Networking + Linking Up with Other Blogs

I got asked once about my thoughts on networking with other bloggers and why I do not do a lot of link ups and how that has to do with blog success.  It's an interesting question and something I often consider when deciding what my time is worth as it comes to swapping posts with other bloggers and joining link up parties.

I would say I am a pretty independent blogger.  I love the relationships I have built with readers and the two or three relationships I  have built with a few of my all time favorite big bloggers.  But at the end of the day I have come to the decision that making time to swap guest posts, network with other bloggers, and consistently link up to blog parties was not worth the payback for me.  I already spend a ton of time blogging and I cannot rationally give more of my time to blog tasks that are not going to repay me for what I believe my time is worth.

Now this is probably opposite advice to any sort of blog advice out there about networking.  But I believe that that opinion is coming from advice for people who want to be blogging full time.  And I am here to say you can build a strong blog without spending a ton of time networking.  I said a ton.  A little definitely helps but it doesn't have to be as much as we are all being told.

Thoughts on networking and linking up with other blogs: what is worth your time and effort?

The trick is to find who benefits you the most.  Not in a sneaky--I am going to use you--sort of way.  But in a--find bloggers who have a same heartbeat when it comes to blogging and be a part of their community.  When you rub shoulders with like minded people, you will naturally find people who want to connect with you.

For me guest posts are a lot of work.  I am usually challenged with writing about a specific topic that I am asked to write about when I think my best work comes from writing on things that come to me naturally.  My best work are usually not guest posts.  So to write a guest post that I am not super excited about on top of not winning over a ton of hearts with my less than best work, it is a lot of work with out a lot of benefits.  When some of my daily blog reads have guest posts, I usually pass it up and don't read.  This may not be the case for everyone, but for me I want to read what the blog writer has to say not someone else.  

Besides Fall and Christmas, I maybe link up to five link up parties a year.  If that.  And when I do it's because I connect with the link up personally.  For example, last year Emily Freeman came out with a new book that I emotionally connected with and so when she invited readers to link up a letter to their sixteen year old self, I wanted to join in for my sake.  I wanted to write and publish that letter.  It wasn't because I was hoping for more traffic.  I did gain a little bit of temporary extra traffic from her blog which is usually the benefit of linking up but it wasn't my purpose to linking up.

Thankfulness Thursdays is also a good example of this.  Personally I did not get a ton of traffic myself hosting a link up every week on what I was thankful for.  But I did it for myself and I believe the readers who linked up were also doing it for themselves.  The difference is because it was a small link up I got to know the people who linked up very quickly by reading their weekly posts.  This is another avenue to consider that linking up to a small blog party may not gain you a lot of extra traffic but it can build up a better relationship with a blogger you admire.

As for the holidays, there are a group of home decor bloggers who host seasonal link up parties that I try to link up with.  But one of the main reasons I link up with them is because I am already blogging about the topics they are hosting.  I do not have to come up with new content in order to link up.

With this group of women, I do gain quite a bit of extra hits for a few weeks after their link up party.  For me it is worth adjusting my seasonal blog schedule to match theirs and to make sure I link back to their party and wake up early enough to compete with all you east coasters who are already linking up posts at my crack of dawn.

But though I do get a temporary boost in traffic it does not last much past the holiday season.  Plus I do not get a lot of comments which to me says they may have liked my ideas but not enough to personally connect with.  I do this myself all the time.  I try to comment as much as possible.  But if I am cramped for time, I will quickly click over to follow on Twitter or Facebook with hopes of catching up with them later.  But if I truly connect with a person and what they wrote, I will comment.  And to me that means someone won me over.

Above everyone else, there is one blogger who I consistently get traffic from year around.  It happens to be one of my favorite bloggers and I believe I get traffic from her for a number of reasons.  The first one is that I consistently, though not a ton, comment on her posts.  This means commenting maybe once a week or a few times a month.  By commenting consistently other readers can recognize who I am and the types of things that I say.  But its not just about commenting.  Like I shared earlier, I feel like I share a heartbeat with this blogger.  I personally connect with what she writes and as a result personally respond.  Mixed amongst her many, many other readers who feel the same way, and you have yourself a community of like minded people.  And this is the gem.  This is where the real traffic comes from, consistently.  And this is where you will hopefully gain faithful readers and not just temporary traffic hits.

Because of this I link up with this blogger the most because I gain the most traffic from her, but also because I want to link up with her because I believe in what she writes about.  That's what I call a win-win.

All this to be said, I like to swim against the current in life.  I read a lot about the business side of blogging and personally find it fascinating.  But I pick and choose from what I hear and apply it to how it fits my own personal life and philosophy for blogging.  I encourage you to do the same.  No one blogger is the same and you are the only one who gets to decided if and when this "hobby" should be more.