Do you link up to weekly link parties, but wonder what it is you need to do to stand out from others? Wonder if it’s worth your time? I thought I’d take time to talk today about why link parties are fun and important for bloggers, as well as ways you can get yourself noticed out of the hundreds of other projects.
First of all, I wanted to start by saying that I’m no expert on this topic, but I do have some experience with it. For the past year I am in charge of doing the Top 20 Sundae Scoop post for I Heart Nap Time (if you don’t know Jamielyn, definitely stop by her blog and see why she’s such a huge blogging force!). Sundae Scoop, starting at 7 p.m. on Saturday night, gets around 500+ submissions each week and I take my Saturday morning every week and look through them to find the 20 that stand out most to me. So I thought I’d tell you what I personally look for when I’m doing my round up in hopes maybe it’ll help all of you get noticed! It’s kind of long…so bear with me.
Let’s take a step back first though…why are these link parties important?
Link parties are SO important for newbie bloggers and seasoned bloggers alike. How is anyone going to see your amazing work if you don’t advertise it and yourself!? Link parties help get your work noticed, as well as connect with other bloggers in your niche. It’s so important to stop by and check out other bloggers work too and leave comments on stuff you like because it helps others relate to you more and want to see what you’re all about. So after you link up, always stop by and check out what others are up to.
There are SO many link parties, how do I know where to go?
A lot of bloggers, like myself, keep pages on their sites fully dedicated to their favorite link parties. Create your own listing of link parties by day either on your blog or in a spreadsheet and make a note of which ones you want to link to each week. It’s a great way to stay organized and I can guarantee you’ll see an increase in your statistics if you link up regularly. Here’s my page of link parties I like to attend.
Now onto the next part…how to get noticed.
Ever link up to your favorite link party over and over again every week and never get featured? I once saw a comment on a blog where a girl was complaining that she never got chosen as if it was a game of some sort or a contest–it’s proof that feelings CAN get hurt and people CAN get frustrated to never get that coveted feature on a big blog, but once you do, take note of what it was about that project that got you featured.
Here’s what I notice and look for when I’m sorting through 100’s of posts:
1. Quality, well lit photos.
- Photography is SO key in getting a feature. I’m no professional photographer, that’s for sure, so I’m not going to preach about what you should and should not do because I am so guilty of this myself. But as a human being, my eye is drawn to one thing versus another. If there are two chocolate cupcakes linked up that week and one has an amazing photo and the other looks like a cell phone photo, I’m going to go with the bright, clearly edited post versus the cell phone photo. I’m currently working to get my photos better and if you’re serious about blogging and being featured, you should too. Using programs like PicMonkey or Picasa you can edit your photos and brighten them up a bit more. There are millions of photography classes and tutorials online…take some time and learn a little about photography and I’ll bet you’ll see an increase in features if you’re submitting amazing photos along with your amazing ideas.
2. Original, never seen before ideas.
- Bloggers are looking to feature something their readers will go “gaga” over…an idea that’s completely new and hasn’t been seen before. So going back to the chocolate cupcake…even though your chocolate cupcake recipe may be divine, it’s not necessarily unique. So if you want your cupcake to get noticed, style it in such a way that MAKES it unique. Add a cupcake topper or some sort of new icing recipe and that will make your chances of being featured much greater.
3. Link up YOUR ideas.
- Yes, it’s great that you did a post outlining 50 of your favorite recipes on the web, but they’re not your own. I’m looking to feature unique ideas that are your own and that you put all the hard work and time into. So link up YOUR projects and your creations, but keep those round up posts coming because your readers will appreciate the time you took to put all of those in one place. It’s fine to link these posts up, but don’t be heartbroken if you’re not featured….bloggers want to showcase your unique ideas.
4. Don’t try to sell stuff on link parties.
- I’m always so bummed when I see a great idea in a link party that I think would be a great feature, then I click on it to feature it and it’s an Etsy vendor trying to sell that craft vs. show us how to make it. If you’re wondering why your amazing crafts are never featured, it may be because you’re trying to get us to buy it, rather than show us how to make it. So do everyone a favor and if you’re an Etsy shop, please don’t link up. The link party host won’t be featuring your idea, no matter how amazing.
5. Keep in mind the timing of seasonal ideas.
- We’re always looking for amazing seasonal ideas that we can share with people. We want original ideas that people are going to love that they can do for the upcoming “holiday” and typically you’ll want to do those ideas several weeks before that holiday to give your readers time to recreate them. Think of your seasonal ideas early and submit them to blogs and you’ll probably have a better chance of a feature then too. If you wait til Easter week and submit an Easter post, you’ll be competing with 200 other Easter posts. But if you start at the beginning of March or even the very end of February and submit an Easter post, there will be less out there and your post will stand out more. And seasonal just doesn’t mean the four seasons of the year either…here’s a good look at seasonal blogging ideas and The Graphics Fairy put together an excellent list of editorial calendar ideas:
January-resolutions, weight loss, organizing
February- Valentine’s Day, Martin Luther King Day
March-St. Patrick’s Day, Spring, Easter
April- (sometimes Easter), Spring
May-Mother’s Day, Memorial Day
June- Father’s Day
July- Fourth of July/Independence Day
August- Back to School
September- Fall Ideas, End of Summer, Labor Day
December- Christmas, Hanukah, New Year’s Eve
6. Size your photos appropriately.
- If you’re editing your photos, be sure to size them nicely to fill up the whole width of your reading pane. I like to size mine about 700-750 pixels wide. If your photos are too small, then it can be hard to capture the awesomeness of your creation and the blogger looking at your site may be turned off at how tiny your photos are. We want BIG, BRIGHT photos! Also, when you’re editing, take the time to name your photo and save it. For example, when you download your photos the computer assigns it a generic name. Change that name from “photo1234345” to “Easter Cookie Recipe” and it will help with your blog’s SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
7. Name your photos and/or create a pinnable image.
- Going back to editing, create a “main shot” of your project with the project name on their, as well as your watermark. You’ll always see my pinnable images at the top of my blog post…here’s an example:
Notice the photo is BIG, bright and tells the reader exactly what they are looking at or what the title of this project or recipe is called. It’s a great way to attract attention on Pinterest and bloggers love to use these photos for blog features.
8. When linking up, choose your BEST photo that will most likely attract the most attention.
- Take your time when linking up to make sure that you’re showcasing your best and most attractive project photo and naming it appropriately, as well as cropping it right.
9. Don’t link and run.
- If you want to attract attention to your blog, you’ll need to spend some time also visiting other sites. Click on the links that most stand out to you and try to notice what it is that caught your attention. Leave that blogger a comment and tell them what you liked about it. Comments are a great way to get noticed and find other blogs you like.
10. Get to link parties early.
- I have about 5 link parties that I try to RELIGIOUSLY get to right when they start because if I do, I can usually get a lot of traffic on my blog quickly. In February I linked up to Tatertots and Jello right when her party started, I caught her eye with my Valentine’s Day Heart Willow Wreath and she ended up sharing it on Facebook at the height of her link party time. I gained 100 NEW Facebook followers in an hour by having good timing, a good photo, and a unique idea!
I know this seems like a lot, but once you’ve been blogging for a little while all this becomes second nature. Be respectful of the blogs hosting parties because they are taking time out of their day to look at how talented you all are and help you showcase your talents. Say thanks to them for hosting the party and try to link back somewhere on your site (I use my link party page as a place for free advertising for their party).
Let me know if you have any questions or anything you’d add to this list!