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.
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.
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.