In my first post about link posts – Why A Link Post Should Be Like Mingling at a Party – I played the guest introducing other guests to each other. However, you are in fact the host of the party when you are writing a link post and thus much more responsible for the outcome as the guests are. You could argue that you only have influence on who you invite, i.e. the links and not on who simply comes by because they hear there is a party going on, i.e. the readers. If you have been blogging for a while you do have an idea who might turn up though and hence also who they would appreciate attending. Like any good party the guests have to fit each other. If people know you normally only invite people from the design community they will be mighty disappointed when they find that you only invited people from the local auto club this time.
A party doesn’t have to have a theme, but it certainly doesn’t hurt having one. It will make it clear from the get go what it is about and who fits in. What to expect and how to deal with it. Chances of great encounters are much bigger and although you may turn some away by having a theme those attending will have a better time for sure. That goes for both the invited as the (dare I say uninvited about our readers?) – alright, uninvited. Links in a fitting context will do much better as they are easier to find and once found easier to evaluate. Moreover do they not have to deliver everything, but can lean on those next to them. Mixed parties can be fun as well, but the risk of them turning into less of an experience than they could have been is greater. Mixing under a common theme would then be my suggestion.
Once you have decided what theme to use or which group of people you want to invite is it time to get down to picking the individual guests. Some do it very casually and pick mainly or exclusively those they already know. Perhaps even those that everyone else knows as well. There is nothing wrong with playing it safe. I do it myself to some degree because you trust what you know. Besides is featuring a few celebrities never bad for a party, right? Well, it can be. It can be awfully dull after a while and while you may learn something new and valuable you will also be left wondering if that really is all there is too it. In the Blogosphere it never is. There is always more, always something different and sometimes even something better. You just have to go look for it.
Planning a party takes time. The things already mentioned take time and we haven’t even sent out the invitations yet. Considering the location is next. Where we do the partying is easy. Our blog is our castle you could say. There is enough room, it has no carpet to clean afterwards and people can be as private or as extrovert as they like when choosing how to participate. It is always good to use the idea of having a party as an opportunity to take stock though. Is our house really of the sort of place that people will appreciate visiting? Do we have enough of a standing that they will enjoy being invited or even think about dropping by? Do we make it easy for guests to settle in and make the most of it? And do we really have everything in place to cater for them? Not least the time it takes conversing with those who want to.
Hence have I recently embraced an alternative way to organize, host and attend a party. The Blog Carnival. In my case the Carnival of Circular Communication. If you ever watched clips from the carnival in Brazil do you know what fun carnivals can be. What you don’t see is the 11 months of preparation, but that is another matter. Almost at least. The blog carnival is more down to earth. It is more like a “open invitation to bring your own food” kind of party. You have less influence on who shows up and what they bring, but instead of seeing that as problematic enjoy the pleasant surprises it opens up for. It is harder to assign a strict theme to it, but sometimes a little chaos or lack of complete order is also all right. As long as people respect each other and the basic house rules you should be fine.
Having covered part of the “how” in the previous post this was an attempt at throwing a little light on some of the other factors. Having covered the “who”, “where” and expanded a little on the “how” from a hosts perspective is there really only one main question left. The “why” should however be obvious. Why do people arrange parties? Because we like having a good time, we like seeing old friends and meeting new ones, we need a break from the everyday routine, we like people visiting and so on. On a blog there is even more to it than that. When writing link posts we are celebrating each other and padding each other on the back. We are reinforcing the positive. In fact we are not only inviting people to our party, but are sending them to all the other parties as well. Perhaps is that the reason that I like link posts so much.
PS: Liz Strauss is throwing a party, *ahem* hosting a writing challenge I mean. Not only is it inspired by a post that in turn was inspired by my first one here, but it is also spot on exemplifying what I am talking about. Once you have finished commenting here (and I am counting on you!) should you hence head over and take the Writing Challenge: Joanna’s Thematic Link Post!.
This guest blogger post is by Jan of Circular Communication, author of the first “virtual interview” featuring Lorelle VanFossen and Liz Strauss.