linky party, and let’s face it: quilters like photos!).
8. Promote Your New Linky Party
Once you have done all your planning and created your first post, the time to start promoting your new linky party is at least a week before you launch. Blog about it to let people know what you are planning. If you have been blogging about it as you developed your idea, your readership will hopefully have provided feedback and input and already be excited, engaged, and ready to link up! Post about it in social media. Send out an email to your closest blogging friends who you think would help cross promote your new idea. Having your button and HTML code ready to share will help others promote and discuss your party.
9. Visit All Your Participants
As a gracious host, it is great to mingle with the people who have arrive! Set aside time in your day to visit the people who have linked up and try to leave thoughtful comments. Perhaps a few participant really stood out: introduce them to your readers; feature them on your facebook page, tweet about them, or write up a quick post about them. This kind of special attention can make someone’s day and create a loyal link up partner.
10. Be Consistent
Once you have started a linky party, it is important to be consistent. If you planned to host the link up every week, then do your best to host the link up every week. I understand that there are unexpected emergencies and extenuating circumstances in everyone’s life, but you probably have a good idea about the 2 week vacation you planned to Hawaii in October. Consistency is especially important early in a new linky party’s life. If your readers cannot count on you to have the link up, they will stop planning on writing thematic posts required to link up. It’s just that simple. Plan ahead and write your posts early, or consider getting a co-host…
11. Get a Co-Host
For those times when you are definitely going to be out of town for a long vacation or when an unexpected family emergency pops up, having a co-host who can step in and run the linky part for you can be an invaluable asset. But having a co-host is more than just having someone to standby and step in for a moment of crisis. Co-hosts also bring a new set of readers and social media followers, allowing you can reach a wider audience. Having a co-host is not the right answer for everyone, but if you know you are going to struggle with consistency or audience range, you might want to consider it.
12. Be Patient
If you can follow through on all these tips, and if you have found a niche in the online community, I believe your linky party will be successful. Be patient with yourself and the linky party. There will be things you learn (should the linky party remain open for longer than 24 hours?) and adjust for along the way, and there will be ups and downs in participation.