I belong to the latter.
And then some.
Daily views, weekly views, monthly and all-time views. Audience, traffic sources, most-viewed posts…
I soak it all in. I can’t get enough, and race to the laptop before the sun is up each morning to see what came in while I was deep asleep.
Of course, like any red-blooded OCD-er with a competitive nature, it’s not enough to just check the stats; I have to find ways of increasing traffic.
In the beginning, I did all the things any platform-grower worth her salt was taught to do. I joined Twitter and Linked In and Google+ and Facebook and every other social networking site that had been dreamed up.
And I watched the numbers
surge trickle in.
I tried seeking out other blogs and leaving comments, but I always felt like a pimply wallflower trying desperately to make eye contact in my hopes that someone – anyone – would notice me. Would dance with me.
Enter blog hops. I don’t remember how I stumbled across my first one, but I know it didn’t take long before I realized I was onto something. And the thing with blog hops is, once you find one, you start finding them all over. Since I started joining them, and really learning how to use them, my monthly views have increased by about 50% and my followers have quadrupled. I now link up routinely with close to two dozen hops on a weekly basis, including one that I co-host.
There are a few tricks of the trade with hops, though, and I thought I would pass them along here.
What’s a Hop, Anyway?
When a blogger hosts a blog hop (also known as a link party) he invites other bloggers to “link up” a blog post onto the host blog. The host is generally responsible for stating the theme, listing the rules or guidelines, and providing the “linky tool”, which is a widget. Any blogger wishing to participate simply clicks on the linky tool, inserts the url of the blog post he wishes to link along with any other required information such as name, email address, and picture (which will appear as a thumbnail picture on the blog hop). Every blog post linked up on the hop will be available for the clicking and viewing pleasure of anyone who views that blog. A simple click of the link will bring the reader to the original blog post. In other words, traffic.
How Do I Find a Hop That is a Good “Fit” For My Blog?
You know what they say: “All roads lead to Google.” Or something. Googling “blog hops” will likely yield general information about the who-what-when-and-where of blog hops. However, if you type in the general theme of your own blog in addition, you’ll get yourself a custom-generated list of blog hops based on your interests. For example, “farming blog hops”, “writing blog hops”, “parenting blog hops” — you get the picture. Have at it!
I’ve Added My Link, Now What?
Most hosts will suggest that once you’ve added your link, you should visit the hosts and leave a comment, as well as try to visit at least three or so of the linked blogs. It’s basic blog-hoppin’ etiquette. As your mother used to say, “Remember your manners!”
Can I Link and Run?
When I first started joining up with a lot of hops, I did just that. I added my link and moved on, telling myself I just didn’t have time to visit and comment. Any bump in my traffic was, you guessed it, negligible. Once I really started making time to comment on other blogs, I saw a significant spike in my numbers.
Is It Rude To Self-Promote?
Yes and no. My standard comment includes my name and blog url, states where I’m linking from, and lets them know I hope they can come by sometime. However, I also take the time to comment on their blog post in a meaningful way. When someone does the same to me? I am more than happy to pay them a visit. However, I’ve had people comment very point blank: “I followed you, follow me back at I’mRudeAndIKnowIt.com.” Ummm….no. Pass. While there is certainly a you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours component to blog hops, never forget that it is also social. As in friendly. As in civil.
The Host Asked Me To Link Back. What Does This Mean?
Most hosts want to know that if your post is linked up to their blog, that any visitors to your blog will be aware of that and possibly hop on over to check out what all the fuss is about. See what I mean about the back-scratchin’? If you’re going to follow a few hops regularly, an easy way to link back is to add the host’s badge in your sidebar. You could also keep a schedule of the blog hops you participate in at the bottom of each post.
Do I Have To Visit and Comment On Every Blog in the Hop?
Certainly not. Some hops can have hundreds of bloggers linking up, and who has that kind of time? Tell ya’ a little tip of mine. When I have a few free minutes to do some hoppin’, I open up a Word document in a new tab, and type: “Hi, I’m Anne from Life on the Funny Farm (http://annesfunnyfarm.blogspot.com), and I’m visiting from the Cat Crazy Blog Hop. Hope you can drop by my blog sometime to say hi!” Then I go to the Cat Crazy Blog Hop, and start clicking on the links. I read the post, try to find the blogger’s name, and go to the comments. I simply paste my blurb into the comments box, inserting the blogger’s name after “Hi”, and writing a comment that speaks to what they posted after “I’m visiting from the ___ hop”. If I really enjoyed their blog and choose to follow it, I do so (Google Friends Connect makes this sooo easy, if they have it), and I tell them so. If the blog looks familiar, and I think I’ve perhaps already left this comment, I just leave off the part about hoping for a visit back. No need to be a stalker.
Where Can I Start?
I may have mentioned earlier (cough – shameless self-promotion – cough) that I co-host a blog hop. As it happens, it is a perfect one for blog-hop-newbies to get their feet wet with, because the only theme is to link up an old post. It’s called the Tuesday Archive Link-Up, and it is run on Thursdays. Kidding. It goes live every Tuesday morning. Since I’m a co-host, if you click over to my blog on a Tuesday, you can link up.
Brevity Makes Good Bedfellows
You really can link up any old post of yours, but my suggestion would be to go with something relatively short (in other words, the opposite of this-here post), and preferably light/humorous. If someone is going through the link list, and they get to yours and see it’s a long one, they might just click back out. Sure, you’ve gotten them over there, so you got traffic, but you want folks to come back for more, right? It’s like a brick-and-mortar business: the sign got them in the door, and that’s great, but you don’t want them walking right back out. You want them to stay while, look around, and come back another time, bringing a couple friends with them.
So that’s about it, folks. The long and the short of blog hops. I hope you found some helpful information here, and I hope you find blog-hoppin’ as easy and as fun (and as traffic-generating) as I have.
Please give me a shout anytime you have a question. As long as it’s not “what’s the url for the Cat Crazy Blog?” Because I just made that up.