Three years ago, while sitting on a bed in Malaysia, I inadvertently created one of my most popular post series.
I’d been traveling for six months and was working eight hours a day for one of Malaysia’s leading women’s magazines. Between all that writing and my very busy schedule of drinking Pimm’s by the pool, I didn’t have much time or creative energy to devote to high-quality posts. I was concerned that readers would leave my blog if I didn’t post regularly, so I assembled a post that consisted of links to cool things I found around the internet.
I cobbled it together, titled it ‘Web Time Wasters’, and posted it - expecting little traffic and not much response.
And the opposite happened.
Oddly, people loved it! I could see that it got a lot of traffic and a surprising number of comments. Since I posted it on Sunday (a traditionally ‘slow’ day on the internet) my readers were thrilled to have an hour’s worth of fun, curated reads for their Sunday morning. And I’ve been posting ‘Web Time Wasters’ each Sunday since then.
Readers regularly tell me that my link roundups are their favorite on the internet (thanks?) and that those posts are their internet equivalent to reading the Sunday paper. Which is so nice! Occasionally, I find the whole thing a bit demoralizing. I write a post about working in a refugee camp that gets five comments, but a roundup of 15 links to funny cat videos and travel tips gets 12 comments. Ah, well!
But it’s hard to argue with traffic and results. For me, these link posts have resulted in:
* Two big-deal on-retainer clients
* New sponsors
* Thousands of dollars in affiliate sales
* New internet friendships with heaps of cool people
* Introducing my readers to talented bloggers + helpful products I think they should know about
Why should you be creating link roundups?
1. They’re a great, non-sleazy way to network
I’m not particularly ‘strategic’ about who I link to. When I find something I like, I link to it - regardless of the site’s size. But! If there’s a blogger or company you’d really like to partner with, including them in your link roundup is a great way to (begin to) get on their radar.
2. It’s good karma
If you’ve got traffic, it’s nice to send it someone’s way. It’s also a great way to ‘be the change you want to see in the internet’ (to paraphrase Gandhi.) When you link to and promote thoughtful, kind content you’re reinforcing what you think is important and the kind of content you want out in the world.
3. It’s a non-annoying way to incorporate affiliate links
I, like most bloggers, am part of an affiliate network - you can see the disclaimer in the footer on Yes and Yes. But because I don’t write much about fashion or beauty products (the items most commonly sold through affiliate links) there aren’t many opportunities for me to make money that way. My link roundups are a genuine, non-annoying way for me to link to cute dresses and good books in a way makes sense - and make an extra $150 a month.
4. Link roundups ‘reinforce your brand’
This is something I didn’t realize I was doing until a client pointed it out to me. “You like fun, silly things but you’re also interested in current events, literature, feminism, and cultural stuff - and that’s obvious from the links you choose.” Well, thanks! While it certainly wasn’t my intent to do this, I can see what she’s saying. Looking through the links I choose is an easy way to see what’s important to me - and if you’re someone who’s interested in those things too we’re better, closer internet friends.
5. It establishes you as an expert and a curator of awesome stuff
If you write about a specific topic (healthy living, homeschooling, living in small spaces) link roundups are a great way to introduce your readers to helpful, useful information. And every time you do that, they appreciate it and (maybe) think “Why, that Sheryl sure knows a thing or two about green juices!” or “Dana knows where all the good stuff is! If she’s this knowledgeable, I should probably hire her!”
Crazy, right? All benefits from a post full of stuff that YOU DIDN’T EVEN WRITE. Stay tuned next week for some link roundup best practices!
Do you ever do link posts? How do you feel about them?
P.S. if you’d like more of this type of instantly implementable, traffic-boosting advice you might like my Clever Sessions!
This is awesome! I mostly blog about crafts and sewing but have been posting “friday favorites” with links mainly of stuff I like. I rarely get comments on those posts compared to my other content, but really enjoy “curating” them. So, this motivates me to continue, thanks!
What a great idea! I have a new blog for my virtual assistant biz and would love to incorporate something like this. I was thinking of doing online business- and social media-related links but why not do fun links as well? I know what I’ll be doing on Sunday morning . . . going back to read all of your past Web Time Wasters posts Thanks!
I used to do these and people loved them! I need to start again!
Your web time wasters are, like you said, the best around. I think I read fifteen or so blogs that do these, and I always wait for yours!
I LOVE your Web Time Wasters and they are indeed my favorite too. But I also wanted to comment to say that I started my own links roundup on Sundays and I’ve seen huge benefits as well.
In addition to the pros that you’ve listed above, I also really like that it helps my blog stay on at least some semblance of a schedule. I blog whenever I have the time and something to say (which isn’t always daily), but I have started making it a point to regularly do my links post on Fridays or Saturdays and schedule it to go live on Sundays at 8am. It only takes me about 20-30 minutes to put the links post together each week (I use Buffer in combination with IFTTT to write links I’ve tweeted to a Google Document, then cull the best links from that), but taking that little bit of time for a regularly scheduled post makes me feel like I’m on track with my blog even if it’s been a very busy week.
I have a weekly ‘link love’ which I post every Monday (although after reading this I’m thinking I should move it to the weekend instead?).
I love doing ‘Link Loves’ although I sometimes get very distracted whilst looking at other people’s blogs so they can be a little time sucking. It’s been a great way to meet new bloggers though and I also use these posts to support my existing blogging friends. I never thought about including affiliate links though, it’s a great idea!
ps. I also read your web time wasters religiously. You’re the one who inspired me to include videos in mine - thank you! x
I do a weekly link roundup every Friday and people love it! I can definitely see why — link posts are some of my favorites too.
I also do weekly weekend link loves! They don’t get a ton of engagement that I can see but people do love them and once in a while my regulars comment reminding me that they love my taste and thanks for curating good stuff. Gives me the fuzzies
Honestly even if nobody read them (and I have to admit the links don’t tend to get a TON of clicks) I would still do it as I love to read and feel compelled to share good stuff.
I started doing one each month a while ago. I noticed people really liked them which is something I didnt’ expect but I also find myself liking other peoples link ups that have good taste. I guess this was a subconscious thing for me.
I love your Web Time Wasters and look forward to it every Sunday — always happy when it pops up in my feedly. Have you ever considered using a tool like Storify that integrates with WordPress? Here’s an example of a roundup post I’ve done with it; http://toddlohenry.com/2014/03/27/bright-shiny-objects-for-032714/
You can put commentary between the snippets, too…
I love reading link-ups and really enjoy curating them too. I’m glad to know that they have good results and keep people engaged. I love the point about them reinforcing your brand. It makes total sense but is something I wouldn’t have thought of. Thanks for sharing, Sarah!
Web Time Wasters is one of my favorite features on Yes and Yes (although the True Stories are #1 on my list!) and for a while there I was totally copying you and posting my own weekly round ups on my blog. Then my freelance career took off and life and other stuff and now it’s been nearly 6 months since I regularly posted on my own blog. Oops.
As I work on getting back in the groove at Melifornia, I wonder - what are your tips for collecting links? I know you aren’t duplicating Twitter content, so what’s your method? Do you have a Google doc where you toss links as you run across them, then select 10-15 to post each week? That’s what I was doing, but it was cumbersome to be reading something, think “I should share that!”, then go open the doc and paste the link. Or else I’m lazy.
Next week I’m blogging about how I put them together and link roundup best practices - stay tuned!
I currently run a weekly recipe round up, but those links are submitted to me from a group of food bloggers. I think I will try your Sunday strategy with something like improve your skills Sundays with cooking tips! Thanks for the inspiration!
Such a great idea! My blog is still kind of a baby but I definitely plan on sharing my “time-wasting” expertise once I gain a few more followers.
I do one once a month on my blog. I love seeing what other interests some of my favorite bloggers have. I’ve also discovered some great smaller blogs that way.
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I love your Web Time Wasters and have been thinking of doing a version on my own blog…I’m just wondering though…for networking do you notify the bloggers your linking to through email or social networks?
I @mention them on Twitter! Next week I’ll be sharing some of the ‘best practices’ I use for my link round ups
I read about link roundups being great for content marketing and SEO a few years ago which is why I implemented mine. I love the way your broke everything down in your post and it’s a great read!
Years ago, before I re-branded and actually decided to have a business (instead of just random blogging) I used to do this kind of thing all the time. Now, it doesn’t really fit in with what I’m trying to do on my blog BUT there’s a lot of stuff I want to share. SO I’m going to experiment with doing a newsletter only feature like this. I’ll let you know how it goes!
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Hey Sarah, I’ve always loved your web time wasters! I do something similar - The Book Salon Wrap-Up - which features opportunities for writers, writing competitions etc. Although I’m sure it’s useful for my readers, it takes a while to put together so I’m looking forward to your next post to see if you have some clever ways to help me save time on the curation process.
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