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Hosting a Linky Party

dinner party by lachlan on flickr

Have you ever wondered what goes into throwing a successful linky party?  As it happens, throwing a linky party isn’t all that different from hosting a dinner party.

After reading, Carolina Moore’s fantastic post on correct Linky Party Etiquette, I started thinking about the other side of the coin: hosting a party.  Her dinner party analogy plays here too.  If you are thinking about hosting your own link  party, hopefully this checklist will help you get organized.  Even if you aren’t considering it, you will see all the effort that goes into hosting!

PLANNING A LINKY PARTY CHECKLIST

What’s the Occasion?: Just like you would with a regular party, you should first consider the REASON you are hosting a link party and use that rationale to inform your party planning.  Are you celebrating the beginning of summer?  Are you looking for new recipes to try?  Do you just feel like partying?  It matters less what your reason is, and more that you HAVE a reason.

And, even though link parties are a great way to grow your blog, don’t host a linky party just for that reason.  It’s like throwing yourself a blowout bash just to impress the neighbors.  Disingenuous, and a teensy bit sad.

Choose a Date and Time: Link parties can be weekly, monthly, seasonal, or sporadic.  Decide how often you are willing and able to host and go from there.  As with any good party, you will need some time to prepare, so give yourself a few weeks’ time before your first party is set to go live.

Once you have chosen a date for your party, you will need to decide how long the party will rock.  Theoretically, you can set your link party to last until the end of time (which was supposed to be like last month, right?).  If you want to be less ambiguous, choose an end time based on your party’s occasion.  For example, a Fourth of July themed party probably doesn’t need to run much past the 4th.

Plan Your Budget: Link parties ain’t free.  Sorry to break it to you.  If you choose to host a link party, you will be paying in time and effort, and possibly in cold, hard cash.  Deciding ahead of time how much of these you are willing to spend will help you avoid headaches down the line.

In order to host a party, you need to sign up with a service like Inlinkz or LinkyTools and pay a subscription fee ($19.99/ yr. for Inlinkz or $24/yr. for LinkyTools) if you wish to have a party with thumbnail pictures for each link.  If you are satisfied with a text-only party, Inlinkz and Mr Linky’s Magical Widget provide hosting for free, but you still need to sign up to create collections.

Personally, I use Inlinkz paid link party service.  I hemmed and hawwed about whether I really wanted to fork over 20 bones, but in the end I realized how much I would miss my weekly parties if I didn’t.  Link party service is the ONLY place where I have spent money on my blog, so that should give you an idea of how important it is to me.

Invite Guests: If you want people to come to your party, you can’t just sit at home waiting for people to turn up on your doorstep.  Get out those invitations!

The first step is to design a button for your party.  There are dozens of good tutorials on how to make a button for your blog (I think I have one on my blog somewhere), so just google for directions.  Your button should include the same information as a printed party invitation:  the name of your party, the date (“June 20th-July 5th”  or “Every Monday”) and your (blog) address.

Then, promote, promote, promote!  Write a few teaser posts on your blog, giving your readers time to prepare for the party and to invite other guests.  Make the code for your party button available for people to grab.

Clean House and Decorate: You would want your house to look its best for a special dinner party, and the same applies to your blog for a linky party.  You are going to have increased traffic and new visitors, so tidy up those overflowing sidebars, get your social media links in a prominent place, and revamp your About Me page.

Write a short introduction to your guests, including any guidelines you have for the party parameters, before adding the party code to your post.  Don’t schedule any other posts to publish on the day your party begins.  You want your party to be right at the top of the blog when your guests arrive.

Mingle: It’s the big day!  As guests arrive, it’s time to be the gracious hostess.  You might not have a huge showing at your first link party, but once the word spreads that your parties are fabulous, more and more people will show up.  You may even start getting party crashers (more about that later).

Make it a point to mingle with as many guests as possible by visiting their blogs.  In the early days of your link parties, COMMENT ON EVERY LINKED POST!  Do it.  Yes, it will take a long time and, yes, you will develop an all-consuming hatred of word verification, but it is worth it to make your guests feel special.  This is what good hostesses do.

Bounce the Crashers: It’s inevitable that a good party will get crashed.  Consider it a compliment.  As the hostess, it is your duty to keep your party and guests safe.  If someone links up an offensive or inappropriate post, boot them.  Your link party hosting site will give you control over the collection of links, including the ability to delete a link if necessary.

It’s wise to check your link collection daily to give the list a quick scan for spammers, ads, and other party fouls.

Make Connections: If you had a dinner party and two guests didn’t know each other, you would introduce them to each other, wouldn’t you?  Do the same with your linky party.  Choose a few participants and find a way to 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.

Send Thank You’s: After your successful party is over, a polite hostess thanks her guests for coming.  If you haven’t been able to comment on each post (and eventually your party will get too big to do so), send a thank you email to everyone who participated.  You can export a list of emails from your hosting site dashboard.

Hosting a link party does take a lot of effort.  But, if you are the hospitable type, the work is outweighed by the fun you can have meeting new bloggers, discovering new talent, and being known as a party person!

What do you think?  Is hosting a linky party worth all the hard work?  Does the bloggy world really need more link parties?

jessica hillGood morning/afternoon/evening/night, I’m Jessica Hill, the slightly-unbalanced blogger from Mad in Crafts.  I used to spend my days teaching Shakespeare and Longfellow to high school students; now I spend my days saying things like, “Try to make some potty come out.”  I am a stay-at-home wife, mommy of two little munchkins, and caretaker of one stinky basset hound.  I am also addicted to television, ichthyophobic (look it up, kids), and almost 30.  On Mad in Crafts, I host a Mad Skills link party every Monday for craft bloggers to showcase their newest or best tutorial post.

picture by Lachlan, creative commons licensed via flickr
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