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Why Writing a Link Post May Be Less Like Partying and More Like Work

By Jan of Circular Communication

If you read only the headlines of my first two guest posts here at Lorelle on WordPress you may have gotten the impression that I take link posts lightly. Those who know my link posts know that this is not the case. Hence is it time to set the record straight and let the party analogy rest. What follows is how I write link posts. At least how I write most of them as I do try to vary it and play with content and form on occasion. Over time do I put a lot of work into my link posts to make each the best it can be. Surely some work better than others, but neither the topic nor the circumstances were the same so that is only natural. Striving for perfection may be admirable in some cases, but when it comes to blogging a little less will do as well.

Since I began blogging have I constantly been reading a lot of other blogs. To begin with I simply added every blog I liked to my feed reader and then explored the blogs that it linked to and added those if I liked them and so on. At some point did I realize that simply adding blogs based on initially liking is too unqualified. You end up with too much clutter and too little substance. It is quite hard to unsubscribe to blogs that you basically like though. You have to convince yourself that it is better that way and believe me it is. Spending more time on less blogs gives you more time to read individual articles from other blogs just as it gives you more time to actually read the posts rather than merely quickly scan them.

Each time I like an article I bookmark it. I have a piece of software where I can add it and when the list of links grow I divide it up in themes and subjects and sort the links into those. Since I work with more overall themes of already existing blogs or blogs that may or may not come into existence at some point do I collect links on a wide variety of stuff. Regardless how many themes or topics you cover do you need to sort them if you link like I do at least. That way you can easily see where you have enough links to build a link post around and where you need some. Before writing the link post do I usually search various places to see if I missed some good articles on the same subject.

Practically from the beginning I decided to link to somewhere between five and ten articles in each of my link posts. It depends both on how many links you can find on a given subject, but also how you qualify them. If you merely quote a sentence or two do you need more links to make a full post than you do if add a lengthier comment to each link or the subject of it. It works the other way around as well. Having more links on a subject do I believe require less qualification of the individual link as they qualify each other collectively. Reading only the quotes will still give you a pretty good idea about both the topic and the individual post, but also how they relate to each other.

Pruning the links is essential before you go on to actually add content to them. That you thought it was a great read when you bookmarked it doesn’t mean it still is. Maybe you used poor judgment when picking it or things it describes changed since then rendering it obsolete. It also happens that it simply doesn’t fit the other posts on the same topic or perhaps the blog moved, was abandoned or the post deleted. You can thus not simply link blindly, but have to check the posts again. If you are to comment on them you need to anyway unless you already wrote the comment when picking it. I sometimes do or at least I write a comment or a few key words when moving the links into the text file that will be their home until the link post is complete.

Having picked the links I search for the short quote that introduces each of them. Some articles are full of them or have a perfect few first or last lines for it and others have nothing quotable about them even if they contain great material in other regards. Should that be the case do I drop the quotes altogether and stick to writing comments instead. Sometimes I combine quotations and comments. That way it almost turns into a regular article as it has lot of my own thoughts on the subject as well as the links. The form is still that of the classic link post though. Having grown a little tired of that concept and playing with another idea of mine I also tried something that I referred to as a virtual interview, which is a combination of a regular link post and an interview.

The introduction to the theme or subject and the conclusion do I sometimes write before commenting on the individual links and sometimes afterwards. It really depends on what speaks more to me as well as what comes most natural, which varies from time to time. Since you can do as you like should you just go with the flow. You can always move text around or edit it afterwards. To begin with is it important simply to get something written. The first one or two paragraphs are generally both an introduction to the theme and my take on it. The conclusion is usually not aimed at summing up, which is hard to do as people have to read the posts linked to first, but more about suggesting how to use them, where to go next or the like.

To sum up would I say these are the basic things I consider important: You should read a lot, but not more than you have time to actually think about what you read. Not so much that you don’t have time to write either. Dividing things up will not only give you a better overview, but will also force you to think in themes and topics. Settle for a good structure of your link post. Organization and structure will not only help you, but also the reader. Take your time thinking about what the theme actually is and how the links help explain it or add to it. Pick your links carefully as they reflect both on the quality of the post, but also on your blog. What you add is at least as important. It is not just links after all, but is supposed to be a link post.

PS: Have you noticed that I have managed to write three posts about link posts practically without linking out? I will tell you how I think that came about. The first two were concept posts while this one is an experience post, which means that any distraction would break their flow in my opinion. You either read from start to finish or not at all. Furthermore did they focus on a fraction of the overall topic, which means that finding articles relevant to that particular point would be both hard and meaningless really. Linking to articles expanding the view would have been an alternative, but somehow also besides the point. There are thus times when it is more appropriate to link and times when it is less so in my opinion. After all we do not want to stress or confuse anyone do we?


This guest blogger post is by Jan of Circular Communication, author of the first “virtual interview” featuring Lorelle VanFossen and Liz Strauss.

12 Comments

  1. Posted August 24, 2007 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    What is the software you use and how do I get it? I always forget about the “great posts” because they always link out.

    Then, something always interrupts me and I never save the original article link.

    Great Post.

  2. Posted August 24, 2007 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    Jan I have the same question as Carl. What and where is the software you’re using. I write a lot of link posts and am always looking for ways to streamline the process.

  3. Posted August 24, 2007 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    It is very low tech really. Basically you need somewhere to keep and sort the bookmarks and you need a text editor (or wherever you write your posts). I use URL Manager Pro, which I believe is only for Mac. I am sure there are similar software for Windows. It lets you bookmark sites, sort them and organize them in folders. The trick is to do it continuously or you won’t benefit from it.

    Actually I should be using an online service as I would then be able to share the links also before they become link posts (which sometimes takes a while), but I am not sure which options they offer for sorting and organizing your links and if they keep them for a long time.

    My text editor is called TextMate and is very low key. It is basically just a writing tool with a built in spell checker. You can also write directly in your text field and save as draft, but I prefer having the ideas and such in text files on my own computer.

    Currently I have files for each post that is almost complete, while I keep those missing some links etc in a separate file. Post ideas, which is basically just notes is also in a separate file to keep them from becoming too long, which will tend to hold you back more than it will help you.

  4. Posted August 24, 2007 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I just thought I’d add my two cents on the subject of idea collection and content planning.

    I believe that the simpler the method, the easier to do and maintain. The more complex, no matter how “helpful” its selling points, the more energy you put into it at first, and the sooner you toss it off as being more than you can keep up with.

    Over the years, I have developed a very simple system that I will be blogging about soon. Basically, it uses nothing more than a text editor. I dance between two for Windows: NoteTab Pro and PSPad.

    No gimmicks. No games. Just simple stuff. Some like paper, which I did for years but then found it didn’t get into my computer fast enough. So I use my text editor like paper, and that works for me. Just write down the ideas in the text editor as you come up with them, and hit save. Much faster.

  5. Posted August 25, 2007 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    I use http://del.icio.us for all of my linkblogging.

    I tag things with linkblog if I want to include it in a link dump post, and research if it is something I want to refer back to in a future post.

    http://del.icio.us/engtech

  6. Posted August 25, 2007 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Having used today to do a little research I may have found what I am looking for. It is not delicious as it only seem to allow tagging and not putting links in folders, which is what I am used to. You can tag and double tag, which essentially would achieve the same effect I guess, but it doesn’t have the same the logic about it as storing in folders somehow.

    Instead I may be going with Netvouz, which is essentially the same system as I use now, but online. I can import everything I have and it will put it in exactly the same order as it is offline. A folder for each site that I have and then subfolders and so on. Obviously you will have to click around to get to certain things, but still.

    Since I collect links for a considerable time before using them and also collect links for a variety of projects do I not think I would stand the delicious interface for long. Netvouz is about as ugly as delicious, but at least it seems more logical. Since I also want to share my bookmarks on my personal blog do I need to find a solution for that, but since it seems to have a feed that shouldn’t be too complicated I think.

    @ Engtech, since you tag thing you thought about your typo somehow doesn’t seem that inappropriate me thinks :-)

  7. Posted August 26, 2007 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Excuse me, I just would like to know where in WordPress I can find the IPs of my visiters or how I can write a question in the forum of WordPress. Would anyone tell me, please?
    Thank you very much!

  8. Posted August 26, 2007 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    First, the IP address of all commenters are in the Comments Panel. According to your blog domain/URL, you are on the free WordPress.com blog service. What good would knowing the IP address of EVERY visitor do for you? Doesn’t nothing for me and I’ve been doing this a very long time.

    Second, for help with WordPress.com, see the WordPress.com Forums and WordPress.com FAQ. For help with the full version of WordPress, see the WordPress Codex, the online manual for WordPress Users, and WordPress Support Forums.

    To leave a question there, you must be logged in and be as specific as possible about your question. Make sure the question title is also as specific as possible and doesn’t say “I need help” or something else useless. This will get your question answered as fast as possible.

  9. Posted August 27, 2007 at 12:20 am | Permalink

    I guess my system isn’t all that far off from what you’ve been doing. I basically bookmark sites through a combination of my browser and del.icio.us and also maintain lists of the URLs in text editors.

    For me it’s just time consuming to copy and paste links, but I suppose there’s isn’t any quicker way. Copy/paste isn’t a big deal for a few links here and there, but when you’re collecting many each day the time starts to ad up.

  10. Posted August 27, 2007 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much, Lorelle VanFossen, for replying me and giving me so many useful links.

    Above all, your work is very much appreciated. There isn’t any blog server I know has this kind of special feature.
    Excuse me if I’ve asked an inappropriate question. I’m sorry.

  11. Posted August 27, 2007 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Sofi: Your question isn’t inappropriate, but do look closely at the WordPress Administration Panels. There are links on every page to a lot of articles and help on those pages. Look at the bottom of each page, too.

    Good luck.

  12. Posted August 30, 2007 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    I find myself organizing my bookmarks a lot more then I used to. It is very useful to keeping your head on straight. There is nothing worse then opening up that bookmark folder and finding 100s of bookmarks that are nearly impossible to get through.


7 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Why Writing a Link Post May Be Less Like Partying and More Like Work: Jan of Circular Communication continues with his series on link posts, expanding upon his recent post on how a link post should be like a party, explaining that it is also hard work to put all the links and parts and pieces together to make the post work – for you and your audience. [...]

  2. [...] was practicing writing in different styles , when out of the blue I realized writing a link post may be less like a party and more like hard work.” our brave and quirky hero said, knees [...]

  3. [...] Sometimes you’re writing a rant that doesn’t need linking to others. Then you don’t need to link. [...]

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