You've written the perfect post, complete with pinnable images and great SEO. You want to drop your link at a few Link Parties for a little free publicity. You hope a few people will click on it, share it on their favorite social media, then others see it and share it and your post goes viral!
The you get to some parties and there are 600 links! How is anyone supposed to stand out in that?
My secrets revealed....
I can't guarantee you will stand out in some of the big parties, but with a few simple tips I can help you avoid being completely lost in the shuffle.
I am not going to talk about following party rules (hint, only link up food posts at a food party...), or thanking the hosts or visiting other bloggers. You should be doing that anyway. That's how Link Parties work.
This post is all about standing out in the crowd at a Link Party, or at least not hiding in the corner with the other wallflowers.
Are you ready for my two biggest secrets to Link Party happiness? You need an
- awesome title
- awesome photo
What? Were you expecting something earth shattering? Assuming you have written an awesome post on a topic people want to read the only thing people have to go on at a Link Party is the title and the picture. You HAVE to make them count!
[Tweet "To stand out a #Linky Party you need an awesome title and awesome photo. #bloggingtips"]
Put yourself in the viewers frame of mind for a minute. You are faced with a page of thumbnails and a blurb of text, which are you going to click on?
Both are my links for the same recipe, which is delicious BTW.
I won't be offended if you admit you'd scroll right past the first. I would too.
The picture, well, let's be honest, SUCKS! A white blob on a plate with illegible text. Once you sift through my blog title to get to the post title you are clueless unless you are familiar with Armenian.
The second one is still a big bowl of white, but the background ingredients and the title help you know what you will find if you click on it.
I admit my method will take you an extra 30-60 seconds if you are in the habit of just dropping your link and clicking done. But it will be worth it. If you aren't going to do it right, you are probably wasting your time linking up at all.
If the party is held on Inlinkz, the title is filled in for you
For Linky Tools, you need to enter your link title after putting in the link.
Eek! Only 30 Characters on the Linky Tools. Some parties allow 50 characters per title, some 75 or even 100. Pay attention!
A great link title will tell people what the link is about and make them want to stop by.
My tips for link titles:
- you don't have to use what Inlinkz fills in for you or your exact blog title.
- edit your title if it is too long! Don't let words get cut off mid-w...
(see what I did there? this makes you look amateurish, like you just dropped your link and ran)
- just because you can use 100 characters doesn't mean you have to KISS: Keep It Short and Sweet
- Leave off your blog name, or at least put it at the end. Some might disagree with this, but my thinking is, if someone is going to click on my link because they see "That Recipe" or "Munofore" they are probably already following me. I don't want to sift through the blog name to figure out what the link is about. And as a blogger, I am not wasting my precious 50 characters on my blog name - there are better places to brand my blog.
- You can use marketing words (amazing, incredible, best ever, top 10 ) if you have room.
- Don't use click-bait titles! Personally I will not click on a link titled "YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS!" or "MOST AMAZING POST EVER!" Sorry, that just screams SPAM to me. I want to know what is going to be on a link before I click on it.
- DO NOT USE ALL CAPITALS. C'mon, do I even need to tell you that in this day and age. Stop shouting, it's annoying.
- If the party rules state don't share other parties, don't do it! Would you walk into a store and start shouting "Hey, I have a store too, come take a look"? It's rude to the host and fellow party guests. The Jajuk post at the top has a Link Party after the recipe. I want that in my Blog Post title, but not on my Link Title. I delete the Link Party reference when sharing on other parties. This isn't the place to market the party. Plus, I need those characters for further description and clarification: Jajuk (Summer Soup) plus Tasty Tuesdays Link Party becomes Jajuk (Summer Soup) Armenian Cucumbers in Yogurt.
Enough about titles, because really it is just common sense.
You know you need to have a pinnable image in order to be pinned. The same concept apples to Link Parties, you need a great square thumbnail to get people to stop by your blog.
This is not a post about being a better photographer and how to make beautiful blog photos. I am not a great photographer, but I am constantly practicing and reading in order to improve my skills. Hopefully you can see an improvement in the two Jajuk photos above. There are plenty of posts and groups to help you. A few of my favorites are Boost Your Photography and Fat Mum Slim (consider joining her free Photo A Day group for practice and lessons).
[Tweet "Put your best photo forward when linking up at a #linky party. #bloggingtips"]
My tips for link photos:
- make sure you can tell what it is
- leave some neutral space
- don't make your photos too busy
- do not cut off words
What is this?
It is actually pineapple filling for Feng Li Su, Pineapple Shortbread Cakes. I didn't actually share this, but I chose it as a good "bad example". You can't tell what it is and it looks unappetizing. If you thought is was applesauce, and wanted apple sauce, you might be disappointed when you got to the Pineapple Cake recipe.
Leave some neutral space
Using the same photo above as a bad example. It takes up the entire frame of the photo. I won't embarrass another blogger, but I saw someone post a photo of a square chocolate cake cropped to the edge of the pan. The result was a brown square that honestly looked like, well, uh, let's just say something no normal human would want to eat.
Don't make your photo too busy
Can you make out the gingerbread house with my messy kitchen in the background? My excuse for this one is that it was early in my blogging career. I will be remaking the house and re-photographing it this year.
Don't cut off words
After editing, I usually create my final graphics with Canva - a "Presentation" and a "Pinterest Graphic".
No, I don't usually create a "Social Media" square. I know, I know, I said you need a square image. You do. But you don't have to create a separate one and stick it in your post just for Link Parties. You can modify the images you already have in your post.
But, do not let Inlinkz or Linky Tools blindly choose your graphic for you. I cannot emphasize this enough.
They will grab your featured image and crop a square from the middle. If you are on Blogger that is the first image in your post, or maybe it is the first image you put in your post even if it isn't the top photo (the inability to select my feature image is one of the main reasons I left Blogger). What this can give you is a Link Photo like the Labor Day post above.
When I linked up this post, I took the extra few seconds to choose my "Pinterest Image" and got this instead.
Which would you consider clicking on? Yeah, me too.
Picking your image is pretty simple on both Linky Tools and Inlinkz, but most bloggers don't take the time to do it.
Sometimes I can just go with the center crop once I choose the image (as with the Labor Day party). Sometimes I chose to crop it. Like with this post. I took my "Presentation" photo and cropped it a little, making the text completely visible and zooming in on the milk and cookies to eliminate some of the neutral space.
Sometimes I do actually create a square image specifically for a post. On this one, neither my Presentation or Pinterest Graphic could be easily scaled to work for Link Parties. So, I created this square in Canva.
But if you look at the post, the square image isn't visible. For Inlinkz, all I needed to do was select the "Upload" tab, and for Linky Tools click on "From File" then find my file on my computer.
And the last step is DOUBLE CHECK EVERYTHING: any spelling errors or typos? picture in the preview is correct? I am a tad obsessive so after clicking done and sharing the Link Party on my favorite social media, I do a quick glance to make sure it is appearing correctly on the party itself (I have had Inlinkz tweak the photo somehow on a few occasions).