There ain’t no party like a linky party!

Everyone loves a good knees-up every now and then, all work and no play and all that, and the blogging community’s certainly no exception, known to rock out hard with the best of them. Luckily for bloggers the world over, however, they don’t have to devote hours to the big post-shindig clean-up while dealing with the hangover from hell every time they decide to hold a linky party – soirees that first began back in 2007 and have since become an absolute must for any web scribe worth their salt.

Putting on a bash is as easy as 123, simple as do re mi, since once you sign up with a hosting platform much of the hard work is done for you. One of the best such platforms is InLinkz, which has been in operation since January 2010, helping bloggers to move away from merely listing other people’s blog links in text form by allowing them to post, for a subscription fee, thumbnails of what their party guests are up to. Founder of the service Aris Korbetis explains that once an account has been set up, users can decide on the start and end dates of their party, the size of the thumbnails and whether people can vote on their favourite posts, which then generates an HTML code that can be pasted into the linky party blog post.

Once the party’s up and running, guests can come along and paste their favourite links so they show up in thumbnail form on the host’s blog post. This, Korbetis notes, will help bloggers to meet their ultimate goal – boosting their website’s traffic. “[It transforms] your blog post into a sharing community where everyone wants to join and have their links there. There are bloggers who use Inlinkz to host contests with big prizes but you have to follow their rules to enter. Depending on the rules you set you can increase your blog following, email subscribers, Twitter followers or Facebook likes. In the end it’s all about fun.”

One avid blogger who’s been partying hard for quite some time is Jamie of Creating Really Awesome Free Things (C.R.A.F.T.), a writer who really does understand the benefits of holding a blog hop. She hosts Making Monday Marvellous every week where guests are invited to link up a DIY project of their own, saying she loves it because it means she discovers 400 ideas on a single page. As a seasoned party animal, Jamie has a lot of tips to help anyone about to host their first digital get-together, recommending that they spend a bit of time coming up with the perfect theme.

“[It] should work with your blog. If you mainly blog about fitness, host a fitness themed linky party. It made sense for C.R.A.F.T. to host a linky party that deals with crafts,” she says, while Korbetis believes that the more complicated the theme the better, since this will mean that posts are more interesting and better for the more demanding reader.

Anyone doing research into the perfect party idea, seeing what other people have come up with, will find that the majority of digital festivities are put on by crafty bloggers, the pioneers of the linky party movement. Korbetis explains that crafters were the first to really embrace InLinkz since they love to show off their projects and are always in search of inspiration, but over time a different breed of blogger has come along, from literary fans and mummy bloggers to interior decorators and photographers – so there really is something for everyone.

However, while theme is important it isn’t the only consideration and promotion is also key, which Jamie knows all too well. “I started by leaving people comments about the linky party on the day it happened. I’ve seen people send out reminder emails to bloggers they interact with regularly. Promoting through Facebook and Twitter is also a good idea,” she says.

Like any good party, it is also advisable to set out a few rules for guests to abide by in order to avoid getting ring marks on your virtual mahogany coffee table or red wine on your carpet – every host’s worst nightmare. Some bloggers bar gatecrashing advertisers, while most request that their visitors grab a specially-designed linky party button and display it on their own blog post, a practice that Jamie says helps to spread the party word and is something she specifically encourages.

So if you’re looking for a way to make some new friends, discover a few new blogs and drive a bit of extra traffic to your own site, partying like it’s 1999 sounds like it’s the way to go. Rock on, all you digital hedonists out there.

How to: Make a linky party button

Before you do anything, you should make your party button so people can pin it to their own posts. Here’s how to do it on WordPress.

  • Find a picture you like and upload it to a photo-hosting site like Photobucket, where you can resize it (usually 125×125) and add your party title, time and date to it
  • On your dashboard go to Media, Add New and upload your button from Photobucket. Copy the file URL and save it somewhere
  • Go to Appearance, Widgets and then Text Widget. Drag this box to where you want it on your sidebar and add this code: [div align=”center”][a href=”http://www.YOURBLOGURL” target=”_blank”][img src=”http://YOURIMAGEURL”%5D%5B/a%5D%5B/div%5D
  • Replace all the square brackets with the appropriate chevrons (<>) and put your blog and photo URLs in the right place

So that people can copy your button and post it on their own blog you need to make a grab box. If you’re on a free WordPress account, the site will wipe the code, so use this generator instead.

Hope you found all this helpful. Don’t forget that I’m hosting my very first High Tea linky party tomorrow and you’re all invited! I’ll see you there.

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