A blogger's guide to linkies, bloghops and carnivals
Want to know how you can get involved in linkies and carnivals - or have no idea what on earth we're talking about? Our resident blog doctor Jax Blunt explains the ins and outs of linking up, and how it can help to get some new eyeballs on your blog.
Jax has been blogging at Making It Up about children, home education, politics and books for 10 years. She builds Wordpress based websites at Colneis and spends far too much time on twitter as @liveotherwise.
When you've got your blog going, one of the things you're likely to want to do is start to boost your audience by building a community around it. One of the ways you can do this is by joining in with - or running your own - linkies, bloghops and carnivals. But what are they? What are the differences, and what are the benefits?
Linkies are everywhere around the internet, they're probably the commonest form of community-building and link-sharing. Many blogs run themed linkies regularly - such as photo-sharing, or writing linkups - and if you wanted to you could fill an entire blog with linky related posts.
Joining in is generally as simple as entering your link into a form - some are just text, others pull through an image from your blog or allow you to upload one.
It's thought of as good etiquette to leave a comment on the hosting blog when you join in, and there's often a badge or way of linking back as well.
How do I run my own linky?
Sign up for an account with a linky provider. Sadly many of the best now use a subscription model, but it's often very cheap, and if you think it's going to boost your traffic/readership, you might want to do that anyway.
Some sites to check out:
Linkytools - wide variety of types of linky available, reliable system, straightforward to use. Has a linky directory to publicise your new meme.
Mister Linky's Magical Widgets - again a wide variety of tools available, and a variety of price points.
Inlinkz - another tool that offers some freebies, and more options for paid subscriptions.
Once you're setup, you can play around with different formats. For example: do you want posters to include an image? How many links will appear per line?
Then, when you're ready to add the linky to your blog - write a post ready to pop in your chosen linky at the end. This involves pasting some code into HTML - but don't worry, it's all pretty straight forward and the sites you're creating the linky from should give clear instructions.
What's the difference between a linky and a bloghop?
A bloghop is a linky, but where the participating blogs also host the linky code. So any blog that has that code will display the same list of posts and links on their site.
This means that people can hop from one to another without going back to the host - Mumsnet have used this format successfully, for example with the This is My Child bloghop.
You can join in a bloghop by grabbing the code from any of the other sites hosting it, and adding it into your own post.
And what's a carnival then?
A carnival is a little bit different. In this case, bloggers each write a post on the theme, whatever that is, and then send a link to their post to the carnival host, who puts together an article including all the links.
The benefit of this is that the participating bloggers get an actual link that search engines can follow (assuming the host doesn't use nofollow on them) and as with most of these gatherings, the host gets links back. It's a lot more work for the blogger compiling the carnival, but often means a good selection of posts, and it's well worth seeking out people looking for carnival contributions as a way of getting new readers as well as valuable links.
NB: With Mumsnet blog round-ups (like this one on thrifty crafts for kids and grown-ups), a selection of posts from the linky are chosen and featured in a post - so this is more like a carnival, but using the linky as a means of gathering links.
All of these are great ways to get involved with other bloggers, to share your posts with a wider audience - and also to find some fab new reads.
Keep an eye out for linkies, bloghops, carnivals and round-ups happening across the Mumsnet Bloggers Network and you may discover a great new blog, or a blogger who shares your interests, plus gain some new readers of your own.