How to Start Your Own Linky

How to: Start Your Own Linky - A Bloggers Guide to starting their own link-up

For a while now, I've been really wanting to start my own linky so when the lovely Emily of My Petit Canard got in touch and asked if I'd like to co-host one with her, I jumped at the chance. We had loads of fun coming up with a name and a theme, then we got promoting and this week was our first ever of Marvellous Mondays! Though it went relatively smoothly, there are already things we've learnt and plan to do differently as our linky grows.

But, what is a linky?

A linky is somewhere bloggers can come to share their posts and find other blogs. It's a place we can all come together, widen our audiences and share the commenting love! It's a great way of promoting your favourite posts and increasing your readership.

Whilst it's still fresh in my mind, I wanted to write a post about where to start with creating your own linky and what we've already learned from week number one of ours.

Decide whether you want to recruit a co-host.

Firstly, you need to decide whether you want to do it alone or recruit a partner. It's a great opportunity to connect with fellow bloggers that you admire and having a co-host also takes away 50% of the work. It's also great having someone there so you can bounce ideas off of one another and grab a second opinion (and it means your linkers can be sure you'll get round to commenting on them as there's two of you splitting the workload).

Decide on a name for your linky.

Next, you need to decide on a theme for your new linky (if you decide to have one) and of course, the name! Bear in mind that you'll need something short and snappy, along with an accompanying hashtag so that people can use it to share their posts on Twitter (the longer the hashtag, the less characters they have left to promote their post). We decided to keep the theme open so that anyone can post what they like, and finally ended up with the name Marvellous Mondays - a linky where everyone can share their marvellous posts and battle the Monday blues! Other ideas we played with were Inspire me, Mighty Mondays and Monday Trues (a play on the Monday blues, with a theme asking for open and honestly written posts, straight from the heart); we wanted something fun, light-hearted and generic, so settled on Marvellous Mondays!

How to: Start Your Own Linky - A Bloggers Guide to starting their own link-up

Decide how often and on which day you'd like to run your linky.

The majority of linkys run on a weekly basis; consistency is key as you'd like bloggers to remember the day and to potentially prepare their posts especially to link up. Adding the day to the title is handy (I always remember Sunday Stars and Wicked Wednesdays without prompting) but isn't a necessity. We decided to run Marvellous Mondays on Mondays as there seemed to be a distinct lack of link-ups on that specific day, and as I don't work Mondays, I have time to prepare and promote.

Get creative & create your linky badge!

So, now your linky has it's hosts, name and time, you need a fabulous badge! Handy for us, I'm a graphic designer, so I created our badge from scratch using Photoshop, but I know lots of bloggers tend to use PicMonkey as a basic tool. If you'd like something designed that's more illustrative and bespoke to you and your linky, you can hire me to create your lovely badge; it doesn't cost much!

The guidelines.

The biggest thing I've learned since starting Marvellous Mondays is that the guidelines are highly likely to evolve over time (Emily and I are already discussing amending them after 1 week!). Emily looked at a lot of popular, existing link-ups and we came up with some rules together; things you'll have to consider is how many posts your linkers should comment on, which they should comment on and whether you'd like them to visit the host's posts etc. It's really up to you and your co-host to decide how strict or loose you are going to be with the rules you plan on putting in place; and be prepared to amend these as the weeks go by to get your linky working the way you want it too!

Setting up your linky.

The two most common link-up services bloggers use are inlinkz and Linky tools. We chose to use inlinkz because it's fairly widely used (therefore instantly recognisable to most linkers and easy-to-use) and I like that users can display a thumbnail alongside their post; I know I could easily bypass joining a linky that doesn't allow images. You'll need to register with the website and follow the instructions to set up your linky. You'll then be given the snippet of code you need to include in your post, this may be different depending on whether you're using blogger or wordpress or neither, but inlinkz will do all the work for you. Pop the code in, decide your start and end times, and you're away.

NB. You do have to pay £1.37 a month for thumbnail link-ups after the first week!

It's important to know that generally, your first day of linking up will be your most popular, so remember to go heavy on promoting and reminding your fellow bloggers that you're open and would love for them to link-up. This is probably more important when you're first starting out, but still seems to be common for well established link-ups. Emily and I follow alot of the same people, so the biggest issue we've had is trying not to tweet the same bloggers so that they get bombarded by both of us. We've decided to create a list of bloggers between us so that we can split it and promote to half each.

Though it seems like it may be hard work, setting up and running a linky is fun and is a fantastic way of discovering wonderful new blogs and for bloggers to be able to share their posts with others. The blogging community is a great one, so it's worth giving back as much love as you receive. The best advice I can give, is to go ahead and do it; I put off starting a linky for so long because I thought it would be hard work but it has been more fun than I imagined. Happy linking and I hope you can join us for our second week of Marvellous Mondays tomorrow!

Did you know I'm a graphic designer too? If you're looking for help to brand your business or make your blog beautiful, check out my portfolio!

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