Most bloggers know to use tools like social media, newsletters, and paid advertising to increase their blog reach, but many haven’t even heard of blog hops, one of the most powerful free tools in the blogging world. So what are blog hops – and how can you use them to build your community?
What are blog hops?
Blog hops are online networking events hosted by a variety of blogging communities. Their main goal is to connect bloggers in a specific niche, with a secondary goal of sharing readerships with those other bloggers.
How do blog hops work?
Others, like the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, happen every month on the same day, in this case the third Wednesday of each month.
Once a month, everyone signed up for the blog hop posts an article to their blog about a specific topic. This topic is usually something broad, like professional life in a specific industry, to ensure that everyone doesn’t end up posting the same thing.
Everyone who wrote an article then goes to all of the other blogs, reads their article, and leaves a comment. Some blog hops may also require bloggers to share every article in the hop.
Most blog hops have their own hashtag and social media graphics, and require you to post a small blurb about the blog hop in your article, either at the beginning or at the end. This helps other participants find you, and helps your readers discover the rest of the blog hop.
Many blog hops also have additional guidelines. These might be about who can enter the blog hop – for example, you might need a specific professional certification – or about how to participate. Many blog hops ask participants to limit the number of words in their posts to make it easier for everyone to get through all the articles.
What are blog hops good for?
So what are blog hops actually used for? Comments act as social proof, and participating in a blog hop guarantees those comments. For small blogs or even just blogs that don’t usually get many comments, these hops can make an enormous difference. My personal blog, for example, only receives 3-6 comments on an average post. Articles that are part of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop, on the other hand, frequently receive over 30 comments:
Since the blog hop started last April, I’ve also built relationships with several of the participating authors. They might not comment on every blog post I write, but we converse on social media and several have subscribed to my newsletter.
The Author Toolbox Blog Hop doesn’t require writers to share every article on social media, but several do anyway. This has allowed these articles to reach a wider audience, and to draw in commenters and subscribers who aren’t participating in the blog hop.
All in all, it’s a great way to bring new life to your blog, and to become part of the blogging community in your niche.
What types of blogs do blog hops work best for?
Blog hops can work for any blog, but they tend to work best for blogs with a personal feel, because they’re designed to connect individual bloggers. You’ll note that while the Sixth Street Sundries example above is a shop blog, the brand is largely built around the owner, Emily Midgett.
If your blog is written from your point of view, and you let people get to know the person behind the company, you can participate in blog hops. If your blog is largely written in the third person point of view, and focuses entirely on your company, it probably won’t fit a blog hop very well.
How can you find a blog hop?
There’s no reliable directory for blog hops across niches, so you’ll have to do some digging. First, ask some bloggers in your niche. This will help you figure out if blog hops exist in your niche at all, if they’re effective, and if other bloggers are interested in doing one.
Of course, if that fails, you can always turn to Google. A quick search for
"blog hops" + "your niche" should reveal any hops worth participating in.
Some blogs, particularly those designed to coincide with a specific event, may be invitation only. If you notice that a blog in your industry regularly hosts hops but can’t find any sign up forms, contact them directly via email or social media.
There might not be any blog hops in your niche. Most times, this is a sign that blog hops don’t actually work for the audience you’re trying to reach. And that’s okay – there are a multitude of other ways to promote your blog.
How can you join a blog hop?
Every blog hop has different rules about how to sign up. Some are invite only, but most use a program like Google Forms and allow new bloggers to sign up at any time.
You’ll generally need to enter your email address and name, your blog’s name, your blog’s URL, and the topic of your blog. This makes it easy for the admin to add your info to the primary list and keep you updated as the blog hop develops.
How to get the most out of a blog hop
Blog hop participants are obligated to check out your post and leave a comment, but they’re not obligated to visit your blog between hops and there’s certainly no requirement to subscribe. If you want to make the most of your new visitors, you need to make sure that you’re producing quality content readers will connect to. This means choosing valuable topics to write about, editing your articles, and tracking their success to figure out what topics are connecting most with your audience. And don’t just rely on comment numbers – track these posts carefully in Google Analytics so you understand how your regular audience is interacting with them as well.
So what are blog hops? If you’re trying to build a personal blog or a brand centered around yourself as a professional, blog hops are one of the best ways to connect with other bloggers in your niche.