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How to write a links post

Link posting should be like mingling at a party - suggests Jan from Circular Communication, guest writing this week at Lorelle on WordPress (congratulations Jan).  But how do you go about writing a link post?  Especially if, like me, you’re hopeless at mingling at parties…

In the few short months I’ve been blogging I’ve probably read as many different sorts of link posts as I have blogs.

You can link out  - like the Monk at Work - to express gratitude to people that have helped and inspired you in the week gone by.  Following a trail there I’ve found a link to a bundle of sites where authors highlight the best posts of their most frequent commentators - another generous touch.

You can speed link to the most interesting things that you’ve been reading in the last seven days.  Things that make you stop and think perhaps.  Tips to help you write with confidence.  Or stuff that makes you smile.

You can speed things up even more by linking with each word that you write, perhaps highlighting the work of the different people that have left you comments during the week. You could write about authors, cartoonists, web-site owners, writers, bloggers, thought-provokers, fantasy fiction writers, lifelong learners, spirit spillers… you get the idea and thanks to all of you who did leave comments this week :-) including Andrea who reminded me of this style of linking.

One word of caution though - think about the words you’re using to link to someone else and - as the amazing Liz Strauss reminds us - try to link out with respect.  As Liz says in the comments to the ‘link with respect’ post she was once linked to as “the”.  This probably isn’t the most accurate or complimentary thing she’s ever been called.  Likewise I’ve been an “of” and a “who”.  Although it’s nice to get the links I know what she means - it kind of undoes the benefit of linking and communicating in the first place.  Why not see this as another chance to get creative and speedlink with style?

But as for me, well I have to confess I’m not a great one for speed linking.  Perhaps it’s because it’s because I’ve never been the best at mingling at parties.  Like Jan, I prefer slower link posts that allow you to have a conversation, to put people in touch with each other, to develop ideas, to make a more meaningful sort of connection.

I know as a reader I’m not so likely to ‘click’ on speed links, as I’m not too sure why they’re there.  And I know as a writer I prefer writing a link post that:

  • has a theme, something that connects the links together
  • has been percolating for a while, helping me to make connections as I read - before I write
  • links five different pieces of writing (okay this one’s just me, but I like the symmetry of five links and the challenge of finding them)
  • is of value to my readers
  • is enjoyable to me as a writer - finding the structure, the hook or the theme that connects the strands together and turns them into something bigger, different, new…

My slow-linking Sunday post is to follow.  Meantime, what kind of link post do you like to read - or write?

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Comments

  1. Confident Writing says:

    Writing with all your senses

    Get out of your head and into your senses wrote psychologist Fritz Perls. I doubt he had writing in mind when he said it, but it’s great advice for bringing our writing to life: capturing what we see, hear, smell,

  2. Liz Strauss says:

    This one has inspired me!

  3. Dawud Miracle says:

    Yes, I love this post. I do this constantly. Thanks for highlighting it for your readers.

  4. Rosa Say | Managing with Aloha says:

    Since writing and “newly blogging” at MWAC I have made some deliberate changes with my linking habits Joanna. I had a few caring and honest readers ask me why I “sent them away so much” and one good friend came right out and asked me, “who are you writing for, other bloggers, or your MWA movement practitioners?” The answer may have been one or the other, or both at the different blogs I’ve written for, however they coached me well; I needed better intention versus copycat habit. Links are certainly required for giving credit where credit is due, however “who am I writing this for?” is a valid question I think all bloggers have to ask themselves at times in their own circumstances, perhaps even with each post written.

    Second, I’m trying to keep my writing more uncluttered, and defer to linking in a footnote style, giving readers a message without interruption. Every once in a while I remind myself that books have done perfectly fine without links— and still do!

    Then there are the links to your own stuff. Bloggers write more prolifically than even their most faithful readers will read, and I started finding I was continuing my own conversations too much, linking back to another post for context, and counting on another page view that my readers simply were not going to take. Old habits are hard to break, but I am now trying to approach every post as if people are newly arriving for the first time, and keeping them as self-contained as possible. Links are there for credit, but they needn’t take them feeling they are missing something if they don’t.

    When I am purposely linking out to showcase other bloggers I am now copying a practice I thought was very generously done by Mark Shead at http://www.productivity501.com: I am offering feeds as well as homepage links, giving people a choice of visit only or straight to subscription.

  5. Jeanne Dininni says:

    Joanna,

    This is a very comprehensive post! Though this type of link may not be your favorite, thanks for speed linking to Writer’s Notes anyway! I appreciate it!

    Jeanne

  6. Adam Donkus says:

    Groovy post Joanna, thanks for stopping by Pixelheadonline and for the LL(link love)

    Speed linking or slow linking, they are all good. I look at these as more for the Search Engines than people. However, I also realize that these types of posts often are linked to posts that the author of the Link love post found to be interesting.

  7. Adam Kayce : Monk At Work says:

    I started doing the “speed linking” thing, too, from time to time. I’m trying to incorporate it more, but only when it makes sense.

    I like writing, and reading, posts that aren’t laden with a bazillion links, and yet have enough relevant ones to take the conversation in a couple different directions.

  8. Brad Shorr says:

    Great insights, Joanna. I agree with your overall approach. I feel overwhelmed when I read a post that contains twenty or thirty links, no matter how they’re attributed and organized. My initial reaction is, how am I ever going to have time to read all these links? That can be frustrating, especially if I know that the blogger in question is sure to offer exceptionally worthwhile links. I’ve been trying to write posts with just a few links, clearly described, in hopes the reader will have the time and desire to explore them.

  9. Andrea Yager says:

    Hey Joanna,

    Can we be altruistic and have ulterior motives? (hmm sounds like another blog post!!).. well thats what linking like you and I have done sometimes feels..

    We follow who links to us and come back to give you thanks, so its win win isnt?

    PS - whoever called it speed linking HASNT done it. It took me over an hour to collect the links in my ‘speed link’ post!

  10. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Hi Andrea, I’m going to leave you to answer the question about altruism + ulterior motives. Too hard for me!

    You’re so right about ‘speed’ linking. They take an age. I wonder if that’s part of the reason I don’t really like writing them?

    Joanna

  11. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Brad

    That’s the style of link post I like to read too. 5 is about my limit. Beyond that and you’re starting to get into overload.

    Joanna

  12. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Hi Adam

    Thanks for calling by - and for the word bazillion, which so captures that sense of overload that Brad mentioned too.

    One of the things that got me thinking about this question was your own generosity with links (like the link to previous commenters at the foot of your posts), and prompted by your wonderings about how best to proceed with gratitude Friday

    I guess in link posts, like other forms of writing, the trick is to keep learning, trying, experimenting and see what works best for us and our readers

    Joanna

  13. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Hi Adam, thanks for stopping by.

    Yes, for me they have to be something that I’ve found of interest, but more than that, something that I think would be of value to my readers.

    The other main reason (as I see it) is to express gratitude. This is more tricky as it’s valued by the person receiving the link love (and will in turn bring you more visitors and readers) but is perhaps of less general interest to the readers who are already here - as Rosa and others have pointed out.

    One to keep pondering I think.

    Joanna

  14. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Jeanne

    My pleasure. As I mention elsewhere, part of the function of links is to express thanks for ideas, comments, readership… I guess what I’m exploring is how to find the right format for doing that.

    Joanna

  15. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Liz, I’m glad you found some inspiration here. I love the way our words can touch and connect across continents like that.

    Joanna

  16. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Rosa, thanks so much for your thoughtful comments on this. There’s a lot of different ideas and suggestions here and I think I might need to pick up some of them in a separate post. I realise that one of the points you make goes back to an earlier conversation we had (that I’m still to return to) about pacing readers’ experience, and whether your readers were swimmers or dippers.

    But however we try and think about our readers I’d agree absolutely that we should be asking ourselves ‘who am I writing this for?’ There will be a different answer for different authors, different sites, different posts, different contexts.

    The other key question (and the one I neglected to mention in this piece) is ‘what’s my intention?’. Answering that will help to drive the format and style (or stop you from writing it in the first place, maybe)

    As for style, well I’m enjoying your essay-style at MWAC but as a new blogger I’m still enjoying writing (appropriate) links into my posts - which are generally shortish too. It still feels creative and new to me - and I enjoy it, which is a big part of the equation too.

    Lots to reflect on here as always - will keep chewing it over

    Joanna

  17. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Dawud, hello. You know I think that link to the beating writer’s block post might have got lost in the links and conversation about them. Which maybe helps to reaffirm my own point that too many links are not a good thing.

    Joanna

  18. Yvonne Russell says:

    I enjoy reading a link post that tells a story, as yours does. It is very time consuming though, as you say.

    Thanks for reminding us of these strategies, and for providing the spark for the interesting conversation which followed, in the comments. I look forward to your slow linking Sunday post.

  19. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Thanks for adding to the conversation Yvonne. I’ve learned a lot from it and will be returning to some of the points that were raised in a future post…soon.

    Your point about time is very important. As Andrea pointed out, whoever thought of calling it speed linking!

    Joanna

  20. Circular Communication says:

    How to Best Pitch Bloggers - a Virtual Group Interview

    Reading Liz Strauss Writing Challenge: Joanna’s Thematic Link Post! I was taken in and carried away about the circularity of it all. Seeing how my first guest post on Lorelle on WordPress Why A Link Post Should Be Like Mingling at a Party was …

  21. Darlene Siddons says:

    I am a newby geek and this information was/is very useful and also very fun!!! i am glad i found you..thanks

  22. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Hi Darlene, I’m glad you found it useful.

    Writing links posts is time consuming but also very rewarding and enjoyable, and as you’ll see from the number of comments here, a great way to ‘invite’ people into your site, and whatever conversations you’re looking to have.

    Best wishes with your own site

    Joanna

  23. Instigator Blog says:

    Blog Tipping and Link Post Writing

    Can a blog meme be resurrected after a month or so?
    Perhaps not in its original format, but we can still extract lots of value from the original initiative. Chris Gray at SEO Ladder tagged me with the Blogging Tip Meme. At the time he had collected a n…

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