Gaining Blog Views: Link Parties

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A guide to link parties and optimizing thumbnails
 

Gaining views – Part 1: Link Parties

Hello! Last week I started a series called How to Start a Blog, to chronicle my experience from starting a blog so far. Last week focused on actually starting your blog and the technical aspects of beginning a website. It is a good idea to start from that page first. Today I will start the discussion about how to gain views. This post will focus on promoting your blog through link parties and how to optimize your photos for them.

Promoting Your Blog
From the very beginning, I think it is really important to immediately establish why you want to start a blog and what your expectations are. I wanted to start a blog because I love all things DIY and crafty, and I love sharing what I know with others. I wanted to be able to share my tutorials and learn from other blogs as well. When I started, I knew that blogging would take up a lot of time, but I didn’t realize how much time it would really take and how you actually use your time. I imagined that I would be spending most of my time thinking up of new projects and filming/photographing the process. I guess my thinking process was that I just needed to focus on my content, and if I made a cute and useful tutorial, someone would eventually like it and share with their friends and it would gain views as people continued to share. I quickly learned that this “If you build it, they will come” mentality just doesn’t work, unless you happen to get very lucky and go viral. The internet is just chock full of information and websites, and chances are, nobody will accidentally stumble upon your site. Unfortunately, even if you had the greatest tutorial on the cutest project ever, if you don’t spend time promoting your site, nobody will see it.

I actually read and researched a lot about starting a blog prior to blogging, so I knew from the beginning that I had to do at least a little promoting, but I didn’t understand how hard it is to actually get traffic to your site. I made YouTube videos of my tutorials, hoping someone would see it under “new videos”. I even had this great idea of doing a small giveaway for my first YouTube tutorial. Then I learned that giveaways don’t work if no one sees your video! I tried to submit pictures of my projects to sites like Reddit. I only had a little luck within the small subreddit r/Crafts, and gained a couple of YouTube subscribers and some page views. I also tried to get my projects on CraftGawker, then quickly learned that they’re really strict about the projects they approve and that photos are a key part of this.

So, of course I felt more than a little discouraged. I wasn’t getting any visits on my site. CraftGawker rejected my photos as too dull. Nobody was watching my videos on Youtube. Nobody wanted to subscribe to my channel even though I offered something free.Β  I was writing my posts and making videos for nobody! But then one day I posted a needle felting project on Reddit that they really liked (probably because it was of a cat). It wasn’t something I posted on my site, nor was it on YouTube, but I posted on there just because I was proud of what I made. I offered to give away the needle felting kits that I originally intended for my YouTube giveaway, and explained my YouTube giveaway failure. A lot of the people on the subreddit were really nice and encouraged me to keep trying, and I realized it was too early to give up. Blogging and growing an audience takes time! You’ll have to spend a lot of time promoting your blog, but you also have to give your blog time to grow as well!

Link Parties
One of the first blog promoting methods I learned about were link parties/blog hops. A link party is when one or a few website will “host” a link up. You go to their site on a designated day and add a link or two to posts you recently made. Then you explore the other submissions by other bloggers, leave some nice comments, and pin your favorites. I know that there are many craft link parties and blog hops, and I have seen some related to food, mommy/lifestyle, and fashion. I’m not sure of their existence in other niches, so this may not exist within your niche.

Link parties are a great way to find some new blogs and blogger friends as well as be inspired by the work of others. It is also a great way for bloggers to discover your blog. You’ll find that a lot of bloggers are also blog readers, and many of your visitors will have blogs of their own.

Because some blog parties can have hundreds of links, try to show up very early, to give your post some more exposure time. Another important factor in gaining exposure is having the right thumbnail. Because people select the links they want to visit based off of the title and a tiny thumbnail, so make sure you have a good title and an eye-catching thumbnail.

For your link up thumbnail, create an image that is square, so you don’t need to worry about cropping later.

How to edit your thumbnails

Here is an image I took of this awesome golden pear. It is straight from my camera, unedited besides the cropping, taken indoors on an overcast day. Not too bad, right? But there are ways to improve your photo so that it is more eye-catching. This includes making sure that your photo is the star of the photo. In this case, the pear is set against a white background, so it isn’t fighting for attention. Make sure the background isn’t too busy, and if there is something in the background, it should not compete with the main subject. You also need to make your photos bright and clear. If you’re lucky enough to get great lighting in your room and you’re always able to shoot during the day, you may not even need to edit your photo. However, sometimes your schedule or the weather just doesn’t cooperate. This is where artificial lighting and editing software comes in. I will not be using any artificial lightning in this tutorial, but I will show you how to edit your photos to be brighter. I personally use Photoshop, but there are free editing programs out there such as GIMP and PicMonkey.

How to edit your thumbnails

Here is a side-by-side comparision of a very quick editing job in Photoshop. I increased the brightness and contrast of the photo. I also adjusted the “levels” in Photoshop. This will adjust the midtones, highlights and shadows of your photo. In this case, I made the midtones and highlights brighter while making shadows a little bit darker. Although the original photo doesn’t seem too bad on its own, the edited version really brings out the golden tone of the pear, and is definitely more eye-catching than the original.

How to edit your thumbnailsHow to edit your thumbnails
Link party thumbnails work similarly to Pinterest photos. Eye-catching photos are key, but an interesting title can also get someone’s attention. In this case, make use of all the colors and fonts available to you, and use typography to your advantage.

PicMonkey

However, I know that Photoshop can be expensive and difficult to learn to use. Above is an editing job I did using PicMonkey and their free fonts. I went to Exposure and adjusted the Brightness, Highlights, Shadows, and Contrast. I increased the brightness, but not by too much or the photo will look washed out. I increased the highlight by a lot, so that the photo would be brighter,Β  but just increased the shadow by one. I also increased the contrast of the photo a little. To give this a try for yourself, save my unedited pear photo from above and play around with the settings until you get something you like.

Once you start attending link parties with your eye-catching thumbnails, you’ll start to get the occasional visitor who will stop by after seeing your submission on a link party page. Because there are so many submissions, you may not get a ton of visitors directly from the link party page, but you do gain exposure. Some of the bloggers who visit your site may end up including your post in a round-up on their blog, some hosts pin or tweet all submissions, or a link party host may decide to feature your submission the following week. When this happens, you will start to see more visits. Hopefully, these visitors also look at your other pages and become followers! Because you can gain visitors indirectly from the link parties, you shouldn’t write off smaller parties. I’ve found that sometimes the smaller parties can have more active attendees, your chance of being seen may be higher, and the host has more time to view all the submissions, increasing your chance of being featured.

If you have a craft/DIY blog, you can check out my Blog Links page to see where I link up. There are so many out there, you don’t have to join them all, but it is a good idea to link up to a few every day. Make sure you don’t overwhelm yourself with too many parties, and allot time for visiting links from each party as well. When you visit other blogs and leave a nice comment, you may find that the blog owner will sometimes visit your blog as well! Each party has their own set of rules so please be sure to read them before linking up.

UPDATE: I was ask by a reader to add a part on grabbing a button from link parties.

Below is a screenshot of the the Treasure Box Tuesday link party that I grabbed from http://www.yesterfood.blogspot.com.

Guide to Link Parties | ashandcrafts.com

In order to grab that button, all you need to do is highlight and copy the text in the gray box below the button. Make sure you copy everything. Now go back to your website and paste this wherever you want it so show, whether it is your post page or a party page. Make sure to paste it where HTML goes. If you’re using WordPress, in your post editing screen, you should see two tabs in the upper right hand corner: VISUAL and TEXT. Click on the TEXT tab and then paste it there.

Another way you can grab the button is to just save the image onto your computer and add it onto your page like any normal image. Then insert a link into the photo so it links back to the link party.

If you need more detailed help on this, please let me know! You can always leave me a comment or go to my Contact Me page. It would also help if you tell me what platform you use (WordPress, Blogger, etc).


I hope you enjoyed today’s post and hope it was helpful. My next few posts will be on gaining followers and viewers through social media, my advertising experiments, and how to optimize your blog photos.

Click here to read Part 3: Gaining Followers Through Giveaways and Pinterest. I discuss my thoughts on doing giveaways and how to get Pinterest followers and repins.

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85 Comments on Gaining Blog Views: Link Parties

  1. Jenn Stanley
    April 6, 2015 at 11:31 am (1 year ago)

    Thanks for a great post! For a while I felt I was putting so much effort into posts and not getting the viewership I was looking for. You give great tips here and I totally feel your anguish you were feeling before. Good to know that if you keep truckin’ good things will happen!

    Love the photo editing on the pear! I’d like to check out the photo editing software you suggested like PicMonkey and see how it can spice up my blog photos. Thanks again!
    Jenn Stanley recently posted…Keep a Diary, folks!My Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Jenn! If you have any editing questions, I’m always here!

      Reply
    • Ash
      April 6, 2015 at 7:27 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Nicole!

      Reply
  2. TwoPlusCute
    April 6, 2015 at 7:15 pm (1 year ago)

    It is a helpful post but, to me, it was also very enjoyable to read.

    I particularly liked the first part about your efforts and the following dismay. High five for keep going. πŸ™‚
    TwoPlusCute recently posted…The Most Esteemed Hoarders Ever: BookloversMy Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 6, 2015 at 7:30 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you so much! High five!

      Reply
  3. Lisa @ Fun Money Finds
    April 6, 2015 at 8:47 pm (1 year ago)

    This is the second post I’ve found of yours today (through link parties) and it’s another good one. I have felt the same way at times, discouraged because I wasn’t getting as many views as I wanted and overwhelmed because blogging takes so much more time than I expected. However, I really love it and am going to keep chugging away. I am seeing growth so that’s always a good thing πŸ™‚

    Your tips are great as well and I liked seeing the before and after editing!

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 7, 2015 at 1:53 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Lisa! Keep on chugging! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  4. Allie
    April 6, 2015 at 9:00 pm (1 year ago)

    I agree… it can be so discouraging in the beginning! I felt like a got a solid start, and then some days I feel like I just can’t draw any traffic. You’re doing a great job! Congrats on your success!
    Allie recently posted…DIY Anthropologie cake flagsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 7, 2015 at 1:54 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Allie! We all need to just keep trying!

      Reply
  5. Linda@MixedKreations
    April 7, 2015 at 8:49 am (1 year ago)

    Thanks so much for your great post! I’m been working really hard trying to grow my traffic through Linky parties, and social media. So I have been trying to improve on my pictures, takes a lot of time but I work on things daily doing what I can. I can tell since I’ve been making these changes and being consistent my traffic has increased. Thanks so much for your tips. Post like this help keep me inspired to keep up all the hard work even when I start getting discouraged. Thanks!
    Linda@MixedKreations recently posted…Thrift Store, Home Decor, Pray Sign MakeoverMy Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 7, 2015 at 1:55 pm (1 year ago)

      That’s great to hear Linda! Congrats and just keep going!

      Reply
  6. Aimee
    April 7, 2015 at 10:29 am (1 year ago)

    I’ve found link parties & blog hops to be a great way to increase my blog views, while also discovering new blogs. In fact, I found your blog through the Lou Lou Girls Fabulous party! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the great post! Keep at it…the views will come. πŸ™‚
    Aimee recently posted…Practice What You PreachMy Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much for visiting Aimee! I will!

      Reply
    • Ash
      April 7, 2015 at 2:02 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much! I’m so terrible…I feel like the only ones I remember to show up early to are the ones that are in reverse order!

      Reply
    • Ash
      April 7, 2015 at 2:02 pm (1 year ago)

      Of course! Let me know if you ever need any help or tips with photo editing!

      Reply
    • Ash
      April 9, 2015 at 4:25 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you so much Trina!

      Reply
      • Trina
        April 13, 2015 at 6:42 am (1 year ago)

        Your welcome:)

        Reply
  7. Karen
    April 9, 2015 at 10:51 am (1 year ago)

    Thanks for sharing. I love link parties! I’ve just started my own one, which is a whole new learning experience. I’ve been working on improving my photos and had just been thinking I need to include a square photo for thumbnails! Found you on loulougirls link party.
    Karen recently posted…Blog Fair Link Party #1My Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 9, 2015 at 4:44 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks for sharing Karen! If you’d like, I can add your link party to my Blog Links post!

      Reply
  8. Angel
    April 9, 2015 at 8:17 pm (1 year ago)

    Hello
    This is a really great post. Thanks for sharing with us at Wake Up Wednesday Linky Party. Your post will be Featured at next weeks party. Great job!
    Angel

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 10, 2015 at 12:22 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you so much Angel!

      Reply
    • Ash
      April 10, 2015 at 12:25 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Laura! I definitely will right now!

      Reply
  9. Meghan
    April 10, 2015 at 6:49 am (1 year ago)

    Great tips! The other thing that has helped me a ton is finding a blogging tribe – I’d actually recommend finding at least two: 1) a large group of bloggers in your niche, including big established bloggers willing to help all us little guys and 2) a small group of bloggers in your niche that you can grow and collaborate with.

    Thanks for linking up at #WeLoveWeekends
    Meghan recently posted…We Love Weekends – April 10, 2015My Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 10, 2015 at 12:31 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Meghan! I’ve been trying to find a tribe but haven’t had any luck with an very active groups on Facebook or G+.

      Reply
  10. Carrie This Home
    April 10, 2015 at 6:52 am (1 year ago)

    These are great tips! I’ve recently taken a break from sharing my posts at link parties and I’ve noticed a difference. I haven’t had as much interaction or pageviews so link parties really do help!
    I also LOVE Picmonkey–it’s a great way to edit photos and add graphics on a budget!
    Carrie This Home recently posted…Frugal Crafty Home Blog Hop 122My Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 10, 2015 at 12:32 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Carrie! I agree! I didn’t link up for a few days and there was a noticeable drop! Now I’m back and it is much better. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  11. Audrey
    April 10, 2015 at 9:18 am (1 year ago)

    Good post. I have been a co-host of a linky party a few times and it is part of my weekly routine to post and visit. I have seen some Baaaaad photos and titles. One person linked a photo of a square pan of brownies… a close up shot cropped all the way to the edge of the pan… the tiny thumbnail was nothing but a brown blob. sigh! Would you click on that? But the recipe was great.

    One tip I’d add, if you don’t want to put your square photo in your post, you can just have it on your computer and when you link up scroll to the bottom of the picture selection area and you can then upload it.
    Audrey recently posted…Low Fat MeatballsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much for the tip Audrey! I agree, some posts are amazing but their thumbnail photos don’t always reflect that!

      Reply
  12. Karren Haller
    April 10, 2015 at 11:38 am (1 year ago)

    Thanks for stopping by to participate in my Friday Features. I love the banner you have created to use in Linky parties, it stands out great and your ideas are great, 1 idea I have is to always include behind the title of your post w/linky so others know that you are hosting a party.
    Karren Haller recently posted…Friday Feature Linky PartyMy Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you so much Karren! Thank you for the tip as well!

      Reply
  13. Gentle Joy
    April 11, 2015 at 2:10 pm (1 year ago)

    Good points… it will be nice for people to learn from this… I would have loved to have read this a bit over a year ago! πŸ™‚
    Gentle Joy recently posted…Enjoying the Sunset….My Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 1:18 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much!

      Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 1:21 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Krista!

      Reply
  14. India Estes
    April 12, 2015 at 12:07 am (1 year ago)

    What a great post with great information! Im always working on my views. Great photos is my biggest challenge right now that I’m working on and learning how to do better. Thanks for sharing!

    Stopping by from #HomeMattersParty
    India Estes recently posted…Home Matters Linky Party #32My Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 1:43 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you so much India!

      Reply
  15. Sinziana
    April 12, 2015 at 2:06 am (1 year ago)

    Thank you for joining again on Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party! As always I like very much your articles and your images! Have a great week!
    Sinziana recently posted…Strawberry DelightMy Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 1:50 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you so much!

      Reply
  16. Hanniz
    April 12, 2015 at 8:01 am (1 year ago)

    Dropping by from Sincerely, Paula’s link party #125. I just discovered Linky parties last week and I’m glad I’m not the only one trying to find people who like what I post! A lot of blog guru’s say that you don’t have to bother blogging if you have no readers but I still enjoy posting (for a room with no one in it!) but now I’m also trying to find bloggers who are in the same boat as I am. Happy blogging!
    Hanniz recently posted…15 Kitchen Makeovers on a BudgetMy Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 1:54 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Hanniz! I just stopped by your blog and it is great! Keep on working at it!

      Reply
  17. Amanda Evans
    April 12, 2015 at 11:04 am (1 year ago)

    Promoting is the hardest hurdle for me right now and I’ve really tried to reassess about this whole blogging endeavor lately. Not as easy as people think at first! Thanks for linking up your posts with us at MeetUp Monday! Hope to see you again this week!
    –Mandy http://www.OddsandEvans.com

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 1:56 pm (1 year ago)

      I agree! It’s a lot harder and time consuming that most people expect! Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 1:58 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you Becky!

      Reply
  18. Gretta
    April 12, 2015 at 6:09 pm (1 year ago)

    Great post πŸ™‚ I am also a newbie and can relate in so many ways! I was surprised to read that you have only been blogging for a couple of months, your website looks very professional, well done (I love your theme πŸ˜‰ ). There is so soooo much to learn isn’t there, my mind boggles! I have been seeing your blog links pop up in lots of places, pinterest, linkys, fb so you are doing a great job ptomoting! I look forward to reading more of your blogging about blogging πŸ™‚ X
    Gretta recently posted…Pinterest Group Boards – What you NEED to Know NOW!My Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 1:59 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Gretta! So sorry if you get tired of seeing me everywhere πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  19. Gretta
    April 12, 2015 at 6:11 pm (1 year ago)

    Great post πŸ™‚ I am also a newbie and can relate in so many ways! I was surprised to read that you have only been blogging for a couple of months, your website looks very professional, well done (I love your theme πŸ˜‰ ). There is so soooo much to learn isn’t there, my mind boggles! I have been seeing your blog links pop up in lots of places, pinterest, linkys, fb so you are doing a great job promoting! I look forward to reading more of your blogging about blogging πŸ™‚ X

    Reply
  20. Bobbi
    April 13, 2015 at 11:15 am (1 year ago)

    Hi there!!! Guess what…this was the most clicked link at last week’s Teach Me Tuesday party. Yay! This will be featured this week and pinned. If you don’t have a “Featured” button yet, go grab one!

    Thanks so much for linking up with us. Hope to see you again this week.
    Bobbi recently posted…ALL Things SpringMy Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 2:03 pm (1 year ago)

      Yay!! Thanks so much Bobbi!

      Reply
  21. Nikki Frank-Hamilton
    April 13, 2015 at 3:14 pm (1 year ago)

    Great tips. It does take time to build a following and link ups surely help. I have found great blogs and bloggers through link ups. Keep working at it, you are doing great.
    Nikki Frank-Hamilton recently posted…Silent Sunday 4/12/2015My Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 2:04 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you so much for the encouragement, Nikki!

      Reply
  22. Meredith
    April 13, 2015 at 3:22 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi. I need to learn more about blogging despite my 200+ posts already “down.” Perhaps I’m too late and made too many mistakes already. I did share this on G+ and Twitter. Great suggestion on trying to get the same results as you from your raw picture. I should try that! Blessings to you~
    Meredith recently posted…Dear Step FamiliesMy Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 7:50 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you so much for sharing my post, Meredith! It is never too late! Please let me know if you need any help at all!

      Reply
    • Ash
      April 14, 2015 at 2:15 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much! I don’t really have an ideal size, I always create a square image that I can use for the post, as the featured image, and for Instagram. I would say it is usually around 500×500 or 600×600 px.

      Reply
    • Ash
      April 15, 2015 at 11:43 am (1 year ago)

      Yes! Thanks so much Jenna!

      Reply
  23. Alpana (Alpsnailart)
    April 15, 2015 at 8:32 am (1 year ago)

    Great post. i am gonna take some tips from this post and work on improving my blog traffic too.

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 15, 2015 at 11:44 am (1 year ago)

      Good luck Alpana!

      Reply
    • Ash
      April 15, 2015 at 11:44 am (1 year ago)

      Thank you so much Theresa!

      Reply
  24. Beeatrix
    April 15, 2015 at 12:44 pm (1 year ago)

    I must admit, your blog is ADDICTIVE! I love your indepth post but also easy to follow. Just starting a month ago my blog and I feel overwhelmed by all the info out there and sometimes you see post like ” how to gain traffic” but they never really give you their process like you do. Cannot wait for more content from you.

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 15, 2015 at 1:10 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you so much Beeatrix! You’ve really made my day!

      Reply
  25. Ingrid @ Fabulous and Fun Life
    April 16, 2015 at 6:55 pm (1 year ago)

    Great post re link parties. I just started my first link party, Monday Makeup Madness, this week for beauty and makeup posts as there seemed to be a gap in this niche for link parties.

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 16, 2015 at 8:38 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Ingrid! Good luck with your link party! I will come by to check it out the posts even though I’m not a beauty blogger. πŸ˜€

      Reply
  26. Eva
    April 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’m new to blogging. I just started one months ago and I found your posts exceptionally USEFUL! Good luck!

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 20, 2015 at 3:46 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Eva! Good luck to you too!

      Reply
  27. kareen liez
    April 20, 2015 at 7:00 am (1 year ago)

    Lovely. There is really an great difference when a photo is enhanced.Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board.
    kareen liez recently posted…StellarManicMommy2 $100 Amazon Gift Card GiveawayMy Profile

    Reply
    • Ash
      April 20, 2015 at 3:49 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks so much Kareen!

      Reply

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