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So you want to create a blog hop?!

For a couple years, I ran the SHINE Blog Hop. We recently retired the hop, but I’m going to be bold in saying that the SHINE Blog Hop had much success. Over the years it gained a following, it grew weekly, and it created a community among the bloggers who participated.

I’ve been asked many times to share how I made SHINE into a successful blog hop – today I would like to share those insights with you.

These tips are in no particular order.

Want to create a successful blog hop? Here are some great tips to get you started! #bloggers Click To Tweet

Have a rotation of co-hosts

I started the SHINE Blog Hop as a one woman show. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the work was too much for one person. I started accepting a rotation of guest co-hosts. Even though it took a lot of work to change the “design” of the hop every week to accommodate these co-hosts, I am certain that this helped grow SHINE exponentially in the first year.

By having co-hosts, your hop is appearing on other blogs and exposing the hop to a broader scope of bloggers. It’s definitely worth the “extra” work to do this in the early stages of your hop.

Choose a set day and time

Participants will appreciate if you keep a set day and time for your hop to go live.

You’ll need a link-up tool

In order to host a link-up on your site, you’ll need to use a link-up tool. I love the link-up tool by InLinkz. I never had any troubles with it and the service was affordable. Yes, there’s a cost associated with displaying those pretty linky parties on your website, but it’s worth it!

Keep your “rules” minimal

Before I created SHINE I recall getting frustrated by the blog hops that required you to follow the hosts on ALL their social media, tweet the hop, visit at least 3 posts, AND have their blog hop badge featured on the post which you’re linking up. I decided that SHINE would be different; the “rules” would be minimal because I wanted authentic, rather than forced engagement.

I made following the hosts optional, encouraged (but didn’t require) people to visit other bloggers, and simply stipulated that the posts be family-friendly and limited bloggers to linking up only 1 post.

I think by limiting the number of “rules” to participate, the activity was higher and new people were eager to participate.

Select a #hashtag

Research and select a unique hashtag for your link-up party. This makes the tracking of social shares easier for you AND it allows a way for your participants to quickly let other party-goers know how they found their post. i.e. “Thanks so much for sharing these potty training tips! I can’t wait to try them out with my 2-year-old! #SHINEbloghop”

Have an eye-catching but simple blog badge

A blog hop badge advertises your hop. Make sure to have a blog badge that bloggers can grab if they so desire to promote your hop on their sites. Keep the badge similar in appearance to your blog hop’s “brand”. Make sure to include the day of your blog hop on the badge.

Here’s the SHINE Blog Hop badge as an example:

The SHINE Blog Hop

Once you design the brand/image for the blog hop, you’ll want to create a “grab code” for it so that your followers can snag the code (image and all) and add it to their sites.

This code button builder is a great tool to help you make your blog hop badge. One recommendation is to make your badges “nofollow” in accordance with Google Webmaster recommendations. To do this, find the URL (blog link) in the code and place your cursor at the end of it. Then, hit the space bar once and insert the code: rel=”nofollow”.

Include a “click to tweet” prompt

With every hop, include a “click to tweet” prompt so that your visitors can easily promote your hop on Twitter. Make sure to include your Twitter handle in the prompt so that you’re notified when they share the hop (this way you can favourite / thank them for promoting you)!

Showcase the host and co-hosts

Make it really clear who is hosting the hop. Include the hosts’ social media links, as well as profile pictures (this makes the hop a lot more personal).

Also, use the first few spots of the link-up to feature your hosts’ articles/posts for the week.

Create a master blog-hop template

Design a blog hop template which you can use week after week. This will save you a lot of time! The design on the SHINE Blog Hop rarely changed (with the exception of special holiday hops).

Also, keep the design of your template clean and simple. The actual link-up section of the hop can be overwhelming, so you want the rest of the link up to be easy on the eyes.

Create an incentive

The purpose of a blog hop is to meet (and mingle) with other bloggers. However, you have to create some kind of incentive to encourage people to return weekly to your hop.

I chose to feature the three top-viewed posts and one random post from the previous week’s hop. When you use a tool like InLinkz, the views of each post linked to your hop can be sorted according to top-viewed. It’s clear to see where the most interaction is happening (and also easy to choose your features for the following week).

We also shared the top-viewed posts and one bonus post to all of my social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest). This was simple for me to do since I use CoSchedule to manage the social sharing for my blog. I simply constructed the message and scheduled it to be shared to all of my social media sites!

I’ve seen some blog hops feature random selected posts. To do this, you would run the total number of entries from the hop through a place like random.org and then let the program choose the features for you! This was the technique I used to select the “bonus feature post” every week.

There are also hops which have each host choose their favourite blog post to feature.

Another incentive that I’ve seen from some blog hops is that all the posts that are linked up to the party are shared on social media in one way or another (tweeted, pinned, etc.).

Don’t forget to promote your blog hop

Remember to promote your blog hop on all of your social media channels. Bloggers get busy and sometimes forget about your linky party. A reminder on your Facebook page may be the nudge they need to come join your blog hop.

Another way to promote your hop is to be on the lookout for blogs that have blog hop pages. Bloggers can sign up their blog hops to be displayed on these pages. It’s a simple and free way to promote your blog hop!

Here are some blog hop directories to get you started:

The Deliberate Mom

Sweet Little Ones

My Joy-Filled Life

Visit your guests

You’re hosting a party, so it’s really important that you mingle. The SHINE Blog Hop hosts were committed to visiting the posts each week. We also decided that our comments would be authentic and personal. For example, rather than simply saying: “Thanks for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop”, we would leave a personal comment pertaining to the post and then thank the participant for linking up.

Sometimes circumstances would keep us from commenting on all of the posts, but we felt it was much better to not comment rather than to leave a generic, impersonal, comment.

A final note

Hosting a blog hop is time-consuming. With the SHINE Blog Hop, I spent 6-8 hours per week building the hop, scheduling social shares, communicating with my co-hosts, and visiting/commenting on the blogs which linked up.

By retiring the blog hop, I’ve created margin in my life both online AND offline. While I’m looking forward to it, I will miss the community of the SHINE Blog Hop.

If you can manage a hop, I encourage you to do so. However, if it feels like it’s too much work, or it’s robbing you of the desire to create other content, then make sure to retire your hop before you burn yourself out. Your participants will understand, and will appreciate the time that you did give to them and the blog hop.

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Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of The Deliberate Mom, and Deliberate Homeschooling. Jennifer writes about parenting, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care.




Jennifer Bly is the creator of Time Management for Bloggers: An eCourse. Connect with her on Facebook and Instagram for parenting updates and inspiration.

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