How to write a link round-up post your audience will look forward to reading
May 23, 2016
Everybody has a piece of low-hanging fruit dangling right before their eyes. It’s different for everyone. One of my clients zens out to creating step-by-step photo tutorials. Another favors a customer case studies. For me, this right here is it: the straightforward how-to.
You have some low-hanging fruit in your content repertoire, I know you do! Listicles, pithy think pieces, rants on trends—there are lots of formats to choose from. Today, I’m guiding you through the creation of a truly excellent link round-up post.
And, in a super sassy twist, I’m tackling this topic from the POV of a reader. Because, guys? I love me a good link round-up.
The folks who put together round-ups I look forward to reading all have a few things in common. If any one of these bullet points sounds like you, keep reading:
I’m probably going to regret this comparison later, but here we go: a knowledge fiend is the friend that wants to come over to your house for dinner, be told that you don’t need any help slicin’ and dicin’, and then be engaged in terribly interesting conversation for three-ish hours, at which time we’ve had enough of your excellent company, thankyouverymuch.
We are lazy and we are hungry. We want you to do the work and deliver it to us, and then be up for chatting about it later.
Since this is a business blog and you’re here because you publish a business blog, let’s get down to strategy. While I’m totally an advocate of doing things that make you happy—especially if they have the added bonus of making me happy—it’s important for us to strip off the happy happy joy joy of it all, and lay bare the benefits.
There are three biggies for you to consider, and one negative that you also need to think about before you add link round-ups to your content strategy:
Pro: It humanizes you. When you include links to non-business-y things and add in your special brand of color commentary, your audience gets to know a more informal side of you. It’s like going on a networking brunch: Technically, it’s work, but there’s champagne and pastries involved, so you know we’re unbuttoning those blazers and having fun, too.
Pro: It sets you up as an expert. If you go deep on a particular topic week after week, you’ll gain a reputation for being the go-to resource on that subject. We-the-readers know you’ve done your homework, and so we’re far more likely to trust you when you impart knowledge that’s more directly related to your business’ products or services.
Pro: It makes other people in your industry love you. Every single person, me included, wants people to link back to their website content. Quality backlinks are still an important factor in search engine optimization. The more you link to other people (hint: shoot them an email and let them know you’re doing it!), the more likely they are to return the favor.
Con: It can take a lot of time. You’ll want to include only the best links to other articles, which means lots of reading and potentially kissin’ a bunch of toads before you stumble across some prince-e-poo content.
Before you jump into the step-by-step process that follows, I want you to give the strategy behind it a good long think so that you don’t waste your very precious time on a post that won’t serve your business well.
While you might decide later on to publish more or less frequently—I suggest sticking to a weekly or monthly format so that readers can get into the habit of looking for this particular post from you—there are other elements that should be more firmly nailed out. These include your subject (what sorts of links are you including in this post?), your commentary (how much riffing or ranting will you include in your post, if any at all?), and how many links you’ll be aiming for (5? 10? 25?).
Ready to get started? Here we go!
Step 1: Pick a process for bookmarking your links
You have tons of options, including but not limited to: Evernote, a bookmarks folder on your Internet browser, Pocket, and a perpetually open Word Document.
Step 2: Collect links for your round-up
As you audition links for your blog, there is one sticking point you need to keep in the forefront of your mind: Who are you writing this for? Ask yourself these three questions as you compile your links:
Step 4: Revisit your chosen links and add commentary, quotes, graphics, GIFs, or video clips
Some round-ups are verbose while others include just the hyperlinked title of the article in question and its source. That’s totally up to you (and if you’re asking me, I like both styles, so ha! Back to you!).
Step 5: Format your post
Get your P’s and Q’s in order. All of your links should be formatted the same way. Bold, underline, italicize, whatever. Credit the source or don’t, but pick one (and honestly, I think adding a “by so-and-so” or “via such-and-whoever” is a nice thing). Make sure the font and size are consistent. You know, the basics.
Step 6: Write an introduction
To keep it from being a bland tab dump—and especially if you’re not big into the commentary aspect of the round-up—type up a paragraph or two about you and your business. Include highlights, quirky facts, a silly picture or two, and anything you want to promote up here in the tippy top.
Step 7: Do your normal upload/publish/promote routine
You do you, babycakes. A lot of round-up writers choose to use a consistent graphic for these sorts of posts, but that’s your call.
I love Sarah’s (weekly) round-ups because… it’s a brief-but-deep dive into solopreneurship. Sarah includes five to ten links from great resources and the topics she links to are both recent and archival posts. Subjects range from productivity to social media marketing to running your own business.
I love Sarah’s (weekly—and yes, this is another Sarah) round-ups because… I never know exactly what to expect, but I know it’s all going to be awesome and worthwhile. I save these posts for Mondays right after lunch, and I always open them on my laptop so I can get the full, let’s-open-all-the-tabs experience. When Sarah is traveling, her friends sub in for her, which is a fun twist.
I love Gala’s (monthly) round-ups because… she comes from a very different world than I do (and it’s way more woo-woo on that side of the globe!), so the links she presents are stuff I’ve never seen before and they totally challenge my POV. Carousel posts are long with commentary and quotes, and I savor them.
We all want to work smarter, not harder, and that means finding that low-hanging fruit and pulling it from its branches. It’s there, you just have to take advantage of it.