Last week I posted about how I was putting Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, the link party I've been running for about 1.5 yrs now, on hiatus. I gave a couple of reasons. Audrey over at Gluten Free Vegan Love asked me if I had any other comments on running a blog hop, and since it's been something I've been ruminating over, I thought I would share my thoughts with you all here.
So if you've ever participated in a blog hop / link party, run a blog hop, are thinking about running a blog hop/link party, or are thinking about ending yours, you might be interested in this post. Hopefully some of you more experienced hoppers will chime in as well!
So I'm going to break down some of the things to consider when contemplating starting a blog hop, as well as some things that I think are required to make a successful blog hop. But first things first:
What is a Link Party / Blog Hop?
A blog hop or link party is when other bloggers converge in one place at a set day of the week to share links to posts on their blogs. This can be a great way to meet new bloggers, as well as for readers to find new bloggers, and to generate a boost in hits for both the party host and the contributing bloggers.
Different bloggers and parties have different rules, but generally the host (or hosts if there is more than one), asks that contributors share a link back to the host's blog on the post they've shared. This is considered like a "thank you" to the host, and helps encourage other bloggers and readers to return to the host's blog to check out the party and other contributors.
What does it take to run a Blog Hop?
Time, and sometimes money. InLinkz.com is the primary link party site that makes it easy for bloggers to set up link parties week after week. If you want images to be shown for the links, this requires a paid subscription. This is currently $20 /year. You simply plug in your parameters for the party and copy the HTML code into your website.
Running a successful blog hop that continues to grow is more complicated. I'll get into that in a minute.
What does it take to run a successful Blog Hop?
(more complex stuff to consider, both good and bad)
Now I don't claim to have run as successful a hop as others do. That's because I think there are things that you need to do to really make a hop grow, and while I wish I could do those things, we all have to prioritize. I'll get into that further along, but here are some things to think about.
The cons are in italics.
* To build that community requires actively seeking out and inviting other bloggers to share. This can be exciting, and a great way to meet other bloggers.
It can also be time-consuming.
* To maintain a successful blog hop, it really helps to visit and comment on their posts.
It can also be time-consuming. I haven't had the time to do this lately, and I feel bad about that.
* People like to see that taking the time to link up to your party is paying off in hits to their blog (at least, I do when I spend the time linking up!). To help them with that, it's a great idea to promote your hop on social media.
This is also time consuming.
* It requires scheduling to keep it running on time (not my strong point!). Bloggers often like to be first in line with their links, and will show up promptly when your hop opens (it seems to me that the night before is the preferred time, i.e. Waste Not Want Not Wednesday opens at 7pm central time on Tuesday night)
This requires consistency.
* InLinkz costs $20US per year. It's not a lot, but at present my income from the blog is a few pennies above $0 per year. Sadly, that "Poor" in "Poor and Gluten Free" ain't just for kicks ;)
* A blog hop / link party can generate traffic. I see a spike in traffic when WNWNW gets posted.
This doesn't necessarily translate into more time spent on the blog, or revenue from Google ads. Bloggers tend to have a list of hops/link parties they visit. Like cat burglars, they're often in and out super fast to move on to the next link party ;)
Some do stay and party. Other non-bloggers/contributors also swing by to check things out.
* A nuisance: Sometimes people just don't follow the rules you lay out. For me, one of my biggest annoyances is when people don't provide a link back to my blog. Is it petty? Maybe. But it costs me time and money to run a link party. A link back is the only thing I ask in return. When people deliberately don't link back (and I'm not talking about those who just plain forget from time to time, because that happens to all of us), because they don't want to clutter their blog, because they just want to grab some readers, because they just don't care about you or your time, etc., I find that disrespectful. It's like if you go to someone's house for dinner and they ask you to remove your shoes when you come in and you refuse.
These are the inconsiderate guests who aren't interested in creating community, or mutual support. They only want to eat your food and run (or in this case, drop off their link and not return one back to you). There will always be these people, no matter what you do. Live with it, or don't run a blog hop I guess.
So what can you get out of hosting a blog hop?
If community building and gaining a bit of exposure for you blog is your goal, blog hops can be fabulous. I love seeing everyone who comes by, and going out to visit them. That's why I feel bad I haven't had the time to stop by everyone's posts lately. It's part of the fun of hosting a hop.
* If making money is an immediate goal, I don't see that happening. It could happen indirectly, as it may contribute to overall viewership and time spent on the blog.
* If you co-host with a few other bloggers, it can take some of the burden off of visiting, creating the link party, etc.
* Pre-scheduling your posts to publish can help. If you choose weekly features, though, you'll still have to take the time to choose those and link to them.
In the end, though, I think it's a matter of prioritizing. I find myself often scrambling to get the party up. I know that if I go a couple of weeks without visiting other bloggers or linking to them on social media things tend to drop off. I don't blame people for this. Everyone wants to see a return for their time spent blogging.
In the end, I don't have an answer re: whether or not you yourself should run a blog hop,
because I'm still trying to decide if I want to!
I think it's up to everyone to evaluate what they want out of it. Over the years I've seen several great blog hops shut down, and I totally get it. It can be very time consuming, and in order to visit everyone who links up, this can take up a considerable amount of time each and every single day.
I hope this helps give you a few things to consider at least if you're thinking about hosting one. If you're looking for some great blog hops, though, you can check out the links below (updated throughout this week as I link up to them!).
I'm also currently considering taking on co-hosts for Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, so if you might be interested, please message me to chat!
What are your thoughts about hosting or participating in Blog Hops? Do you have any experiences or thoughts to share?